Virginia T Coleman [virginiatcoleman]
What do you do? How do you define yourself as an artist?
My work continually evolves into new spectrums of thought but what remains is my curiosity about the nature of the built environment and the human condition. I constantly grapple with how to visually relay this curiosity.
It’s an amalgamation of my multi faceted background; architectural research, classical figurative painting, photography and the main tool to my visual vocabulary: steel.
What is your message?
To look at the world around you and begin to question yourself within it.
Your biography in four lines.
I am an explorer. A woman interested in the built environment and its contextual implications. Traveling and living in as many places as possible is imperative. I have lived in thus far: Evergreen and Boulder Colorado, New Orleans Louisiana, Boston Massachusetts, Florence Italy, San Francisco and San Diego California and currently Tulsa Oklahoma.
Do you upload your work to the web? If so, where could we see it?
Main Web Site
ArtSlant - www.artslant.com/global/artists/show/102345-virginia-t-coleman
Saatchi Gallery Online - http://www.saatchionline.com/virginiatcoleman
Art / Ideas / Photography Site - http://convozine.com/virginiatcoleman
Editor of Online Community dedicated to steel art- http://convozine.com/zine/556-the-luster-of-steel
Absolute Artist- www.absolutearts.com/portfolios/v/virginiatcoleman/
How is an idea born? For you, what is inspiration?
Inspiration can spawn from anywhere really. I read a tremendous amount and it is from reading that I get most of my conceptual ideas. More figurative pieces come from exploring the city's, by walking their street, gazing at their buildings. I sketch a lot and take photographs of what I find intriguing, these are the seeds for future works.
What role does technology play in your creative process?
Technology plays a role in my work but does not dominate. I use a great deal of equipment and modern tools when welding. I use the computer a little in the manipulation of a photo occasionally.
I like to keep the work raw, natural, from my own two hands.
What is art?
Being an artist to me means: To be a thinker, a continual learner- To make my thoughts and insights into visually tangible perspicacity’s.
When do you get your best ideas?
When I least expect it - so I always carry a sketch book in my satchel.
How do you evaluate whether an idea is good or not?
Not every idea has great merit that is not the point. Failure is the catalyst for my work to really progress. Every idea can lead you somewhere else, that is the ebbs and flows of life.
Three creative ideas that you would have liked to have created?
To use the inherent structural properties of steel to explore space- Richard Serra
Cubism- Brilliant exploration of pictorial space- Picasso
Abstract Expressionism- To take the human form and bravely distort it distilling your own voice with in it. De Kooning
When and how did you begin to see yourself as an artist?
I have been an artist my whole life - but I became more aware of its overall presence as I pursued a Masters in Architecture.
You dont wake up one day and say "hey I want to be an artist". It is more of an acceptance that you are one and then having the courage to accept it and pursue it with all your heart.
An artist's path is a lone path, full of hardship - conversely it is the only thing I find worth living for. It is all of me.
Why do so many artists and creators have such volatile personalities?
Volatile personalities? I think because being an artist is very egotistical, self absorbed all encompassing life style. It is about you, the work and wether your voice is being heard or understood correctly. In the end its all subjective and that is the hard part. I personally am not volatile, in-fact I am extremely easy going person.
Do you consider yourself postmodern?
Postmodern? Not particularly. I do draw strong parallels between language and in my work I use the classical approaches to art.
I will let time and critics define my work.
How should a work of art be evaluated?
Thats the thing, art is so extremely subjective. What I thing is relevant, profound is my opinion, what you like and dislike is your choice. I think its not a single piece of work that should be evaluated but the whole body of work an artist produces. Does the lineage of the artist work show progress, determination, intrigue, and knowledge. I like works that enlighten me and expand my understanding of the human condition.
Must an artist reinvent him/herself everyday?
I dont consciously reinvent myself. But if you are open to change, willing to take risks, inevitably you will reinvent yourself a multitude of times throughout your career. But like Picasso who had so many diverse styles and epochs his true message was always underlying his works. That to me is critical, to always remain true to yourself.
Which artists do you admire and how do they influence your work?
I draw inspiration from many avenues of the arts.
In architecture I am drawn to, Le Corbusier, John Soane, Carlo Scarpa, Rem Koolhass and Mies Van Der Rohe to name a few.
In painting I admire, Hans Hoffman, Elaine De Kooning, Cecily Brown, William Kentridge, Sean Scully, to skim the surface.
In sculpture I regard, Richard Serra, David Smith, Benar Venet, Constantin Brâncuşi, Martin Puryear and Louise Nevelson to be brilliant.
Photographers- William Eggleston, Henri Cautier- Bresson, Julius Shulman and Annie Leibovitz.
In literature I look to those who use language as a tool to paint with.
What do you think about public funding for the arts?
Like anything there are good years and there are bad years. But I love going to city's and seeing brilliant pieces of public sculpture adorning the street corners.
Is art necessary?
Art is vital to the continual development of humanity. The problem is with the increase of technology and the speed to which things are done I think people forget to take a step back, pause and appreciate something so magnificently crafted.
Does it pain you to let go of a piece you have sold?
Absolutely not. Some pieces I might hold on to for a little while but to me it is the idea that excites me. The seedling of a notion that I watch grow. As the ideas comes to fruition and progress towards completion I am usually already on to the next concept. It is a never ending flow of ideas and I cannot hold on to all the artworks I create.
Is a work of art purchased, or is it better said, that it is the artist who is bought?
I would like to think that people who invest in my art works are investing in me. In a belief that my ideas warrant merit and continual support. For I will continue to make art, some works they may not understand. I might veer away from a style a particular collector might have enjoyed most but I think you invest in the artist, in their whole body of work, not a singular moment.
In art, there is no guide. How do you know what the next step is?
That is the thing- an artist is his own boss and you must be proactive and never complacent in your work. Nobody is going to tell me what to make, what is the next trajectory to follow for inspiration. The work I am making today is very different in certain aspects from the work I was making a year ago. Hopefully the work next year will be different than the current work. The thread of me remains but as I uncover new ideas, new tools, inevitable the work shifts. It is a self discovery and if you are lucky you can spend your whole life searching and seeking and never really completely figuring it out.
It is the journey of discovery I am after.
How do you feel about the fact that the pieces exhibited in contemporary art museums are often of artists already deceased?
Seems to be the way art has been viewed throughout history. But as I stated before it is the entire body of work of an artist I am interested in, not usually a singular piece. So perhaps it is true that the real genius behind the works is not fully comprehend till their works seizes to expand anymore, settles down and becomes congealed.
What role have the figures of art dealer, gallery owners, representatives, and intermediaries in general played in your career?
Thus far in my career I have strayed away from galleries, representatives and dealers. You might say why? Because I am still exploring and unsure of my true voice and I dont want to be tied down to one style. I need the freedom to discover, to think outside the box. Someday perhaps I will feel ready, not yet.
What types of jobs do you usually do?
Well I am a professional welder. This is allowing me to explore the larger realm of metal fabrication.
I do a lot of commission work in painting and photography as well.
Which of your jobs or tasks do you most enjoy?
Striking an arc. Watching the lucid quality of a weld unfold.
Do you personally collect any items?
I collect others artworks and books. I like to be surround by inspiration and works that make me question my place in the world.
What advice would you give to those just beginning?
Its not the beginning, the end or the fame that matters. It is your personal journey that should be your main concern.
Virginia T Coleman