This month for our Coffee Hound Featured Artist program we are exhibiting the work of the Coffee Hound’s own Beth Halsey. Having received a Bachelor’s in Studio Arts from ISU in 2012, Beth has worked in drawing and printmaking, but currently finds photography to be her favorite medium.
When asked about her inspirations, Beth listed Gustav Klimt, Sally Mann, and Frida Kahlo. “I think I saw Klimt’s work for the first time in 6th grade at Hobby Lobby. I was looking in the poster section for something cool to hang in my room and found his painting, The Kiss, and fell in love with it and began looking up some of his other work and loved it all. I love all the patterns and the amount of gold he uses is what makes his work so striking to me. I was also amazed by how realistic his paintings were of the human body. A lot of the bodies are in strange distorted positions, but he makes it look real. I love the contrast between the realistic portraits along with a very flat pattern surrounding the figure. I studied him later in school and got to learn a little more about his life and his art and began to appreciate him even more and realized I wanted my work to have a similar feel.”
As for Sally Mann and Frieda Kahlo, Beth discovered them while studying at ISU. “We watched a documentary on [Mann] called What Remains and I was totally enthralled. She uses an old 8 x 10 camera, which means her negatives are 8″ x 10″, and sometimes uses glass plates as her negative. I was fascinated by her process and skill. In my last semester at ISU, I got to use an 8 x 10 camera and that’s what I used to photograph most of my portraits. That camera was probably the coolest thing I’ve ever seen. It sort of confirmed my dream of owning one.” Of Frieda, Beth went on to say, “I admired her self-portraits and how they seemed to tell a story of her life. I wanted my art to tell some sort of story as well. I think this is more obvious in some of my later work.”
Beth’s own work has previously been displayed at Heartland Community College, the McClean County Arts Center, and Transpace Gallery. She describes it as very serious with a personal feel. “What I hope for people to see in my work is a sense of nostalgia and how genuine a person’s life can be. We all have to grow up at some point and that is sometimes a very difficult experience. Life has its ups and downs. We are all different and each have our own insecurities, we should all be kind to each other because people don’t always know what’s going on in someone else’s life. I like to think my art is about growing up and how we change. I hope that people can take away some sort of feeling of the past when they look at my work. To accept the hardships we sometimes have in life, but not to forget the changes we can look forward to.”
Currently, Beth’s work can be seen at the Coffee Hound’s Normal location, with several pieces available for purchase.