Amy Reidel is based in St. Louis and has been making exciting, vibrant work influenced by her experience balancing roles as mother and artist. Find more at the links below!
Can you tell me a little bit about you?
Hello! My name is Amy Reidel and I am based in St. Louis, Missouri, USA. I was born and raised here but left in 2004 after receiving my BFA from UM-St. Louis to live in Abiquiu, New Mexico where I was a caretaker on a vineyard and small ranch. I lived on 65 acres in the high desert at the age of 23-24 and then moved on to Knoxville, Tennessee where I attained my MFA in Painting and Drawing in the foothills of the Smokies. I taught full time for two years at Tennessee Tech University before moving back home to St. Louis to be with my husband because a long-distance marriage was not something we were interested in pursuing any longer.
I have been teaching and making artwork ever since moving back to St. Louis. I also co-founded the magazine, All the Art: The Visual Art Quarterly of St. Louis to help showcase the plethora of visual artists in my region and in an attempt to bridge the racial and social divides which plague my city. We print 10,000 copies every season! With my art and teaching background (I edit statements and papers all the time) it felt like it was the least I could do as a privileged white gal in the Midwest. After having my daughter one year ago thanks to a traumatic C-section my work radically changed and became the raw, stainy, poignant and weird stuff that you will soon see. 😉
When did you first discover art, or realize you wanted to make it yourself?
I have wanted to be an artist since I was 3 years old and my cousin taught me to color in the lines. I have been working on coloring outside of the lines since I was about 18. I have never stopped making work except for when my mom was sick with Cancer and I spent my time as a caregiver instead. She is doing great now and I have no regrets about taking that break.
What do you like most about working where you do?
My city is a great place to be an artist. If you have limited means (though you do need SOME) you can find affordable housing and/or space to make art. There is a grit and a determination in St. Louis, thanks to it’s marginal art hub reputation and geographical location on the edge of the Rust Belt which provides people with ambition and the ability to make something from nothing. I like that.
What ideas are you exploring in your practice?
If you don’t mind I’m going to paste something I JUST wrote for another application. I’m feeling pretty passionate about this specific question.
Throughout my art training in undergraduate and graduate school (1999-2008), I was gently and sometimes overtly persuaded to tone-down the emotional and expressive nature of my work. Many of my professors felt that it was not accessible to a “greater audience.” Because of this, for ten years I used the filters of weather radar, Doppler Ultrasound and color MRI imagery to tell stories of anxiety, depression, my mothers’ cancer, my grandmothers death and my own pregnancy and subsequent Caesarean section. My greatest bodily trauma arrived on the heels of the #metoo movement and caused me to reflect on the state of society as experienced by women.
My work has changed dramatically, no longer relying on those previous filters of clean abstraction, but instead uses volatile watercolor, collage, studio remnants, lint, medical tape, hot glue and more, to expressively illustrate what so many women go through but are not encouraged to discuss; the double-standards placed on our sexuality, the immense mental and physical space that caregiving demands, the bodily and psychological traumas related to sexual assault, pregnancy and childbirth, not being heard by the medical field, by one’s professional sphere, by the government and, at times, by one’s own family and friends. After exhibiting this new body of work and hosting a panel about being an artist-mother/caregiver at Flood Plain gallery (with Danielle McCoy, Erica Popp and Cayce Zavaglia), it became clear that there is a great need for more overt female artist voices within our St. Louis art world and the larger art world beyond.
It has been ten years since I attained my MFA. I see now that what 90% of my professors meant by “more accessible to a larger audience,” was that perhaps my work wasn’t accessible to them; older, white men. I no longer need the validation of that demographic and am happy to provide work which can give voice to those with whom I identify most. Women’s work deserves support NOW. Not when we’re 78 like Louise Bourgeois and not “after the children have grown.” With the financial and reputable support of this fellowship I can propel my mid-level career through more residencies, fund my upcoming exhibitions and show my art students and my daughter that as a woman and an artist-mother, we can do it all.
What is the strangest thing you’ve ever had to do for art?
Get a bunch of degrees only to try to un-learn everything I was taught.
Do you have a day job or other work that you split your time between?
Yes, I am an adjunct professor at three different colleges/universities.
Is there any piece of advice you would offer to others?
Keep going. Trudge through the rejections and failures.
But take breaks for family, self and care-giving/care-needing. Your work will be there waiting for you when you come back.
What is your studio like?
It’s in our basement! I’m very lucky. Some nice walls and a little extra lighting.
How significant has attending art school been on your practice?
VERY. It’s important to know what is going on your contemporary art world and why. You have to learn the why through art history, theory and criticism. Then after you learn all of that, work hard to rebel against it.
What do you find most daunting, challenging, or frustrating about pursuing art?
This question is timely. My baby daughter is waking from nap so I have to go. There are not enough artist-mother voices at the great, big Art Table and that’s a huge problem. I’d like to change that. But first, I have to change a diaper. Oh the irony.