Amanda Boekhout – Artist

Amanda Boekhout is a Florida Artist from Tallahasee who has been painting for about 12 years and has had many art forms enter her life. Her website is www.elliottelephant.com and also check out her blog at www.chantspectacular.blogspot.com

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Interests you have other than art you feel are important to mention?
I love to sew and design clothes, I love to sing and make music, I enjoy collaborative endeavours, and I love to garden and hike whenever possible.  The beach is my favorite.

What are the main medium/s you work in…
I have been working in oil paint for the longest amount of time but I am definitely a mixed media artist.

Does your work have social, political, cultural and or personal messages?
My work is very personal and I would say that every piece is somewhat of a self-portrait.  I have social and cultural undertones but they are not obvious in most of the things I make.

What are you currently working on?
I am currently enthralled with the idea of “alive painting.”  I am experimenting with creating sets or spaces that are still and can be read like a very large painting.  I am also including my body in the works as the figural element, which brings in performance.  This type of work is more powerful for the viewer to interact with than anything I have done in the past.

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What fascinates you?
Bodies, skin, fur, dirt, the sun, plant life, the ocean, and love.

One word or statement to describe your current works?
Alive, ephemeral, ambiguous.

Why are you an artist?
I am deciding whether to consider myself an artist.  I am a maker.  I feel like there are a lot of people who call themselves artists and I am not sure I fit in anywhere so I am toying with the idea of making things that may or may not be and being happy doing so.

Your art education was…?
I went to undergrad at University of Central Florida in Orlando, Florida and graduated in 2004 with a BFA.  I took 5 years off to “find myself” and live away from Florida for a while.  I am currently completing my first year of Grad school at Florida State University for my MFA in studio art.  I am having a blast and I highly recommend the program.

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Was your education helpful, or a hindrance?
I am the type of person who really enjoys being taught.  I am very inspired by professors and fellow students.  I love the intensity of critiques and how they make me re-evaluate everything I think I know about art.  It is possible to have these experiences without academia, but I am not very good at seeking out those communities or workshops.

Have you always been interested in art?
Yes!  All forms of art are interesting and captivating and inspiring to me.

What is your earliest memory of art?
My sister would hand me a piece of paper and watch me fill it up completely with all sorts of marks and patterns.  She was really impressed by that.  We were very young.

Do you remember your first painting or artwork?
I remember falling in love with painting.  I was 16.  I was sitting at a drafting table in my parent’s house (my house at the time) and I was alone.  I was blasting Tori Amos’ Choir Girl Hotel and I was painting a female figure from memory.  That was the first time I felt that I had something that I loved more than anything else.  It was pure happiness.

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Was art a “thing” that was encouraged in your family?
My parents encourage me to do whatever makes me happy.  They are really amazing and supportive.

Has your work changed much since your early efforts? (e.g. as a student).
Looking back, I have always used the female figure as the main subject matter in my work.  There is a constant thread throughout.

Does the “creative process” happen easily for you?
I am flooded with ideas all the time; I am very blessed to have such an easy time with this.  Now I just need numerous versions of me to help me make everything at the pace in which it comes to me.

How important do you think craftsmanship is to artistic creation?
Craftsmanship is very important.  When the level of technical skill is ingrained, the art is stronger and therefore will speak to the viewer with ease.  I am miles from where I wish to be in my skill, but I have my whole life to practice.

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Do you have much contact with other artists?
Due to being in Graduate school, I am surrounded by many artists.  We are constantly feeding off of each other and suggesting artists to look up for each other.  Also, I am a part of the Railroad Square Art Park here in Tallahassee.  We are most noted for out First Friday events, which are attended by upwards of 5,000 people per month.  This is a great opportunity to communicate with the artistic community!

Some say the lifespan of many “artists” post educationally is about five years, any thoughts on that?
Making art is a very selfish practice.  Artists often leave their practice when they can no longer be as selfish as they once had the luxury of being.

If you could have any piece of artwork in your personal collection, what would it be and why?
I love Monica Cook’s work.  She is a painter based in Brooklyn.  Any of the large paintings in her “Seeded and Soiled” show would be greatly loved.

Can you name a favourite artist or three… and why?
Monica Cook, Chris Sedgwick, Kehinde Wiley, Kris Lewis, Carrie Ann Baade, Odd Nerdrum, Andrew Wyeth, Ana Mendieta, Sally Mann, and Alex Grey.  Look them up!  They are amazing in every way.

All artists seem to have struggles, tell us about any you have had.
I struggle every day with knowing that I don’t know, creating a fresh idea, creating a fresh visual experience, being true to myself and to others with what I make, and accepting failure. (to name a few)

What happens to works that “don’t work out”?
It is very liberating to paint over paintings.  I also like taking a painting to the fire as an offering to the art gods and goddesses.

What sort of research and or reference material do you do for current works?
I am currently reading about warrior women.  This has been a huge influence on my work for the past 3 months.  I am attempting to embody the women I read about in my art.

Musical influences?
Eluvium, Slowdive, Sigor Ros, Marie Sioux, Radiohead, Blonde Redhead, Air, Amon Tobin, Dead Can Dance, Thievery Corporation, Grizzly Bear, Lichens, Grails, Polyphonic Spree, Ulrich Schnauss.

Do you hope the viewer will “get” what you are trying to communicate or do you feel compelled to spell it out to them?
Viewers come with their own complete biography that directly affects the way they approach art.  I have put my own intention in the making process, but I love the ambiguity of art and how it can have endless meaning.  I only strive to make work that is engaging and inspiring for the viewer.

Is motivation to work an issue for you and how do you overcome it?
Deadlines!!!!!!

If someone says to you “Oh your work is decorative and lacks any meaning…” your response would be…?
It would look great over the couch!

Tell us about your studio environment?
Is a studio ever big enough?   I have two studios.  One was given to me as a part of the masters program and one is in Railroad Square Art Park.  I love both of them and am very grateful!

Are you a purist with your art materials or willing to mix things about?
I am really thrifty.  I paint on found surfaces.  I use very little paint; I go by dumpsters weekly to see what I can find to make things out of.  I recycle fabric and paper.  I am a firm believer that there is way too much stuff on this planet so if I am going to make more stuff I might as well reuse!

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Compiled and edited by Steve Gray © 2009+

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Comments

5 Responses to “Amanda Boekhout – Artist”

  1. Colleen Trickett on March 25th, 2010 12:21 pm

    I LOVE Amanda’s work. I have 3 of her paintings hanging in my bedroom. I plan on filling my home with her art. She is the most amazing and inspired artist I know. Her clothing design is as original and impressive as her art work.

  2. Echo on March 25th, 2010 3:02 pm

    Absolutely gorgeous work! I am looking forward to seeing where the “alive paintings” take you!

  3. Sable on March 25th, 2010 5:26 pm

    Those images looked great. It was a pleasure to see your first rendition (can I use that word) of your live paintings.

  4. felici on April 1st, 2010 12:34 am

    amanda is inspiring to work with and be around, she is full of positive energy and vibrancy. her art is full of her life. thanks for so a great interview!

  5. Amanda Boekhout on May 20th, 2010 4:35 am

    my artwork is now on view only on my blog. Also, I have an artist album on my facebook page just look up my name! thanks!