Artist in Focus: Naomi Vona
Naomi is a London based artists who creates intricate collages on vintage photographs. This juxtaposition of the old and new, the perceived violence done to these images and the striking colour Naomi uses all prompt questions about the relationship between the past and the present. The value we place on these objects even after their owners have ceased and there is no one to recognise people in these pictures. Our world is image obsessed. We all take hundreds and thousands of photos every year. Naomi takes some of the very early images and superimposes a piece of our world on it. But does this change the past or the present?
Read our interview with Naomi below:
When did you start making art?
I always have been an art lover since I was a kid, but I seriously started to look at it when I was about 13-14 years old. I played around collages really soon (5-6 years old), using paper or cutting silhouettes from magazines. I do collages from a long time (from about 2003), but these kind of works were born in 2013, when I moved from Italy to Ireland.
What has inspired you to use found objects?
In 2013 I’ve bought lots of vintage photos and postcards from eBay because I’ve always loved to collect things as found stuff of any kind of material. Once I had hundreds of vintage photos in my hands too, I just thought: why don’t I put my collected stuff on them? So I started to play around collages. The result satisfied me so much, I felt really good and I didn’t want to stop anymore. I graduated in design and photography, my school research-projects always turned around archive, picture connected to memories and a conceptual approach to analogue photography. I think that I unconsciously mixed these two interests into this collage project. The fact that people can give away pictures from a forgotten past (because yes, these are a sort of discarded memories to me), is fascinating and scary at the same time. I wanted to give back a meaning to these faces, because someone forgot them. My interventions directly on vintage photos are definitely a challenge for me and for the people who watch them too.
What do the viewers usually ask you about your art?
It depends, sometimes they ask me why sometimes I cover the faces of the subjects. Or they ask me how I find the courage to use original vintage photos, or why I do this. But most of the times they ask me completely different things. People are pretty curious about my art process.
What do you want the viewer to experience?
I enjoy the fact that everyone is free to read through the lines what they want. I hope that I can bring to people some joy, fun and I also want them to think and explore all the possibilities behind the work they are observing. I like the idea that everyone can read “secret” messages through my creations, I don’t want to spread a specific message, I just want that people use their imagination and observe my works as they desire to.
How would you describe your work to someone who hadn’t seen it?
Maybe I could describe what I do like this: “I am a collage artist that uses found photos as a canvas. I put stuff over old people portraits and pretend to have been part of their life in some way”. Ahah, that could be funny.
What’s the driving force behind your work?
Passion and having fun. If these two things disappear, I believe that would be worthless to work on this creative project.
What is the most challenging part about being a mixed media artist?
In my case is the fact that I stick into very small sized pieces and I have a “ready-made” canvas to work on it. Sometimes I would love to work on bigger pictures for example, but it’s very difficult to find big vintage photos.
What is the question you encounter most when you tell someone you are an artist?
I try to not say it out loud, ahah. People use to ask me generic questions, it’s a kinda of awkward situation all the time.
What part of the working process do you enjoy most?
I love the fact that you are completely free to express yourself and you just do it. It’s an exciting adventure every time I work on something new, because you never know what will come out, which result you will have at the end. I always try to not think too much of what I am doing, I want that the picture in front of me helps me to find the solution to the rebus. I don’t know any of the subjects, so my fantasy is completely free to decide what to do. Everything surrounds me have a quite impact on what I do. It could be a landscape, a TV series or a flashing colour that popped up somewhere. I also love to update myself through blogs and see other extraordinary contemporary artists and their works. As I always say, every work is basically composed of three elements: my life background, my inspirations and subconscious, that is also the glue that puts all together.
Do you wish the place of art would change in society, if yes, how?
Creativity, and in general the art market, became accessible to anyone now thanks to the Internet and globalisation. Everyone has the chance to express themselves and to share their interests with anyone in the world, without any filter between the artist and the final user. On the other hand the selection and the recognition of a good project from another it’s more difficult and the creativity market can risk to become easily saturated. I have to say that, even if I cannot have a direct contact with the audience, I have a lot of useful feedbacks for them. This helps me a lot on my creative process. Artists can truly become a useful tool to communicate, inspire and move souls. Now more than ever.