Bhoomki Believer: Jordana Munk Martin

Posted on July 10 2014

We are thrilled to present our July Bhoomki Believer, Jordana Munk Martin, founder and director of Oak Knit Studio. I first met Jordana during her first visit to Bhoomki shorty after we opened in late 2012. We immediately connected on our deep love of textiles, their history and all things handmade. Our discussions revolve not only around our shared love of textile tactility, but also juggling the joys of a demanding creative professional life and raising a family in Brooklyn.

Jordana is well-known in our community as a passionate supporter of the arts. She sits on the board and advisory committees of BRIC Arts | Media, Brooklyn Museum's Sackler Center for Feminist Art and is the President of Textile Arts Center's (TAC) Board. You can also catch her hosting Thursday Night Knitting at Oak Knit Studio, a knitting circle that connects women (and yes, men, too!) from all walks of life. 

We asked Jordana to tell us about herself, her inspiration and the good work she does for Brooklyn's artistic and cultural life.  It's a joy and honor to sit on the Textile Arts Center Board with her.  - Swati :)

Where did you grow up? How long have you lived in Brooklyn?

I grew up in Los Angeles. I've lived in many cities, and NYC is my favorite. I've lived here, in Brooklyn, for 10 years.

Where do you find your daily inspiration?

I find daily inspiration in the handmade, in the tactile. How we have relationships with and express ourselves through objects and fabrics - sometimes consciously, other times unconsciously.

Prosthetic breasts created at a Knit-A-Boob event for cancer survivors. 

Tell us about Knit-A-Boob.

 I began to host Knit-a-Boob events in my studio in 2011, as a way to broadcast the amazing awareness mission of Dr. Marisa Weiss, while simultaneously achieving personal goals of teaching as many people to knit as possible. Knitting is a wonderful life skill, that brings the satisfaction of the handmade and opens up the possibility of positive social interaction. Women and men like to knit together, as well as alone.

I consider Knit-a-Boob a 'craftivism' event, an event that brings together the separate worlds of craft andactivism.

The by-products of Knit-a-Boob events are many, and include: raising empowering awareness for breast health and disease prevention, creating a sense of shared community and learning, and the production of the knitted boob itself. A knitted boob communicates so many things. Not only is it useful, but it is loving. It is a warm, soft, comforting, and cost-effective alternative to other prosthetics, and as it is handmade by a stranger it says to the survivor "You are not alone. This disease affects everyone. Your community cares about your health." Hopefully, it presents the idea that losing your breast is not just about fear and pain and loss, but is actually an opportunity to be reminded of the love that's out there, human to human, through this gift.

Who are your mentors?

First and foremost I consider my grandmother, Edith Wyle, to be my mentor. She's the voice in my head, and often the engine that drives me. She was an artist and world traveler, and an avid folk art collector (with a collecting focus in textiles). She had great style and she founded the Craft and Folk Art Museum in Los Angeles in the 60's. She was ahead of her time.

Tell us about the organizations that receive your support and passion. 

Currently I am on the Board of The Craft and Folk Art Museum in Los Angeles (the institution founded by my grandmother). I am also on the board (serving as President) of the Textile Arts Center. I serve as an advisory council member at BRIC Arts Media in Brooklyn and am also on the Advisory Council for the Sackler Center for Feminist Art at the Brooklyn Museum of Art.

How did you get involved with Textile Arts Center?

I got involved with TAC in 2010. I had a strong inner urge to develop a studio where artists and designers could rent space with a focus on textiles and shared skills. When I began to look for space I found the Textile Arts Center and I approached them about collaborating. I fell in love with that organization and together we created the TAC Artist In Residency Program which is currently graduating its fifth class of artists. I'm very proud of this program, which gets better every year, and allows artisans an amazing year of professional development in the textile space.

As Board President of TAC, what do you see in TAC's future?

I honestly think there are so many places that TAC can go and grow. In the next 5 years our goal is to find a more permanent spot in the Brooklyn cultural landscape. We will teach more classes, do more inner city outreach into schools, cultivate and educate more textile enthusiasts of all kinds! I see us developing all of our programs, especially retail and possibly swatch development /production for smaller designers.

How has Bhoomki enhanced or changed the way you think about clothes?

Bhoomki has absolutely enhanced the way I think about clothing. I've long been loyal to some clothing designers with a more artisanal or hand-made focus. But  one thing I love about Bhoomki, is that under its informed filter, I see ways of ethically purchasing even basic wardrobe pieces. Of course I think Bhoomki also puts real style and invention into play - but It's so wonderful that I can also buy my socks and jeans there, and accessorize, and feel great about those purchases.

What makes you laugh?

What makes me laugh? Oh my god. LIFE MAKES ME LAUGH. So does my husband (Ross Martin). Daily. And my kids. Also, I laugh at myself. Constantly. AND  If you need a laugh in the middle of the night - I recommend

Where do you like to eat in Brooklyn when you go out?

On Monday nights you can find my husband and me at Al di La. We are such creatures of habit. 

How would you define your style?

My style is eclectic. I really enjoy clothing, in its many many forms. My relationship to it though, always begins with the fabric. I have to respond to the fabric first, mainly its hand or its texture - way before color, pattern, embellishment or silhouette come into play. I like the handmade to have a presence in what I wear - and I like to have something to say if I am asked about what's on me.

What would you tell your 20-something self?

Oh my. The 20 yr old self question. I would tell myself that anxiety is a construct that doesn't serve. Instead, channel that energy into positive change or into finding an opportunity to meet a new person. I would tell myself that getting dressed can be a celebratory conversation between you and the people that designed or constructed your clothes - not just about exposing or hiding your body parts. I didn't really know this at 20, and I wish that I had!


Jordana is wearing Samantha Pleet's Oath Romper. Portrait of Jordana by Jennifer Trahan.


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