‘Rugs with guts and hearts and minds and spirits’ is how performance artist and designer, Honey Jernquist A.K.A. Honey McMoney, describes his fantastical designs. Having discovered handmade rugs as the perfect outlet for his ‘eccentric’ creative vision, Jernquist follows his intuition to create bold designs in punchy colourways. The process of designing is a performance for his creative mind but Jernquist’s ideas are very much grounded in the hands-on reality of artisan skills. Here he talks to COVER magazine about where the ideas have come from and where he sees them going.
How does a performance artist get involved with rugs? One very hot un-air-conditioned July morning in Brooklyn I woke up a bit delirious and looked out the window and thought, ‘Rugs!’. It was realising a sweet spot of my fine art ideas and craft/design/making technical skills, of which performance art is deeply embedded and informs a lot about how I investigate, how I gather, manipulate and compile information. In the case of these rugs, it is how I play with pixels and their tools and am not afraid of being seen as a little too much and going a little too far, reveling in an eccentric vision, trying to chart some course between the outré and the sublime. The simple answer is intuition—perceiving a reservoir of abundance of ideas and finding a way to draw them out.
What got you hooked on handmade? The hands, and the time, and the lives that go into rugs, and into the history of rugs, it is awesome and humbling. Handmade is where the work landed by the fortunes of events. Handmade is the length and breadth of human history and eternal as such. My main hope is that we always strive to support artisans with good quality of life.
When did you set up Järnkvist Rugs? What is the idea behind it? I created Järnkvist Rugs without ever knowing if any of them would be produced, but I was very much enjoying the idea of them, their fantastic/virtual nature. I realised I personally might never have the means for their production, but there was no reason to hide the vision away. So, I invite people into an imaginary world, with the potential that these rugs could be realised, and that there is value even in that alone. In my mind it’s an infinite house with all manners of rooms each with their own character/mood/tone, and that fantasy can be an end in and of itself. I think we can get very attached to contemporary (and temporary) aesthetics of ‘good taste’, but why restrict the mind from wandering? Handmade rugs are truly unique items, why not engage with wild possibilities? You wouldn’t want to only have mundane dreams!
What inspires your rug designs? I love investigating the world, from the gutters to the stars, and endless information about colour, texture, pattern, etc is constantly falling into the well of my imagination. The process of playing with the various digital pixel manipulation tools and rug design software, discovering a world that I actually could never have imagined, the doing and trying to find the rugs is the inspiration itself. Then I guess in terms of how to know what I’m looking for, I think this comes from performance art, the moment when I can feel the rug and its space and have a sense of being on it.
Which rug designs have become a reality? I’ve done quite a bit of on and off freelance custom rug design since 2015, but I don’t quite think of those as ‘mine’. Two rugs— Golden Hall and Ikarus—have been made in Nepal through a NYC rug producer that represents a few of my designs for their clients. I’ve acquired a few samples through them as well, and a couple samples I had made through another producer in NYC. One of the charms of having turned this project into a performance of the fantastic, is that the work is perpetually there—timeless, anachronistic—with the potential to be materialised at any time when the right person finds the right rug.
How do you see the brand developing? My next rug fantasy, for which I hand-knotted a small sample last year during quarantine times, is hemp rugs grown and made in the northeast US and Canada. It’s very far from even being feasible right now! But I think as an artist you follow a vision and see where it takes you and maybe you’ll even bring some joy to others on the way. Ultimately it all nestles inside the bigger project of art and living. And of course, Järnkvist Rugs is always here if you need a fantastic rug!