Fresh Impressions: An Interview in 3 Parts

Lessons From Things, postcard front on the "fridge" gallery

I've been working on a series of still lifes for a group exhibit entitled "Lessons from Things" at the Davis Art Center, in Davis, CA, 
August 2 - September 3.

Last week I was approached by Lea Murillo, a reporter from our University paper The California Aggie. Lea asked me if she could interview me for the exhibit curated by Sara Post.

I embraced the invitation, knowing it was one of those opportunities that Alyson Stanfield, in her book, "I'd Rather Be in the Studio," recommends for those of us who prefer to hang out with our paint, paper and brushes rather than write about them.

I'm reprinting the questions and my replies in the next three posts, because most of the time, I don't get the chance to read what an artist has said as he or she said it--simply because another person, the journalist, is doing the writing.

Lea asked me to answer the questions according to how they apply to me, the exhibit, and the connection between the two. Hence the segue between myself and the exhibit.

 1.) How long have you been an artist and, what does your artistic background consist of?

I've thought of myself as an artist since the age of 21, 33 years ago now. I received a B.A. in Studio Art from the University of Iowa (where I spent most of my time in the weaving studio) and an M.F.A. in Textiles and Sculpture from the California College of the Arts (where I spent much of my time crossing the campus between the Textile and the Sculpture studios).

Tempting Fate, ©2004, multimedia

I've always been interested in the intersection between media so that in both undergraduate and graduate school, I focused on textiles, painting, writing and sculpture.

Throughout my career as an artist, I've tried to blur the lines between the disciplines, or, another way to say it is that I try to find the liminal zone where two or more media come together.

When Sara curates an exhibit at the Davis Art Center, she engages in a similar quest; she becomes interested in a particular area, such as collage, and offers artists an open range for exploration.

In the current exhibit, "Lessons from Things," the title immediately produces a cornucopia of ideas. According to Sara, the title "refers to what was once a part of the French primary school curriculum—the study of things or objects and how they came to be what they are—their history, their evolution, their uses. It is a way of looking deeply into an object and seeing what is there."

That same title takes me back to first grade when I learned that a noun is a person, place or thing. From there, I begin to think about how I want to document some "thing," which leads me to thinking about which "things" in my environment inspire me.

2.) What inspires you?

Baby pomegranate

I spend a lot of time studying the natural world around me: ripening fruits, flowering oleanders, rows of sunflowers, furrows of rice fields off the causeway. 

Oleander on the way to work

                  I also love to study patterns in architecture, quilts and words.

Dancing Ring, ©2009, quilt

                   I distill all of these observations into the form of a collage.

Twins, 1 ©2009, collage

I also draw inspiration from my work as an art therapist at the UC Davis Children's Hospital. Much of my recent work (although not in this exhibit) is a response to my involvement with various children and their effects on my life.

More to come tomorrow. I'll be posting about my experience of working on the still lifes.