By Simone C. Porter
Elizabeth Hoeckel’s mixed media collages are nothing short of captivating. In some cases, where there are women in bathing suits perched comfortably atop floorboards as the rest of the world is engulfed in a giant cloud of smoke and ash, it is breathtaking. Using images from vintage publications, she always challenges her audience to write their own stories. We caught up with Elizabeth to chop it up about her work environment, Baltimore’s art scene and how even the most unwelcome emotions render themselves useful at the end of the day.
Describe your typical work environment.
My ideal work environment is a familiar space like my own bedroom or studio, listening to music and losing track of time. I think my best work happens when I get lost in the zone.
You mentioned in a previous interview that not revealing faces or expressions is like keeping a secret. Do you yourself know what the faces look like?
I usually have a general story line in my head of what the people in my images are experiencing.
How long does a collage usually take to complete?
Some come very naturally, almost by accident. Some are literally years in the making. I often use images that I’ve been saving for years and combine them with something new. Also, some images are much more meticulous to cut out than others, so it depends.
Describe your most memorable experience while working on a piece.
The most memorable is not necessarily the best memory. I wanted to make a series of paintings completely intuitively and make marks based on feeling. I was in the midst of a very difficult break-up and listening to a lot of depressing music. The result turned out really well and the work means a lot to me.
What about being an artist has been most challenging thing so far? Most rewarding?
I sometimes get emotionally involved with a project and if it doesn’t work out it can be depressing. It can be discouraging to work really hard on something and have it not work out at all. It took me a while to accept that a lot of things are just going to have to get scrapped. Now I know that if you work through that, something good will eventually come out of it and that is probably the most rewarding thing.
What do you think about the art scene in Baltimore?
Baltimore’s art scene is filled with so many uniquely talented individuals; people who are not afraid to be different. It is extremely inspirational and I feel lucky to live and work among them.
What do you usually shoot with?
I use both film and digital cameras. For digital I use a Canon G11, and for film I use a variety of 35mm point and shoot cameras. I collect them from thrift stores.
Any advice for aspiring artists?
As cliche as it sounds, do not give up! Perseverance is key and don’t be afraid to shamelessly promote yourself.
Beth is currently working on various collage and mixed media pieces. Projects and works in progress can be seen at www.cargocollective.com/bethhoeckel.
Interview by Simone C. Porter, Associate Producer, CBS Local