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Vegan in Sportsman's Paradise
Surrealist Animal Artist, Amy Guidry
By Christine Stoddard
Born in Jacksonville, North Carolina in 1976, Amy Guidry has always been a Southern girl, but, more importantly, she has always been an artist. Before she learned how to write, she drew obsessively--going through a whole package of paper in less than a fortnight. By the time Amy became a student at Loyola University in New Orleans, the choice to major in Visual Arts was an obvious one. The university awarded Amy the Loyola University Art scholarship, an honor bestowed upon a single student per graduating class.
Amy has built her career upon her talent as a surrealist whose work evidences vegan themes. Her paintings have been exhibited across the United States, in galleries and museums, in venues like the Women's research Center at Brandeis University, the Acadiana Center for the Arts, and the Visual Arts Center of New Jersey. Several of her works also belong to private and public collections and have even ben featured on MTV's "The Real World, Season 20: Hollywood." That's not to mention the publications--like American Artist Magazine and Studio Visit--that have also recognized Amy's paintings. Wally Workman Gallery in Austin and The Oak Street Gallery in Hammond, Louisiana represent Amy's fantastical paintings.
I recently exchanged emails with Amy to find out more about her upbringing and thoughts on art:
Courtesy of Amy Guidry
Why have you chosen paint as your medium? Have you tried your hand at digital illustration before? What do you think of digital art?
I've always loved to draw and have done a lot of black and white work with different media. I eventually moved to painting because it allowed me to maintain the same precision and control but with color. I'm going to date myself here, but I had done some digital illustration using PC Paintbrush back in the day. It was just for fun, and I liked the challenge of drawing with a mouse but it just doesn't allow for the same look and feel of a painting. Clearly the digital world is light-years ahead now and I do think there are some great digital artists out there, but it's just not my preferred medium.
If you had to paint the same subject over and over for the rest of your life (but in different ways, however you wished), what would you choose?
Animals have always been a popular subject for me, that's probably as specific as I can get as I can't say there is any one species I prefer over another. I love them all. I've drawn animals since I was a kid and have always had an interest in helping animals at a very young age.
How has being born and raised in the South influenced your work--or does answering that question require too much speculation?
I can't say that my work is a direct result of my location, but there are some issues I've tackled with my work that may be of particular interest to some because I live in Louisiana. The state nickname is "Sportsman's Paradise" which, not that everyone here is necessarily a carnivore, but it is a popular state for hunting. As a vegan artist, I use my work to take on issues such as animal welfare and environmental destruction which is something that takes place across the globe. The fact that I've mostly lived in the South all my life is really a footnote to a larger issue.
How's it possible to be a full-time artist in the age of the Internet? People have Flickr, Tumblr, and Pinterest, and for many, that's enough.
Actually I think the internet has been a big plus to the art world. Because of sites such as Flickr or Pinterest, many people that have never given much thought to art or have not had much by way of an arts education, are being exposed to artists from all over the world. I believe the more people can see art and become familiar with various styles, media, movements, then the more appreciation they have for art and the more likely they are to collect.
Other art forms--music or writing, for example--are more readily available and discussed among the general public and have received more general acceptance [because of the Internet]. Visual art has always maintained this mystery in which people find it intimidating and assume you have to either be an artist or an art historian to understand it. Clearly that is not true. Just as I am a far cry from being a musician, yet I love music. The Internet is really helping to improve this and make art a part of our dialogue and raising awareness of the role and importance of art and art institutions.
Your work has traveled everywhere, but have you? What are some of your top towns and cities, either domestically or abroad? What about them speaks to you as an artist or is just plain fun?
I can't always travel with my work and sometimes I've even had two or more openings going on at the same time in different places, so that poses a problem as well. When I can travel, I love to take the opportunity to visit new places and revisit those that are my favorites (as of now).
I recently went to Chicago and loved it. The architecture alone is enough of a reason to visit. I am in Austin every so often because I am represented by Wally Workman Gallery, and always enjoy my stay there. It's a fun city, there is a lot going on with art and music, of course, but also the natural landscape there is just stunning and inspiring to any artist. I have to include New York City, which as an artist, I love that there are so many great museums and galleries in such a small space, but it is also a fun place to visit and reminds me of New Orleans in some ways. I've been to the Monteverde rainforest in Costa Rica which was for fun, not business, but it's incredibly beautiful and inspirational. Last but not least, I have to include my current residence: Lafayette, Louisiana. I moved here 14 years ago and it's just a great city. It's a college town with a lot of history and culture, and a supportive art community.