Chelsea Voss – Pensacola, Florida

"Memory." (Phase 1 of 8) Multiple layers of laser-cut paper. Phase 1 is 4" x 5." Entire framed series is 48" x 9." 2013.

“Memory.” (Phase 1 of 8) Multiple layers of laser-cut paper. Phase 1 is 4″ x 5.” Entire framed series is 48″ x 9.” 2013.

Briefly describe the work you do.

What stands out in my work is the juxtaposition of geometric and organic structures—namely, spider webs. I use the webs as a visual and conceptual metaphor for the evanescent, fractaled structure of neurons within the brain. I am interested both in neurology and psychology, as well as the theoretical, psychoanalytical works of Carl Jung. My work explores the physical makeup of the brain and the intangible, speculative nature of consciousness. My practice exists in the intersection of these two approaches to understanding the human mind.

Tell us a little about your background and how that influences you as an artist.

For as long as I can remember, I have had vivid dreams that I remember every night. As a kid, I’d write them down; when I grew older, I began to analyze my dreams and study psychology. About seven years ago my father developed dementia; his mental state has been devolving ever since. Understanding the brain became a deeply personal endeavor. Through my art I explore the complexities and mysteries of both the brain and the subconscious.

"Orbs." Glass orbs, monofilament, European Garden Spiders, webs. Size variable. Located in Kesselfall, outside of Graz, Austria. 2013.

“Orbs.” Glass orbs, monofilament, European Garden Spiders, webs. Size variable. Located in Kesselfall, outside of Graz, Austria. 2013.

The concept of the “artist studio” has a broad range of meanings, especially in contemporary practice. The idea of the artist toiling away alone in a room may not necessarily reflect what many artists do from day to day anymore. Describe your studio practice and how it differs from (or is the same as) traditional notions of “being in the studio.”

Much of my process is reading, dreaming, reflection, research, and hiking, which I do as often as possible. Only after an idea has been incubated to maturity will I create. Even then, I often find myself outside of the studio either in search of spiders or enacting the performative nature of my art.

For Mason House, the act of trying to enter the actual building of which the sculpture was based upon was as much a part of the art as the sculpture itself. Mason House came about from a dream I had of a building. Keeping in mind Carl Jung’s emphasis on symbols within dreams, a house is a representation of the self. Weeks later when I saw the building in downtown Gainesville, I knew I had to enter. It ended up being owned by Free Masons, who would not let me inside. So, I created a glass model of the house and let spiders live in it, making it my own and symbolically entering it myself. For added catharsis, I brought spiders to the downtown house and slipped them through cracks in windows and in keyholes. At that point, I felt the project was complete. The studio practice was only a part of Mason House.

"Mason House." Laser-cut plexiglass, Venusta Orchard Spider, webs. 17" x 13" x 17." 2013.

“Mason House.” Laser-cut plexiglass, Venusta Orchard Spider, webs. 17″ x 13″ x 17.” 2013.

What unique roles do you see yourself as the artist playing that you may not have envisioned yourself in when you first started making art?

My art forces viewers to acknowledge the role their subconscious plays in the makeup of who they are. For this reason, I see myself as a psychoanalyst.

My work that deals with the breakdown of memory and sense of self that accompanies dementia is deeply emotional. It offers not only insight to my own heartbreak, but commiseration to those who experience it was well. In this sense, I am a therapist.

When do you find is the best time of day to make art? Do you have time set aside every day, every week or do you just work whenever you can?

I make art at any time of day I can, which lately has been in the evenings because of work at the museum. Though, the best time to catch spiders is in the morning before the Florida heat drives them out of their webs and into shade.

How has your work changed in the last five years? How is it the same?

Five years ago, I saw myself as a painter. The notion of being a sculptor had never crossed my mind. Throughout the past five years, I have been surrounded by phenomenal artists who have pushed my boundaries and made me grow, both as an artist and a person. I am forever grateful to my professors, especially Celeste Roberge, who never let me settle and always inspired me to explore and research entirely new ways of thinking, making, and being. In comparison, my older work is unrecognizable. It is important for me to be in a constant state of flux.

"Mason House." (detail) Laser-cut plexiglass, Venusta Orchard Spider, webs. 17" x 13" x 17." 2013.

“Mason House.” (detail) Laser-cut plexiglass, Venusta Orchard Spider, webs. 17″ x 13″ x 17.” 2013.

Are there people such as family, friends, writers, philosophers or even pop icons that have had an impact on the work you do?

I cannot read enough of Carl Jung’s literature. He is best known for being the father of Analytical Psychology, which places emphasis on dreams and the subconscious. What some do not know about him, however, is his prowess as both a poet and an artist. His symbolic paintings in The Red Book and his prose on Bollingen Tower continue to inspire me. His work has a direct impact on my art.

If you had an occupation outside of being an artist, what would that be and why?

If not a psychologist or neuroscientist (for obvious reasons), then I would like to be an astronomer. The universe is full of such amazing beauty and mystery; to spend a lifetime learning about something so much greater than oneself would be endlessly fulfilling.

ChelseaVoss_headshot_365About 

I grew up in Pensacola, Florida and graduated High Honors from the University of Florida, where I received a BFA in Sculpture. During the summer of 2012 I studied Film and Photography studios in contemporary art capitol Berlin, Germany, which offered life-changing inspiration. My art has been shown throughout Florida, most notably in Gainesville and Hollywood. I have been nominated for the Windgate Fellowship Award and won numerous artistic merit-based scholarships during my time at UF.

After graduation, I pursued artistic endeavors in forests outside of Graz, Austria, and later worked in Barcelona, Spain. Currently I am employed by the Pensacola Museum of Art and continue working as an artist.

http://chelsealanevoss.carbonmade.com/

All images copyright of the artist and used with their permission. 

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