emily moore-awad / visual director, client care advocacy director, and painter --
how did you get into your artwork? do you have a niche-- if so, how did you find it?
My work is sort of a big compilation of 28 years of being obsessed with vision. I am 100% a wide eyed wanderer, my eyes feel like they can never see enough. From the time I was about 5 my Mom who was also a painter and an art teacher would set me up on the farm and let me paint all day until the sun set on me. I’m still not sure I’ve found my niche. If you asked me 2 years ago, I’d tell you my niche was acrylic. Today, its oils and charcoal pencil. The mediums and practices change with the artist’s development and willingness to experiment. I think a niche can be limiting and at times, deter you from the possibility of entertaining other ‘niches.’ I have good friends who have changed their styles completely and I think, "wow, that’s beautiful- that’s growth."
what does the process of creation look like for you?
The process of creation looks for me like I imagine it would look for others; like a raw and humbling self portrait of someone who is trying to wrangle their brain into submission to produce works. It’s like trying to annunciate a tongue twister while also being eloquent. Just the idea of it sounds difficult, and it can be very challenging. The creation process is me with paint on my face, half drank cups of tea everywhere and the faint smell of BO since I gave up anti-perspirant long ago…. It’s glamourous I assure you. Cut outs and sketches all over the floor, the computer on the same playlist as it has been on for 2 days, etc. The messy bun is my style of choice accompanied by an art smock made of jean material my mom gave to me that has an image of a neck tie on the front pocket.
how would you describe your art?
Well. (laughs) I have moved away from the more dramatic message I started my art voyage with which basically was ‘F the system and the man and especially F you for approving of the system.’ We’ll call this my veiled phase of ignorance. I describe my work with the term ‘visionary roots.’ I think people need to get back to the earth and learn to truly take care of themselves (roots). We rely so heavily on these external sources. This is conveyed in my work as it preys on consumerism, capitalism, etc. I detest how we are trained and encouraged to think that more = more when it’s been proven in cultures around the world that living simply creates a lasting happiness. Connection amongst human beings is something else I address often in my work, and its general lacking in modern society. The concept of individualism and individual happiness is barely 100 years old- before it was about the community. Contributing, thriving, and each person having that sense of connection to each other and to the earth, creating a sense of purpose. We have so many distractions now that prevent us from believing that happiness can be manifested in oneself, and does not need to be sought on an external level.
After becoming a part of ‘the system’ so to speak (I work on a very professional level now) I realized that I wasn’t going to do much for society if I wasn’t contributing to it. It’s hard to make decisions without the knowledge and experience required make them in an educated fashion, if that makes sense. Casting stones is easy. This is where education is extremely important, and by this I mean, self-education. Learning about oneself, embracing oneself… these two are lifelong endeavors. I’ll quote Rumi on this one: ‘If you are irritated by every rub, how will you be polished?’ You need to determine what you are willing to sacrifice for what you want. Two years ago I was working full time, going to school full time, and teaching painting every weekend. I didn’t get to do what I wanted all the time, and I still don’t. That’s just the reality of sacrifice. I resonate with the quote “I freestyle my destiny, it’s not written in pages.” There are many roads to travel, and that’s the most exciting part of the journey.
My practice lately has been to ‘open’ more, instead of forcing the work out for production purposes. I think my art now conveys a deeper understanding of the universe and my place within it. I would describe my artwork now as experimental and multi-dimensional, it is mixed media for sure…. drawing over collage, collage over painting. I research my topics heavily and I am a life-long learner.
what does a typical day look like for you?
I often start my day with yoga, tea/coffee. I wake up around 6 AM. I read in the morning, check the news and weather and buzz around with the dogs, feed the chickens, etc. I work full time and more for a financial company where I wear a lot of hats. My qualifications are in communication and media analysis, design, and client care advocacy. It was a starter company that is not so starter anymore. It’s creative and challenging and I work with people who are truly brilliant. I feel honored to be a part of something so metamorphic, and am in a senior management position after 3 years. I’m also a small shareholder, so I have a vested interest in my path here. My current position to me is a large stepping stone- it is teaching me high functioning business practices as I continue to grow, and as I watch the company grow as well. More importantly, they treat me like family. When I come home from work I cook, check up on farm town and usually paint, draw, or read if I have the energy. If I’m painting a show, that’s my evening. For example, tomorrow night I’m painting with a few friends at a local restaurant.
the next step..
The next step I’m preparing for is opening a retreat center for arts and healing at my family farm; my parents did organic sustainable agriculture there for the last 30 years. This has been my goal for a while, but the timeline was sped up when my Mom passed away last year and it was determined that I will inherit the farm in a short time. I plan on offering an art and music residency program where participants can live, create, and work on the farm as well. My vision is that those in the residency pay a certain amount for room and board if they are practicing an art -or not- and also participate in a set amount of farm work, cooking, etc. to help offset costs. The scale makes it affordable, and the help on the farm keeps things running along for everyone involved. I can’t think of a better way to honor my family, my roots, and my understanding of what magic is.
I’ll paint a picture for you: Awake in a tranquil little private space of your own. Walk out to the garden and begin harvesting some fresh veggies and fruits, collect some eggs. Create a beautiful breakfast with fascinating perfect strangers, and then retreat to your own space to create for the day. Come back to a collective dinner and fire at night (or not if you came for solitude) and spend the evening perhaps learning a trade from someone else, or just about someone else. The land and property are whimsical, filled with gardens and nooks and crannies for inspiration. They were all made with love, that’s the magic ingredient.
