Patricia Aaron was born and raised in Youngstown, OH, which sits almost directly in between Cleveland, OH and Pittsburgh, PA, a region better known to many as the Rust Belt. Growing up in an industrial environment where much of life revolved around steel mills, Patricia found herself fascinated by how machinery operates, and more specifically, how parts make up a whole; or how industry can become the heartbeat of a city. In the Youngstown of her childhood, industry was passed down from father to son with pride, almost as if it was in their blood; it is this raw, emotional sense of history that Patricia is drawn to and strives to capture in her work. This carries through to her travels; whenever she explores a new place, she seeks to discover its “cultural soul,”and uses this as a source of
inspiration while creating her work.
LM:Please tell us about your background and how you came to art?
KW: I grew up in complicated, crazy and precarious circumstances, yet I was fiercely determined to survive and build something different for myself. I did not want to be defined by my history. In a landscape of dysfunction, at certain critical times there were adults who stood up for me, who saw me and heard me, and encouraged me to move beyond the chaos. These people acted as tethers, keeping me directed towards a belief that I might have a chance to survive in this world, and to live a better life than what I had experienced.
LM: Can you talk a bit about how your work is influenced by the Baroque?
BC: In my most recent trips to Italy I especially appreciated the elegance and emotion of Baroque art and architecture, which is very sensory. Nevertheless, things make their way into my work slowly and subtly, so that at this point the most notable impact of the Baroque era in my paintings is the increased use of gold pigment in and under my paint film, and the use of actual gilt wood in the image proper.
LM: I love your Blooms series of monotypes, and how they convey the fresh potentiality of opening a new box of crayons. In looking at your work over time, it seems this series represents a transition in terms of how reductive they are. Could you give us some background on the evolution of your work?
AC: My pleasure. Prior to the Bloom series, my work—despite being encaustic monotype— had more of a traditional etching characteristic: linear and monochromatic. Last summer I was confronted by two events. I was looking into the eyes of a Big Birthday, and the death of my sister-in-law. Consequently, my work was stalled and I was flummoxed. I asked myself what would bring some joy back into my work. I stood in front of the hot box, took a deep breath, chose all the most luxuriant colors and just made simple circles in a grid format. It was an enormous relief to find my bearings again and to also find a new voice.
LM: What stands out most when I look at your work is the interesting textures you create. Has this evolved out of a more traditional approach to landscape painting?
RK: I am more influenced by non-traditional landscapes, spaces that resemble landscapes but they make me think about the meaning of space, depth of space, the relationship of horizons and our relationship to the earth. I am interested in the conceptual, expressive notion of space.The textures in my paintings stem from a series of sculptures I made.
LM: What motivates your artwork? What is the central theme or core concern?
MRK: I am driven by an intense curiosity about what makes people tick. I like to look at what brings people together and what breakdowns happen along the way. I take this interest to the studio because I like to capture observations in art pieces that can be lived with. In contrast to written pieces, artwork can occupy a physical space alongside people. I like to think that completed artwork has its own anthropomorphic presence.
LM: When did you first realize that rivers were a source of inspiration for you?
RD: I spent some time on the Tuichi River in the Bolivian Amazon shortly after graduating from Art School. Sketching while drifting through the jungle forced me to draw more spontaneously. The rhythm of the passing shoreline resulted in my first ‘panoramic’ series where the imagery was continuous and repetitive. This was a departure from my illustrative and formal background. Rivers have since been a source of inspiration and escape.
LM: I get the feeling that your paintings are tied in some way to music, especially to reading music. Is this accurate?
WLM: The perception of the musicality in my work is right on. I am very much influenced by music both on a conscious level and a subconscious one. Many times I find a symbol or tempo to drive the work and develop it into an abstracted graphic score, like that of John Cage and other avant-garde musicians, who instead of using symbols with definitive understandings, enhanced the visualized sensation of musicality.
