Posts tagged Abstract
The First Love: Interview with Jenni Stringleman
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Interview by Sarah Mills


After twenty years of working in graphic design and animation, Jenni Stringleman has returned to her first love - working in oils.
 
Based in Auckland, New Zealand, she paints contemporary, bright expressionist florals, fresh, abstracted nudes and portraits.
 
“For me, painting is an expression of joy. I simply love the act of applying oils to canvas, and this has lead me to explore a heady mix of thick oils, and semi transparent washes of colour, high detail combined with gestural strokes.”

Jenni's recent pieces focus on the figure drawn from life in charcoal, erased, rotated, and attacked with brayers and solvents with slabs of flat colour finally applied to obscure and reveal. 

Jenni sells and exhibits at Gallery De Novo and Endemic World Gallery in New Zealand, as well as shipping pieces to international collectors.

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You came back to painting after 20 years of working in graphic design and animation, what drew you back to oils?

I painted almost religiously at high school, partly to get out of PhysEd but mainly because I was obsessed with art! At our school, we had hessian or paper stapled to walls and never-ending acrylic paint, and it was heaven. I wanted to be a full-time artist but decided to go for something practical - graphic design. I assumed I’d paint in my own time after work, but I never did! Instead, I worked on a bungee jump for years, in New Zealand and the UK, then painted murals and eventually ended up in graphic design in the City in London. I was having too much fun to remember to paint (or practice the flute, but that’s another story)!

Eventually, after 11 years in London, I returned to New Zealand, got married and retrained in animation which I adored, but after falling pregnant with my eldest daughter, I decided to give up work for a while. I played a domestic goddess for some years, then sadly a friend was diagnosed with terminal cancer and given only a year to live. It was absolutely tragic as she was a mum of two, and it made me reassess my life choices. I felt it was too late to retrain as a brain surgeon so instead I decided to jump back into painting to leave a legacy for my two young daughters. It was one of the bravest things I ever did, walking into a painting class under the tutelage of artist Robert Campion, however, he was nurturing and kind and downloaded his years of education and experience into my brain, and from there I had a new career!

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You work with such a wide variety of subjects ranging from florals to portraits to abstract work. What do you see as the connecting factor between all your work?

Yes, I do! I am probably like that as a person. I want to be trying new things, learning, stretching myself. Most people call me a colorist, and I do love color, it’s hugely instinctual for me, I feel what goes where and get great joy from the marks and drips and combinations. My first love in painting is the figure... life drawing, nudes, faces. But my mum asked me to paint hydrangeas for her, and they were my first sales to friends and locals.

The nudes were put on the backburner for a while. The galleries who approached me, came to me for my semi-abstracted florals, so that’s where most of my energy went. I painted a portrait of my daughter just for fun then ended up getting commissioned to paint other kids. I love the opportunity they afford me to sit down for once! I like being challenged to capture the real essence of this child, in a more classic way that will stand the test of time. They take ages, and they give me a break from the physical effort of the large pieces. Last year I studied under Martin Campos, and he inspired me to combine my love of color and paint with my charcoal sketches of the figure. A new aspect to my work developed, and now I think of myself as working happily across these three strands.

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Where do you draw inspiration from for your work?

Definitely nature, usually in the small details of plants and the effects of light. Also all of human life. I store away images from magazines and TV, fashion shows, of people on the street. There’s not enough time in my day to paint the things I want to. I screengrab so much of Instagram. Today my art hero Andrew Salgado posted a shot of himself in an orange raincoat against an orange wall, and now that’s all I want to paint! As well as the pieces I sell through galleries, I paint on A3 size Arches paper and that’s where I experiment, and they’re all stacked up in a cupboard! I need to have a sale.

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What is the first thing you do when you sit down to start a new oil painting?

So this depends a little on which one of my themes I’m working on. For the big textured botanical pieces, I almost always start with a fast, loose acrylic underpainting. I stand, listen to podcasts or music, move around and go on instinct. I may use a ref photo but often don’t. I start from a position of wanting to use certain colors or shapes, and this informs what I’m working towards. For the portraits and nudes, I tend to sit at the table and use a desktop easel. The nudes are from life or ref photos, I sketch multiple times in charcoal, rubbing out marks and rotating the support. Eventually, I will introduce a limited palette of oils. With the portraits, I dive in from a ref photo. I don’t grid up or anything. I paint the whole face at once and gradually refine.

Your paintings have a beautiful textural quality to them. What is your process like to achieve that texture?

Thank you! That came about mainly through laziness. I use so much saturated oil color that washing out my brushes each night was doing my head in. I tried a painting knife one day and got hooked! I rarely use a brush now except for the portraits. It helped me simplify, and I love the geometric quality.

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What is your favorite part about working with fluid paints?

Oh, it’s just so fun, it’s exciting. It’s a proper thrill to squeeze paint from a tube, mix it with the knife. With the washy underpainting, I love the unexpected blends. With my oils, I enjoy the thick texture and sheer glazes. The only thing I don’t like is how messy I am. Each tube is lidless, covered in paint, etc.

What advice do you have for our readers who are struggling to change their artistic paths?

My week with Martin Campos did genuinely change my life. I’d say if you can afford it, seek out artists you love and admire and try and study with them. Even a weekend will help! Give yourself permission to play, don’t feel the need to show everything. Expect changes to take time. Your audience may take time to catch up to your new style. Imagine you had a year left, what would you do with it? What is your true passion? But be practical! You need to survive, and there’s no shame in working for money to allow yourself the luxury of time to explore.

Free and Intuitive: Interview with Lauren Mycroft
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Lauren Mycroft is a Canadian painter whose abstract works reference organic shapes using complex layers and staining. Using a contemporary palette and methodical layering technique, Mycroft creates process-driven artwork that feels both fresh and familiar. The compositions are created freely and intuitively, learned through years of practice and formal art training. Inspired by memory of place, Mycroft reflects on our emotional attachment and not specific locales. Through her unique palette and fields of stains, Mycroft offers the viewer a sense of nostalgia and elicits a personal response based on their own experiences with the landscape.

Mycroft studied at Vancouver Island University and Emily Carr University of Art and Design, and now exhibits regularly on the Canadian West Coast.

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In your artist statement, you talk about how your practice is process driven. How did you develop your process?

