Tammy Vitale’s inspiration comes from many places — her own restlessness and boredom, the nature of the materials at hand and a drive to learn how to work with them, her dreams, and other artists’ work. After I saw her work at last year’s Artomatic, I’ve been wanting to connect with her. Being an introvert, I have followed her blog and emailed her once or twice, but not actually met her face-to-face. When looking at her work, I get a sense of a “wild woman” or at least, one who has left behind the shackles of propriety for the freedom of wind swept plains. I admit that is my own romantic vision when faced with her sculpture.
What is the relationship between your artwork and your spirituality?
My work, and my spirituality, such as it is, reflect each other and inform each other. I am a Feminist…and of the age to remember what it was like before we took much for granted. I remember divorcing my non-working husband in the mid-70s only to have him take all the credit with him as I was “just a wife.” A long search through religions ended with arrival at the philosophy of the Tao de Ching and a blending of ideas to come up with what makes sense to me based in my own experiences. In the 90s the book Women Who Run With Wolves sent me on an adventure to discover how story informs individuals, communities, states and nations and running all through that the aspects of the feminine divine, both manifested in the Goddess in all her aspects and in a study of the Anima. My art is always and firstly a reclaiming of myself and an understanding that everything is connected, that the actions I take have consequences for me as well as for others, and that by changing myself I change the world.
How do you translate your spiritual experience to your creativity?
I believe that the work is called by someone somewhere looking for that particular piece. My job is to provide a conduit for the energy and then set out to find the person who called it in the first place. The person recognizes the energy of the piece, buys it and takes it to its true home, and for as long as needed remains in dialogue with it as they live with it. That’s my hope and belief.
In your artist statement, you talk about the artist as conduit for (divine) energy seeking to become concrete. What is that process like for you?
Take medium in hand and then get out the way (remove the intellect, go with the energy/feeling). It can get stressful when something wants to be born and I can’t clear away psychic or temporal space for it to happen. Or when I need to create and nothing comes through. I’ve learned to live with it.
Maybe this is one of the reasons that
Tammy’s work speaks to me. We both see our work as already belonging to someone. There is a dynamic energetic pull between the person the artwork is for and the work itself, and the artist is the conduit for manifesting that vision, that object into this world. Not for themselves, but for the one who belongs to the work.
What do you learn from making art?
Because glass and clay have similar propensity for doing things right and having things turn out wrong, or doing things wrong and having things turn out spectacularly (is that a word?), I learn regularly that this is life. I don’t deserve the beauty or the failure, they just come…and they just go. I learn to let go and trust the process and the path. Most days I’m very grateful for this. Some days not so much, but I get over it (eventually. Sometimes I have to pout for a day or year or so).