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Georgia Rowswell – Artist Interview

Today’s interview is with Georgia Rowswell.  Georgia is a force of nature in the art world.  She moved in with gale force winds and conquered Cheyenne’s bleak art scene.  She has worked tirelessly to help rejuvenate our town, by opening The Artful Hand Gallery, starting the Art, Design and Dine: Art Tour, serving on the board of the Hynds Building & Lights On project to bring an art center to our downtown.  On top of all that she works with the artists in the area, by freely giving advice, representing their work, and most importantly bringing us all together.  Georgia is completely inspirational in all that she does for the arts.  She recently has been featured in The Great Lakes Airlines in flight magazine Peaks and Plains, and she landed the cover! (To read her interview in Peaks and Plains click here.)  Such a well deserved honor for her!  Congratulations Georgia, I wish you continued success!

For more information on Georgia please visit her website.  http://www.artfulhand.org/

And to learn more about Art, Design and Dine, make the jump to http://artdesigndine.org/

 Did you grow up with an awareness of art?  Let’s go back to the very beginning—how did you become an artist?

I give my parents and especially my mother, Dot Stiefler, a lot of credit in nurturing my life as an artist.  Handwork was her constant quest from my earliest memories to the end of her life. Through my mother, I gained a rich understanding of textiles and the traditional “woman’s arts”. My parents never discouraged my pursuit of a career in the arts, an attitude I tried to practice with my own children. Its not about the money you can make in a job, its about doing what you love.

 Has a significant personal experience shaped your work?

Moving from Atlanta to Wyoming in 2008 caused a seismic shift in my work. In Atlanta I was harvesting and working in bamboo,which of course is nothing that will ever grow in Wyoming! I had to reinvent myself and find a new way to express the West in my voice. The one constant in my work has been subject matter, the land. Wyoming presented totally new vistas for this East Coast born and bred girl.

A year after arriving in Cheyenne, I was given the opportunity do a residency at Jentel in Banner Wyoming. It offered me the time and space to explore my Western voice and set me on the right artistic track. This October, I will be starting my second Wyoming residency at Brush Creek in Saratoga. I am really excited to see what comes out of it!

 

 I love that your blog has the tagline Two Artists-One Life, please tell us about your husband, his artistic skills and how he inspires you. 

My husband Dave, is a high school art teacher at East High in Cheyenne. He is a talented and patient teacher with the gift of encouragement. He has always been my cheerleader, encouraging and enabling me in my career. Dave’s art takes him in totally different directions than mine. He is a sculptor and loves to draw the figure (two areas I have little talent in ). Sometimes we are dangerous together when we start with,”what if you did this…” or “ we should make this…” The idea well never runs dry at our house. When our two kids Ian and Abby are home it gets worse! Add to that a new daughter-in-law that’s an artist and the Rowswell house explodes with creative and sometimes crazy ideas!

Your devotion to art is inspirational; your gallery is also your house, can you explain how this idea came about? 

When I came back from my Jentel residency I decided I needed to get busy and add to the artistic life of Cheyenne. I sold the sofa set and proceeded to turn our living room into a gallery. I said, “who needs a living room? Doesn’t everyone  hang out in the kitchen anyways”! With the expense of renting commercial space and the uncertainty of the economy, an in-home gallery seemed like a smart move. Right after we started the gallery my sister Nancy, sent me a  NY Times article about NYC artists doing exactly the same thing! Who knew Cheyenne was so hip!

Next I decided that the city needed a monthly art tour that would include our gallery, Artful Hand. My goal was to raise the profile of the arts and artists in the city and region. Currently in its third year,  Art Design & Dine has seen steady growth and has been very well received by the community and city officials.

What other artists influenced you and why?

I am attracted to unusual materials and artists that focus on texture, pattern and color. I really connect with El Anatsui’s large scale liquor bottle, metal cap art. I love the, something from nothing approach to art. Using something small and insignificant and giving it new meaning. El Anatsui says of his work,

“ I saw that if you have a scale that is petty, using discarded media, than the work is going to be petty- in fact too petty for anybody to bother about trying to listen too. On a larger scale it becomes more effective. Its like the saying, ‘If you meet one ant, you’re not going to notice but if you meet an army of them…’ So, the kinds of media that I use are like ants. One is not effective, but many are”

Are you a full-time artist? How do you come up with your creations? Can you walk us through your creative process when dreaming up new pieces?  Where do you find inspiration for your work?

I am a full-time artist working in the studio and presenting workshops around the state. Coming up with ideas has always been the easy part for me. Winnowing them down and extracting and executing the best ones is the challenge. When I talk to students and groups about creativity, I always say, “keep your eyes and mind open. Inspiration can come from anywhere. From fascinating museum exhibits to the composition form by cracks in the sidewalk. When an idea emerges, I make a few notes and thumbnail drawings in my sketchbook. Sometimes I work on an idea right away and sometimes it needs to wait for the concept to fully develop. 

What do you love most about your studio?

Getting to it! I spend the morning answering emails, working on art tour business and generally checking off my to do list. Then I allow myself to enter, “art La La land” That timeless state an artist goes into when working on a piece. If I have an appointment later in the day, I literally set an alarm to pull me out of La La Land and back into reality. 

What advice can you give aspiring artists struggling to find their own voice and look?

Keep working, struggling and searching. Find one or two like-minded people you can bounce ideas off of and count on for constructive criticism. Make work that is true to your heart and vision and not what the market demands. “In large measure becoming an artist consists of learning to accept yourself, which makes your work personal, and in following your own voice, which makes your work distinctive.” Art and Fear Observations on the Peril (and Rewards) of Artmaking

 

 

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