As the most comprehensive online events guide and resource for arts and culture in central Ohio, ColumbusArts.com offers a virtual guide through the Columbus art world with a searchable database of events, concerts, performances and more. ColumbusArts.com is an engaging place for artists and arts organizations to share what they do, with thousands of users per month. The ColumbusArts.com Artist Directory allows visual, performing and literary artists to create a profile and portfolio to showcase their work—for free—and enables art enthusiasts to easily search for and connect with them. Our monthly ColumbusArts.com artist profile series features interviews with some of the many talented individuals who make up central Ohio’s thriving creative community.
For this issue, we spoke with local artist, Andrea Myers. Myers is well-known here at GCAC. She participated in the Columbus Arts Pop-Up Project (CAP-UP), a series of installation window displays by area artists presented in partnership with the Capital Crossroads Special Improvement District (SID); was a recipient of a 2012 Visual Arts Fellowship from GCAC, and in 2014, Myers will be traveling to Dresden, Germany for a residency as part of GCAC’s International Artist Exchange program.
By Jennifer Sadler
GCAC: Are you from Columbus? If not, what brought you here?
Andrea Myers: I’m originally from Westerville but I bounced around a bit during my undergraduate studies. I started at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh; went to OSU for about a year and a half – thought I wanted to be an English major. I realized how much I love creating art and transferred to the School Art Institute Chicago, where I ended up staying for about 10 years.
I came back to Columbus in 2010 and I thought about teaching, which can be really difficult. I had a baby around that time, too. But I decided to apply to teach at CCAD part time. I taught some foundation courses, like Design. Then one of my students suggested that I teach an honors class. It was really cool; I was able to design my own course which explored sculpture and the idea of the “spaces between” – the interaction between 2-dimenional and 3-dimensional spaces. We also explored the interaction that happens with interdisciplinary work. Though I’m not really teaching anymore, I’m still working with grad and honor students.
GCAC: Tell us a little about how your work has evolved in your career so far. Have you always been drawn to sculpture and fabrics? What about it appeals to you?
AM: As an undergrad, I started out studying painting and printmaking. I absolutely love painting, but I’m horrible at it! I get paint everywhere – haha. But I am drawn to color and the saturation of color. I found myself concentrating on shape and form. I enjoyed the layering and carving away of color. At the time I had no idea how to create sculpture; I had no technical skills or training. When I started focusing on sculpture in grad school, I pulled the idea of painting into my thinking and approach to my work. I thought about how I could make “painterly sculptures,” using color as material. I’m not only interested in the façade, I want to explore the exterior and interior of sculpture, and how those two aspects oppose each other.
I’m drawn to the qualities and properties of fabrics and use them in my sculptural pieces. I love that they are malleable and pliable. Fabric is like paint in the sense that it is neutral. Like if you created a sculpture with found objects, like say toothbrushes or something, you’ll have a preconceived notion about the material. But fabrics, like paints, are non-specific.
GCAC: You’ve wisely taken advantage of some of the opportunities that GCAC and other organizations and galleries have to offer for individual artists. It takes time and effort to apply for grants and projects, and to prepare for gallery exhibitions. How do you find the energy to not only create work, but get your work out there and apply to different projects?
AM: I don’t mean to sound silly, but I feel like GCAC and I are like really good buddies! I am truly so impressed with GCAC and Columbus in general. I’m impressed and grateful for the support and opportunities that GCAC offers. I lived in Chicago for 10 years and received only one grant that whole time. It’s probably different now, but when I was living there, there was a huge lack of funding in the state of Illinois for individual artists.
I actually own my own business, showing and selling my work. They don’t really teach you the business side of being an artist in school, but to their credit, art schools realize that art isn’t a cut and dried path. Just because you study art, doesn’t mean you’re going to go on and sell it. It’s difficult. Students go on to work in many different careers, not necessarily selling their own work.
