Briefly describe the work do you do.
Using unconventional materials, often found or recycled, in combination with high gloss enamel or metal paint and resin, I create seductive surfaces to entice the viewer from a distance and draw them in for a closer look. Many people have told me they want to lick the candy surfaces of my paintings. Yum is actually a popular comment! But, the detritus, the skeleton of the work is contradictory to traditional ideas of beauty. By placing multiple and opposing qualities together I aim to question social ideals of what is beautiful or valuable. In art as in life, true beauty is complex and multi-layered.
For my recent photographic series, No Relation, the images were based on private, memorable statements made to me by various husbands or lovers. For this series I used the photographic image to create a narrative with distinct reference to the power dynamics in love and relationships.
With each work I manipulate and combine appropriated images with my own photographs, scans, found materials and paint. The resin coating creates a tough, impenetrable surface, which seduces with a hidden agenda by acting as a barrier to human touch. This barrier unifies complications of surface textures and protects what is vulnerable. The seductive surface beauty in combination with a hard repellant surface lacking vulnerability seems a perfect metaphor for having No Relation.
More about this work can be viewed here: http://www.connienoyes.com/#!no-relation/cee5
This year, I began incorporating video and social interaction into my work through the KISS PROJECT. I invited three men from the on-line dating site OK cupid to dress me, as they would like to see me on our first date. The men directed everything, clothing, hair and make-up where I stood or sat, when I spoke etc. I acted as a black slate, open to the many interpretations of their projections. The project’s impetus was a film by Thomas Edison in the 1890’s called The Kiss. Each of the men had to include a kiss in their directives to me. The ongoing project can be viewed here: http://www.connienoyes.com/#!the-kiss-project/cq73
These bodies of work are related through my never-ending desire to understand the relationship of opposites.
At what point in your life did you decide to become an artist?
I think the first time I knew I was a creative person was as a freshman in college. This was the first time anyone ever gave me attention or support for being creative. I can’t say I considered myself an artist at this time, but I loved the process of making images. My first photography class was magic and though I never labeled myself a photographer either, I ended up majoring in photography as an undergrad and continued on in photography at the School of the Art Institute in Chicago as a grad student. From the beginning I used the photographic image as a jumping off place to create a personal story of my own conflicted perceptions of relationships. I don’t know when I actually used the label “artist” to refer to myself, but after trying on other labels, waitress, teacher, therapist, manager among a few, I know now “artist” is my state of being if that makes any sense. There is no difference between my art and my life. I am my art.
Tell us a little about your background and how that influences you as an artist.
The biggest influence on me as an artist was getting a Masters degree in psychology and then going into private practice as a psychotherapist/art therapist for four years while living in San Francisco. I worked mostly with substance abusers, alcoholics and women who had been sexually abused. I learned that in order to facilitate change I needed to build a relationship with the patient and trust that somehow we would make it out alive together. I learned to fully trust the process without forcing my own agenda. The intensity and necessity of self-examination in order to do this work was frightening and transforming. Being another’s therapist, through rewarding, was not my path.
Sitting with people in chaos however made me a better artist. The process was not that different from standing in front of a blank canvas. The more chaos created, the more opportunities present themselves. There is always a time in the creative process where I am not sure I will make it out alive. Or, if I do, I am sure I will never make art again. Self-doubt is loud. But, I have been through this enough now to know it is when I allow myself to be involved in the process, not judge the moment and not be invested in the outcome unexpected and wonderful things happen. I am constantly working my way out of disastrous places in my work. As a matter of fact, I don’t ever think I have made work when at some point in the process I didn’t think it was a complete disaster. Usually the day after I am ready to trash the whole thing the work will miraculously resolve itself. Without chaos my work has no life. Without surrender there is no completion Taking risks is a way to create options and trust is paramount.
What types of conceptual concerns are present in your work? How do those relate to the specific process(es) or media you use?
Issues of perception, particularly around how we see beauty, have been present in my work since I began. I continually find new ways to manipulate, reconstruct and embellish discarded materials in order to question the relationship between external and internal beauty. At first glance, viewers may perceive the paintings as rich and luscious, but upon further examination the materials from which they were created are revealed. As I push and pull materials or images in the creation of these works, the layers become a record of experimentation – the final surface acting as a mask for all that lies beneath.
We once heard Chuck Close say he did not believe in being inspired, rather in working hard everyday. What motivates you in your studio practice?
I have to agree with Chuck Close. I always tell myself to just show up!! This is the MOST important part of the creative process. Something always happens even when I don’t feel like working…and sometimes really interesting things happen because of my resistance. I just try to stay open. Inspiration happens because of this discipline. The process is every bit as important as the finished product, perhaps even more so. The rewards are in the making.
When artists living or non-living influence your work?
As an undergrad, my first major influence was Robert Rauschenberg. I was fascinated with his use of materials in combination with photographic imagery. By chance, I saw his retrospective in three different cities when I was in my early 20’s. I have also been influenced by Eva Hesse’s organic use of materials to create form and space. Her work elegant, powerful and serial in nature uses many opposing qualities – hard and soft, fragile and substantial, abstract and evocative, but it the sensual materiality and physicality of her work that has been most influential.
When you are not making art what types of activities and interests do you engage in?
I am pretty singularly focused these days on my work and the thousands of other tasks involved in being a full time working artist, but I dance to keep in shape and devour movies on a regular basis.
About Connie Noyes
Born in Washington D.C., Connie Noyes is a full time artist in Chicago. She received her MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and MA degree in Psychology from Notre Dame de Namur University in Belmont California. Her work has been exhibited both nationally and internationally in such cities as Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, London, Paris, Munich and Malaysia. She has been selected for prestigious international artist’s residencies and symposiums, including the Emaar International Art Symposium in Dubai, United Arab Emirates (2005); Thupelo International Workshop in Cape Town, South Africa (2005); The 6th Annual International Symposium of Art in Bulgaria (2006); The 5th International Visual Arts Symposium in Monastir, Tunisia (2007); and in 2008 as a participant in the Visual Arts Festival in Montenegro sponsored by the Association of Fine Arts Belgrade-Serbia and Montenegro. Noyes’ work is in a number of corporate, private, and museum collections including that of, Neimen Marcus, Starbucks, Museum of Contemporary Photography in Chicago and the Greenville County Museum in North Carolina. She is represented by N’namdi Contemporary in Miami.
All images copyright of the artist and used with their permission.