Jessie Dunahoo – In the Studio

Jessie Dunahoo has created indoor/outdoor environments since he was a young child. Mr. Dunahoo was raised on a farm during a period when supports for people considered to have disabilities were even more limited than they are today. Apparently Mr. Dunahoo attended the Kentucky School for the Blind for at least a couple years. Beyond this Mr. Dunahoo was largely left to his own devices. Living on a farm in the 1930’s- 40’s allowed Mr. Dunahoo an opportunity to manipulate outdoor space and in so doing to created environments which he composed by moving earth and brush often by hand and also by finding and assembling objects/debris which were then placed in an ordered way throughout the manipulated area. Sometimes objects were places in significant places on the ground but most often they were placed in trees and bushes. Jessie used various fences and trees to hang intersecting strings, ropes, wires, etc. – which could be grasped and threaded- in reality following a 3-d road map which he used (uses) in finding his way around outdoor space. One of Jessie’s favorite materials is the recycled plastic shopping bag. He typically creates quilted three dimensional wall pieces from bags that are sewn together. His larger pieces have hundreds of bags sewn together in this manner. These pieces are usually intended to be installed outside- hung/decorated with various discarded/found pieces of rope, wire, bottles and whatever else he might find.

This practice has continued as Mr. Dunahoo aged and became a client of various social service supports. In various group/residential facilities Mr. Dunahoo has lived in over the years he has created many variations on this theme, sometimes to the bemusement of various housemates and neighbors and on at least one occasion- their hostility.

Mr. Dunahoo is very aware that others view and evaluate his constructions and he is always delighted to play the docent and escort an interested viewer around/through his installation.

Dunahoo is pictured in this video working on a large installation at Latitude Artist Community. For more information about Jessie and his work, contact phillip@institute193.org.

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