Going to grad school was vigorous and engaging, and I think it fostered this drive and determination I have as a self-starter and promoter of my work. The hard work in my own studies and working with students helped me learn self-discipline. I’ve developed the business savvy along the way. I made sure to make connections with the artist community in Chicago and I realized that getting gallery shows led to other gallery shows. It’s all been a natural process and development. Owning my own business—it’s like I’m in competition with myself. I’ll secure funding and think “it’s great that I got that, but what am I going to do after that?” It’s about the momentum, not only for the business and making a living, but making sure I keep the process of creating art interesting and challenging for myself.
I try to integrate all of this into my teaching—not in an obvious way, since the focus is creating work and learning skills—but I want to be real with my students. I want them to have realistic expectations about what’s out there in the real world.
GCAC: Creating art can be such a solitary endeavor, but you have worked on several collaborative projects. What types of collaborations have you done or like to do?
AM: I love doing collaborations! I love how artists seem to naturally find each other and come together to create ideas. Earlier this year I did a project with a few artists. Local artist, Melissa Vogley Woods founded “Rooms To Let,” which seeks deserted homes to convert to daylong galleries. Unlike conventional galleries, where artists temporarily display their canvases on white backgrounds, “Rooms To Let” converts houses themselves into canvases. I instantly honed in on the holes in the walls for the space we used and immediately claimed them. We each did our own installation for the house and then did a project together. My installation, Tell/Tale, relied on colorful fabric jammed into the holes to represent the building’s internal life (a la Edgar Allan Poe’s The Tell-Tale Heart).own piece for the house, did a project together. It was quite a creative challenge.
GCAC: So – you get to go to Dresden in 2014 through GCAC’s Artist Exchange Program! Are you excited? Why did you apply?
It’s funny—I applied two years ago and was almost relieved that I didn’t get it, having a new baby and all—haha! I decided to apply again this year—partly because I heard how amazing the program is and wonderful the experience my good friend Susan Li O’Connor had. She was awarded the residency in 2012. I also wanted to do it because I’m a person who if I’m scared of something, I tend to push myself to do it. I think it important to learn to be adaptive as an artist and to expose your creative self to different things. Like when I decided to move to Chicago from Columbus; those big challenges can make your practice stronger. A residency like this in another country can expose an artist to things they’ve never seen before; to have experiences that will be unique to that environment.
GCAC: What do you envision that you will accomplish during your Dresden residency in 2014?
Because I’m generally so busy, anytime I can have focused time to create is wonderful. I can only imagine how much work I will be able to accomplish. In my proposal, I talked about my interest in the city of Dresden’s approach to architecture and design. I want to try new directions. I imagine how I will make work there; will I bring it back here? It will be interesting to see how it will transport. Maybe I’ll work on a smaller scale or do site specific installations or drawings. I’m excited about getting to know Laura Alexander, the other recipient of the 2014 Artist Exchange Residency – we’re going to try to be there at the same for a bit. I’m excited to see how she maintains her work space. My studio is in my house, which is great when you have a kid. I can work here and there during naptime, that kind of thing. But my studio space—it’s like a bomb went off – haha! We laugh because we’ve actually found glue on our dog before.
I want to talk to Laura about maybe doing something collaborative. I think we can develop a friendship that we can bring back. And that all ties into the spirit of the artist community here in Columbus, so that’s a win-win, isn’t it?
Myers will be participating in a in a couple of upcoming shows: the Cultural Arts Center’s October 2013 Main Gallery Exhibition, You Call That Art?, which will examine contemporary Art as interpreted by Ohio Artists. More than 100 major Ohio works will be featured, including 2D, 3D and interactive pieces. Also in October, Myers’ work will be featured in Hammond Harkins Galleries’ Naked, an exhibition of work interpreting the word “naked” by CCAD faculty, curated by Char Norman and on view October 18 – November 17.
To learn more about Andrea Myers and her work, visit her profile in the ColumbusArts.com Artist Directory.
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