Charlotte Lewis's Artist Statement:
"I grew up, went to school, lived and worked in southeast Michigan from age 6 to 68. I went to the old University High in Ann Arbor. I have two degrees in cello performance from the University of Michigan and home ec degree from what was then Michigan State Normal College. I did private teaching in music from my student days until retiring in 1982. I also put in a dozen or so years in food service along with and after music teaching. I retired from food service in 1984 and come to North Dakota. I have no formal training in art.
Autumn in Michigan is colorful beyond belief every year. There are no dull years. There are dozens of kinds of maples in Ann Arbor and nearby towns and countryside. I was always trying to preserve them in contact paper to send to sick friends. People liked them and I tried to improve my technique. I began making Christmas cards with candles cut from grass, their flames cut from bright leaves or petals. In 1978, I started taking cards to art fairs around Michigan, but people said they were "too pretty to put in mail".
One artist suggested I try something more permanent - small framed pictures - so I did. Each picture was a miniature representing just one thing; an animal, a flower, a ship, a skater or a golfer, etc. A young friend wished the pictures would "tell a story," and a customer wanted "cats and people in the same picture." Whatever was asked for, I tried to create so my range of subjects grew. I went to more and more art fairs and began to get some recognition: two blue ribbons, a purchase prize and best-of-show at the Big Rapids, Michigan Labor Day Fine Arts festival, first place in crafts at Milan, Michigan Art Show, third and second place in mixed media at Dundee, Michigan Arts and Crafts Show.
I also had work in the Manchester, Michigan Art Gallery and shops in Chelsea and Northville, Michigan.
When I moved to North Dakota, I had for the first time continuous hours to spend on my collages, and I made more various and complex pieces, I can now honestly say every piece does have story to tell.
I have had my work accepted seven times for Rosie's Handmade Village in Winnipeg (juried arts and crafts for the Winnipeg Folk Festival), five of my pieces were purchased by Galerie 472 in Winnipeg. I was Artist of the Month for Gate City Federal in Grand Forks 1987. I had work in the North Dakota National Juried Art Show at Minot in 1986, 1987, and 1988, and received a Merit Award in 1987. I received Merit Awards in the 1988 and 1989 Northers Prairie Artists Fall Shows at Thief River Falls. I had one piece accepted for Stage, 1990 National Juried Exhibition in Bismarck and other in Dakota Visions Works on Paper competition. Also, UND Witmer Tri-state and Quad-state competitions'94.
North Dakota in devoid of maples, so I'm using 'food' plants; kale, rhubarb, onion (stalks and skins), house plants like caladiums and hoya, and weeds like burdock.
Since I've never seen this kind of work done by anyone, and since I'd developed it on my own, I had no ground rules, no guidelines, so I had to make a few for myself.
1. All pressed materials must be aged for at least several months (many have been pressed for several years), so the colors have mellowed and set.
2. Create as much contrast of color and texture within the rather limited color spectrum this medium offers. Pay a lot of attention to texture.
3. Do not give the same material two meanings in the same pieces of work. (Don't use white poplar for clouds, a child's boots or a white sail - unless you are making an all white picture).
4. Do not alter the natural colors in anyway. Do not use paint, pencil, dye, crayon, etc. on the material or the background. The art board may be tinted with "kitchen" dyes (cocoa wash, coffee wash, ginger wash) or rubbed with crushed petals to create a color-shaded background. The birchbark faces and animals are etched with a toothpick which may be dipped in strong coffee."
Images of Charlotte Lewis's Art