Artist Interview – Naomi Ilgenfritz

Work Space IX ©2012 Naomi Ilgenfritz oil on panel 24" x 32"
Work Space IX ©2012 Naomi Ilgenfritz oil on panel 24″ x 32″

Another in my Art of the State artist interviews – painter, Naomi Ilgenfritz. When I first saw her painting, Work Space IX, online, I thought it was a photograph. The lighting in it is wonderful (plus there’s a scull in the still life.) You can find her online at Naomi Artist and see her painting in person at Art of the State: Pennsylvania 2013 at the State Museum in Harrisburg, PA.

1. How did you get started in your craft? (using your media)

I have had a pencil in my hand since I was big enough to hold one. And I have left more crayon residue on walls and window screens than my parents may have appreciated. But it was only six years ago (summer 2007) that I was first introduced to oil paints and I completed just one painting. For the next three years I tried my hand at everything from sculpture to ceramics to printmaking to graphic design – all of which I still love and try to keep my fingers in. But at the end of that time I picked up my oil paints again and I have no intention of ever putting them down.

2. What has been inspiring/influencing your work lately?

My recent work has been largely influenced by my time spent growing up in a loving tight-knit family with 11 brothers and 4 sisters. As you can imagine it was often difficult to

Untitled Space ©2011 Naomi Ilgenfritz oil on panel 48" x 60"
Untitled Space ©2011 Naomi Ilgenfritz oil on panel 48″ x 60″

find a quite space to call my own. Eventually finding that quite place became the target in my mind. Until the day when I at last found myself on my own and very much alone in the middle of nowhere and too broke to travel. At first the isolation seemed to be the perfect environment to inspire creativity, but it did not take me long to change my tune. I soon began to feel that my work had no impact outside of my tiny studio, it had no connection to the world and there seemed to be very little point in creating it. During those months of isolation I came to realize that I can not create in a vacuum. My recent work reflects the powerful human need to be connected to others while simultaneously revealing my craving as an artist to isolate myself and to be completely consumed in my work. It is the contemplation of the human presence through its absence.

3. Who are your favorite artists in your field?

The sensitivity of Antonio Lopez Garcia’s paintings and drawings, especially his interior scenes and household objects, never fail to take my breath away. And although the installations of James Turrell are a drastically different media than my own, his treatment of light and space has also had a profound influence on my work.

4. What is your favorite customer quote or story?

Summer in a Jar ©2007 Naomi Ilgenfritz oil on panel 16" x 20"
Summer in a Jar ©2007 Naomi Ilgenfritz oil on panel 16″ x 20″

I recently had viewer standing in front of a painting turn to me tell me that as strange as it may sound, my work made him have to use the bathroom. I was confused at first but he continued to explain that upon viewing the collection he overcome with the conviction that he had wondered into some secret and forbidden place and the thrill of it made him have to pee.

5. What is your favorite piece of art or fine craft that you own?

I am a young artist with a very young art collection. Most of the original works that I own are pieces that I traded for during my undergrad years and there are some amazing pieces among them. But I would be lying not to say that some of my very favorite pieces are on my wall of crayon drawings from my little brothers and sisters.