Artist Interview: Amy Modesti on documenting with digital photography and paintings

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1. Why did you choose to be an artist?

I was always interested in art when I was young. Growing up, I loved drawing all kinds of things; cartoon characters from TV shows that I loved, popular video game characters, and portraits of the actors from the “Harry Potter” films. It wasn’t until I was a senior in high school when I started to gain an interest in digital photography and finally came to a decision that the visual arts was something that I wanted to pursue as a career! The visual arts and photography was one of my best strengths in school and it was something that I wanted to continue improving my techniques and broaden my knowledge about the arts in college.

2. What direction is your work currently heading in? / Where do you want it to go?

The direction that my work is currently in is based on the interpretation of my sky sign, Taurus. Every week, I go to a local book store in Troy, NY to pick up a copy of my weekly arts and entertainment magazine that I enjoy reading called the Metroland. In the back of the magazine, I read my horoscope passage a few times and see how the message or a digital photograph relates back to the week that I’ve had or an event that had occurred in the past. Once I read the message and brainstorm an image that would represent the theme of the message, I replicate my photographs in a series of acrylic paintings.

Where I see my art going, I would love to continue with my paintings and continue my work in digital photography. I’m currently in the process of using my photography and the findings of the horoscope messages to further describe my story behind what is occurring in my life within a visual journal that is going to be on view in our exhibition show. Once the show is complete, I hope to continue to work on the visual journal to express my thoughts and work on more paintings.

3. What other artists or things (music, performances, family, friends, etc…) influence your work?

Anything that I see and attend, whether it be a concert performance, a vacation trip to Maine, a spiritual shrine, attending artist openings, or just spending a day hanging out with friends influence the kind of work that I’ve produced for the show. I’m also influenced by the everyday events that occur within my life. My family is another influence for my work. Since my Dad is a visual artist and a lead guitarist, he’s been a mentor in giving me advice in helping me fix my work, broadened my horizons with many musical genres, encouraged me to take piano lessons, and both he and my Mom have supported me as I continued to work within the visual and performing arts field.

4. What is the best advice you’ve ever been given?

To “Have fun “and “Do something that you want to do that makes you happy and that you enjoy,” according to one of my closest musician friends when I went back to Hudson Valley Community College (HVCC) in September 2010. When I had attended the College of Saint Rose, I was discouraged by their professors who had wanted me to pursue early childhood education instead of graphic design that I had wanted to originally major in after critiquing my art before a mid-term review. The professors refused to even sign me up for the fall semester classes. Despite their discouragement, I received some advice from my other professors at HVCC who also encouraged me to come back to take courses in their gallery management program that I took a course in before I graduated from their art program. Going back to HVCC to pursue something that I love to learn and do within the visual and performing arts was the best decision that I had ever made. I love the arts and it’s something that I continue to pursue with my career regardless of what other individuals think of my work. I continued to take my friend’s advice to heart through my year back at HVCC and my path to MCLA where I’m now going to receive my degree in Art and Arts Management. And I’m creating art that I’m having fun with and enjoying the most too.

5. What other jobs have you done other than being an artist?

Besides being an artist, I worked as both a graphic design apprentice at LaPan Services (HVCC), was a staff photographer, writer, and photo editor for “The Hudsonian” (HVCC Student Newspaper), and I served as a volunteer at the Jarvis Rockwell Gallery, Fulton Street Gallery, and The Teaching Gallery. At MCLA, I’m currently serving as a staff photographer and a guest staff writer for “The Beacon” (MCLA student newspaper).Previously, I was a scenic charge artist for the Urine Town college musical, helped spread the word around about the Rock The Block PAM show and the MCLA Blues and Funk Festival, and in February, I was in charge of getting the word out about the artist talks and the exhibition opening for our class exhibition, “Inside the Outside: Reconsidering Our Views About Art” through social media. In high school, I even served as a photographer for their yearbook, Triumph.

See more about Amy here. And be sure to check out her work in Elemental Connections: MCLA’s Senior Art Show!

Opening reception Thursday April 24th from 5pm to 7pm. Elemental Connections runs through May 25th  at MCLA Gallery 51, open daily, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. For more information, call the Gallery at 413-664-8718, or go to www.mcla.edu/gallery51.

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Artist Interview: Stephanie VanBramer on pursuing art and the direction she’s heading in

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1. Why did you choose to be an artist?

I chose to follow the art path because I was never told not to. Instead, I was encouraged by the people around me to keep pursuing the visual arts. Some aspiring artists aren’t so fortunate. I would like to think that I would have stuck with art regardless, but with support from my family, friends, and educators, I have really been able to do what love, which is art. I have put so much time, energy, and practice into making art and developing skills that it wouldn’t make sense for me to give it all up now.

2. What direction is your work currently heading in? / Where do you want it to go?

I currently use three different elements in my painting: imagery, text, and newspaper. I like to combine and explore what happens when different imagery is paired with specific text and how that can potentially create stories or start conversations among viewers. I aspire to make pieces that make viewers stop and think about what they are really seeing, and that requires them to be willing to dig through the layers that I present to them. From this, I hope that they can eventually develop their own meanings from my work and come to understand how the relationship between words and images can shape the messages. I would like to continue on this path because I think that there is still a lot for me to explore.

3. What is the best advice you’ve ever been given?

My mom once told me to ‘never settle’ and now that’s something I always remember every now and then. At the time she said it, it didn’t strike me as advice, but thinking about it now, it has been one of the most remembered lessons I have learned from my parents. If you feel like you’re settling, than you probably are and I believe that you should strive for and strive to be the best you can.

4. What other jobs have you done other than being an artist?

Other than working on my own art, I have interned at the Norman Rockwell Museum and at IS183 Art School of the Berkshires. Norman Rockwell is one of my favorite artists and being around his work was constantly inspiring. IS183 allowed me to experience more of the art education world and was a big help for me in realizing what type of career path I want to travel down. Both jobs were great opportunities and I am happy to have been a part of both organizations.

5. Is there a technique or medium that you haven’t tried but want to?

One thing that I want to do with my artwork is try it on a bigger scale. My current work consist of medium and smaller size pieces and it would be interesting to see what I can do with a larger canvas or surface.

 

See more about Stephanie here. And be sure to check out her work in Elemental Connections: MCLA’s Senior Art Show!

Opening reception Thursday April 24th from 5pm to 7pm. Elemental Connections runs through May 25th  at MCLA Gallery 51, open daily, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. For more information, call the Gallery at 413-664-8718, or go to www.mcla.edu/gallery51.