Story by Pam Connolly, Saint Reporter
Photo courtesy of White Feather Studio
Nestled in nearby vibrant Eastown is White Feather Studio, a locally owned and operated ceramics shop. The brains and artistic hands behind the White Feather operation is none other than Sally Jenks, an alumna of Aquinas College’s very own art program. Items available by online order or at certain events hosted at the studio include mugs, vases, jewelry and ornaments. These various collections may be seasonal, functional, or even customized commission pieces, as Jenks is willing and eager to work with others to bring their ideas and visions into being by breathing life into the clay.
The inspiration for the studio’s elegant and intriguing moniker comes from one of Jenks’ favorite birds, the barn owl, and the alluring and inspiring element of nature which this dignified bird embodies. Jenks adds that many of her pieces have been inspired by nature, “as well as softer ideas like serenity and comfort.” These influences are clearly seen in the many works which are found in the White Feather collection. Another hallmark of White Feather creations is Jenks’ collaborations with fellow artists in an effort to craft creative yet functional pieces by “integrating work of different media.” In an arts community as alive as that of Eastown, Jenks says that when working on collaborations she “mostly work[s] with friends.”
As a graduate of Aquinas College, Jenks shares that her experiences in art classes, particularly her ceramics class with Madeline Kaczmarczyk, helped her to “develop a critical eye for [her] work.” She also credits the supportive and encouraging environment at Aquinas with allowing her the freedom and comfort to “experiment as well as refine” both subject matter and artistic approaches. Taking advantage of the study abroad program in Tullycross, Ireland, Jenks found even more inspiration for her art in the natural beauty of Ireland, whose influence can still be seen in her current work. For those of you wondering how Jenks became so successful in her field, take heart in the fact that she, as an AQ student, did not truly know where her degree in studio art and art history would take her. In the long run, her passion for all things creative, be it “art or cooking or weird craft projects,” and hands-on engaging work led her to pursue opportunities to become a full-time artist. Having her dream of being a full-time artist turn into her daily reality is a joy that makes Jenks’ days better.
Because she has such a deep devotion to her work, many of the pieces in the White Feather Studio collections come from Jenks’ personal experiences or photographs. When asked if she ever has difficulty parting with such personal pieces when they are purchased, Jenks admitted that while she does grow attached to certain ceramics, she freely lets them go and even enjoys striking up a conversation with customers who are drawn to her favorite pieces. Jenks’ experience has been that these conversations often reveal the customer’s own connection to the piece and thus offer Jenks some closure in letting it go. This unique and intimate studio is certainly a gem of Eastown and is worth a visit. You may even be the customer who falls in love with one of Jenks’ favorite projects!