Artist Spotlight

Hand-painted Silk Scarves by Joanna Alot

Joanna Alot is a silk artist, constantly creating beautiful hand-painted textiles and accessories.  Whether it is a geometric, floral, or abstract print, Joanna is always innovating.  Join Joanna as she takes us through her creative process, inspiration and even some of her favorite things at the Art Institute.    

What is your creative process like?

The entire collection of scarves, ties and other accessories are hand-painted on 100% silk.  The process begins with pristine white, starched silk upon which paint is applied using various materials including brushes, sponges and stamps.  After painting, the dyes are permanently fixed by steaming under high temperature and pressure.  A finish of gold or copper print results in uniquely beautiful compositional effects.  Finally, the silk fabric is specially treated to enhance color, smooth texture and ensure many years of enjoyment.

How does art influence your life?

Living life is art. I experience art all around me - the way I create, live and play; how I dress and what I eat - all of these aspects of my life are opportunities for me to reflect and express myself. In this way, I also appreciate the artistic vision that goes into everyday objects by designers and craftsmen. Art takes on many forms, you just have to be open to seeing and experiencing art in its many - and sometimes less obvious - forms.

My inspiration stems from everyday experiences. From my work studio, I soak in a fleeting sunrise or the seasons changing colors around me. Framed by my studio windows, maple tree branches are dressed in vivid and richly textured leaves – I interpret these as compositions ready to be painted on silk and shared with my clientele. I appreciate industrial design as well, finding inspiration in man made objects, like the elegance of musical instruments or the simplicity of beautifully crafted cutlery. Art isn't an abstract concept for me - I actively experience it and then translate those responses to my art, my craft, my passion for creating.

What is the best advice you ever received?

It was years ago when I was in college. I was perpetually traveling, seeking new experiences and new places. In an effort to refine my skills and take in all of these new environments, I always traveled with my drawing board. It was on this board that I wrote the best advice I received - advice I keep to this day: "Nie daj czasowi darmo plynac." Translated from Polish to English, it means, "Each moment is precious, don't waste your time." This is the motto of my life and my work as an artist.

What is your favorite piece of art in the Art Institute of Chicago?

The Chagall Stained Glass windows [America Windows, c. 1977]. I was always fascinated by the techniques employed to create stained glass windows. Growing up in Poland, I was enchanted by the windows in St. Mary's Basilica (Kosciol Mariacki) in Kraków, Poland - they are some of the most beautiful windows I have ever seen. Some of my favorite memories are from traveling throughout France, where I visited the Gothic Cathedrals of Notre Dame, Reims and Amiens, these cathedrals had such stunning royal blue stained glass windows. So when I saw Chagall's work at the Art Institute, I instantly connected with his work and was attracted to the genius of his artistic vision. 

Joanna wearing her design, our customer favorite Red Gingko Leaf Scarf

Many thanks to Joanna for letting us into her world!

Explore our assortment of Joanna Alot accessories: