5 with courtney kenny porto

“Switch It Up” opens Friday, June 2, at the little gallery with a reception from 6:00 to 9:00pm. Below is a Q+A with the artist.

Q: Describe the impetus for “Switch It Up.”

A: I first came up with the idea of painting light switch covers as a less expensive way to buy an original piece of art. It could be the beginning of an original art collection or a unique addition to a collection that is running out of wall space. I also liked the idea that these pieces could be used functionally, as true light-switch covers, or displayed in groups as a multi-paneled painting. As I began to dive deeper into this idea and its potential, I realized that I wanted to cover an entire wall in light switch covers. I loved the thought of being completely engulfed in hundreds of small pieces of art. After a little math, I realized it would take about 450 to cover a 19.5′ wall.

Q: When did you know you were going to be an artist?

I have loved art, crafts and making since I was able to hold a pencil. It was always what I was meant to do, a deep part of who I am. I began college as an art education major, but realized after doing a short practicum that I was never actually interested in the teaching part. Creating is an addiction for me; teaching was a way for me to justify it. I switched my major to studio art and decided that I needed to be an artist.

Q: Describe your process.

Most of my pieces are meticulously planned and executed according to that plan. This project has been a little different. While some of the light switch covers were planned as usual, particularly the realism pieces, many were not. Working more loosely and reacting instead of planning was extremely exciting and frustrating at the same time.

Q: Where do you find inspiration?

I find inspiration through research, other artists’ work and everyday life. A couple of my covers were inspired by a dead butterfly I saw on a walk with my husband. Others were inspired by patterns in nature, macro photography, my life and experiences as a woman, and experimentation.

Q: Name the 3 most important things in your studio space.

The three most important things in my studio space are my materials, hard floor and the ability to work from the wall. Materials are a given, the hard floor allows me the freedom to spill and make a mess, and working vertically from the wall helps with perspective.

Q: What do you want others to know about you/your work?

I work in a variety of media; most commonly charcoal, graphite, acrylic and yarn. I have been both criticized and commended for this diversity. In reality, this is the only way I can work productively and sanely. Each medium gives me something unique and utilizes a different portion of my brain and ability. Switching between media keeps me engaged and challenged. Much of my work is meant to spark a conversation about women’s issues and feminism, though some of it is intended to be taken at face value – for its humor or esthetic.