Tag Archives: meet the artist in residence

Meet The Artist in Residence: Noah Estrella

Noah Estrella is one of our current artists in residence at Main Street Arts. He is working on studio photography and portraiture during the month of July, 2017. We asked him a few questions about his artwork and studio practice.

Noah Estrella, self portrait

Noah Estrella, self portrait

Q: Tell us a little bit about your background.
I was born and raised in the Finger Lakes. I developed an early interest in visual art from my parents and grandmother. I was actively creative through my adolescence, for a source of play and experimentation. I still look at creativity in that way, but I began taking it more seriously in my 20s. I enrolled at Finger Lakes Community College at the age of 21 to understand more about art. It is still a learning process to me, and very experimental, but studying it verified my desire to pursue it as a lifestyle.

Q: How would you describe your work?
My primary medium is through digital photography. I still play around a lot with drawing, and I do have a love for the written word, but photography is the most pleasurable for me. I am very fascinated with how visual art can reflect humanity, and as a result the majority of my work is portraiture. I think the human form, and the face, can provide us with a huge amount of information and emotion. A look on someones face, the environment, the lighting, etc. this could strongly reveal what is going on in our world.

Photo of Noah capturing a self portrait   Self Portrait

Photo of Noah capturing a self portrait                        Self Portrait

Q: What is your process for creating a work of art?
I’d like to say that I plan, and occasionally I do. But it’s usually intuitive and experimental, maybe focusing in on one idea/theme. I tend to contact friends to schedule shoots, keeping in mind the location and their outfit. Sometimes it is informal, just spending time with them and taking photographs, other times it is planning a specific idea. From there I spend a lot of time using editing software, and my goal is to always produce the strongest pieces from photoshoots, and see how they can relate to other photographs, or stand alone.

Photograph by Noah Estrella

Photograph by Noah Estrella

Q: Do you collect anything?
I have a lot of keepsake objects that were gifted to me by friends. Usually things that connect to a memory, person, or event. I think there is something special in how objects can be symbols, not just the historical context of the symbolism of an object, but what they personally mean to you. They can also be great props in photoshoots.

Q: Who is your favorite artist and why? Who are your favorite local artists?
I’ve noticed that I find the most inspiration in a lot of female artists. Frida Kahlo was a huge inspiration to me from a very young age, her work is personal and emotional, speaking to identity and society. And the entire body of work by the artist Ana Mendieta was a huge eye opener to me; her works are intense and almost threatening/dangerous to the patriarchal interpretation of fine art.
Locally, I’m very intrigued by the immersive artist Colleen Buzzard, I was surprised and glad to find a thinker like that in Rochester. I’m also hugely inspired by Lacey McKinney, my former professor, the elusive aspects of style in her portrait work are personally profound to my interest in human identity.

Photos in the studio

Photos in the studio

Q: What are your goals for this residency? Tell us about your current projects.
I always feel I’m getting pulled in quite a few different directions. I intend on using this time to further experiment (with style and contextual meaning), play with lighting (ie. How is it effective/ineffective), and continue to grow. I’m really interested in using portraiture to further understand the dynamic aspect of identity in society (both internal and external, self and other).

Work from Noah's residency

Work from Noah’s residency

Q: Where else can we find you?
I recently made an Instagram @noah_estrella. You can also e-mail me at noahmestrella@gmail.com

Meet the Artist in Residence: Chas Davis

Chas Davis is one of our current artists in residence at Main Street Arts. He is working on prints and paintings during the month of July, 2017. We asked him a few questions about his artwork and studio practice.

 

Portrait of the artist

Portrait of the artist

Q: Tell us a bit about your background.
I grew up in Indiana, and like most kids, started drawing at an early age. I just never stopped, and have been a painter and a printmaker for most of my life. I guess that’s it in a nutshell. I have been in Rochester since 1996, and my studio is in the old Valley Cadillac building at 339 East Ave. I have taught here and there and now and then, at RIT, the Creative Workshop at MAG, and Roberts Wesleyan, for example, and currently teach a monoprint series of classes at the Flower City Arts Center, formerly Genesee Center of the Arts. You can see some of the more fun things I’ve done in Chas Davis’ Rambling Bio.

 

Artworks Gallery, 2015

Artworks Gallery, 2015

Q: How about some of your influences?
I was blessed growing up with many generous teachers, and while I was never too influenced by any one style of imagery, I was more impressed and influenced by hard work and the different ways to arrive at a solutions to visual problems.

 

Here I am doing some detail work.

Here I am doing some detail work.

Q:Where do you find inspiration?
I am very inspired by the landscape. I have travelled a lot around the country and the more time you spend in nature, the more you realize that everything is interconnected, and alive. I am inspired by simplicity, and by literature. Stories—especially the evolution and dynamics between events and characters—feed the imagination and create an alternate universe. These are some of the important elements that feed into my work. This is why I was attracted to Clifton Springs, because it is central to the Finger Lakes landscape, and it is in an area with a rich history.

