Stutz Artist Highlight: Jodie Bailey

Photography by Esther Boston

Stutz Artist Association is celebrating its 25th Anniversary this Thursday through Saturday.

Artists and the building will be decked out in silver to celebrate the anniversary event. Artists will have paintings, photography, furniture, sculpture, jewelry and more for purchase, including a featured silver piece in each studio.

Guests have an opportunity to see creative spaces in this historic building, experience the thriving Stutz art community, enjoy live music, make their own art, take a selfie in a Stutz automobile, and tour the turn-of-the century car factory turned business and arts center. On Saturday, artists will have demonstrations and children can participate in a scavenger hunt.

Proceeds from the Open House support the Stutz Residency Program by funding a scholarship that provides one-year free studio space and utilities for emerging local artists. It is one of the largest grants to individual artists in the state.

To help celebrate such an important milestone, PATTERN was able to chat with a handful of Stutz’ resident artists about their practices and art.

From a vintage hat that needs a new life, to a piece of material that serves as an inspirational starting point, local hat maker Jodie Bailey‘s Stutz studio contains a menagerie of her unique headgear creations. Some of her hats use traditional millinery techniques, while others are more whimsical in nature, including hats with little plastic aliens on top.

“They’re like little story books on top of your head,” said Bailey. “You can spend hundreds of dollars on a pair of shoes, go to a big party and no one will notice the shoes, but everyone wants to talk to that woman in a hat.”

A self-described tomboy growing up, Bailey’s future interest in hat making was first influenced by her mother. Each Saturday morning, the two would go to South Bend’s Robertson’s Department Store and the first stop was always the millinery section.

“My mom loved hats and that really stuck with me, “ said Bailey, “But I was a 70’s teenager and that’s when women started casting off hats.”

Starting out in many creative careers including being a florist and owning her own interior design business, Bailey later decided to pursue costume design at IU South Bend. This led to an assistant manager position in Indiana Repertory Theatre’s costume department. After the first season, she went on to earn an undergraduate degree from Herron School of Art and later a Masters in sculpture.

“All those skills translated really well into hat making,” said Bailey. “Sometimes I have a very complete idea where I design the hat and sketch it out. Other times, it’s a piece of material that speaks to me.”

The idea to create berets unfortunately stemmed from her mother suffering a brain aneurism in 2003. Bailey set out to find a hat for her mom, but the task proved to be more difficult than expected. This sparked the concept of making colorful berets for women experiencing hair loss. In 2017, she was able to pursue hat making full-time and developed a line of soft berets. She also explored more traditional millinery techniques and created artwork in the form of hats. Her collection has since expanded to areas such as couture hats, derby hats, and commissioned hats. “I’ve learned to trust the process,” she says. “Some people come to me with an outfit, some start out with the hat in mind. I ask them to let me come up with some ideas and give me creative freedom. That’s when they turn out the best.”

Jodie’s thoughts on the local art scene? “I moved away from Indianapolis in 2010 to Michigan, just north of where I grew up. I realized I had left home instead of coming home. I have a huge family of creative people here and we’re making things happen. This is where I want to invest myself.”

To see Jodie Bailey’s hat line at this year’s Stutz Open House, visit her studio Friday 4/27, 5:30-10:30 pm or Saturday, 4/28, 1-5pm.

Follow Jodie Bailey on her social media:
Instagram: @JBaileyArt
Twitter: @JodieBaileyArt 

Photography by Esther Boston

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