I am a multi-medium artist. For this I have no apology.
Recently I found the framed article that I was given when I was named a “Sizzling Twenty Under 30” by Edmontonians Magazine. In rereading the article, one line popped out at me:
“She is noted for her unique way of mixing different art and media forms… deftly combining photography, painting, drawing and even adding pieces with her sewing machine.”
Some things never change. My mixed media compulsion is a part of who I am, inseparable from my artistic practice and unrelenting to the critics that exhort, “Pick one medium and stick with it.”
Yes, it’s true that if one spreads themselves too thin, the whole can suffer. Yet, if that someone can excel in different areas, I believe they should carry on. Even if they fail, so what? They tried. Freedom to experiment and think outside the box are values I cherish in my work and I encourage others to embrace as well. Honestly, it’s a reflection of our times. What job out there is singular in its focus? Not many I wager. People are expected to multitask whether they like it or not. (I happen to like it.)
I love the variety of my artistic approaches. When a concept calls to me, I respond by creating artwork that makes sense – which may be wood sculpture, painting, photography, writing or a combination of them all. I am not suggesting every artist juggle all these mediums, but it’s my style – and I chose to believe in myself and understand that not everyone will appreciate my work (though I am immensely grateful for those that do).
My current exhibition at Harcourt House Gallery and Artist Run Centre (on until November 29, 2013 before it travels to Calgary in February 2014) reflects my style to a tee. Many artistic mediums interconnect to form “The Quiet Rebuild,” a visual (and literary) picture of the resilience of the human spirit in the face of hardship.
The issue of being ‘mixed-medium’ was referenced in the latest issue of Vanity Fair (December 2013) in the article, “Paint by Numbers,” by Mark Stevens. The article asked the question, “Who is the greatest living artist?” The survey of top individuals in the field resulted with a list of some of the most incredible and visionary artists of our time. The top six included:
I was wildly encouraged by Stevens’ article as he commented on some of the artists that made the top of the list. Gerhard Richter is commended for being a “chameleon” of artistic styles within his painting and that his shift between approaches in his work does not diminish any of it. Stevens wrote, of Richter’s varied artistic style: “He contains contraries, as if no single net can capture the whole truth.”
Stevens’ article also discussed the multi-faceted approach of Bruce Nauman. Stevens’ wrote: “[Nauman] is not confined to any medium, but adapts his methods to his meanings, shifting easily among performance, video and installations.”
I hope to one day be included on a list like the one in Vanity Fair, but for now it gives me solace that many of the great living art icons do not limit themselves to one medium. They have branched out, experimented, and rebuked any notion of solidarity of approach. These artists encourage me to stay the course and believe in my work.