My studio at Main Street Arts

My studio at Main Street Arts

Q: What do you hope to accomplish in your residency at Main Street Arts?
I have always wanted to work specifically with the Finger Lakes landscape, so I will focus on that. Since there is an etching press outside the studio I will fool around with that and see what happens. Then I have a few surprise projects that I have no idea what will happen, so we will see. I would also like to get familiar with the area and meet new people as well.

Q: Where else can we find you?
I have a web site, www.Chasworld.com and a studio page on Facebook, www.facebook.com/ChasDavisStudio.

 

Meet the Artist in Residence: Cathy Gordon

Cathy Gordon is one of our current artists in residence at Main Street Arts. She is working on mixed media paintings and cut paper pieces during the month of June, 2017. We asked her a few questions about her artwork and studio practice.

Cathy Gordon working in her studio at Main Street Arts

Cathy Gordon working in her studio at Main Street Arts

Q: To start off, please you tell us about your background.
While I grew up on Air Forces bases across the United States and always created art, my love affair with art began when my parents divorced. My father moved to Chicago and my mother, my sisters, brother, and I moved to western Kansas. I know that sounds odd because you would not associate art with a small town in Kansas but it was a critical time in my life and as it happened the high school art teacher in that small town was a truly great art teacher (and a gifted artist in his own right!). I can’t begin to tell you how many of his students went on to become artists, art teachers, designers, photographers etc… He continues to mentor me to this day.

I went on to paint, draw, and print my way through the University of Kansas and I eventually obtained my Master of Fine Arts from Fort Hays State University, a small school in Kansas with an exceptional art program. Once again, I was fortunate that my drawing professor, who became an important mentor in my life, taught by example. She was a great artist and held her students to very high standards.

My experiences with these two great teachers made me realize that not only did I want to teach but I had to “walk the walk” for myself as well as my students. I knew my students needed to see me create art. I have taught full-time at the college level for twenty-five years and have always used an active studio approach to my classes.

CathyGordonCutPaper

Cut paper piece by Cathy Gordon

Q: How would you describe your work?
My work has always been influenced by mathematics, Constructivist design aesthetics, and classical subject matter but most recently I have been inspired by the book, Visual Complexity, Mapping Patterns of information, by Manuel Lima. I am currently working on a series of cut paper drawings and mixed media collages that use the connecting lines and coordinates of mapping. Each coordinate represents a person, encounter, event, or transpiring moment in my life. The lines soon became a metaphor for the transience of life and our congruence with one another.

Cathy's workspace in her studio

Cathy’s workspace in her studio

Q: What is your process for creating a work of art?
For me, the process of creating a work of art is ongoing. I can’t turn it on and off. I am constantly contemplating a work of art whether it is in its early stages or almost completed.  It is a little embarrassing to tell you this, but I lay in bed at night thinking about artwork that I am either struggling with or considering. There is no question that the most important aspect of creation is to listen. If you truly listen to the artwork it will guide you.

On a practical note regarding creativity, it is imperative that you work on this process every day. The best-case scenario is to be in the studio working every day but if that doesn’t happen you still need to have your head in your work whether it is searching for ideas, taking notes, journaling, or exploring. We all hit creative road blocks. I once had a teacher tell me that when I feel empty and I don’t think I have anything to give, pick up a pen and draw straight lines. Keep drawing the lines as a form of meditation and the next thing you know you will be drawing. It works!

"Pear With a Five", mixed media painting by Cathleen Gordon

“Pear With a Five”, mixed media painting by Cathy Gordon

Q: What are your goals for this residency?
A: There is no question that my main goal for this residency is to create and produce art. This residency is a gift. It is a such a joy to walk into the studio and not have any of my regular life demands trying to draw me away from the studio. I am usually pretty good at dedicating time to creating art everyday but to have all day, every day to work has been nothing short incredible.

Creativity is often nurtured through experience and the fact that I came here from Texas is in and of itself, an experience. I am calling my month here, “Zen and the Art of Art.” I am looking at art along the way, creating art in the studio, meeting new people, seeing new landscapes and just trying to absorb the experiences.

I am working on both painted mixed media and cut paper projects while I am at Main Street Arts and I am working on incorporated mapping and charting into the works.

Q: What’s next for you?
A: I am a drawing and painting professor by day and an artist by night. And while that will continue, I am changing the location. As soon as I get back to Texas I will be packing up and moving to a new college in Kansas where I have accepted a new position. The adventure continues!

Q: Where else can we find you?
A: Check out my website at cathleengordonart.com

View and purchase a selection of Cathy’s work at the gallery and in our online shop