Tuesday, January 6, 2015

ERIN HÜBER






 Happy one year anniversary to the Mother Artist Project! In honor of a successful year - I have decided to share my own interview with you...  Here it goes. 






Where are you from?


I was born in Bloomington, Indiana and raised in a small farming community in Martinsville, Indiana.

 My great grandparents were farmers and ran a small farmers market on their property, that still continues today. 

My mother wanted more for us..so, she left the small town for the “big” city of Indianapolis.I have lived on every side of the city. I have even calculated that I have moved over 22 times in my 38 years.  


Where do you live?

I live in Greenwood, Indiana - where very little happens. 



Do you have a studio?  Where is it?

Yes! For the first time in my entire art career- I am proud to say that I have a studio. I can officially check that off of my bucket list! My studio is located in the underground of the Harrison Center for the Arts. It is located downtown Indianapolis, Indiana.  My studio is literally underneath the church sanctuary. On any given Sunday - I can hear the church goers sing traditional hymns and hear the creak of the wooden floors.  I currently share the space with another brilliant artist and use the space primarily to make larger work, paper cuttings and oil paintings - my official, kid free zone. The Harrison Center is a wonderful building full of history- President Benjamin Harrison attended church there.. and it is full of creative people - following their dreams. 

When I am not in my studio downtown I am at home with my family. However, when I tuck the little ones into bed- I can sneak away to my “closet studio” where more magic happens.










How often are you in the studio?

Oh, not enough. I am the type of person who gets lost in what they love to do. I forget to eat, I forget to make that call, I forget what time it is. I truly get LOST in what it is that I am doing. However, because I am a mother - I have had to learn to multitask. 

Currently, I am dedicated to once a week in the studio. If it were a perfect world, I would be there every day. However, priorities take precedence - such as chasing two toddlers and making sure everyone has clean laundry, dinner and my attention.

If I can't wait- then I take over the kitchen. (smiling) Or, I sneak off into my tiny closet.





What is your favorite music while creating work?

My favorite music while creating falls on the serious side: Soley,  Agnes Obel, London Grammar, PJ Harvey,  Mariee Sioux …Rachels, Mozart.



What is your favorite medium ?

I have a few - I can't just pick one.
I take a lot of photographs on a daily basis. (Thank you iPhone 6)

Photography suits my impatient nature. 
I love that I can make art in an instant.I love filters- they make everything look better. My photography is usually made of layered images. I like to manipulate images to look aged and timeless. I am inspired by the past. 

Oil painting. I love the smell! I love the way it glides onto the canvas. My paintings are usually inspired by my photography or images that I have inherited. In the past I have used symbology to tell the story. There is a reason behind everything that I tend to make. 
  



Paper cutting has been a favorite also. I love telling stories with black paper.I love that it is a primitive art form. I am inspired by fairy tales and stories I grew up hearing as a child. I am also inspired by the German paper cuttings of the countryside. I love them. I love that I can take something that we take for granted -on a daily basis- and make it worth framing..



When did you realize you wanted to be an artist?

From the age of four- when I discovered that my favorite color was red. Around that age where you learn how to color...I remember observing how well my sister could stay in the lines. I was a bit jealous- even though she was 7 years older than me.

 Once I entered first grade- my favorite class was art. It was the only time that I didn't feel pressure or stress in a classroom. I tried sports and quit every team. All I wanted was to fit in and do what everyone else was doing but it wasn't working. It was a rather frustrating time for me. It wasn't until my first art “show”  during a meet the teacher night - that I felt like I was good at something.  I recall holding my mothers hand and showing her where my art work was hanging on the wall.. and seeing her face light up,  and a blue ribbon for first place. She told me what a wonderful artist  I was and I believed her.  I remember thinking - wow, this is it - this is where I belong. I really can be good at something. 



Who influenced you as an artist?

Outside of seeing art in books, my influences started at home. I spent a lot of time with my grandparents and my grandfather was always making something. Sketching the plan.. building. He was a carpenter and he turned his garage into his work shop. It was fascinating to me. He was also a painter- his paintings graced the walls of their home.  My mother would paint landscapes on a small easel in the dining room and everything she seemed to make or do was beautiful. As a girl,  I would receive  letters from my sister who would also add sketches that my brother made.  Later in life I was influenced by teachers- people who believed in me. My favorite artists are - Egon Schiele, Gustav Klimt, Sally Mann.. to name a few.




