Happy New Year and welcome back to Mind of the Artist! We’re excited to kick off 2016 in style with artist Stephanie Bianco, who shares her fascinating history with art and craft-making and some surprising and delightful ideas for how we can all bring a bit more art into our daily lives (and “junk” drawers)!
About Stephanie and why I became interested in art
I grew up in Philadelphia doing modestly artistic things. In addition to frequent trips to the Philadelphia Museum of Art, fabric stores, and dime stores, I was allowed, as a preschooler, to “sew” on a treadle Singer by stitching onto construction paper. My aunts and grandmother were quilt makers. I loved shopping for cloth with them—the sights from the trolley window, the smell of polished cotton–and imagining delicious combinations of designs and patterns! They made dresses for me, and remnants of these clothes live on in the quilt pieces. I still have several.
Before first grade, Mom and I also passed many hours absorbed in this pursuit: she’d let me arrange a simple still life as I wished. Perhaps two apples or a vase with water in it. Then we both sat in one of the four chairs at the dining room table and drew it in pencil, even doing it from two views (different chairs.) Sometimes watercolored it in. This was special; paper was not plentiful and cheap in our 1950 household. From this simple activity, I learned an important life lesson: look carefully—there are more nuances than you first thought!
Mom allowed me one kitchen drawer filled with a kaleidoscope of household junk (spools, buttons, ribbon, scraps of wrapping paper, magazines) with which I constructed anything I wished, whenever I wished, free of criticism. Zoom forward into adulthood and I’m a mother of five with endless opportunities to craft things with kids. A favorite winter one was: have the kids forage for their choices of pinecones, acorns, stones, leaves, strings, berries, scraps of paper. A loop of twine. Then, arrange them in tin foil pans and fill with water on a suitably icy day. Waiting a bit for it all to freeze, we’d later hang our creations, with the pan peeled off, from the loop of twine on a tree branch to sparkle and dazzle in the sun. Might be there tomorrow–or drip and melt!
What is my medium and what inspires me to express myself?
I’m inspired by curiosity. Curiosity guides my media. I paint, write, redesign spaces, compose video stories and more. What might happen if I…? I often haven’t started with a set idea; rather let intuition and fun rise to the surface. The doing of creating is awesome fun for me, though getting started, and finishing up, are sometimes more of a struggle :–)
About ten years ago, I thought I’d simplify: specialize in justphotography. Nature became my most successful topic, though I shot a whole lot of everything. Eventually I chose to employ some of these by inventing video stories; you can look online to see “How I Make A Video” on YouTube.
“Painting like Matisse” inspired my current exploration. A few months ago I imitated his famous Madame Matisse as closely as I could. Then I painted my granddaughter in this style several times. Now it’s evolving into more realistic portraits with whimsical color.
In November, I attended Springfield Art Guild in Virginia–I’m a past president of this group of about 100 members–and learned aboutZentangle, and have already made about 40 of them. It’s addictive! Try it yourself!
My work has been sold at the Art League Gallery (Torpedo Factory) and I have participated in numerous local venues, including a MiniSolo show at Touchstone Gallery in DC, and won a few awards. One of my non-nature photos from the CHAL juried exhibit Black and White and In-between was featured in East City Art.
I recently enjoyed a lovely workshop with Katie Kaufman on Encaustics at CHAW. This is my third year as a member of CHAL and through them exhibited at Hill Center. I was an exhibitor and gallery manager for Artomatic 2009 when it was at 55 Mass Ave. SW, and of course made avideo of my experience.
Don’t miss CHAL’s upcoming Gallery Show Opening of “Critters” on Saturday, January 23 from 5pm to 7p at CHAW for great artists, great art, and great conversations about art! And, of course, be sure to join us in February for next month’s edition of Mind of the Artist!