Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Artist Interview: LATOUCHABLES

Welcome to my May Artist Interview!
My new interview takes me to the sunny Rhine Valley, in Germany, where I meet Dawn, the talented artist behind LaTouchables. I fell in love with Dawn's creations the very moment I first came across them. I love the amazing textures and magical use of fabric, vintage beads and buttons and lovingly chosen materials, and I'm just totally fascinated by the look and feel of Dawn's wonderful jewelry... or rather, as she says, body adornment. Dawn truly adorns a woman with her work. Her pieces make me dream about faraway places, about long lost civilizations, about oriental mysteries, about caravans on the Silk Road... I can imagine them adorning some lady's neck in a movie based on Agatha Christie's novels. Just the names and their fascinating stories make you sigh and yearn: The Spice Thief, The Empress, Sand Storm, The Paharaoh... Each and every piece she creates tells a story, in its turn containing myriads of stories as each single bead, button and piece of fabric has a story of its own to tell.
As Dawn tells us, "The whole process of creating begins with an impression--from the weather, a moving picture, a book, a feeling, an experience. The materials--a vintage button from a flea-market in Berlin, Dutch wax cotton, the finest Italian linen or raw canvas or combed cotton--each element could well stand alone. Taken together, they create an irresistible whole. These are my paints". Just reading the descriptions of her creations will take you on a journey and make you dream...

In order to know Dawn's stunning work better, and her beautiful world, please make sure you read my friend Yael's beautiful post about her: LaTouchables - Beauty from the Rhine!

And now... meet Dawn! Here she shares her artistic journey and inspiration with us!
Welcome Dawn!

- You live and work in Germany, in the Rhine Valley. Where are you originally from?

I'm originally from the Midwest in the USA. I grew up in the corn belt (endless prairie punctuated by big cities and the Mississippi River, black earth and farmland) and I spent years in the Deep South, and then in Florida. The first time I flew in a jumbo jet, it was to Africa. That was the beginning of a love affair with 'going somewhere else', and now I am a permanent resident of Germany, and I consider it my adoptive country. Places in Europe are so close together--I enjoy the possibility of just crossing borders and being exposed to an entirely different culture. You have technical cultures sharing borders with romantic cultures--it's amazing.

- How did you choose the lovely name for your Etsy Shop, LaTouchables?

I wanted a timeless name that didn't define me. It has multiple meanings...taken literally, the things I make feel good to the touch. They are soft and lightweight, yet substantial. Well, most of the time. And, tongue-in-cheek, the expression is a play on words from the film, The Untouchables, which sounds like a noir paperback novel you might escape into for instant gratification, and real escape. I liked that part of it, and also that it has an exotic sound and is easy to say, to remember. It just became me.

- How did you first come to art and creativity? How did your journey in art and creativity begin?

One of my first memories was drawing with crayons, and I literally remember feeling blown-away by the colors and the things I could do with them. I was three. That memory was as strong as has never left me.

- Why did you choose fiber art as your particular medium of creative expression?

Fiber is more or less soft. It covers a huge range of textures and possibilities. Ditto colors. I have two sewing machines, and one thing led to another. I like hand-stitching, but not exclusively. I'm not a purist in that sense, because colors also play an incredible role, as well as contrasts...

- When and how did you realize this was your greatest passion?

Actually, it just seems to be a natural extension of my life. There were no sudden revelations. I have always done things--sewn all the curtains in my flat, made a huge braided rug, sewn my own clothes, hand-sewn two Japanese kimonos, all the napkins in my kitchen, all the pillow covers, three blankets, ...

- What are your main sources of inspiration?

I am inspired by nature, by films, by culture and history, deep history, and by everyone who came before me, generations of women and men, and mostly women, my mom, grandmothers... I am inspired by the memory of holding a hand-sewn dress made by my great grandmother. Often, in the days that farm-women sat before a burning fire, they would finger-press the fabric they were hand-sewing together. Imagine sewing a whole dress like that. A wardrobe for the whole family.

- What do you aim to express through your work? What vision stands behind it?

Many times I don't recognize an aim, it is just a means of expression, of fullfilling a joy or sadness, or idea. But, if I wish for an effect, I would hope that the beholder, or the owner, or person looking, would feel a keen emotion. I would hope to spark even a small emotion. Hopefully a positive one!

- How has life affected your art and art affected your life?

They are symbiotic in nature--life--the highs and the lows, drove me into art, and art is a fuel for living.

- Art is about light and color! What are your favorite colors?

I love them all. I love the colors of Matisse and Kirschner. The Fauves, the Expressionists, and the Impressionists. I prefer saturated colors, and contrasts.

- Did you have a formal training in the arts or attend art courses?

I enrolled myself into the University Art Program and did a Bachelor's of Fine Arts in painting. But I recall taking painting and life-drawing courses outside of school, when I was a young child. My parents bought me art supplies, the way young kids today get electronics. I didn't have a gameboy. I had oils.

- Do you have a studio or home studio or particular part of your home you have devoted to your artwork? Where do you create your artwork?

I have a home studio--an extra large room with its own door and lock. I love it. But before that I worked at the dining room table. Believe me, the peace of mind you get from a secluded studio is enormous. That said, I can do a lot of creating in my head.

Thank you Dawn for this really beautiful and inspiring interview, and for sharing your creative journey and inspiration! There is so much love and passion in your work, and let me add that I love your beautiful photography, it's art in itself! Thank you for making us dream with your work, and we wish you continued joy, inspiration and success with your life and art.

You can all find Dawn's wonderful work in her Etsy shop LaTouchables. And you can get to know more about her work and inspiration in her beautiful blog.


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