Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Carol Wiebe, Mixed Media Artist, Tells Her Story

I have not followed a straight path as an artist.

As a child, I mostly drew. Pencil crayons were what was available, and so I begged for paper and made images to satisfy my inner longings. Later, when I could choose my own tools, I wanted to try everything that fell into the circle of my vision. Sewing artsy clothes, sometimes with my own dyed cloth, crocheting vests, making huge faces to hang on the wall, creating vessels or masks of papier mache, stained glass, quilting, embroidery, small purses, jewelry, neckpieces … I could list many more avenues I cruised with great abandon and willing, eager hands.

Papier-mache Vessel

Did I define myself as an artist, find my voice, and create a brand for myself? Good heavens, not deliberately. I just had fun!

Embroidered Necklace w/Beads & Papier-mache

I knew that if I did not let my hands and head coordinate in the manifestation of objects to satisfy my curiosity, I would be in grave trouble. Understand that I also loved to read, and write. I attended university, gaining 3 degrees (Undergraduate degree in English, an Education degree and a Masters of Library Science). I loved to learn, but seeing an object that struck me as beautiful would set off urges: I’d become ravenous to use my own aesthetic, conjure my own methods, and create an object inspired by that sighting. A period of time away from art always produced undesirable results: grumpiness, negativity and even depression.

Painted Cloth - Spirit Rising

Cloth and thread dazzled me, but paper is my mainstay. I invented a technique whereby I sandwiched felt between two layers of paper and quilted it as one would machine quilt a cloth quilt. The difference was, once stitched, the paper quilt was stiff enough to hang well, could be cut into any shape I desired, which then happily supported embellishment with paint, inks, beads, collaged elements, and whatever else I possessed in my mixed media arsenal. After what I have told you about my background, I am sure that the fact that I gravitated towards mixed media is no surprise!

Cracked Paper Quilt, 32"x35.5", The Summoning

I was also driven by the need to use my own images, so taking photos of my paintings, drawings, and collages led to their manipulation on the computer. Dye based inks made the printouts a happy pairing with my paper quilts, which I dubbed "Cracked Paper Quilts," after Leonard Cohen's famous lines "There is a crack in everything, that's how the light gets in."

Cracked Paper Quilt, 26"x35.5", A Feast of Photons

Trees reach toward
the sun ~ like hands
seeking illumination.
Our bodies are
derived from light
and our hunger for it
is unceasing.

I have published a few articles, some poetry, had my images added to a number of books by other artists. I have taught classes here and there. But it is invariably difficult for me to pull myself away from my current obsession, and I always have one. For example, designing stencils. I have become part of the StencilGirl family, with Mary Beth Shaw at the head. It is great fun, and rewarding to see other people do amazing things with my stencil designs. I think of as collaborators.

Journal Spread, Auspicious

Another recent passion of mine is making handmade journals and creating art on the iPad using apps. This is a whole new world, and I am rushing in, like an angel, where fools fear to tread. Many people still resist the crossing of that digital divide yet I have found it exhilarating. The benefits are many — I can make art anywhere and I can print out my images to use in my handmade journals. I use anything and everything: my own photographs, photos of my paintings, and bits and pieces I glean here and there (that you would never connect to the original source). They simply get me going, and I fly with the angels, or at least with my own, ever-active imagination.

Cracked Paper Quilt, 17"x22", Protected

I am SO grateful to have spent a number of decades dancing, playing, interacting, and above all, CREATING with that imagination of mine. 
It is a gift beyond reckoning.

Painting, 8"x10, Sacred Scars

This is Week 9 of 52 Artists in 52 Weeks. Thank you for reading and sharing Carol’s story today. To see more of her work and to connect with her, please use the following links:

Journal Cover pages, 5.5"x8.5", Fly

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