Sculpted beetle people, mummies, and creatures of the dark — macabre artist Sandra Stowell’s work is inspired by ancient Egypt.
Sandra Stowell is a macabre artist who has always had the urge to create. Her interest in her art was fuelled by the artistry that existed within her family. Sandra’s grandfather was a painter and also an art teacher though she never met him as he died before she was born. However, her parents had books on art and architecture she spent time studying and enjoying.
Despite being directly influenced by her grandfather’s works, she couldn’t embrace her artistry till her early retirement from her career in computing. It was after this she found the conviction to pursue her art thoroughly.
Gliding Across Different Elements as a Macabre Artist
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Sandra refers to her art as a work of mixed media due to how she combines elements of painting, sculpting, and printmaking among others in her art creation process. In her words, says, “I am not a painter, a sculptor, or a printmaker; rather I use all three processes, and more, in making my art. I also use my computer background, my limited construction skills, and so many other things to create my finished pieces.”
Influences and mentors
Though Sandra prefers to enjoy art and let her influences materialize naturally, she’s fascinated by the works of a few notable names. Among those are the intricate 3D designs of Joseph Cornell and the unusual works of Lee Bontecou. Moreover, she didn’t fail to mention her strong attachment to the metal pieces of Christopher Wilmarth and the amazing still-life paintings of Giorgio Morandi. In addition to this, she’s awed by the sculptures of Lummi island artist, Ann Morris, the Japanese woodcuts from the floating era, and the arts of ancient Egypt. The latter reflects on her artworks.
Furthermore, she credits Maureen Piper, who she referred to as her “dear friend and mentor” for helping her to maintain her commitment to art. In her words, she says, “Maureen made unskillful practice enjoyable, and she encourages while teaching. Her eye for what works, and what does not, and the ability to communicate this without damaging her students’ enthusiasm, is quite miraculous!”
Sandra says the inspiration behind her recent projects is owed to her current obsession with beetles. “My beetles are based on scarab beetles but have human faces, and vary in size and expression,” she says. “I started with a small carving in alabaster, followed by a larger carving done in a block of laundry soap! Both have been reproduced using silicone molds and cast in a variety of materials. Subsequently, I have reproduced the beetles I have made from clay and other materials. My beetle people are beautiful (to me), and they form communities and are intrinsic to the natural world and the greater cycle of life: birth and decay. But this sounds a bit grandiose; sometimes my Beetle People are just fun!”
She is unsure of how to categorize her works because she neither studies art trends nor reads current art criticism. She considers such activities as “soul-killing” and distracting. “I focus on making art,” Sandra says. As an artist, I have the luxury of financial independence. I do not need to be a slave to sales, styles, or criticism. I pursue my own path. My mixed media work includes figurative and abstract elements and is rarely one or the other. I include dimensional pieces in almost all my recent artwork, even that designed to be hung on a wall.”
Furthermore, she says, “Perhaps most of my work has an element of the Primitive. There is often a magical or fantastical element, and I often incorporate natural objects, as well as drawings of nature, in my artworks. Some themes originate from my concerns about the world, others from my personal emotions and life events.”
Legacy and expectations
Sandra intends to make arts that capture both the sight and the mind in hopes that they continue to intrigue viewers for years to come. “Some of my work is intended to raise questions, not to evoke joy or delight,” she says. “I always try to make art that is pleasing to the eye, although the subjects may be intended to trouble the mind.” Furthermore, she adds, “I would love to know that there are people who enjoy and treasure some of my work. I also hope that some of my more difficult artworks will be of interest after my death and it would be wonderful to create a large-scale artwork for permanent public installation in a sculpture park!”
Artist’s personal statement
I have learned that art for me is about the joy of making and the satisfaction of continuous improvement in self-expression. But, I do need to share my work, and to have an audience, though I did not choose to make a living from art, and I am glad of this now. I love to share my work at a cost or to gift it when the connection is right. I used to worry that I was not a “real” artist, because I am not a painter, and I did not feel compelled to paint! But once I gave myself permission to really spend time on art, and once I had that time for myself, I found that I did need to make things, to create something unique, and I found that I really do need to make art. Therefore I am an artist by definition.
To see Sandra’s latest artwork, visit Saatchi Art >
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