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July 2011 Art Show Preview: Interview with Douglas Devivo

June 28, 2011

How did you get started?
I’ve been producing art most of my life. I was mostly an illustrator [in college], when I studied abroad in Taiwan we learned (what got me more into collage) to do scroll making. We would use layers and layers of paper glued together. All my life I’ve been collecting interesting papers, [the class] would take papers on the street, the ground, and add them to the scroll. My teachers really loved that, that’s how it all started.

I didn’t do much beyond these smaller pieces in Taiwan, when I came back to America I started to do printmaking, but I got tired of buying paper and started making collage.

[In the beginning] I did everything outdoors, I would pack a backpack with all the paper I thought I would need and stay in a beautiful spot in nature for hours.

Why did you choose to study in Taiwan?

Teachers would say to me, “your artwork looks very Chinese, very Asian.”  One of my teachers said they have these programs where you can go to Japan, China, and Taiwan, and I thought that it would be fun to do for a few months. I was there for 3 years in Taiwan [and spent further time in China, and Taiwan for work]. Most of the instruction was 1-on-1, and I learned scroll-mounting, carving, calligraphy, a lot of art history, and they tried to teach me language, but I was a major failure at language!

What compelled you to stay?

I just felt such an affinity to Chinese culture after the first year, it’s so comfortable to me. When I finished school I was absolutely broke and someone offered me a teaching job in the center of the island. I would draw pictures to make it interesting for myself and students but all these people [in the city] were factory bosses and they were looking for designers for their products (ceramics).

All these factory bosses wanted to teach me how to draw something that was going to be made into ceramics (bone china, dolomite, earthenware), each factory requires a different type of drawing. I started my own design business working with Taiwanese, Chinese factories, American factories — a very successful business.

Around 10 years ago, I realized that life is much more than just doing this kind of work, more meaning than drawing products, I came back to America and started to do collage.

I see that most of your pieces are nature inspired, which makes sense with working outdoors, but I also see that some seem to draw from a more figurative inspiration, could you talk more about that?

In the last three years, is wanting to get into my emotional side of the art. I love the outdoor scenery and interpreting with the limitation of the papers I’ve carried with me, but there was a whole emotional side that wasn’t going to get met.

I started to practice Yoga and it’s about mediation, you let your thoughts come in, you recognize them and they go out, you just let them flow throug. But they didn’t all flow through, they stayed in my mind they became colors. At this time I was in New Mexico at an art retreat thinking about the fear and confusion of those thoughts, I started working. The first one I did that day was very black, brown with yellows and very congested, as the months went by they got more open and fun and releasing, so this is where it’s going to now, working with an emotional statement.

What’s your ideal Saturday?

I live close to the beach and I just love being at the beach, I’m a half a mille away, and the Sonoma Coast is just gorgeous, [the landscape] change daily.

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