Beyond the Canvas: A Look Behind the Curtain of Creation
Art is constantly in conversation with each other and the world that surrounds it. Each piece takes on a life of its own, has the power to create connections, and can invoke emotions within the viewer. The vivacity and variety of art were exemplified in RevArt’s recent February Artist Showcase. In collaboration with the Virginia Club of New York, the event celebrated the artistic process by highlighting the ways artists are inspired, how they view the world, and what drives them to create.
During the event, three stellar female artists Alexandra Chiou, Renée DeCarlo, and Usha Shukla, presented their works while sharing the unique stories behind their art, showing the evolution of their processes bringing life to their work. Alexandra Chiou showed off her early work from her time as a UVA student alongside her more recent pieces using paper. Participants were able to see her transition from oil on canvas to her less traditional use of paper to create her art pieces; while the different techniques and pieces look entirely different, Alexandra continually explores and derives inspiration from the power of nature. Renée DeCarlo encapsulates the spontaneity of life both in the content of her work and her process of creating. She layers different materials on top of each other to create her unique style; Renée said that her pieces start taking on a life of their own, and she continues to add layers until the work speaks to her. Usha Shukla developed her technique of using air to paint during her time at art school. Throughout her time painting, she has experimented and adapted her practice to showcase and accurately capture the harmonies of color in nature. Usha describes painting as almost meditative for her, emphasizing the direct connection between the mind, hand, and canvas. With each of the artists, participants had the exclusive opportunity to learn about the process and stories behind each of the pieces while looking at the final product, allowing them to understand and connect with each work on a personal level. In addition, participants were encouraged to recreate recipes developed by Phoebe Connell, the chef and the owner of Lois in New York; each dish and drink was inspired by a specific artwork by each of the artists and drew from their life experiences and unique artistic processes. The combination of hearing from the artists first-hand, coupled with the experience of the dishes allowed participants to develop a unique relationship with the artists and their work.
RevArt works to emphasize the important conversation between art and life; by sharing these stories beyond the canvas, art is given a unique life itself. The artistic process is not included in the traditional art-viewing experience, however, through this event, participants got a look into the inner workings of the artistic brain. The event was able to encapsulate and celebrate art creation by fostering the development of deep connections between the viewer and the pieces and was able to create a tangible experience in a time of virtual and distanced events.
Alexandra Chiou is a UVA alumna artist, and she chooses one of the most common and fragile materials, paper, to create the scenes. She paints on paper with colorful gradient colors and cuts them into various shapes to demonstrate all the feelings and memories when one faces the remote nature. By stacking and rearranging them in different ways, Alexandra uses abstract and exquisite cutout shapes to represent the contours of landscapes and to create different thickness to bring the ups and downs of landforms to life.
Renée started painting out of nervousness. By using the traditional printmaking techniques and experimenting with materials, she builds each piece upon layers, defines the spaces through colors, and explores ideas of tradition, structure, and the boundaries and relationships between them. Viewing DeCarlo’s artwork is similar to scavenger hunting - the audiences observe transformation between layers of lines.
Growing up in the colorful Indian culture, Shukla developed a high sensitivity to color. She took sanctuary in nature and immersed herself in it, feeling the air and observing the light. Air is an integral natural element; it acts as a tool in Shukla’s unique painting technique. In Usha’s world, the color is not still: it is moving, it has temperature, and it has texture.
Unsplash: Joseph Morris