What process bridges the different mediums you work in?
Until I turned my attention to encaustic several years ago, all of my work was connected by a single endeavor: to use traditionally female, and often impermanent, materials in new and unconventional ways. Whether embroidering, making cake art, carving jewelry or working with textiles, I have been motivated by a connection to and conversation with other women, across different times and cultures. My turning to encaustic represented a conscious change, a 180 degree turn away from the materials that women have always had their hands on, and towards a world of blow-torches, toxicity, larger scale works, and lack of control. Interestingly enough, I have spent the last year coming full circle. My current body work is a collection of ‘sewn encaustic paintings’; I’m using an awl to push tiny threads into the wax, evoking stitched fabric, or needlework.
How does having your dogs in the studio effect your work and your practice?
My dogs love to sleep on the warm floor of my studio, and always keep me company while I’m working. Occasionally this is challenging. My Great Dane has knocked over several paintings, and my bulldog likes to sleep underfoot while I am handling a blowtorch. (His white fur is currently dappled with indigo wax.) Despite these inconveniences, working with my dogs means more to me than just having some company in my studio. Having Thunder and Panda with me while I make art makes me feel like my creativity is intimately connected to my life as a whole. This holistic connection with my life is essential to my work.
Besides your dogs, what else keeps you company in the studio?
I always listen to music when I’m working. Good music helps me turn off the left-side of my brain, and encourages me to rely on non-verbal, non-logical information to guide my process.
What contemporary artists have influenced your work?
I tend to be most influenced by artists who are focused on a small and intimate project, those who work in traditionally female materials, and/or anyone engaged in creating temporary art. For example, there is an American wood-worker by the name of Josh Vogel, who crafts the most beautiful wooden spoons imaginable, transforming this ordinary utensil into lovingly rendered sculptures that are still absolutely functional. Toronto-based artist Laura Carwardine is another example – her gigantic cross-stich installation at Patria restaurant, is deeply inspiring to me. I’m often influenced by artists whose names we don’t know – ranging from the shibori textiles made by women in Japan, to beadwork on Inuit coats, to ancient Jewish wedding contracts, called ketubahs, which were traditionally painted and hung in homes.
How do you know when a work is done?
I hate this response, it sounds so trite, but I just do! I have rarely, in all my life of making things, not known when a piece of work was done.
Thanks Ava for the visit!
to see more of Ava’s work check out: http://www.avaroth.ca