Artist Interview: Victoria Welling

For our Pattern Language exhibition, mixed media artist Victoria Welling contributed a truly unique piece: a five foot tall relief sculpture made out of needle-felted wool, Styrofoam and felt. Her piece, “Untitled (Cluster),” shows her interest in repetition and what happens when something is multiplied beyond what is comfortable. Her work employs a variety of materials, primarily from craft, scrap and hardware stores, and her use of only black, white and neutral colors allows for the objects to be seen as they are and focuses the viewer’s attention on the detail or texture of the piece.

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WHAT EARLY INFLUENCES LED YOU DOWN THE PATH OF BECOMING AN ARTIST?

My mom is a seamstress and my dad has always worked on cars and his Harley, so being hands-on was very natural to me. They always encouraged my creativity, as I had a camera and a sewing machine before I was five and I was drawing all the time. I was also very lucky to have supportive teachers and professors, and was surrounded by wonderful artists that helped me become the artist I am today.

WHAT SPARKED THE IDEA TO USE EXPANDING FOAM AND NEEDLE-FELTED WOOL IN YOUR MIXED MEDIA SCULPTURES?

Needle felting and expanding foam were both materials I had wanted to work with for some time before I figured out what I wanted to do with them. I became really interested in silkworm cocoons and I began playing around with different felting patterns until I got the right shape and technique down to create Cluster. Expanding foam is another material I experiment with to create clusters of things. It’s a constant battle trying to get the foam to do what I want it to do, which is part of the fun and excitement of creating a new piece. I usually learn something new about a material that I can then expand on (excuse my pun).

HOW EXPERIMENTAL DO YOU GET WITH TRYING OUT NEW MATERIALS?

It depends. I want the material to be slightly recognizable, as I like the viewer to have a little “Oh!” moment. As I figure out what the material does, I also learn what it wants to do, so the struggle of finding that balance is a big part of my process.

WHAT INSPIRES AND INTRIGUES YOU?

I always try to be on the lookout for inspiration, because I believe that you have to find it instead of waiting for it to find you. Nature is a huge source of inspiration – things like insect eggs, strange earth formations, the ocean – and places like hardware, craft, or scrap stores can be really inspiring. I like using white, black, and neutral colors in my work because I like to focus on the texture and shape of the piece.

WHAT ARE YOU WORKING ON NOW? DO YOU HAVE ANY NEW, EXCITING PROJECTS IN THE PIPELINE FOR 2016?

I’ve been playing around with electrical tape, thinking about nets and knitting. I am still working on taming expanding foam and other felting projects. Some new materials I want to play around with are fiberglass, resin, and vulcanized fiber or fish paper, which I just learned about. It’s really used as insulation and for other household needs. I also have a show in June with two artists that are in Pattern Language at Works/San Jose and I will have a lot of new work displayed there.

Next: Artist Interview: Kaveri Singh