Member/Artist Gallery Showcase
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I create work informed by man’s interest in building and expanding the industrial landscape surround him. I am inspired by nature’s playful interactions altering, changing, and sculpting the surface of these structures. My vocabulary of form and surface derive from abstract manifestations of corrosion, rusting, and fading of these industrial materials. These modeled surfaces express the inevitable passage of time and exposure to the elements. On a daily basis, I am aware of the strength and power of the natural world around me. These buildings, originally painted with a bright surface, eventually tarnish and fade back into their surroundings. The geometry of industrial factories and bridges become organically adorned with rust spots and pits. Paint stresses, becomes brittle, and cracks leaving a complex pattern across its surface. Each of these destructive actions leaves behind a composition of beauty and harmony.
Within my work I try to capture the spirit of these surfaces. The building process I use produces certain formal characteristics while referencing the industrial shaped topography of the Green Bay area or select collections from my travels. I try to juxtapose these heavy geometries against the organic mark making of plaster and painted surfaces to resemble the fluid movement of nature. Each piece I create represents a different location. The colors, textures, and forms interact with each other creating a patchwork of the urban landscape.
There are so many different ways these paintings can symbolize different aspects of our lives. Being recently married, I like the idea of how two people can come together. Sometimes we are completely different than the other person and other times we are just a different shade or tint of the same color. When we tie our lives together, we become one new entity. Similarly the way that these paintings were originally two separate paintings, in marriage we were two separate people, now we are one. Given a short amount of time we begin to inherit some of our spouse’s colors! If you are married, what colors are you and your spouse? Are you completely different colors or are you very similar, but just a different shade or tint?
The paintings I create are based on visual and written recordings of people, places, and/or things I find interesting and in someway, feel a connection to. In my studio I transform and reduce those thoughts and feelings into paintings that reflect on those experiences and personal attachments. I work in oil, which gives me the freedom to create layered, transparent, and textural surfaces that allows me to engage the viewer in not only the colors, lines, and shapes used, but also to provide a connection between me and my audience. Abstraction allows me to explore, adopt, adapt, and reflect on life experiences through documenting specific moments in time.
The rhythmic patterns of nature and music are the underlying structure of my work. In recent years I have been drawn to the medium of hand -made paper. From conception to completion, the tactile experience with the pulp enables me to fully explore the ebb and flow of every mark and form I make. Whether using wet or dry embellishments, color has symbolic significance expressing the final harmony to my life and work.
Erin La Bonte
A documentation of my experience in the world around me—my art, is a visual extension of myself through found, recycled, and traditional mediums. My studio work is constantly evolving—raw and far from constant. I work intuitively—often on multiple bodies of work at a time.
This particular body of work is an investigation of man/woman’s relationship with nature through artistic medium—at times using nature as medium itself.
The relationships between form, color, and texture are the key components of my work. I utilize the combination of those elements to create interactions within the form. The exploration of those characteristics conceptualizes from forms thrown on a potter’s wheel. Often times the investigation of these characteristics begins by altering the soft clay in different ways such as stamping, cutting, or stretching the form. I find that the nature of these alterations breaks up the surface quality of the thrown form. They also provide opportunities for color application that will accentuate specific areas and all attention to others through the use of glaze, slip, and terra sigillata. I take advantage of various firing processes because each provides qualities useful to me in different ways, however, the majority of my work is fired in an oxidized, sodium atmosphere. This process provides possibilities of organic color shifts that augment glaze application, raw clay, or surface texture through the introduction of a liquid sodium solution at peak temperature. It is the organic earth-toned color shifts of the slips and sigillatas, the subtle effects on the glaze application, and the degree of uncertainty of the effects involved with the sodium incorporation that intriques me and continues to draw me to the soda firing process.
In my artwork I try to express thoughts, idea, feelings and fragments of time as they existed during my life. Each piece illustrates a specific moment or year that needed personal expression. Some moments are chaotic, others are calming, and some are intuitive of what is to be. As life is full of layers, so is my work. Verbal communication is also very important as words have power that heal and cleanse the soul. Taking the time to visually express you starts the healing process.
Formalism has impacted my stylistic transformation of wood carving into modern sculpture. The process of taking a rough cut piece of wood from a saw mill has been very inspiring in the way I design and transform a piece of wood. Jackson Pollock has inspired me in his ability to stare at a canvas or in my case a piece of wood for hours or even days to visualize the right design to implement in my sculpture. The intensity of Jackson Pollock has inspired me in regards to his ability to stare at a canvas, or in my case a piece of wood for long periods of time until I can conceptualize and visualize the right design to implement on my sculpture. The degree of difficulty with wood carving is that once the cut with the gauge has been made it cannot be easily corrected. Proper planning and precision with each cut is necessary to create the sculpture. As Pollock captured the flow of his stroke using sticks or brushes, I too am engaged with the raw material to make formalistic sculptures.
