Last May, we had a wonderful conversation with our Featured Artist, Allison Svoboda. This coming month, Allison will be displaying her newest works, once again as our Featured Artist. Allison’s highly colorful and expressive paintings are based on her observations of nature. We spoke with Allison again this year regarding her new exhibit, expanding on her comments from last year. Check it out below!
The work in your upcoming exhibit is very different from your previous work. What inspired you to pursue sumi-e?
I have started working with color combinations in my ‘paper quilt’ series inspired by the restored native prairies in Chicago. In 2015, I received a Hemera contemplative fellowship to study Zen Buddhism in Japan. While there, I learned calligraphy and traditional arts of Japan including ink painting, shibori and orizomegami.
What defines a sumi-e work?
The direct translation is ‘path of ink’. In the Zen tradition, the artist would meditate by grinding the ink and focusing on the subject. This training in the art of concentration, clarity an simplicity inspire my mandalas.
What was your process for creating these works? Did it differ from approaches you have used previously?
I use orizomegami paper quilts, which introduce vivid colors of the prairie grasses. While it is a different process, it is related to meditation, which is a significant theme in my work.
Do you see this focus on sumi-e continuing in your work moving forward? Or do you see yourself exploring other things?
Sumi-e is one way I am able to explore the overarching theme of my work, meditation, focusing on the principles of concentration, clarity and simplicity. I do not really know what my work will look like moving forward.