Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Interview: Amy Davison

Here is my first interview, of hopefully many...

Meet Amy:

She's an artist, a collector, and a friend. Here are the back notes from her recent exhibition.

I love the concept for your (BFA art exhibit?), the Art of Recollecting. The beautiful quilts contrasting against the black and white signs are so captivating. I really wanted to be able to share your creation, because to me it is magical. Tell us more about your vision and how the collection formed.

This was my Bachelor's of Fine Art senior exhibition--I am graduating with honors from the University of West Georgia, with a degree in Art Education. in August. Each art student has to give a senior art show to kind of show to their mentors, their peers, and themselves that they are prepared to enter into the world of art. The Art Educator's decided to put on a group show to showcase all of our skills--seeing as we have to be very well rounded--and I decided on the idea of a conceptual show to display further my ideas of art and community rather than just give examples of artworks I have done throughout my years at the school.

The idea behind my concept, which would be collecting, has come from a pretty elaborate search and discovery I have been experiencing throughout the last few years of my life.

There are a lot of southern and folk undertones in your work. What do you love most about living in the south?

The South to me is a plethora of wonders. Anything to do with our vegetation and our climate.. I love spending time outdoors and getting to know my surroundings. I am constantly searching for an excuse to be wrapped up in all of its glory. I love the thought of establishing roots… I was born and raised here in Georgia, but I am always searching for a chance to get away; however, I know I am grounded here, so I know I will always return. I feel like I belong here and I like that feeling.

I grew up in a sweet Southern home filled with memories, objects with memories, objects that relate to other objects with memories and a family who obviously loves to collect. As I grew up, I noticed that there were many gatherers in my life that absolutely loved to hoard, like myself, such as my family members, best friends and many of my favorite teachers. Within the last couple years, it finally occurred to me that collecting was, and always has been, present in my life as a type of art--versus the internal/external conflict I had been struggling with for years. I feel like collecting, to a certain extent, tends to be a rather Southern thing. As far as I'm concerned, it's a learned trait and I am okay with that. Seeing as though my grandparents grew up in a time that every person and family's possessions were appreciated to the furthest extent. And I believe that it has just been passed down to each generation, as a necessity, to gather and appreciate anything and everything that you own. From the Great Depression up to now, in the financial crisis we're all experiencing, we all have to learn to love whatever it is we can get our hands on and learn to recognize the value of all that we have for all that its worth.

It has taken me many years to find an outlet, as well as an actual form for my art, through which I can express my concern for the multitude of objects that seem to be growing by the day in and around my home. In 2008, an identity piece I worked with in my sculpture class caused me to interview those closest to me. I conducted a survey with each individual and placed the written interviews in old books, which were then used to fill a hollowed log—returning the books to their original state. I was then able to give each of the carefully selected books a purpose and a personality, one that was more meaningful to me. The log was symbolic of my connection to the earth, to my surroundings, as well as its contents and the individuals that each book contains within. This project helped open my eyes to the lives of the wonderful people surrounding me and led to further interest in examining them; therefore, it was the actual contents of the log library that essentially led to this exhibition: The Art of Recollecting. Therein, both re-collecting the collections of others that are close to me, and also, reminiscing on the pasts of each person and the objects they have collected.

The stag bookends and bits and bobbins are so charming. What is your favorite thing to collect?

Throughout my life, I have been known to collect many things such as board games, license plate tags, random objects from nature, antiques, old keys, and odds and ends, but first and foremost, before any other item, I like to think I have collected friends. I have friends from almost every state I have every traveled to and really appreciate the fact that I can keep connections alive after such a long time and over such great distances.

You said that you conducted interviews with your family and friends. What kind of questions did you ask?

This installment allowed for the chance to share with the world a gathering of both my friends and influences in the art world and the incredible assemblies that have been acquired from them. I hoped that with this project I helped open the eyes, hands and hearts of my audience to the wonderful world of collecting, with every intention of finding beauty in the bountiful. Some of the questions I asked each person were put forth in a way that it truly questions the collectors’ intent and connection to their collections. I asked about how they started their collections and where. I asked how each collection was shown in their home, if it was shown at all. I tried to ask a few questions that made some of the collectors a little uneasy, such as,

  “How many pieces make up your collection?—Why do you feel this constitutes as a 
collection?” and “What purpose(s) does your collection serve?” 

I also asked if anyone else in their families collected and what. I think it’s important to know if a collector comes from a long line of collectors or if it’s just something they picked up during their childhood.

The questions were mainly just to help both the collectors, myself and the audience understand some background information about each one of the twenty-four collections put forth for viewing. Each of the interviews were sent to the participants then hand written and mailed back to me in specific envelops from six different states. I really loved the idea of inserting both travel and correspondence into the mix of collecting. I felt like it helped tell another tale of my collections and my interests, as did the inclusion of the BINGO game setup and cataloging. I collect board games and wanted my show to be interactive—therefore, each collection, along with its interview, was assigned a BINGO number for the viewers to call upon and research… It was a very elaborate plan! And I think it turned out to be beautiful.

I do too. Thanks Amy.

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