I am proud to introduce Chixel’s new artist, Rebekka GuÃ°leifsdÃ³ttir.Â A native to Iceland, she is anÂ extraordinary photographer and artist, talented knitter, and single mother of two beautiful boys.Â We first starting following Rebekka’s photography on Flickr a few years ago.Â I immediately became entranced with the Icelandic horse images she had taken, and then quickly realized her work was beginning to expand into new avenues of creativity with her self portrait work.Â She plays with the boundaries of realism and human ideals in some of her imagery which I am very eager to see at her upcoming showing this coming Friday March 12th from 7-10pm at the Openhouse Gallery, in Manhattan (201 Mulberry Street).Â Please read the intriguing interview below I had with Rebekka, I feel like I got to know her work better through this process and we are all routing for her to continue her blossoming success.
To see the thumbnails bigger, feel free to click on them and see a larger gallery of her great work!
When did you first realize you were creative?
I started out drawing at a very early age, and by the time I was 14 I could make very accurate life-like drawings from photos, and continued to perfect this skill into my early 20’s.Â During that time, I worked as a waitress and a chef at an art museum cafe,Â and did commissioned drawings for very little money.Â I had always been dreaming about becoming a full-time artist and painter, which to me,Â seemed the next logical continuation of the drawing process. (http://www.flickr.com/photos/rebba/sets/296185/)
What about photography made you want to pursue and explore it some more?
In the Spring of ’05 I finally summoned up the courage to apply to the visual arts department of the Iceland’s Academy of the Arts.Â My portfolio then, was mostly drawings, and I was turned down and put on a waiting list which was devastating.Â Shortly after this, I started posting my drawings and a few photos on Flickr. As soon as I started getting feedback I felt encouraged to start exploring the medium of photography and quickly realized I had a passion for it, as well as an eye for subject matter and composition.Â Ultimately, I am happy to say, I was admitted into the school, and during my four years of study there I continued to use the web as a medium to share what I was doing to help me figure out what direction I wanted to take.Â Flickr I found provided the feedback I needed, and added a great deal to my learning experience, which I did not seem to be getting from my professors.
Now that you are out of school, how do you find ways to keep things fresh for yourself?
My ideas tend to come when I least expect them, and I don’t actively seek out sources of inspiration. I usually immerse myself in other activities until I feel the uncontrollable urge to create something new, usually in the form of drawings or photography. Knitting also comes in handy as an in between to keep myself busy and it is great because it allows my mind to be free to wander and speculate, in addition to being a great source of income.
How did you start knitting?
I first learned to knit when I was eight from my mother, and I rediscovered it in 2006 because I really wanted a wool hooded sweater and thought I could just make it myself.Â When people saw the first two I created online (both based on old Icelandic patterns), I started to get inquiries and soon things really took off!Â Now I get a steady flow of orders and I am able to do this almost as a full-time job making 3-4 a month unless I’m really busy with other projects. Each sweater is unique creation of mine so I never get bored. (http://www.flickr.com/photos/rebba/sets/72157604564573252/)
Just as each sweater is unique unto you, I’m sure each series of images is as well.Â Do you have one that is more special to you then the other?
I think I would have to say that I am most fond of my creative self portraits as well as the doll series.Â These are photos with a lot of thinking and planning behind them, rather then spontaneous documentation of my surroundings.Â Â I also enjoy traveling around Iceland with my camera,Â shooting long-exposure landscapes during bright summer nights and animals like horses that I encounter.Â However, I find that more as a form of therapy, where I am able to detach myself from stressful everyday and enjoy the beauty of my country.
Talk to me some about your self portraits and how they play a roll in your work, and your upcoming show?
Overtime, myself portraits have evolved in several different directions.Â With my active imagination and do-it-yourself attitude, I aim to create imagery that makes the viewers think and let their own imagination create a narrative for themselves.Â Some of my imagery is sparked from my own personal experience and emotions with feminist ideals, and others are more surreal, and even playful.
The way you work with surrealism is very fluid.Â Who do you look to for inspiration, and do you see yourself continuing in this genre in the future?
I fell in love with Dali as a teenager, but if I were to name artists I admire it would have to be Gregory Crewdson, Sandy Skoglund, and especially Cindy Sherman when I was first starting out exploring the self portrait.Â I know I want to continue to make these images in the future, and pushing beyond the limits I have gone so far. Â I will explore this with designing new set pieces or props to be able to create as much as possible within the camera.Â Even particular images where I have relied on Photoshop to aid in my artistic vision, I place an emphasis on post-production to get the exact appearance for the finished image, using Photoshop as a fine-tuner rather then a tool.
In getting out there and promoting yourself, what have you seen as your biggest struggle and challenge so far?
I have found it hard to find balance between keeping people interested in my work, and not feeling like I have “sold out.”Â I took almost a year off on Flickr to fully concentrate on doing my own thing and not feel over influenced by other peoples opinions and work.Â For instance, the doll series doesn’t appeal to nearly as large an audience as some of my other work.Â They make some people feel uneasy, while others love them.Â This strong love/hate reaction tells me I am really onto something.Â My perseverance with continuing that series has really paid off, and I have been invited to exhibit a selection of them at a gallery in Ireland this coming May.
That is fantastic! It has to make you feel proud that all your hard work is paying off! Speaking of shows, how did you come to have a showing this coming week in Manhattan?
I entered a huge international online selfportrait contest organized by Artists Wanted, who are based in Brooklyn, (http://www.artistswanted.org/self_peoples_choice.html).Â It’s not really a huge show in terms of work that I get to show, but there is definitely something big and exciting about being invited to show in Manhattan! Hilary McHone and I tied for the “peoples choice award”, which was selected via online voting from all over the world. Â We were apparently leagues ahead of other competitors there. I had a hell of a time selecting the 10 images out of all my self-portraits in my portfolio because I am a bit blind to the quality of my own work, as I am sure a lot of other artists experience.Â For the actual show, I’ll be exhibiting about half of these images, which I believe are among the best works I have produced so far.Â Two of the images, definitely came out of the most difficult photo shoots I have put myself through!
Jurried shows are very exciting, and in this one in particular Steve Buscemi was one of the judges!Â That is pretty cool to think that he was checking out some of my stuff!Â The 4 official judgesÂ ultimately selected a photographer from Taiwan as the Grand Prize winner. Â So these two awards were separate, Â but we were all invited to exhibit together at this show on Friday.
Getting a jurried show, especially on in Manhattan, is quite an accomplishment and you should be extremely proud of yourself for that!Â Do you see this catapulting you other places? Where would be your ideal place to exhibit your work?
I certainly hope this will lead to more opportunity to exhibit in the States, as well as Europe.Â I would love to have a show in London in particular.
So, if your around this coming Friday and have a hankering to see some amazing work at a one night only show. Please show your support, come meet the artist, as well as other talented photographers.Â It’s being held at The Openhouse Gallery, in Manhattan (201 Mulberry Street) from 7-10pm.Â Â I’m excited to go myself to finally meet Rebekka in person and see her hard work!
Before you come down to the show, please check out her inspiring Flickr stream, and her fantastic blog, in addition to stopping by her online store and buying some prints, and possibly some amazing knit work. You might just want to order one. I already have! Also, check back here at chixel next week, I plan on posting some images from the show, and giving a recap on things.
Maybe see you on Friday! Until then….
Snap on my friends, snap on…