You are all in store for a special treat! Rebecca Collins is an artist that I first became aware of through Flickr.com in 2009. Her quirky subject matter, vivid color palettes, and artistic vibe made me smile compulsively.
When I hear “Rebecca Collins mosaics”, two subjects come to mind… robots and skeletons. Although this is not all Rebecca does, in my opinion, she does them like no one else. Just as there are many layers of materials incorporated into Rebecca’s mosaics, I find as many layers of meaning and messages. Some overt, some covert, some come from her directly, and some only my eyes see.
Below you will find many of the detailed images Rebecca has created and constructed, as well a peek into her creative space at home. More than anything else, I hope you see the Rebecca Collins I had the honor of getting to know just a bit better.
LMA: How and when did you get started in mosaics?
Rebecca: My journey into mosaics started in 2007 when I took a class on a whim with my best pal and I was hooked right away. I was at a point in my professional artwork where I really needed a break from the demands of working on commission. By day I create custom pet portraits using Photoshop and a Wacom drawing tablet. My business Art Paw was around nine years old at that time and while I love doing the pet portrait work I was really hungry to create art that was not driven by the tastes and preferences of clients.
LMA: Who are the top 3 artists you feel have influenced your work?
Rebecca: Katrina Doran has been a huge influence on my work as she was my first mosaic instructor and she was instrumental in giving me the encouragement and space I needed to find my voice in this medium. Katrina is fearless and it shows in her art. I am a huge fan of Eve Lynch’s work and when I first got started in mosaic I became cyber pals with her. We gravitated to each other through a shared love of quirky subject matter. There are so many mosaic artists that inspire me. It is hard to choose just 3, so I won’t. Linda Gossett is a ceramic artist, teacher and pal that has inspired me to work in clay and that has influenced my work a great deal. Her work has some dark undertones that are offset by her keen sense of humor.
LMA: Do you have a favorite color palette?
Rebecca: I do not have a favorite color palette, but I do have a favorite color nemesis. A few years ago I adopted pink because I thought I hated it. I figured it would be a fun creative challenge to find strong unexpected ways to use it. I love the color now, but it took a year of experimentation to fully embrace it. Pink is not for sissies.
LMA: Who is your biggest supporter/fan?
Rebecca: My biggest supporter is my husband Dan Collins; he is an artist too and offers thoughtful criticism when I need it and unconditional cheerleading when I need that. He intuitively seems to know when each is required. Atticus by Rebecca Collins Georgij Russian Beetles by Rebecca Collins
LMA: Attach 3 of your favorite pieces you have created and tell us why…
Rebecca: “Monarch Artificial Pollinator” This project started out rather light-‐hearted because I wanted to create a robot butterfly. Once I goggled robot butterfly I discovered that scientists were actually creating robotic bees and butterflies to pollinate our crops in the event that we wipe out these important members of the eco system. When I started this project Monarchs we endangered however they are starting to make a come back. I wanted the piece to be beautiful with dark undertones.
“Self Portrait At The Cellular Level” This is a small 5 x 7 project that is about the last year of my life and what is going on with my body. I was diagnosed with Stage 4 breast cancer in 2015 and I have been obsessed with cells and even more drawn to anatomical prints and subject matter than I was before. I have more cellular projects in my head that will be happening soon. I love this piece because it is some of my most recent work and we always love the most recent projects best.
“Danny” I love this project because it is my husband and it was a challenge to finish. I enjoyed doing a human portrait in mosaic and will probably never do another one, so it is rather special.
LMA: Do you support any charitable causes? Which ones and why?
Rebecca: I do not support specific charities each year, however through my business Art Paw I donate to a wide variety of animal related causes. I also support the Creative Arts Center of Dallas with auction donations. Just one animal charity that I support is Operation Kindness: www.operationkindness.org/opk/ Analog Frog by Rebecca Collins
LMA: Tell us a little about your studio and attach a photo or 2 of your studio space: (No need to clean up! We all love a working studio!!)
Rebecca: My studio is brand new and I am still settling into it. I call it the tree-‐house studio because it is on the 2nd floor and you can see the tops of trees through the clerestory windows and large sliding glass doors. There is a balcony that looks down into my backyard. I have a new kiln that I have not even fired up yet. One of my favorite pieces of furniture is an old library card file; I have labels on it and inside are jars of millefiori, washers, beads, ATC blanks and more. I am also proud of the stainless steel restaurant sink that I scored at an online auction. More than half of the space is devoted to mosaics and fine art while a small corner at the back houses my computers and large format plotters.
LMA: Do you listen to music while creating (what type/bands)or do you prefer the TV(what shows/genera/channel)? Silence? Pod cast? Etc.?.
Rebecca: I often listen to Pandora while working, it varies from folk music, Leonard Cohen, Lucinda Williams, Bob Dylan to 1980’s punk rock. Bubo by Rebecca Collins Spare Parts Robot Totem by Rebecca Collins
LMA: What mosaic organizations do you belong to?
Rebecca: I am a member at CMA and my SAMA membership goes in and out of active status. I think it needs updating right now.
LMA: Where/how do you find creative inspiration?
Rebecca: I would have to say the biggest source of inspiration for me is dabbling in other media. It is super important to get away from what we love from time to time and do something that we just may suck at. That is what drew me to clay and it turned out I did not suck at it after all. I also take figure drawing classes when I can and I am always eager to learn something new. My favorite mosaic artists are well rounded when it comes to studio art. I think of Cherie Bosela and I see photography, I think of Carol Shelkin or Irit Levy and I see painting, I think of Donna Van Hooser or Barbara Benson Keith and I see strong graphic design backgrounds. For me it is important to view mosaic as just one tool in a huge arsenal of tools. Inspiration comes when you are knee deep in new media and you are not sure what to do next.
LMA: Tell us about your single greatest mosaic moment.
Rebecca: My best mosaic moment was when I participated in a group show back in 2011 with Apryl Begay and Katrina Doran called “Tres Milagros”. When Katrina invited me to participate in this special show I jumped at the chance. It was a lovely show and the journey of putting it together and working so closely with those talented women was really an experience that is hard to top.
Rebecca and I had a most wonderful visit via Skype before I sat down to put her interview together. It was my first time “meeting” Rebecca, and she was everything I imagined and more! Prior to our chat, all I knew of Rebecca was gleaned from viewing her artwork and her Internet presence. My impression of Rebecca was pretty spot on in that I imagined her to be incredibly vibrant and positive in attitude, and possessing a child’s genuine curiosity and determination to creatively explore things of current interest.
If any of you did not know, Rebecca has been battling cancer like a Spartan! She is currently stage 4 and is fighting an incredible uphill journey, one step, one day, one moment at a time, with a smile and attitude that is unbreakable. Her level of acceptance rivals that of Job and like her artwork, is an inspiration all it’s own.
I find Rebecca’s work to be filled with life and motion, exploration and observation. Rebecca has an innate ability to convey life in the lifeless and uncover the Divine Architect’s blue prints in the organic. I came away from our brief meeting hoping we will again have the opportunity to spend some time together discussing life, the creative universe, and the meaning in it all. There was one more question asked of Rebecca in my interview…
LMA: If there were one thing you would like readers to remember about you, what would it be?
Rebecca: I want to be remembered as fearless in life and in art.
Fearless in life and in art is a perfect summation of the many wonderful attributes in this artist and all her art, her greatest work of art being life itself.