Briefly describe the work that you do.
I am a full-time painter, working in acrylic on canvas. I refer to my work as Contemporary Surrealism. Themes I explore involve the human psyche- who we are and how we interact with each other, and the world we live in- our relationship with other animals and nature, as well as the cycle of life and connections between all life forms. I work in series, each painting has its own message, with the overall concept conveying respect for all of nature and humanity.
At what point in your life did you decide to become an artist?
I have been drawing and painting since I was very young, so art was just something that I’d known all my life and brought me enjoyment. For me, it was always something I wanted to do, so it was a natural progression for me to pursue art as my major in college and take it to a professional level.
Tell us a little about your background and how that influences you as an artist.
From a young age, I was concerned about the welfare of animals and had an interest in the natural world. I eventually became a vegetarian for a few years and then went vegan, which I have been for the past 15 years. My latest body of work In Our Veins, has been greatly influenced by my veganism in addition to my concerns for the environment. The premise of In Our Veins is to explore the connections between all life forms and the cycle of life through a surreal, psychologically-charged narrative.
What types of conceptual concerns are present in your work? How do those relate to the specific process(es) or media you use?
As mentioned, one of the themes explored with my In Our Veins series is animal welfare. It’s an important issue for me on a personal level, but I also feel that it is a significant part of the future of our environment. These issues go hand-in-hand. In Our Veins explores the connections between all life forms and the process of the life cycle. This includes the interdependence of the human race to each other and to the rest of the animal kingdom, as well as the planet itself. One cannot exist without the other, therefore it is of the utmost importance that we care for each and every living thing. Of course I believe this is important not just for the survival of the planet, but also out of a moral and ethical obligation as well.
In addition to the message behind my work, my materials are also vegan and animal-friendly. I paint with acrylic which is much safer to use than oils, and I do not use any toxic mediums or thinners. My brushes are all synthetic (not animal hair), and even my packing materials are reused and/or recycled.
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 suppose he meant that if you were to rely solely on “inspiration” to further your art, you’d be waiting around a lot because I think inspiration is fairly intermittent. As far as my own art career is concerned, there is always something to do and not enough time in the day. I spend a great deal of time painting, working on new sketches, and getting my work “out there” whether its preparing for an exhibit or submitting my portfolio in hopes of a show. Having it all come together, seeing the work as a whole in a museum exhibit, or just getting a personal email from someone on the other side of the world that was moved by my work, is all motivating and keeps me going.
What artists living or non-living influence your work?
I’ve been inspired by Surrealist artists from a very young age including Salvador Dali, Rene Magritte, and Frida Kahlo. My interest in art is fairly eclectic- I also like the work of Kiki Smith, Lucian Freud, James Ensor, Wangechi Mutu, just to name a few.
When you are not making art what types of activities and interests do you engage in?
Aside from my art, I enjoy reading, cooking new vegan dishes, weightlifting, and spending time with my “fur babies.”
Amy Guidry (b. 1976, Jacksonville, N.C.) is an American artist residing in Lafayette, Louisiana. She grew up in Slidell, Louisiana, a suburb of New Orleans. She attended Loyola University of New Orleans where she received her Bachelors degree in Visual Arts in 1998. She was the recipient of the Loyola University Art Scholarship, which is awarded to only one student per graduating class.
Guidry’s work has been exhibited in galleries and museums nationwide including the Visual Arts Center of New Jersey, Aljira a Center for Contemporary Art, Brandeis University, the PhilaMOCA, and the Paul & Lulu Hilliard Art Museum. Her work is present in public and private international collections including the Alexandria Museum of Art, The City of Slidell, and the Cedar Rapids Museum of Art. Guidry’s paintings have been featured in publications such as American Artist, Professional Artist, and Adbusters. Her work has also been featured on MTV’s The Real World, Season 20: Hollywood. She is represented by Wally Workman Gallery in Austin, Texas and The Oak Street Gallery in Hammond, Louisiana.
All images copyright of the artist and used with their permission.