Monday, January 19, 2009

January Member Interview: Jeanne Rhea

Welcome to our first in a series of Member Interviews.

Jeanne Rhea
Etsy shop:

What inspires you to create?
I find inspiration everywhere – in nature, colors, patterns, fractals, landscapes, photomicrography, the human body, life experiences, art books, quotes, my artsy friends and the very act of creating.
I usually approach my artwork with an idea and then find techniques and materials to capture the concept. Experimenting with various techniques and materials is part of the lure of art for me. Discovering techniques with a new product is especially inspiring and exciting. I enjoy the process of creating – the journey – as much as the end product.

When did you decide to pursue art, or did art pursue you?
I cannot remember a time when I was not creating. I grew up in a large family and we used reclaimed and salvaged materials for our arts and crafts. I think that is why I find much satisfaction when I use found objects in my art today. Since these materials often cost nothing or very little, it feels like I am making something from nothing or giving something of little value some worth. I am certain that not making art is not a choice for me. Whether I pursued art or art pursued me, I think it is a symbiotic relationship. I had rather live a pauper’s life than to have the ability to create taken from me.

If you weren't an artist, what would you be?
This is an easy question as I just mentioned it in my blog. I am fascinated by many professions and would be an anthropologist, archaeologist, architect, geologist, biologist, medical researcher and travel writer if I could live for 300 years. Recently, I have become fascinated with biologists who catalog species of plants and animals. I think this is my desire to know that living things do not disappear without our knowledge that they existed. Even with those professions, I would still need my time to make art as I MUST create something every day or I feel out of sorts.

What other jobs have you had which have aided you on your artistic path?
Most of my adult life I have been self-employed. All of my work has contributed to who I am and the art I create. Working in a boot factory and working in a bank were good for my artistic career. The boot factory taught me how to eliminate unnecessary steps in the production of a product. I also discovered that I never wanted to be a production worker.

The bank taught me how to pay attention to finances and that I am too creative to be working in an industry where there is little leeway for the adventurous, independent, opinionated and unconventional person. Imagine my being creative with others’ money!

I have managed a bed and breakfast and know the importance of the customer. Managing an arts and crafts co-op and an antiques and collectibles shop, I learned how to display product and how to do store window displays along with many other skills.

I was a general contractor in the building maintenance and remodeling industry for many years in Alaska. That work exposed me to all kinds of tools, crafts and skills that I use to this day in my art.

I must add that being a single mom probably taught me the most - how to be organized, how to make the best use of my time and how to work with little sleep.

At the art supply store, which section do you gravitate to first?
When I go to an art supply store, I usually have a specific supply that I want to buy. Most of the materials that I use are not available locally and I must order online. With that said, I could still spend hours in an art store looking at everything! I just never know when I will see a product that will spark an idea or I will find a product that is a solution to a problem.
I spend more time at flea markets and garage sales looking for objects that I can use in mixed media assemblages and collages. I usually go to flea markets to look for scrap items (ephemera, old metal, fabric, jewelry and junk) and for old boxes to use in assemblages and to hold my collections.

What new technique or art form would you like to learn? Do you have plans to do so?
I would love to learn a lot more about kiln fired clays. I have made some items and so far no disasters, but some classes would help a lot. There is just so much to learn!

I took one class in encaustics, but at the time I decided it was not for me as I thought the materials were too messy with all the other materials that I use. But every time I see a piece that I love, I get the urge to try it again!

I would love to learn to paint and draw the human figure much better so I could incorporate them in my ink paintings. I can sculpt the human figure or use wire to draw with, but all seems to get lost when I pick up a pen or paintbrush and have to put it to paper. It takes me many hours to draw a good human form, but it does not take me long to sculpt the human form. I plan on practicing drawing and painting on my own for now.

I tend to experiment and work on my own and rarely take classes. I will spend hours exploring all angles of a new technique or product. When I take a class, I like to learn techniques rather than trying to complete a project in class.

If you could do anything, and knew you could not fail, what would you choose to do?
This question allows for dreaming so here goes: I would make this world a more peaceful place, food and medical care for all, and free from pollution, greed, discrimination and war. I believe that the internet will provide us with a new method of communicating so we will not forever have to learn from our past mistakes.

Okay, that is too much to accomplish in the real world.

So for now with the inauguration coming up, if I could write the portion of President-elect Obama’s inauguration address about the arts and its importance to society, here's what I'd have him say:

Jeanne's Version of Obama’s Inaugural Address on the Arts

The importance of the arts in our lives must not be overlooked.
We must encourage, support and, yes, fund the arts. Art enriches our lives.
It enlightens us. It entertains us. Artists across this nation contribute
daily to our economy, our homes and our communities.

