I saw Fonda’s work first in Orly Avineri Facebook group a stand for art journaling, it was the above photo of a winged creature with skeletons following close behind. I don’t know the story, although, I have made a pretty good one in my head of shadow and light chasing, but I began to look out for when she posted because her work has a very Marc Chagall feel if Marc Chagall was an art journaling feminist! Fonda’s work has a lot of archetypal energy as well as layered free form play. I enjoy seeing her evolve and allow new things to emerge.
Fonda Clark Haight is a mixed media artist living in Western NC. She and her husband Evan, an author, live in a converted apple barn on a 100 year old apple orchard. They share their home with six children, three boys and three girls, along with assorted rescues. She has a deep passion for upcycling in her art. Upcycling keeps a materials’ original composition, texture and quality intact by reshaping it for new use, extending its life cycle without the needs for additional raw materials or energy. She upcycles cardboard, newspapers, barn wood, tin, old art, and plywood into new pieces of art. Her goal as an artist is to take simple things and subjects we might see or imagine every day and present them in a different manner so we “re-see” them.
Tell me about your stunning Archetype series?
I’ve always loved oracle cards. They’re such precious pieces of tiny art with meaning. I wanted to create something like that for myself with my own artwork, using symbols that mean something to me specifically. I didn’t realize when I started how expensive it would be to turn them into cards. I love the archetypes. It’s like a whole world fit into ten or twelve prototypes. It’s a framework for understanding the people around me.
Your art for me has a very wonderful Primal/Totem feel is there a reason for this?
I went thru a stage where I did a whole series about fairytales. And then I was done. I had created the art that interested me. I think it was the story behind the fairy tales….the resonance of the person who sort of got lost in the telling, that make me light up. I’m incredibly drawn to celtic and Native American stories as well. And again, I always think…what’s happening with the people around the main characters in the story? What was going on in their lives?
I think the myths of history are such a deep well to draw from creatively.
And because they still resonate so strongly, I know that there is something there for everyone.
How does spirituality and art intertwine for you?
Well, I’m a feminist. I guess that’s pretty clear from my art. I recently heard Sister Chittister relate that she thought the world is operating from half it’s knowledge, the male half. That’s not bad in itself, but it needs the other half. She told a sufi story that sums it up for me. The students were all asking their master…”what will happen to us when you die? What will become of us? The master looked at the students and said, all these years I’ve been with you I’ve been pointing at the moon. I hope that when I die, you will finally look at the moon”.
For me, art is my way of pointing at the moon. My way of pointing to the mystery and magic of the spiritual part of my life.
Sometimes it’s just in the little details that I notice as I go about creating….and sometimes it’s something bigger. At least I hope it is.
What does Intuitive mean to you? How do you live Intuitively?
For me, intuitiveness is getting out of my brain. And into my heart. It’s my way of getting in touch with how I feel so I can convey that as an artist. I live intuitively in my art every day. I don’t plan a piece of art. I just start and let it speak to me. Sometimes I don’t get anything. Sometimes I get more than I bargained for…..and sometimes I hit a sweet spot and I know I am on purpose in my life in that moment.
What are your tools and teachers? What have you been learning from them personally?
I know most artists will be able to relate to this statement. In the beginning I wanted every new tool, gadget and gizmo. I was 34 before I ever created a piece of art. So I practiced and practiced and grabbed all the new stuff and I do believe that better tools give you a better result. These days though, I’ve realized that sometimes, for me, all that stuff is a way not to begin my art. So I use old books repurposed as a journal or canvas or cardboard. I cannot live without gesso, gel matte medium and neocolors. If were going to be stranded I would want those three things. My teacher…I guess I would have to say that life is my teacher and the internet. Wow! The internet is a happy teacher for sure. All the ideas, and art, and creativity are a happy thing.
What are you saying YES to these days?
Myself and my vision. No one else’s. I’m saying yes to all the parts of myself. The grungy whiny parts and the glorious beautiful ones too. The complaints and the gratitude. The light and the dark. Every artist knows…a piece of art is no good without both.
What lights you up? Turns you on? Makes your heart quicken?
Color. Lots and lots of color. I have to say too…I teach at a local nonprofit as a volunteer. I’ve got thousands of hours invested in those kids. They light me up in the same way that my art does. I have a passion about creating a space for them to be safe enough to feel what they feel. And helping them to convey that artistically is one of the great joys in life.
What do you want everyone to know?
That everyone is an artist. Everyone has that ability. They just have to let themselves believe that. That the more you are in touch with who you are….the better the world is.
Tell me when the light went off and you wanted to show your art/be an artist?
When I was 34, my twin sister gave me a set of watercolors for Christmas. I was horrible with watercolors. But there was something about the way it made me feel, something about creating that I knew was for me. It was a clarity of expression that I had not really known until then. I haven’t looked back once since that day.
Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild precious life?
I plan to keep doing what I’m doing. Distilling who I am and what I feel into my art. Teaching and passing that on to the high risk children who may not have an opportunity like that in their daily lives.