When did you become a mother?

Of course there is birth - but there is also the time of conception .  I remember both quite well. 

It was spring, 1998 and I remember breaking off a long term relationship to “find myself". I was just twenty years old and more determined than ever. I wanted out of Indiana, I wanted culture, art, new places- I wanted to live my dream of being an artist in Europe. I bought myself a ticket - and traveled with my best friend for a three week  back pack adventure, starting in London.

Two weeks into the trip - in Zürich, Switzerland,  I couldn't tolerate the smell of motor bikes or the thought of staying up all night. I needed naps- which was rare. I walked into a Pharmacie - where everyone wore a white lab coat and everything was behind the counter, I had to play charades in order to get a pregnancy test. Finally, in a hotel dated back to the 70’s - I discovered that I was pregnant. Shocked, yes! Excited, totally. I knew I wanted to be the best mother in the world and I never once doubted myself. 


Each pregnancy was a spiritual journey. Like a rough stone, I felt like I was being polished. I have had four full term pregnancies and with each child it was a victory! With my very first pregnancy I was called to a round table meeting with doctors who warned me that I may not survive my natural birth. That I had a 50/50 chance.  I have been held down, slightly sedated, while someone stuck a camera down my throat to get a photograph of my repaired aorta. I have gone through crazy testing, I've been questioned and even told that I was extremely brave for being pregnant after surviving a torn aorta. 



All I can say is-  I would not trade a single day without my children. They have made me who I am.






What are you currently working on?

I currently have a paper cutting show on display at Indy Reads Books - downtown Indianapolis. The show is closing with an artist talk this Friday. 
It is my very first paper cutting show, so far- so good. 




As an artist I feel that I am inspired by history, dreams, travels and events that have taken place in my life - past or present.

I am currently working on a series of paintings based on old family photographs that I have inherited. It is an emotional experience for me. I have always been interested in where I come from. I love history. The more questions I ask about the past, the more I want to know. I was given a box of photographs and on the backs of many of them are descriptions, addresses and names. I use these details in my work. 

 In the last few years I have focused on retracing my family roots and piecing together my family tree. It has been exciting to gather stories and document what I have discovered so far. It has fueled my latest work. So far- I have found distant cousins in Germany ..which  is very exciting- and a dream come true..a mystery solved! 

The photographs that I have are true treasures. .. telling beautiful stories.. even the handwriting on the back is beautiful to me. 

I just finished a painting based on  a specific photo of a  relative standing in her fur coat and hat..on the front porch. The back of the picture had the address.. 19 East Raymond street, Indianapolis. I drove downtown to find the house - hoping to get a photograph of it, only to find an empty lot. 


When I am not painting or making something I am working on MAP. The Mother Artist Project. Being able to promote women in the arts is a priority for me. Sharing their stories, their work and connecting women world wide is vital to their success. Often times mothers feel shut in - and lose self esteem. They often feel like they are the only ones going through issues. The truth is, they aren't! Their stories inspire us all and I intend to continue the project for years to come.


As far as my goals for 2015- I plan to focus and spend more time in my studio. I want to stray from distraction and make more work, and stress less about booking a show.




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

I have given birth to four children. When I met my husband in 2009 - I had two children and he had two children. We married and instantly had 4 kids. It was soon into our relationship that we had Izzy and  15 months later, Zürich.  We have six children and that is a lot of eggs and bacon on any given  morning.

 My oldest is 16 and my youngest is 2 . Three boys and three girls. Do I want more? I would say that I have been blessed with as much as I can possibly manage. However, I love children!






What are your challenges as a mother artist?

The challenges have changed over the years , but the first one would be time. There aren't enough hours in a day. When I was a single mother working a desk job full time- (that gave me migraines)  I would constantly day dream about making art. I would work all day and come home tired, make dinner, be with my kids and if I had anything left I would paint or write music.  I loved the weekends, when I could wake up - make coffee and start a new painting. As soon as I felt like I had reached a plateau - I met my current husband. I remarried and had two little ones back to back, my music making came to an end and my painting time decreased. I did have a spell of depression over this, but I painted anyway. With time, I painted more. 