The arts are as important as building roads. A road can transport us and our possessions from one location to another, but the arts will take us to places of the
imagination, emotions and beauty. A bridge can make the journey a shorter
and easier path, but the arts can bridge the differences in cultures and
pave a road to peace.

Good health care is a necessity, but with good health comes the opportunity and time to enjoy more of life. Hospitals attempt to heal and care for those in need, but the arts can also enrich, nurture and comfort the sick. Just as the body is fed with food, the arts can feed the spirit.

We want the best education for our children. Children studying the arts learn to explore, analyze, ask questions and learn many skills that will serve them well in adulthood. They can discover their passion or their passion can find them. The arts
will expand their horizons beyond our borders. With global awareness, our children will be more able to contribute to society and to the world. The arts have no less importance than science and technology. The creative mind is necessary to enhance the curiosity that science requires. The imaginations of those who study the sciences propel us to new frontiers.

The arts can make our hearts sing, open our eyes and show us our humanity. It records our visions. The arts are a record of our civilization and complete our view of the world.

So to each of you, I ask that you consider the value of the arts to society. Let’s make our nation a better place to live and let us fund the arts.

Jeanne concludes: On a practical level, I would do exactly what I am doing now, except I would get better and better.

Thanks, Jeanne! February Member Interview: Jodi Ohl

Saturday, January 10, 2009

And, we're off!

Our first meeting of the year was a resounding success!

Outgoing President Laurel gave a brief recap of the 4-year history of CMMAG, from its 'humble beginnings,' through various group activities, including a number of play days, exhibits, challenges, shows and swaps, to the present-day dynamic organization we've become.

And, we've elected our new slate of officers: President: Penny, Vice President: Michelle, Treasurer: Jeanne, Secretary: Nanette and Members at Large: (or "Thing 1" and "Thing 2" as they dubbed themselves) Debbie and Roberta. Past president Laurel remains on the Board, and we look forward to two years of great leadership from everyone.

We also welcomed several guests and five new members: Janet, Courtney, Maggi, Cathie and Sabrina, who are all excited about joining our dynamic group of creative souls.

The meeting room at Jerry's Artarama was an outstanding location; we were able to stretch out, see everyone at the same time, and have space enough to display our 'show and tell' pieces. Thanks to Sharon and everyone at Jerry's--we love our new meeting "home".

Another highlight of our first meeting was the launch of our latest challenge, the "Mixed Media Madness Mission Art-Possible" (Code Name: M-4). A kit composed of 33 disparate objects was assembled by Penny and Jean, of Artist Alley, with contributions from Nanette and Jeanne. Twenty-one CMMAG members have accepted the challenge of creating a work of art from at least 31 of these items which include: bullet casings, lace, empty glass fragrance bottle, sewing pattern pieces, book pages, cigar box label, Scrabble tiles, map, and embroidery floss; no small feat, to say the least. Completed works will be displayed at Artist Alley in March, and possibly published in a Stampington and Company magazine. We wish all our kit challenge members luck and creative inspiration as they make their way through the task...we can't wait to see the finished products!

So, we're off to a roaring start! Stay tuned to see what else is in store...we've got great plans for this new year.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Year-End Roundup, and a Look Forward

2008 was an exciting year for CMMAG! Here are just some of the things we accomplished:
  • We welcomed many new members, and our current active roster is 30 artists.
  • We worked to complete our Guild bylaws, and ratified them at our December meeting.
  • We held a number of play days, learned to create our own rubber stamps, designed and created glass objects, created batik greeting cards, and explored the wonders of alcohol inks.
  • Members participated in swaps: creating a fabulous charm necklace from one of them (which sold!); creating holiday ornaments (see photo below), and ATCs.

  • Our Fall was highlighted by our participation in Art of the Carolinas, where we assisted Jerry's Artarama staff; displayed members' work; raffled off a free CMMAG membership and conducted a 'make and take' ATC activity table.

And, to cap off a great year, we celebrated in fine fashion at December's meeting:

Looking forward to 2009, we will have a permanent meeting location: Jerry's Artarama, in Raleigh. As in years past, our meetings will be held at 7pm on the second Thursday of each month. Our first meeting will include the election of officers, welcome of new members, sharing of work, review of 2009 calendar of events, collection of dues, and much more.

We look forward to another great year of creativity, sharing and fun!