Yvonne Ferg is one of those raw talents that isn’t carbon copied from some art school in some big city or fancy sounding village or suburb. This kind of talent is born, created from something bigger than a board of directors could ever control. Ferg’s self-described “journey of artistic evolution” is just that, a journey, not a dream achieved or perfection personified, her work is an ebb and flow of incredible raw talent. Her passion for self-exploration, and development should be inherent with every artist, yet often is something that gets tossed aside too soon. Ferg’s humility is palpable, all the while the evidence of her artistic genius screams from behind her. Her portraits of some of the most poignant figures of the African Diaspora, almost come to life, with a breath of their own that grabs your soul and won’t let go.
Since I’ve followed Yvonne’s work, I’ve seen this evolution first-hand; from a portrait of the legendary artist Tupac Shakur, one I could not imagine she could ever top, to an emotionally stirring Martin Luther King Jr. piece, and likewise a perfect-even-at-half-finished portrait of Malcom X. There are many pieces, and many levels, but one vibrant soul behind them, and through each work observed, that soul touches the observer and you feel this profound calmness and agreement with the artist. If you ever get the privilege to be able to witness this artist in action, or view any of her work in a show near you, you cannot afford to miss it. If you are a gallery or venue organizer, I urge you to reach out to Yvonne Ferg and don’t sleep on this amazing artist. A force of nature like Ferg cannot be ignored, and not even the coming solar eclipse could darken this star’s shine. All cliches aside, we can promise you this is not the last you’ll be seeing of this artist on articentric, so stay tuned, and now…Ladies and Gentlemen…
Meet Yvonne Ferg…
Q: Thank you for taking the time to talk with us Yvonne, let’s start off with how you got started as an artist. Is it a gift you’ve always had? Talk about how you came to realize art as a professional adventure rather than just a hobby.
A: Thank you for selecting me to share my work and small bits of myself! Creative expression is something I have always had an affinity for, even as a child I took my coloring books, painting & Play-Doh sculptures as a serious task. I do not view it solely as a gift I have always had but also as a form of expression that I have always had an affinity. I was terrible, as most beginners, which is a fragile space to navigate in, over time I let social commentary shift how I felt about my work and quit, a few times lol. Art became a private affair for me until a few years ago, during a difficult time of personal, spiritual and emotional evolution. I had my first space alone and was searching for artwork that reflected my culture, however, the only thing I could find were portraits of Marilyn Monroe & Audrey Hepburn which as a black woman I don’t’ relate to. That is when I realized there was a real need for easily accessible black contemporary art. I create things I feel are missing from my experience, my dream is to inspire new black art collectors in the hopes that elevating art that resembles them in their homes will shift their perspective of self positively. I do not consider art a professional venture, even though currently it is my sole source of income. I simply feel I am in a fortunate position to manifest my dreams.
Q: Take us on a visual tour of your studio space. What should we watch out for? What should we observe before anything else? What do you cherish most about your space? Talk about how your creative environment affects your art/ your style?
A: A studio would be a dream! Currently all of my work is produced in my expansive living room. My space is covered with artwork, I have canvases covering the walls, completed & half-finished ideas on canvases scattered throughout my entire space and a massive mural that covers the length of my living room wall. I would prefer people look at my library prior to perusing my work, I feel it gives a glimpse into what I am passionate about and would answer most questions people have about my personal inspirations. I cherish the energy of my space. Painting, for me, is an excavation of raw ideas and emotion and for that reason, I am particularly intentional with the energy, I manifest in my space. Having a safe and soothing space to create gives me the confidence to experiment, destroy and re-create ideas.
Q: Your paintings are so incredibly vibrant and almost bring the subjects to life before our very eyes. What materials do you work with when creating your art? What is your creative atmosphere when you create (loud, silent, ambient noises)? Talk about your creative process. Are there different stages or do you just grab the brush and get after it?
A: Thank you! I don’t have restrictions with materials in my creative process. I have painted on glass, sheet plastic, canvas, wood and plastered walls using paint brushes, palette knives, rolling pins, saran wrap, aluminum foil, tape, my hands, sometimes my cat even helps! My process starts with the subject, I immerse myself in their music, interviews, pictures, and video clips virtually anything I can to get a clear mental picture of how they present themselves in action. I operate primarily with whatever energy I interpret from my subjects or the energy I feel from how they shift my creative experience. Anyone that owns one of my canvases will tell you I burn lots of Nag Champa! I use it while I meditate before I paint and then music keeps me in “the pocket”. I absolutely cannot work in silence.
