STEPHANIE WEBER: EVOCATIVE LAYERS
INTERVIEW WITH MICHAEL CORBIN, CONTEMPORARY ART WRITER AND AUTHOR
Stephanie Weber is a very talented painter who lives in Berkeley, California. I was stunned when I first saw her work http://stephanieweberart.com/. I love her layering and the deep, rich, color-lushness of her paintings. I had to chat with her and I’m glad that she agreed.
“… I work layer to layer, developing the whole painting together. As I work one section of the painting, it will begin to speak to another part of the painting, then that part will need to be glazed or enriched or sanded. It feels like a dance …”
MICHAEL: Stephanie, your paintings are exquisite. To me, they look like beautifully-imagined landscapes. What’s your inspiration?
STEPHANIE: Yes Michael, My inspiration does come in part from landscape. A big sense of nature really moves me and fuels my work. Nature for me means what is beneath the earth’s surface, the strata and layers – also, what lies above – the atmosphere, the cosmos and possibilities. It means the stuff of life – our skin and hair and bones as well as rock, earth and water. Although the paintings come out as abstract works, I am deeply drawn to what is tangible and palpable. I’m not looking to what is specific, but more evocative. I have always worked to reflect my sense of a pulsing and vital world. My paintings are on honeycomb aluminum panels. Hard surfaces are right for me. I worked on wood panels for years until I hit upon aluminum. I’m able to get qualities I can’t get on any other support and they seem to work to my strengths.
MICHAEL: What really strikes me with your work is the lush color. How do you achieve this? It looks so rich and vibrant.
STEPHANIE: Oh Michael, Color is SO important in my work. It’s both very intuitive and so precise. I have a very particular color sense and pallet. When it feels right, it’s like the right taste on the tip of my tongue. I often make my own paints from dry pigment. I have been using these pigments for years and they give me qualities I cannot get any other way. There is a blue that I love that feels deep, matt and imploded; it has an amazing level of saturation. There are three pages of yellow ochers that I can choose from – each from a different location in the world. I like the color to have a history. I might be aiming towards a certain red, but I might begin with a green and work toward it. I feel my way toward just the right red – a red with a back story. I want the color to affect the atmosphere around the painting – so although my paintings are two dimensional, I’m always thinking of the atmosphere around the painting – the psychology of the space.
STEPHANIE: I thought about how much I am trying for a coming together – a fusion of opposites, of disparate elements in my paintings. I want each painting to contain a lot – to be both emotionally expressive and reductive – meditative and active, sensual and palpable –what you can imagine and what you can touch. I work to make paintings that are both eccentric and have a very developed beauty – to push the viewer back and lure them in at the same time.
MICHAEL: Have you ever felt you needed to be in New York? A New York art dealer just told me that New York remains the “art capital.”
STEPHANIE: In a word, yes – particularly at the beginning of my career. Would it have made me a better artist? Not sure. Everything is so global now. I’m not convinced that being in the hinterlands in Berkeley and part of the Bay Area is all that bad. I’ve had five solo shows in New York and a number of group shows over the years. I feel that New York is no longer the only center. Certainly it’s the publishing center. Some of the most important or most effecting critical writing on art still comes out of New York and that’s quite powerful in the business of art. But Los Angeles, Chicago, Texas, the whole Bay Area – these are also important centers where rich and exciting work is being done – not to mention China, London and Berlin.
MICHAEL: What’s the driving force behind your process as an artist? Intellectual, emotional, social or spiritual?
STEPHANIE: Hmm. Perhaps emotional and intellectual. Art has been a driving force from early childhood on – to make things, create things, it’s what I have always done. It’s another language in a way – far more specific for me than words and often more honest – you can’t really paint out of the side of your mouth. Curiosity is also a driving force. I’ve used new materials and technology when needed. I’m curious when two or three sections of my paintings begin to come together in surprising ways and spark off one another. I ask myself why? What’s creating that energy and how can I push it farther in the painting? I’m pulled by the process of making art; by the excitement and possibility of doing something fresh. I don’t have to compromise in the studio and it’s a privilege. P.S. Let’s not pretend that ego is not a driving factor.
MICHAEL: Haha! Finally Stephanie, Does your body of work have a message thus far? What do you want people to take away from your work?
STEPHANIE: It’s less a specific message to the viewer and more of a conversation – an engagement with the viewer. I want to place the viewer in a space where unexpected associations and resonance might happen. I want the viewer to tap into the beauty and chaos of life. No, it’s not a political message or a specific or didactic message. It’s more evocative. Basically, I am trying to make ideas visual and physical. My goal is connection – connection with the viewer on many levels – physical, intellectual and emotional.
MICHAEL: Your work certainly connects with me. Love it. Thanks for chatting Stephanie.
Check out Stephanie Weber at http://stephanieweberart.com/.
To see complete interview go to http://artbookguy.com/stephanie-weber-evocative-layers_1002.html