My process was developed over years of experimentation and working towards the goal of painting without developing an attachment to the end result. I have always enjoyed painting with a fluid medium. However, something clicked for me when I started working with high flow paints. This new medium caused my process to change dramatically, as I started pouring liquid paint over the canvas rather than applying with a brush.

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What is your favorite part about your intuitive practice?

Painting intuitively as opposed to painting with a specific outcome in mind challenges my need to control small details and allows me to problem solve creatively in the moment. Although it can feel overwhelming approaching a canvas in this way, once I overcome the compositional challenges of a painting, I am far more excited by the result than had I approached it with a predetermined outcome.

You also talk in your statement about being inspired by the memory of the place. When and how did this idea become an inspiration in your work?

The process of painting landscapes is something that has allowed me to reflect upon my childhood, as I moved around a lot in my life. Leaving the imagery abstracted and void of representative details allows the viewer to create their attachment to the work. For me, each piece is very personal; however it is not based on a specific locale, it is more representational of time.

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How does the idea of memory drive and come through in your work?

I would say the idea of memory drives the mood of my work and dictates my color palette and the boldness or softness or a painting. That, combined with the indistinct forms, allow viewers to apply their memory and attachment to a piece which creates a connection for the collector.

Can you tell us a little about your color palette? Is the palette premeditated for each piece or do you work intuitively there as well?

I often start with an idea of a palette or a couple of colors; however, it changes as the painting develops.

Can you share a piece of advice you have received that you think our readers would benefit from hearing?

I don’t remember where I read this, however, the simple, yet powerful statement, “walk towards your fear” has greatly impacted how I approach creating such personal work every day and how I navigate this career. I also have a note on my studio wall reminding myself not to allow the work to become precious; this keeps it fun and experimental and will enable me to make my best work.

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What has been the best part of your artistic career thus far?

I keep surprising myself with what I’m able to accomplish as a self-employed person (even the fact that I’m self-employed is a surprise to me) who is also raising two little humans! There’s a sense of pride and newfound confidence that I’ve acquired with each hurdle I overcome.

Young Shin
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Born in Seoul, South Korea, and raised in Los Angeles, California, Young grew up loving art, spending hours at end drawing and painting, and making and sewing her own dolls and clothes.  After receiving a B.A. in Philosophy and a minor in Studio/Visual Arts focusing on oil painting, she proceeded to studying law and graduating with a J.D.  However, it was only a matter of time that she returned to her love of art and design, eventually receiving her degree in Fashion Design from Parsons School of Design.  After a stint in a career as a fashion designer in NYC and Chicago, Young spent several years making and selling handmade, hand-painted, and silk-screened clothing and accessory line through her own label. 

 In her body of work, melding her past experiences and passion together, Young combines elements from art, design, and craft.  The distorted and abstracted geometric shapes and layered and uneven textures in her paintings encompass such idea.  Stylistically, applying paper as her main medium and adopting simple geometric shapes as her main form of expression – empirically giving the impression of respite and airiness – Young’s studio practice strives to achieve neo-minimalist aesthetics.  She appreciates the balance between unornamented austerity in the physical form with complex and nuanced nature of the craftsmanship involving layering, molding and sanding paper by hands.  Young resides in the San Francisco Bay Area where she works as a full-time painter.

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Sacred Geometry: Interview with Phyllis Gorsen and Paula Cahill
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Phyllis Gorsen

I have created a series of multi-canvased paintings that describe how we are all connected together by having elements of everyday life in common. I use symbols in both visual and written language as depictions of these commonalities highlighting the connections created by their universality despite varying perceptions. I use a combination of abstraction and representation in the work.These paintings explore connection in two ways: larger multi-canvased compositions that are broad symbolic illustrations of elements of common human experiences, and smaller “couples” paintings that represent two universal elements symbolically paired together in written language. These works are more specific in nature. 
My paintings are intended to move the eye using energetic patterns, movement and vibrancy. My hope is that viewer is captivated by the visual allure of the surface to allow for a slow unveiling of the meaning of the work – which is that we all connected by sharing many of these human experiences.

-Phyllis Gorsen

Tell me about your creative journey so far. 

I have been painting most of my life, primarily figures.  What I loved most about figurative work is that many times it contains the thing that is most basic to all of us. Race, gender identity, religion, etc. inform our experiences and perspectives and thus there are multitudes of viewpoints stemming from that. But, even with these differences, there are overarching similarities that we are share. That is the place that I want to put the emphasis on. As an artist, my work has always been about connection. I try to portray the human aspects that are intrinsic to all people regardless of our differences.  

When I went back to school and got my MFA in 2014 from the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Art, I studied the figurative painters that I loved so much, mainly the Bay Area Figurative Painters like David Park and Richard Diebenkorn. It was then that I started to concentrate on figurative work that captures the patterns of everyday life, but I never made my work autobiographical. I was always much more interested in those spaces that are common to everyone. And although the figure was a catalyst for my work, between the use of color, collage, and pattern, there has always been a strong abstract component. After I graduated, I started to play around in the studio thinking more about the literal interpretation of patterns of everyday life. That’s when I took the turn into geometric abstract work.

As I delved deeper into the abstract elements, both in subject matter and execution, I began portraying components of everyday life in symbolic terms. I created paintings mimetic of the human experience without the use of figures. Most people don’t realize that my paintings contain symbols, I think mostly because I try not to make them too obvious. I prefer a slow unveiling of the meaning behind the work. I do fuse abstraction and representation within many of my paintings as long as I feel they describe the various facets of our commonalities. Some of these elements are recognizable and others are symbolic interpretations of components such as language, technology, nature, culture, etc. Often, I use lines to bridge these symbols together, illustrating how they connect us together. Linguistically, I am exploring the use of symbolism through my titles. These play a critical role in telling the story of each piece and drive the composition of some paintings. All of my work has a high degree of vibrancy and vibration that is a constant within my practice.

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What inspired you to create the work you are including in the exhibition at James Oliver Gallery?


My works in the show contain pieces that are more complex and have various visual components and meanings, as well as paintings that are more distilled and simplified. In addition to the complex paintings that are attached to multiple canvases, I wanted to include paintings that were separate but related. So I have works that are both interconnected such as “Essence and Pursuit” and outwardly connected such as “Of a Circular Nature…”- which are a set of four paintings? It was an exciting exploration in the idea of connection to depict it internally and externally. All of the work is painted on circular canvases or within circular spaces. The circle to me is beautiful in that there are no defined edges. They feel like complete bodies to me and allow me to investigate the idea of connection in a more fluid way.


