by Rebecca Scheinberg, CMNH Intern
Q. In your artist statement you mentioned having a background in dance. You also mention discovering and using the free-style quilting technique. I really enjoyed the technique used in the sky of your landscape pieces. It guides the eye all around the pieces in an organic way.
What is free-style quilting and how do you think it contributes to the layering and movement in some of your pieces? What was the reason you chose quilted fabric to create your image of Strawbery Banke/Goodwin Mansion?
A. Free style quilting refers to the setting on the sewing machine. Typically, a sewing machine moves either forward or backward. The fabric is propelled by teeth or "feed dogs" located under the fabric that pushes it along. With a switch on the machine the "feed dogs" drop under the surface of the machine thus creating a smooth working surface. This allows the user to draw with the sewing machine by freely maneuvering in any direction.
The stitching seen in the sky and most other parts of the quilt is called "Stippling". It is a meandering solid line that enables all the parts of the piece to be equally quilted.
All my pieces are quilts. There is batting in the center, a solid piece of fabric on the back and the front consists of several layers of individual pieces of fabric sewn down in layers much like a collage. My love of fabric comes from my background in dance and the many costumes I designed and sewed for myself and many others.
Q. I really enjoyed the depth created by your use of unconventional materials. Did the idea inspire the use of materials or vice versa? How did you apply the paint to the woven work?
A. The inspiration for the unconventional materials in my paintings starts from the moment I find my subjects. I bounce my ideas for the materials I will use off of what they were wearing in real life. "Woven" was actually hand woven with yarn inspired by my subject's hat. Before I could pick up an oil paint brush, I had to prepare the surface by spackling plaster, sanding it down and applying several layers gesso. A true one of kind piece and a labor of love, this painting took about 6 months to create!
Q. Your paint application on the plastic pieces produces a sense of movement on a hard plastic material. What inspired you to use plastic and is there a meaning behind the portal series (3) in terms of texture and color choices? How did you create the layered effect of the plastic pieces?
A. I am interested in 'alchemy'--- turning something into something else. These piecs are picture frames used to frame photographs. I decided to make them into art.
I love working with the square and when I saw these pre-made frames, I challenged myself with the task of converting them into something else. I also love working with 'found' materials. A portal is an entrance, a doorway, a gate to some place else; just as these pieces are. Color choice is empirical- a matter of testing out different colors until something works and this leads to the texture, colors superimposed over others.
Q. You created birds out of wood and paper and created a scene that encompasses the birds and scarecrows in your piece of art. What inspired you to create this 3-dimensional box that created a scene using a variety of unconventional materials? Did the creation of the birds inspire the overall direction of the piece?
A. I usually get inspired by something I see. An article in the New York Times about scarecrows got me thinking about creating miniature versions. The creative challenge is taking that or any idea and transforming it into artwork; solving questions like what materials, design, frame work and style, etc, to use. I had already created birds so this was a great way to combine the two, and also play on a 'friendlier' version, where the birds are welcome instead of being scared away. The creativity for these could be endless.
Q. You used copper, silk and wood for one of your pieces. In another piece you used copper, wood, silk, sand and paper. There is a beautiful contrast of hard and soft material that creates a very textured and layered effect. What inspired your combination of materials?
A. I have been an observer as long as I can remember. Memories of a long life are stashed somewhere beyond my eyelids and surface in unexpected moments of creativity. One of my earliest memories was drawing in the dirt beneath the swing. I remember the softness of the soil on my fingers, the warmth of the sun on my back and the thrill of creation. Today, seventy plus years later, I am still thrilled by the magic created by an unknown self. I like working with metals particularly copper and rusted steel. I like the contrast of silk, paper, sand, etc., that together form the layers of my imagery.
Q. There are so many layers of images and lines in your pieces. Is this an organic process for you? What inspired you to use the acrylic and markers on vinyl? What inspired your design?
A. The process is organic indeed. I have nothing in my mind when I start. I have an urge after I hang the canvas as I ready myself to work. The urge comes as a cathartic explosion. I make marks and lines and shapes. My process leads me from one mark to the next. I build the composition without any thought to the images or marks. A lot of time I see eyes in what I'm drawing. The process is similar to looking at clouds. I look for patterns and eyes. I continue working until the picture plane is full with lines. Then I begin adding the color. Some parts of the painting come to the surface, while others disappear. I am constantly pushing and pulling different layers back and forth. I am hoping to get a hybrid. Something that lives in the various planes. My drawings/paintings are inspired by my spirituality. They are about a relationship with something other. I am simply a medium for the creative energy that lives inside me.
The use of markers/acrylics on vinyl is inspired by spacial dimensions. I love how all of the layers lay on top of each other. This is achieved by the vinyl - it's see through. Lines sing to me and the layers play mind games with me.
Q. Your illustrations of dinosaurs on the black converse children's shoes are beautiful. What inspired your idea to paint dinosaurs on converse kid shoes?
