Q&A with Artist, Gwendolyn Chandler
By Bridney C.
It is a pleasure to interview Gwendolyn Chandler for the Sweet Scoop.
Gwendolyn, also referred to as Gwen Chandler is a 26-year-old visual artist and singer from Bethesda, Maryland, just outside Washington D.C. and is currently residing in Stonington, Connecticut.
Coming from an artistic background, Gwen watched her mother perform with her band and visited all of the free museums in D.C. She also learned how to paint from her grandmother, Ruth who she considers as being one of her biggest inspirations and supporters. In 2015, Gwen received her Bachelor's of Art Degree in Studio Arts and Art History from McDaniel College in Westminster, Maryland. She learned a variety of artistic styles and mediums such as encaustic wax paint, watercolor, printmaking, and acrylic which has become one of her "go-to" mediums.
Gwen left her retail manager job a year and a half ago and decided to embark on a new journey into the art world. She not only attained an internship at the Hygienic Art Gallery in New London, Connecticut but also became employed at the Mystic Museum of Art and started further creating her identity as an artist.
In this edition of Q&A, Gwen Chandler described her favorite artwork she has made to date, the best thing about being an artist, and what other types of art she's been working on while self-quarantining.
Bridney C: What is your favorite artwork you have made to date?
Gwen Chandler: It’s very hard to choose which piece of work I like the most. When I make a new piece I put a lot of effort and thought into it, so when it’s done it becomes my new favorite. But overall, if I had to choose, I’d say my favorite is one that’s on a slice of wood titled, Log-scape. It is an acrylic mountain and river landscape painting with a mandala design. The coolest parts are the 3D clouds that you can see and feel, I created them with encaustic wax which is a really unique medium that’s good for creating texture and thick layers. I especially consider it my favorite is because I had it for years before someone took particular interest in it when he saw it in the annual Hygienic Art Show last year - that person is now my boyfriend and is a proud owner of the piece.
Bridney C: What is the best thing about being an artist?
GC: The best thing about being an artist is using the freedom of creative expression, being able to create beautiful, unique things that never existed before that speak to the soul, and can communicate without words. And to be able to express who you are as a person more than anything else ever could.
Bridney C: Briefly describe your recent Salon des Independants entry art piece, "Ace of Mushrooms." Why did Alice in Wonderland, in particular, inspire you?
GC: The Ace of Mushrooms is an acrylic painting of colorful, stylistic looking mushrooms with a simple vintage background and the Ace of Hearts symbols in the corners like a playing card. I am not sure if Alice in Wonderland was my direct inspiration but I realized its connection after I thought of the idea. I love creating colorful, psychedelic designs, and I have a special interest in creating mushrooms. They are fun to paint and allow for creative freedom with the designs, especially when there are so many different types of mushrooms. The idea of making a whole deck of cards with trippy mushrooms definitely crossed my mind. I do admire the idea and style of the way the Alice in Wonderland movie was created, but I can’t say it was my favorite children’s story to be honest.
What other types of art, if any, have you been creating while staying inside?
While staying inside, I’ve been sketching ideas more, taking online skillshare art classes, practicing using watercolor for the first time in years, and finishing old projects or starting/learning new ones. I just made a couple of new pieces with watercolor and I am pretty pleased. The designs are nothing like what I’ve made before. One project I am excited to finish is this 8” x 10” weave that I have been working on for at least 10 years. I add a new row or two every so often, maybe one to five times a year. The colors are random and are based on what I feel like adding at that moment. It just needs one more row of yarn and it will be the most momentous last row since it represents this difficult time of crisis we are currently in and my time in quarantine. The whole project is a total of two parts that I will put together to make a pillow. It will be a small, yet meaningful representation of my whole life, so it will be kind of bitter-sweet to finish.
Bridney C: What made you decide to create "Coronavirus 2020?"
GC: For this piece, I used an old woodblock print design I decided to bring back to life and experiment with, using new silver paint I got recently. After making 3 inch test prints on different shades of purple acrylic, I thought, 'damn, these look really cool… I should just frame them and be done!’ So, I went out during the peak of the initial pandemic frenzy to get a frame at A.C. Moore and then entered it into the Hygienic Art Galleries’ juried show, The Crossing: A Juried Exhibition. I didn’t think of the name until that day. I realized the ribs-graph or cage-like checkered pattern could represent the effects of the human coronavirus, the feeling of being caged in quarantine, the growing death rate, and social distancing. Since each print never looks exactly the same as the last, especially in this piece, it is representative of how the symptoms of the same virus vary between each person. I took it one step further and priced it at $50 to represent the 50 states in America that are being affected. It turned out to be a very representational piece.
BC: As an artist, what are you most looking forward to as soon as the quarantine ends?
GC: During this stress-filled, terrifying time in quarantine I look forward to so many things that I’m sure many people realize they’ve taken for granted, but as an artist and as someone who enjoys working in the arts I miss working and volunteering, having structure, feeling useful, and engaged. I am looking forward to getting back to my job and internship. I look forward to going to many future gallery openings to support the arts and, yes, having my ‘quarantine art’ be seen in person at exhibitions and volunteering at Hygienic again. I am also looking forward to seeing how I will grow and change as an artist during all of this.
Be sure to follow Gwen Chandler for updates on her art. Follow her on Instagram @gwenchandler.art.