Wednesday, April 2, 2014

REBEKAH NOLAN





Where are you from? 
I am originally from Indianapolis but I lived right outside of Nashville, Tennessee for 12 years.  I've been back here since 2006.

Where do you live?
I live on the East side of Indianapolis in Irvington. 


When did you realize that you wanted to be an artist?
It wasn't until I was a freshman in high school that I realized I wanted to be more of a behind the scenes artist rather than a performing artist.  Prior to that I was sure I would do something with theater or ballet.  I was beginning to get really interested in film at the time and I have a very distinct memory of telling my mom that I thought I'd rather be the one behind the camera, controlling imagery rather than in front of it.  


Who influenced you as an artist?
So many.  My mom's paintings, my sister's textiles, my family's storytelling.  I suppose when I first started becoming really interested in art it was through photography and film.  I was in love with anything John Cassavetes ever did and watched a ridiculous amount French New Wave films.  I remember the first Maya Deren film I saw, ''Meshes of the Afternoon," and my eyes were forever opened.  What influences me has changed and grown as I have... I admire clean lines and simplicity in images, I'm always hunting for patterns.  I'm drawn to things in their natural state, if it seems staged or styled I'm turned off by it.  It has to have a simple rawness and ease to it.




What is your favorite medium?
My Micron pens have been my best friends for years.  And lately I've loved working with watercolor. 





Do you have a studio? Where is it?
My husband and I have a screen printing studio in our basement which we also use for other various projects.  As far as where I do my drawing and painting my studio can be anywhere that seems appropriate at the time.  




When did you become a mother?
September 16th, in the wee hours of the morning, 2008.

What are your challenges as a mother artist?
The challenges of being a parent are endless.  As soon as you feel you have a grasp on things it all changes and you have to learn how to deal with totally new unforeseen challenges at the flip of a switch.  Having time to be an artist is huge.  As a mother, the job of nurturing, loving, educating, FEEDING, protecting, etc. of your children naturally always comes first.  It took me a long time to realize I actually had to deliberately carve out time to dedicate to art in a similar way that I would to exercise or to cook.  Otherwise it would start to fade out of my life and I would become entirely too grumpy.  I'm more patient, more understanding, and more open to my children when I have allowed time to nurture myself in that way.

When do you spend time making art?
As soon as I walk out the door after putting my kids to bed I get out my supplies and work for at least an hour.  I try to spend several hours during the weekend getting work done as well.  This doesn' t always happen but I take what I can get.  I recently started to carve out an hour or so during the day when the kids are up and active to escape and try to work.  My kids are too young to be in school, but they are old enough to set the timer for an hour and occupy themselves for a bit :) 


How many children do you have? Do you want more?
I have two children.  Henry, 5, and June, 3.  I can't imagine having more children right now.  I'm just getting to the point where I have enough freedom to have a predictable schedule for myself and I need to keep moving forward with that.  However, I can't speak to how I will feel about it in the future.  When I look at myself five years ago, I was a totally different person,  I can't imagine what the next five years will bring or how I'll feel about it then.


Have you ever considered giving up art in order to be a mother?
Yes.  It has been very hard for me to feel like I can balance everything in a way that is healthy.  My husband and I do a lot of work together and it has been incredibly difficult at times to feel like we have time to work separately on things, much less together.  We are also very critical of our work and when production slows down we have been very hard on ourselves about it.  It has been a point of stress in the past and that is not what we want it to be.  That being said, we have had to shift the way we think about making art and our lives around a bit to make it work.  Every time we have considered getting rid of our studio or abandoning lingering projects we simply can't do it.  We need to make art in order to live as ourselves.


Do you have support from your family and friends to keep making art?
Yes.  I have an incredibly supportive family full of fellow artists.  Our friends are extremely supportive and have genuine interest in what we do. 

Do you feel like you are taken seriously as a mother artist? 
I think you are taken as seriously as you take yourself.  I have had trouble feeling like people take me seriously as anything simply due to the fact that I became a mother at a very young age and that seems to always lead people to make preconceived assumptions about my life.  Being a young mother has made made me feel a bit out of place in most situations and I have in turn had to learn to let go of trying to have a say in how other people perceive me and continue moving my life forward as both a dedicated mother and artist regardless.  


