Monday, May 26, 2014

RANA SALAME STRIEDINGER







What is your name?

Rana Salame Striedinger


Where are you from?

I was born in Beirut, Lebanon. My family moved to the USA in 1986 during the Lebanese Civil war, which displaced nearly a million people. I grew up in the South side of Dearborn, Michigan, in a yellow duplex with my grandparents, parents, and cousins.  My grandparents farmed on a plot of land next to our home.  




Where do you live?

I currently live in Anderson, Indiana, in an 1895 farmhouse surrounded by woods and gardens, with my husband Nathan and our 17-month daughter Lulu Pearl. 



When did you realize that you wanted to be an artist?

I have always known I wanted to do something creative. I was constantly trying to find the right creative fit; I have several unfinished journals, paintings, and works of art. It wasn’t until I was in my late twenties when I knew I wanted to be a jewelry maker or as I call myself, Quartz Curator.



Who influenced you as an artist?

People in general, other artists, musicians, reflections;  my influence is all around. My favorite artist is most likely nature. 







What is your favorite medium?

Gemstones, gold, silver, brass & photography, all tie for first place.



Do you have a studio? Where is it?

My studio is on the second floor of my house. It was the first room we refinished, in our not-very refinished creaky old home. I have created art in almost every room and all around, so my studio isn’t always limited to four walls. 






When did you  become a mother?

October, 2012. Although, I did consider myself a mother to a few of four-legged fur balls that came before Lulu.




What are your challenges as a mother artist?

Finding the time to do more and a bit of anxiety about it all. I spend my hours between 7am-7pm mostly being mommy, domestic duties, a sprinkling of office work for my position as workshops & event coordinator for Homespun: Modern Handmade, mixed in with getting some studio time and really just trying to be mom. It is impossible to find time to do it all in one day, that’s why I am ok with not. 



What has been the driving force behind keeping a balance between being a mother and an artist?

I find that the only way to balance it all is to not feel guilty about the way you balance it. It is ok to work on emails or earrings while my daughter looks through books or watches an episode of clubhouse. I do as much as I can to benefit her throughout the day, but I understand she benefits from independent time as well. 




When do you spend time making art?

If I want to make sure I have full focus with no interruptions (which are welcomed if Lulu is awake), I try to focus my art time to her sleeping time. I do sometimes work in my studio or on projects while she is awake, however some things I do are too dangerous for babies, perhaps when she is older.


How many children do you have? Do you want more?

Lulu is our first and only. We may think about another someday, but as of now we are happy as we are.   









Have you ever considered giving up art in order to be a mother?

Never. 



Do you have support from your family and friends to keep making art?

Yes, I have the most wonderful love, support and encouragement from both my family and friends. I am truly blessed and grateful to have such an amazing bunch of people in my life.



Do you feel like you are taken seriously as a mother artist? 

Sometimes I feel that people expect my work to be cheaper or free, simply because I am an artist. I have not felt that adding the word mother has changed it one-way or the other. Artists usually have to work harder to be taken seriously, unless they are of course within a community that thrives on creativity and design. 



Has becoming a mother influenced your art?

I do often consider someone yanking on my jewelry and making sure it holds up to toddler handling. She has also greatly added to my inspiration and joy, so yes..



Do you think mother artists are taken seriously in society?

I can see several sides to this question. I see why we are and I see why we may not be. It depends who you ask. There are people who don’t take artists seriously, there are those who don’t take mothers seriously, and there are those that do. I want to give people the benefit by saying that when I see other mother artists I feel empowered, stronger, braver, and inspired, so I would hope that’s how society views us. 



What do you say when someone asks “what does your husband do for a living?” are you offended by such a question?

I say, “he is a web developer for a company based in Chicago, he telecommutes from home.” I then talk about his company a bit and the platform they specialize in. I am never offended, I feel questions are the only way to get information and if someone is asking me they would like more information about my life and I don’t assume otherwise, unless of course their response after that is ignorant.




What have you learned about balancing motherhood and your passions?

Once I stopped thinking of them as two separate things, I found balance. I am passionate about creating art in many forms and have created the most masterful piece of all, a child. That may sound cliché but I am grateful for both. A life without passion and love would be a miserable existence. 




