the artist stuido | feb. 2019
In what mediums do you work?
I have always loved fiber and worked in soft sculpture art, quilting and basketry in the 1970-80s, followed by oil painting, while I lived in Alaska. Presently I am working in assemblage art, collage, artist's books and art quilts. I also teach classes in some of these at my shop, The Assemblage Studio, here in Green Bay.
When were you first interested in art and at what time did you know it would be a part of your life?
I have always been into art; in fact, I was making collages on my bedroom door when I was a kid! I discovered watercolor and painting as a teenager in the 1970s. Then fiber arts became my new love and I did a lot of soft sculpture and basketry in the 1980s. That evolved into art quilting, mostly appliqué, for expressive wall hangings. Assemblage and mixed media developed after my move to Green Bay in 2001, and I eventually opened my shop in 2006.
From where do you draw inspiration and/or what other artists have had the greatest impact on your work?
My assemblage work can be inspired by an unusual or found object, which I then will plan my piece around. Of course everyday life and experiences inspire too, art can be great therapy for whatever is going on. If I am feeling stuck, a trip to a museum or gallery is always good or just being out in nature. Some of my favorite artists are Matisse, Hopper, Chagall, and of course, Joseph Cornell; but living artists would be Sas Colby, Pamela Allen, and Marylu Downing. Growing up in Alaska I was also very inspired by the Native American art that is prevalent there, and those images emerge from time to time in my work. On the darker side, Tim Burton and Michael deMeng are very inspirational as well!
If there is something you'd like to say with your work or a message you'd like people to walk away with, what would it be?
I like to tell stories with my art and definitely to infuse some humor into it. I love whimsy and a sense of the surreal — my work has been compared to the Dadaist movement as well, which was totally unconventional at the time. Look at things differently, explore and have fun with art!
How much of a role has living in Northeastern Wisconsin played in your work and where can your work be viewed?
When I first moved to Wisconsin in 2001, I soon joined the Women Who Run With Scissors art-quilting group and became infatuated with machine quilting, which I had never done. Taking workshops and being around other creatives helped me to explore that area and I am still quilting. It was also the right time in my life to open my own shop, The Assemblage Studio, and teach and inspire others to play with art as well. My artwork is scattered around the shop to inspire all. I am also a member of the Green Bay Art Colony, which is a group of women artists, and we show annually at the Neville Museum here in Green Bay, and other venues around the area.
If you have a favorite quote, words of advice for aspiring artists, or something you'd like to add, please do so here:
“Art is the only way to run away without leaving home." — Twyla Thorpe
Be sure to visit Gifford at The Assemblage Studio, 306 Pine Street, and look for an upcoming exhibit by Women Who Run With Scissors in fall of 2019 at the Neville Public Museum.