Erika Manning
The following is from an interview I did for the Mercerburg Academy Newspaper when I was on campus in January 2017 as a visiting artist:
 
1. What were your inspirations for the theme of "Conversations on a
Process"? What inspired you to create these artworks? What was the process
of creating these artworks like?      The artwork selected for the show are a small part of a two year process of creating after not having a studio to work out of for many years.  In 2014 I finally was able to have some remodeling done on a building on my property that made it usable for a studio, and after I got organized immediately began to deconstruct (tear and cut up) all my old paintings and prints.  I began making abstract collages out of the old paintings and prints, then started to make some drawings with oil pastel on canvas that I started to work on more like paintings and then finally I started painting again in oils on canvas.  All the work is abstract, but is directly linked to the physical landscape of where I live in Maine (granite rock shapes, pine trees, water, lots of people around in the summer), as well as my inner emotional landscape.

2. How was your experience of working with students at Mercersburg
Academy? I had a wonderful time working with the students at Mercersburg Academy.  There were lots of great questions that made me think deeply about why I work the way I work, and in sitting in on the classes for the week I was on campus (Painting I, Drawing I & II, and Advanced Studio) I got a chance to refresh my memory on all the important basic principles one needs to know to make a successful composition.  I also got to meet a lot of new people.

3. Do you have a favorite piece in this exhibition and why?  In essence, they are all like my children and I love them all equally…but I do have to admit being enamored of the painting entitled "Common Ground".  It was the last one I worked on, and I am very excited to see where the process will take me next.

4. We know that you have been working as an artist for a long time. What's
your favorite thing about being an artist and how did you decide to pursue
a career in art?  My favorite thing about being an artist is that every time I go into the studio I have a chance to push myself out of my comfort zone and grow as a person.  If one defines "career" as how I make my living/pay the bills etc. I don't have a career in art as I work full time as a massage therapist and teach yoga classes as my livelihood…however, if one defines career as a life long passion, something I do even in the most difficult of circumstances…then yes, art is my career.  Making art has always been part of who I am as a person, and is incredibly important to my existence.  Perhaps it's melodramatic to say that if I am unable to be in the studio making stuff then a part of me dies…maybe melodramatic, but the truth.

5. Do you have any suggestion for the Mercersburg students who have an
interest in art and want to pursue that interest in college?  Learn all the rules (composition, color theory, technique etc.) so you can break them.  Draw, and keep drawing even if you go digital, conceptual or 3-D.  Learn about the history of art (which in essence is the history of the time in which it was made).  Be prepared to have your ego stomped on as you get your art out into the world.  Have something to fall back on as your livelihood.  Look at everything, even stuff you hate.  Experiment with techniques.  Be patient with yourself.  Figure out what makes you happy and follow that path.  Live life joyously and with an open heart.
Have a consistent studio practice.  One of my favorite quotes right now is:  "Inspiration is for amateurs ~ the rest of us show up and get to work" Chuck Close

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