What are some ongoing themes or ideas you have been exploring within your paintings?

As I mentioned before, I focus on how the commonality of shared patterns connects people together by using symbolism- both abstract and representational. I personally feel that the most powerful works are the ones that combine visceral sensory experiences with fundamental content underneath. I like making the surfaces of my paintings beautiful with the hope that the viewer is enticed enough to uncover the underlying message of human connection. In “Interweave”, the idea was to illustrate that regardless of our differences, people are internally woven together creating a society. In “Interlink #1-12”, the 12 separate canvases each represents a microcosm of a society that is linked to ones surrounding it. In “Essence and Pursuit”, there are eight canvases representing elements of humanity. From the top left panel going across and down, they are: Connection, Essence (red rings emanating outward), diverse populations of people moving together and apart (top middle), Vegetation, Geography, Technology (bottom middle), Knowledge, and Cities.


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What can visitors expect from this exhibition?  

Sacred Geometry describes the patterns found in nature from the most minuscule particles to the greater cosmos. We obviously took on the title of the show “Sacred Geometry” with some poetic license. The idea behind the show was to exhibit work that had geometric abstract elements that also incorporated the meaning behind it.

When you walk into Hot-Bed Gallery, the viewer is immersed in a room of vibrant pattern and color. It really is visually exciting due to the interplay of color and movement from our work. I was really happy to be exhibiting with Paula Cahill because I am an admirer of her work and I felt that our paintings would fit well together. Hopefully, the audience will be seduced by the luminous surfaces to want to know more about the paintings.

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Paula Cahill

Is it possible to pinpoint when straight and curved lines were invented? The contours of ancient rock paintings give us organic lines and line is evident in the motifs of early Greek vessels and Egyptian Funerary art. Renaissance artists were lauded for their invention of perspective, a system contrived of straight lines that extend to infinity. Modernists isolated and formalized gestural line as subject. I strive to extend this conversation by painstakingly mixing and repeatedly laying down up to 100 gradients of color in my attempts to contemporize line.

- Paula Cahill

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Tell me about your creative journey so far. 

I studied figurative painting for many years before transitioning to complex abstract paintings. While in Graduate School, one of my critics looked at my figurative work and told me that if I wanted to paint flesh better, I should paint a fish. So, I did. When he came back, he said: "That's a pretty good fish, you should paint another one." Apparently, my other critics also thought that I should paint fish and they told me so. I never figured out if they thought I painted great fish or lousy flesh, but I kept painting fish. Pretty soon, I became interested in the way fish were moving in my aquarium and I began tracking their movements with line. I used those lines to make my first linear abstract paintings.

Being an abstract painter was like being a kid in a candy store for me. I wanted to experiment and try every type of abstract painting. I experimented for about six years. When I decided to get serious about showing my work, I asked friends for advice. They basically told me that I was a gallerist's nightmare! I needed to settle down to create a cohesive body of work. That's when I returned to the lines and I’ve been developing this body of work for almost two years. I’m glad that I made this commitment because the work has become more precise and complex. I’ve moved beyond fish and have used a variety of catalysts for the paintings. Art historical reference, movement, music, geometry, and memories have all been sources for my paintings.

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What inspired you to create the work you are including in the exhibition at James Oliver Gallery?

To me line is everything! Line is everywhere and it has been with us forever. I often wonder if we can pinpoint when straight and curved lines were invented. The contours of ancient rock paintings give us organic lines and line is evident in the motifs of early Greek vessels and Egyptian Funerary art.Renaissance artists were lauded for their invention of perspective, a system contrived of straight lines that extend to infinity. Modernists isolated and formalized gestural line as a subject. I strive to extend this conversation by painstakingly mixing and repeatedly laying down up to 100 gradients of color in my attempts to contemporize line.

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What can visitors expect from this exhibition?  

My new 2019 paintings will be exhibited for the first time in Sacred Geometry at Hot Bed. Geometry and historical reference are heavily weighted in this work. I think that viewers will be surprised to see some color shifts and compositional changes.

Jenniffer Omaitz
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Jenniffer Omaitz (b. 1979, Cleveland, OH) lives in Kent, OH and works in Kent and Cleveland. She holds an M.F.A. in painting from Kent State University and a B.F.A. in painting from the Cleveland Institute of Art. Solo exhibitions of her work have been held at The Sculpture Center, Cleveland; Sandy Carson Gallery, Denver; and Kent State University, Hinterland, Denver, and the Museum of Contemporary Art, Cleveland. Her work was also featured at the 2010 Biennial of the Americas in Denver, Fresh Paint at Manifest Gallery in Cincinnati (2017), CAN Triennial in Cleveland 2018 and recently was awarded a fellowship residency with the Akron Soul Train. 

Statement:

Our urban and geographic environment is in a constant state of transformation. My work explores states of change between order and chaos that relate to the visual experience of environmental shift. Painting and Installation Art are modes of communicating our sensitivity to environmental factors; these practices provide me with a cadence and context through which to express ideas. My installations explore order/chaos theory by invoking abstraction through the juxtaposition of technology, architecture, and nature colliding. Paintings are a meditation on movement, color, permutation, and gesture; boundary coordinates operating between space and color.

My paintings explore ideas of Fold, Gesture and Movement. These are approached in two ongoing series: Solid Movement and Folding Gesture. Solid Movement is an investigation into gesture and its ability to encapsulate time and psyche, fuse internal and external, and record conceptual state changes in solidified form. Folding Gesture explores changes in spatial order that appear fractured or fragmented. These states can remain calm or reconfigure coherence in the painting. I am interested in the connection between a fold as it relates to architecture or design and gesture as it relates to aspects of drawing and 20th century painting. This series struggles to define beauty, exploring abstraction as incident and artifact of the process in which paint is applied, exposing interior and exterior spaces that may not coexist. There is a constant struggle between surface and ground, between paint and the boundaries within the painting. This series of work attempts to unify my sculptural endeavors with my interests in painting.

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Polychromatic Fragmentism: Interview with Riccardo Liotta
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Professionally trained and practicing as an architect, I have also been producing art inspired by physics, mathematics, and geometry, the foundation of my artwork. 

