Cornerstone’s Artist of the Month for February 2018
For Lori Sweet, art-making is about story-telling, meaning-making and making the sacred visible. She says; “Art-making is primarily an intuitive, visionary, and meditative process for me. While art usually produces a tangible product, I am more interested in the intangible aspects of art-making: the energetic process that teaches, heals, inspires, restores, and transforms when we create. I often wonder, ‘How does art inform and change us as it is created and informed by us?'”
Lori’s vision is about helping to create sacred places within hearts and homes, a safe haven, a sacred space, a refuge where one can know their dreams, hearts, and tender places can rest, recover, and rejoice. Patrons of Lori often say they have a sense that the images are “looking over” them, protecting them, or guiding them in some way. This relational quality and ongoing story around the images is part of what I love so much about making art.
Primarily a sculptor previously, Lori began painting in 2011 due to the prompting of a very persistent and convincing muse. Because of this muse, her paintings generally focus on images of the feminine archetype/divine feminine and reflect aspects of both human nature and divine nature. Lori uses ancient and modern archetypes and symbols, aspects of nature, and sometimes poems, passages, or prayers in her work. Earth medicine is important to her and she draws a tremendous amount of strength and sense of well-being from nature. Her art often includes animals and/or plants relevant to the work.
Images in her show either are original acrylic paintings or reproductions of original works of art called Giclee prints (pronounced zhee-clay). Originals are finished with an archival varnish and either framed or left unframed as appropriate. The canvas prints are treated with a special top coating to aid in their protection and the paper prints are on archival papers and enclosed in glass.
Tell us briefly about your background & how you got started in your medium.
I was born with an interest in the visual arts and have engaged in creative expression in many ways: creating theater sets, painting furniture, mask-making, clay sculpting, pastel work, and quilt-making. About 8 years ago I began painting in acrylics at the prompting of a persistent muse. I had not considered myself a painter and it has been a process of accepting this medium.
Painting and sculpting are intuitive, meditative, and prayerful activities as I experience them. Many of my images include subjects or intentions that have some spiritual or healing quality and elements of nature. While it is a very personal expression, I believe the works convey universal themes of love, beauty, nature’s wisdom, hope, transformation, and mystery.
How does your medium inform your viewpoint? Or what do you like most about your medium?
Interesting question! I had not thought about this before. I primarily use Golden Flow Acrylics. The paints are pigmented in such a way that they remain vibrant even when using greater amounts of water. This allows for layering and glazing techniques and watercolor-like effects that create depth and intensity.
I see life with multi-layers – some hidden, some revealed – very intertwined as in a tapestry. We seldom grasp the full complexity and depth in life (and in art) but it is there. I also think life is about flow…and the watery, emotional, and relational aspects that guide and influence us.
And what do I like about the medium? It is forgiving. Even something that looks solid and real can be changed and altered by our awareness, attention, action, follow-through, and patience.
Who or what have been your artistic inspirations?
Lots of things inspire me but mostly by dreams, spiritual practices, the mystics, poets, and nature. I also am moved by the great amount of woundedness and pain in the world and the human ability to overcome adversity and choose love anyway.
Of course all artists are interesting but specifically I have been moved by artists such as Georgia O’Keeffe, Meinrad Craighead, Frida Kahlo, Marc Chagall, Alex Grey, Susan Seddon Boulet, and Healing Art artist and teacher Mary Rockwood Lane as well as many contemporary people creating art for healing and positive change.
Do You Have a Favorite Piece in Your Portfolio?
Not really. Usually my favorite one is the one on which I currently am working. They feel almost like children. I love each unique one but each is different.
What would be your advice to artists just starting out in your medium?
PAINT PAINT PAINT! Practice provides opportunities to learn about the process as you go. And BREAK RULES. While some people subscribe to the notion you must learn rules and technique to master art, I subscribe to the notion that you always can learn technique but the harder task is allowing yourself to tap into the flow of your own unique creative expression. You need to learn to trust your muses and play. Once you discover what it is you really want to create and how you personally engage in creativity you can learn the skills to improve upon your art form.