Q&A with Amy Lemaire: “Color is never a fact but always a truth.”

Amy Lemaire has studied at the Glasgow School of Art in Scotland,
School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and the Pilchuck Glass School in Washington. Her glass bead-making techniques have been featured on ABC News Chicago, Fox News Chicago, 190 North Chicago, and selected print media, including the Chicago Tribune, New City and Ceramics Monthly Magazine. In addition, Lemaire has fabricated glass pieces for the Field Museum’s Gregor Mendel exhibit, which will travel to other museums throughout the U.S. As a glass sculptor and painter, Lemaire has exhibited extensively and is represented by Lillstreet Gallery in Chicago.

Shoreline Habitat
Shoreline Habitat. Lampworked soda-lime glass and mixed media.
Courtesy of Amy Lemaire. Photo: Cindy Trim.

ArtStyle: When many people think of art, glass works are not the first pieces that come to mind. How did you get interested in using glass as an art form?

Amy Lemaire (AL): I first began working with glass in 1997, when I took a 5- day glass bead workshop. I purchased my first torch at the workshop and have been working with glass ever since. About 5 or 6 years ago, I started thinking about sculpture and needed a way to document my ideas. I turned to glass as a material for sketching and discovered that all those years of making beads had paid off: I had developed an extensive glass vocabulary. Originally, I planned to use glass only as a means to sketch with, but ended up constructing the finished sculptures out of the same material.

ArtStyle: Could you talk about the importance of beads?

AL: Beads hold significance in many different cultures. They have been used as currency and as talismans for protection from evil, sprinkled over fields in hopes of a plentiful harvest, buried with the dead, exchanged in marriage ceremonies, and used as prayer beads to aid meditation. I draw on many of these stories for inspiration in my own work.

Glass Painting
Glass Painting. Lampworked and fused soda-lime glass.
Courtesy of Amy Lemaire. Photo: Cindy Trim.

ArtStyle: Could you tell me how you got interested in the types of beads you make?

AL: The first humans to wear jewelry did so in order to distinguish each other easily from other members of the human tribe, which had grown so large over time. I often think of these first bejeweled humans and what their wares might have looked like. Today, the jewelry I make and wear has much of the same function. They are one-of-a-kind identifying pieces which set the wearer apart from the tribe.

Perhaps as an effect of cross-pollination of my sculptural pieces, my beads increased in scale at one point. Some of them are clearly too large to function as jewelry. Although I am ok with some of them being stand-alone sculpture without function, another use evolved out of necessity. My sculptural habitats involved submerging various live plant specimens underwater. The oversized beads were a perfect addition to these pieces: I shoved the plant stem into the hole of the bead and the specimen sunk to the bottom of the tank, submerged. Those bead forms refer to pod and cocoon shapes, which worked conceptually within the habitats as well.

ArtStyle: When you create sculptural pieces, what are you interested in?

AL: I aim to fill in the gaps in what nature has created.

Run on
Run on. Oil and wax on canvas. Courtesy of Amy Lemaire.

ArtStyle: How does communication and memory play a part in your work?

AL: At the moment, I am concerned with the co-existence of dominant and submissive languages. In my paintings, one language is disabled by interrupting the semantics only to reveal another. The scale of the works vary and refer to billboards and signage, postcards and printed matter/fliers, or television — all formats from which we expect to receive information. For this work, I prefer the medium of painting because it offers a vocabulary I find suitable for communicating the human condition.

The deliberate use of color refers to the way my own memory functions, tagging ideas and information with specific colors which act as memory triggers. Since there is no way to prove if it is possible to accurately communicate a memory from one person to another, we can only approximate using language, which poses the question: Do we ever truly understand each other?

ArtStyle: Your paintings have an intense use of color. Could you describe your process and the techniques you use?

AL: Color is very closely associated with memory for me. I use color to help me remember certain things. In my brain, people, numbers, letters, days of the week, situations, and emotions are coded by color. This is directly reflected in the paintings although my particular association with a color is not likely to be congruent with the viewers association with the same color. I add cold wax to the oil paint to dull down the sheen in order to view the color without the distraction of the shininess of the paint.

Speed of the gulls
Speed of the gulls
. Acrylic and flasche (vinyl-based paint) on
paper mounted on panel. Courtesy of Amy Lemaire.

ArtStyle: How has travel inspired your artwork?

AL: Most of the imagery used in my paintings originates from collages and drawings made while traveling, and I collect discarded printed matter and small objects I find on the ground. Often the colors on those little pieces of debris find their way into my artwork.

I consider my travels to be a supplement to formal education. These journeys have helped to broaden my perspective and allowed exposure to people and situations I might not have encountered at home. I have realized that we all experience the same set of human emotions, and these are what drive us. Our languages and cultures might be different, but the emotions we express with languages are universally human.

ArtStyle: What is the greatest thing you can say about color?

AL: A color is never a fact but always a truth.

For further inquiries, please contact Amy Lemaire at parakeetfarmer@hotmail.com

Technorati Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Bookmark on del.icio.us

No comments yet. Be the first.

Add a Comment

Your comments will need to be approved before appearing on the blog. Some comments may be edited. Thanks for your patience.

You must be logged in to post a comment.