What advice can you offer other mother artists about pursuing their passions regardless of their situation?

I suppose the same thing that I was told about my birthing plan, it may have to change and you will just have to relax and go with it to ensure the best outcome. I suppose this applies to life in general, but it just makes sense being a new mom. Creating will come, and when you do create, make sure you are doing it with all your heart. 




What is your story?

I’m a lover, a dreamer, and perhaps a bit naive at times, but lets just call it optimistic and inquisitive. I made the choice some years ago to keep growing, learning and exploring. I happened upon jewelry making after a very difficult time in my life, my husband, then boyfriend at the time, noticed that I wasn’t making any art and signed me up for a jewelry making class at the local art center (we were living in Chicago).I was handed a torch and pointed toward a vat of acid and some heavy machinery, needless to say I was intrigued. The shiny sparkly gemstones were the closer on the deal and I was hooked.  I learned some things through research, trial and error and lots of video tutorials.I listen more, see more, and do more than I ever have before. With another life to care for, I want to show her how to live a meaningful and loving life, to be accepting and open minded, to pursue her passions, to constantly educate and challenge herself.




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

I want to be remembered for helping make the world a more beautiful place. It brings me great joy to see people wear my jewelry and smile. I have been told that my jewelry evokes  emotion, all of which are positive.



To learn more - please visit: 

www.ranasalame.etsy.com
www.ranasalame.com


Wednesday, May 14, 2014

COLLIN MOSES











What is your name?

Collin Moses

Where are you from?

Indianapolis

Where do you live?

Indianapolis











When did you realize that you wanted to be an artist?



About six months ago.  No, really.  I have been an artist since I was a kid, but it was not until recently that I realized I actually wanted to be an artist.  I have spent much of my life in resistance to being the artist that I am.  I was afraid of the cycles, the work, the disappointments.  I was afraid of what it would take to really step into it and put myself out there.  And then something shifted, about six months ago.  I kept trying on other hats and looking for that one thing that I was “supposed” to be doing.  It became more painful to do that than to step into being an artist, and just like that I am now really excited about being an artist and my work. 



Who influenced you as an artist?

My mom.  Undeniably.  She always told me to follow my heart.  Had it not been for her I may have never embraced this path.  And as for artists that influence my work…  Javier Marin.  Beth Cavener Stichter.  Shu-Mei Chan.  Daniel Evans.  Chris Boger.  Vicki Ayers.  Ayumi Horie.  Birdie Boone.  Just to name a few… 




What is your favorite medium?

Clay.  Always clay.  All the time. 


 






Do you have a studio?  Where is it?

I do!  It is relatively new to me, and it is in my house!  My husband is a carpenter, and together we have remodeled our home.  He made me a beautiful studio. 





When did you become a mother?  


Almost five years ago.  Piper Jane was born May 4, 2009.  



What are your challenges as a mother artist?


Time.  It feels that there is not enough.  That it is difficult to be present in what I am doing especially when I am with my kids.  I am always wanting to be doing something, making something, and definitely moving at a faster speed than they will let me.  I carve out time to work when they are sleeping or at school.




What has been the driving force behind keeping a balance between being a mother and an artist?

A need to be happy.  It is really very simple.  For me to be happy I need to  be making stuff.  It is also important to me to spend time with my kids.  I want my kids to grow up in a creative environment.  I want them to feel like they can make anything they can dream up. 



When do you spend time making art?

A few hours here and there, when my kids are sleeping or are at school.






How many children do you have? Do you want more?

I have two children.  Piper and Acre.  I am happy with two.  I do not want more.





Have you ever considered giving up art in order to be a mother?

No. 
That would be a disservice to my children and anyone that loves me.  It is an integral part of who I am.  No one wins when you give up your happiness to serve them.
















Do you have support from your family and friends to keep making art?

Yes.  I have so much support it is humbling.  My husband has made so much of my art possible.  As I said he built me a studio. He also makes armatures for my figurative sculpture, the carts that I use, and many other things.  He is the structure that holds up this thing that I do called art.  And my friends and family are so amazing.  They come to my shows, and have always pushed me to embrace my work.  I am so grateful.






