Since we first opened our doors back in 2017, we’ve intentionally curated and sought out mixed media artwork to display. We are inspired by the unexpected, seeing raw materials used in artwork in new innovative ways. One of the first collage series we exhibited was by Miles Purvis Daniel. Her “Pin Up” series combined found images from art history books with drawings and torn painted papers. The resulting images were as unique as they were beautiful.
We know that the layers and complexity of artwork doesn't always come across when viewing it on a screen. So, we wanted to take the liberty of chatting with a few of our artists who work in the mixed media realm. Their work has so many layers to it (literally) and we think you'll enjoy taking a closer look!
The artists we spoke with are Holly Graham, Kristen Solecki, and Jen Matthews. All three of these women are Carolina based artists, specializing in mixed media fine art. Whether they are using fabric, hand painted paper or found materials, their work always feels thoughtful, harmonious, and complex.
Kristen Solecki is an artist and illustrator based in Durham, NC. Since earning her degree in illustration from the University of the Arts in Philadelphia, Solecki has worked with a variety of clients to create editorial illustrations, book cover art, large scale wall coverings, product illustration, marketing materials, paintings, and other projects.
MG - What kinds of materials do you collect? What are you attracted to when selecting materials before and during the creative process?
KS - I collect found photos, books, and go to the library a lot for inspiration for upcoming pieces. When you develop ideas for work this way it is easier to share your own voice rather than searching for images online and getting the same things everyone else is. I work in a mix of gouache, acrylic, ink, and collage and start working out ideas in my sketchbook, everything starts in my sketchbooks. Once I find a subject matter I want to explore, that helps dictate the colors and mediums I am using. I hand paint most of my papers and cut them out into irregular shapes which also assembles the stories in my work. I am attracted to materials that are flexible in how they can be used and that can be applied in more than one way.
MG - What artists are you inspired by that maybe work in a similar manner?
KS - Margaret Kilgallen and Lynda Barry are artists whose work I love. We work in different manners but their processes and stories behind their work are what I am attracted to and what draws me in when looking at other artists' work.
Holly Graham was born and raised in Charlotte, NC. Her process-based method of painting has come about after creating a solid foundation in art education. Holly graduated with Honors in Studio Art from Wake Forest University. There, she studied traditional oil painting, printmaking, and photography. After working at the prestigious National Gallery of Art and the Corcoran Gallery of Art, Holly decided to return to art making full time.
MG: What kinds of materials do you collect?
HG: I collect leftover strips of canvas, cardboard, balsa wood and all kinds of paper - anything that interests me and I see possibilities with is fair game. Lately, I have been pushing the boundaries more and more with the materials I use. I really enjoy finding new ways to use them and then integrating color into the composition afterwards.
MG: What are you attracted to when selecting materials before and during the creative process?
HG: Texture is such an important part of my work. I am usually looking at the texture of an object when deciding when and how to use it. But lately, I am more interested in how I can manipulate ordinary materials in new ways to create texture and visual interest as well. When folded in a new way, paper can become sculptural and incredibly interesting. Anything with a repetitive pattern is also appealing.
MG: What artists are you inspired by that work in a similar manner?
HG: I enjoy the work of so many artists who create depth and texture by working with various media in their work. Paul Yanko’s work packs a lot of detail into a small space, and I’m always discovering new things when I look at his color blocked compositions. Conny Goelz Schmidt repurposed vintage books into wall sculptures and the weathered book covers create beautifully muted color palettes for her compositions. Ted Larson’s wall sculptures are minimalist magic, and Florian Baudrexel’s cardboard pieces remind me of a cross between early Cubist pieces and Louise Nevelson’s monochromatic assemblages. All of these artists are creating work that pushes the boundaries within their chosen media, and that's my goal as well.
Jen Matthews knew who her influences were from an early age – Ellsworth Kelly, Joan Mitchell, Frank Stella and her father. Most people wouldn’t have known that her father was also a gifted photographer, artist, and master woodworker. His talents combined with the brightly colored prints in the 80s clothing store her mother owned, were the defining influences on Jen’s early art.
Matthews states, “A big part of what I create is rooted in my childhood. My earliest creative experiences involve getting lost in the floral prints of my mom's clothing store that she owned in the 80s and the countless hours sitting alongside my grandmother as she made the most incredible, colorful quilts. I find so much inspiration from vintage textiles and patterns that remind me of those times. I am lucky to have a large bin of floral fabric from my husband's late grandmother that I often use as part of my base layers. I also have a stash of some very textured, yet delicate handmade papers from Hawaii. You will find bits of these throughout many of my pieces. My hope is that when others get up close to my paintings they find these little textured paper and textiles treasures I have amongst the many layers of paint and they provoke a feeling of curiosity or even nostalgia.”
It's no secret that we adore the artists that we represent and know you will too. If you see a piece on our website and want to see more images to make sure it's the one, give us a shout! You can always reach us at email@example.com. We'd love to help!