Being that my husband works the full time job - there is also the challenge of who's time is the most important. Who needs the last coffee pod, or that "alone time" the most. Running a large household isn't always easy as there are many distractions. However - you do what you can do and that is all you can do.

 I still daydream about spending hours and hours in the studio painting away. The time that I do have there is very important to me. It is the only time I have alone. I think everyone needs that kind of time to reset, calm down and just be at peace with your surroundings.  It is vital. My goal is to be an old lady painter.. 




What is the driving force behind balancing being a mother and an artist?

The driving force is simple. I was an artist before I was a mother. It has always been important to me. Like a fire, it burns within and the older I get- the larger the fire becomes. The more time I give doing everything but art, the stronger the desire to make art becomes.

When you love something so much- you make the time, you find the time and you cant stop thinking about it. You wake up thinking about it and you talk about it, you research it and you go to sleep thinking about it. IT becomes your obsession.  That obsession  is the driving force and being a mother hasn't  changed that.

Because I have a studio and participate in first Friday's on a regular basis, I have met so many wonderful people. I have learned so much along the way. I have been encouraged and I try to give back by encouraging others. It is not a hobby for me- it is a way. I am thankful for this journey.





Have you considered giving up being an artist in order to be a mother?

I would never give up something that I love so much for anything in the world. 

I may slow down, or pause.. but I would never stop. I grew up watching talented artists set their paintbrush down to take a job that paid the bills. A grandfather who turned down a job at Disney to care for his family. A mother who didn't go to art school so that she could work a job she didn't like much to raise two daughters. 

I wanted to be different. I wanted to take art to the highest level, not only for me, but for my family. I wanted to do something, be someone. I refuse to give up and settle. I refuse to sit around and complain. I just cant let go of this dream. It is my reality and I am so thankful!


 As my children grow with me they too experience my passion for art. it rubs off.. (smiling) Excitement is contagious.  It is something that I share with them and therefore has become their normal.

 The only time that I have ever set art on the shelf was for a man. I learned my lesson. Jealousy does not serve a person well. It helps to have a partner who is supportive of who you are and what you do. Many moons ago, I was in a situation where my paintings were held by my ex-husband who, in a raging argument, stabbed them over and over with a butcher knife and threw them over the balcony.  Moments like that - you realize what matters most to you and who you are. I would never stop being what I am for anyone.

I am an artist - that is what I am… 




When do you spend time making art?

I cant always wait for studio day - to make art. I have urges and ideas and it doesn't matter where I am, I will find a way to get them down. I keep a sketchbook close by and I force myself to sketch on some days, other days it just comes naturally. I always have my cellphone, mainly for picture taking. I use a lot of my photographs in my work. I have been known for turning the dining room table into my “art zone” and I have taken over the kitchen counter top while paper cutting and making dinner. 
I do what I can, when I can.  




Do you have support from your family and friends to continue as an artist?

 I swear that my mother is and has always been my biggest fan. When I don't believe in myself, she does.  She has always encouraged me no matter what crazy idea I come up with. 


I am blessed to have life long friends who have supported me and continue to encourage me. Who remind me of how far I have come. Even strangers - they sometimes say things that I need to hear, even simple things go a long way. I appreciate that. 

Also, I am thankful for MAP - and for women joining together, creating a circle of mother artists.  Women from all over the world connecting through one project. Supporting each other , writing letters, swapping art and kindness. Its beautiful!  




Would you apply for a small artist grant to kick start a project if it were available?

Most definitely. 
I think that mothers in the arts need all the support they can get. Raising a family is costly. Sometimes it can boil down to pay the studio rent or buy the groceries to feed eight people. You do what you have to do. I feel that sometimes- artists have an idea and its great- but if they can't get the cash to make it happen - it gets put back on the shelf. 

 For example : My oldest son will be graduating in two years from high school. His dream is to be a professional photographer. In order to celebrate we are wanting to have an art adventure together.