Do you feel like you are taken seriously as a mother artist?


By who?  I am taken seriously by the people that I love.  I guess that is all that matters to me.  I have not extended that thought into the public sphere. 16.Has becoming a mother influenced your art?Yes.  Being a mother has changed me, and that influences the work that I make.  I also lost my mom three weeks before I had my daughter, my first child.  It is difficult to separate that loss with becoming a mother.  To say that we were close would be an understatement.  Since she died and I had kids my art has been very influenced by how unbelievably beautiful and painful life is.  It has been about my grief, and at the same time I have developed a much greater capacity for playfulness in my work.  In the simplest of terms my life and my work reflect the intense polarity of life and death. 





Do you think mother artists are taken seriously in society?

I think it depends on the work that they make and has more to do with being a woman than a mother.  I think women in general are not taken as seriously as men in the world of art, in the world period.




What do you say when someone asks “what does your husband do for a living?” are you offended by such a question?

I don’t get asked that often.  If someone did ask me that as a follow up to me saying that I was an artist I might be offended.  If it felt invalidating, then yes it would offend me.






What is your story?


I remember the first time I saw someone throw on a potter’s wheel.  I took my first ceramics class when I was 10 years old.  Every Christmas I would ask for a wheel.  I would dream about what it would feel like to walk down the stairs and see it over and over again.  And every Christmas I would come down the stairs and it wouldn’t be there.  And yet I would still think, maybe it is hiding somewhere…  When I was seventeen, as a very amateur photographer I shot a wedding.  I made a little bit of money, and I bought my first wheel.  I later went on to get a BFA in Ceramics at IU.  When I graduated I started a ceramics studio in Bloomington with a friend.  Soon after my mom was diagnosed with cancer, and everything stopped.  I spent the next year being with her.  I got pregnant, and my mom died.  I did not create for a while.  I have loved clay as long as I can remember.  And despite my life story, it always seems to find me again.





What have you learned about balancing motherhood and your passions?


I have learned  that it is hard.  I have learned to set my expectations of the amount of work I will get done in a day to be lower.  Choosing to have kids has meant that my agenda does not always come first.  And when I do have time I use it. 




What advice can you offer other mother artists about pursuing their passions regardless of their situation?

Get the stories out of the way that keep you from living from your heart and following your passion.  Walk through it.  You will find your way.




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

My heart.

 















Monday, May 5, 2014

VICKI AYRES - BENSON

  


  What is your name?

  Vicki Ayres-Benson


Where are you from?

My father was in the military so I was born in Mississippi, moved to Hawaii when I was 3 and Arizona went I was 6. I moved to Indiana with my then boyfriend after earning my BFA in sculpture at the age of 26. We were only going to stay 3 years, then move the California  so I could pursue my masters. We broke up and I stayed in Indiana.


Where do you live?

 I live in Indianapolis and since my family moved here to be with me, I guess I have to stay LOL


When did you realize that you wanted to be an artist?

 I realized when I was 7 years old that I wanted to be an artist. I remember learning about Vincent Van Gogh and thinking that I wanted to paint like that. When we went to the school library I always looked for art instruction and other art books to check out.


Who influenced you as an artist?


I  find inspiration everywhere, from other artists, nature, and random textures and colors. I am constantly influenced by artworks I see, but I never quite make my work look like any of those influences. As for people influencing me, I had a great high school art teacher and I can still remember her excitement when I developed a new skill. I also had an art teacher in college who gave me the confidence I needed to pursue art. I started college as a math education major, trying to pick a responsible career. Mr Garrison always told me I could make it in art.





What is your favorite medium?

I am drawn to interesting textures and color and I still love the figure. I love combining unusual materials, like oil paint, ink, shellac, paper, and carving then painting on wood. I draw,paint and sculpt, whatever catches my mood.




Do you have a studio? 

Where is it? My classroom is my current studio. I have access to any tools I need, and I keep the mess out of my house. 



When did you become a mother? 

