Interview of artist Eileen Downes conducted by Sacramento Spotlight Magazine “Spotlight on Local Artist Eileen Downes” 2005 Vol. 3 Issue 5
Are you from Sacramento originally? Yes, born and raised here.
How long have you been painting/layering? Ever since I can remember I have been an artist, but I have been working
specifically in collage and layering for the last five years or so.
Your favorite awards. Probably the Merit Award from the Cork Gallery in Lincoln Center, New York City, or perhaps the “Best Mom” award my daughter gave me.
Where do you do your best work? In my home studio in the Sacramento Wilhaggin neighborhood.
Do you have family here? Yes, my husband of 25 years, our three daughters, and other extended family too.
Why art? I just have to make art. It is part of who I am, the way God designed me. It is the best way I know to express my feelings, beliefs, and values.
What inspires you? Favorite medium. Why? I draw inspiration from my daily life experiences as a woman, wife, mother, and daughter. Consequently, much of my work explores issues important to women. Although I have worked in many mediums throughout the years, my favorite medium by far is collage because I am fascinated by layered color and how light plays upon developing surface textures. My layered collages are composed of varied materials that of themselves have meaning. Consequently, my finished pieces develop a multifaceted meaning. For example:
1. A portrait of my daughter (at the age of 3) made from assorted band-aids and bandage wrappers. The varied colors of flesh toned band-aids construct the features of her face. Red band-aids make up her hat, and bandage wrappers were used to develop an interesting background. The piece explores the concept that as mothers, we are constantly bandaging skinned knees and little bruised egos.
2. A piece titled, “Little Gum Shoe” which is an image of red children’s sneakers made from assorted chewing gum wrappers such as Dentine and Big Red.
3. And my part of the CASLMM Cooperative art piece which is an image of our own State Capitol building made from pages of the Book of Genesis from the Bible as well as colorful images of California produce. In my own way I am putting God and the Bible back into our government.
Where is your work displayed? Currently, I am showing at the Peninsula Fine Art Center in Virginia, The Woman Made Gallery in Chicago, and The Corridor Of Art in Austin Texas. Locally, I have exhibited at the 20th Street Art Gallery in Sacramento, The Richmond Art Center in the Bay Area, Indian Valley Arts in Marin County, and the Sacramento Fine Arts Center. My work is always on public view at the office building 730 Howe Ave. Suite 500, in Sacramento too.
Plans for the future. I feel very passionate about the inter-connective spirit of the CASLMM cooperative piece, and am continuing to monitor the progress of the artwork. I am also committed to several future national art exhibits. But, in addition, I am developing an exciting new project: I am currently working on a creative plan to honor select neurosurgeons across the United States by awarding highly recognized doctors with one of my original collages from my series embracing the theme of the brain and brain surgery.
Advice to new artists. Always believe in yourself, draw inspiration from your own life experiences, whatever they may be. That way what you create will be sincere.