I see my Art as a dance that moves forward, backward, and sideways with a rhythm that changes from a frenzied beat to a melodious harmony. It has become entwined so deeply in my life that is its as natural as the air I breathe. Art has brought me great joy, challenge, frustration and growth. It is a personal journey of learning, changing, experimenting, discovering and problem solving. I embrace the adventure. I love to explore materials and their possibilities. I find that my favorite medium is the one I am working with at the moment. The process absorbs and consumes me. Whenever possible, I go barefoot, get my feet dirty and play. Through constant polishing and adjusting, I hope my work acquires a patina or sheen that glows from within. I strive to eliminate the rough edges creating a seamless smooth product always open to new ideas and change. There are so many beautiful unanswerable questions in life and Art opens endless doors of knowledge and potential.
Jen Sweeney has always thought of herself as an artist and a teacher. One of her earliest memories of making art is coloring with markers on her Navy sailor Grandfather’s arm, because they were clad with naked women perched on anchors. Currently as an artist Jen likes using funkie junk in the mixed media pieces that she works on. The owl in this art represents the junque the Jen finds and repurposes into her paintings, collages, and other mixed media works.
During my studies of Art History, I always connected to artists and to cultures that used the spiral for artistic expression. Historically, the use of the spiral has connections to spiritual beliefs of balance and progress and to direction and centering. My own spiral series allowed me to use the painting medium as a meditative and creative outlet for personal self-expression.
Teaching art and sharing my love of creativity are my passions. The spontaneous and enthusiastic children I teach inspire my mixed media art. It is important to me to cultivate a life of creativity as an example for my students and for my own personal life balance. Because of this need to create, I try to work in my art journal daily, as well as make time to create larger watercolor paintings and mixed media collages. My artwork is intuitive, with bold colors and organic shapes. I am inspired by natural forms, such as fruits, leaves and flowers. This particular painting is titled Red Configuration and the media is watercolor paints with a bit of acrylic ink.
My Ceramic Vessel is a piece that I created on the potter’s wheel and then later added some interesting textures and designs. When I begin a ceramic piece this large I often have an idea in mind and soon that idea is in my hands. When I am on the potter’s wheel I feel at home. I love the way the clay feels in my hands. Unlike most mediums creating pottery does not frustrate or aggravate me into the perfectionist I know I can be. My second piece is titled Eva. Eva is a student of mine. I took her to see several art galleries and was fortunate enough to capture the whole experience in this painting. She is sitting in the upper level of the CVA in Wausau, WI. I feel like this painting captures a little of both of us. I see myself in her and I love that she was so into the whole experience that she found herself reflecting on the art she viewed in this perfectly located bench in the back of the gallery. Art inspired Art. This painting reflects not only me as an artist but as an educator and role model to the youth in my community.
I am another kind of storyteller, one that reads visual information for it's gestural content and cultural worth. I often play with imagery that emphasizes the performative nature of human presence, experience, interaction, and bodily representation. In making my work I am most interested in collapsing distances between subjects and viewers.
As part of my studio process, I often stage performances or break apart graphics, film, video, and photography to reduce aspects of gesture into elements of visual semiotics, capable of articulating familiarity and a certain degree of social contrast with widespread audiences.
I’ve always loved history, especially the history of native peoples, so I was surprised I’d never heard of the Mississippian culture. Sometimes referred to as the “mound builders”, the Mississippian culture was one of the first to populate what is now known as North America. Known for their crafting of effigy and head pots, the Mississippians also employed wax resist painting, and used mollusks to temper their clay. The Mississippian duck and human effigy bowls spoke the strongest to me. As I tried to craft my version of these bowls, I remembered how my father loved to carve birds out of wood. He did not consider himself an artist; rather he cherished the solitary, almost meditative activity that carving afforded him. My exploration of this art helped me understand him more clearly and feel connected to him again. As I found solace in my art making, I not only felt closer to my father, but I began to feel a kinship with these ancient people that seemed mysterious and all-knowing. They grew corn, created beautiful pottery, and built mounds. They understood nature, survival, and perhaps had their own unique ideas about the afterlife. Yet today, everywhere I look, it seems our society has become tied to technology and less interested in people as a collective and the natural world around them.
I prefer not to explain my work to you. My hope is that it evokes some unexplained emotion, as though my work reminds you of something that you cannot put your finger on. I want your imagination to decide what you see and how it makes you feel. It is important to me that art is interpreted by the viewer as much as by the artist who created it.
