Tuesday, November 1st, 2011
But it was during a high school drawing class that she learned what she still considers a key lesson in art. Assigned to create a pencil drawing of a shoe, Conn sorted through a box of old shoes and, after choosing a clean white Keds sneaker, tied the laces in a neat bow and began sketching.
Noticing this, her teacher lunged toward her desk and heaved the sneaker across the room where it slammed against the wall. He wildly dug through the box of shoes, eventually pulling out a massive, raggedy, high-topped Chuck Taylor basketball shoe with the tongue half ripped off and shredded shoelaces.
He slammed the tattered shoe down in front of Conn and said "Draw this. This shoe has character!" Conn produced the best drawing she had done to date and received an A+ for her efforts. But more importantly, she walked away with a lesson in seeing the character, interest and beauty in the least obvious places.
Conn studied fashion illustration at the Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale, and later studied painting at the Kansas City Art Institute. During college, one of Conn's instructors led a group of art students into the painting studio one day to show them a large vibrant abstract Conn was working on.
The instructor pulled the painting out of the storage slot, only to discover the previously colorful canvas had been painted over with thick, black oil paint. Conn later explained that out of frustration with the painting, she covered the surface in black paint, and in doing so, freed herself from the creative fetters of the previous image. The next afternoon, she feverishly scraped back into the black surface, reworking areas as she went and uncovered a more complex and texturally varied abstract that suited her sensibilities. The instructor claimed she knew then that Conn was a true artist.
When Conn later turned to representational painting, she studied with Daniel E. Greene, Joan Potter and Robert Vaughn. However, she feels it is through her more recent self-directed exploration that she has truly metamorphosed as an artist. Though the course of her artistic evolution has zigzagged through fashion illustration and representational art, Conn has found her way back to the abstract painting that most resonates in her core. Conn draws inspiration for her abstract paintings from the experiences of her life, from the music that stirs her, from the Colorado landscape... and most of all from looking at the ordinary in life with raggedy-shoe awareness.
Conn’s art is about realizing her core language, brought forth from internally assimilating, then outwardly fashioning the emotional elements from the experiences, observations and backdrop of her life. What specifically prompts the start of a painting ultimately becomes inconsequential to her as a more visceral approach takes over.
At that point, the more she leaves deliberate thinking out of her painting process, the better the result. So she often relies on music to help nudge the guiding source away from her head and toward a place within. The form, the rhythm, the energy and the message are then unearthed by way of the intuitive progression.
Even in the case of the referential abstractions, there is still an impulse-driven exploration to break through the boundaries of and reinterpret the obvious, but the originating concept may nevertheless function to maintain some representational familiarity.
Collage is implemented to create a jumping off point, to establish an underlying element, or to alter the direction of a passage. As sections of the painting are worked, reworked, covered or torn away a dimensional quality takes shape that to her symbolizes how most places, events and entities in life are multi-layered.