Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Five More Minutes Multi-media artist Tonja Sell

Last week I shared some of multi-media artist Tonja Sell's work. I still had more questions for her, including where others can find her work and see it in person. She graciously replied.

Ennyman: Your work has wonderful layers of color. How did your father’s craft influence this aspect of your work?

Tonja Sell: My father began glass blowing in the mid 60's in Superior, WI. After his hand-built equipment was vandalized and ruined it went on the shelf for many years. He resumed glass-blowing during my last year of high school. I went to college in Milwaukee and only returned home for the summers so I really wasn't a part of the early stages of the developmental process. After college I moved to Arizona for 6 years.

So glass wasn't an early artistic influence but has become one in more recent years. As you walk into the Oulu Glass Gallery you are met with an explosion of color, caught up in a commotion of color and pattern. It cannot help but affect you. I have seen how my work has changed, particularly in color intensity and with the incorporation of pattern, likely an influence of the exposure to the glass blowing process.

I have done little glass-blowing myself but very much enjoy watching my father and children explore the process. It really is mesmerizing. My father began building in the early 70's and lives and works in the home/studio he designed and built. In the early 90's my husband and I designed and built next door. In the early 2000's my brother designed and has begun building nearby as well. Altogether our three families are living on an 80 acre "compound" as it is lovingly referred to. My brother is an artist in Brooklyn, NY and only returns home seasonally.

E: What prompted you to begin incorporating a multi-media approach to your work?

TS: Mixed media has always appealed to me. I tend to become impatient quickly while working on just one thing or with just one medium. I commonly work on several very different things at once. I love the "feel" of work and working, the tactile experience. So often when I am working on something flat-- a painting or drawing -- I will leave it for a while and work on another project that requires more "construction", like felting or fused glass, where I can cut and grind pieces and do bead work, etc... Until recently I kept those things very separate but now am wanting to learn to combine them. Mixed media makes sense for me.

I have had the urge to work sculptural for a long time but haven't had the time or space to devote to the development of it. I am about to take a ceramic sculpture workshop given by Robin Murphy through the Duluth Art Institute. I am looking forward to learning the technicalities of creating larger ceramic pieces. I love learning new things. I want to learn everything I can about everything I can!

E: What are some of the materials you have incorporated into these pieces?

TS: I have experimented with cloth, metal, bead work as seen in "Waterways" (right) Metal, glass and painting shown in the hanging panels and sculptural lamp. Metal overlay on painted canvas (image included). Ceramic and glass and most recently layering paper and fabric onto drawing surfaces and canvas.

E: We met at the Park Point Art Fair. Where else do you show your work? Can people see more of your paintings and constructions online?
TS: The Park Point Art Fair is a very enjoyable fair to participate in. Artists are treated well and it is well attended even in fickle weather. It is close to my home which makes it easy to stay faithful to. Beyond that I rarely participate in art festivals.

I have recently rejoined the Art Resources Galleries in Minneapolis and Edina, MN. My work can be purchased at AR at the International Market Square and the AR Galleria, Edina. I have a couple websites I am creating to showcase my work. I show work in process there, things I am working on currently as well as older work. Some is available for purchase there before it makes its way to the Twin Cities.

I am a member of the Chequamegon Bay Arts Council and was given the top award at "The Gathering", a show being held currently at the Washburn Historical Society.

Elah's Ballet (award winner) and Sentry (owl pair) are on display and for sale there.

I have a few things available at the Bayfield Artist's Guild in Bayfield, WI seasonally. I am currently looking for a local venue where my work would fit.

For best enjoyment, click images to enlarge.

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