Artist Interview: Amie Starchuk

Friday, February 27, 2015

Amie Starchuk: Arabian Java


I found my voice and style in Saudi Arabia


Amie Starchuk is my first artist in what is going to be a series of interviews with artists, working all over the world.

I met Amie through Facebook. In fact I found Amie through a group of people who all carry within them the same dream: to one day live off making their art and sharing it as much as possible with the world.

Amie is a textile artist and she lives in Saudi Arabia. What is a textile artist? Well, in this case Amie creates pieces of art from fabric and needles and she's inspired by how things feel. Let me introduce you and let us travel into Amie's work and look closer at her exotic, wonderful quilts and photography!

Amie in her studio 

LONE: Welcome Amie! I am so excited that you want to be the first artist in my Artist Talk series! Welcome! First, tell me more about yourself! I know that you are a Canadian textile artist but also that you are currently living in Saudi Arabia! How did that happen? 

AMIE: Hi Lone! My husband's career took us to Saudi Arabia in 2001. I had never been outside of North America when we flew half way around the planet to be here. It has been an interesting journey, full of travel and discovery. For me, it provided the gift of time. My husband's job takes him away for weeks at a time, and I fill my days playing in my studio.
It is interesting to think about the main difference between Saudi Arabia and Canada, because oddly, it is the main thing they have in common... extreme weather! The heat of the summer with temperatures upwards of 115 degrees F (46°C), compared with the low of 25 to 30 degrees BELOW zero in Canada (-33°C)!  

Amie Starchuk: Heart of Vines

LONE: Saudi Arabia to me sounds like such an exotic place! When I look at your artwork I see a connection with the land in your art. How do you find that the culture you are living in rubs off on your artistic work? 

AMIE: The work I did in Canada was mainly learning to quilt. I didn't really produce any of my own work when I lived there, but created quilts from the patterns others had designed. One of the greatest gifts of living in Saudi Arabia from the perspective of my work is the gift of time. The pace here is much slower. And in the heat of the summer, I am not outside doing anything! I have cocooned in my studio and taught myself many of the techniques I use to accomplish my art.  The architecture here is much different from home. Relationships are very important, having tea and dates and visiting is common. Painted doors, the Islamic star, many geometric shapes are all a piece of the landscape. I am trying to capture some of these things in my artwork as a reflection of my time here. 

Amie Starchuk: Tainted Love

About 'Tainted Love' Amie says: 
Tainted Love was one of my very early pieces. It is reflections of the end of a relationship, one that was never really true, but always tainted. The red is not really a bright "love" red, I chose very muted, darker colors to reflect the "tainted" part of it all. I witnessed this relationship, it was not my relationship. I was relieved when it ended and created this piece to let go of all I felt about what had transpired. 


LONE: What do you feel making art and being in that creative space gives YOU? What happens when you are creative?

AMIE: For me there is a sense of contentment and completeness when I am making art. It is not so much what happens when I am creative, as what happens to me when I am not creating, I'm miserable! In my current life style, I can be away for up to two months at a time, which leaves me with no studio!! I have had to get a little more creative about being creative! 
I always take a sketch book and pens, even if I just sit in an evening and doodle, I feel creative. As well, I have fallen in love with photography, and just viewing a scene in a more creative, different way is helpful for me when I am far away from my studio. I observe colors and shapes and architecture. I have a large need to be on a creative plane daily.
There is the obvious creative release for me. The joy in simply taking an idea from infancy to completion. I hope to give with my art the joy of texture! Quilts are so wonderful, but I am enjoying taking quilting from the couch to the wall! As well, I have started to do more work reflecting the culture of my current home, Saudi Arabia. I think when I leave here it will be special to have these memories that I created while I lived here. 
I have noticed my need for creative release to be influencing other aspects of my life. Cooking is not a favorite thing for me, but suddenly I see making a salad as a pretty thing, plating food on a plate as an attractive arrangement. So, I do find that being creative daily keeps my mind engaged creatively to other areas of my life. 

LONE: Why do you think it is important for you to keep those art memories made in Saudi Arabia, when you go back to Canada?

AMIE: It is important for me to have art memories from here because it is here that I found my voice and my style. I have cocooned myself away and played and experimented for years and it has been a big part of my time spent here in Arabia, the start of my art journey!

LONE: What are your favourite materials? Do you create from wool? Do  you use local materials? 

AMIE: I am currently working with mostly cotton PFD fabric (prepared for dyeing). It has no finish on it that will interfere with dye or paint. I have to bring this is from Canada, as it is not available here. The only wool I use is the batting in my pieces, the middle layer, because I love the texture I get from using that particular batt. Any materials that I am using that I purchase here have been shipped in. The thread I use is from Italy and the paints are from the U.S. 

Amie Starchuk: Arabian Door III

LONE: I know that you also are a blogger Amie, and you show really interesting photos on your blog along side your words. Your blog post The Yellow Brick Road inspired me greatly. What you are saying is, how looking back at what you have done earlier in your life, shows you how you have improved your skills over time. This is a good point. I think it's good to remember where we started and also to keep practicing what we want to be better at.

AMIE: Being an artist is hard work and it is personal work. We create from a place inside our soul and it leaves us very vulnerable when we put ourselves out there.


LONE: Apart from your textiles you also do photography, as mentioned earlier. I want to share a few of your images here alongside your art. They have that same texture and richness I find, as your quilts. It makes me look deeper. And it makes me see colours and textures I wouldn't normally see. And you capture that in both your quilts and your photography.

AMIE: Thank you for that!! I'm so attracted to texture, I'm glad that's obvious!

LONE: I know that you post your photos on Instagram. How has sharing your art become an important or perhaps not so important part of your work?

AMIE: I am really enjoying social media. I find inspiration from the work of other instagramers. I enjoy sharing my work and it has been a very positive experience for me. I have met many like minded people and artists on Instagram. :)

LONE: Amie, I just want to finish our beautiful time together here, by showing some of your most recent photographs from your trip to Antarctica! I am spellbound by these happy penguins, thank you so much for sharing them!

AMIEThank you so much, Lone!

Visit Amie Starchuk

Keep exploring. The artists that inspire Amie

Here are some of Amie's absolutes favorite artists and their websites. Handpicked just for you!

We hope you enjoyed the interview! If you have any questions 
for Amie or me please leave your comment below!

Thank You!

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