Friday, July 29, 2011

Five Minutes with Artist GA Gardner

When I first saw GA Gardner's work about six weeks ago, I sent a note inquiring of his willingness to be interviewed here. What fascinated me in addition to the art was his extensive writing. A native of Trinidad and Tobago who migrated to the US in 1988, Gardner has assembled impressive credentials, produced seemingly countless lectures and papers and is simultaneously a prolific artist.

Gardner studied fine art at San Francisco State University where he received both his Bachelor’s of Arts and Master’s of Art degrees. In 1993 he did onsite research at Pixar Animation Studio in California, Industrial Light and Magic, and Pacific Data Image (now PDI/Dreamworks). He crafted mixed media art and animation at The Ohio State University where he earned a Ph.D. in Art Education in 1995, becoming a US national expert in the area of Computer Art Education, composing a doctoral dissertation focusing on education and careers in animation and new media. He has written for numerous journals and magazines, officially being identified by Computer Graphics World Magazine as a subject matter expert in 1996. In that same year, GA founded the Digital Effect Computer Animation and Traditional Animation Festival (DECATA), the first animation festival to be linked through distance learning technology.

Upon his return from Europe this week, he forwarded to me answers to a set of questions I had submitted to him. Be sure to visit his website after the interview.

Ennyman: Which came first, the writing or the art?
G.A. Gardner: I began my career as an artist creating airbrush, sign painting and fabric paintings in Trinidad and Tobago. At that time I had no interest in writing, commercial art is what I did although I had received fine arts training in high school. I moved to the US in 1988 with the intention of studying commercial art, specifically graphic design, but along the way I was introduced to computer graphics and animation, and by1989 I began pursuing fine arts as a major. I began using the computer to create fine art, integrating photography, film and other disciplines to my art projects. Writing came much later for me after I had completed graduate school and began writing books more so as a teaching tool for educating others. It was never a major discipline for me.

Ennyman: How did you make the switch from computer generated art to painting and mixed media? What is your favorite media at this point in time?
GA: In graduate school I primarily focused on computer graphics and animation, always searching for ways to integrate this technology into the fine arts arena. Back then, I began creating large format digital works that was printed often on watercolor paper, but always had intentions of returning to painting as it is a more flexible medium. In essence, I took a 10 year break from creating and showing new works. Once I returned to art, I had redefined myself as a mixed media artist who began integrating collage, painting, and embedding objects into the surface. This was much more comfortable for me, my niche if you will. Mixed media collage continues to be my medium for creating art today.

Ennyman: In what way have your roots (Trinidad and Tobago) influenced your work?
GA: Trinidad and Tobago have influenced my work in a number of ways, but the most notable influence can be seen in my color palette. My work integrates various colors and elements of the Caribbean thereby conveying warmth.

Ennyman: You appear to have the heart of a teacher, not simply making art but developing your ideas and sharing them with others, from students to readers. What are the most important lessons you try to convey to young art students?
GA: Be confident and bold; tell your story.

Ennyman: Thank you for sharing.

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Click images to enlarge.

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