Sandy Coomer is an artist and poet living in Brentwood, TN. Her poetry has been published in numerous journals and anthologies and she is the author of three poetry chapbooks, including the recent Rivers Within Us (Unsolicited Press). Her art has been featured in local art shows and exhibits, and has been published in journals such as Lunch Ticket (Antioch University Los Angeles), Gravel, The Wire’s Dream Magazine, Up the Staircase, Taxicab, Spider Mirror and The Magnolia Review, among others. She is a teacher, a dreamer, a seeker, and an explorer. Her favorite word is “Believe.” She believes in the power and worth of every individual and in the right to seek out, discover, and embody our truest, most authentic selves.
Sandy’s art is also featured in the cover page and within Issue 2 of Credo Espoir. We reached out to Sandy and asked her a few questions about her inspiration and her process in creating her wonderful pieces. Here are her answers below.
You mentioned ‘Blizzard’ is part of a larger collection of 100 paintings. Could you elaborate on the collection?
I started work on the collection in the spring of 2017 with no preconceived notion as to a statement or purpose. I was simply enamored with the process of the type of art called acrylic pour painting. As I created more and more pieces, I sensed a connection between the art I made and the environment. I began to “see” the natural world in the abstract forms within each piece. I gave the pieces titles that connected them to nature, the environment, the human body, and the scientific and physical mechanisms that guard the inner workings of each. As I manipulated the artistic procedure and tried new techniques, the collection became more and more alive for me. “Blizzard” utilizes white space, much like a “whiteout” in a real winter storm, “Electrical Storm” embodies flashes of lightning, while “Foxglove” is delicate and soft as the biennial flower. As I continue to study color and ask myself new questions, (What does photosynthesis look like? What combination best represents an eagle’s wing? How does a river wind through a canyon?) I feel like an explorer on a grand adventure with endless possibilities.
What processes were involved in creating this piece?
Acrylic pour paintings are created by adding acrylic paint to various substrates, alcohol, and silicone oil. Every paint color has its own specific gravity or density and as the mixture of colors and substrates is poured on the canvas, the colors separate into layers. The substrates act as carriers and conditioners for the paint. Alcohol, having less density than water, paint or oil, rises to the top when gently heated and takes some color with it. Silicone oil facilitates the creation of what we call “cells” in the painting. What interests me most about this technique is its seeming randomness and the way the artist has less control as to what happens on the canvas (or my preferred format, claybord.) For a person who likes to be in control, I found this strangely exhilarating and also sometimes frustrating when a piece didn’t turn out like I hoped. In a way, it was a lesson in being unpredictable, for opening the door to change and flow, for allowing the art to create itself.
What message or perspective do you hope your audience to gain from your art?
I feel strongly that humanity needs to do a better job taking care of our world and our bodies, both a type of vessel which carries us through life. We abuse, neglect, and thoughtlessly dispose of that which is more valuable than our simple understanding might imagine. It is holy. I hope viewers of my art see the magic of the abstract within the piece and allow their own imagination to bring some new perspective and even joy. But I also hope they allow themselves to see what I see – a blizzard, a storm, a stemmed purple flower – and think about the mysteries and great power of the world in which we live. Perhaps that results in a deeper respect or a better appreciation of all life – be it the natural world, the human world, or the otherworldly phenomena we don’t fully understand.
Your belief statement was ‘I believe in the power and worth of every individual and in the right to seek out, discover, and embody our truest, most authentic selves.’ How does your artwork embody this sentiment?
I think creating any art takes courage, whether it be in the genre of writing, music, or visual art. Creative people have inside them a unique, specific need to create and without that act of creation, we cannot be our truest selves. For me, if I didn’t write poetry or create visual art, I would be less real, less “Sandy,” for it is in creating that I know my purpose and my joy. But sometimes, for some people, the right to be authentic and true is silenced, dismissed. That is destructive, not only for that person, but for the world, because the world needs authentic, real people who know their worth and can live it out, hopefully while inspiring others. Most of what I do creatively is self-taught. I have no formal art training, but I have a calling to create art. It was not always the case for me to see my worth as a writer and an artist. Fear and self-doubt clouded my vision. But I’ve now claimed the right to be myself and I’ve lived in the power that comes with knowing myself. It’s something that every person deserves. It’s my hope that every person will find that.