A Brief Biography: Erika grew up in a rather rural town near Albany, NY in the art history rich “Hudson River School” area of New York State. From 1999 to 2000 she attended the Glasgow School of Art in Glasgow, Scotland where she was lucky enough to have her studio in the famed Mackintosh Building. Then in 2001 she graduated from Beaver College (now named Arcadia University) with a Bachelor Degree in Fine Art. After graduating college she returned to her hometown where she currently lives and creates her artwork. Erika’s work has been exhibited not only locally but also in Los Angeles, Glasgow Scotland, and Bari Italy. In 2012 she was a winner and finalist in the American Arts Awards, a worldwide competition & online exhibit juried by top galleries in the US; in 2011 she was a finalist in the same competition.
Artist Statement: I create mandalas and combine that familiar traditionally recognized aspects with less structured, but no less complex abstraction.
Historically, mandalas have been created in various forms for thousands of years by cultures around the world (for example the Tibetan monks still make them out of sand). There have been many definitions for what a mandala “is”. Personally, I refer to these circular images as windows into the soul, where work comes spontaneously from thoughts and emotion and is expressed through abstract gestures. I work from my innermost feelings, thoughts, and memories. In creating my mandalas I work primarily in two mediums – paint (usually watercolor) and digital manipulation or compilation. No matter what the medium is there are always some basic thoughts and overlaying features: pattern, abstraction, and transparent layering. The work never begins with a preconceived notion of what the final appearance will or should be. Working with many layers, they build up over time to create the illusion of depth. By utilizing both conventional and unconventional tools I allow unexpected patterns to emerge. These controlled accidents are instinctively driven, rather than consciously decided, to ultimately create a dialogue between myself, the artwork, and the viewer.
My intention and desire in the end is to evoke the feelings, thoughts, questions.
There are obviously differences between mediums…
Painting Mandalas: Unlike most watercolor paintings, my paintings are made with complete disregard to the thickness or thinness of each layer, the color, and allowing them to build up sometimes in excess of 75 layers. There are also times that I paint on old book pages and in doing so the original text becomes obscured in places and reveled in others. One will often find that the titles do not guide people to a so called correct “answer” or direct you on how you are supposed to feel or see. This is absolutely intentional, for although each one means something to me, part of my work is in the unique experience individual has. There is no right or wrong response. I find it fascinating that every individual has a unique experience when looking at my work because we are all affected by color and pattern differently.
(I have taken a general break from making the digital work in favor of my paintings but to describe them regardless…) Digital Mandalas: Almost always I use photographs that I have personally taken. No matter what the subject matter of the initial photograph was, in time the work evolves to completion, often there remains a sensory ghost of the original image. Leaving the viewer curious about what the original subject was, or if they know or have figured it out there is still wonder in what one is looking at. These digital paintings often exceed 10 layers till I reach a final piece. In many pieces I also incorporated my watercolor mandalas which adds an imperfect element to the image.