Tiffany Besonen is an artist and art teacher living with her husband and two children on a century-old farm. As an artist, she works both two and three-dimensionally, and has exhibited throughout the Midwest and in New York City. When she isn’t making or teaching art, she writes about it, and is currently dreaming about turning some of her paintings into fabric designs.
Carrie: Welcome to Artist Strong Tiffany, can you describe your art to our readers?
My work is both two and three-dimensional, colorful and not. Lately, animals and doors are important metaphors in my paintings, and I am working on a collection of paintings for my “Spaces-in-Between” exhibit that begins August 2016.
Carrie: When did you first realize you were an artist?
Probably in 2nd grade when a teacher pointed it out to me. I studied Art in college, but as an adult I didn’t fully embrace being an artist until I was expecting my first child. It was that now-or-never time and I committed to it as who I am.
Carrie: I saw your work Reassurance: Incantation Bowls Reimagined on your website and felt mesmerized. Can you tell us a bit about that work?
That work was a collaboration with my poet friend LouAnn Shepard Muhm. We both were attending a lecture and found out about incantation bowls of ancient Babylonia, and decided to reimagine them through combining LouAnn’s poetry against fears with my illustrations and bowl forms, http://tbesonen.blogspot.com/2014_10_01_archive.html
I worked for many years on creating a collection of translucent bowls made out of large sewing pattern paper, inscribed with LouAnn’s words, and illustrated with my crows and foxes. The entire process and culminating exhibit were a great turning point in my work, bowls about overcoming fears helped me to do just that.
Carrie: You work with many materials, how do you decide which medium to use when you investigate an idea?
Delicate sewing pattern paper has been in my two and three-dimensional work for twelve years, and I love its translucency, natural color, graphic markings, and traditional associations. But then, of course, I ignore all the instructions on the sewing pattern and do my own thing. Most recently, I have been using acrylic paint on canvas and enjoying the immediacy of playing with color, texture, and metaphor. Sometimes I simply experiment with materials and see what ideas spring up, other times the idea starts first and then I decide what material would work best.
Carrie: A lot of people are feeling alienated by contemporary art, which can include media like installation work. What can you say to people who are curious about (but also intimidated by) installation art?
The exciting thing about creating an installation is working with an entire gallery space and breaking the traditional ways of displaying and viewing art. Some people may find installations more accessible in some ways. It’s okay not to like some art, but don’t give up on it. There really are so many artists who have so much to say. You will connect with something.
Carrie: How do you decide when an artwork is finished?
It is a feeling. I keep working until I feel like I can call it art. Now, whether or not it belongs in a body of work is another challenge to figure out.
Carrie: What is one piece of advice you give your students that is really important for you as a creative?
Just on the other side of frustration is the best satisfaction. And, art is about being human, not about perfection. Perfectionism is a terrible disease that robs us of joy and freedom. Creating allows us to be vulnerable and imperfect.
Carrie: What is one creative resource you can’t live without?
I keep going back to the well of my own sketchbooks. There are so many great resources online too, but it is so essential for me to look back at sketches and former work and find the clues of where to go next.
Carrie: Who/what inspires you?
I need words and ideas. And trust. And stories with texture that follow childlike curiosities. And brave color. And subtle earthy scents. And the freedom to be in the space where I do not worry about money, or the history of art, or the legacy of my life, or pleasing anyone.
Carrie: How do you define Creativity?
Creativity is a brave way of approaching life and responding in new ways. Truly new art is creativity’s purest form. The creative process is both wild and messy, and slow and intricate; there has to be that balance for me.
Be Courageously Creative: Do you work in a sketchbook? How does it inform your art? I want to know! Let’s talk in the comments below.
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