Artist Profile

Viktoria Ford

Artist Statement

In 1980, I took a Zen workshop at the University of Illinois with Professor Shōzō Satō. He was assisted by Kimiko Gunji, who later became my Ikebana teacher. This was a pivotal experience. For five weeks our small group was immersed in three cultural arts of Japan, calligraphy, ikebana and tea ceremony. Later, I took more calligraphy classes with Professor Sato at Japan House. What has remained with me is the power of holding intention when approaching my work. This does not mean that I determine ahead of time what my work will look like when finished. In the practice of Japanese calligraphy, one empties oneself of random thoughts and then focuses on the intrinsic meaning of the pictograph to be painted. Likewise, I consider the feeling or tone I seek in my work before I begin. In my work I am investigating relationships through the lens of cause and effect. My aim is to explore how we come to resolution from the decisions that we make and the actions that we take. On a functional level as an artist, my process embodies this idea. Initially, I work freely and spontaneously and move steadily towards resolution by layers of intuitive decision making, embracing happy accidents. I am interested in how a viewer’s perceptions make meaning from a work of art. The book by neuroscientist, Eric R. Kandel, Reductionism in Art and Brain Science, has impacted my understanding of the ways the brain functions to interpret art differently, depending if the subject is recognizable or abstract. Abstract or non-objective art engages a part of the brain associated with memory and emotions. This promotes deeper self-reflection. Appreciating this has prompted me to explore new ways to connect more deeply with viewers of my work.

Bio / Description

Growing up on the edge of Aledo, a small town in western Illinois, has heavily shaped my work. Because of our close proximity to the Mississippi River we were surrounded by rolling hills and the mighty river’s tributaries. Playful interactions with the surrounding natural world nourished me then and continue to feed me today. Much of my youth was spent barefoot and outdoors, exploring with my gang the nearby countryside, creating pirate ships and castles from the enormous pile of brush that sat at the end of our lot. Other times I relished my time alone, sitting under the canopy of the giant elms which surrounded our home. There, I’d spend hours making environments amongst gnarly roots using sticks and mud. My mother’s garden provided a bounty of fresh vegetables and berries for our family and every imaginable fruit tree filled the summer air with their sweet scents and offered climbing opportunities to pluck ripened fruit. I sprang from these deeply felt interactions with my natural environment. Because of my roots, I hold a belief that all things are connected and interdependent. Nature was my first teacher. My official art education began in college where I focused on building technique as I grew my unique artist’s voice. As an undergraduate I was fortunate to study one year in Oslo, Norway, at Kunst øg Håndsverk Skole. This experience expanded my world and a love of traveling became a passion. Later, I traveled to Japan, Turkey and India through art educator grants, eager to understand the deep geographical and philosophical contexts in which art making is grounded in different cultures. Everywhere I found meaningful beauty in connecting with people. Presently, I am retired and devote myself to my art making in my studio.