Abstract art is characterized by dynamic, angular geometries, contrasting shapes, overlapping polychromatic polygons, vibrant colors, sharp lines, and graphics elements.

Derived from the application of mathematical formulas and geometric principles, it expresses concepts like speed, movement, and energy, reflecting the changing, unstable characteristics of nature, as well as the fragmentation, uncertainty and undeterminability of life. 

Technically these compositions are influenced by Futurism, Rayonism, Constructivism, and Suprematism, but take inspiration from comics, graphic design, diagrams and photographs of particle collisions and electron microscopy.

Through continuous artistic research and development, and by learning/experimenting with different techniques, methods and tools, the art has evolved, becoming less rigid, less systematic, but more intuitive, gestural, fluid, and it is created by experimenting with figure-ground relationship, proportions, harmony, contrast, overlaps, layers, movement, and by analyzing and altering the behavior of colors, fields, shapes, lines and segments.

All my artwork, despite which diverse approaches it originates from, shares many common stylistic traits and characteristics, and belongs to a broad style I identify as "polychromatic fragmentism".

I find acrylic to be the medium that best expresses my ideas and theories. However, I also work with colored pencils and pastels, pen, markers and collage. I also extensively utilize the computer to generate patterns, shapes and compositions, and to alter/enhance paintings and drawings.

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How did your artistic career start?

My career as an artist started in architecture illustration while working on my master in architecture. that is where I started painting and discovered acrylics.for my school projects and my thesis I began producing architectural paintings, but in a very abstract, interpretative way.

From there I transitioned to pure geometric, abstract compositions, gradually abandoning the architecture influence.

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What is your studio practice like?

I am still a practicing architect, so I usually split the day between architecture and art. I typically work on my artwork in the afternoons and evenings. many days, having not much time to devote to an actual canvas or composition, I find myself working on smaller drawings, collages or mixed-media work, or just sketching. quite a bit of time is also spent on just creating and analyzing forms – painted, drawn or cut-out - that will either be used on or as starting points for actual compositions. I also spend a fair amount of time writing about my work process, or to analyze ideas.

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You have such a specific style. How did you develop it?

my architectural thesis project was based on particle physics and quantum mechanics, the concepts of randomness, chance and probability, and the application of these principles to the design methodology. this, along with my interest in mathematics and geometry, led me to develop a series of mathematical/geometrical experiments that generated what I called the “eigencompositions”: analytical, polychromatic abstract compositions consisting of simplified yet very dynamic geometrical shapes, fields, lines and segments, derived from the superposition of different forms generated and arranged systematically by these experiments.

Later on, I started using new mathematical concepts and mechanisms to generate different compositions. I also had different opportunities to learn and experiment with a variety of techniques, methods, and tools that have allowed me - if not forced me - to diversifying my modus operandi and to generate art using new processes, different from the abovementioned systems.

All these approaches, along with continuous artistic research, evolved and developed into what my art is today: less rigid, less systematic, but more intuitive, gestural, fluid, also influenced by comics, graphic design, diagrams and photographs of particle collisions and electron microscopy.

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What has been the most memorable moment of your artistic career thus far?

In recent months, my work is regularly being published in different magazines and catalogs, as well as being recognized by some of the most important art sale and collection sites. being invited by important galleries and art fairs to exhibit with them is also quite rewarding.

What first drew you to working with geometric shapes?

When I started painting, my artwork was related to or influenced by architecture. but my architectural projects were all based on mathematics, geometry and physics. so, directly or indirectly, that is always been the foundation of my work. but I also think it is all simply driven by my innate, genuine interest and fascination with geometry.

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You use such bold colors in your work, how do you choose your palette for each piece?

At the early stages of composition it is very intuitive. typically, I already have a chromatic scheme in mind right from the beginning, derived from magazine clippings, a photograph, comics, graphic design, other artwork, or by simply sketching with color pencils. I then analyze these color combinations as the work progresses, to make sure they are right for the shapes and that they work as a whole, and add smaller amounts of complementary colors as I move along.

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When starting a new piece do you typically have a plan or do you plan as you go?

I always have a plan as the starting point for each work, a way to generate the shapes and the relationships that make the composition.it could be a simple drawing – for example, a sketch of a piece done at a museum – a diagram, or a “spontaneous” assemblage of paper clippings and fragments that form an interesting whole. the main colors are also already loosely established.

As the work develops, through a variety of operations new shapes inevitably appear, some get altered, and others are hidden or eliminated.and so the original plan is constantly being modified until there is only some of it left. it’s a process where I let the composition take its natural course, but still within the parameters of the original plan.

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Colors of Sound by Nicolle Cure

Nicolle Cure is a Colombian-American artist living and working in Miami, FL. She was born and raised in the seaside of Barranquilla, Colombia and moved to the U.S. when she was 17 years old.  Always inspired by art and design, she studied Computer Arts Animation at the Miami Dade College and then obtained a Bachelor of Advertising from the University of Florida. She also holds academic certificates from the Sotheby's Institute of Art.  Her background has allowed her to interact with many aspects of juxtaposed cultures which in turn, encouraged her to create works based on these experiences, world travels, and her own personal emotions. 

Nicolle was selected as the sole recipient of the 'Leaders with Disabilities' Scholarship Award* to attend the Americans for the Arts' 2018 National Arts Marketing Project Conference in Seattle, WA.  Read My Hearing Loss Journal for additional info.


After experiencing sudden unilateral deafness in 2017, I was in extreme pain and isolation. During the first months after losing my hearing, I used to wake up to the sudden sensation that everything around me was spinning (vertigo), this lasted minutes and left my body weak for the rest of the day. In addition, any slight body movement would make me feel dizzy and nauseated. Naturally, I was resting in bed most of the time and I could not do the one thing that gave me joy—painting, my passion. I was extremely depressed as well as anxious, with mood swings. It was difficult to move freely or be in an optimal "state-of-mind", and this was devastating.

HOW THE ‘COLORS OF SOUND’ WAS BORN

One day, something incredible happened; I ironically turned to sound to lift my creative spirit. My partner Felipe, who is a music producer and sound engineer, showed me the range of frequencies that I was no longer able to hear anymore.

It was a bizarre experience to be able to see on a screen the sound waves and frequencies that I could not hear. When I looked at the frequencies, I saw patterns. Seeing the sound allowed me to capture emotions and moods. 