The relationship between paint and brush on canvas is inseparable from mood and spirit. Human expression embodies each moment in time as it is. It changes based on a host of internal and external factors. It is always my aim to place this foremost and strive to embody moment in time as it takes on a life of its own and is reflected on canvas by speed of brush, intensity of color, subtleness of form, ambiguity of space, direction of line, boldness of shape…etc. It is the world that connects the unconscious. It’s what I’ve always known, but couldn’t speak it or see it. I didn’t know until I’ve created it in paint. Sometimes there is a delay in knowing before my paintings communicate where I’ve been, where I am, and why. This movement informs the spirit on the journey of life.
This little painting is the result of an afternoon art activity that I did with my young daughter. We each made a painting of her fish. It was fun to be creative with her, and it was satisfying to be able to finish in one sitting. I like to paint water and light. I like to use thick paint. Painting makes me feel good; painting alongside someone I love is heavenly! This painting is about recording a shared experience, making art on a humble scale without over-thinking. It’s about going with the flow of a few beautiful moments in time.
The cycle’s of nature draw me into a dance with light, birth, mystery, and wonder. My paintings are an attempt to share a small part of those experiences.
I am an artist who enjoys challenging my skills. I feel there is nothing I can’t do. I’m an artist who loves to learn, teach and explore. I’m never without a sketchbook in hand and I am constantly drawing. Most of my drawings and ideas are yet to be created. My mind is so full of ideas I often have a hard time deciding what idea I would like to make. (People often say I am a “Dreamer”.) I often set out to produce art for a purpose. It could be for a space, a client, a gift, or just because I want to learn how to do something new.
Throughout my artistic career I have produce a wide array of work and I have never focused on one style or medium as I continue to always want to explore something new. Once I have proved to myself that I could create my idea into a final piece I often move on to try something new. Throughout this process, I have discovered mediums or areas of art I enjoying using or making more than others. Illustration, animation, architecture and model making are amongst those and these have always been something I have loved to do and always seem to come back to.
My influences are come from people I meet, my imagination, things I see, feel and experience. But I have always loved the work by Chuck Jones, Nick Park, Tim Burton and Frank Lloyd Wright
I am integrally interested in the juxtaposition of various elements and notions in all facets of life. This concept then tends to manifest itself in my art. The interplay of the organic alongside the structural, the relationship of differing textures or media, and the interaction of complementary colors or of contrasting values all intrigue me. Through these contradictions, I explore the human experience of failure and success, faith and proof, good and evil, simple and complex. During my life, I have developed a keen awareness of architecture, especially of urban and industrial structures. At the same time, I have nurtured an earnest appreciation for the subtlety and grandeur of the natural world. Thus, these motifs appear frequently as I work with various media and techniques. My own photography of urban and natural landscapes has both informed and inspired my work. These landscapes sometimes become an entirely new abstraction, while at other times they are simply the landscapes themselves, reflecting sad, forlorn worlds or places of robust hope, monolithic edifices or cracked and crevassed constructions.
My current work consists of organic abstractions in thick, lush oil paint amalgamated with crisp, geometric spray-painted patterns. This combination allows me to explore the interactions of humans with nature, however positive, negative, beautiful, or horrible. I frequently use seemingly contradictory surfaces and techniques to explore and manipulate the illusion of surface and the window of the painting. Texture plays a pivotal role as well: I continuously juxtapose hyper-smooth surfaces with highly textured ones. Finally, through the struggle of the creative process, I attempt to experience, question, and decipher the world around me.
Art for me is either war or dance…some days, all I do is fight with time, energy, materials, idea, image, process or myself. And then there are the dance days, when everything seems to work and the ideas and images flow and merge with the inks and the paper. Thank goodness for the dance days. Most of my work is about memory…my memories of people, places and experiences. The stories I heard as a young girl and the memories I have of the people and ghosts in my life. Especially the ghosts….those who were once with us and now exist only as memory. I have these dolls and trolls in my studio, that I have made or collected, and they speak to me of the past. They merge with old photos…and everyone dances at night when the lights are off. The next day, who know which will emerge?
My most recent works has been informed by the Norwegian heritage. Their sources have been the stories, myths, images and structures of the Vikings and beyond. The pieces included in this series are based on the Norse myth. The two ravens belonged to Odin; they flew off each day to bring back knowledge, the news of the day. The four woodcuts, “Four Views”, are based on myth also. They represent Odin, Thor, Freyja, anda fylgia or spririt who is thought to accompany you and determine your fate.
It has been said that an artist’s work tends to follow certain bends, frenzies. Currently that mode for me is the lotus flower, blowing gently in the wind, growing unattended in the water, offering a constant delight throughout the summer season. Nature throughout the seasons is an infinite source of inspiration for artists everywhere, there are no boundaries.