DEBORAH STEVENSON

August 24, 2016 by Laura Gomez


 

Artist Interview

Name: Deborah
Age – 63
Birthday – August 10
College – Sarah Lawrence College, NY

Favorite Color – blue
Favorite Book – 1Q84, by Haruki Murakami
Favorite Movie – The Third Man
Favorite Quote We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars / Oscar Wilde
Favorite Food – Indian

Why I am an artist – I am an artist because I can’t help it. Truly, it has always been a natural thing for me to make art, and I feel most at peace when I am occupied this way. I think about it all the time, my curiosity about art of all kinds and all times is never-ending. The arts are what keep us sane, and unite us, being able to express so much of human experience, in so many ways.

My process – Until I began to concentrate exclusively in collage 6 years ago, I was primarily a painter in oil. My paintings are completely different from my collage art – they are representational, mostly of urban landscapes with skies figuring prominently in them. But my collage art accesses a different part of my consciousness, and is very intuitive. I don’t set out to do a specific image. My work table is crowded with stacks of images I have cut from a variety of print sources (I only use original material, never printing out or doing digital) and I shift them around until something strikes me. I may pick out one image as particularly striking, and then continue moving the images around until I see something that seems to ‘fit’ with the first one. It is an adventure with my muse, and most important to the process is my ability to pay attention and listen to the whispers the muse makes to me, then I see the piece. There are recurring themes in my work: the Feminine, current events, moods and internal states of being, and fashion mash ups. Finding pieces to put together is the easy part: it is the cutting and pasting that can be very labor-intensive and delicate.

Best Advice – Work every day. Keep to routine. Take your work seriously. Look at lots of art all the time. Avoid nay sayers. Find your own voice, and be true to it. Make mistakes. Don’t overthink things. Work work work.

Do I suffer for my art? – I do not. It is my joy, my strength, my release. The only suffering I endure is a very modest lifestyle, which is sometimes extremely stressful on my budget.

Symbols – I have been a longtime student of great thinkers such as Carl Jung, and am a practicing Buddhist. This has influenced the way I perceive, both visually and imaginatively.

Does my work tell stories? – This is a good question. I believe my work is narrative, though it often strikes others in new and different ways. I think in a way they do tell stories, because I often am expressing ideas that would be difficult to put into words, but come out very easily and clearly in imagery. I do not make my art as decorative pieces, but more because I feel a strong need to express something.

Artists who have influenced me – SO many!!! Joseph Cornell, Max Ernst, Hannah Hoch, Grete Stern, Picasso, El Greco, Giotto, Fritz Lang, Louise Bourgeois, Niki de St Phalle, Georgia O’Keeffe, Man Ray…

Other interests – music, teaching art and working with others, science, Buddhism, other cultures…

Seeing art/history of art
– I am an ardent student of art and culture, and seep myself in all kinds of media. Film, books, documentaries, exhibitions, etc. When I lived close enough, I spent many hours in the museums in Washington DC and NYC. Now I live very far away from any city, in a small town in Maine – I only see art when I visit NYC or other cities on the East Coast.

How would my life change if I were no longer able to make art?
– I would fall into a very bad depression and be very unhappy in my life. It is a necessity to my existence. Like breathing.

My next projects – I will be teaching classes and workshops, which I love doing. I hope to be expanding my work space in the coming months, and have been dreaming about making large-scale collage pieces. It would be very interesting to do animated collage also.

www.deborahstevenson.com

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