That’s a long story… I had my first child when I was 15. Due to my age, and the times, I was forced to place him for adoption. I tried several times to have another child, but when I did manage to get pregnant, I would lose the baby. I found my son when he turned 21. A few years later I found his father and we ended up getting married and having a little girl. They are nearly 30 years apart in age. I have been a mother since I was 15 but did not get to hold and raise my own baby until I was nearly 45.



What are your challenges as a mother artist?

My biggest challenge is finding time to create my work. Since I am also a full time art teacher, many people think I get to make art all day. For the most part I only get to work on my own art after school when I am done with grading, setting up my room, creating lesson plans and hanging student work. Occasionally I will get some  time during my one free period of the day to get something done. I have had to learn how to get back into my artist mode at the drop if a hat, and that is just not something I can always do, but something I must do. I need to create, so I find a way.



What has been the driving force behind keeping a balance between being a mother and an artist?

I am not sure I am good at keeping a balance, but there is no way I can be anything else. It’s like asking me how I handle being a woman. I am a woman. I am a mother. I am an artist. I am a teacher. Sometimes I have to carve out time to focus on one part of me more than the other, but I am always all of those things.


 
When do you spend time making art?

My work is always out. I might sneak over for 5 minutes, or I might go in on the weekend. When I do in on the weekend, my daughter is with me, making her own art. When I find time during the day, there is always a student nearby asking me what I am doing. I am never alone. I am never alone except in the shower and on my drive to work.


How many children do you have? Do you want more?

I have had 5 pregnancies. One was lost to adoption, and though I have found him, I will never be his only Mom.  Three I lost to miscarriage. One I get to hold and love.  It terrifies me and fills me with joy. I thought I would have at least 3. I tried to have another after my daughter, but was not able to. I have considered adoption, but feel that if that is a path I am meant to walk then the way will become clear.


Have you ever considered giving up art in order to be a mother?

I do not know if it is even possible to give up art. I might not have as much time, but it just comes out no matter what the form. It is who I am.


Do you have support from your family and friends to keep making art?

People have always told me I was good, but never really taken art seriously. I guess that since I teach, that helps them feel like I am doing something real.



 Do you feel like you are taken seriously as a mother artist?

It is hard to be taken seriously as a mother artist. It is hard to be taken seriously as a woman artist. It is hard to be taken seriously as an artist. Period. I just keep making art, and don’t worry if others take it seriously. Maybe when I am really old and still doing it someone will notice.



Has becoming a mother influenced your art?

My art is so heavily influenced by my struggle to be a mother that I could not explain it very easily. From the pain caused by relinquishment of my first born to joy I feel for my daughter, my children are always in more work, at least symbolically. Even the ones I lost. Even the ones I wanted but never had. In many ways adoption is always there too. My father’s adoption, which left me knowing only half my roots, to my husband’s a adoption, which means I can provide very little information to my own children, I find the sense of history and belonging to be like a book where the pages have been ripped out.



Do you think mother artists are taken seriously in society?

I am not sure that women artists have been taken seriously. If a woman were to pursue art the way society thinks a true artist might, you know, like a male artist would, we are defective. Male artists are driven. Women artists are crazy. Mother artists are flawed.



What do you say when someone asks “what does your husband do for a living?” are you offended by such a question?

People often ask me is if my husband is an artist too. It feels as if they are saying someone like me would have to be with another artist.


What is your story?

 I am bigger than life. I share my story with anyone who will listen. My story is love and pain, and putting it all on canvas helps me heal. It screams Look at what you did to me! I am not the only one they sent away. I am not the only one that they don’t take seriously. Look at how much love I have. See the beauty that grows out of torment. I am not just this chubby art middle-aged teacher with a little girl.


 
What have you learned about balancing motherhood and your passions?

You cannot deny your passion, and if being a mother and being an artist is your passion, you will find a way. The mother artist will always ooze out.





What advice can you offer other mother artists about pursuing their passions regardless of their situation?

See yourself. You have to know who you are, to embrace who you are. You have to let all the parts of you matter.




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

I want to take this weight in my chest, this love, this pain, this joy and this fear and turn it into something beautiful. I want to create something that others will take the time to look at and feel something, to know that I must have felt deeply.