Art, // June 27, 2017
Shawn Marie Hardy — ARTIST
Interview with artist Shawn Marie Hardy —
1. Who are you and what do you do?
I am mixed-media artist, Shawn Marie Hardy, aka Collage-a-Dada, and I currently make my home in Eugene, Oregon in the United States. I’ve been an artist for as long as I can remember–it was my career goal from at least as far back as the age of nine. I paint, draw, collage, create dioramas, make jewelry, and I love photography. If I had to pick a category I would say I’m a surrealist, but I won’t limit myself to that.
2. Why art?
I don’t know how to answer the question “Why art?.” Why breathe? It’s innate. It’s how I express myself. It certainly isn’t for the money. But seriously, creativity was encouraged from a very early age when I would receive Christmas and birthday presents like the Hasbro Spirograph, tins of watercolors, boxes of Craypas and soft pastels, and colorful glass beads. It was a good way to escape my reality, which wasn’t always great.
3. What is your earliest memory of wanting to be an artist?
When I was fingerpainting at my kitchen table as a toddler.
4. What are your favorite subject(s) and media(s)?
I have always had a fascination for severe weather so stormy skies, or remnants of storms, often turn up in my work. My grandmother gave me a stack of my childhood artwork before she passed away and one drawing that I created when I was six features a large black tornado. I also love the great expanse of the universe and whatever lay beyond our reach. Perhaps that is why collage has become a favorite medium. I can create my own worlds in that great beyond with a starry substrate juxtaposed with my own landscape of planets, mountains, flowers, people, etc. I work spontaneously from piles of hand-cut vintage magazine and book images and put things in their place, kind of like those old vinyl Colorforms I used to play with when I was a kid. It’s a bit like putting a puzzle together.
5. How do you work and approach your subject?
I have ADD and my mind is like a perpetual spinning wheel of ideas that doesn’t like to stop very often. It’s really hard to grasp a subject and keep it in focus. The inability to concentrate for long periods makes it really hard to stay in the moment, which is another reason I have found collage to be so soothing to me. With collage I have pre-existing images to work with. It’s sad because I have some fabulous imagery running through my crazy brain; the frontal lobe just doesn’t seem to want to lock it down without a fight. Sometimes I think I worked better when I was in a classroom setting and given an assignment so I had parameters to work within; or when I’ve done commissioned work where someone wants something specific.
6. What are your favorite art work(s), artist(s)?
The list seems infinitely long but I have a special place in my heart for the wonderful, under-appreciated group of women surrealists. Many of these artists were married to, or in de facto relationships with, the initial group members who introduced the world to Surrealism and Dada in the early 1900’s: Dorothea Tanning, Leonor Fini, Remedios Varo, Bridget Bate Tichenor, Frida Kahlo, Kay Sage, Toyen, Valentine Hugo, etc. Georgia O’Keeffe, Emily Carr, Yves Tanguy, Joseph Cornell, John Steuart Curry, Odilon Redon…oh, I could go on forever. Contemporary artists include Sarah Sze, Thomas Doyle, Jenny Honnert Abell, Hope Kroll, Michael Cutlip, and Robert Pollard. A huge inspiration to me, and the person who gave me my very first official art lessons, is my late uncle and kinetic artist, Mark Esper.
As far as favorite works go, I had the privilege of seeing John Steuart Curry’s 1929 masterpiece, “Tornado Over Kansas,” in person at the Muskegon Museum of Art in my home state of Michigan. It made me cry. I have a print of his painting, “The Line Storm,” on my art room wall. It’s the only other artist’s work hanging in my studio at the moment.
7. What are the best responses you have had to your work?
In art school my 2D design teacher wanted to keep a couple pieces of my work as an example to other students. That was a huge boost at the time. Since then I have had a few fairly well known individuals contact me because of my work after spotting it online. A few of them are musicians whose work I had admired before they approached me, so that was very uplifting to the ego. I’ve been contacted out of the blue by a few people who wanted my work in their galleries, and also by a Michigan television show that Comcast produced for a few years called, “Meet The Artist.” My segment aired throughout Michigan during the summer of 2012 on their channel 900. Another nice response was my artwork on a Saison beer bottle (Le Petit Tronc) taking a silver medal during the 2013 Australian International Beer Awards.
8. What do you like about your work?
I love color so my work is normally infused with color. I create things that I would want to hang up in my house. I like that my work takes people to places that aren’t real, where anything can be possible.
9. What advice would you give to other artists?
Don’t ever stop doing what you love, and if someone tells you it’s not a real job prove them wrong. At the same time don’t do it thinking you’re going to get rich because you might not.
10. Where do you see yourself in 5-10 years?
This was always the question I hated in job interviews. I will not be president of the United States. I will not become a star of stage and screen. And I will not have taken a trip to the moon. Those things I am sure of. As long as I have limbs and a working brain I will still be an artist. Hopefully I will have gotten better at contacting galleries and getting my work to the public by then. That’s my goal.