The interaction between humans and their surrounding world is a complex exchange of give-and-take. For artist Stephanie Paige, this relationship stems from an awareness of her connection with nature and her place within it. Using vibrant colors, expansive space and earthy textures, Paige creates art that is both humble and awe-inspiring, never failing to create a dialogue between the viewer and the world that exists around him or her.
One aspect of Paige’s work that stands as a powerful testament to her philosophies is the use of found materials. “What is interesting about adding found materials to my work is that in each found piece that I place is a representation of self” explains Paige, “Yes, this old rusted flywheel that I found on the side of the road is representing me or you.”
ABN caught up with this Southern California-based contemporary artist on the rise to discuss inspirations and aspirations.
Laurel Dammann (ABN): How would you define the relationship between your art and nature? What elements of the world around inspire you and your work the most?
Stephanie Paige (Sp): The relationship between my art and nature is all about feeling connected to the earth in a way that shows my respect and admiration for all the wonders of mother nature. The earth is where I feel grounded and feel supported. The ocean is where I let my emotions free and create. The sky is where I dream and I feel spiritually guided and the fire gives me energy and renewal. I am mostly connected to water because I am emotionally tied to my creations and enjoy discovering where it will take me.
ABN: Textures are a notably important part of your art, as are vast expanses of color and space. What do each of these elements mean to you as an individual element in a bigger piece? The three reacting together?
SP: The way I feel centered with my art is to have balance, and combining all these elements into my work gives me that sense of completeness. I spent the early part of my life as an artist that had to be perfect and exact with what I created and always having to fill every inch of the space with interest. Now my life’s journey as an artist and human being is letting go of that idea of perfection and “having it all.” I began focusing on moving toward simplicity, calmness and being at peace with what is.
ABN: You moved to Southern California in 1990. What is it about that specific landscape that inspires you? Do you feel as if the move changed your artistic direction and/or vision?
SP: After moving to Southern California from a small town in Michigan, I became instantly inspired by the landscapes with such varied textures from dry desert to the open vast oceans with all its wildlife, the skies amazing sunsets and sunrises and the tropical trees. Just in my backyard alone, I’m inspired by all the textures nature makes around here.
ABN: As an avid user of green mediums and found items in your pieces, what do you feel these materials add to the moods you seek to capture?
SP: What is interesting about adding found materials to my work is that in each found piece that I place is a representation of self. Yes, this old rusted flywheel that I found on the side of the road is representing me or you. I always place each found piece in the center to remind me or you to be centered and it also represents renewal of self, just like that old flywheel. Now using green materials is a more important aspect of creating because it is respecting the earth and gives me a sense of closeness with Mother Nature.
ABN: You write in your artist’s statement that your creations start with “play time” and include your practice of Metta. How do these methods affect your relationship with a piece, its process and its components?
SP: I first should tell you that when I step into my studio to create I am mediating and draw from my spiritual connection to the earth to be inspired. So “Play Time” to me is listening and feeling my way though my hand to find the path of each piece. Metta is a practice I do everyday for myself and to my loved ones and then to all beings everywhere. It gives me that connectedness I need in this world and provides me with a knowing that I am not alone and [that] I am you and you are me. When I create a piece of art, I feel that this feeling is put into the piece and it is meant for one specific person who is yet unknown. People have commented that when they saw a piece that they had to purchase, [they felt it was] made for them. That is a very rewarding, fulfilling moment for me as an artist.
ABN: What are you currently working on?
SP: I am currently experimenting with integrating more found materials. I recently did a wonderful piece called Rebirth, made with cut slats from old wine barrels. The barrels added real depth and texture to the work, bringing it all to life. I feel the barrels themselves have a story to tell, as I imagine the aging process, the labor not only spent to make the wine, but the all aspects of the time and love and patience that goes into all things that are worthwhile. It adds a timeless quality to my art that cannot be made any other way.
For more information, visit www.StephaniePaigeStudio.com.