To know Teri Dryden (teridryden.com) is to smile. She’s one of the happiest artists I know. Her latest delight-inducing adventure was her residency at the Shiro Oni Studio in Onishi, Japan (For more information on that experience, listen to LEO Weekly’s Dec. 7, 2018 podcast).
LEO: What type of artist are you?
Teri Dryden: As a mixed-media artist of abstracted form, I begin with no specific outcome in mind. I respond to the changes in the picture, as I explore and interact with my materials by layering paint and paper, 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, I reunite and record fragments of thought, feeling and memory.
Please explain your artistic process.
My work is informed by extraordinary life experiences that have shaped my aesthetic and world view. I have an intense curiosity about places and the ways in which they can unite us. As an artist, I don’t simply ‘see’ visual stimuli — I absorb them, and they become a part of my psyche. As a young woman, I traveled with Ringling Brothers Circus for two years, lived on a train, performed in every contiguous U.S. state, and gathered thousands of indelible impressions from garish to gorgeous that often find their way from my memory to my brush. I’ve enjoyed the exotic cultures of India and Southeast Asia, the rich histories of France and Italy, swum with sting rays in the Caribbean and paddled through a Mississippi swamp. The more I’ve traveled and ventured out, the more I’ve come to recognize the importance of cultural exchange in our ever-growing and increasingly connected global community — the tissue that connects us as humans no matter where we live, how we speak, what we eat, how we love or what we find beautiful. I mine that rich tapestry of experience and create personal histories that can speak to all of us.
You recently spent some time in Japan on an art grant. Please tell us about it.
I received a professional development scholarship from the Fund for the Arts which helped me realize my dream of painting at a residency in Onishi, Japan. The time spent at Shiro Oni Residency has deeply refreshed my creative spirit, connected me with wonderful artists from countries such as Belgium, Korea and Mexico and has opened my heart to the enchanting culture of Japan. I experienced inspiration everywhere in this little town and it has profoundly affected my artwork. I had a wonderful little studio where I painted every day and had the opportunity to participate in many workshops, including papermaking, woodblock printing and Japanese calligraphy.
How has your art changed over the years?
Looking back on my body of work, I can pinpoint abrupt changes where I switched from one medium to another, but my process has remained consistent. I work daily and break out of my comfort zone by experimenting with new materials and techniques. I spent years making collages, then years painting in acrylics. Now that I’ve developed my skills in both, working in a combination of the two gives me a great deal of creative satisfaction and allows me the freedom to be more intuitive, spontaneous and to connect more deeply with my work. Those explorations have led me to a thrilling and fulfilling path of continuous artistic evolution.
You have a show coming up soon. What can viewers expect to see?
My upcoming exhibition, “YUTORI,” will open at B. Deemer Gallery on Saturday, Feb. 9 from 3 to 5 p.m. All of the work in the gallery was created directly from my amazing experiences while living in Onishi for six weeks. I will be showing collages and mixed-media paintings of various sizes along with a few surprises!