Five questions to Onna Voellmer

Five questions to Onna Voellmer

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Onna Voellmer (1973) spent the first half of her life in the Pacific Northwest, in Washington State, surrounded by the tall trees and the giant volcanoes of the Cascade Range. She received her BFA in 2000, in both Painting & Sculpture, and has been painting professionally for 19 years. She currently resides in Santa Fe County, New Mexico, where she works out of a small studio perched atop a hundred acres of land on the flanks of the Ortiz Mountains.

Since when do you paint and what are your favorite motives?

My mother was a painter and had me creating beside her when I was just a toddler. She painted both landscapes and still lifes—and this is the imagery that has had the greatest influence on my work—nature and objects. My paintings are both minimalist and expressive—shifting between blocky shapes, auras of color, and expressive movement and marks.

When you create a new work, how do you proceed? What comes first? 

While my work is inspired by memories, places, and nature—my painting process begins with words. Sometimes it begins with just a single word, while other times it begins with a set of words, or a poetic sequence of words. These words inspire the marks, colors, and shapes that I bring to the canvas. Once my process has moved onto the canvas, there is an interplay between balancing the shapes and color on the space of the canvas, and the words that began the process.

From what do you get your motivation? 

Art was my first language—creating beside my mother, my tiny hand holding a crayon, learning to make marks—its how I first learned to articulate the world. I think being an artist in this way does not require motivation. Its just simply who I am.

Your life without art would be...

Life without art would be the absence of everything.

What's the best art venue in your city right now? 

Art and creativity abounds in Santa Fe and the surrounding area. Santa Fe was the first city to be designated a UNESCO Creative City. Santa Fe is also the third largest art market in the U.S. But the most famous art street in Santa Fe is Canyon Road—with more than 100 galleries, theres something for everyone.

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