Today begins a new, regular weekly segment where I interview local artists and creatives of all kinds. Every Friday a different artist will be featured until I run out of people to interview. If you would like to be featured on Free Spirit Friday, send me an email at jess.ripley89@gmail.com

This week I’ve interviewed Amarama Vercnocke who is a local artist of many different mediums, a member of the local gallery cooperative Gallery 24, a kind and wonderful person in general, and a dear friend. She has recently been featured in local and national media for her incredible work. To view her work, visit her page here. The featured image of this post is of her work and at the end of the interview are some more photos. Now, onto the interview!


Tell us a bit about yourself.

 
I am a proud parent of three children and am lucky to be married to my best friend and fellow artist, Andrew Vercnocke. I self-identify as genderfluid and am currently exploring that newly aware area of my life. I love to do archery with my husband, play board games, make wine and cook for friends when able. I also greatly enjoy being involved with area creatives, whether listening to various musicians perform around town, going to art shows, or listening to poet slams.  I have a BS in Biology, AA in Studio Art and a AAS in Veterinary Technology. My life is as varied as the artwork I make. 

What kind of art do you make?

I have been coined as a “Jill of all Trades” by some for my love of painting with acrylic and water colors and working with glass mosaics, but I am especially fond of working with needle felted wool and meditative handspinning on my spinning wheel. The past 10 years I have identified myself mostly as a fiber artist since it is an artform with which I can incorporate the knowledge I learned from painting, while working in a sculptural 3D format.  

What draws you to this kind of work?  

I taught myself how to needle felt and spin almost 10 years ago. On a textural level I was drawn in from the first time I spun on my spinning wheel and needle felted. The repetitive motions are meditative for me when creating the final art pieces. I also find that when one needle felts they are only as limited as their imagination. I find that these qualities make the act of creating it just as enjoyable as the final result.    

What has been your favorite experience as an artist?


I don’t think that there is any one particular moment. I would say it is being able to learn and share my love of the fiber arts with others and experience art in many forms, be it performance, music, visual, or seeing local galleries or touring exhibits. The past five years have been especially exciting for me to be involved with the local art community because of the encouragement and voice I feel that organizations like Gallery 24, C4, RAC, RAE, open mic nights,  RACC  and other organizations have helped me with in regards to developing as an artist and person, and being inspired by others.  

What is your dream project? 


If I am lucky I will be doing my dream project this year with an upcoming interactive gallery combined with the Rochester Public Library and the local arts nonprofit C4. Details are still in the works, but it invites the audience to observe and interact with needle felted 3D versions of past artists. This is so that those who are vision impaired or seek touch can “see” these past (and famous) 2D works through touch. 


What kind of community-driven art projects would you like to take part in?


I enjoy projects that have a collaboration of various creative fields, such as when musicians and artists create original pieces inspired by each other, or dance performers with visual artists, and so on.   I would also like to be more involved with showing various fiber arts with children in a way that teaches them to appreciate the value put into any art piece in addition to creating it. Creating live art with my husband is something that I have enjoyed in the past and would love to do again in the future.

What would you like to see happen in the Rochester art scene?

I would love C4 to have a home with studio space for artists, stages for the performers and poets and musicians to create in. I took C4 for granted prior to the Creative Salon closing because I thought that space would  always be available. 
Since then I have been trying to branch out more and explore my local community while trying to figure out where and how I can still fit in locally. I think events like “Women on Wednesday” at the Civic Theatre have been wonderful”.  Also inspiring are various musicians and performers playing at Forager’s, and new art exhibits at the RAC the past 7 months such as the Guerrilla Girls and the Day of the Dead Poet Slam have been exciting to participate in and observe. I just want to experience and then participate as much as able. I think that there is so much local talent here in Rochester, that it deserves its own international spotlight. That is one of my long term goals for the local art scene. An art trade with a fellow sister city would be amazing, along with a chance to share what Rochester locals have with the world as well.

   
    
    
    
 

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