Thursday, September 06, 2012

Interview with Artist Endia Bumgarner

Endia Bumgarner is an Arkansan artist currently living in Little Rock but originally from my home town. I grew up friends with two of her brothers but lost touch until a couple years ago, when her work started drawing attention at exhibitions in Little Rock.  

Me: How long have you been painting?        

Endia: I have been painting and working on art as a mode of visual communication since my high school freshman year….so about 14 years.

Me: What inspired you to start?

Endia: The pleasure that I get from the process of creating art and the sensation of being whole that I get when I am working.

Me: Tell me a little about the process…..How do you get started with a work of art?

Endia: I think about ‘a work of art’ in terms of an exhibition-a thematically connected body of work. An idea will slowly start to grow in my head. I will contemplate what the body of work can say as a whole as well as individually, and then begin working on individual pieces. I begin by stretching and preparing my paint surface. Then I draw my image. Next I will mix up batches of paint and finally I start to paint.

Me: How do you know if it is finished?

Endia: I never have a sense of completion with any work I do. I arrive at a point where the overall visual aesthetic of the piece doesn’t demand that something needs to be done. I also get second opinions from my art colleague’s, friends, and family.

Me: Do you ever come back to a seemingly completed piece and change it?

Endia: Sure. Pushing the limits is one way you grow. I have had great success with pieces that I kept working on and arrived at beautiful results. I have also had epic fails and wished I had stopped….days ago. Lol. As a general rule, I walk away if it is working. I can always start another canvas and revisit the same idea in a different way if I feel drawn to particular idea or image.

Me: What draws you to art?

Endia: Color, shape, texture, conceptual implications, technical application, tenacity, creativity, cultural history that it records

Me: What do you get from it?

Endia: I never feel more alive than when I am immersed in art. My soul vibrates, my blood rushes, my mind races, my breathing is easy, and my understanding of the world around me is obtainable. I feel like a puzzle that is all put together when I am around art. Without art, I feel like somebody stole the corner pieces to the puzzle that is me…..and lost a few of the inside pieces. I am me with art.

Endia: What is your favorite piece you’ve done?

Me: As I said earlier, I don’t consider ‘pieces’….. I consider exhibitions. I am a beginning artist and have only created two thematically connected exhibitions at this point in my art career. One exhibition was “I wanna be a big dog, too…..” hosted in my home town of Wynne, Arkansas. It was a collection of 14 large scale colorful dog paintings and 1 large scale colorful kitten. My second exhibition is “Celebrating Color” my master thesis exhibition due to be shown at UALR in Little Rock, Arkansas within the year. It is a collection of large scale colorful expressive faces. My favorite would be the dog show.

Me: Why is it your favorite?

Endia: I learned a lot from this exhibition. It was my first attempt at large scale painting. It was the first time that I focused and controlled my skills in an attempt to have an extended visual conversation with my audience. I was pleased with the paintings and the exhibition. I was able to observe areas that I needed to work on and prepare myself for my next show. I love opportunities that educate me on how to improve my performance.

Me: Why dogs?

Endia: First, I love dogs. When you love your subject, it translates into your work.

Second, it made me laugh. I was practicing for my graduate show and found several layers of humor tied to my subjective choice. In our culture we refer to some people as ‘big dogs’ which is a way of stating that they are an important figure. As a graduate student, I desired to create a body of work that set me in the ranks of professional artists (a.k.a big dogs). Then there is the fact that my paintings are indeed ‘big’ and of ‘dogs’. Then there was the fact that as a master candidate, I was seriously proposing that colorful dog and cat paintings were the basis for a fine art showing. My studies actually gave validity to the subjective choice. In the course of art history, dogs have often been included in paintings as objects of loyalty, strength, and masculinity. Cats, on the other hand, have occasionally been used to illustrate feminity, weakness, and promiscuous inclinations. I simply couldn’t resist playing with the gender implications of my subject in this painted exhibition of 14 dogs and 1 kitten. The the little pussycat will never be a big dog……it’s going to be a cat when it grows up. I like to think that the lesson of having realistic expectations in somewhere in this exhibit as well as the lesson of never quit dreaming. Not sure that it translated in the exhibition for the viewer, but it was in my thoughts at the time of creation.

Lastly, dogs serve as a defense. I have often used art as a defensive element in my life and found myself defending my paintings in graduate school. Big guard dogs seemed like a logical subject choice at the time with all things considered.

Me: Do you find teaching inspires your work or hurts it……?

Endia: I intentionally separate the two. As an artist, I prefer to be as free from outside influence as possible….including patrons, studies, teachings, etc. I find the more input I have, the more overwhelmed I become. I am aware of the power of influence that you have as an instructor and try to only influence technical skills.

Me: Do you consider yourself an “Arkansas Artist” or a Southern Artist” or….?

Endia: I consider myself an artist. However, I inevitably carry various labels such as white, female, southern, Arkansas, American, middle age, colorist, two-dimensional, modern, non-traditional, introvert, Libra, etc. I wish labels didn’t apply, but they do. A little bit of everything you are can be gleaned from your work. Labels are descriptive adjectives of who we are.

Me: Whose work do you admire?

Endia: So many…..

Wayne Thiebaud for his color and singular subject studies

Claes Oldenburg for his humor and scale

Alexander Calder for his humor, tenacity, and proficiency

John Singer Sargent for his amazing brushstroke

Modern Contemporary: Sandi Sells-conceptual ideas and skills, Catherine Rodgers-color use, Jim Johnson- proficiency of nice work, Greg Lahti- a brushstroke that dances, my students- too many to name but all of them dedicated to the perpetuation of art, kids artwork-no creative boundaries or rules to follow, zoo animals that paint- if critters can be taught to make art so can you

Me: Where can I find your work?

Endia: I have a web page and also a Facebook fan page where I keep updates of any upcoming events. I will be showing at the Arkansas Arts Center’s annual Museum school sale in November and the Arkansas State Fair in October.

Me: What are you working on now?

Endia: Contributing to the course of art history……..


Anonymous said...

The website links needs to be

Great artist and interview!

Burke J. said...

Endia: I loved seeing your interview -