Conveying universal human experiences
This story was featured in the July 2014 issue of Southwest Art magazine. Get the Southwest Art July 2014 print issue or digital download now–then subscribe to Southwest Art and never miss another story!
California artist Lorraine Vail describes the process of bringing an artistic idea to fruition as being similar to dreaming. “Often an idea will form in my mind, and it’s completely visual—I don’t immediately know the significance or meaning behind it,” she says, explaining that it’s not until that vision is transferred into material form (usually by sketching it out on paper) that she begins to understand what it’s about. “It’s like recalling a dream and suddenly realizing, ‘Oh, that was really about power, or beauty, or something entirely different than you originally thought,’” she says.
For Vail, the potential for limitless interpretation is one of the most exciting aspects of art. Whether she is translating her vision onto canvas or forming it into the imaginative bronze figures she’s best known for, Vail’s goal is always the same: To convey an intangible aspect of the human experience in a tangible way. “I like to use a dynamic personality to tell a story or share a universal feeling, so I do that using the figure,” she says. “I try to take an emotion or experience we’ve all had and think, ‘What would that look like?’ and, ‘How can I evoke that familiar feeling in the viewer?’” Of course, Vail says, no matter what her intentions or ideas may be, in the end it is up to the viewer to interpret the meaning of a piece for himself or herself. “As long as the viewer connects with the piece in some way, I’ve done my job,” she says. —Lindsay Mitchell
Vail’s work can be viewed at Borsini-Burr Gallery, Montara, CA.
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