Bunnies. Tofu. Dinosaurs. Spiders. An energetic Jennifer Ly sits cross-legged on a carpet surrounded by stuffed animals of all sizes as she gleefully pulls out one after another of the soft creatures and objects, many of which she made herself. “There is happiness attached to each stuffed animal,” she says. Jennifer graduated from Lamar University in 2014 with a studio arts degree — the last person with an emphasis in fiber art. Each plushie has a personal significance to Jennifer, whether they are made of synthetic or natural components, like cloth or yarn. “The material is nostalgic to me,” she says. “My dad always won me a stuffed animal at every carnival we went to. Other kids played with toys and action figures, but those stuffed animals were my toys.” It is the personal ties she has to her stuffed animals that led her to build a hand-made stuffed animal business — Jenni Bean Plush. Jennifer feels that fiber art is a medium that many artists do not explore today, and that makes it even more unique and special to her. “I feel like I have a duty to continue fiber art, and I hope that I’m doing so through the stuffed animals I create,” Jennifer says. She is honored to be the last of many fiber art majors at Lamar University.
Story and photo by Andre Woodard