As a mother artist/ son artist team- we are in the process of planning our journey to Germany to piece together our family tree. There we will meet family members, distant cousins, for the first time. We will visit burial grounds,  retracing steps of our great great grandmother in her home town.

For sentimental reasons - we will return to Zürich, Switzerland where I discovered I was pregnant with my son. 
And finally - an art immersion  in Paris, France. The only destination that I have saved for that one special man in my life. However, this isn't just about visiting or sight seeing .. its about creating a new body of work based on this emotional experience. 

I am guessing that if we start saving now- this trip could happen. Grants can help make projects like this possible and it shouldn't  take jumping through hoops and donating a kidney to get financial support.  




Do you feel that women artists are taken seriously in todays society?

I think more so now than ever before but there are still issues. Statistics say that the majority of art students are women but the majority of galleries are run and operated by men. Regardless of how far we have come - there are still established artists in the world who believe that women can not paint well. Regardless - we have come a long way.




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

I feel that I have had to fight a little harder than I ever thought that I would have to - as a mother artist. I will never forget - fleeing an abusive marriage with two children in tow.. I enrolled at Herron School of Art and finished all of my core classes at Iupui . Once I was ready to enter Herron - I was trying to find classes to fit my single mother artist schedule. 



I couldn't find a single evening class. After all, some people do need to work. Right?I'll never forget , sitting in the office at Herron - balling my eyes out...with an advisor.  WHY??? I asked.  I have come this far, worked this hard.. and I can't be an art student because Herron doesn't offer classes at night for a single mom who has to work a day job to feed her kids???!!! 

That was a time of awakening for me. It broke my heart to think that art school wasn't  for a single mother. Regardless of the news - I went home and I painted anyway. I studied art anyway. I kept going. I had to be okay with being an artist regardless of that piece of paper that says I am. 

I am not sure if people take me seriously. All I know is that I have fought hard enough to get where I am today.. that I believe in myself. That is what propels me. 





Has becoming a mother influenced your work?

Becoming a mother has influenced my heart and therefore influences almost everything that I do. As a photographer - I am constantly taking photographs to remember the moments I have with my children, I'm afraid that I will one day forget . I have even taken current photographs and have layered them onto old family pictures  - to join the generations together -in my work. 



On the 7th of January of 2014 I created MAP - Mother Artist Project.  I created it out of personal experience ... after all  I am a mother and an artist. Before that, I spent three months caring for my grandmother (a journalist) and much like the wait of giving birth, I watched her decline and pass on. She was an exceptional woman. A saint. She was a journalist but above all she was a mother. 

I was truly inspired by her life story. Her drive, her passion. She made everything look effortless. She was was dedicated. The Mother Artist Project came to me - and I saw it from beginning to end. Recording the lives of other amazing women. Exposing their efforts and talents. Sharing their stories of success. Not just ordinary women - artist. Mother artists!  Mother artists who love what they do so much .. that nothing stops them. Women like me. I looked around and couldn't find this sort of topic online. So, I set up my first interview - and it has been going since. The project is meant to inspire people of all walks of life. It is meant to shed light on the beauty of their journey. It is to be a deep well to draw inspiration from. Endless stories about female artists and their lives as mothers. 



The project launched on a cold winter day at the start of a new year, a month after the death of my grandmother..  I wanted to help others in a way that I felt I personally needed help. I wanted to unite people. Inspire. I went into it not knowing the attention it would receive - or the lives it would touch .. but the positive results have kept me going.





What is your story?

I have saved answering this question for last. It is such a huge question! I feel that my life story so far is complied of many chapters. My mother tells me  that I am fighter. She told me that I was prayed into this world. After several miscarriages, the doctor told her that she couldn't have any children. She went home and prayed. Sure enough- she was pregnant. The doctor didn't believe her. 
I was born on April 16th, 1976 but it wasn't that simple -there were issues. I had a rare blood disease. They kept me for awhile and my mother recalls driving back and forth to spend time with me. They thought I had cancer. She prayed some more... not believing it. I was cured and sent home.

"Jesus talks to me all the time" is what I told her when I was four or so. She said it shocked her..because though she believed, we didn't go to church much. 