Has becoming a mother influenced your art?
Becoming a mother has influenced everything.  Such as any life altering experience, mothering  has challenged me and forced me to grow in ways I otherwise would never have conceived.  Therefore it has deeply influenced the way I see, think, and make.




Do you think mother artists are taken seriously in society?
This is an interesting question.  As I said earlier I think you are taken as seriously as you take yourself.  However I think it is easy for someone to think of a mother artist as a harried house wife with all the freedom in the world to paint or (as someone put it to me once) sit around watching Dr. Phil if she wanted.  There is so much work and dedication in being a mother all on it's own.  It is a constant job without an end.  The job requirements change and grow as your children do.  Even as an adult I have still depended on my mother for things no one else could ever do for me.  And while it is incredibly rewarding and full of every emotion imaginable, it is exhausting at the very least.  Pushing yourself to be an artist, or anything outside of that should be taken seriously.

What do you say when someone asks “what does your husband do for a living?” are you offended by such a question?
When people ask me this my first thought is, "How do I answer this question as quickly and neatly as they want me to?"  My husband does a great many things.  He rides his bike. He finds, repairs, and builds bikes for other people. He builds other things too.  He's a designer, a sign painter/maker, and a screen printer.  He likes to camp.  He roasts his own coffee and it's amazing.  He makes his own cider every year that is equally amazing.  He is an incredible father who enriches the experiences of our children just by talking to them and teaching them about whatever it is he's up to that day.  He also spends 40 hours a week working in an office doing something that can be as rewarding as you make it.  When it comes down to it my husband and I are partners in everything we do.  We both make sacrifices to make our lives work and move in a direction we believe in.  Although we are parents and artists all the time, those things are fractions of who we are and what we "do."  I'm not offended by this question, but I find it to be a bit narrow.  


What is your story?
I was always restless in art school.  I loved it but I started college when I was 16 and was very unsure of who I was or what I should be doing.  I was in college for almost five years and transferred art schools three times.  I landed back in Indianapolis when I was nineteen.  Even though I was from here, it had been so long since I had been back that I was brand new to the city.  My husband was one of the first people I met at a job I got shortly after moving here. After a few months  I moved again to Bloomington to try again at school. After one semester of being there and only a few short months of dating we found out I was pregnant with our son.  I had just turned 21, Eric was 23. Even though it felt like a crazy situation to be in, there was a strange peace and acceptance in the face of us being together as parents. We both feel very lucky that we ended up liking each other, as crass as that may sound.  Looking back I can see the ways in which we managed to survive because I know us.  But I'm also aware of how crazy we must have seemed from the outside.  Babies having babies, that was us.  

I have always been an observer. I enjoy being still and watching moments unfold. Moving through the process of becoming a mother has given me a bottomless inventory of moments to dissect, remember, savor. So far motherhood has filled me out, rounded my sharp edges, and opened me up. I honestly don't know what more I could ask for as an artist. 



What have you learned about balancing motherhood and your passions?

Finding a perfect balance is impossible but you have to keep who you are as an individual alive and thriving in order to have the perspective to be a good parent.  It is incredibly important to carve out time for yourself, even if it means telling your kids you have diarrhea so you can get a solid ten minutes in the bathroom to read that article about the opening you missed or image hunt or write or listen to that song your friend sent you all the way through without being interrupted.  Seriously, you have to start somewhere.  You know you've done it.
I've had to learn not to be so hard on myself.  It's impossible to be the perfect mother and the only way to be better at anything is to have some time to reflect and think peacefully and find ways to propel yourself forward.



What advice can you offer other mother artists about pursuing their passions regardless of their situation?
 It may take longer, it may be harder, it may not look exactly like what you thought it would, but you can do it.  Hold yourself accountable to your passions while allowing them to change and grow as you do.  Allow the expectations you have for yourself to evolve in a way that is good for everyone in the shared experience of being a family.  Continue to evaluate yourself and your situation, shed yourself of the bad and expound upon the good, and keep moving.  Be open. 




What do you want to be remembered for as an artist?



I strive for my work to be simple, straight forward, and beautiful.  I want to be able to convey the sincerity of a simple passing moment.  Right now I want my images to be thought of as sort of weightless and familiar.  But I ultimately have little control over how others perceive what I put out there or how they will remember it. 



To see more of Rebekah's work please visit: 

https://www.facebook.com/flatlandkitchen

https://www.etsy.com/shop/flatlandkitchen?ref=search_shop_redirect

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