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story.lead_photo.caption "You can see my work at www.kellielehr.com and Boswell Mourot Fine Art in Little Rock," says artist Kellie Lehr. "If you're in Northwest Arkansas, you can request a studio visit by emailing me on my website. I try to announce exhibitions and events as they happen on Instagram @kellielehr as well." (Courtesy Photo/Kat Wilson)

Northwest Arkansas is a hotbed of artistic talent. In our third Makers' Round-Up of 2020, we shine a spotlight on more of the folks who make up the creative, diverse heart of the region's art scene.

Kellie Lehr

FAQ

‘Poetics of Place’

WHAT — A show curated by Kellie Lehr, featuring artists Ziba Rajabi and Suzannah Schreckhise

WHEN — Planned for April through June

WHERE — 211 South, 211 S. Main St., Bentonville

COST — Free

INFO — 268-5170

3 E. Mountain St., Fayetteville

kellielehr.com

Please tell us a little bit about your work. What do you create?

My work is an amalgamation of real and imagined images. It oscillates in between abstraction and recognizable form. I'm interested in creating sensations of movement and visual rhythm that feel caught in states of either becoming or dissolving. My source material often comes from the natural landscape. I layer ideas and questions and look for surprising moments of change and transformation.

When did you first start thinking of yourself as an artist/creator/maker? What were some of the first things you remember creating?

Sometime around 2016 was the year I started to get some momentum in my painting practice. Plein-air landscape painting, still life and self-portraits were my way in initially. I went back to school in 2013 to study art formally. Of course, I grew up always creating and making, so it felt as much like a returning as it did a new beginning -- almost as if my life got sidetracked for a few years, and then I just went back to it.

"My work is an amalgamation of real and imagined images. It oscillates in between abstraction and recognizable form. I'm interested in creating sensations of movement and visual rhythm that feel caught in states of either becoming or dissolving. " -- Kellie Lehr (Courtesy Photo)

Where can we see/purchase your work?

You can see my work at www.kellielehr.com and Boswell Mourot Fine Art in Little Rock. If you're in Northwest Arkansas, you can request a studio visit by emailing me on my website. I try to announce exhibitions and events as they happen on Instagram @kellielehr as well.

Do you experience "creator's block" and, if so, what kinds of things inspire you to get over that?

The best cure I've found is to show up to work anyway, even if I can only clean up or reorganize. The other thing that helps me is to flush things out through writing. Switching to my non-dominate hand also helps.

What's your favorite part of the creative process?

Well, I love the beginning, but my favorite part is when the painting takes a turn. I allow intuition to take the lead. Sometimes the ideas I'm working with have to be abandoned to follow the painting where it wants to go. There's this syncing up between mind, body and spirit. I wish it happened all the time, but it isn't something that can be forced. I find it happens more the more I work.

Have there been any responses to your art that you found particularly moving or memorable?

One of the most memorable experiences for me happened when a Fayetteville couple purchased one of my paintings, and I delivered it in person. They invited me to have a glass of wine with them as they hung the art and shared the reasons they purchased it. They explained different reasons for being attracted to it. One responded to a specific memory of a time and place that it triggered. The other reacted to the more formal aspects -- related to the use of space and implied movement. (He was also a sculptor.) It was a gift to hear their reactions and be able to see the piece hung in their home. I am not thinking about those things when I am making, so this allowed me to see my work from a different perspective. To have the love you put in returned feels so rewarding. Art gives in many ways.

"My source material often comes from the natural landscape. I layer ideas and questions and look for surprising moments of change and transformation." -- Kellie Lehr (Courtesy Photo)

What are some other artists/creators that inspire you?

Contemporary artists I'm looking at right now are Charline von Heyl, Keltie Ferris, Carrie Moyer, Mark Bradford, El Anatsui. I'm looking at Lee Krasner, Joan Mitchell and Grace Hartigan a lot lately as well.

What is one tool in your studio you can't live without?

Galkyd. It speeds drying times for oil paint.

What is the best piece of advice you've ever been given?

Trust yourself. Develop a network of people around you that you can talk to, give you honest feedback, and trust, but ultimately you have to trust the voice inside yourself. When in doubt, pay attention to how you feel in your physical body. The body doesn't lie.

Do you have any advice for a creative just starting out?

Make a ton of work. Put in the time and make, make, make. Look at a lot of work in person. Not on the internet, in person. Write about it, flush it out on paper. Realize that there's a huge gap when you start between what you want to make and what you actually can make, so don't let that stop you.

I think everyone's journey is their own, and it's different for everyone. For me, I need rules and structure to be able to operate with more freedom and take more risks. Some people do it differently, and that's OK too. Do the next right thing for you. Break things down into baby steps. What's the next right thing? Do that.

photo
"Ever since I remember, I have always been making something with my hands or painting on every surface around me," says artist Ziba Rajabi. (Courtesy Photo/Josh Loeser)

Ziba Rajabi

[email protected]

instagram.com/zibarajabi

artists360.art/artists/ziba-rajabi/

Please tell us a little bit about your work. What do you create?

My primary medium is painting and drawing. However, I recently started working more with fabric and textiles.

When did you first start thinking of yourself as an artist/creator/maker? What were some of the first things you remember creating?

Ever since I remember, I have always been making something with my hands or painting on every surface around me. In high school, I decided to go to an art-specific high school in Iran and study graphic design. That was when I knew for sure that I want to be an artist in the future.

Where can we see/purchase your work?

In Bentonville, 211 South Gallery and Sutton Hylton Gallery. Also, to see more of my works, you can visit my website at www.zibarajabi.com, or my Instagram page at @zibarajabi and contact me for more info.

What's your favorite part of the creative process?

Exploring the unknown is my favorite part of the creative process. Knowing that there are still a lot of things that I do not know about my art, and there are so many possibilities that I have not experienced yet, makes me so excited to explore and make more art.

Ziba Rajabi's primary medium is painting and drawing. However, she says, she recently started working more with fabric and textiles. (Courtesy Photo)

Was there a teacher, relative or friend who particularly encouraged you to pursue your art?

My parents did not believe in art as a career before -- now they do! However, when I decided to study art and pursue it as my future career, they let me do what I wanted to do and supported me anyhow. I think the fact that they believed in me was the greatest encouragement and made me trust myself as well.

How has your work changed or evolved over time?

I started with a miniature-like landscape painting that was inspired by traditional Persian painting. Then here in Arkansas, because of the influence of Arkansas nature and American art education, my work evolved into very large abstract painting and fabric installations.

What are some other artists/creators that inspire you?

My work is influenced significantly by Helen Frankenthaler, an American abstract expressionist painter. However, in my recent works, I am inspired by Alan Shields' practice of painting. Also, Molly Zuckerman-Hartung's writings and thoughts about art and specifically medium of painting have impacted my understanding of contemporary painting considerably.

"Exploring the unknown is my favorite part of the creative process. Knowing that there are still a lot of things that I do not know about my art, and there are so many possibilities that I have not experienced yet, makes me so excited to explore and make more art." -- Ziba Rajabi (Courtesy Photo)

What is one tool in your studio you can't live without?

I wish I could say a brush or pencil, but it is actually a bucket!

What is the best piece of advice you've ever been given?

Critique your work before others critique it.

If you could change one aspect of society through your work, what would it be?

Inequality.

Do you have any advice for a creative just starting out?

Just work and work and work -- that actually means: make, study, write, explore, question, and never stop learning.

NAN Our Town on 03/26/2020

Print Headline: Makers' Round-Up

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