Wednesday, June 30, 2010

MERGE: Alumni Exhibition 2010. Featured Artist: Celina Grigore

Each week, from now until August 28, the Office of Alumni Relations will do a short Q&A with one to three artists who are featured in the Center for Visual Art’s MERGE: Metro State Alumni Exhibition.

This week's featured artist is Celina Grigore ('98, art). Originally from Romania, she relocated to United States in 1993. She gleaned her education and experience with art both through her travels outside of Romania and while attending the National University of Art, in Bucharest. She majored in fine arts after completing a 6-year program. She then pursued another degree in Communication Design at Metropolitan State College of Denver, graduating in 1998.

Metro State: How would you characterize your art?
Celina Grigore: Passionate. Engaging. Intense. Symbolic. Metaphoric. Imaginative. Process-Oriented. … and, at this time, literally: BLACK-and-WHITE.

I learned to treasure the objects and beings around me not merely for their pictorial quality but more for their symbolic meanings and potential archetypal configurations. On the infinite dome above, I may instinctively contemplate the "illusory beauty of flying wings." Beyond that, the challenge is to open my eyes wider and look for the "inward nature of flight." The process of structuring my fantasy into the solidity and character of balanced compositions is a key component of my mind and the reason why my life is a perpetual adventure.

MS: Tell me about your latest work and why you are inspired by it.
CG: Inspired by travels, journeys, flight, time, space and the coexistence of opposing forces, several cycles of pen & ink drawings have emerged from my studio, awaiting their unveiling to the public eye. One is the "Migration" series: Traveling is experiencing with intensity.

Beyond exploring, traveling is about acquiring a sense of place.

Beyond contemplating the flow of shapes in a landscape, I kneel to the ground, run my fingers through sand, dirt, grass. I focus on the silence. In that frame of mind and spirit I try to feel the life force within, a pulse.

Beyond entering and exiting a space, I accumulate visual information by observing key-characteristics from up-close and up-above. I make note of features from a variety of perspectives to the target-objects: from the growth pattern of a leaf to the structure of a village seen from atop a medieval tower, from the abstract erosions carved by time into a piece of stone to the striped vineyard patterns on the hills of a Tuscan landscape. Up-close characteristics generate texture. Up-above characteristics determine structure.

By the time I leave, I have an imprint of that place.

My studio work starts with translating that imprint–an exaltation of the senses–into a visual language. A new journey is about to begin.

The process of distilling emotion into formal elements generates a wave of idea-sketches. Key elements start defining an essence of space. Communicating to the viewer a sense of space is not done by means of expected spacial relationships as much as it is done by means of emotional association and symbolic interconnections."

MS: In what ways did your Metro State professors influence your work?
CG: The education at MSCD contributed in a definitive manner to my integration and understanding of a completely new social and cultural environment. The years spent at MSCD allowed for the favorable encounter with professors of high caliber like Mrs. Carla Tedeschi, an exquisitely knowledgeable, upbeat graphic design professional. One of the elective courses that had a high impact on me was Black-and-White Photography with Mr. Greg Watts along with the opportunity to spend countless hours in a well equipped dark room working on my photographs. Ever since, I have never parted from a camera for more than a couple of days at a time, evolving into the all-digital.

MS: How has your work evolved since you graduated?
CG: The education that I had been privileged to be offered at MSCD prepared me for being able to dive within days after graduation into the competitive graphic design, advertising and corporate identity field in Denver. I have been involved with a large number of interesting projects from their inception through their completion. The positions I held along with a solid number of diverse freelance projects allowed me to meet impressive top notch professionals in the communication design field from whom I have acquired meaningful knowledge and new perspectives. This decade-long experience allowed me to grow as a professional and as an individual. I have worked at building my fine arts body of work in ALL available time that holding full-time jobs have allowed me to. Since 2007, I have dedicated myself full-time to pursuing my fine arts career. I consider that to be my true passion and my vocation in life.

Tell me why you submitted the pieces that you did for MERGE.
CG: First: I believe that the symbolic connotations that pieces from the "Migration" series carry within them are relevant to the audience that the new location of the "Center for Visual Arts" now has the opportunity to reach.

Second: The pieces from the "Migration" series are representative of the body of artwork that I have been engaged in developing for many years now, specifically the past three years.

Not in the least, I invite you, the reader, to come to CVA, see "Metaphor. Migration" as part of the "Merge" exhibition and make your own mind up about the "Why" of my choice. … Or you can simply ask me directly. I will be there.

MS: How do you feel about this opportunity to present your work for Metro State’s new CVA facility?
CG: It is an honor to have been selected as a result of a juried process to be part of the upcoming "Merge" exhibition. As an MSCD alumnus, I'm quite proud of the latest accomplishment of the Art Department having been able to acquire a permanent home for the "Center for Visual Art." There is no doubt in my mind that CVA will do a great curatorial and public relation job for all upcoming exhibitions, "Merge" included, keeping up with their tradition of excellence for the past 20 years.

MS: Is there anything I’m not asking you that you want to share with me?
CG: How about plans for the immediate future? I would like to have the opportunity to exhibit most of my "Migration" black-and-white drawing series in a contemporary space that could accommodate it in size, spirit and level of public exposure. I strongly believe this body of work deserves a well-curated public exposure in a "brick-and-mortar" gallery. I'm working towards it, and I hope that one day one of my proposals to a prestigious exhibition space in the Denver/Boulder area or elsewhere will become a relevant, tangible art event. It is no secret: my heart is set on Colorado, the place I have landed on by choice and developed new roots as part of my own migratory journey as a free citizen of the world. Looking back, I'm pleased I did.

For more information on Celina Grigore's artwork, you are invited to visit the artist's Web site. Or check out a Web site of her exhibitions by clicking here.

All photos Copyright © by Celina Grigore. All rights reserved.

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