Lynda Cole

Q&A with Lynda Cole & Gallery Director Laura Moriarty

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:  ...or maybe this is not a concern for you. Do you feel that it is important to have a specific focus, or recognizable look?

LC: I don't necessarily feel that it's important for someone else to have a specific focus but it seems to me that I do, albeit through a few various media. During the last few years, in the back of my mind is, "What is the big question I'm working with?" By big question I could mean something as small as, "Will this make someone feel (better) in some way?" With those as my motivations I can move in some different directions and still feel my work is united.

LM: What do you do for inspiration?

LC: For me inspiration usually comes from something abstracted - a color combination, pattern of lines, repetition of form  - I can find myself thinking, here is one of these simple shapes, what could I do with 500 or 10,000 of them? I'm always trying to create a feeling rather than tell a story.

I mentioned repetition above. In a commissioned piece I'm making for a company headquarters there will be 10,000 small silver leaf on DuraLar pieces hanging in a 10' x 10' x 15' grid. I like that. Repetition speaks to me in a way that most visuals don't - repetition like a huge flock of starlings making patterns in the sky, or the receding telephone poles down a long straight highway. They're food for the mind in a way that isn't thinking.

Although I really like the meditative quality of repeating the same process over and over - as I do in the silver leaf work - it's painting with encaustic that gives me a feeling of creation during the making of the work. That's where each brushstroke leads to a different reality. It's interesting to think of all the paths (brushstrokes) that are placed in one painting and how each additional brushstroke leads to a different final solution.

LM:  Many readers may not know that you were one of the winners of ArtPrize last year, which is just tremendous. Has that experience and status changed anything significantly for you, or did life just go back to normal afterward? 

LC: Thanks Laura. ArtPrize did change my life in some ways. I received a number of commissions from people who saw Rain at the Grand Rapids Public Museum. The commission I mentioned above, with 10,000 pieces in it came from an ArtPrize visitor. Also, the $50,000 prize money that went with 3rd prize wasn't enough to change my lifestyle but it did give me freedom to explore some ideas without pressure. I'm still doing that. And, of course, it's great to have on my CV.

Also, the best thing I received from ArtPrize was the confirmation that I had succeeded with what I was trying to say. From the thousands of people I talked to while I was standing by Rain, the three words I heard over and over were beautiful, mesmerizing and peaceful. I can't tell you what that did for me. It's so rare that a visual artist receives such direct confirmation.

LM: What projects are on the horizon for you?

LC: I've been working on my encaustic paintings for the R&F online exhibit and the commissioned piece I mentioned. That will all be done by the end of September. After that I'm going to take 3 months or so and explore some 3D wax ideas and whatever else comes along. I have some potential commissioned pieces for 2013. That's my life. I feel very lucky.