Finding A Sense of Wonder and Peace through Pattern, Nature, Symbolism, Culture, & Hope with artist, Bridget Anthony-Hlioui
"I am drawn into the process as a journey, finding how simplicity can lead to complexity, and back again. There is also my hope that the viewers will be drawn into a spiritual relationship of their own."
How does your work interact with the theme of “A Generous Kingdom V: Art that Explores Story, Symbolism, and Beyond”?
Bridal Tribute in particular fits the theme of the show since it honors the story of the Tunisian bride through the traditional North African objects or symbols presented to her as gifts. While I juxtapose the repetitive patterns of symbols against my memories, I am continually fascinated that the process leads me beyond, to remind me of the Creator, signs in nature, and our final spiritual home.
Does the idea of transformation influence your work and process?
When I am composing patterns for my mixed media pieces, the process itself brings about a transformation within me as I find an escape and relief from anxiety. The process itself is a search for connection expressed through the patterns composed of the natural and man-made traditional objects. I am drawn into the process as a journey, finding how simplicity can lead to complexity, and back again. There is also my hope that the viewers will be drawn into a spiritual relationship of their own.
What draws you to the medium you chose? And tell us a little about your process.
When I envisioned my Tribute to Heart’s Wanderings series it was a combination of scenic views layered with patterns of symbols. It was actually through the choice of the medium that this series, including Bridal Tribute, was born. Although I have my Bachelor’s in photography, I was drawn to working in mixed media in order to get the symbols in my head down on paper. My process involves designing a pattern, cutting paper templates, sketching, drawing details with fine line black pen, and adding color with an array of paints and colored pencils.
What are the strengths of the medium? What are the challenges?
Working in mixed media gives me the ability to focus on delicate fine details and subtlety in hues as well as apply bold color. Perhaps its biggest strength is that you can use any art supply and material that you are inspired to use. This can also be a challenge because introducing new materials is a risk, but it may produce successful results.
Who inspires you? And What do you do to get inspired?
I am inspired by el Seed, the French Tunisian calligraffiti artist. I love how his work draws viewers in through its beauty and form without the need of understanding of the Arabic language, and how, as he says, it “aims to spread messages of peace, unity and to underline the commonalities of human existence”.
My inspiration also comes from the Quran, Islamic art, traveling, reading, and gardening. The Quran is my go to book to find guidance and signs. I also study geometric patterns in Islamic art. Traveling is understandably so inspiring! While my usual travel routine has been halted due to COVID, I stick to reading at home. Finally, working in my garden: planting, cultivating, and harvesting. All of these feed my longing for connection and provide me with a means of reflection, a sense of wonder, and peace.
If you could have coffee or tea with any artist who would you pick? What would you have coffee or tea? What would you ask that artist?
I’d choose to drink coffee with el Seed and I’d ask him how his process of choosing how and where to work has evolved.
What do you hope your work achieves, in general, and/or specifically with this installation?
If Bridal Tribute achieves a pause for reflection, drawing you in, makes you wonder about the story’s significance, appreciate the culture, and/or makes you feel connected to a Higher Power than my hopes for this piece are successful.
What recently made you smile?
One of my former students sent me a picture of an art piece she was working on along with a photo of her rabbit.
What recently made you cry?
What made me cry is the oppression of Ulghurs, Kazakhs and other predominantly Muslim ethnic groups by China. Up to one million are detained and held in forced-labor internment camps.
If you could tell your viewers one thing, what would you tell them?
To my viewers, I say: Take care, we will all return to the Ever-Loving.