Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Interview with Lyse (Imagine Studio)

I do these interviews because I like to. Still, every once in a while, I find myself wondering if anyone (besides a handful of people) is reading them. It is difficult to gauge in cyberspace just what impact any one word or post or action has on the rest of the things going on in people's lives and around the world. It is like throwing a pebble in a pond, I suppose.

In my case, I see interesting images on Etsy, I meet interesting people and I throw out a pebble, an invitation to participate in an online interview...and lovely things start to happen. People start answering back...and sharing pieces of their life stories...making this online experience more than just something to do out of curiosity and wonder. These interviews affect me in profound ways. And I know they send ripples, positive, healthy, healing ripples out to the universe for people to see and feel when they are ready.

A while ago, I tossed a pebble out to the VAST group...and this time, Lyse of Imagine Studio answered my call. It is a true pleasure and honor to bring you this interview with this warm and talented artist.

"Everything about life seems to inspire me," Lyse tells me. "I am always in awe with nature's extraordinary creative force and beauty. I have a love of nature, music, traveling, best friends, family, laughter and all the joys that life has to offer." Lyse presently lives in the Montreal region where she shares life with "the loves of my life: my husband and my two daughters."

"My professional background is in visual and creative arts," Lyse continues, "as well as in social work." She has been creative all her life...literally. "It all started with feeling the mud between my toes on the farm in the Canadian prairies where I was born and spent my childhood. Creativity is definitely a passion with me. In that sense, my artwork is neither a job nor a hobby but a need. The ideas just keep coming and I continuously strive to bring them to life."

Through more than 30 years, Lyse's one constant expression in art has been Collage. For the past five years she has worked on transferring this art form into the digital world. "Layers upon layers of thoughts, emotions and research have been turned into transparencies, textures, colours, depth, emotions, portraitures, etc. This virtual digital world of seemingly endless possibilities has given me a new take on my artwork, allowing me to pursue even further my undying need to produce lyrical, evocative and sometimes provocative images."

As a collagist, Lyse sometimes uses master paintings or sculptures for the expression of her ideas, emotions and reflections in her photomontage and photo-fusion artwork. Some of the master painters or sculptors that give flight to her imagination are: Bouguereau,
Barbier, Chase, Collier, Degas, Lautrec, Menzel, Modigliani, Pascin and others. The images that Lyse uses are all in the public domain and therefore no longer under any copyright laws.

A few years ago, Lyse experienced a work related burnout that lasted over a year. "It was the most trying time in my life. I had the feeling that I was sitting beside my soul and no longer knew how to reintegrate it within me or visa versa. I was completely washed up and empty, a nervous wreck, a mere phantom of my self for others and completely lost unto myself. I desperately sought out ways to find myself again. It was my passion for art that permitted me to work towards gaining my soul back. Much of what I do in the realm of my artwork today appears to have something to do with different aspects of the soul, life's fragilities, life's tender moments, one's capacity to overcome life's obstacles or challenges and our ability to transform not only our life but also the way we live it and envision the rest to be."

What helps Lyse when life becomes challenging? "Others' humanness, my belief in empowerment and in one's capacity to transform one's life. Life's ultimate sacred beauty. The love I have for others and the love that I receive. My ability to daydream. My obsession for my artwork. The knowledge of everything I have and the gratitude I feel. My family and friends' support and encouragements. My two cats. Nature. My love of life and all it has to offer."

"I have to say," Lyse continues, "that some of my most profound and rewarding inspirations have come from individuals who have overcome life's obstacles on their own terms. I'm a strong believer in the concepts of empowerment, resilience and the possibility of transforming one's life."

Lyse worked over 20 years as a social worker in the mental health field. "So many individuals that I have worked with, men as well as women, have been victims of sexual violence and abuse. Many for long periods of time in their childhood and/or adolescence. For others it was a single event. In all cases...a devastating impact on their lives."

