Please enjoy this interview, a continuation in our series focusing on the artist, with Arizona-based Carol Alleman.
Carol Alleman Bronze, Gallery MAR
How would you describe your work to a novice collector, or someone new to the art world?
My earliest work in bronze is quite beautifully organic while holding the same ethereal appeal as my current, more intricate body of work. The complete volume holds a voice of the other realm transcending the solitary and captivating, visual appeal. Companion writings become the marriage of both the visual and written art forms in my work. Together they create a sort of magical, mystical dance celebrating the wisdom, beauty and miracles of nature.
Symbolism is often hidden within the work, while also at times visually apparent. This is intended to mirror our lives woven within both the visible and invisible realms – and with often seemingly hidden meaning. Edition numbers are symbolic, as well as often both positive and negative spaces within the pieces. The highly intricate, multi-colored patinas within the cut-out vessel form have become my notably unique signature. The companion writings describe the inspiration for the work while inviting connections between nature and the human spirit – in all its colors. I use the visual realm to evoke a deep realization of the invisible realms.
When did you know that you were an artist?
I knew I enjoyed being creative at an early age as any free time I had was spent creating anything – and from anything. I did not have much playtime through my childhood, yet my sister and I turned all our incessant chores into creative play as often as possible (she is perhaps more creative than I). My tiny bedroom, shared with my sister, was my first canvas – always covered with something new I had created, while changing from season to season. My aunt, however, really initiated my consideration of exploring the fine arts when she set up a canvas on an easel in her pantry when I was probably about ten or so and told me to “paint whatever I see until dinner was ready”. She had seven children at her feet, and set up a large, old easel giving me oil paints and ancient, beautiful brushes to work with – I didn’t know a single thing about any of the materials or how to use them, I simply explored. That day, I painted a large red hen sitting proudly with her eggs – we had just gathered the eggs together. And…I was thrilled with the process and my interest swelled dramatically that warm afternoon when hours miraculously transformed into minutes in a tiny farmhouse pantry. I missed dinner.
Throughout all the many seasons of my life I engaged in creative activities with sheer pleasure – in the kitchen, both cooking and baking, in the garden, walking, on paper, with fabric….anywhere and anytime. Simply painting or creating something in my house as a child was highly unusual – we lived on a small farm and the land supported us in all ways so it took the entire family constantly working together to keep it all going. An Artist? Well, I believe we are each artists in our own unique venues and expressing it in highly diverse ways. It still surprises me, sometimes, when I realize I have been fully supported by my work as a professional artist for all these years – I feel deeply blessed by both the writing and the sculpting. Together they form one magical dance and a profoundly beautiful, mystery.
How do you continue to stay inspired – do you have a daily desire to create?
The desire to create is always present; it is simply waiting for me to show up and give it voice once more. The creative desire is constantly hungry and always sorting in a myriad of ways regardless of what I’m doing at the time. My subconscious does a lot of work for me (thankfully). I‘m never dry on ideas, rather challenged to see clearly “who is up next” as often so many seem to be screaming for my undivided attention at the sculpting pedestal – and/or on paper. I do not create (as in to sculpt or begin new work) everyday as the realities of running a business (to allow me to work as a professional artist) must be given their due share of time as well to keep a healthy balance; but I do try to do at least one or two creative activities each day, even if they are short ones. Years ago when I felt unclear as to who or what was “up next” I developed a habit of sculpting my index (pointer) finger in clay – by the time I finished the next place to begin was clear. The simple act of sculpting my finger “pointed” the way for me – and always in a helpful direction. I wish I had saved those many fingers….it could be an inspiring work of art in itself I suppose. And, I also meditate to bring balance and creativity into my day. Even ten minutes of meditation, or two paragraphs of writing, or sculpting or sketching a simple finger or bloom can dramatically “open the gates” allowing me to effortlessly receive clarity regarding whatever comes my way that day. It’s a beautiful anchor that holds me steady. It’s really a balancing act with seasons running as transient as life itself – I love the diversity of what I do as I trust it helps me see things more clearly when they do call me to the creative table with them. I find honoring whatever color the season may be (even if I seem to be resisting it) always ends up being the very best approach for me – in all ways.
What other surprising occupations have you had?
I was a French fry girl at McDonalds in the 70’s along with hand lettering commercial signage, a reference librarian; owning my own business as a floral designer in the 80’s after working in a floral shop for several years as a designer; a professional cake decorator and instructor, a children’s art teacher and curriculum writer, along with over a decade of experience working in sales and marketing in the interconnect industry and a local PBS station. While I, at the time, hated those years in sales and marketing, in retrospect, they were outstanding, fertile grounds to prepare me quite well to run a successful business as an artist today. I am always moved and deeply grateful when reflecting upon the absolute perfection within all the diversity along my life journey.
How do you want collectors to feel when they engage with your work?
I really want my work to bring to the surface something they recognize as a truth for themselves – as Home. I hope it speaks to their soul in a very quiet, while powerful manner; as it also inspires them to listen quietly to nature’s voice and wisdom in all her seasons. When this happens, I believe we receive a glimpse of the true unity we each reflect in a collective way. We often think we are so unique – yet we are all much more alike than different. Our expressions, within our earthly forms are beautifully diverse, while at the core we are indeed always One. It is my hope that the work will continue to speak to my collectors over many years – changing its voice right along with the changing seasons of their lives. I hope for it always to be an inspiring, reassuring, ray of beauty, Truth and Mystery.