Teresa Roche has long been a wellknown name on Greenville’s Arts scene, but recently that acclaim has gone nationwide.
She has combined her love of fine art and design in a collection of artisanal fabrics and wallcoverings inspired by her paintings and other artistic influences.
The Teresa Roche Textiles collection was recently included on “The List,” House & Garden’s global directory of products and services for home design and decorating.
Each fabric and wallpaper pattern began as an original painting. Roche describes the collection as “a satisfying crush of color and texture – at once playful and controlled. These textiles carry an expansive range of pattern, from basketweave to abstract florals to freeform circles.”
That description also fits Roche’s artwork, which spans from natural scenes, plants and flowers to much more abstract and geometric forms. She describes it as “sun-drenched southern imagery.”
Roche was selected to provide art and wallpaper for the new AC Hotel Greenville at the Camperdown development downtown. The project took more than a year to complete and Roche says it was a crucial step in expanding her textile business to a national stage.
Roche opened the Art & Light Studio in West Greenville in 2007, after she retired from ScanSource, where she coordinated and managed the company’s events.
She was part of a group of artist friends at ScanSource, one of whom crafted lamps, hence the “Light” part of the gallery name, Roche says. A once-a-year amateur art show by the group eventually led Roche to set up shop on Pendleton Street.
More than 15 years later, Art & Light represents over 40 artists and offers art services to individual and corporate clients. The rapidly expanding textiles studio recently moved to the newly renovated Flat Iron Studios in the West Village.
A Greenville native, Roche studied art and dance at Columbia College and worked as marketing director for Haywood Mall and a local office furnishing and equipment company. She and a partner owned and ran a bridal boutique on Washington Street downtown for nearly a decade.
Roche and her husband Will live in the Village of West Greenville. Their home is just about a block from the studio.
Talk Greenville: You formed Art & Light Studio in 2007. What’s been the most surprising thing that’s happened to the business since?
Teresa Roche: One of the most surprising things is that after developing a new website so that people could purchase straight from the site, our business really began to grow. We now sell to collectors all over the country as well as Europe. TG: Talk about your team a little bit. TR: We have a very small, but mighty team who are super passionate about their work. Bracken Sansbury is our Gallery Manager who brought years of gallery experience, as well as artist management, marketing and the critically needed technical skills to scale our business. Kat Mazzone is our Assistant Gallery Manager who brings very strong sales, communication and consulting skills. She loves working with collectors to help them find the artist that is perfect for their home. She is in and out of our customers’ homes and finds so much joy connecting with them on a personal level. We have just added Susan Wienke as a part time sales associate, event coordinator and business development guru. Our high-school intern, Emslie Wallace, is creative, driven and so mature for her age. We trust her with many behind-the-scenes details that are so important. And Will Roche, my husband, who keeps everything running! This team allows me to focus more heavily on my art, as well as Teresa Roche Textiles.
TG: How has your work with textiles allowed you to create beyond what you could do painting or in more traditional works?
TR: This is a tough question. It has opened so many doors for me — not only by scaling my work beyond the original pieces of art, but I jumped into the business with no knowledge of what in the world I was doing. I have learned and grown so much and met many other talented artisan textile designers who have become friends for life. It’s opened up my whole world outside of Greenville.
TG: Has it been difficult to juggle the studio and the expansion of the textile part of your business?
TR: It was really difficult in the beginning stages, but I’ve known for over 20 years that I wanted to make fabric and wallpaper. I also knew myself well enough to know that I needed to hire people who had skills that I did not have to make both businesses work. I had to have an “A Team” at Art & Light and also knew I needed to hire people with more expertise than I had. With the addition of a couple of team members on the textile side, Amy Siachos and Ann Stewart Hickerson, I’ve been able to make time for the most important part, painting and being creative, as well as traveling to meet designers across the country.
TG: For you, what is the difference between art and design?
TR: I have never been able to figure that out – it goes hand in hand and I can never figure out which is which. As an artist, your eye for detail, composition, coloration and scale is critical – same goes for design.
TG: You worked in retail and in events planning before you opened Art & Light. What’s the most important thing you learned from those experiences?
TR: The most important thing I learned in event planning is that it doesn’t matter how you perform when everything is going right, it’s how you perform when it’s not. It’s a very high-pressure business which is affected by many outside influences that can’t be controlled. Weather, flights, shipments — handing the tough situations and making quick decisions under pressure is so important.
TG: What was your first thought when you learned you’d been selected to provide art and textiles at the new Downtown AC Hotel?
TR: My first thought was how thrilled I was that a local hotel was reaching out to local artists! It was such an honor to be selected and I could not believe that my wallpaper would be in such a beautiful and prominent place.
TG: What’s your personal artistic style?
TR: It changes often, but I do think that classic with a little bit of edginess says it. I love combining unconventional color combinations and my favorite rooms are relaxed, under decorated, but very personal. My go-to paints for over 3 years now have been neons in yellow, pink and orange – just a dash of it.
TG: How has your style changed the most since you started?
TR: I’m definitely more confident and this comes with studying with some very talented abstract painters. I have learned that when I stay with my process I can pull it off, but if I veer from that and try to take short cuts, the end result is un-re
TG: Who is your biggest artistic influence?
TR: I have several, but living influences are Audrey Phillips and Patricia Kilburg. Nonliving would have to be the American painter Richard Diebenkorn.
TG: You’ve got dozens of artists represented at Art & Light. What do you look for when you’re considering adding to the group?
TR: There are so many gifted artists – we look for originality, we look for art forms that don’t compete with our gallery roster in place and we look to see how prolific they are.
TG: How did the development of the Virtual Gallery most change Art & Light?
TR: Oh my goodness! Bracken gets all the credit for that. Our out-of-town customers have been thrilled that they can take a walk through the gallery from the comfort of their own home. They get a flavor for the brick and mortar gallery and it has been huge success.
This article originally appeared on Greenville News: Teresa Roche becomes a nationally recognized artisan textile designer