Wednesday, September 15, 2010

An interview with the artist Andrea Rosenfeld

I met Andrea Rosenfeld a while ago on Twitter. 
We've been exchanging tweets, e-mails and facebook comments for months. She's a multitalented artist  whose work reaches many art tecniques.
Currently she's creating a beautiful line of kinetic jewelry.
So, here it is,  the interview:

Tell me about yourself.
Happy, I’m a single mother of three, kinetic artist, REALLY down-to-earth Leo who loves and appreciates her family, boyfriend and friends, enjoys digging in dirt, swinging and partaking in any type of artistic endeavor.
What is your opinion of arts education? Is an artist born or made - or both?
I had a wonderful art education.  The only high school teacher, whose name I can recall, is my Art Teacher, Mrs. Ciotti.  She made me a part of her class, allowing me to assist others and fanning my flame while helping me excel.  I enrolled in excellent private lessons and went on to study at the School of Art and Design at the University of Michigan.  We were segregated on the North Campus: I had to take bus there. I don’t think they wanted us crazy artists near their equally insane scientists or mathematicians.  Whatever the case, it was awesome being in our own island, creating all day and night.   
I watch my kids in school.  I am the Art Appreciation teacher for my children’s elementary school and have been so for about 5 years now.  I LOVE exposing children to art – we discuss emotions surrounding the different genres and techniques.  Most of them get excited with shooting hands, bright eyes and VERY interesting comments and insights.  I see the work they do in school and it’s appropriate and typical of their ages. I also understand how budgets affect the humanities; they get less money so their projects suffer a bit but I applaud the teachers for reaching into their creativity to inspire and affect their students.
Is an artist made or born?  Born.  If a person stumbles into art later in life, well maybe they had the creativity in them all along but it took other forms of expression.  Or maybe it laid dormant until some inspiring moment when it shot free, surprising the human form it was hiding in.   I do think that art and creativity are different.  I do not see scrap-booking as “art”, however, collage is and there is a distinct similarity.   I feel that everyone should grasp and embrace ANY creative outlet they have.  It’s so important to allow your soul and imagination to run free and enter that “zone” where time stops and your instincts take over.  
What are your earliest memories of art?
My entire early life was art.  I remember playing with friends outdoors, as a kid, but for the most part, I was alone in my room drawing or making clothes for my dolls or building with Lincoln Logs or Legos and making paper furniture and people because the buildings needed “life”.  During my teen years I was never without a pencil and paper.  I would draw through class; I’m not sure how I passed.  I lived for my art classes.  I was not content unless I was drawing.  I started with Betty and Veronica and worked my way up to the fashion magazines that lay around my house.  (My Mother was a fashion model in Detroit which may have influenced my foray into fashion design.)  I found a rapidiograph and dotted my days away.  My sister found a picture she took of me when I was 14, sitting at my desk, looking up, surprised, into her lens. I was holding a pen and there was paper opened before me.   Upon showing me this image she said, “You were always hold up in your room drawing.  That’s the image I have of you growing up.”   Shocked and surprised, I was a bit sad.  I remember doing TONS of things as a teen but I guess that I spent most of my time “in the zone”.   My friends talk about all of the places they went to and experienced and I don’t have those memories.  I enjoy being alone and silent: art affords me that lifestyle.  Plus I enjoy being dirty – paint and clay under my nails.   I am very happy being covered in the medium I’m working in.  I guess that it’s the completion of my project being “part of me”.
Why do you do what you do?
Because I can’t stop.  I tried once – or better, I was forced to stop.  I became Mommy and there was little time to paint or draw. I turned my creative faucet off to shower others with love.  I stopped giving to myself, through my art, and gave to my children.  I recall, one day, realizing how irritable I had become.  Of course, raising children can make one irritable but this was deeper.  I began to, slowly, get back into art.  I picked up a paintbrush and made a few large canvases and painted. I had rarely painted before: it was not my medium of choice. I like being in control of my work and pencil allowed me to erase and watch the line develop slowly.  However, I guess I needed a real release and painting is very freeing.  My painted entrance back into the art world ended up on exhibit at the Monmouth Museum, Lincroft, NJ, twice.  I never stopped again.

What work do you most enjoying doing?
Wow.  Everything.  I really do.  I was talking to another artist recently and she said, “I will paint until I’m done painting, THEN I’ll move into another medium.”  I grimaced (quietly).  I would die.  I am a flitter, I have the patience of a three-year-old and I enjoy exploration. I can think of TWO techniques that I haven’t tried: blacksmithing and glass blowing.  I have done everything else but I did not take anything to it’s end.  I dabbled and stuck with drawing, painting but I really do enjoy doing anything with my hands.  Currently, I create kinetic jewelry using soldering and wood working techniques along with a bit of off-loom weaving and metal work, however, I want to get away from the “craft” look so I ‘m working with casting companies and using more bezel set stones.  I can say that I regret not settling into one technique and becoming proficient in it, alone. I probably would have stayed in art, instead of moving into fashion.  I am more of an artist than a diva –fashion can be a diva industry. 
Describe a day in the life of you, the artist:
Unfortunately, I do not have a life as an artist, solely, and I don’t create as often as I would like to.  I am Mommy until 8:30 then I’m oh, still Mommy: chores and cleaning, until about 10am.  Finally I can settle into my studio to do business: marketing, sales, setting up classes… design is in my schedule twice a week and mainly I’m working with other artists, that I’m collaborating with, or setting up appointment to meet casters or buy stones.  I allow myself once-a-day to read and respond to e-mails and during the day, I may have to deal with schools or doctors.  (Mommy doesn’t ever end)  The kids start trickling in about 3:15pm and then I REALLY juggle “Mommy” with “Andrea”.  Homework and dinner then I can get back to work.  I work until about 11pm but I want to end sooner so that I can take time out for me: read, meditate or Reiki. *I am a Reiki practitioner and cleanse my jewelry art to release its metaphysical properties increasing its ability to strengthen creativity and good physical health, reduce stress and negativity; stimulate love, weight loss and more.  As I grow my business and am able to hire employees I will create more time for me.  I can’t wait until that day happens!!!