And then to stay… perhaps for weeks at a time. I researched many residencies when I was in art school. When I managed a holistic healing center in New Paltz, the main focus was on how the entire body is connected- we are one functioning unit with many unique needs per individual. If your foot hurts, it’s not just your foot, and so on. I would also like to incorporate physical and spiritual practices- yoga, meditation, massage, acupuncture, music therapy, and many other outlets. Ideally, this would be a salt of the earth kind of seed. It would start with a few practices and I hope over time, expand to a space that can provide many. A community like this for people to come and be a part of something while working on their craft is a great opportunity to grow as an individual.
Growth is key. Listening is key. Gratitude is key. I am very grateful for the hand I have been dealt and I try to display that by continuing to be the best version of myself that I can, and to share my blessings.
what inspires you?
I am inspired by nature first and foremost. When I feel off, I know it’s time to get outside and run around in the woods. People inspire me SO much. Their expressions, their movements, their energy. Basking in it. So many people are so remarkable I wish I had many lives and more time for them all (perhaps I do?)
Here is list of others:
- When people are genuinely kind-it goes a lot farther than you think, and people need it more than you could possibly imagine.
- Cooking. I love to cook, come on over for family dinner any time.
- Gardening & getting dirty on adventures seeking beauty in nature. I love the hum of the forest. It’s my favorite tune.
- The stars and thinking about the vast universe….am I a speck?
- My family, all of the female influences I have had have been especially notable.
- Beautiful women inside and out… I have met many and I hope to meet many more. I call them MAMAs. Magical Anecdotal Muses Accomplishing Stuff. It inspires me when I see women following their dreams and not relying on anyone to fill that space for them; male or female. We need that unity amongst women in general. I’m not sure people realize how much of a phenomena women being in the workplace is around the world. I have to address this because I feel lucky to have the option, whether it is exercised or not.
- Music; I love it all
- Traveling OR to do things I’d never normally do on my own accord. It’s amazing what you are capable of outside of your comfort zone. It teaches you about yourself, and you might end up loving something new which is never a bad thing!
the best advice you have ever gotten:
Once a friend told me: ‘You are so quietly brilliant I think that sometimes it surprises people- keep surprising people.’ That has stayed with me my entire adult life. Keep surprising people. I have had to spend some time quieting my imagination for the sake of functionality. As a kid I was painfully shy. I still get butterflies when I say the compliment back to myself in my head on days when I need a little extra motivation.
do you sell your artwork? if so, where can someone purchase?
I do! I have a blog where you can always write me and get updates on when I paint and what I’m up to; Emilymooreawad.wordpress.com. My schedule is ever-changing so it’s always best to just inbox me if you’d like a commissioned piece or for me to paint at an event. With most people I just say- call me! I plan to travel with my new body of work a bit this summer, doing a few collaborative shows. I just got back from a stint in Guatemala so I do plan on doing a body of work that is inspired by that trip as well.
Things that I've done that I've loved:
Live painting, all of the times I’ve done it. Bands, Ted Talks, festivals, nature retreats, etc. Each was enjoyable.
Attending art school- that was beautiful!
Teaching painting- extremely gratifying!
Teaching figure drawing- nudes excite all artists!
Teaching children with developmental disabilities; THEY are inspiring!
Collaborating- on murals, paintings, drawings etc. – there is so much to love in that.
Real people in my life who Inspire Me:
1. Mary Bohan Slather is a gem of a human being and her gallery is equally as gem-like. The Grassroots Gallery is at the top of my list for this in the Hungerford Urban Artists Building, Rochester NY. We had this group called ArtLab that was a continuing education art group with no pressure. We held all sorts of classes and group events with collaborative art/music fusion. It is an amazing idea that lasted over a year and if we all weren’t so busy, we’d be still doing it! Mary sees the big picture and she’s so kind and generous, as is her family. This is a gallery worth supporting, and she runs her own T-shirt screen printing business in an adjacent studio space at the Hungerford as well; Bohan Slather Apparel.
2. Sean Madden of Sean Madden Art. This man is an amazing individual and I still consider him one of my foundation mentors although I met him later in my life. He is incredibly smart, incredibly talented, and incredibly human. He has really in my opinion lived many lives here thus far. His story and his work speak for themselves. He is truly a Master, all about composition and my god he’s methodical. A joy to observe, and a wonderful conversationalist.
3. Carol Acquilano of Anderson’s Alley Artists. What to say about Carol? She is one of the brightest stars I’m sure the universe has ever seen. She’s lovely, her work is lovely, but above all, she is a MASTER. She is incredibly talented, and she knows her practice in and out. She is continually learning, and continually challenging herself in her own work. Her imagination and ability to reflect on work is equally as remarkable. She taught me about composition, printing, and about valuing one’s own eye and trusting that eye.
4. Pablo Falbru of U.G. Collective. He is what I may consider almost shamanistic…yes I said it. I’ve grown up with him artistically and musically. I actually met him at my first art show ever, he was in the band playing music at the coffee shop. I’ve watched him create his own non-profit organization called U.G. Artist Collective, and witnessed him bring together entire communities. His personality is so genuine and warm that you often lose track of time with him. What you see is what you get, and what you get is beautiful. Musically talented and an amazing planner of events, he continues to thrive in Geneva, NY with his organization whom I still live paint for if I have the opportunity.
*All images provided by Emily Moore-Awad.