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Colette Girard - February 2024

Colette Girard, February '24 Spotlight Artist

How and where did your art practice begin?

In 1968 my mother found an expensive Pentax camera, left under a lunch counter in downtown Chicago. She posted a lost & found notice in the paper, but no one responded. Even though my dad was already a pretty good amateur photographer, mom decided that I would have the Pentax. On my very next vacation, I shot nine rolls of film - back then, one could usually count on only one or two good photos for every dozen or so taken. Everything on the camera was manual and I learned by trial and error. After a few years, I invested in a huge telephoto lens that brought everything up close with amazing clarity. Next came a wide-angle lens, a tripod, and then a variety of interesting lens filters. I particularly loved photographing nature. Completely self-taught, I was very slow to eventually embrace the digital camera - there was so much I didn't understand compared to my Pentax. Over the years, I filled many, many photo albums. But it wasn't until 2008, when I retired from my professional career as a psychotherapist, that my interest in photography truly ignited and I began to exhibit.


Where do you draw inspiration for your forms/designs?

My artwork is influenced by Miksang, a form of contemplative photography which seeks to clearly see and to appreciate the vividness of the visual world. I photograph common, everyday objects, viewed from unusual perspectives. My abstract images emphasize bright colors, patterns, reflections and distinct shadows. All are actual photographs; cropped, but not digitally generated. I have recently incorporated an abstract series of unaltered macro photography. To enhance the quality of luminescence in my photography, images are infused into metal and mounted on aluminum frames.



What draws you to your specific/preferred medium?

The idea of preserving or maintaining a thing of beauty has always held an allure. So, while the act of viewing a stunning sunset might fill me with joy in the moment, being able to capture that vision in order to view it again and again is just as compelling. Photography allows me to keep intact a moment, or even a second, that may never reappear exactly the same. I have a hard time letting go of things that are special to me, or that represent something or someone close to my heart.


What result can a finished piece or your process yield that makes you feel rewarded or proud?

After retiring, my lifelong interest in photography evolved into a deeper appreciation of all things artful. I would like to think that my current artwork represents the efforts of all those who discover artistic expression later in life, and who continue to learn, to create and to flourish. My artwork has been exhibited at many local/regional venues, including the Overture Center for the Arts, MMOCA, the Museum of Wisconsin Art, the Drury Gallery and the Agora Art Fair. Several of my metal pieces are on permanent exhibit in private collections at the UW Hospital and Clinics.


Where is your practice now, what is your focus, where is it growing?

I plan to exhibit my photographs at specific local art venues for the foreseeable future. In addition to photography, my most recent artistic focus came together at the suggestion of a colleague whose art medium is metalsmithing. She envisioned a line of jewelry created from my metal photographs and offered to teach me the process. My aluminum cuff bracelets, earrings and pendants are created from smaller versions of my abstract images. Cuffs and round earrings are formed by hand using a 20 ton hydraulic press. Pendants and oblong earrings are cut and shaped by hand using a buff grinder. Each unique piece contains a small part of an abstract photograph. I have also recently collaborated with my husband who is a woodworker. He creates beautiful walnut boxes and uses my 4"x 6" and 5"x 7" metal images as lids.



Do you have any upcoming events or locations where your work can be purchased?

Although the last four years have seen a significant reduction in my art show participation (it's a lot of work), there are still the occasional venues. I have vended at the Agora Art Fair in Fitchburg for several years and definitely intend to continue. This family-friendly event takes place mid-August. I also participate in the pop up art show, Blind Tiger, held at COPA (Community Organizations Promoting the Arts) in Fitchburg. The Show is held mid-March. I still periodically exhibit at the UW Hospital & Clinics and at the Pyle Center. To view my latest artwork visit my website at ColetteGirardArt.com


How does being involved with a community art space, like Art Hub, impact your art practice, business, or ability to celebrate and network among other artists?

Art Hub represents my only involvement with a community art space. I chose Art Hub based on Jacy's vision and commitment to artistic endeavor, her support of local artists and her skillful arrangement of gallery space and classrooms. Art Hub is a bright and cheerful place. I know several of the exhibiting artists and am pleased to be a part of this creative family.


You can view more of Colette's work and support her artwork by visiting Art Hub, and her website ColetteGirardArt.com










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