Gotta have art

I found I could say things with color and shapes that I couldn’t say any other way – things I had no words for.” ~Georgia O’Keeffe

Until recently, I was a bit shy about entering my altered art pieces in contests and competitions. More complex than my writing, my artwork is intensely personal — a messier way of making sense of my fantasies, doubts, fears, and dreams.

Writing is work. When people ask me what I “do,” or if they insist on labeling me by career or profession, I usually tell them I’m a writer or a journalist. While I dearly love to write, I also admit that it’s incredibly hard work. The business savvy required to get published and paid for it — pitching new material, marketing, promoting, building a platform, facing rejection, and starting over again — is enough to make me seriously doubt my sanity for choosing a writing career after college.

But making art is pure pleasure, my recreational sport. Of course, there’s a huge difference between a viable profession and a crazy good hobby. And I know that if I ever opt to sell my artwork or get it published, I’d have to add yet another layer of complexity to the whole collage. So, what I’m really trying to say is this: I’m incredibly stingy with my artwork.

My artist-husband, whose paintings have been accepted in many top competitions, is my biggest cheerleader. He pushes me out of my comfort zone. At his urging, this year I entered the 28th annual Michigan Fine Arts Competition at the Birmingham Bloomfield Art Center — and two of my pieces were accepted. When this sort of thing happens, I’m always honored and surprised.

Becoming,” one of the pieces in the show, was inspired by May Sarton’s poem, “Now I Become Myself.” If you’ve been following my poetry series, you know what an uplifting and validating poem it is.

“Becoming” originally served as a greeting card box. I altered the interior and exterior of the box with layers of acrylic paint, prints, tissue paper, and “found objects” from my flea market raids. I added a copy of May Sarton’s poem to the back of the piece.

Using more found objects — junk jewelry, sea shells, old buttons, a religious medal, and my old Girl Scout pin — I created a 3-D collage inside the box. Botticelli’s “Venus” was clipped from a magazine print to represent the self reborn. Just as we’re all the sum of our life experiences, Venus rises from a pile of junk and treasure and becomes herself. Life, like art, is all about working with what you’ve got, and sometimes mining gold from the broken parts.

The other piece in the show, “Renaissance Woman” (top and bottom photos) is an altered children’s board book collaged with vintage dress patterns, sewing notions, broken costume jewelry, feathers, and old prints. I’m thrilled that both of these pieces were chosen for the show, as together they work as a tribute to all creative women.

The BBAC exhibit runs from April 2 through May 7 and is open to the public. For exhibit hours and directions to the BBAC, please visit the Web site.

— Cindy La Ferle

–For a larger view of these art pieces, please click on each image. Photos and artwork are copyrighted (2010) by Cindy La Ferle. —

19 thoughts on “Gotta have art

  1. Cindy, you are so inspiring, truly. I have been writing professionally for just over 6 years and there are already times when I wonder where the passion and creativity went–because it’s become a job. Which is great in a way, because I still love to write and who doesn’t love to make a living doing what they love? But it’s also sad because having to focus so hard on the business end means you just plain can’t enjoy it for the love of it quite as much. I’m so glad you are finding that creative outlet in your art, and getting recognition from your peers as well–that’s wonderful. Your pieces are beautiful and very ‘you’. congrats!

  2. Cindy, you are such a multi-faceted artist. The treasures you use to create these pieces make each one so very unique. Congrats on having your work accepted for exhibit, it’s quite an honor. And kudos to you as an artist, for embracing art in so many ways in your life 🙂

  3. Thanks all, for these kind comments.

    Kathleen, I like your kaleidoscope comparison — thanks for that. And Joanne, that’s exactly what I call the stuff and junk I collect for these pieces — “treasures.” I don’t care how rusty or broken the bits and piece are; they have stories to tell me.

    Meagan, thanks for expressing the writer’s dilemma so well here. Spot on! As professional writers, we want to sustain that near-magical, creative sense as we work — yet so much of our energy really must go into SELLING our stuff, if we are to make a living out of it. It’s draining at times. Back when I was a weekly newspaper columnist, it was such a relief from the pressure to know I had at least one regular gig and didn’t have to keep “pitching” for it — unlike my magazine work.

  4. you rock !!

    and the work part, I wish it wasn’t so. I’m glad you are able to find peace in this other creative outlet.

    I am not artistic, but I used to love love doing title pages in school. Sometimes I’d spend countless hours creating collages or adding textures, snipping quotes etc. This brought back great memories Cindy, thank you.

  5. Cindy, you have an amazing eye for color and context, for combining words and images to create art with a message. Those who are able to experience your work in person are lucky indeed.

  6. What a talented, diverse lady you are! Congrats on putting your work out there! I love art that tells a story and it looks like there’s a multitude of storytelling going on in your art. 🙂

  7. You’re right about the blogging, Pasadena. So many people out there are blogging and blogging well, that it reduces the chances for making much $$ from it, if any. That said, I enjoy blogging. It’s a great way for people to express themselves and connect with others. For me blogging is instant gratification — which sets it apart and makes it very different from writing for print or traditional publishing. Very different.

    And I need to emphasize that I do love writing — and getting published in print. It’s rewarding, and once in a while you can make a few hundred dollars (or hopefully more) when you sell an article to a real magazine or publish your book. (Best of all, you have something tangible to hold in your hands and show your grandkiddies someday.) But again, writing for dollars is not the same game as writing for personal pleasure and entertainment. Both are good — just very different.

  8. Cindy, I love this artwork and these lines especially! 😉

    [Botticelli’s “Venus” was clipped from a magazine print to represent the self reborn. Just as we’re all the sum of our life experiences, Venus rises from a pile of junk and treasure and becomes herself. Life, like art, is all about working with what you’ve got, and sometimes mining gold from the broken parts.]

    much luv, Jenn

  9. Your art pieces are stunning!
    The word “becoming” has just struck a cord with me, in fact, I created some little matchboxes and used the same word. Love the depth and richness in what you’re sharing with us! Your art AND words are so special!

  10. Cindy, both of these pieces are beautiful. I’d love to come see them in the show, if only it wasn’t so far away. 🙁

  11. Cindy,

    I treated myself to my first visit to the Birmingham Bloomfield Art Center on Friday! Your two pieces are wonderful. I wanted to pick both of them up and examine (of course I behaved and only looked)!

    Happy Easter!

  12. I’m truly honored by all these wonderful comments — and the encouragement means a lot to me. My husband and I just remodeled our art studio upstairs, so I am inspired to keep going! Thanks again for your support.

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