Hello Wonderful! An interview with the wonderful Vanessa Black!

Mixed media sculptures composed of wax, lichen, hair, cast skin, and found jewelry. These sculptures are small, intimate, and ornamented, but recall images of the body and organs. The competition between beauty and disgust, inside and outside, the visible and the hidden, creates objects that feel simultaneously familiar but unfamiliar.

Mixed media sculptures composed of wax, lichen, hair, cast skin, and found jewelry. These sculptures are small, intimate, and ornamented, but recall images of the body and organs. The competition between beauty and disgust, inside and outside, the visible and the hidden, creates objects that feel simultaneously familiar but unfamiliar.


Hello Wonderful!

Today is Vanessa Black Day on the Hello Wonderful blog! Yayyy! I met Vanessa through Samantha Darling. You will have heard of Vanessa before in Samantha's Hello Wonderful! interview when she said that Vanessa is like her living breathing Pinterest board!  Enjoy getting to know Vanessa below and you'll see why she's so inspiring and wonderful! 


I recently curated an exhibition at The Seymour Art Gallery called MAKE RE|MAKE  UN|MAKE: repetition and artistic processes. This exhibition featured the work six artists whose work utilizes repetition as a device to investigate diverse ideas. 

I recently curated an exhibition at The Seymour Art Gallery called MAKE RE|MAKE  UN|MAKE: repetition and artistic processes. This exhibition featured the work six artists whose work utilizes repetition as a device to investigate diverse ideas. 

Who are you, what do you do and where in the world are you?

My name is Vanessa Black and I am a painter, sculptor and grower of vegetables living in Vancouver BC, Canada.

I am also half of the Insect Collective. My partner Neil Chung and I make imagined insects from found and foraged natural materials.

What do you believe in?

I believe in pursuing whatever is most rewarding and fulfilling for you and having the courage to stick with it. 

I also believe that lending your abilities to system (whether it is a community, an environment, an organization, etc) to collaborate and contribute to a larger whole is one of the most rewarding experiences you can have.

When do you feel your most wonderful?

I feel most wonderful when I’m working on a body of work and it becomes all-consuming. When this happens, I’ll sometimes wake up from a dream in which I’ve solved a problem related to the work, thought of a new idea, or been able to visualize the outcome I’m after. It’s that space between excitement and anxiety: when you feel like you are getting close to something interesting of you keep going…but it could also fail horribly. I think that anxiousness is healthy and a good indicator of when you are on to something.

I also feel wonderful when I am growing vegetables, or see natural processes at work-like the organisms in my compost.  

What is something wonderful that has happened that would have never have happened if you hadn't made a mistake or a wrong turn somewhere?

I used to procrastinate a lot. When I was registering for my classes for my first year at Emily Carr, I put it off for weeks. Your first year at ECU you are part of a ‘pod’ which is a core group of people who you have most of your classes with. Because I put off registering for so long there were few options available. However, I met my partner/collaborator of almost 9 years in my pod and I don’t think our paths would have overlapped in the same way if we hadn’t met early on…and both been procrastinators.

Transmogrification 6, graphite on paper, 2′ x 6′, 2013. Using objects I have collected for years, I transform and re-interpret them into biomorphic forms as sculptures and drawings.

Transmogrification 6, graphite on paper, 2′ x 6′, 2013. Using objects I have collected for years, I transform and re-interpret them into biomorphic forms as sculptures and drawings.

What is the earliest time in your life that you can remember experiencing wonder? When was the most recent time?

Wonder is an interesting emotion. I can remember frequently feeling amazed as a kid, but wonder is more profound. I remember being awestruck when I went to an old masters exhibition at the National Gallery of Canada as a teenager. Some of the oil paintings were unfinished with great sections revealed. It was like the paintings were partly undressed and the process of their creation was secretive and something that wasn’t intended for us to see. This was around the time I was really getting into painting and I remember trying to make my eyeballs soak up as much information and understanding as I could. 

A few years ago I went to Tofino for the first time. I went around April, so the winter swells were still pretty significant.  Everything was grey: the sky, the mist, and the water, and the waves were so powerful and relentless. I stood in deep water for a long time and I felt really small and very peaceful.

A selection of handmade insects by The Insect Collective.

A selection of handmade insects by The Insect Collective.

Who are three wonderful people you think we need to know about. Why are they wonderful? 

Larissa Blokhuis

Larissa creates biomorphic blown glass forms and sometimes includes other materials such as felt and ceramics (as if mastering how to wield molton glass wasn’t already impressive enough!). Her work has a sinuous quality that often recalls sea creatures and other organisms. 

The Mini Paper Pavilion Club

The Mini Paper Pavilion Club is a Vancouver based club who build 1:1000 scale architectural models out of paper. So good! 

Pits in Knits 

Mandie Black and her pibble Chai are the faces behind Pits in Knits. Mandie is based in Calgary and knits custom, handmade cowls for dogs of all sizes. Chai usually helps by lying on the wool first to make sure it is comfortable.

  My studio during last year’s East Side Culture Crawl.

 

My studio during last year’s East Side Culture Crawl.


Thank you so much Vanessa! You can find Vanessa and her work online at her website and on Instagram.

Have a wonderful day!


My workspace as I plan a series of large oil paintings.

My workspace as I plan a series of large oil paintings.