Q: Your painting titled “#JBaldwin” is one of, and if I HAD to choose, my favorite painting of yours, as is James Baldwin himself one of my favorite author/poets. It is a bit of a departure from your other works, given its intricate ornate elements that make up the portraiture. Can you talk a little bit about the INSPIRATION behind the piece, and also… talk a bit about how your style has developed since you began creating?
A: James Baldwin is also one of my favorite creators, debaters and excavators of the black experience. I have always felt that his poignant descriptions of the black experience resonates within me. #jbaldwin stands apart from my other works in that it was a very emotional piece for me. I was navigating through some racist experiences at the time and submerged myself in some of his debates to help find words for how I felt, it was only natural that I honor him the way he honors my experience. During this painting I did not feel conscious intent guiding my hands, rather, the anguish, anger and pride I felt from my experiences articulated through his words and my brush. This painting was an unstructured emotional journey that shifted the way I work.
Q: How do you prioritize what environments you choose to exhibit your work in? Do you create with an idea of the finished product’s destination? Do you have any current pieces in the works? Talk about your experiences with your shows, do you seek out specific events, environments, etc. to show your work?
A: I actually just had my first gallery experience! My work was on display at IllSol Gallery in Tampa, FL and it was the perfect first for me (and a really dope place!!). I am extremely critical of my work, so before IllSol I was reluctant to visualize gallery exhibition as a viable option for my work. Now that I am open to the possibility, I am choosing places I feel people will be able to connect with my work or where I can inspire people to start collecting art. Outside of commissions I do not create with an idea of the pieces destination. With the exception of my current #blkGODS series, each piece has been a solitary idea, which is why all of my pieces are different from each other. I am typically working on four to seven paintings at one time.
Q: Can you recall and would you talk about your most recent burst of inspiration? Did it come at an unusual place or time? Do you ever put yourself in a particular situation/environment to try and attract ideas or inspiration?
A: My most current burst of inspiration started last week. One morning I woke up with an overwhelming sense of urgency to create from this fear that one day I wouldn’t be able to paint. I have a fear of ideas suffocating inside of me; whenever I feel moved, I immediately start working. I completed two paintings in three days and have been maintaining that pace. I do not feel it is necessary to seek inspiration, I would rather focus on remaining constantly open and present in life, which I believe, allows inspiration to flow to you. Being in a purposeful constant state of evolution and learning is inspirational.
Q: Can you talk a bit about the influence that music, film or literature may or may not have on your creativity, or vice versa? Does your work and choice of subjects mirror your personal interests in their respective genres?
A: Everything we expose ourselves to influences our experience. I am constantly listening to music, watching films and reading pieces that challenge and/or widen my perception. I love music. I cannot create without music. I listen to a lot of different genres a playlist for me will have Bonobo, Lapalux, Badbadnotgood, the Hics, Miles Davis, Telepopmusik, Flying Lotus, MFDOOM, and Erykah Badu. My choice of subjects are solely people that influence my creative process and the way I navigate in the world. I feel my work reflects the way their work makes me feel.
Q: What do you hope that the audience takes away from their time spent viewing your art? What made you smile at your last exhibit? What made you gasp/cringe/retort/etc.?
A: I want people that see my artwork to see that there is beauty, divinity and art in Black bodies. I think it is a way for me to combat the bombardment of negative stereotypes we are forced to see and ingest daily via news, movies, and music. I want the underlying thought to be that we are more than those images and to view us in our entirety, individually and as a whole. It was interesting and enlightening to be able to observe and overhear people responding to my work without being recognized as the artist. The humble introvert in me cringed after people realized I was the artist and approached. I feel it can be daunting accepting the ownership of being an artist, whom are often viewed as full time esoteric abstract beings, which is one of the things I try to address in my artwork. I want to maintain that I am a person, and not just, what I do.
Q: Yvonne, I am absolutely honored to be allowed to discuss your creative life with you. Being an artist myself I know how deeply personal some aspects of our process are, and also that there are those times we wish we could reach out to our audience and give them a better context of our passion, so thank you for being so open with all of us. I know the audience will all want to know where/when they can see your work currently? What is the best way to find out where you will be exhibiting next (Website, Facebook, etc.)
A: Instagram and Facebook, will keep you up to date to my next upcoming endeavors. You can also view my artwork on my website.