We had the honor of hosting Rebecca Campbell, a California-based contemporary artist, who spoke to us about creating her works that were inspired by her family history. Rebecca's roots in Utah and the West were revealed in her compelling artist discussion. Below are a few highlights from the night.
Throughout the discussion you referred to your works being constructs of the mind and the body. Can you expand on those concepts?
Going back to the first piece of art I created I recall thinking about my mother teaching me how to make a cake. I was thinking about holding the ingredients, the feel those ingredients mixings…and all of those things being incredibly important fundamentally, aesthetically, and as part of the intellectual experience. The memories and thoughts generated and recalled are an expression of the mind.
I have painted works that are all body; they’re the intellect of the hand, the eye, and breath. I try to push those polls around to emphasize their relationships. All of these forces working together end up giving you something you didn’t know you were going to get. To me that is a very important experience of being human. What I love about painting is that it ends up being a kind of artifact of the relationship between the brain and the body.
Many of the works give us a glimpse into your family’s history. What is it that you find interesting about this subject matter?
My black and white [paintings] are based on old family photographs and the family photographs are true, in a way. They are a document of the actual experience that my family lived. And yet, what I think is interesting is that they lived completely different experiences then what was captured and what we’ve been told. My paintings cross the blurred boundary between memory and imagination.
What do you think is the greatest challenge an artist faces when producing bodies of work?
I think there is a real cleave between the brain and the body, a lot of artists don’t make their work. They see their idea as being the pinnacle of their art experience and the object as almost a tangent to that experience. The interesting thing about being and artist is that you come up with an idea, and if you are a painter, you have to throw the idea through the body and the body has its way with it. It changes your idea and it might not be what you expected.