Artist in Residence Corinne Lightweaver
Artist in Residence program producer Kati Szeker sat down with artist Corinne Lightweaver to discuss her art, inspiration, creative process, and libraries. Read her interview below or watch the video to learn more about Corinne. This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
Kati: Could you please introduce yourself?
Corinne: My name is Corrine Lightweaver. I'm an artist who works in acrylics, oils, mixed media, collage and assemblage. I live on Vashon Island, a 20-minute ferry ride from Seattle in a rural and forested, magical place.
Kati: What inspires you when you make art?
Corinne: My personal experiences inspire me to make art. As a high schooler I volunteered at the Los Angeles Zoo where I worked with keepers and met and established very tender relationships with the animals in my care including Indian Rhinoceroses and Ring-Tailed Lemurs, and they appear a lot in my work.
Then life experiences influence me. Previously I had been painting, but I got breast cancer in 2007 and got involved in an art therapy group where I learned that collage and assemblage seemed to be the best way for me to express what was going on in me and to tell that story.
"I learned that collage and assemblage seemed to be the best way for me to express what was going on in me and to tell that story."
Kati: What is the style that most describes your work?
Corinne: The style that most describes my work in terms of my painting is contemporary expressionism. So if I paint a Rhino, I'm not painting necessarily an accurate picture and there's a lot of wild colors in there. In terms of my collage work, the best way to describe it is surrealism. It is a way that I access my unconscious and get the pictures out on paper and then I come back to it and look at it, and then I'm able to interpret the meaning of it.
Kati: So your art is not just storytelling, but also your personal experiences. You’re interweaving them.
Corinne: I share my personal experiences so that I can connect with others. My work on breast cancer, when I've exhibited it, people have come up to me and been grateful that they see something that expresses their own journey. And in my work with mental health the same thing. In addition, people that are the loved ones of people experiencing cancer or mental illness also find a way to connect with the art.
Kati: That’s beautiful.
What are your experiences with libraries? What are your memories of libraries?
Corinne: As a child, I was indeed a bookworm. I was always getting in trouble for reading. I would hide behind my bed or I would walk all the way to the school, I don't know how I did it, reading. I'd be reading under my desk.
So I read through all the books in our house, sometimes many times, so the library was a place for adventure and discovery. As I got older and began to feel different than other people, I could find people whose experiences I could relate to in the library. In fact, I remember when I was six years old and I was finally old enough to get my own library card, I do remember going to the West Los Angeles library to get it.
"The library was a place for adventure and discovery."
Kati: What’s your favorite library?
Corinne: I don't have a favorite library because I've had such wonderful experiences at every library I've been to and sometimes there's actually a specific book that I can remember checking out. At the West LA library I checked out a series that was called The Mushroom Planet, Travel to the Mushroom Planet, Return to the Mushroom Planet. By today's standards the science fiction was, we’ve probably already surpassed it, but it was a really fun series.
When I was living in Delaware I remember checking out a very thick volume on Michael Jackson, who I didn't know anything about at the time. When I was in Germany in high school I read what was available in the library and was introduced to Graham Greene and Agatha Christie. And right now as I live on Vashon Island, I am so blessed to have this beautiful library here with all kinds of resources.
Kati: When I contacted you, we talked about the intersectionality of combining art, was that something that you had done before?
Corinne: You contacted me about the project and I was reminded of reading professional library magazines many years ago and, just my mind was blasted open with the different issues that librarians and the library profession deal with. In particular, homelessness and providing a safe space and a welcoming space for all citizens and providing resources for people that might not be able to afford them or experience them.
Kati: What made you want to work with EveryLibrary?
Corinne: Libraries are so close to my heart. I am excited to celebrate librarians who have led me to so many new discoveries and helped me when I've done research for school and otherwise and I just, I love libraries and all they have to offer.