Victoria Fry is a NY based painter, educator, and founder of Visionary Art Collective. She was born in England and lived in Singapore as a child before moving to the United States. Victoria received her BFA from the School of Visual Arts in 2012 with a concentration in painting. After graduation, she was selected to be part of the Guggenheim Museum’s Learning Through Art program, where she taught students within the museum, as well as at PS.9 in Brooklyn, NY. In 2014, Victoria received her Masters of Arts in Teaching degree from Maine College of Art.
Victoria lived in San Francisco, Oakland, and Los Angeles before returning to New York in 2019. She continues to develop and expand her series of beeswax and oil paintings, which she has exhibited in Manhattan, Brooklyn, New Jersey, and California. When she’s not in the classroom, she can be found painting her studio. Victoria has been working with beeswax for almost a decade and fell in love with this medium while attending SVA in 2011. Her work is about recreating experience and memory with a focus on landscape and depicting the natural world through an abstract lens.
Hi Victoria! When did you begin painting and how did it all start for you?
Victoria: I have been painting for as long as I can remember. As much as I enjoy sketching, I have always felt that I can express myself and my perception of the world around me more accurately with paint. I took art quite seriously in school and considered myself one of the “art kids” by the time high school came around. When I learned that you could attend college for art and become a professional artist, I knew right away this was the right path for me. I received my BFA from the School of Visual Arts in Manhattan, where I discovered my love for using beeswax as a painting medium. I also began teaching at this time and went on to receive my Master of Arts in Teaching from Maine College of Art. I have now been painting and teaching for seven years.
Tell us about your artwork, medium, style, subject matter etc.
Victoria: When I discovered beeswax painting at the School of Visual Arts, I was immediately taken by the fluidity and texture of this medium. What stood out to me most was how the wax echoed organic forms and textures when it was poured onto the wood. I began to create large-scale paintings utilizing the beeswax on giant wood panels to maximize the viewing experience. I am deeply inspired by the movement, colors, and textures of the natural world, and I channel my own experiences and connection with the landscape when I create my work.
You’ve worked with beeswax for almost a decade. What are the challenges and what are the advantages working with this medium?
Victoria: The biggest challenge is trying to control the wax. I am drawn to its unruly nature, but it can be temperamental at times! I have spent a great deal of time experimenting with different techniques and processes, and I now have a pretty good idea of what temperatures and materials need to be in place to achieve the desired result. It has been a learning experience to work with a natural material as there is only so much control you can have. I am drawn to the element of surprise; it keeps me inspired and curious. The greatest advantage of working with wax is that it truly speaks to the kind of work I want to make. Rather than painting a representational landscape, I can utilize this medium to express the elements of the forest in abstract ways, with a focus on movement and texture.
Can you tell me about the themes you typically deal with in your artistic practice?
Victoria: The majority of my work is rooted in childhood memories of being in complete solitude with nature. After living in Singapore, my family moved to New York where I spent countless hours each day alone in the forest, in complete awe of the colors, sounds, and movement of the trees. As an adult, it is so easy to lose touch with the natural world and, in many ways, my art is an attempt to reconnect with that part of life and to bring that sense of contentment and contemplation to the viewer. In keeping my work abstract, I hope that each painting awakens a different memory for the audience.
What are you currently working on?
Victoria: After six months of painting with beeswax non-stop, I took a break for about two months to immerse myself back into my teaching practice. During this time, I have been focusing on watercolors and studies of the natural landscape. Now, I am gearing up to continue my next series of beeswax paintings by priming wood, melting wax, and making sure I have all my materials ready.
How has your art evolved over the years?
Victoria: Over the years I have gotten really clear about the kind of work that I want to make. So much of my teenage years and early twenties were about experimentation, which I think is a vital aspect of any artist’s work. After experimenting with a range of mediums and styles, I kept finding myself returning to beeswax. This past year I created my largest series of beeswax paintings, which resulted in about 20 pieces. My goal was to create a cohesive series of work, which is composed of both large-scale, medium sized, and even small beeswax paintings. My techniques and processes have advanced as I have had more time to experiment with different materials.
You are also a founder of Visionary Art Collective. Could you tell me a bit more about that?
Victoria: I launched Visionary Art Collective in 2020 with the goal of creating a diverse space for artists and educators. I have balanced my art practice with teaching for 7 years and I realized that so many of my fellow artist friends are also teachers. I have a passion for teaching my students about contemporary art and showing them work by artists who are living and working today and creating work in response to issues we collectively face as a society. However, since I began teaching, I have noticed there is a lack of educational resources for contemporary women artists, Black artists, and other artists of color. With this platform, I am working to provide artists around the world with opportunities to showcase their work, while also creating high quality educational resources for art educators. My future plans include expanding the education branch of this platform to foster a supportive community among educators and designing and scheduling online exhibits for next year with a few incredible curators. It has been incredible to see this platform grow so rapidly, and I can’t wait to see how it evolves in the coming years!
What artists have influenced your work the most?
Victoria: Gerhard Richter and Anselm Kiefer. I am in love with Richter’s abstract paintings, which I saw in person for the first time about 10 years ago. Kiefer’s use of texture, and the scale of his work, deeply inspired me as I began my beeswax series
What memorable responses have you had to your work?
Victoria: This year I have received an overwhelmingly positive response to my series of work. Friends, family members, and followers on social media have been especially interested in my ongoing “Immersion” exhibit, where I showcase my work outside as part of the natural landscape.
Are there any upcoming shows or workshops we should know about?
Victoria: I will be featured in a few exciting publications in the coming months. One of these publications is Vanity Fair UK, which I am really excited about. I will be continuing to present a range of online exhibits in the new year, and I’m partnering up with some amazing guest curators. Stay tuned!
Do you see your art as serving a purpose beyond art?
Victoria: As I mentioned earlier, the purpose of my art is to reconnect viewers with the natural world, and to provide them with a quiet moment of contemplation. I hope that my art awakens memories and unique experiences within each person who views my work.
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