Freak of the Week - Ali Herrmann

 THIS Ali Herrmann  

  1. Tell our readers a little about you, and your history, your passion, your work.

I am and have always been an artist, even when I didn’t always see it to fruition or only worked at it part time or as a hobby. For as long as I can remember, I have always painted, but I have also been known to explore ceramics, jewelry, book arts, drawing, and printmaking. I received my BA from Bennington College in 1998, where I studied fine arts and soon there after, explored NYC for a year. I moved back to the Berkshires after realizing that I was living simply to pay rent and found myself with no time to paint. That was back in 2000. Since then I have found myself gardening, cooking, exercising, exploring, and making art, while learning to build a career around it.

Lily pads

  1. Aside from working, how do you spend your time?

Aside from studio time, I like to jog and go on long walks and hikes. The combination of nature, fresh air, exercise, blue skies, grey skies, and Vitamin D helps clear the mental slate. I often find myself thinking of things and ideas that wouldn’t normally come from working in the studio, so it’s good to get that perspective, like a part of the brain exercising alongside me. I also love to cook and belong to a FB foodie group called Eat Share Eat, where we share our recipes/creations, talk food, and post lots of  tasty delectibles. We just exchanged secret Santa names and have to send a fellow foodie something, so it will be fun to give/receive in this group!

Tools Tools 2

  1. Do you have a prized possession? What is it?

My hands are probably my greatest possession, as they allow me to create and make my art; however my eyes would be a close second. Without my hands I could not create as I know it

 

  1. What is your goal or main focus for your next 12 months?

Over the next twelve months, I want to explore new areas and ideas within my artwork. One big way I’m going to do this is through a Journal Project I recently created, funded by the Martha Boschen Porter Fund grant, awarded by the Berkshire Taconic Foundation. I have given out about 30-40 journals to interested friends, artists, peers, and anyone who said, ‘I want one!’, and asked everyone to ‘journal’in any fashion or style they choose. It could be writings, lists, doodles, collages, poems, etc, but basically whatever journaling means to each individual. I have a wide range of participants, so it’s going to be exciting what I receive back. I’ve already started getting wonderful, heart warming comments from participants and it’s only just begun! When I receive the journals back, I will then begin to go through them, using the words, notes, sketches, etc to create a new body of work, solely related to/reflective of these journals. It’s still in the exploration phase, but I am very excited to see what I get back from everyone.

Journals

  1. Where do you find your inspiration/motivation? Who/What has been most influential in your work?

Nature is my biggest influence, inspiration and motivation. I love looking at colors, patterns, and repetition that nature provides and that motivates me to emulate and create from what I see. The act of creating provides a motivation to continue to make more, and provides the inspiration and ideas to continue to make work. There are always new discoveries to be had in the act of creating.

 

  1. What is your current passion?

My current passion is painting. I use oils, acrylics, watercolors, inks and encaustics…and have even been known to use nail polish on vellum as a paint medium.

 

  1. How did your passion come to be?

When I was in fifth grade at Cheshire Elementary School, I was in a program called PAT, Program for the Academically Talented. This was a time when, during 3rd period, a group of students would be excused from class (but expected to make up the work) in order to pursue extracurriculars like art, creative writing and computer science. It was there that I studied oil painting and have been in love with painting ever since. And yes, I know….

art = extracurricular? {Harrumph}

Bees

  1. Tell about a magical moment that comes to mind when you look back on your life experience. Tell about a transforming memory?

When I was a senior at Bennington, I had been working on this oil painting for my thesis exhibition. It was a painting of blue jeans, repeated on a grid format. Each square had a pair of pants in it, painted a specific color, while the background was also a separate, solid color.            The painting went from looking very checkerboard-like to very quilted, and continued to flip flop in this fashion. I struggled to finish the painting and felt very much like I was ‘painting the painting’, which at the time meant that I was simply laying color down, like a color by number piece. No matter what changes or improvements I thought I made, I felt like I was simply going through the motions, that I was struggling, forcing if you will, this painting into trying to be done and complete. But every time I looked at it and revisited it, it was just so unsettled and unresolved. I let it hang in my studio as my crucifix to bear, so that I could study it and be reminded that I needed to find a way to finish it. It was gruesome. I ended up taking it off the wall and propped it face first in the corner of my studio, so that I didn’t have to look at it and be reminded. I had other work to do! One late night in the printmaking studio, while working on a series of prints using similar ‘pants’imagery, I had that magical moment, an epiphany of how to finish that painting! It was through making prints that I finally understood what this painting was all about, what it needed to be. So I mad dashed upstairs to my paint studio and in about ten minutes, mixed up paint colors and finished the painting. The next morning, coming back to the studio was pure excitement! The smell of soppy wet oil paint was in the air and my painting hung there, smiling at me. One of my fellow peers came over and said, ‘it looks great!, so where’s the other one? You should hang them both together, side by side!’I said, ‘that’s it…that’s the one.’Of course then the conversation bantered a bit with, ‘no the OTHER one,’until seeing the horror in their eyes, it had finally sunk in that I had so drastically transformed new life into this painting and wasn’t looking back. I smiled along with the piece, knowing I had done it.

Painting

  1. If you had the power to make one change in the world what would it be?

I wish I could wave a magic wand and put an end to Monsanto and all the evil, sickness and destruction it is causing and spreading in the world.

REd Flowers

10. Imagine a story. It is 2030 and we have brought the environment into balance. How did we do it?

So you mean after the big apocalyptic global climate shift we just nearly survived? First we would have to admit we were part of the problem. Then we’d have to learn our lesson, forgive ourselves and move on to change our ways. I’d like to think that we stopped hydrofracking for natural gas, banned Monsanto from ruining the food, water and land, found a way to eliminate fossil fuels out of our lives, minimized our plastic production, cleaned up the air pollution in China, and forced companies to take/buy back the waste that is generated in whatever they produce, you know, recycle? I could go on, but don’t want to be that negative or pessimistic here; however, that would be a really great start. Guess I should wave that wand again.

Close up Earrings

11. Tell a story, have we met? When? Where? Who introduced us? Oh, maybe you are my niece, well, just give a little history here. People love a sett.

 It won’t be long, but here it goes. I applied to the Holiday Shindy 2014 and got in! Hooray! So a few days before I went to pick up my packet of postcards, Crispina had emailed me and said, I have a really funny story to tell you. When I got there and introduced myself, Crispina explained that she thought that I was her friend, Ali Herrmann. And then I smiled and it dawned on me!: she thought I was the OTHER Ali Herrmann. So yes, there are two of us in Berkshire County. We haven’t ever met. And I’ve tried Googling her, but all I find is that I’m stalking myself. So perhaps if the other Ali Herrmann is reading this, she will stop at the Shindy and say hi!

12.  Do you have an upcoming event or significant happening that you would like to promote with your blog posting? When? Where? Details and contact information please.

HOLIDAY SHINDY:Holiday Shindy 2014 Postcard

Shire City Sanctuary

40 Melville Street

Pittsfield, MA 01201

Preview Party: Friday Dec 12, 5-8pm

Saturday Dec 13, 10-5pm

Sunday Dec 14, 10-3pm

and preview some of my work here too: http://www.aliherrmann.com