Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Artist of the Week

Erika Bjornson

There comes a time in every artist's or writer's life when he or she decides that what once was a personal passion must become something more. This decision takes courage, dedication, and a certain level of confidence in the fact that you what to be a person who follows their dreams and not the dreams of others. When you think about it should be simple, I am happiest and most fulfilled when I paint therefore I will be a painter. However, in life it is never that simple, people paint personal landscape and hide them in their garages so the neighbors won't see, they journal or maybe even write a story or two, but still drive to work every morning. Until one day they take that honest leap and never look back.

Chicago artist Erika Bjornson has taken that leap. She has dedicated her life to creating something that she loves and it shows in the finished product. Her work is vibrant and loving, it swills and dances with a sense of freedom that is undeniable. As we begin a new year I could not think of a better example of what beginning anew means, and I could not think of a better artist to kick off Orange Alert in 2008 than Erika Bjornson.

Recently, Erika was kind enough to answer a few my questions.

Orange Alert (OA): There are three words at the bottom of your business card, energy, color, and passion. Why did you pick these three words to describe your work?
Erika Bjornson (EB): Truly, before thinking too hard about it that's what came to my head. I suppose I chose energy, color and passion because that is where I go when I am painting. These words most sincerely describe where I go when I am painting.

OA: I noticed the use of circles in your work, and I have seen circle utilized in the work of several other artist. What is it that draws you to the circle?
EB: It's something very primitive that draws me to the circle. It's a primitive emotion and the circle to me has energy. It flows so beautifully into basic composition. The circle is beautiful to me because it has no beginning and no ending.

OA: The studio that you work in also houses several other artists. What is it like to work in such a creative environment? Do you ever draw inspiration from what your neighbor is working on?
EB: It is fantastic. This is a space that reminds you of what a real loft space was meant to be. You are able to feel a sense of community while at the same time the freedom of a space with no walls.

OA: Aside from your studio, what is your opinion of the art scene in Chicago, and in general?
EB: As a newcomer I'm blown away by the art scene in Chicago. Art here feels very accessible.
Art has always been incredibly private for me. So until now art for me has always been a private landscape.

OA: When I picked up your business card I was surprised to not see a web address. What is stopping you from getting on-line?
EB: My website is a work in progress and I hope I can share it with you when it's ready. As someone slightly out of touch with the new age of technology, I'm trying to catch up as fast as I can.

OA: What's next for Erika Bjornson?
EB: I am at a pivotal place in my life in that I recently stopped working as a professional counselor to devote myself to painting and poetry full-time which is an exciting leap of faith. I hope to spend the next year creating and connecting with other artists.

Bonus Questions:
Coffee? If yes, what is your favorite type of coffee and where is your favorite coffee spot?
EB: Funny you should ask. It should come as no surprise with the last name of Bjornson my favorite coffee is that wonderful Swedish blend that can be found at IKEA. While my family comes from Iceland, the Swedes really have it over on making a good cup of coffee.

OA: Do you listen to music while you paint? What is your favorite type of music while painting and in general?
EB: I love listening to music while I paint and I enjoy finding music of the highest energy. Early 80's punk usually fits the bill from "London Calling" to Patti Smith's "Horses".

For information on the work of Erika Bjornson you can contact her directly here.

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