Top Row Left to Right: Melissa Morris, Ilse Vliet, Lydia Lewis, Kathy Donovan, Janet Keller Laughlin, and Linda Rae Coughlin (curator) Bottom Row Left to Right, Janet Santaniello (curator), Susan Johnson, Dee Rosebrock, and Debbie Walsh
To show their appreciation for the Garden State, many talented women from New Jersey, and the surrounding area, have displayed their New Jersey-themed artwork in a special exhibit at The Barron Arts Center in Woodbridge, NJ. This exhibit, Hooked on New Jersey, is unique because each piece of art is a handcrafted, hooked rug.
Yes, rug. A rug like the ones you are familiar with on the floors in your homes. However, these particular rugs have been specially designed and carefully crafted to celebrate the fabulous state of New Jersey. They truly are works of art and collectively make up one of the more enjoyable shows I’ve been to in a while.
Kathleen Donovan and The Jersey Devil
Kathleen Donovan’s rug called THE JERSEY DEVIL was selected to appear on the promotional materials for the exhibit. The Watchung, NJ resident says, “I have always had an interest and love of animals. That interest crosses over to include animals in mythology and folklore. We in New Jersey are lucky to have one well-known creature of folklore (or maybe not) the Jersey Devil.” I was lucky enough to meet Donovan, who has been hooking rugs for 10 years, and chat with her a little bit about her artwork. She hopes that her portrayal of the Jersey Devil will make people think of him as a graphic novel hero. I can certainly see it!
Linda Woodbury's Lucy.
LUCY the elephant is a Jersey girl with whom many of us are familiar, but here, depicted by Linda Woodbury of Glen Ridge, NJ, we see her in a brand-new way. Woodbury says, “Lucy has been an iconic symbol of the Jersey Shore throughout my life. When I signed up for a class hooking ‘Women with Attitudes’ Lucy was a natural choice for a rug. She does project great attitude, where she stands at the edge of the sand looking out over the Atlantic Ocean. Lucy is visible from 8 miles out at sea, making New Jersey the only coastline in the world marked by a six-story high elephant shaped navigational aid.”
Cynthia Boult's New Jersey Vanity Plates
Cynthia Boults of Annandale, NJ designed her rug VANITY PLATE (along with the help of the NJ DOT!) after NJ’s license plate that reminds everyone – just in case they forget – that we are the Garden State. Boults shares a little about why she was inspired to hook a rug with this design, “I moved to New Jersey in 2004…proudly put a Garden State license plate on my fire engine red farm truck! This truly is the Garden State.”
Janet Keller Laughlin and symbols of New Jersey
Some of the artists have been hooking rugs for years, and others like Janet Keller Laughlin from Hopewell, NJ, have just gotten started. Laughlin’s first rug design, HARMONY ALONG the DELAWARE, was adapted from her own original black and white illustration. It took her over a year to complete, but the result is simply beautiful. Of her rug, Laughlin says, “My rug design depicts the harmonious coexistence of New Jersey’s flora and fauna. The “Trenton Makes the World Takes” bridge is the backdrop for the bucolic spring garden that features our state symbols…the red oak tree, the violet, the goldfinch, and the honeybee. This illustration was the logo for the 2008 Garden Club of America Zone IV flower show held in Trenton, NJ.”
There are dozens of other beautiful rugs that I’d love to share with you, but you’re going to have to head over to Woodbridge and see them for yourself! The Hooked on New Jersey exhibition, co-curated by Linda Rae Coughlin and Janet Santaniello, will run until October 24th. Exhibit hours are 11am to 4pm Monday through Friday and 2pm to 4pm on the weekends.
Go check it out and (if you aren’t already) get hooked on NJ too!
The Jersey Girl