Making the Fragments Whole
Up-and-coming Dallas-based artist Lisa Soderlund has created art for as long as she can remember, but as with many aspiring artists, she had to hold down various day jobs to pay the bills. In 2009, with the support and encouragement of her husband, she started Lisa Soderlund Fine Art and dedicated herself to her art full time.
“I feel like I have always been an artist inside,” she says. “It isn’t always easy to take a risk and follow your dreams, especially when it takes hard work and requires you to expose something deeply personal to public scrutiny. My husband’s support was crucial in giving me the courage to take the step into being a full-time artist”
Her striking collages, as well as her mastery of a wide range of other media and techniques, are gaining her recognition in Dallas and beyond. Her art is now in private collections throughout the U.S. and in Europe. In this interview with Dante Magazine, she tells us a bit about where she’s coming from.
What inspires you?
My eye is constantly drawn to details other people may not notice, and I often need to create art after I’m confronted with something I find beautiful. Sometimes it’s a person who fascinates me. Sometimes inspiration comes in the form of landscapes I see in my travels. Sometimes I see patterns that I can’t stop looking at that demand to be replicated in my art. Most often it’s my feelings that cause me to be drawn to an idea or image that I must attempt to create on canvas or paper. The more I create, the more beauty I seem to find around me.
I think of collage as representative of the times we are living in. So much of our lives are disjointed, fragmented. Our relationships are often torn apart. We feel disconnected and pulled in a thousand different directions. We have information overload, and when we focus on all those little pieces of information that are constantly at our fingertips, we see nothing but static and hear nothing but noise. But at the same time, we have all this amazing technology that takes all those separate bits of information in our lives, glues them together, and displays them in a way that we can understand and appreciate, creating a cohesive whole that is beautiful and inspiring. Collage represents this dichotomy wonderfully: the bits and pieces that, alone and apart, make no sense, but which together create a holistic image that touches the soul. I love the idea of taking a pile of tiny pieces of paper, sifting through it, arranging it on a canvas, and turning it into something that someone can look at and be touched.
We notice there is a lone “E” in every collage. Why?
My first collage using ripped magazine pages was my collage of Audrey Hepburn, who had special meaning to my husband and me as we were getting to know each other. I was thinking of him as I created her, and I wanted to surprise him. He has always encouraged me in my art, so the special E is my homage to Eric. I’ve put a special E in every collage I’ve created since. My kids love looking for the E piece as I work.
Do you work in other media besides collage?
Yes, I also paint using acrylics on canvas. Large abstract paintings are what I love to create when I’m feeling wistful or missing loved ones. At times I try something different and paint using a “spork” (spoon/fork combined into one utensil) instead of a brush, much like artists who use a palette knife to apply paint. I enjoy how the spork gives my paintings texture and looseness. Sometimes I use oils, but I’m drawn to the immediacy of acrylics, which dry fast and are easy to clean up. I love to create pastel figurative works on hymn pages using just black so the lighter parts of the figure allow the music to show through. Sometimes it’s nice to paint a painting or two between collages to feel the rush of accomplishing a task quickly, since collage can be rather tedious to create. But it’s just possible that I’m tedious, so collage could be the perfect medium for me.
What direction would you like your art to take?
Right now I’m in the middle of creating a body of black and white collages on canvas—some will be larger than any I’ve attempted to create before. I’ve always been drawn to black and white images, from classic movies to photographs and art. I love how images in black and white have an added romance and nostalgia to them. I’ve had the pleasant problem that people buy my collages before I can amass a collection. My goal is to build up a collection large enough to hang in galleries and museums. I also have ideas brewing for installation projects that I would like to try in the future. I am lucky to live in Dallas where the visual arts scene is vibrant and exciting, and I have great galleries and museums nearby to see fresh new art that motivates me to keep doing what I love. I also find inspiration from the classic artists that I am lucky to see first hand.
What do you want to accomplish as an artist?
I just want to keep producing work I’m proud to put my name on. My main motivation is creating art that people want to look at because it makes them feel something personal and touching.
What advice do you have for aspiring artists?
Get an MBA and work on Wall Street. Just kidding. My advice is to never stop working, never stop striving, never stop feeling, living, loving, observing, listening, and just being. Get technical training and acquire the tools of an artist, but don’t confuse the ability to draw or paint well with being an artist. To be an artist, you have to take chances, you have to get inside of yourself and then get outside of yourself. You have to please your own eye and be true to your own vision and your own view of the world, but you also have to be in tune with what appeals to humanity. You can’t simply copy the work of others or try to mimic the latest trend, but you also can’t allow yourself to be self-indulgent. An artist must possess both authenticity and empathy to really create something of lasting beauty and power.
How have your life experiences informed your art?
First of all, I was fortunate to have a good teacher in high school who taught me important basics about art that I’ve used all my life. I’ve also been lucky to travel to many places in my life, including living in Vienna for a year. Gustav Klimt, Egon Schiele, and Edgar Degas were the first artists I saw in museums whose work really inspired me to want to do art as well. I grew up in several states in the Western U.S. and those landscapes have also deeply influenced my vision and sense of aesthetics.
Most of my art is influenced by people that I know. Sometimes I’m influenced by the burning desire to create art using my loved ones or friends as models. Sometimes my creative friends encourage me to try new forms of art I’ve never tried before which become important to me, and turn my focus in entirely new and unexpected directions. This is how I started doing collage using ripped magazine pages. I may get commission requests that cause me to get creative and try new things. Sometimes I find the only way to process otherwise overwhelming feelings is by creating fresh art. I think growing up in a large family, as well as the interactions—some painful—I had with friends in my youth, helped me to become the observer I am. I love to watch people and imagine what makes them who they are, and the constant wonder I feel about people is reflected in my art. I find people endlessly fascinating.
ELECTION YEAR SPECIAL!
You can buy this original collage on canvas for only $3,500. $500 of this sale will be donated directly to the Obama campaign! As this election season has unfolded, it has become obvious that this particular election is of significant importance to the history of the United States of America and its relationship with the world. Show your support for Lisa’s art and for Obama by purchasing this collage today!
Ready For What Comes Next © 2011 Lisa Soderlund 16″ x 20″ Collage on Canvas. Contact Lisa Soderlund at www.lisasoderlund.com.
Tell us about your Ready for What Comes Next collage found on the cover of this magazine?
The political news has been so turbulent lately. I wanted to include as many words and catch phrases as I could find into the design in order to capture some of that cacophony. After a lot of deliberation, I decided to incorporate the words into the white stripes of a flowing flag behind Obama. I love how it looks. The United States is in a very interesting place that I’ve never experienced in my lifetime. There is a definite feeling of unrest and expectation that something must change. The economy is suffering. Will Obama be the one to bring about positive change? Will the Congress help him or hinder him as he attempts to make changes that are desperately needed? Will he have enough time to prove himself worthy of re-election? The clock faces I put throughout the collage are my favorite bits, meant to possibly remind Obama that time is running out, so now is the time to step up and show us what he’s made of. I have hope.
Lisa Soderlund’s work can be seen and is available for purchase at her website: www.lisasoderlund.com.