Sunday, January 4, 2015

Painter Moira Villiard's Brilliant World (Part II)

Though still a young emerging artist, Moira Villiard has garnered a broad and growing collection of fans of her work. Yesterday's blog post gave insights regarding her path to this point in her career. Here she talks about her sources of inspiration, her approach to painting and current projects.

EN: Where does your inspiration come from?
Moira V: There's more than one way to feel inspired, I think, and I could spend (and have spent) many hours discussing all those ways! My usual, general response is "repetitive topics that manifest in different conversations," patterns of sound (music), synesthesia, flavors, textures -- basically, I'm inspired by things we can sense, and I like to try and toy with in the visual realm. I also am very inspired by disruptive days ... I actively seek out opportunities to meet new people and engage in different conversations.

To a certain extent, art has really become my way of addressing issues of ethnic invisibility in our area, and has helped me take part in dialogues that cover social movements, matters of cultural appropriation, addressing stereotypes, social class, etc. It's these dialogues that help my creative process, which makes the art happen ... the art, in turn, allows me to connect with more people, and the cycle continues!

EN: Any up-coming shows?
MV: My next exhibition will be at Sacred Heart Music Center in Duluth, Saturday January 24 starting at 8:00 p.m. -- it's actually going to be something of a multimedia event (my favorite!) as part of Adam Sippola's release concert for his album "Rising Point" ( http://adamsippola.com ). We hadn't really met before but were friends on facebook... regardless, he ended up helping me out during a relatively stressful week I was having. Soon after that, we talked about designing his album cover and doing a collaborative show. Now things have fallen perfectly into place, and you'll hopefully have the chance to bid on newer works I'm making specifically for that show. I also am hoping to do some live-painting at the concert.

My goal last year was to do an exhibition or artistic event at least once every month, and I was actually fortunate enough to accomplish that. I plan on doing the same this year. It's really important to keep the momentum going, even if you don't have many new works of art to present. I've developed something of a faithful audience this past couple of years, but it's always expanding and I'm always meeting new people and having refreshing dialogues that inspire me to keep working.

EN: Do you have a website where people can see your work?
MV: I'm working on a way to make my name less confusing for people, so I don't have a website that exhibits my work. I do try and keep my facebook page -- facebook.com/moirart -- as up to date with personal and community projects as possible, as well as my Deviantart site -- mivala.deviantart.com


EN: Is there anything especially unique in how you create?
MV: I suppose the biggest thing is that I don't follow the "technical" rules of painting, partially because I never bothered to study them at length. A lot of artists are keen on making their pieces look presentable at every stage in the process, so you sort of have an idea about what it is that they are actually creating. My process runs quite contrary to that, and I think that adds to the appeal of what I do when I am painting in front of an audience; I actively practice the art of making mistakes. I perceive things first as arbitrary shapes and map them out on the canvas in a seemingly spontaneous way, but there's a lot of intent and effort put in behind what ways I choose to disrupt the process. It's this constant disruption of layers of shape and color that contributes to how many opportunities I get to be truly creative and problem solve. For the time being, I'm very much into the process of painting, not necessarily the results themselves. Where is the benefit in creating an exact image, when you don't have a meaningful story to go with it?

Working in graphite.
With live painting, I like to let other people come up and add things to the main piece, both when I am present and when I'm out and about socializing. What I love about that process is people almost always approach the piece cautiously, afraid to touch it. This happens partly because we have this preconceived notion of "high class" art and lower grade art -- paintings and sculpture are typically hung on museum walls, and we're robbed of the opportunity to fully engage the artwork because of signs that read "Don't Touch." Actually, Janet Bear McTavish is a local quilter who challenges this idea in her "Peace Labyrinth." She's a wonderful inspiration! Goody Night has also been an amazing outlet for me as far as connecting with the audience and figuring out ways to have them contribute.

One final thing worth mentioning, I suppose, is that none of the work I do gets created without lengthy dialogues taking place. Making art can be a very solitary experience, and in order to combat that, I've taken up a habit of going out with lot's of different people and having conversations before returning to my work. We talk about everything, from race and ethnicity to representation, our personal struggles and triumphs, miscellaneous ideas that we aspire to get off the ground, social activism... everything!

EN: What are you working on now that has you jazzed?
MV: Besides auction pieces for Adam's show in January, right now I'm finishing up with a holiday card project I've done pretty much every year since I was a kid. I'm late at tackling the project this year because I developed problems in my hands, including something called De Quervain's Tenosynovitis (the most pretentious-sounding affliction I've ever heard of.) Basically, I like to reflect towards the end of every year on all the people who've inspired me in some way or another -- I take that energy, put it in the form of specially crafted greeting card and a letter or statement, and then deliver it to these various people. The sheer enormity of this project gives me a reference point for times when I feel stressed the rest of the year; for example, this year I'll be able to think back and remember the time I poured my heart and soul into painting 150 cards for friends and strangers, all while struggling with whatever other personal challenges I'm having (specifically, my hands). It's an exercise in silencing the voice in your head that says good things aren't possible, I think, and I never regret doing it! Of course, it comes with the added bonus of spreading a lot of joy and making them smile -- that's a goal I have regardless of the season, though. I got help from both Adam Sippola and Lc Joel (https://soundcloud.com/lcjoelofficial) to make these cards a success this year.


This year I've done a series of mixed media cards that feature a candle design, which I based on a quote by Buddha, "Thousands of candles can be lighted from a single candle, and the life of the candle will not be shortened. Happiness never decreases by being shared." I like to think each candle represents a different facet of happiness.

Otherwise, I'm debating on the fate of my large-scale colored portrait series, this after completing the mini-portrait series "Quicksand" (of which some proceeds went to benefit my friend Stephen Njogu). I've got several secret projects in the works that are near and dear to my heart, as well as one other major series I'm trying to get off the ground.

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Thank you, Moira, for your energy and example.

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