by MIKE CHAIKEN
For Erika Novak, her art is about preserving memories and evoking emotions… either in herself or the viewer.
Erika, an alumnus of Bristol Eastern High School, is one of the first artists displaying work in the new location of Bare Bones. The fluid storefront, which had been on Main Street, has relocated to School Street.
Erika’s work on display at Bare Bones combines two of her artistic fortes: creating art across three-dimensions and photography.
Interviewed amidst her art at Bare Bones, Erika referred to her pieces on the wall. “Those are all slices of logs, two inches thick and they have photo transfers on them… All of those photos I’ve taken in my travels and experiences and those are photos that mean something to me.”
“A lot of them aren’t really clear where they are and what they represent,” said Erika of her pieces. “But I look at them, I remember what time it was and how I felt. I wanted to pick broad images so that when someone looks at one of the flowers or the waterfalls… I want them to see their own (story).”
In general as an artist, Erika said, “I want to inspire in a way for people to go out and see the little things around them that are beautiful. Natural things. That’s why chose wood (for the exhibit at Bare Bones). I literally chose logs from my wood pile. Natural things are beautiful to me. I want to inspire people to see those little things more. Even in urban things… broken-down, dirty, gritty cities, there’s so much beauty.”
The pieces on display, explained Erika, are only a portion of what she creates as an artist. “I kind of do everything. From drawing to painting to sculpting to pottery,” said Erika. When it comes to telling people what mediums does she work with, Erika said, “I like to say mixed media.”
Erika said she approaches the different kinds of art in “spurts.” She explained, “I’ve kind of described it as ‘Years,’ where I have an entire year where I focus entirely on photography and something will change and I’ll focus completely on ceramics or sculpture or drawing. It’s weird how it works.”
Erika came to this multi-faceted approach to art through “mostly getting bored with pencil and pen in drawing class in high school and middle school. They just want you to do regular things— all 2D stuff— and I wanted to expand my creativity.”
As for when she started to realize she had an artistic bent that would carry the Central Connecticut State University student to today, Erika said, “I can’t even try to pinpoint whether I started kindergarten or first grade. I always remember doing art, wanting to do something with art, and it being a part of my life.”
Erika said her grandfather was one of her guiding lights into art.
“My grandfather helped me a lot. He’s a great painter. He can draw,” explained Erika. “He showed me how to shade. I remember when I was little and I was coloring coloring books with straight lines and he yelled at me, ‘You can’t do that, you have to color with spirals.’ He taught me everything.”
Erika isn’t one of those artists who looks toward other artists for her inspiration. “I can’t really pinpoint myself as to following a certain artist. I look at everyone’s art, even the artists in the show (at Bare Bones) around me… I love seeing everything and taking my own inspiration from it.”
Erika said she finds her inspiration for her work from “mostly traveling, nature, going to experience different things, memories and wanting to keep those precious things and make them something tangible… I love hiking and rock climbing. And finding little areas not a lot of people know about.”
For the viewer who subsequently sees her work, Erika said, “I want them to see these things and have (the pieces) spark their own emotion… (I want them to) understand how I felt but also give them something of their own.”
Erika said she was interested in showing at the new Bare Bones location in the downtown because “I wanted to be a part of this community as one of the first (to display at the fluid storefront) and one of the ones who continue to go (to Bare Bones). I love the girls here (organizers Sarah Johnson, Michelle St. Pierre, and Robin Messerli), I love what we’re all trying to do to bring this (artistic) community in Bristol.”
As for her future aspirations, Erika said, “I want to focus on my art and give that to the world… I want to own my own studio. Something like this (Bare Bones). I want to be part of a community, an artist’s community. (I want to) just live and breathe art in a studio.”
Erika Novak’s work is currently on display at Bare Bones, 156 School St., Bristol. For more information about Bare Bones, go to www.facebook.com/BareBonesBristol.
Comments? Email mchaiken@BristolObserver. com.