Art Discussion, Exhibitions and Other News

Women’s Centennial Celebration Exhibit At Art Reach

Amidst a lot of bad news on a worldwide scale lately, I was blessed to receive some good news: One of my pieces shown in Art Reach’s Women’s Centennial Celebration Exhibit, July: She Is Free In Mind and Spirit, was awarded Best Of Show. This piece received a 2nd place award previously in 2018’s Midland Artists Guild Annual Juried Exhibition, and was a part of my Unlimited series shown in ArtPrize 9 in Grand Rapids. I wanted to use this as an opportunity to delve into this work deeper.

she is free

July: She Is Free

A vital part of my Unlimited series was being sure I represented a variety of ages, races, and also abilities in my portraits. Though varying abilities can mean many things and a lot of disabilities are invisible, I wanted to represent an easily recognizable visible disability that is not often seen represented in art. I chose to depict a young woman with down syndrome.

When people think of the lives of individuals with disabilities, often all they can see is the struggles. Yes, we need to be aware of the struggles and be sure that we stand up for the rights of individuals with disabilities, make sure they have access to the healthcare they need and tools to help them live as independently as possible in their communities. But, like all people, individuals with disabilities are multifaceted beings. People with disabilities are rarely seen depicted in art, and are seldom shown in any media as empowered beings with their own unique personality beyond having a disability. I wanted to depict a woman who was confident in her own skin, and believed in her own unlimited potential.

The symbolism in this piece can mean different things to different viewers, and I love the fact that art is open to interpretation. That being said, I wanted to share what I was thinking when I created this piece. But remember, even as the artist, my interpretation is by no means the only interpretation :). I drew the face in prismacolor pencil. I wanted a scene around the head(mind) that exuded peace, so I filled in the hair with a watercolor landscape scene. Along with inner peace I wanted to depict the idea of freedom, of this woman not being limited by anything despite what others may assume. Birds taking flight have always been one of the biggest symbols of freedom to me, so I used prismacolor markers to draw birds in the same colors as the landscape circling around her. I reinforced the bird imagery with metallic gold prismacolor pencil in a radial flying bird pattern on her shirt, with an empty birdcage in the center of her chest. I wanted the figure and background to be seamless and flow into each other, but also wanted something to set off the figure so that she was the main focus. I wanted her face especially with its welcoming, content, confident expression to stand out. Using a black base created contrast, and I filled in this galaxy background with stars in the same pastel colors used throughout the rest of the piece. In most of my portraits I use the background to speak to the content of the figure’s mind and soul, and a galaxy fit perfectly to me as something vast and unlimited. 

“July” is very close to my heart, and the meaning behind it signifies why I am involved in the arts to begin with. In running an arts program for adults with disabilities, I feel I have found my purpose. I am excited to continue using art to form connections between all different types of people, help others tap into their unexplored potential, give a voice to those that often go unseen, and challenge ideas of what beauty is in art.

Art prints are available in my ebay shop!

There will be virtual tours of the show available through Art Reach soon. I can’t wait to see all the other work up close!

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New Work

New Art! 2 Down 2 To Go!

Struck by both some luckily timed inspiration and ever looming deadlines, I have buckled down on my series and completed 2 more pieces, which means only 2 more to go! I actually think these 2 new ones are among my favorites so far. Series-explanation-blurb time for those new readers! “Unlimited” is composed of 12 mixed media portraits in which the meaning is influenced by the use of pattern and color. Women of all ages, races, and time periods are depicted, each communicating a different theme. I aim for the pieces to speak to women’s collective experiences beyond their differences. We tend to think of time and events in terms of our own personal history or the history of the nation in which we reside. But of course, there are women everywhere living out their day to day life all over the world, with hopes, dreams, fears , relationships. Our situations and struggles are very different, but were we in some alternate reality all given a chance to meet, I suspect we would find some surprising similarities, maybe more than we ever expected. Pieces are primarily drawing and painting, accented with mixed media elements and metallic details.

october she is full of curiosity

For the above, titled “October: She Is Full of Curiosity”, I incorporated a lot more mixed media elements which I felt meshed well with the “vintage study” atmosphere of the background. I used quilting fabric for the wallpaper, leather upholstery samples for the book cover, decoupaged book pages for the inside pages and title, an art book clipping for the picture on the wall, ink for the woodwork, watercolor for the outdoor scene, lace overlay for the girl’s collar, metallic acrylic for her hair, and prismacolor pencil for most of the figure and clothing.