I decided I had to make an effort to go back to my studio in order to create and communicate. This is how the painting collection, “The Colors of Sound,” was born. I used acrylic inks and paint to mimic the energy and movement of the sound waves. I chose vibrant colors to create an uplifting, positive message, or darker colors for a more somber tone. With the paintings I wanted to explore the relationship between sound and life, to consider how we make sense of our surroundings through what we can hear. 







Glowing Auras: Interview with Marit Geraldine Bostad

By Sarah Mills

Through a series of paintings on canvas, Marit Geraldine Bostad investigates the themes that are central to her artistic research, the inner psyche, memories and human interaction. She blends her colours by pouring paint directly onto the canvas using a variety of tools, seldom using the paint brush - to create diverse, versatile effects, resulting in broad expressive strokes whose vibrant color emanates from the surface. As she moves the paint around the canvas, consistent colour blends start to form. These blended gestures become auras that grow and merge with pure colour. Marit Geraldine explores the Nordic Colour tradition in a bold new direction, blending tone to tone pastels with sparks of fluorescent and manifesting her own personal psychic state onto the canvas. She builds up and breaks down the diverse elements of her personal experience and brings them together in a new plastic dimension.

Named one of the “4 must see Artists” at The other Art Fair London in 2017 by Chief Curator of Saatchi Art, Rebecca Wilson, Bostad has exhibited in renowned galleries in Oslo, London, New York and Los Angeles, and recently completed a summer residency at ESKFF MANA Contemporary in New York.

All studio photos: byTXF

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Tell us about your painting process.

I blend my colours by pouring paint directly onto the canvas and using different tools to spread it across the surface, I rarely use a paint brush. This often results in very particular details and broad strokes which are caused by the lightness of my tools. I am always drawn to contrasts, adding layers of paint in disparity with each other to maintain a constant battle on the canvas – searching for the right kind of unbalance; both in gestures, colours and mark making. I am largely influenced by memories, people and situations, whose essence I attempt to preserve on the canvas, translating meaningful experiences into my plastic pictorial expression.

For some time now I have tried to go beyond the conveyance of external emotional reactions to reach deeper into the subconscious, in an attempt to erase the line between the conscious and the unconscious, and allow the canvas to become the tangible manifestation of my inner psyche.

Prior to this I planned my sessions in the studio, I narrowed down what I wanted to focus on, but nowadays my projects focus on complete freedom, the total lack of definition. By allowing myself to embrace the inner world of the subconscious psyche, I hope to reach a new level of interaction, a new source of inspiration, and perhaps a newly refined artistic expression, through continuous exploration of a free expressionistic approach to painting. Instead of using my personal life experiences, I seek inwards, beyond my conscious mind, and use my emotions to guide me, in order to express universal archetypes that transcend the particular conditions of my own life.

This was also the focus of my works executed at my recent residency at ESKFF / Mana Contemporary in NYC where I was so lucky to spend 5 weeks this summer. Saatchi Art blogged about my project.

What is your favourite part about working with fluid paints?

The most inspiring moments are when the paint itself find new ways, takes interesting and unexpected turns across the canvas. At those moments I need to use my intuition, to either follow or reroute. I don´t listen to music when I work, I use silence as a mentor - to enable me to hear my own voice. I am constantly in a dialogue with my material, it is all about give and take.

How did you develop your style as an artist?

I developed my style from an inner urge. I took classes with myself, slowly opening up the door from the inside to the outside. In retrospect, I like to think that I started from the inside and unlearned my way out again.

I was originally an art director, working with visual content in a commercial context, and as such there was always a barrier between me and my material. I was highly influenced by trends and customer’s expectations. I became a robot; always working within limitations. It was from these restrictions that I developed a strong urge to initiate projects for myself. When I got my first big job at a respectable art agency I escaped into painting whenever I had the chance, as a way to unwind and release. My own secret room – where I could freely express myself, away from consumer goods and customer taste.

When ten years later I decided to start as a full-time artist, it changed my life. For the first time, my work was meaningful. Being able to watch people connect to my work also strengthened my own, personal bond with my creations. I experimented constantly, spending thousands of hours in my studio, playing freely with colour, technique, and material. I think I will get old and still feel humble towards my materials. After working as an artist for some years I started to exhibit internationally, and I traveled a lot. I became inspired by so many up and coming artists, I learned that everything is possible as long as you dare to stand out and take some risks.

My style comes from years of studio practice – but also from learning from others. I was confident in my own expression when I sought a new direction and thus I was open for new inspiration. I never changed my style completely, I just added small glimpses of the new. As such I can still recognise myself in my old paintings, there is a certain core of me in it, even though my style has definitively changed over the years, coloured by my technique, rarely using the paint brush. People ask me how long a painting takes to complete. - The work is done when I feel that humble sensation, “did I create this piece?” That is the ultimate sign of a painting being ready to continue the conversation elsewhere.

What is your studio practice like?

I work in a very disciplined and structured way, and as much as I can, which often leads to more practical matters just being set aside. I usually work with several pieces at the same time as I love the possibility of being spontaneous, getting new impulses. I often go back to a piece inspired by something else, a new colour, a new mark. When I have good periods in the studio, I compare it with being addicted to a drug. It is hard to leave, and as soon as I walk out the door I am longing to be back. But interacting with the world outside will make me a better artist in the end. It makes me focused and love what I do even more. So when the alarm clock rings in the studio because I have to pick up my youngest from school, it always makes me smile. What feels like one hour has in fact been a whole day. It never stops overwhelming me…People ask me whether I feel lonely, being in my studio all by myself. But you don´t have to be surrounded with people to have meaningful conversations. It is a different kind of relationship that gives so much back at the end of the day without a word being said.

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You left a career in Art Direction to pursue painting full time, what was that experience like?

Scary and absolutely fantastic. A moment of truth. I have been drawing and painting since I was a child, both my parents were artists so I had creativity solidly rooted in my life. But when they were struggling to make ends meet they had to take on other jobs as well. When I was at the age of making choices at school, planning my future - their voices echoed in my head. “Go for something safe and solid, get a profession where you won´t worry about income,” I remember wondering why adult life had to be about doing the right things. I studied philosophy, psychology, marketing, but had the same empty feeling inside, year after year, I felt that I had chosen wrong. Eventually, I found a school that had some of my creative interests, so I took a Bachelor in Art Direction.

