Getting to know 2016’s Griffith-Reyburn Lowcountry Artist of the Year

Lisa Shimko, 2016’s Griffith-Reyburn Lowcountry Artist of the Year, aspires to “spark a reminder of the natural world that can be a continual source of pleasure, inspiration, solace– an all-embracing sanctuary from the complexities of life.”
The award was created in 2003 by Michael Griffith and Donna Reyburn in order to support the creation of a work of visual art that represents an aspect of our Lowcountry’s unique life, culture or environment.
Getting to know Lisa:
What inspires and motivates you?
Learning. I love doing research– anything from science, environmental issues, natural history, art history, history in general, culture/anthropology, you name it I’ll probably have fun learning about it, then it quietly seeps into my work. Being out on a boat is a great inspiration and solace; love the waterways of the Lowcountry, the colors, smells, textures, all of it.
What advice would you give to beginning artists?
1. Be flexible (during the creative process and with life in general).
2. Be prepared to work very hard (away from regular studio practice there’s all the other stuff from website updating, marketing, booking shows, finding grants, extra job to finance the art, etc.).
3. Be self-disciplined (need to keep working even on days you don’t feel like it, its not all a masterpiece but essential for the progression.).
4. Master time management (balancing the studio practice with all the other components of life plus successfully meeting deadlines).
5. Be reliable (Do what you say you will do when you say you’ll do it. This kind of integrity for any person, artist or otherwise, goes a long way).
Do you ever find yourself with artist’s block or stuck and unable to create a new piece? If so, what do you do to get un-stuck?
Of course. One of the reasons I enjoy going back and forth between “abstract” and “representational” art is the different areas of my brain that get a workout, keeping the work fresher for me and preventing too many blocks. Mainly I try to push through when they do pop up; sometimes I’ll take a bike ride, watch a film or read an article to try to change up my neurotransmitters than come back to painting. Also looking at the potential for fear (i.e. fear of failing) to be the base of a block and being honest about that is helpful.
I saw that you created an art therapy program for formerly homeless adults. Could you tell me a little more about your reason for starting this program? What was the most rewarding aspect of the program?
I received a BFA in Painting and minored in Art Therapy at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia. Part of the degree was a thesis and internship. The short of it is a fellow student and I decided to create our own internship and used art as a therapeutic tool in a group home for formerly homeless, chronically mentally ill. It was a success and the last I heard the program is still used for graduate students.
What does winning the Griffith-Reyburn award mean to you?
It’s a milestone. I have applied a few times in the past and had a minuscule sliver of hope to receive the award. There are so many fantastic artists in the region so for me to actually be honored is astounding to me. These past few months have been such a pleasure. This is the first summer that I could just be an artist, and the Griffith-Reyburn award enabled that. I want to communicate my large amount of gratitude for the opportunity.
Lisa’s first-ever exhibit of abstracts, Lowcountry Water Halos will be on display from Thursday, October 13 to Saturday, November 19 at Redux Contemporary Art Center. 
Please join us at our annual Griffith-Reyburn Lowcountry Artist of the Year Award Reception at 6 p.m. on Thursday, October 13th at Redux Contemporary Art Center.

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