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Cult Of ( Fashion )Personality: A Conversation With Christina Foard

15 Sep
Jacksonville artist Christina Foard has been developing a series of paintings, “Dresses”, which explore the connection between what we wear, our personality, our past, present and future.  Here, Christina talks candidly about this series and what she sees as the psychology behind our fashion choices.
AF:  Hi Christina!  Thank you so much for taking the time for this little interview.  You know how much I love your work.  I am completely enamored with your dress series and am so excited you have been creating some new pieces! How did this series begin and how has it evolved?
C:     I’ve been working on dresses since 2008. It began with self-portraits where I am wearing gowns painted with mapped areas or terrain I’ve covered. Mapped gowns was a personification and extension of aerial landscapes that I had begun a year prior.  (Ballerina Dance, The Written Legacy, Fluid Gown ( below ), The Courtesan, A Life-changing Conversation, A Single Mom’s Playground, Picnic of Adulthood are some of these.) Since it was more about the journey, decisions and influences, I eventually removed the figure altogether. I began to place myself in and amongst other women, each of us represented symbolically as a dress.  In these, I paint the way someone feels to me. It’s more about vitality and energy than their physical presence…a little like painting a pattern of the music they emanate and comparing those rhythmic differences in a series. ( “Pajama Party” ( below ), “Three Sisters”, “Five Friends” ). For example, a 90 year old woman with a saucy, adventuresome personality might end up with the most flamboyant and lively dress, which looks more suitable for a 20 year old.
Recently, in “Polka Dot Party” ( below ) and a few others, my focus area shifted from observing others to a discussion of how I choose to present myself to the world around me each day. Again, choices, decisions and influences.

Liquid Gown, oil on canvas, 48x60

The Pajama Party, oil on canvas, 36x60

AF:   Tell me about what you see as the psychology around fashion and the garments we choose to clothe ourselves in.
C:      When we are shopping for clothes, we pass up most items available. We reject all the items which don’t fit our perception of ourselves or our perception of our bodies. These rejections are as telling as what we eventually choose to buy. We essentially have to contend with the roles we play in our relationships as well as physical issues that dictate attire: seasons, terrain and climate. Specifically for women whose options vary greatly, our choices can openly display themes of femininity: sexuality, power, accessibility, creativity, compassion, social status, affluence, self-respect. Because our attire speaks so loudly about who we are and who we aren’t, we also deal with influence and who we hope to engage with on a given day. How accessible do I want to make myself today? How much do I want to reveal? How much do I want to conceal? Do I want to lead or do I want to be one of the masses? Do I want to bring attention to myself? These aren’t conscious questions we ask ourselves necessarily; yet they sit below the surface. 
           Behavior and language is affected by dress. From my personal experience I’ve noticed that I’m more expressive and creative when I wear a long scarf; more formal, precise, and attentive wearing a suit jacket; more nurturing and tactile in a long flowing dress. I notice my energy, tone, and carriage alters depending on the femininity of my fabrics, the structural formality of a garment, the heel height of my shoes, the accessories I’ve chosen. My language and sentence structures change, my accessibility to others is affected. The emotional, physical, and psychological components are intertwined. This, I find fascinating.

Polka Dot Party, mixed media on canvas, 48x60

AF:  I’ve noticed a few of your latest works in this series are named after women.  Are these “portraits” of specific women?
C:     Yes, they are. It is part of a social “inspiration” project that I began in 2009 and will be complete in the next several months. It is comprised of 6 individual paintings around 40″ and one larger 10′ painting. It is entitled Accidental Mentors Project and I’ll be sure to let you know all about it when fully complete. 

Hope: Cultural Connectivity, Accidental Mentors Project

AF:  I can’t wait to see the completed series!  Do you have a favorite article of clothing?  What makes it special and what does it say about you, as a woman, as an artist or as a mother?
C:     I found this question challenging, if you can believe it. I decided on one long skirt I’ve had for about 6 years. It has a conservative pattern on a somewhat sheer fabric, yet a Latin-inspired construction. Every time I wear it, it makes me feel like dancing and I couldn’t feel more feminine or more perfectly my age in it. Because of how it makes me feel, I’ve also had some great memories attached to it. That adds a sentimental component.