What jobs have you done other than being an artist?
As a teen, I worked in retail clothing stores. That’s about it. Oh, I worked for my Dad, in his dental office.   I enjoyed filing and stayed away from the tools and patients.  Once, he had me help in with a client: he asked me to hold the suction to get this guy’s saliva out.  I put the tool too close and sucked the guys tongue in.  I ran out with a crimson face and YELLED at my Dad to NEVER ask me to help with a patient again!  Worse, was that the patient was CUTE!  Really, not what you want to do to your gangly teenage daughter!  Thanks Dad!
What’s your scariest experience?
Two: A urine test when my first son was in utero said that he could have Downs Syndrome.  I had to take blood test to confirm the gestational date of my pregnancy.  Waiting for the tests to come back was excruciating.  I probably cried every day until they said that that I was LESS pregnant than I thought and that he was fine.  And then when my last child was born.  My uterus stayed contracted and we thought it was causing him to take in less air.  The next half an hour was intense.  I went from a natural, VBAC birth to being hooked up to every device, embedding an IV into me, shooting water into my uterus and throwing an oxygen mask over my mouth.  I didn’t really care – all I could think of was Jason.  I watched the monitor they slapped on me like a hawk (although I had no idea what I was looking at) and I stayed as calm as I could to allow my uterus to calm itself, as well.  I was able to deliver him without being attached to anything and they whisked him away to the pediatric neurologist for testing.  He was fine and still is: ten, in the Gifted Program at school, curious, creative and precocious: My little love. 

What inspires you?
Nature, other artists and the materials themselves and what I can and CAN’T do with them.  I prefer the “can’t”. I like to push the envelope – make things bend to my will or at least stretch them a bit.  When I learn a technique, I get the safety issues and the basic skills, then I tune out the instructor.  I don’t want to know – just let me play.  In my first soldering class, I wanted to make a silver sheet look like leather scrap: dry with specific grain and folds.  I spoke to the instructor who had been working with metals for 15 years on how to accomplish this.  She looked at me and said, “Huh.  I have no idea how to do that.”  I smiled and figured it out myself and then used silk yarn to harness the huge Border Opal into the “leather” frame.  My instructor just shook her head.  Ha!
What makes you angry?
Stupidity, people who hate other people for no sane reason, people who “hate”, period, being laughed AT, being held down, physically, if my children call each other names, not being respected, people who litter, laziness, being taken advantage of, being hit on by a married man, automated recordings when there used to be a human being at the other end of the line, our political system, banks (greed) and when a friend doesn’t honor herself/himself.
What research do you do?
Press, new stores-galleries, industry news, art news, economy news, how to manipulate my materials, and healing stone information.
Name something you love, and why.
I love my boyfriend, Philip, because he is my coyote, my balance and he listens to me.  He offers me incredibly interesting information and art, makes me laugh every single day and is honestly concerned for my children.  He will talk through problems and works on himself to be a better person and partner and he helps ME become a better person/partner.  He is completely real: shows me exactly who he is all the time – bad or good and I appreciate all of him.   *I was going to say my children but that was too obvious.

Name something you don’t love, and why.
I don’t love… nothing.  I guess that by not loving something you hate it and I don’t hate anything. I dislike many things but the word hate is too strong.

What is your dream project?

A gallery showing of my jewelry made 15x its size – like jewelry sculptures – kinetic, moveable jewelry sculptures.  I’d get a glass and ceramic artist to create the beads/stones and I’d weld all day with a welder showing me the ropes. 

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?

Work big.  As a teen, I would work small, delicate, detailed with pencil: controlling everything, slowly.  My teacher implored me to step back and work bigger; in a sense, letting go.  I did and am much happier.  I still work with small sections of jewelry but my pieces, pottery, paintings, weavings and such are large and free.  That statement freed me but I fought it for a long time.

Favorite writer, favorite song, favorite inspiration?

Favorite writer: I don’t have one.  I read as much as I can and different genres.  I hop around and don’t usually stick with one author.  I get bored easily.

Favorite song: Pretenders, “I’ll Stand By You”.  I cannot listen to it without my eyes welling up.  I hear it and my body tenses, like I’m ready to fight someone, then I cry.  To me, it’s my undying love, acceptance and protection of my children and how strongly I feel towards them.  I made sure I danced to that song with each of them at their Bar and Bat Mitzvahs – I have one more child to go and he knows; “Mommy is dancing with him to this song.”

Favorite inspiration: nature – everything in it.

Where can one view your work online?

My ever-growing and ever-changing website and blog: