Sunday, March 20, 2011

SPIRITUAL ART PILGRIM INTERVIEW #2 of 2011: ROBEY TAPP--SEARCHING FOR MEANING

Hallelujah for THE CREATIVE JOURNEY! Hallelujah for SPIRIT, ART and FELLOW SOJOURNERS! For my second SPIRITUAL ART PILGRIM (See the first interview with Cecelia Kane.) interview of 2011, I am honoring ROBEY TAPP, collage and text artist, Decatur neighbor, art colleague, friend, spiritual art pilgrim group member, co-volunteer, and docent at the Carlos Museum at Emory University.


On the last weekend in February 2011, Robey and I sat in her sun-drenched art studio on the second floor of her bungalow nestled near the Emory University campus. Threaded and unthreaded, textured and stamped colored papers, painted in dazzling arrays of magenta, cerulean, gold, and green surrounded us. The sheer randomness of order gave the feel of being in an exquisite bowerbird’s nest!


HALLELUJAH: Give me your personal definition of ART.


ROBEY: I’d say two things:

One—creativity and action.

Two—creativity is expressed in whatever form it takes.

HALLELUJAH: Talk to me about CREATIVITY and action.

ROBEY: We are all creative. Everybody has the potential to be creative. Over a course of a lifetime, I don’t think we all use our creativity concretely. This may be because we are too busy, don’t know where to start, or think we are not artists. But once you pick up the paintbrush, the pen, the scissors, and do anything—dig a hole in your garden—you are acting.

HALLELUJAH: What is SPIRITUALITY to you?

ROBEY: Spirituality is connecting what is deepest in you to what you perceive as deepest in the universe. It is what makes your life meaningful. Not that it answers those deep existential questions.

ROBEY: I am intrigued by the triptych form and the space that it gives me to play with combinations of image, text, and texture.  Triptychs have such spiritual resonance.



HALLELUJAH: What is the connection between the ART you make and your SPIRITUALITY?

ROBEY: I think the art I make expresses my spirituality because it attempts to express what I find meaningful inside and outside.

HALLELUJAH: Can you give me an example from your work?


ROBEY: Well, maybe I’m thinking about one of the first books I altered. It was a book of my father’s called “Art and Nature Appreciation.” While I was working on that book, I was having a conversation with my father. I thought of all the things that he imparted to me.

ROBEY: I love stitches. Stitches are a kind of mark making. Here the stitches were unintentional, but I find them intriguing.

The process of altering the book also allowed me to express what I think about art and nature, which are two areas of real meaning to me. So, I look upon that book as a spiritual expression.
  
ROBEY: I like viewers to interact with the book in some way. I like secret doors and windows. I like people to play with my work.




HALLELUJAH: In what way does your ART enhance your SPIRITUALITY?

ROBEY: I think by expressing my ideas through art, I gain greater access to them. Making art allows me to wonder and to play and to feel in a deeper way. To explore areas that I didn’t realize needed exploring.

HALLELUJAH: Can you give me an example?
ROBEY:
I don’t always start with what I am going to explore. I just start playing with color and texture and see where it leads me. Sometimes I’m surprised. That’s the fun of it.
    

HALLELUJAH: Has SPIRITUALITY always been a source of your ARTMAKING?




ROBEY: Yes, but I think the older I get, the more conscious I become of it, and the more grateful I become of art as my medium of exploration.

HALLELUJAH: Can you speak about your use of color and texture?

ROBEY: I think I really respond to color and texture, and when I don’t know where to begin to start a piece of art, I look through all my thousands of pieces of paper, and I find something that I know I want to use. I may not know why or what resonance there is yet. But I know that it speaks to me at that moment.



HALLELUJAH:  Who do you consider influential in the way you think, act, and make ART?

ROBEY:
Well, I certainly think you (Hallelujah Truth) and Cecelia Kane (SeeSee's website) have invited me to talk about artmaking. I think our group (Spiritual Art Pilgrims) has created a space in which we can talk about the art we make and own it.

Harriette, my close friend, has always been a huge appreciator of artists and has always encouraged me to take my art seriously. Gary, my husband, is a poet. Part of what we have always had in common is a tremendous respect for creative expression—our own and other people’s.

I also want to acknowledge Lesly Fredman, for her creativity counseling and inspiration. And Ann VanSlyke and Ellen McFee for giving me my first show at Mingei World Arts.
HALLELUJAH: I know you are an avid reader and that there is a steady stream of voices coming through your life.



ROBEY: I’m always inspired by what people make of this world and this life and one of the reasons I read so much is to keep finding out. That inspires me every day. I think of art as a conversation. So I gather from other people and then I find myself responding.



HALLELUJAH: What is your purpose for making ART?

ROBEY: Exploring that connection between the inner soul—whatever you want to call it—and what’s out there that is bigger than me. And meaningful.

 HALLELUJAH: Right now, both of us are working on ART for an exhibit opening in September at Atlanta’s Fernbank Museum of Natural History on the topic of Charles Darwin. Can you say something about the process you are going through in making ART for that?

ROBEY: I have spent the last few months reading about Darwin. Thinking about Darwin. Thinking about the world and time in which he lived and the impact of his thinking. Then I discovered this woman, Mary Anning! I consider her a paleontologist. She found a lot of the fossils that support Darwin’s theories but got very little credit at the time because she was a poor “uneducated” woman, and the “establishment” in England at that time was rich Anglican men.

The pieces I’m doing are honoring her contributions to science. I’m using textured colored paper and text with her as the subject and inspiration.

HALLELUJAH: Let’s connect this ART project with SPIRITUALITY….

ROBEY: As an explorer of fossils, Mary Anning was a breaker of molds. She was examining very huge questions: How did we get here? Who are we? Are all the things that we thought in the past true or not? These were the burning issues of her day. I’m inspired by her courage and her determination not to let people silence her voice.

ROBEY: I’m always inspired by what people make of this world and this life and one of the reasons I read so much is to keep finding out. That inspires me every day. I think of art as a conversation. So I gather from other people and then I find myself responding.

HALLELUJAH: When you look at the large body of your own work, how do you perceive and understand the results of your reflections?

ROBEY: I think when I look at the books—each book, is a record of what idea has intrigued me or what issue I have been grappling with when I worked on it. If I look back at one, I can say, “Oh! This is when I was thinking of these things or struggling with this.” It’s not to say the book is an answer, but it is what I got from the experience.


Robey with long time family member, Baylor.


HALLELUJAH: Where do you see your SPIRITUAL ART taking you?

ROBEY: I don’t know. It’s kind of a ride. I guess I would like it to take me wherever I need to go. I don’t know where life will take me so I don’t know where it will take me.

HALLELUJAH: I am so glad that we are FELLOW SOJOURNERS. I love working with you around the issues of SPIRITUALITY and ART. Thank you so much for this interview!

ROBEY: Reading is not only linear. This book sculpture for me expresses the way we read and think and go off in tangents....It kind of reflects the folds we have in our brains and in our consciousness.

ROBEY: Leonard Cohen says it all for me. I think about this saying constantly. It's my mantra.
HALLELUJAH: It's the way the light gets in! 


ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS: Thank you ROBEY TAPP for spending lovely afternoons looking at your work, playing with the SPIRIT of LIFE, and for your UNIQUE way of SEEING. I treasure our time together and will invite you back to COFFEE WITH HALLELUJAH.


2 comments:

  1. Wow! Such smart, thoughtful words Ruth and Robey. i could feel the soul in the work. Great pictures. My 4 favorites are the white stitches on Art and Nature Appreciation,The Party,It's What lurks inside your mind that it sparks, and wave, len, the atmosphere,altitudes etc.

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  2. Such beauty in these outcomes of creation in action... Love this blog site that I stumbled upon... especially the Artist Interviews!

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