What Jeans are You Wearing this Season?

The first question is: "What jeans are you wearing this season?"

It’s the beginning of the question session at Vancouver College of Art and Design.  I have been invited to talk to Fashion Merchandising students about my art and process by Jannette Maedel who is teaching these students fashion writing.

  • I wear Acne jeans!

Is the beginning of your design process the same every time?  Describe your process.

  • My process is always changing and evolving; fueled by my emotional nature.

Where do you get your inspiration from?

  • From nature, lucid dreams, the history of art and design, cultural – visual milieux.

Do you ever fear that you will run out of ideas?

  • No – never!  I fear I’ll run out on my life’s timeline.

Who do you do your art for:  yourself or an audience?

  • I do my art for myself because I can’t not do it:  it’s pervasive and permeates all that I am.   I like others to see the work and experience it.

How long does it take to complete a piece of art?

  • From 27 minutes all the way through to no boundaries of time (infinite).  Every project is unique.  Each one depends on process, and process depends on the following factors:  money, research, support, supplies, environment, market, resolution, time sensitivity, and the ‘Artist’s Zeitgeist’.

What was the last book that you read?  Did it influence your work?

  • ‘Second Sight’ by Judith Orloff, M.D.  Orloff is a psychiatrist and psychic who tells a compelling story revealing her courageous journey to embrace her psychic gifts.  All of us are born with psychic abilities and this ground-breaking book will show you how to recognize psychic experiences in your everyday life.  The book is hard to put down.  It’s had a powerful effect on me and I’ll likely see its influence on me as my work evolves.

Do you keep some of your art or give any of it away?

  • I donate at times to fundraisers.  Some has been given away.

Do you listen to music when you work?

  • Usually I have music playing.  I listen to jazz – sometimes blues or classical.

What do you mean by, “Harmony is a velvet universe?”

  • Years ago when I first said this, I believed peace could be universally achieved.  More recently I feel my belief to be purely utopian.  Warring parties have existed for-ever and my words are my wish, they’re my divine dream, my intent.  I want to fell weapons with mindfulness and love. Wesley, a student in yesterday’s class, has written: “As hard as we all try to make the world a perfect place it will never happen.  I once heard that angels need demons…and it’s true; how do we know we’re doing good if there is no bad to compare it to?” www.wesleyjbarisoff.blogspot.com February 17th, 2010 ‘is it just me or is it harder to breathe?

What specifically in the natural beauty of Vancouver inspired you with your work?

  • Mountains, the sea in all its moods, trees, flowers and flowering shrubs.  I have invented a color called: “Vancouver Grey.”  It is a distinct color I see all around me in our atmosphere.  This perfectly balanced neutral shade needs to be manufactured to compete with “Payne’s Gray”. “Vancouver Grey” weather makes an outstanding background for photographs; it reflects detail and adds extra depth.  Shoot when it’s overcast.

Who are your favorite artists?

  • Robert Rauschenberg, Louise Nevelson, Hannah Hoch, Alexander Calder, Edouard Manet…too many to list.  I used to sit for hours in the fine arts section of the Library at the University of British Columbia in the late nineties and pour through every book, over and over, page by page until my head was reeling with colors and lines and tangles of inspiration.  This old building that housed the library designated a large concrete room to visual arts.  I very much felt like I was below ground. The few windows were inside and small.  The glass was frosted and all the panes had chicken wire fastened over them.  I loved moving a stool along the aisles and sitting hunched over under flickering fluorescent lights dreaming of all I could construct.  I could hear the dark. The cold weather rained on the other side of the walls and this was like music to mentally create by. Strangely, I seemed to be the only one in there late at night which added another dimension to time and art absorbing me and taking me in fully.

When you were a child, did you dream of being who you are now?  How did your dreams and expectations shape the person you are today?

  • When I was a child I was skittish; abrupt noises, adults, energy fields…often caused me to experience anxiety, moods, and sometimes fatigue.  My dreams were relentless, aggressive toward me, and saturated with color.  I’m passionate about continually learning and doing new things; this has kept me shape-shifting as life unfolds.

What are your favorite styles in photography?

  • Still Life, Social Landscape, Street Photography, Milieux of Cities and People, Reflections, Fashion and Nudes.

What tools do you have “on-the-go” for inspiration?

  • Color always, and a jillion beads, trinkets, buttons, drawers full of saved paper, dried bones and flowers, one dead bird, photographs, magazines, books everywhere, my Maternal Grandmother’s Love Letters, rivers of sentimental clutter and a narrow path to navigate through.  Sometimes I feel “crazy overwhelmed” with it all, yet I know I would be depressed and despondent without it. These papered boxes, tablescapes, and shelves are reminisces of people, places, times, and everything in my life.  Even the insides of the cabinets look like collage.  As a full-time artist, I cannot relate to all my clutter as a conglomeration, when I can “legally” call it an “assemblage”.

When you write, do you prefer writing in a quiet place or do you write anywhere?

  • I write anywhere, everywhere; sometimes even as I walk. I always tuck a few index cards into my pocket or purse when I go out so I can make notes and record observations.

I love your poem about the pair of jeans.  What inspired you to write about that?

  • ‘A Pair of Jeans’, came through while I was sitting in a group at Emily Carr.  We had been meditating and doing warm-up exercises when this flowed through the tip of my pen.  Poetry comes through me at odd times.  I don’t sit down to write poems. Someone said the poem reminded her of Rita Wong’s voice in ‘monkeypuzzle’.

Wong’s poetry often addresses her relationship with her environment. Her poems show a close connection with nature and a support for local product, while expressing distaste for genetically modified foods. In forage, her poem ‘the girl who ate rice almost every day’ encourages the reader to look up Monsanto in the US patent database, and see how many patents there are for genetically modified foods, including the type of foods affected. There is also a poem, ‘canola queasy’ dedicated to Percy Schmeiser, the Saskatchewan farmer sued by Monsanto because genetically engineered canola blew into his fields. Her work challenges the reader to think about how they effect their environment. (Wikipedia). I see now from the excerpt above that Wong and I share the same sentiments regarding seeds as life and death.  Over the weekend I will post an image with text I’ve created Re:  Monsanto.

What advice do you have for young artists and designers?

  • Be 100% yourself!  Be authentic, explore, read, be curious.  Delve into photo and art history for inspiration, then put your own twist on it.

Having written this up as a blog, I noticed these questions could be used to draft an Artist Statement.  Go for it!!

Copyright © 2010 Nicole Rigets