I spent almost ten years working with visual content and design in film and print and traveled the world earning a high income. My work was most often about pushing consumer products out in the world, and living up to others expectations, making something “pretty” or “cool”. During these ten years, I escaped into painting whenever I had a chance. During the weekends, at nights, on holidays. The real moment of truth came after bringing a child into this world. It gave me a new strength, a clearer connection to myself somehow. I finally quit my job, it had almost made me sick. Today I am grateful that creating something from my own inner source was stronger than my fear of failing. I think that it is this that has made my artistic expression strong and rooted, in something real and true.

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Share a piece of advice you have received that you would like to pass along to our readers.

As an artist, I meet so many people giving me feedback on my artwork. Back in 2016, I had a conversation with an art curator, Rebecca Wilson from Saatchi Art, she made me realise that I had my own unique voice. She told me that she had not seen anything like my style before, which made me very happy to hear, of course. Ever since, I have carried her words with me as motivation, a strength on a rainy day. I have worked hard and steadily, always trying to be in contact with myself and with what I really feel, setting aside expectation, perfectionism, and trends, reminding myself that if I stay true to myself I will somehow make the right decisions. Sometimes that means listening to advice from others, and other times it means holding on to something I believe in; a core essence which is about unlearning, finding your own inner voice – a voice which is well hidden amongst the louder echoes of our society.

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What has been the most exciting moment of your art career?

Ohh, that´s a tough one! I have so many great moments… Can I please make a short list: My first solo-show; almost selling out my whole booth at my first art fair in London; managing to stop my crate at the airport when I was returning from New York after a fair because a very good gallery last minute wanted my works and to represent me! My first group show in New York at Madelyn Jordon Fine Art where I was curated in the same show as Gary Komarin; being one of Rebecca Wilsons 4 must-see artists at TOAF London in 2017; getting a phone call from Tonje Buer, curator at Fineart (Norway’s biggest gallery in Oslo); being picked for 2018 EURO ESKFF residency program at MANA Contemporary in New York; getting to work with so many new galleries internationally during 2018; being invited to KHÅK Kunsthall (one of Norway’s most prestigious art associations where I will be having my biggest solo-show ever in late 2019) In addition to that – I have to mention ALL the moments in my studio (at least 5-6 crucial ones), where I have gained precious insight, all of which are an essential part of where I am today both as a person and as an artist.

Annette Hur
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Born in South Korea, Annette Hur lives and works in New York City. Hur has previously shown in solo / group exhibitions at Gavin Brown Enterprise, Times Square Space, Leroy Neiman Gallery, 33 Orchard gallery, Wallach Gallery in New York; Illinois State Museum, Heaven Gallery, Chicago Artists Coalition, Boundary, Sullivan Gallery, Zhou B Art Center in Chicago. Hur’s work was featured in New American Paintings issues 134 & 135, the online art publications: Bad at Sports and Third Coast Review. Hur was a resident of BOLT Residency at Chicago Artists Coalition in 2016-2017, and she holds a BA in Education from Ewha Womans University in South Korea and a BFA in Painting and Drawing from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago. She is currently a Masters of Fine Arts(2019) degree candidate at Columbia University.

Statement 

My artistic pursuits suppressed throughout my young adulthood were reignited as a recovery to domestic violence and depression — both related to the patriarchal environment I was raised in while growing up in Korea. By working with abstraction on large scale oil paintings and Korean silk textiles, I investigate the inherited traditional culture that subconsciously manipulates and subverts female sexuality. Heavily abstracted bodily forms and a palette that mimics the colors of viscera or surface wounds of the body create an atmosphere of tension between the physical body and everyday violence around it. As a result, although the entire image is abstract, hints of fingers, breasts, genitals, wounds, and acts of vomiting or penetration create narratives of unsafe bodily experiences. In my work, I am empowered to express my vulnerability with strength, rejection with acceptance, and to reveal what has been hidden.

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Holly D. Gray
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The role of caregiver, predominately assumed by women, is the inspiration and basis for my artistic practice. While creating my newest works, I was thinking about my role as a female caregiver and what that means to me personally, but also what that might look like for the mothers of medically fragile children that happen to be so similar to myself. With this identity, I was absorbed in the daily labor both physical and emotional for these women.

I tend to collect objects over a measured and set amount of time, and I enjoy giving myself specific time restrictions for my practice. With the specifics of time and volume, my photographs for the One Day Project refers to a 24-hour period of collection from thirteen different mothers and their disabled children, that are located across the United States. The ceramic installation, 52 weeks, is a nod to the weeks of a year and this piece was created by my personal weekly collections as a memorial to the year gone by. 

The subject matter of my work is the daily detritus or waste material that comes with the life of a medically fragile child. The female caregivers, mothers in most cases, fight for these supplies on numerous levels and use this material in hopes that it will be part of the puzzle to keep their child alive one more day. Without these mundane daily rituals, their children and mine would not survive. And with this subject, I’m left to think about the moment to moment that ends up being a tremendous weight in this type of caregiving. 

The materials that I use are rooted in the daily care for children with multiple disabilities. By using photography as a material to transform what would be considered in most cases trash, I’m able to document a moment in time that is fleeting for the families involved. With the use of ceramic sculpture for the installation 52 Weeks, the forms offer a fragility and softness that the source plastics cannot achieve.

There is an elegance in this type of caregiving that most don’t see. There’s a light in its brokenness. After all, this is a parent and child relationship. The images of Light in Nurture reference the collection of source material in a unique way. My intent with these images is to add beauty to the perceived brokenness. Society and politics often view disability as a tragedy or a drain on resources. A life lived atypically is often related to strain and stress, but there is a calmness, strength, grace, and resilience that come from this community of women. For myself, I’ve had the same routine for eleven years with my daughter, so the daily practice of this core group of women is fiercely important to my artwork. 

Best known for her contemporary photography and ceramic sculpture installations, Gray’s materials are chosen and rooted in the act of daily caregiving with a soft female aesthetic. Currently located in Dallas, Texas, Holly D. Gray will receive her MFA in May of 2019 from The University of Texas at Arlington.

hollydgray.com



Ben Dallas
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Ben Dallas, a long-time Chicago resident, presently lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico. He received degrees in Art History from Indiana University, Bloomington, and The University of Illinois, Champaign/Urbana. He was Professor of Art at Harper College, Palatine, IL until 2001.

