PONSHOP Featured Artist Interview: Ginger Huebner

Ginger Huebner, a good friend of Gabe and Scarlett from their days at Virginia Tech, is an artist based out of Asheville, NC. We're excited to have a few of her pieces here at the gallery, and our intern Sarah Dawes spent some time interviewing Ginger for the blog.

"Let's Walk Together" Collage, Encaustic on Wood 11"x10"

Ginger Huebner believes that life is full of stories, and it is through her art that she aims to translate events and emotions into visual understanding. Using mostly collage and chalk pastel, her work is based entirely on individual clients and their own journeys; it encompasses individual dreams, passions, and defining life moments. Having studied architecture at Virginia Tech, Huebner eventually came to realize that the confines of her concentration did not allow her the creative voice she was seeking. Through her art, Huebner is able to capture fleeting moments in a way that will enable others to learn, appreciate, and grow from them.

Encaustic painting – one of Huebner’s primary mediums – involves applying melted beeswax to a prepared surface, usually wood in Huebner’s case. Metal tools and special brushes are used to shape the wax while it’s still hot, and heat lamps or heat guns allow artists more time to work with the wax.

"Fall" Collage, Encaustic on Wood 7"x12"

Q: When and how did you start developing an interest in art?
A: I have always loved doing artistic activities. I remember having Trapper Keeper when I was younger (8 years old, I think?), that was filled with drawings, copies of pictures, things I would collect, etc... I spent a lot of time drawing and painting things I saw. It wasn't until college that my creative process really blossomed, as I began to understand composition and was encouraged to move beyond just what I saw toward what I could create.
Q: You live and work in Asheville, North Carolina. Can you give us an overview of Asheville’s art scene and your involvement in it?
A: Yes, I relocated to Asheville four years ago from Seattle. There is an amazing diversity of local artists and artisans scattered all around the Western North Carolina region. Asheville specifically has a highly concentrated district, the River Arts District (RAD) www.riverartsdistrict.com, which is a series of 15-20 former textile and industrial buildings, now filled with art studios with working artists. I have had a studio in the RAD since 2007 that I share with talented oil painter, Ralston Fox Smith (ralstonfoxsmith.com). Our building, Pink Dog Creative, www.pinkdog-creative.com, sits in the heart of the district, and also houses the Asheville Arts Council, renowned artist Randy Shull, and other talented and committed artists. The RAD is the epicenter of Asheville's art scene and is emblematic of what art (and all creative endeavors) means to Asheville and surrounding region. The RAD hosts a bi-annual Studio Stroll which over the course of the weekend invites the public to view and purchase work from the hundreds of artists housed in these studios. The art scene is a real source of pride for locals and an asset to this community.
In addition to my own studio work in the district, the school I founded, Roots + Wings School of Art, holds custom art studio sessions and art workshops at this location. Root and Wings School of Art serves in many capacities and offers classes by myself and other RAD artists, to kids, adults and families. It was my intent to bring together these talented artists and be the conduit that allows them to share their passion and skill with others.
Q: We have read about how you strive to represent events and emotions through your artwork. In terms of client commissions, what kind of interaction do you have with the clients?
A: When I am asked to do a commission, I work very closely with my client through the entire process. First, we begin with a conversation to explore their ideas for the piece. I ask for descriptive words, colors, dates, imagery that might be significant, places / maps, etc... Then I spend time creating a preliminary sketch with colored pencil and pen that my client can comment on. I then create the layout of the piece with actual imagery, text, etc... and send a photo of this to my client. Again, they are welcome to comment on changes they might like to see, or present new ideas that have been sparked by the process. Finally, I go ahead and create the final work. It is always a fulfilling and unique experience. For most artists, this may seem an unorthodox approach, but my work has always been about connections.
Q: You graduated from Virginia Tech with a degree in architecture. How has your education led you in the direction of the work you’re doing today? To what extent has it assisted you in your artistic career?
A: My time at Virginia Tech's School of Architecture+Design was crucial to my development as an artist. I credit my years there with learning how to think creatively, learning how to truly see things differently, and developing confidence in my creative talents. Specifically, the combination of my second year professor Mark Blizzard's spontaneous gift of a set of chalk pastels along with learning from his inspiring teaching methods (and his own beautifully crafted drawings) sent me down a path that has led me where I am today. As my third, fourth and fifth years unfolded, my own 'drawings' became another language for expressing not only my studio projects, but translating other elements of my life. I don't think I have ever really verbalized this until now, but in many ways, my early professional career as an architect (listening to clients ideas, shaping them into a uniquely personal work of "art", letting them be an integral part of the creative process) has also shaped my artwork.

"Expand" Collage, Encaustic on Wood 15"x16"

Q: We have a number of your encaustic pieces here at the PONSHOP. Could you briefly touch upon why you chose this medium to work with? What is the process you go through for this type of work? How do you think this enhances your work in ways that other methods could not?
A: As my work has evolved, I have experimented with new ways to incorporate my collage elements. Encaustic provides a way to layer the collage elements with translucency as well as be a tactile protector of the piece. The process involves melting the medium, applying it with a brush, then re-heating it with a heat gun. You can infinitely adjust the texture and thickness of the encaustic medium. Since my work of collage and pastel is largely 2-dimensional, the addition of the encaustic medium adds dimension to the work that I could not otherwise achieve, as well as providing opportunities for carving into or adding texture.
Q: Throughout your years as a student and artist, did you have any mentors who assisted or influenced your work?
A: As I mentioned above, Professor Mark Blizzard was certainly one of my first mentors. The artwork he was creating at the time directly influenced my own experimentation. Also, I had the pleasure and privilege to meet and spend a weekend with Sambo Mockbee between my second and third years of school. He greatly influenced me on an emotional and 'bigger vision' level, which I will always carry with me. The final two years in school at Virginia Tech's Washington-Alexandria Architecture Consortium, Ron Kagawa and Susan Piedmont-Palladino were both elemental in moving my work beyond the pure emotional toward work with greater depth and clarity. Artists Romare Bearden and Joseph Cornell are meaningful inspirations.
Q: It seems that the work we have featured at the PONSHOP alludes to reflections on the environment and the natural world. Many of our patrons have sensed an environmental tone to your pieces. Can you give us any insight?
A: I have always had a great appreciation for whatever environment surrounds me. The natural world is a gift worth contemplating. I see the subtle and grand moments of life through the lens of the natural world and the human body. My work is a layering of my life story, my education as an architect, the joys and pains of the creative process, the connections to others and a reverence for the natural world.

Thanks to Ginger for all of her insight. If you're interested in viewing more of her work be sure to visit her website.