Teresa Roche has long been a household name in the Greenville art scene, but recently that fame has spread nationwide.
She has combined her love of fine art and design into a collection of handcrafted fabrics and wallcoverings inspired by her paintings and other artistic influences.
The Teresa Roche Textiles collection was recently included in “The List”, House & Garden’s global directory of products and services for home design and decoration.
Each fabric and wallpaper pattern started as an original painting. Roche describes the collection as “a satisfying blend of colors and textures – both playful and controlled. These textiles carry a huge range of patterns, from basket weave to abstract florals and free-form circles.
This description also fits Roche’s work, which ranges from natural scenes, plants and flowers to much more abstract and geometric shapes. She describes it as “images of the south bathed in sunlight”.
Roche has been selected to supply the art and wallpaper for the new AC Hotel Greenville in the Camperdown development town centre. The project lasted more than a year and Roche says it was a crucial step in expanding its textile business nationwide.
Roche opened the Art & Light studio in West Greenville in 2007, after retiring from ScanSource, where she coordinated and managed company events.
She was one of a group of artist friends at ScanSource, one of whom made lamps, hence the “Light” part of the gallery’s name, Roche says. An amateur art exhibition held once a year by the group eventually led Roche to settle on Pendleton Street.
More than 15 years later, Art & Light represents more than 40 artists and offers artistic services to individuals and businesses. The growing textile studio recently moved to the newly renovated Flat Iron Studios in the West Village.
Originally from Greenville, Roche studied art and dance at Columbia College and worked as a marketing manager for Haywood Mall and a local furniture and office 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 house is about a block from the studio.
Talk Greenville: You founded Art & Light Studio in 2007. What’s been the most surprising thing to happen to the company since then?
Teresa Roche: One of the most amazing things is that after we developed a new website so people could buy directly from the site, our business really started to grow. We now sell to collectors nationwide as well as in Europe. TG: Talk a bit about your team. TR: We have a very small but powerful team who are super passionate about their work. Bracken Sansbury is our Gallery Director who has brought years of gallery experience, as well as artist management, marketing and technical skills essential to scaling 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 perfect artist for their home. She walks in and out of our clients’ homes and finds so much joy in connecting with them on a personal level. We 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 him with many of the behind-the-scenes details that are so important. And Will Roche, my husband, who takes care of everything! This team allows me to focus more on my art, as well as on Teresa Roche Textiles.
TG: How has your work with textiles allowed you to create beyond what you could do in painting or more traditional works?
TR: That’s a tough question. It opened so many doors for me – not only expanding my work beyond original artwork, but I jumped into the business not knowing what I was doing in the world. I learned and grew a lot and met many other talented artisan textile designers who became lifelong friends. It opened up my whole world outside of Greenville.
TG: Was it difficult juggling the studio and expanding the textile side of your business?
TR: It was really difficult at first, but I’ve known for over 20 years that I wanted to do fabric and wallpaper. I also knew myself well enough to know that I needed to hire people who had skills that I didn’t have to make both businesses work. I had to have an “A team” at Art & Light and I also knew that I needed to hire people with more expertise than me. With the addition of a few team members from the textile side, Amy Siachos and Ann Stewart Hickerson, I was able to dedicate time to 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’ve never been able to understand that – it goes together and I can never understand which is which. As an artist, your sense of detail, composition, coloring and scale is essential – the same goes for design.
TG: You worked in retail and events before opening Art & Light. What is the most important thing you learned from these experiences?
TR: The most important thing I’ve learned in event planning is that it doesn’t matter how you behave when things are going well, it’s how you behave when things are going badly. It is a very high pressure business that is affected by many outside influences that cannot be controlled. Weather, flights, expeditions – managing difficult situations and making quick decisions under pressure is so important.
TG: What was your first thought when you learned that you had been selected to provide art and textiles for the new Downtown AC Hotel?
TR: My first thought was how thrilled I was for a local hotel to reach out to local artists! It was such an honor to be selected and I couldn’t believe my wallpaper would be in such a beautiful and prominent place.
TG: What is your personal art style?
TR: It changes often, but I think the classic with a bit of nervousness says it. I like to combine unconventional color combinations and my favorite bedrooms are casual, under-decorated, but very personal. My favorite paints for over 3 years now have been neon lights in yellow, pink and orange – just a hint.
TG: How has your style changed the most since you started?
TR: I’m definitely more confident and that comes from studying with very talented abstract painters. I learned that when I stick to my process, I can be successful, but if I deviate from it and try to take shortcuts, the end result is unresolved.
TG: What is your biggest artistic influence?
TR: I have several, but the living influences are Audrey Phillips and Patricia Kilburg. The non-living should be the American painter Richard Diebenkorn.
TG: You have dozens of artists represented at Art & Light. What are you looking for when considering adding to the group?
TR: There are so many talented artists – we look for originality, we look for art forms that don’t compete with our roster of established galleries and we look to see how prolific they are.
TG: How has the development of the Virtual Gallery changed Art & Lumière the most?
TR: Oh my God! Bracken gets all the credit. Our out-of-town customers have been delighted to be able to walk through the gallery from the comfort of their own homes. They get a flavor for the brick and mortar gallery and it was a huge hit.