Statement

The visual form a perceived object or situation exhibits offers a kind of template by which our minds maneuver toward what meaning to give it; thus, the concerns I have in making my art are embodied in its appearances. I’m not interested in storytelling, symbols, and new information. The challenges presented by more perplexing visual presentations have the potential to undermine expectations and reorient viewers to their own processes of perception and thought.

 

Elizabeth Jung
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Elizabeth Jung is a visual artist lives and works in Chicago. Elizabeth received BFA and MFA from École Nationale Supérieure d’Art de Bourges in France, and she was commissioned to make murals in Public buildings in France and was a part of several group exhibitions and a curatorial project in places such as the Palais Jacques-Cœur and the Musée de l’Hospice Saint-Roc. Before moving to France, Elizabeth briefly studied painting and drawing at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and also showed her paintings at Betty Rymer Gallery, Merchandise Mart, 900 North Michigan Avenue, Chicago, the U.S. Capitol in Washington DC, and the Supreme Court of Georgia, …etc. Her recent works were shown at Galex 52, the Chicago Public Library and the Studios Midwest Artist Residency Exhibition.

Statement

Having lived in many different places throughout Korea, the United States and France, my temporary homes and their interior spaces became a fascinating subject for my art, which is about constructing imaginary spaces using colors, geometry, and architectural elements. 

My process of painting repeats construction, deconstruction, and reconstruction, which often results in trompe l’oeil and exaggerated perspectives. Each space is constructed with layers of both personal spatial memories and imagination. There is no inhabitant in my art because I want to concentrate on the characteristics of the spaces and on the composition of architectural elements. Guessing who the inhabitants might be for each space is not important to my work because the spaces themselves are the protagonists. Instead, I want to invite the viewers to find themselves experiencing tension, disorientation and confusion by the layers and mazes of the pictorial spaces and their structures.

Renewed Sense of Wonder: Interview with Yuria Okamura

Yuria Okamura's art practice focuses on geometric drawing on both paper and walls. She collects, rearranges and transforms abstract symbols of various cultural and religious traditions. In this way, her work brings together and reinterprets various idealities from across cultures and histories in the hope of invoking a renewed sense of wonder into our contemporary worldview.

She maps and reconfigures geometric patterns and symbols that reference esoteric symbolism, occult diagrams, religious architecture and decoration, and spiritualist abstract painting through the use of diagrammatic aesthetics. By doing so, she examines the implications of harmonic ideals that seem to be universally embedded in the orderliness of geometry, and how such ideas might be reinterpreted in the new interrelated compositions. Yuria also deploys wall drawing to unify the diverse geometric forms and to create immersive drawing installations through the use of architecture and gardens as visual metaphors. By incorporating spatiality in this way, she explores abstract drawings' potential to operate as open-ended contemplative spaces for reimagining possibilities of metaphysical harmony and connectivity. 

Yuria is a Melbourne-based artist whose drawing practice explores harmonic ideals through the use of geometry and diagrammatic aesthetics. She has completed Master of Fine Arts (Research) at the Victorian College of the Arts, the University of Melbourne in 2015, and Bachelor of Fine Arts (Honours) in 2010 at RMIT University. In 2016, Yuria was selected for Abbotsford Convent Studio Start-up Residency and Bayside City Council Residency. She has received a number of awards and scholarships, including Stuart Black Memorial Travelling Scholarship, Ursula Hoff Institute Drawing Award, Lloyd Rees Memorial Youth Art Award, RMIT Honours Travelling Endowment Scholarship, RMIT Siemens Fine Art Scholarship, and Facetnate Visual Art Grant. Yuria has been showing her work in solo and group exhibitions both nationally and internationally, including C3 Contemporary Art Space(Melbourne), Anna Pappas Gallery(Melbourne), Five Walls (Melbourne), Rubicon ARI (Melbourne), Kunstraum Tapir (Berlin, Germany), Langford 120 (Melbourne), Seventh Gallery (Melbourne), Japan Foundation Gallery (Sydney), and Mølla På Grim (Kristiansand, Norway).

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Tell me about yourself and your creative background.

I am a visual artist based in Melbourne, Australia. My drawing practice, which includes works on paper and immersive wall drawings, explores harmonic ideals through the language of geometry and diagrammatic aesthetics. I'm interested in different beliefs and worldviews, and I map these out to try to make sense of it all by a visual means, I suppose, through a kind of aesthetic logic. I bring together and reconfigure geometric patterns and symbols that reference esoteric symbolism, occult diagrams, religious architecture and decoration, and spiritualist abstract painting. I examine the symbolic implications of harmonic ideas that seem to be universally embedded in the orderliness of geometry, and how such ideas might be reinterpreted in the new interrelated compositions. Abstract visual language can be interpreted in so many different ways, and through this quality, I hope my work can operate as open-ended maps or contemplative spaces for reimagining possibilities of metaphysical harmony.

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When did you start integrating the geometric patterns and symbols into your work? What inspired your most recent series?

I started using geometric patterns in my final year of BFA and really focused on it for my MFA, which I completed in 2015. My last body of work resulted from a research trip to Morocco and Southern Spain. I looked at Moorish architecture and ornamentation with a particular focus on mosques, and how geometric structures and designs embody the idea of interconnectedness and harmony in this cultural context.

My inclination to bring together diverse visions in my work from across cultures is, I think, influenced by my own experiences: migrating from Japan to Australia, and also traveling to Indonesia, India, Morocco and all over Europe. Having an appreciation for different cultures, and at the same time finding commonalities amongst the diverse worldviews expressed through visual language, has led me to engage with the universality of geometric forms.

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Your work is beautiful, delicate and extremely detailed. Share a little bit about your process with us. How do you prepare for each work and what goes into making each piece?

It begins with collecting source images. I'm constantly adding to my library of esoteric illustrations, early scientific diagrams, religious architecture and decoration, and abstract artworks. I extract shapes and patterns from these, modify and combine them to create new compositions. First, just with free-hand drawing, and once I'm happy with the composition, I make a proper draft on graph paper. I then trace the outlines through embossing onto the watercolor paper and start drawing lines and adding color. These drawings are often installed together with wall drawing, which is aimed at spatializing the work to create an immersive and contemplative quality. This aspect is inspired by a variety of religious architecture and gardens. The religious architecture provides a space for imagining immaterial possibilities, and gardens across cultures embody the idea of a paradise: an earthly site of harmony. In particular, Japanese gardens together with its architectural structures are intended to be mediating spaces where natural and metaphysical, or material and immaterial elements come together. Similarly, I hope my work can visualize a contemplative space for integrating inner and outer realities.

