Artist Interview

December 28th, 2020 – 07:20 AM

Artist Interview

1.What’s your background?
I grew up splitting time between the Lake Traverse Reservation in South Dakota and Brooklyn, New York. From an early age, I was surrounded by artists creating a variety of artwork, from sculptures to paintings to traditional beadwork and sewing. In addition, I experienced the iconic museums that New York City offered. I left painting during my later adolescence in an attempt to find things that were more approachable and social to get in with the right crowd. That backfired, I married young and started a family, and I didn’t find art again until college when I was twenty-six.

Initially, I admired abstract work and sought to create bold large pieces. Then as I took more classes in Native American studies, I reconnected with my childhood and the memories of my family of artists on and off the reservation. Organic influences from the natural world around me as a child sprang up in my landscapes, the first watercolor, then gouache, and presently soft pastels. In addition, life in a lower-middle-class neighborhood in Brooklyn, New York, impacted my work by way of street fairs and street art with its bold, geometrical slant. Then to make a living, my coursework in architectural drafting bolstered the geometrical aspects of my creations. All of this impacts my world through memories or reverie and influences the colors and textures I use.

2. What does your work aim to say?
My work comments on the diversity of my upbringing. I found that the Native American relatives of my youth inspired me with bold colors and geometrical designs. That can be found in my abstract pieces that seek to meander the labyrinth of my childhood and connect with texture to tell a tale of personal emergence through the aesthetic arrangement. It says something similar to that of Luke 15:10 as in “I once was lost, but now I’m found.” Then there are my landscapes, which with watercolor tell a fleeting tale of memory to the pastel work as of late that says I’ve connected the bold colors, with the texture of the papers and the pastels in hand to the natural world of South Dakota and reservation life. My childhood was an emotional dance, and I hope that can be seen through a mixture of color, texture, and design.

3. How does your work comment on current social or political issues?
A current focus in my writing is the tragedy of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women & Girls. That sociopolitical landscape spills over into my paintings by the harsh, coarse texture of my abstracts, the beautiful colors of life then loss, and the cultural imagery that frames my recollections and bleeds out into my pastel landscapes.

4. Who are your biggest influences?
Wassily Kandinsky’s spiritual writings and bold, geometric creations inspired me from the first look. Then Emily Mason’s abstract expressionist work with its energetic colors resonated. Turn to John Marin’s watercolors and, as of late, Richard McKinley’s pastel landscapes with their halcyon meanderings of more idyllic times when things weren’t as electronic, busy, and stressed. It evokes a time where we could get lost in the diversity of the natural world and capture the emotional dance and coalescing dialogue on canvas or richly textured paper.

5. How have you developed your career?
I began with a Visual Arts course meant to fill a gap in my college schedule. That sprung into numerous classes from B&W photography to ceramics to drawing to painting. I was determined to acquire as much knowledge as my degree would allow. That strategy of soaking up knowledge continued after college primarily through workshops.
As I said, I needed to make a living and turned to architectural drafting, which allowed me to explore the designs of others as I spent every spare minute either writing or painting, both creating something tangible. Each allows me the opportunity to step back and into the other to gain insight into what I’m specifically trying to create. My artistic career trajectory has been about investing every moment of studio time into developing pieces that produce a dialogue with the viewers. I turned my connections within the residential building industry to display my artwork in new home construction and remodeling tours that have a large following.

6. How do you seek out opportunities?
I’ve sourced my new home and remodeling contacts to find new opportunities to display and showcase my work. In addition, I frequently research potential galleries, network with other painters, and hone in on the opportunities with interior designers that might want to exhibit my work. I’m working on a newsletter that will alert my subscribers to movements and techniques on which I’m currently investing time.

7. How do you cultivate a collector base?
It’s been mainly through interior designers seeking artwork to display in their new home tour projects. I invited them to my studio to explore pieces I have, which I also sell online through an art marketplace. I also take on commissions for my work.

8. How do you navigate the art world?
It is challenging, sometimes frustrating, trying to bring my artwork to new audiences. I’ve chosen to be involved in local suburban art centers and attend art walks to engage with other artists to see what are the focuses of the present moment and deter any baffling experiences.

9. How do you price your work?
I calculate the cost of my materials, take into consideration the size of my artwork, and the time it takes to create the piece.

10. Which current art world trends are you following?
Engaging with current sociopolitical issues is close to my heart, predominantly those from my Native American heritage. I hope my artwork is a vehicle for discussion on this diverse freeway to help cement in time images of an era bygone but not forgotten.

CLICK individual pictures for larger image.

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