Decisions, mixed media on canvas, 36x60

AF:    Finally, just for fun.. What are you wearing? 😉
C:       Pink racer-back NIKE T-shirt, navy blue Adidas cropped workout pants and my favorite socks – my running shoes yet to be put on. Plus, a little locket with my kids’ tiny toddler faces inside. The combination seems perfect at this quiet, early morning moment before the sun has arrived.
A huge thank you to Christina for sharing her work and insights.  To see more of this talented artist’s work, please visit her website.
Featured image is Christina in her downtown Jacksonville studio.  All images are courtesy of the artist’s website.
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Visceral Sophistication: Casey Matthews

7 Jul

Casey Matthews lives a double life.  Splitting her time between her home on Amelia Island, FL and a Chelsea apartment in New York City, in many ways, the Texas native is living an artist’s dream.  The best of both worlds, surrounded by natural beauty and small town Florida charm on one hand and the energy, excitement and grit of Manhattan life on the other.  She puts those hands together to create a body of work that is at once cosmopolitan and organic.

While Goldfish Sleep, mixed media on canvas, 48×60

Translucent washes of color recall water washing over sand or the pearl-like finish of the inside of a seashell.  Amoebic shapes cluster together like bubbles, a few occasionally breaking from the pack and seeming to drift across and down the surface of the canvas.

In The Thick Of It, mixed media on canvas, 36x48

Sleep Deprived and the Dog Can't Wait, mixed media on canvas, 48x60

But look closely at those clusters of shapes and color– it is in these little pockets that Casey lets the urban darkness come through..

Sleep Deprived And The Dog Can't Wait ( detail )

Casey is nothing if not a self-aware artist, working through the dynamics of her “dual citizenship” in the two pieces City Mouse, Country Mouse ( below ).

City Mouse, mixed media on canvas, 48x72

Country Mouse, mixed media on canvas, 48x72

This is intuitive work, the colors, shapes and forms emerging from the artist’s surroundings, emotions and experiences..

Prolapse, mixed media on canvas. 24x30

…with a touch of sardonic wit thrown in for good measure.  Are those grey tones reflective of the bleached Florida sand or is it the haze of NYC steel and concrete?  Only Casey knows for sure.

Construction Worker Boyfriend, mixed media on canvas, 36x48

Check out more of Casey Matthews’ work on her website and blog.  If you’re in the North Florida area, stop by Blue Door Artists in downtown Fernandina Beach for 2nd Saturday Artrageous Artwalk this Saturday, July 9th, Casey is their featured artist for July.

Pick of the Crop: Heralding Hager

23 Jun

In this digital age, it seems like you can’t spit without hitting a self-proclaimed “photographer”.  I don’t begrudge anyone a creative outlet– if you want to take photos with your digital SLR, slap ’em up on Facebook and call yourself a photographer, I guess that’s your beeswax.  But for me, there is a point where photography ends and artistry begins.  There are photographers who are truly artists of their craft and Thomas Hager is a master.

Tom takes the simplest of forms, like the sweetgum pods above and isolates them and infuses them with a ethereal quality.  These are no longer those annoying, sharp little balls that litter the sidewalk, they are now magical spheres where fairies reside.

A simple floral stem becomes a beanstalk for a boy named Jack.

Shore birds become ghostly apparitions in a watery tableau.  Are they really there or are our eyes playing tricks again?

Is the water moving or is it the earth?  Where does the reflection end and the reality begin? Does it even matter?

Check out more of Tom’s work on his website and be sure to stop by the site for his brilliant limited edition line, Town Editions.  Oh and did I mention he has a show opening tonight at the University of Maine Museum of Art?  Now I just have to get him out here on the West Coast..

Pick of the Crop: Not Your Average Joe

16 Jun

Here in the Northwest, the trees are so spectacular that they grab your attention and demand to be noticed and admired.  St. Augustine, Florida artist Joe Segal’s work does the same.  His sculptures are a celebration of these kings of the forest, their textures, patterns, their cycle of life.

 Instead of a literal translation of branches and limbs, Joe instead chooses to focus on the core of what gives a tree its strength, character and economic value, the hard, fibrous wood.

 By cutting, stacking, carving, painting, even burning the wood, Joe re-envisions the pattern of the tree’s life.  He takes the normal processes for which and by which wood is harvested and calls our attention to the beauty of the materials in their simplest forms.

 The steel used to cut the tree becomes instead, the connecting force that holds the wood together.  Pieces of stacked wood, recalling a firewood pile, are juxtaposed with charred wood creating an interesting “before and after” effect.

Working with the nature of the materials, rather than against them, going with the grain, if you will, Joe is exploring the rhythms of the natural world and reinterpreting them into beautifully designed works of art.

To see more of Joe’s work, check out his Pick of the Crop page here at Artsy Forager, where you’ll find a link to his website.  I hope you love it as much as I do.