Amanda is Community mentored artist exploring the philosophy of human nature, connection, and transformation through a variety of media and public programming
Hello Amanda! How would you describe your art to people?
Amanda: I would say my art is thoughtful. It always has been, after all, an avenue for me to purge the energy in my third eye chakra- generated by my own self or picked up from others. Sometimes as I paint, phrases will repeat over and over in my mind or in my heart, and I believe the work holds that energy. There is also a lot of passion and emotion behind my art, whether working in abstract or figurative pieces. Like mentioned before, I feel like I am able to burn off excess emotional energy by creating a representation of that energy outside of my body.
How did it all start for you in the world of art?
Amanda: One summer as a teenager I was teased by a group of friends and isolated myself for the whole vacation from school. During that time I started roleplaying, or collaborative storytelling on a platform called “AvidGamers”. I would write out stories from my character’s perspective, someone would respond, and the story would continue to unfold that way. I was a wolf in a wolf pack, a vampire, an “anthropomorphic”, or human with an animal head, and others I’m sure. I started drawing because I wanted my internet friends to know what my characters looked like outside of my verbal descriptions.
In 2013 I met a person who was hosting figure drawing sessions in his private residence with a group of artists. He would go on to rent space for studios and outsider artist shows. I was very enthusiastic about this project and really committed myself to help maintain the space. I learned a lot about curating, and it became my second passion after making art. We would host 70+ artists in a salon-style show, and while it was a lot of work it was a ton of fun. I always look back on that period of my life very fondly.
Your art is very unique, and you say you are exploring the philosophy of human nature. Could you tell us a bit more about that?
Amanda: Via the arts, I like to try to convey this human experience to the best of my ability from my perspective, and sometimes from what I can perceive from another’s perspective if I put myself in their shoes. I feel there are many theologian ideas around the human body merely being occupied by a spirit, energy, or a soul. We don’t know where our consciousness comes from, we don’t quite know how it works, and we don’t know where it goes after our bodies take their final rest. The experience of making art itself is so human, to create, to express. The subject matter of my paintings often represents human sensations and concepts, like processing information, creating boundaries, finding balance, or going through a transformation. As I move more toward papermaking and sculpture, I am interested in exploring more concepts of unity, character archetypes, mystery, and the depth and dimension of the human experience.
What is a day of working like in your studio? Do you have any rituals that help you get motivated or in “the zone”?
Amanda: Journaling is integral to my process. If I do not organize my thoughts, I will lose them and be chasing them around all day. Meditation, stretching and reading, even if in little increments, are also very important to my creative practice. These activities help me purge excess energy and rumination from my mind and body so that I am more able to create. I recently read a book about the daily routines of creative people from the sciences to the arts, and whatever your routine is I think there is a lot of power in having some kind of structure to operate in, the
discipline to maintain that structure, and the insight as to when it is appropriate to be flexible within your routine to accommodate a flow state or a state of inspired creation.
What’s the most challenging part of your artistic process? And how do you overcome it?
Amanda: The most challenging part of my artistic process is myself. Transcending my doubts, managing my energy levels, and maintaining discipline has been my greatest challenges. Describe a real-life situation that inspired your artwork. I would say the two real-life situations that inspire my work are becoming a Mother and my
experiences in meditation. The work I create around motherhood, for now, I keep mostly private because the experience is so ultimately vulnerable and close to my heart. Over the years I’ve experienced some interesting ‘visions’ mostly in group meditation, and while I’m often too shy to talk about them I do like painting about them. Also, I feel like this question is a bit tricky because I feel like the work I make in general is a byproduct of being alive, and expressing my experience whether it’s noticing a tree or navigating a difficult interpersonal relationship. One of my favorite quotes, by Yves Klein, states “My paintings are but ashes of my Art.”.
How has your style changed or evolved over the years?
Amanda: First of all, the scale of the work I do has changed dramatically. I still really enjoy making small works, but I’ve really pushed outside of my comfort zone to make wall tapestries up to 5’x8’, and even started working on a mobile mural that is about 10’x’12’. I would really like to do more mural work in the future.
What is your most recent piece of art that you have enjoyed working on the Most?
Amanda: This is a tough question! I started a piece in 2018 that I finished in 2020, called the “Cactus Woman”. It depicts a woman’s figure with cactus-like qualities standing in a vast desert with a desert wren hovering over her left shoulder. There is a poem that accompanies her, that reads “In an environment of scarcity/Would she grow spikes from her skin/To deter those/Who would siphon of her moisture.” The piece is about having boundaries and taking care of the self in order to provide more wholly and intentionally.
What are you currently working on?
Amanda: Currently I am working on a sculpture as a part of Terrain Biennial, Newburgh, NY. I worked for a Halloween fabrication company for a number of years and I am very excited to utilize the skills I learned while there to make my own pieces. I recently finished a sculpture called “Hive Mind” hanging in the Holland Tunnel Gallery in Newburgh as a part of the Newburgh Open Studios Tour. It is a hive woven from plastic bags with a small hole, and if you peer through the hole inside there is a backlit ink painting. I am very pleased with it and intend to do a series around this concept.
Do you see your art as serving a purpose beyond art?
Amanda: Absolutely. I hope my art inspires people to think differently about how to utilize certain materials, specifically plastics or any other material thought of as ‘garbage’. I also hope that the conceptual work inspires folks to think about their own lives and what kind of transformations or strategies they can utilize to live happier fulfilled lives. Lastly, as an outsider artist, I hope the mere fact that I continue to make art and put it out into the world inspires people to “Follow their HeARTS”, or pursue what makes them feel alive regardless of their training, socio-economic status, race, creed, etc etc etc. Do what makes you happy.
What’s next on the horizon for Amanda?
Amanda: I would like to continue to make art in addition to becoming some kind of counselor. Art for me is a mode of processing information and difficult feelings, and I would love to be in a position to help others process their challenges and triumphs in this way as well.