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What do you do when you feel stuck or frustrated? How do you get out of a creative slump?

If something is not working in the studio and I feel frustrated, I allow myself a short break to go for a walk or do some gardening. But then I usually get straight back into the studio because it's impossible for me to relax or think about anything else until I figure out what to do! Sometimes this means scrapping the work and starting again.

Fortunately, I haven't had a creative slump for a long time. I think it's because I've gotten into the habit of going into the studio every day (unless I have other commitments) even if I don't know what I'm going to do. Even when I feel uninspired, I force myself to get into the studio and at least think about my practice by looking at pictures, sketching, reading or writing. I don't believe in just waiting for inspiration. It does occasionally come to me out of the blue, but for the most part, I consciously search for it through practice.

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What is a typical day like for you and how do you find a balance between art and personal life?

I try to exercise a little and get my errands and admin tasks done in the morning, spend all afternoon in the studio, have a dinner break and back in the studio for an evening session. But in reality, every day is different. Sometimes I have to spend all day running errands, writing applications, or working at a part-time job, and I'd enjoy a relaxing evening with my partner, family, and friends a few times a week.

What I experience in my personal life feeds into my art practice and vice versa in a constant loop, so I like to think of them as one and the same. For example, travel is an integral part of my art practice: every trip inspires a new body of work, and my practice, in turn, drives me to seek a new adventure. I also love being in nature, spending time with family and friends, reading books and listening to podcasts, all of which I used to neglect because I thought I had to focus solely on art. I still tend to overwork, but I'm aware now that my creative energy gets depleted if I lock myself in the studio for too long and it needs to be reinvigorated by experiencing the world.

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What are you currently working on and what should we be on the lookout for?

I'm working on a new body of works on paper inspired by my trip to the U.S last year. It is a continuation of my diagrammatic, geometric drawing practice but it references Native American sand paintings and tapestry. In this series, I considered how a kinship to the natural world can be expressed through geometric patterns and how geometric forms can have a symbolic function within rituals. I'm actually coming back to the U.S in March 2019 for a residency at Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art, which I am very excited about! I'm planning to further develop the spatial component of my practice by examining MASS MoCA's extensive collection of Sol LeWitt's wall drawings.

Second Chances: Podcast Interview with Michael Kalmbach, Artist and the Director of The Creative Vision Factory
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Have you ever felt disappointed in the course of your art career and even doubted your journey? On this episode, Michael Kalmbach shares his story of overcoming addiction, navigating his own art career and using parts of his story and life experiences to serve the community. 

www.michaelkalmbach.com

www.thecreativevisionfactory.org

About Michael

Michael Kalmbach received his MFA at the University of Delaware in 2008. Shortly after graduation he accepted a position at the Delaware College of Art & Design, and founded the New Wilmington Art Association, an organization that organized exhibitions of contemporary art in Wilmington’s vacant retail spaces from August 2008 to April 2013. This work led to Michael’s involvement with the Chris White Community Development Corporation, which developed the 23-unit artist live/work space, Shipley Lofts. Kalmbach served the CWCDC as Board Chairman from 2013-2016. In June 2011 he accepted a contract with the State’s Division of Substance Abuse and Mental Health to develop and direct an art program in downtown Wilmington. The Creative Vision Factory has been open since December of 2011, and fosters the creative potential of individuals on the behavioral health spectrum in a studio art environment that cultivates integration with the community through a program of exhibitions, workshops, and communal work space

Creative Vision Factory

The Creative Vision Factory opened its doors in December of 2011. Funded by the State of Delaware’s Division of Substance Abuse and Mental Health, it is one of several peer-run programs incubated by the sweeping reform of Delaware’s greater mental health system. The Creative Vision Factory is on a path to 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status. As a peer-run nonprofit agency, the Factory will be uniquely situated to serve the community, in the heart of an arts and cultural district, that sees the behavioral health population as a genuine partner in the development of a more creative and just City of Wilmington.

Aly Morgan
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Led purely by a natural sense of curiosity, Aly Morgan follows each spark of inspiration until it leads to a new discovery - either about herself, the world or her place within it. Although she prefers to work with acrylic paint and newsprint, inspiration has led her to try many unconventional materials in the journey of finding her creative voice. Her early works were heavily influenced by her days as a jewelry designer and were created using items such as wire, fine silver and found objects. Now specializing in hand painted and found paper collage, she works intuitively to create compelling combinations of shapes and color to convey stories of self-discovery. As a self-taught artist, she has explored expressing her ideas for many years using different mediums but has focused the last 6 months on unraveling her own personal definition of art. In doing so, she has created a large body of work that reflects not only her current inspirations but also explores themes such as womanhood, connection, and language. Her most recent series, Native Tongue, explores the relationship between an artist and what inspires them as well as celebrates the translation of that inspiration into one’s work. By using her literal inspirations to create abstract characters, she is continually building a language in which the forms are all at once familiar yet foreign, while challenging the viewer to seek their own interpretation.

Statement

Inspiration is everything to me. It is what motivates me, leads my creative process and ultimately, what nourishes my soul. A concept that is the cornerstone in creating my personal work is what I call “following the golden thread”. To me, it simply means following a spark of inspiration to see where it leads.

Having lived most of my life believing that art was simply paintings that hung in museums, it wasn’t until I was introduced to mixed-media art 12 years ago, that I learned differently. Once I discovered that art was not just for long ago masters to create, I was compelled to seek my own definition of what art could be.

I am fascinated by color and what it can convey. I am continuously exploring ways to combine color and shape in order to translate a thought or feeling into a recognizable form. While I continue to explore various techniques, I am most drawn to creating my own collage material using acrylic paint and newsprint. Although they are humble materials, they allow me to create endless combinations of colors and shapes.

I am most inspired by finding beauty in unexpected places, so while my work is unapologetically feminine in color and themes, it is also heavily influenced by my love of long forgotten and neglected objects. I feel my most compelling pieces are ones that marry color with organic texture and invite the viewer to seek their own interpretation.