Aug 12, 2008

Gloria Lamson interviewed for "Art is Moving" blog

Q: Can you tell us a little about your art and its process?

I engage time, place, experience, and the changing forces of nature. Natural or simple human materials are used to create temporary, site-specific installations and interactions in nature and various architectural environments. The process and results are documented photographically.

Frequently working with rope, twine, string or branches I “draw in” the landscape, like drawing in breath and marking on paper. I am fascinated by the simplicity of how a line activates space and interacts with specific sites. I utilize tension to construct symbolic forms with taut lines and, at other times, allow the material to seek its own form on land or water.

The initial stimulus to make art comes from a desire to understand and create meaning in life. The creative process gives me a way to balance, contain and transform experience. In essence, art is the tool and life the medium. My work provides a way to integrate physical and non-physical reality, rendering the results as signposts along the way. My intention is to create images and spaces that awaken and refresh us to the worlds within and around us.

Q: Does anything happen to you emotionally, mentally or physically when you are working on a piece? If so what?

Art making shifts my sense of self and the world in an essential way. My work is a point of entrance into a deeper level of engagement with self and other. For me, art is a vehicle that can transform mundane actions and materials into enchanting, even sacred experiences.

I work in a meditative state of mind, focused on the intimate details at the intersection of my experience (of mind, body, and spirit), the location of the particular time/place, the material in my hands and the immediate need to realize a particular vision. When I begin working I am often impressed with the turmoil of my chattering mind … I am thinking, thinking,…talking to myself…”I am here, it is there…what do I need to do?....” In the best of times, creative work leads me into a state of “grace” where my dualistic mind becomes peaceful and quiet.

Q: Has your work with environment changed since you moved your art practice outside? If so

My art practice was shaped by years of black and white photography in the 1970’s. I observed closely and photographed…but did not physically change the way the world presented itself to me. I studied the world “as installation” with light being the activating force. After years of working in this manner I wanted to engage more actively with the world around me. Now there are images and ideas that present themselves in my mind. They snag my curiosity and incite me to provide the labor to see them realized.

After photography, I spent a number of years making hand bound artist books and painting. When I went back to school, near San Francisco, to get an MFA, I wanted to find a way to integrate my love of being next to the ocean with the need to do “studio work”. So again I was drawn outside and began exploring nature as material, and studio, with the idea of conversation as a creative model. I wanted my art to take me where I wanted to go (the beach). Wanting to make art that was part of the “real” world and not dependent upon a human architectural construct. I wanted to engage place and space, with ”where” I was internally and physically. And I wanted to experience myself as an integral part of nature rather than perceiving humans as separate.

The first five years of my outdoor work were shaped by large expanses of sandy beach, bodies of salt water, and the changing tides. The next seven years I was drawn to work in the presence of trees. More recently I am moved to bring the spaciousness of the sky into frames on the ground, exploring ideas about the potential to reframe our perceptions.

Q: Do you consider yourself an environmentalist or an art activist?

I don’t think of myself in those terms but would rather consider myself in the broader category of artist. This word appeals to me in its truth (it is what I do), inclusiveness and vagueness. I might consider myself an environmentalist and or an art activist, dependent on a specific context.

Q: What have you learned about yourself and the world from working in nature?

I’ve learned that my work can create physical and metaphoric doorways, which allow entrance into a more intimate awareness and connection with the natural world. My art grows out of questions that I find important. By locating my responses in the natural world I anticipate that our answers can be found in partnership with nature. Understanding that work is love made visible; I hope to stimulate our affection in regards to nature.

Q: What does art mean to you?

Art is the way I dialogue with the world within and around me. I am fond of work that has the power to move me/us without the need to call it art. For example, work that does not require specialized knowledge to be appreciated such as ancient handprints made by human breath on cave walls. I have a frequently shifting appreciation of art. At worst it seems an invented, imposed human construct, created to strengthen the domain of the human ego. At best art is a vehicle to provoke awareness and connect us with some levels of truth. It can connect us with who we are and where we are while offering clues as to what is important in any particular time and place. It forms a bridge between the known and unknown.

Q: Could you tell us about your current projects?

Recently I’ve finished several temporary outdoor installations in Washington and Oregon, including “The Rope Prayer Curtain”, an interactive installation for the Anacortes Arts Festival, “Being Here” for The Port Angeles Fine Arts Center, “Hole to Whole” at Bellevue Sculpture Exhibition in Washington and “One” at Tryon Creek State Park in Portland. I am currently teaching for Artist Trust in their professional development program while exploring other forms of coaching and mentoring.

Q: Lastly, do have an ultimate goal or ideal as an artist?

Recently I admitted that what I really want is “enlightenment” for all; that is, for people to recognize that we are all part of an interconnected whole, and that we find ways to live in that knowledge.

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