I'm privileged to be a part of 'Feminine Spirit ~ A Visual Dialogue' exhibit at ArtVentures Gallery December 1st - 17th. I say privilege because I am humbled to be one of a handful of other esteemed women artists sharing their works.
The gallery owner brought us together to brainstorm our vision for the exhibit and it was a moving and insightful conversation about our inner 'artist spirit'. You know, that force within that drives us to do what we do. Strangely enough, I find many artists aren't able to identify just what that inner voice is or say they just paint (or whatever) for the sake and joy of it. I'm convinced that whether one realizes it, all creative people have that 'spirit voice' communicating with the world through the artist. It's as basic as figuring out what 'speaks' to the creative person that drives them to decide on a subject matter, medium, theme, etc.
Creative endeavor is communicating and we all have a story to tell. Mine comes from a love of history and a passion for preserving the untold stories and forgotten tales from our shared history. I guess I would say that my art is the voice of the souls who laid the foundation for so much of what we have today. The forgotten voices and faded memories of another time, and often slices of history that weren't a core part of our history books yet profound chapters of our history left and neglected.
My current focus is on the rich mining history of Michigan's Keweenaw Peninsula. The ghost towns and abandoned remains of once grand mining companies and sites are so plentiful that it's mind-boggling. The beautiful and grand architecture of places like Calumet, Houghton, Hancock that are crumbling or the charm and magnetic energy of Copper Harbor. One of the most noteworthy historical sites in Keweenaw County is Central, or Central Mine, a village that once was the home for over 1,200 people, and the site of one Keweenaw's most successful mines. The mine, opened in 1854, produced nearly 52 million pounds of copper by the time it closed in 1898. Today it is a ghost town with a few preserved structures. As you hike into the woods you come upon foundations, remains of an old apple orchard or overgrown lilacs and heirloom plantings. I come upon foundations that represent where a home once stood and a family lived, the ruins of a school and old mining structures ; I feel the presence of the family - the men deep in a dark and dangerous mine or women laboring over a wood stove or carrying buckets of water, or the children playing in the school yard and, mostly, I try to grasp the level of strength and bravery it must have taken just to survive in such a powerful environment. Most were immigrants far from anything that resembled home. I find great beauty in what little remains today - most has been reclaimed by Mother Nature and has returned to the earth. If I can preserve some of this history and speak through my art, then I have fulfilled my artful purpose.
As I have shared before, my art is inspired by simplicity, realism depicting my subject matter without idealization, and above all by embracing life as it is and not omitting the imperfections, I find beauty in rust, weathered wood, rubble and peeling paint. I also hold a deep respect for the Shakers who had a quest for simplicity and perfection as reflected in their love of function and fine design. You will see the Shaker simplicity and Keweenaw history reflected in many of my works where realism prevails.
I'd love to hear from other creative folks - tell us about your 'inner artist spirit' !