A Q&A with artist Teri Dryden on being process-oriented and inspired by Bernheim Forest

[The above image is “Chasing Ghosts” by Teri Dryden.]

Collage artist and painter Teri Dryden (teridryden.com) is a small bundle of creativity wrapped in a smile. She’s a transplant to Louisville, and I met her at one of her early exhibitions. I appreciated her art before actually meeting her. This art and this artist are a great combination and certainly worth getting to know together.

You create art in a familiar way, yet I don’t know a lot of artists working in the medium. Please tell us what you do.
My artwork is undeniably process-oriented. I begin each picture with a line. I have no specific outcome in mind. I respond to the changes in the painting, as I explore and interact with materials by layering paint and paper, scratching, sanding and marking, creating open spaces, altering and adjusting. I move between intuition and logic, chaos and order. Being aware and open, taking risks with the materials — as well as the struggle itself — allows me to have a more-meaningful painting experience and often leads to a greater self-awareness. My goal is to create work that is authentic and genuine.

When did you start making art?
I’ve always been a creative person. I studied acting in college and traveled as a circus clown with Ringling Brothers for several years. I had always wanted to learn how to quilt, so I took a class. I began by making traditional quilts and then started experimenting with art quilts. About 15 years ago, I took an art class, thinking I could be a better quilter. I never picked up a needle and thread again. From painting to drawing to collage, I have had many wonderful and supportive teachers in my life.

Artists find inspiration from unusual sources. Tell us about what sparks your creativity.
I see art everywhere. The color of red clay, cracks in a sidewalk or a piece of trash are beautiful to me. Inspired by a recent visit to Bernheim Forest, I developed a series of collages with a botanical theme. I am drawn to lines. I love twisted branches. With discarded books as grounds, I collaged black and white photos of flowers and plants along with other found and prepared papers, pen and paint.

What are you working on now? Do you have an exhibition coming up in the near future?
I am presently in Los Angeles in workshop. I come here every summer to paint with artists I’ve known for many years. We studied under the same teacher, and, when he passed four years ago, we decided to continue to work together. It’s a place to experiment, go wild with all kinds of materials and get feedback. I work every day for the galleries that represent me. I am thrilled to be represented by three fabulous galleries. In addition to B. Deemer in Louisville, my work can be seen at New Editions in Lexington and View Gallery in Jackson, Mississippi. I am scheduled for a group show later this year.

What is something that most people do not know about you?
I love disco. Woot! Woot!