she is free

In this next piece, titled “July: She Is Free In Mind and Spirit”, I took almost the opposite approach, not using any fabric or found object materials and sticking solely to the traditional art materials of prismacolor pencil, watercolor, and acrylic paint. I’d had all the pieces for my series pre-planned as far as composition and subject matter since late 2015. However, this one took flight (haha, bad pun) on its own quite recently after I realized that I had a variety of ages and races represented in my planned artworks, but not a variety of abilities. Given that I work with an art program that serves individuals with disabilities, this oversight stopped me in my tracks. I’m always harping on inclusion and the lack of representation of people with disabilities in the public and entertainment sphere to anyone who will listen (and even those who don’t want to sometimes), and yet I realized they were not included in my project that was all about inclusion, unity, and representation. I was thus tasked with coming up with a visible disability that could be seen in just a head and shoulders portrait rather than a full body rendering. This lively young woman with down syndrome who exudes confidence, energy, and life evolved over the incredibly short course of two interrupted days with no pre-planning or sketching beforehand which is very uncommon for me. I don’t know that anyone else will see it, but this piece definitely holds the most emotional connection for me.

For more deeply personal and unconventional portraits, check out self-taught contemporary artist Stephen Martyn Welch’s “Everyone Deserves A Portrait” series inspired by his son who was born with Kabuki Syndrome. Keep checking for the last two! I’m on a roll ;)!

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Exhibitions and Other News

Womens Perspective At Studio 23

Thursday night was the opening for the show I was included in at Studio 23, their yearly “Women’s Perspective” exhibition. It was a great night, and I even successfully mingled and talked about my work with a gaggle of guests without my face turning green or passing out – yay! My boyfriend, who accompanied me, was literally poking me in the back with his finger saying “Get up there, go stand over by your work and talk to people!” After much hissing back and forth, I cautiously made my way over and ended up having a fantastic time once I got into the swing of talking to a ton of random people I had never met all at once. It’s funny because being an instructor, I talk all day, but it’s all very planned and orderly and I know what I need to say. It’s the spontaneous small talk I fear, but I’ve found that despite the gigantic nerves, once I get going it’s easy to talk about my work with others and answer questions because honestly what on this earth can I possibly know more about, or love sharing with people more? I think most creatives be they artists, writers, musicians, tow a line between crippling self consciousness and an almost nauseating level of confidence ;).

Ready to go! I'd been dying for an outfit to wear that Betsey Johnson purse with - half off baby! (Which is literally the only way I'd ever bother with a designer purse) The retro barbie look got me.

Ready to go! I’d been dying for an outfit to wear that Betsey Johnson purse with – half off baby! (Which is the only way I’d ever bother with a designer purse – The retro barbie look got me.)

It's the little things ... I was over the moon excited when I saw the cool graphic detail they added to my display wall - just amazing, thanks Studio 23!

It’s the little things … I was over the moon excited when I saw the cool graphic detail they added to my display wall – just amazing, thanks Studio 23!

Standing like a proud parent next to my creations :).

Standing like a proud parent next to my creations :).

They included information about myself and my two pieces next to the work, which I’ve included below for some additional insight:

Much of my work involves making the internal external. I enjoy visually exposing the unique mental environment of the subject in each work, and I believe art should let us see something we cannot in real life. Rather than using exaggerated facial expressions or gestures, I tend to let the external surroundings of a subject speak to the content of their mind and soul. This tendency most likely stems from my interior design background, and the idea that the external environment should reflect the internal person who inhabits it. I am currently an instructor in a variety of art programs, including a program at Creative 360 in Midland for adults with disabilities. I see every day how creation sparks joy in the creator and those around them. Everyone is an artist. Each person on earth has the ability to do something creative that can touch another person, and it is never too late to begin.

The Peacock

The Peacock

On My Mind

On My Mind

“The Peacock” is part of a series of conceptual portraits I did in which pattern and color are used to convey the subject’s personality, thoughts and emotions. This piece has a vintage feel with the hat and veil and peacock print dress. The dark stylized trees and floral pattern covering her hair merge seamlessly into the peacocks on her hat, and allow her mysterious and stoic face to become the focus. The subject is proud and dominant, similar to the animal covering her personage.

“On My Mind” is a mixed media conceptual portrait created using colored pencil, ink, metallic watercolor and acrylic, embroidery thread, and fabric. I was inspired by art nouveau design, vintage fashion, antique photographs, and the vastness of deep space. I used metallic acrylic and metallic watercolors for the background, acrylic for the space scene, colored pencil for the portrait, fabric for her dress, and embroidery. I was first inspired by an odd antique photo I found depicting a young woman holding her head as if weary or in pain, but with a hint of smile on her lips. I was drawn to the strong emotion it showed. From there, I developed what her inner psychology may look like if depicted as a physical environment. I think we can all relate at one time or another to the feeling that we have the weight and breadth of an entire universe trapped inside our head.

If you are in the area around Bay City Michigan, I’d love it if you’d check out the show! It’s running through October 23. If the travel is not feasible, at the very least you got your own (VERY)miniature “virtual tour” here. But truly, there is much more fascinating work besides just my own that I have shared, if you can it is worth a visit.

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