Artist Interview: Mindy Colton

What have you been up to? Do you have anything coming up you want to talk about?
 I had sculptures in some wonderful exhibits this summer. Near Seattle, in the Washington State Thoroughbred Foundation “Horses for Art” Fundraiser, one of my equine sculptures was chosen to be awarded next year in the Horses in Art Race. It will be displayed in the exclusive Club House for a year. This is the third time in twelve years I've had this honor. Emerald Downs also has two of my sculptures in their permanent collection. They invited me to attend again as a special race steward and help present the trophy in the Winner’s Circle. It's a thrilling experience! A large pair of mixed media horses, “Walk in the Woods,” found a new home at the Art Center Sarasota Florida Flavor Exhibit. I was also juried into and won an award in the St. Augustine Art Association Nature & Wildlife exhibit (which receives hundreds of entries from all over the U.S. and abroad). A number of my sculptures were also juried into shows around Florida and Colorado. A busy summer for sure!
 I'm very excited to be invited again to an invitation-only equine exhibit in the Palm Beach area during the exclusive show season at Wellington. I'm included in  a group exhibit at the Harris House at the Atlantic Center for the Arts, and I'm creating more work for Plum Art Gallery in St. Augustine. 

How did you get involved with art?
 I had classical training in art from a young age. It seemed I showed a natural aptitude when I was four! My parents loved art and were collectors. They started taking me to art events when I was around seven. Living on the upper east side of Manhattan I was also within walking distance to all of the major museums. Many of my parents' friends were gallery owners and artists. Some of my first youth art classes were at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. I studied painting for many years and went to the Art Students League on weekends. I was accepted into the High      
What do you say when people ask you “what do you do?” 
I am artist. My passion for the last 15 years has been sculpture.
From where do you derive your inspiration? 
I get my inspiration from nature, traveling, and my lifetime involvement with and love of horses.
What's something that most people just don't understand about your field?
Art is a passion that is inside of you. A muse that drives you to create. People don't know how much time and dedication creating sculpture takes. 
It's a life journey for me.

What's something that continues to interest you about your work?
The variety of media I can work with. I began as a bronze sculptor. Then I started working in many different mediums. It's challenging to see how creative I can get with mediums not often used for the kind of sculptures I create.
What new idea or innovation is having the most significant impact on how people think about art?
I think computers and the ease of sharing images have had the biggest effect. More and more people will soon have 3-D printers to experiment with, too.
What's an emerging trend that you have reserves about?
I and many artists have reservations about how easy it is to reproduce and copy art. Especially for painters.  
Please tell us about your training and how you transitioned to where you are today.    
I majored in Stage Design and minored in Graphic Design at the High School of  Music & Art. I was drawn more to three-dimensional art and was always building things. Stage Design was my first love (having grown up seeing so much live theater in N.Y.), but I began to realize what a difficult field it was to get into.
Parson’s School of Design had an amazing Industrial Design program that accepted me. It was the most influential part of my education and experience to this day. I met Buckminster Fuller, who gave a number of lectures, critiques, and life offerings. A real eye opener. The group projects and exposure to real world problems were literally out of this world. 
 Finding available jobs not that attractive and wanting to have a traditional campus experience, I transferred to Washington University in St. Louis and graduated with a BFA in Graphic Design and a minor in photography. Along the way I worked in stage design for fun, and later in community theater. After a long, successful career as an graphic artist, art director, and illustrator, I decided to focus on my fine art. I had been creating and exhibiting in the little free time available. In 2002 I made the leap and began to focus full time on sculpture.

What artistic accomplishments are you most proud of?
 My monumental sculptures are some of the works I'm most proud of. I love having large pieces in public places for people to see and enjoy. Being accepted into major museum exhibits with both my smaller and larger works gives me a lot of encouragement. I'm proud of the six grants I have received. They helped me along my artistic path. I've won more than 150 awards, but when someone falls in love with a sculpture and adds it their home, that is very special!
What is your state of mind when you are creating?
I am totally focused on the piece.
Does your social and political climate impact your artistic expression?
My work is a total escape from those issues. 
Are you thinking about the viewer’s psychology of experiencing your art when you create?
No, I create for myself and put all my passion and love into my pieces. I think that is what makes a piece of art a success. If the work resonates with another person it's wonderful. A huge bonus! And if someone describes what is drawing them to the piece and it's what I was feeling too, that's great. They “get it.”
What emotion would you say plays the biggest role in your art?
The love of horses. Each sculpture is unique. I'm always excited to see how they turn out.
Do you have any experience in the Orlando art scene? What have you seen or heard?
I've lived here more than thirty years and have exhibited in Orlando for almost twenty years. I began by showing 2-D works. There used to be many good, professional galleries but they're gone. In other Florida cities the art scenes and opportunities have grown with much more vigor since the recession. Smaller cities have added dozens of excellent venues for local and Florida artists. We need more galleries here in Orlando as well as ways to reach people wanting original local art in their homes. I hear these sentiments expressed often.
What advice would you give a young person considering a career as an artist?
I had dozens of art students and interns working for me at a number of university and ad agency.postions. I also taught classes. I told all of them to travel and to continue their art education outside Florida. I advised some about excellent art schools, grants, etc.; and many successfully moved on. When you're young is the best time to experiment, get out there, and do things. Visit as many museums and galleries as you can. Don’t limit your world view. Don’t limit your mediums. Try all kinds of art. Don’t get stuck on one thing. Always strive to grow. Don’t compromise your vision for others.
If you could go back to when you started creating art and give yourself some advice, what would it be? 
Avoid outside pressures and societal influences, and make the leap into a full time fine art career as soon as possible!