My parents divorced and we moved. My childhood was spent growing up with my sister acting as my mother. My mother was busy working or going to school. I was sexually molested at age six. We kept moving, but finally my mother met Mr. right. Accepting him as my father was difficult. I got over it.. sort of. My brother - whom I could never see, committed suicide. He was an artist - and 18. Life was stable for awhile, we moved again. My step father died unexpectedly during surgery. Leaving my mother a widow and me, devastated. Art was my saving grace. I started making it.. started taking classes and expressing all of this pint up emotion. That year, I won the eight grade art award. It was a huge deal.

High school came, we moved again. Depression was my new normal. I shaved my head and Art was everything to me. I met a boy.. fell in love and he invited me to church. My first impression of that experience was that people were smiling! All I knew was that I wanted to smile too.  

High school came to an end and I started college at Anderson University. I was set on being an art teacher. I had big plans to travel aboard . I went home for the weekend and was in a major car accident. Head on collision - 50 mph. Luckily, I had my seat belt on. I broke 12 ribs, one collar bone, fractured my pelvis, crushed vertebra's, had collapsed lungs and a torn aorta. 

Lets just say - I am a walking miracle. I had an out of body experience that left me never questioning heaven again. Not only did I see myself on an operating table, I saw my step father who had passed on. I saw a sky full of angels.  I tried to paint this vision after I recovered - and ended up crying. I couldn't. Heaven is beyond our earthly color palette. 

I traveled the world after that accident. I was unstoppable. I discovered I was pregnant with my first child on that trip. Returned home,  was told by doctors that I had a 50/50 chance of surviving a natural birth. Rolling my eyes at the news , I got married. We had Aidan without a single complication. We moved back to Indiana..and that was the year that I confessed that I had been sexually molested many times in my childhood. It was so traumatic - revealing this life long secret that I felt outside of myself. Like I needed to find myself again. This mess - led to a divorce a year later. In a time of loneliness - I met a guy, who said the right things... remarried - thinking that I was ready for it .. thinking he was the one..had another child, only to find he was not the one. I was in an abusive marriage at that point. Art again, was my voice- was my way of dealing with pain. However, he was jealous of it.   I fled that situation. Started over and made a life for myself. I was now a single mother with two children. No child support. No family close by. However, I managed. I worked full time. I bought a house, a car. I was so very proud of my accomplishments. I made art, I sold art. I traveled over seas. I had more heart ache but I will spare you details. 

I currently feel that I am at a good place in life. I am without a want or need. I have been able to travel, check off a few bucket list items, maintain a studio space, be a stay at home mother and enjoy the sense of security.
  
The truth is - I believe I am here for a reason. The reason, I may not know exactly but it certainly isn't all about me. They say I am fighter, a survivor .. I think they might be right.




What have you learned about balancing motherhood and your passions?

I have learned that life isn't all about me. That helping others and giving of my time and self is just as important to me as creating work and following my dreams. I don't think I would be who I am if I would have ended up as an artist in Europe as I had planned.  I never liked being alone. I incorporate art into my daily life and make sure my children get a dose of it as well. I think balance is important and you have to work on it, it doesn't come naturally. It helps to have support. It helps to have a partner who believes in you even when you don't believe in yourself.  You must take time for yourself. You must make the art that is inside you… if not , its a sin. 
Yes, a sin.  





What advice can you offer other mother artists striving to pursue their passions?

Don't give up. Things may seem or feel impossible at times but time passes and things change. That is one thing you can count on.



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

I want to be remembered for helping others.
I'd like to think that the Mother Artist Project is something that will continue long after I am gone. 

 I want to be remembered for my drive and determination. I want to be an inspiration. 

I hope my work speaks to people. I tend to add a lot of symbolism and use art as my therapy. It is a voice. Usually - my work is trying to say something.  I hope someone cares enough to find out what that might be.










For more information please visit:

Facebook https://www.facebook.com/artbyerinhuber

The Harrison Center for the Arts http://harrisoncenter.org/erin-huber/

Studio Series Video http://vimeo.com/100234935

Instagram 
http://instagram.com/motherartistproject/