Lyse has personally witnessed the devastating effects of such crimes on those who lived through it. Some could not bear the inner pain and committed suicide because of it. "Sexual violence goes way beyond the physical aspect of the crime, and I cannot imagine a greater crime against one's humanness than the lifelong struggle that some individuals face and live because someone took apart their soul."

"Next to the crime itself and its impact on the individual," Lyse continues, "I abhor the way the justice system treats so lightly these crimes against humanity. I often wonder if it is because the majority of these hideous crimes are against women and children that it is so poorly punishable by law. A slap on the wrist, a few months, a couple of years at best is what these criminals get for their absolute destructive behaviour. Rob a bank or steal money, you get at least five to ten...rob someone's soul or life...we will look the other way if we can. That says a lot about the human condition, social values and norms that are upheld in our society and in most others as well. I guess we still have a long way to go...and your site aims to get us there. Thank you."

Lyse is inspired and comforted by movies she saw as a child that impacted her life: To Kill A Mockingbird and Helen Keller. She is also inspired by "...a glass of wine with friends...walking in sunlight...all these things and more...not necessarily in that order...all depending on what life is throwing my way."

Lyse also loves music "...always have. Love all kinds, too. But I do have a long-standing love for folk rock music such as that of Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell, Norah Jones, and Eva Cassidy. Truly love the French singers: Jacques Brel, Charles Aznavour, Edith Piaf, and Robert Charlesbois. I love to dance and often do at home while listening to 70's and 80's rock and roll music...I get a work out at the same time. Also enjoy jazz and classical music when entertaining."

Other ways Lyse relaxes and has fun with life: "When I can...taking bubble baths in the middle of the afternoon is very calming and energy replenishing for me. Going out to daydream in the hammock under my apple trees is just great. Working in my garden is extremely therapeutic. This might sound really silly but one of my very favourite books is Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Montgomery and, possibly its antithesis, The Witching Hour by Anne Rice." Lyse also enjoys watching a good movie in bed with her husband and a bowl of popcorn..."now that is just plain fun!"

Fantasy shoes for Lyse are feminine high heel shoes and sandals. "Probably because I never ever wear them, but wish I could. My poor aching feet and fragile ankles won't allow me. So the shoes that I do wear are the most comfortable low sole or wedge sole shoes I can find. I absolutely hate shopping for shoes because they all hurt my feet and I am never comfortable in them no matter the quality or price I pay. I have false flat feet, corns and dry skin. Thank god that the rest of my body seems all right. I wear simple sandals in the summer and boots in the fall and winter which, after a couple of years, become my working-in-the-garden boots."

You may find more information about Lyse and her work in her shop and photo gallery. She is also a member of the Visual Artists Street Team.

The following people have generously featured Lyse's artwork on their blog or website:

Silver Sun
White Lye Handmade Soap Co.
Torchwood Studio
Silver River Jewelry


Jean Levert Hood said...

Lyse's work is amazing. From this interview, I see her spirit is too! How awesome, Janyce, thank you for letting us know her!

Al Diaz said...


Everything you do has a ripple effect, congrats!

Ilumine Ao,
Al Diaz

Kat Hannah said...

A wonderful in-depth interview.

I now have a greater appreciation, beyond the beauty of Lyse's works, for the depth of emotion poured into each piece.


maurac said...

Kindred spirits. An uplifting interview with a beautiful openness. Thank you for sharing and adding another ray of hope to lifes' rainbow.

maurac said...

Inspiring and beautiful in its openness. Thank you for sharing and adding to lifes' rainbow.

Magicouture said...

Just discovered your blog and had to comment - what a compelling interview! Thanks for bringing more inspiration to the web!

Duffydesigns said...

I enjoyed the interview. It was enlightening.

Distressing Delilah said...

Wonderful interview. I also am appaled at the treatment of sexual abuse/violence victims. I work as a nursing supervisor in a hospitol and have seen one too many small children come in for exams due to this.

tori said...

I never thought to ask Lyse about her shoes :)

Ana Rosa said...

fantastic work!
I enjoyed very much your etsy shop and thos blog.