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Stacey Elder

Stacey Elder

Just can't get enough of the color and texture combinations in Stacey Elder's small-scale abstract paintings!

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So tell me a bit about yourself, and where you're from, what first interested you in painting?

I am originally from Clarksburg, WV where I currently reside and work. I recently graduated with my MFA in 2013 from the University of Georgia-Lamar Dodd School of Art. 

The limitless amounts of materials such as paint and fabric that could continually be layered onto one surface has always intrigued me. I always loved to see transition through piles of material within a piece. I like to see how each material affects another whether it be in color, texture, or the nature of the composition-it all changes when one layer or piece of material is added. For me, I need to work with a lot of color, pattern and materials that break the smooth surface of a painting. I'm constantly searching for that as I later or take away material to each piece.

Do you have any particularly significant influences or mentors who have impacted your work?

I enjoy artists such as Mark Bradford and Howard Sherman. They both seem to work in a destructive way- but they end up finding a happy medium towards completion. I also love the work of Amy Sillman. I think her color combinations and more simplistic layouts are nice. I like to play with both ideas.

The first thing I notice about your work is your attention to color relationships and pattern. How did this interest develop?

Throughout college I would go through phases were I would try to be more controlled when painting. I would be interested in geometric shapes, color and controlled drawings- but then I felt that they had to have a direct meaning. I found myself talking about computer parts, control panels etc.. when really I was more interested in color combinations and the material itself. 

As I entered grad school, I started to experiment with more tangible objects. I would by pink foam board, plastic pipes- I wanted to deconstruct my paintings to create similar shapes and marks that I was creating with paint. 

I later came back to using paint because I felt again that such materials began to trigger a bigger meaning than I was interested in. 

I continued to paint and incorporate fabric to fulfill the desire for "more" on the surfaces of my paintings. The build up of materials led to grudge like surfaces that really intrigued me. I wanted to infuse bright/pastel colors with a sense of destruction or imperfection.

Towards the end of grad school I would refer the my process as Destruction and Recovery.  

Can you describe a bit about your process?

Normally when I start a painting- I just start with random paint applications- sometimes it can be a transparent wash or a very thick layer of paint. The color starts off more random than specifically picked out for a purpose.  I always work on multiple paintings at once- it can be 3-4 larger paintings or if they are small I will work on up to 10 if I have the canvases ready.  I work very fast and make very spontaneous decisions as I'm building up each surface. I need more than one painting to help influence each piece. 

I also keep or you could say hoard a lot of random things such as fabric, rolls of wallpaper, old drawings, rolls of string, tape..etc  I want to have options near me to cut and layer to the surfaces of my work. I like to apply such materials to my work in a very "split decision" way- so I just surround myself with plenty of options to do that with. 

What is your studio like?

My studio is in my garage which I share with my husband who is also an artist. When I'm painting, I can create a large mess which really helps me develop my work. I currently have a corner of the garage full of "in progress" paintings as well as boxes of books and rolled up drawings. 

But the space is great especially during the summer time. I open the garage door and turn on some music and paint all day.  

What do you consider to be the most challenging aspect of pursuing art as a career? What do you need most as an artist?   

The most challenging aspect of pursuing art as a career for me is to not get distracted by finding one route for your work to go. I think artists need to keep an open mind when making their work. I know that my work is always evolving and the way that I work will change, as long as I keep making it. There will always be a core foundation that drives my work- right now it is understanding materials and color.  

As an artist, I just need to consistently have ideas brewing and paintings started. It's also nice to be around other artists to bounce ideas around and have that same drive and passion. 

What do you feel like is the most rewarding or exciting aspect of doing what you do?

I just get excited to make things. I look forward to go into the studio and start painting with the hope of discovering a new surface or having to rip everything off of a canvas to see if things look better underneath. It has always been an act of dissecting for me. I'm always curious to see how a material dried or what would happen if I poured a whole gallon of paint over a painting I thought was done. There's always something new to be excited about.

If you could go back in time and give your younger self a piece of advice as you were just beginning to study art, what would you tell yourself? 

To not take things to heart. Understand that what your doing now isn't what you will be doing in the future. Realize that my work would evolve and transition very fast. 

Do you have any upcoming exhibitions or projects? 

I recently just did a show with my husband, Trevor Oxley, called Material Bliss at Apartment Earth Gallery in Charleston, WV. I will be doing a 12"x12" group miniature show as well as another showing in Charleston this month. I also curated a small show with my husband called 50 @ 50 at a local shop called Mountain Creative in Fairmont, WV.

Find more at staceyelder.weebly.com!

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