A. I have been illustrating on Converse sneakers for many years. My first pair was a special request from my son, then 15 (he's now 43) for a pair of dinosaur sneakers like the little kids had. He couldn't understand why only people with small feet could have such fun shoes! So I bravely tried a new type of "canvas" and painted a pair of size 11 light blue Converse Chucks with acrylic paint. He wore them proudly. Since then I have painted many pairs with very diverse subject matter, mostly for children but some for individualistic adults: frogs and amphibians; insects, beetles and tarantulas; exotic flowers; butterflies; seashells and sea life; and even images of Greek mythology done in Greek red-ware style. Each pair is a challenge and it is rewarding and fun to see people wearing a bit of my artwork on their feet.
I now illustrate on almost any surface I can find - shoes, furniture, rocks, fabric, driftwood, and of course paper. It's fun to transform an otherwise uninteresting surface into a creative, and often useful, work of art.
Q. You created a piece using acrylic with plastic netting and plastic lids. Your piece has a beautiful combination of texture and movement. What inspired your color choices with your unconventional materials?
A. As an abstract painter fascinated by texture and color, I was delighted to share “Blue Bird with Oranges” with Gallery 6 visitors. Painting is play for me – a series of “what ifs…”. This painting surprised me with a surprise blue bird when I stepped back to see where the color on the canvas was taking me. I squeezed red and yellow paint right from the tube onto the canvas and “squoooshed” them with clear plastic lids. Like magic, they turned into oranges for my blue bird to eat! The painting evolved with happy purples and blues that told more of the bluebird’s story. If you listen carefully, can you hear his “thank you” song?
Q. You used CDs layered on top of records and paint to create beautiful mandalas. In your artist statement you mentioned utilizing objects that are being discarded and replaced with digital media. You also shared that mandalas represent the meditative practice in art. Did your choice of materials inspire you to create the mandala?
A. I draw inspiration from the belief that art makes a positive difference in the world. Spirituality is an essential aspect to my creative practice. There are a variety of spiritual elements, symbols, and personal beliefs that I weave into the layers of my paintings. The meditative practice of creating Mandalas supports my interest in sacred art. I choose to utilize materials that would support the radial balance design of Mandalas. Using unconventional materials that are discarded supports my belief that as artists, we can make powerful visual statements to convey messages. It is my hope that humans can cut back on the waste that goes into landfills, that we try to reuse and extend the life of items that are being discarded. This comes from my deep care and appreciation of nature and preservation of the earth.
Q. You used re-purposed polystyrene packaging, paint, metal leaf and mirror to create beautiful and functional mirrors with "frames". Did the materials inspire the design idea or vice versa?
A. The materials definitely inspired the idea to create the mirrors. I had been working with the polystyrene packaging for a couple of years to create standing sculptures and found a number of pieces in my collection that had windows that were already a frame of sorts. I had a show coming up and wanted a collection of new works to hang and decided to play with the mirror idea. The concept that we are looking through a piece of EPS at ourselves got me jazzed. Yes, EPS is a problematic by-product of consumer waste and the question of what do we do with all this stuff we create is hopefully a question that arises when looking at oneself in these pieces. The other message I want to convey is that it is a beautiful creation, the molded shapes of EPS are designed by packaging experts to nestle and protect out beloved treasures. Then what? So many people will say to me, I hate to throw this stuff away. I think we save it in part because it is sculptural and we find it interesting. What do you think?
Q. Your work has a playfulness and whimsy about it. There is a sense of heaviness from the plumbing materials and lightness from the glass materials. What inspired your combination of using plumbing materials with glass to create these sculptures?
A. I’ve come to love the combination of metal and glass over time. Almost immediately when I started experimenting at my bench, I found myself working to incorporate glass because it was available. I delighted in the discovery that both materials work so well together despite their stark differences. The metal, being heavy, dense and dark, in contrast to glass with its sense of lightness – it signified the water that once flowed through the transformed plumbing parts.
I only work with glass that allows light to pass through. It becomes a portal to another world and brings in color. Marbles were the first type of glass I used quickly followed by many other forms such as mirrors, magnifying lenses, domes, containers, vases, etc. I often use glass for stands, shrines, finials and many types of display. I’m prone to using some sort of glass encasing such as domes for a number of reasons – It elevates the piece to a higher level, keeps the dust off and it naturally keeps people from handling a delicate piece of sculpture. Also, as you noticed, it enhances the overall quirkiness of my work adding to the obvious whimsy and playfulness.
Q. Did your love of dragonflies inspire you to find ways to create them using unconventional materials? Did you know the materials you wanted specifically or did you find the pieces and construct as you went along in your design process?
A. I knew I wanted to make dragonflies. I was thinking at first the wings would be made of layered recycled bags fused by heat and transparent but then I found the license plates.
I researched some ideas from the inter web and a rummage through my dads workshop (the basement) and the cuties came together.