Artist Spotlight Series: Amanda Acker
Her works are mesmerizing, real and captivating.
Enjoy getting to know
What is your training?
Self-taught. Ever since I was a young girl I have had a interest in the arts. Growing up in park district painting classes, hiding out in high school photography dark rooms, traveling around visiting art museums and artist havens on the fringes, pouring over library art books throughout my late teens and early twenties, putting it all into a dedicated practice in my adult life.
What inspires you and your designs?
The act of noticing. Beauty in the ordinary, quiet corners, humor in the domestic, moods provoked by seasons.Relationships between people and landscape, relationships between objects and landscapes, relationships between households bits and bobs. The flotsam around our interior lives. Narratives and common threads. Story tellers of all kinds whether they be journalist, filmmakers, musicians, poets, or painters.
What is your favorite piece?
At this moment, a recent painting I finished, Venus Caught. I think to get to the place where I call a painting done, I am looking for it to have a aliveness. A certain kind of wiggle or vibration. I enjoy the challenge of trying to get there with inanimate objects. I knew this painting was complete when Venus looked as if she might just walk right off that marble pedestal.
How has the your area influenced your work?
I live and work in the lake side village on Onekama, Michigan. I spent my childhood summers here. I think it is common to develop a attachment to the places we spend that period of life. I surely did!
The vast majority of the work I do is rooted in the place I reside. Influencing it in every way, the crisp to glowing light, four distinct seasons, the water, field, and forest landscape. The feeling of the area plays a part as well with a Midwest melancholy, ingrained kindness, the elation of summer, the inwardness of long winter.
What is your favorite restaurant in Onekama?
Going outside the box on this one… I’m going to say potlucks and picnics with my friends and community, preferably on a beach or in a apple-scented backyard. We do it right in these parts. Almost everyone I know has a home garden or access to a roadside vegetable and/or fruit stand. At the right time of year, the table (or beach blanket) is near overflowing. It’s beautiful thing, makes my mouth water just thinking about it.
What is your favorite cocktail?
The winters here are long, dark, and cold. A classic whiskey hot toddy sure does hit the spot in these conditions.
How do you balance personal life and work?
I’ve done a good job of intertwining it all, so it’s not easy and not perfect, but I think ROUTINE is the magic word. There are two work elements in my life that I’ve created a fairly strict 4-5 days/week routine around, home schooling my daughter and painting. Home schooling happens in the morning until lunch, painting happens either after lunch until before dinner or after dinner (night shift!). The personal/family life fills in all the other space and time more organically depending on season, moods, desires, needs, disasters, obligations, etc.
I try not to be too hard on myself about what happens during the painting hours. The ‘showing up’ part is what I’m committed to. I’ve also found it really helpful to say “I’m going to work!” instead of “I’m going to paint!”… It helps everyone take it a little more seriously.
Oh I’d love to visit Japan! Spending time in Kyoto and then off to hike in the Kumano Mountains, stopping over in a onsen village to soak.
I don’t really do commissions. But, if someone were willing to send me to a beautiful location in the world and my mission was to paint whatever I noticed in said location, I’d happily oblige.
Your favorite host / hostess gift to give?
Depending on the season or occasion a bottle of wine, a garden bouquet or a hand-dipped pair of beeswax candles seem to do the trick.
Who is your style icon?
One half of me leans towards the effortlessly cool ways of Patti Smith while the other leans towards the eccentric, elegant kookiness of Rhoda Lady Birley. I like a uniform, a perfectly worn in t-shirt, a favorite pair of socks and boots, nothing that feels brand new. But, sometimes you need to just freak out a little.
Your favorite up and coming artist?
My dearest friend and fellow artist, Allie Kelly. Allie has a deep connection and respect for the land around her deep in the woods of Virginia. Her paintings feel like a conversation with with the flora and fauna, the trees and creeks of the place she calls home.
Polina Barskaya has been a favorite for some years now. Her honest, tender self-portraiture feels so giving, so alive. There’s also something really inspiring and hopeful feeling to me when I imagine her painting in her living room studio while wearing her napping baby in a sling. She’s really telling the story of a life in such a beautiful way.
What is your most treasured possession?
Oh my garden! Hardly a possession due to its fleeting and unruly nature, but I do love and treasure it. It holds so much hope,dreams and contemplation. A garden teaches you a lot.
What are you reading?
followed by Salvage the Bones.
She also recently wrote a poignant, heart-wrenching essay in Vanity Fair that I highly recommend.
What are you listening to?
Some recent musical listening includes Brother Theotis Taylor, The Weather Station, Gillian Welch, Jonathon Richman, Hailu Mergia, and Adrianne Lenker.
During the dinner making hour we love to listen to Jake Fussell’s weekly radio show, Fall Line Radio. A eclectic mix of modern and traditional music from the south and beyond.
I often listen to podcasts in the studio. OnBeing and New Yorker Fiction podcast have really stood the test of time.
This OnBeing episode with Mary Oliver is a good place to start.
What are your favorite blogs / publications?
I feel like I’m telling y’all secrets on those two. Both are too good to be true!
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