LM: I like the way your compositions seem to float. Can you talk about the play between abstraction and representation in your work?
RS: My art career began as an illustrator and printmaker so representation is inherent in my work; lines are essential. At the same time, my work is experiential and metaphorical. This is where abstraction comes into play. I like the tension between the desire to draw what I see and the desire to simply extract the essence of my subject.
LM: Where do you get ideas for your work?
MG: As an undergraduate student I majored in studio art and minored in women's studies and cultural anthropology. These three areas of study began to weave together when I was in graduate school. In a course called, "Finding Form and Inspiration," I learned how to dig deep for personal meaning in my own art making. Through highly directed journaling as well as visually mining my own past work, I quickly found my visual voice.
LM: You seem to work in several different veins, including kinetic installation, sculpture, digital prints and painting. What would you say is the tie that binds it all together?
LC: The words that I think apply to most of my work are peaceful, non-narrative, reduced color palette, mood making, repetitive, geometric. Some of these words apply to one body of work but not to others. At times I have put more "subject" in my work, (I'm thinking of many of the prints), but even then I still engage with overall geometry. Perhaps it's just my own viewpoint but I think these things unify my work across media.
LM: What is the motivation behind your work?
BE: With each series or new body of work the motivation for me is always the same in that first and foremost, I HAVE to make art. It's a way of life for me and I feel very fortunate to be able to do so. I'm motivated to work in a way that allows me to do paintings in different series and to work on several pieces at once. As an abstract painter there are so many ways to explore the act of picture making and that journey makes creating art a very exciting and rewarding experience.
LM: Do you think of your artwork as a form of activism?
EA: Shy of activism, I do consider my recent work to be a platform for reflecting my concern with several troubling environmental issues. As mentioned in my artist statements, I question the degree to which the public can be informed and misinformed about these issues through the interpretive lens of media. As information consumers, we are inundated with conflicting perceptions and politicized opinions about subject matter of all kinds.
LM: What is your work about?
SR: The core idea that I explore in much of my body of work has to do with memory, both as it applies to a person and their memory, and the idea of memories being an intangible object. I also look at the idea of memory loss - what happens to memories when they can no longer be remembered? Do they no longer exist, as if the event never happened? Sort of that idea of “if a tree falls in the forest and no one is around, does it make a sound? Well…if a person can no longer remember an event, did the event ever really occur?
LM: Describe some of the central themes of the work we see here.
CS: Migration, location, construction and disintegration, place as a character, atmosphere as a landscape, places where urban constructs and nature tangle together, self portraits - often involving carrying something, what we are and what we bring with us. There are a few works that reference books as objects, with a central spine and related images on the front and back cover.
LM: Please tell us about your art background, and how you came to work with encaustic.
PK: When I was 13 years old, my mother came into my bedroom and saw a large, dead striped bass on my desk. When she asked what I was doing, I said I was making an ink transfer print of the fish onto rice paper, as in Japanese fish prints. After some discussion, she realized I was sane and gave the go-head to my artistic endeavors.
LM: Could you tell us a little about your background?
CS: Well, my background has been in the decorative arts - I began my career by studying at all the studios that I could find in NY.
LM: I really like the part of your artist statement where you describe your studio being located near a metal salvage yard. Can you speak a bit about how the industrial and the natural coexist in your work?
JH: When I think of how the industrial and the natural coexist in our world I sometimes think elements interacting producing a high contrast situation.
LM: What artists or movements have had the strongest impact on your work?
BM: Since I have been a working artist for over 40 years, many artists have become important to me. Long before I thought to study art, Van Gogh’s “Starry Night” and his “Cypress Tree” had a profound effect on me in terms of their color and texture and the compelling appearance that was based on reality, but seemed to be more related to a dream world. Before I started to study in NY at the Art Students League, my influences were limited to Van Gogh, Matisse, Picasso, Monet, Bonnard and Cezanne. I was at that time not yet educated in modern art.