As Bayou City Arts Festival sets up shop in Memorial Park, meet more than 300 creatives from across the globe, including this year's featured artist, Amanda Bennett. Based in New Orleans and having lived across the South, her retro mixed-media works incorporate mid-century inspired colors and southern nostalgia using multiple mediums, most notably paint and photography. See her funky works this weekend or, better yet, take one home forever. Here, Bennett shares where she finds her subject matter, which artists inspire her and why she's not a Harlem Globetrotter.
From Astronaut to Artist
"Growing up, I was sure I was going to be either an astronaut or a Harlem Globetrotter. Clearly—neither one of those panned out for me," shares Bennett. "I initially started strictly as a painter, then grew interested in other mediums, especially photography. After doing photography for a bit, I realized I really missed painting. So I merged the two worlds together. That's what led me to my current body of work."
How the South Inspires Her Work
"I lived in Nashville for 12 years of my adult life and it's where my art career began. I might even go as far to say that it's what inspired me to began my career as a full-time artist. I grew up around the South, in places with troubled histories and rich cultures. It's impossible for it not to influence my work. For better or worse, the South is just part of me."
"I currently create digital mixed media pieces. Subject matter comes to me in a variety of ways. Sometimes it's just an everyday object that sparks an idea; sometimes it's a conversation with a stranger that gives me the subject for my next piece," shares Bennett. "My two favorite artists are Jean Michel Basquiat and Andy Warhol. I love the freedom and stream of consciousness in Basquiat's work, and the familiarity, bold images, colors and nostalgia of Warhol's art."
Crafting the Process
"I begin my pieces by building a digital collage using photographs I take combined with other stock images I find. Once the image is built, I print it and do an ink transfer on to cradle board panel by hand," says Bennett. "Prior to the image being transferred, I build multiple layers of paste, paint and graphite, amongst others, on to the surface of the cradle board. This process gives a collage feel without any paper being involved."
Back in the Bayou City
"I've participated in Bayou City Downtown for a few years now, but this is my first year to participate at Memorial Park and I couldn't be more excited. I love Houston and always finds inspiration when I'm in this fantastic city."