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Meet Bobbi Meier

Today we’d like to introduce you to Bobbi Meier.

Bobbi, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
I was one of those kids who could always draw well. My mom commissioned me to paint murals in our suburban, split-level home and design program covers for the latest production of her piano student’s work. I would sit for hours with the World Book Encyclopedia in my lap and draw from pages like, Birds of North America. In high school, I was charging 50 cents a drawing to paint images like Mona Lisa Gorilla from Mad Magazine on kid’s jeans. I majored in Visual Communication at Northern Illinois University and for over 20 years, I was a practicing graphic designer.

In 1989 I was introduced to a magical place in Saugatuck, Michigan, a Shangri-La, where I transformed from designer to artist. It’s a summer camp where artists and art-lovers have traveled for over 100 years, set in beautiful dunes and forests with a sparkling lagoon, campfires, lilly pads, herons; a canoe-ride away from Lake Michigan. This place, Ox-Bow, is where I had the great privilege to go to camp with my young family and friends. We became known as “Family Camp” and it continued for over ten years. It was a sort of Post-bacc experience for me, as I learned about the Chicago art scene and lived and played with artists and their families who were strongly affiliated with the School of The Art Institute of Chicago and are now life-long friends.

Through my connections with Ox-Bow and the artists I met there I became obsessed with the desire to go back to school and earn my MFA. I took a circuitous route, taking continuing ed courses, studying painting at UIC, and earning an MA in Art Education at SAIC. The need for a means to make a living has been strongly engrained in me, and the pursuit of an art ed degree, while raising 3 children made sense.  During my tenure at Maine South High School I applied for a little known sabbatical offered through our district and was granted a leave. I was accepted in the Fiber and Material Studies Department at SAIC, finally realizing my goal of pursuing my MFA, which I completed in 2011. After many years of preparation and the support of an amazing network of friends, teachers, family, and a very supportive life-partner, I am currently working as a full-time artist. Interestingly, I am missing parts of my old life and look forward to integrating my artist-self, teacher-self, and business-self with my husband through a new collaborative practice of art & design.

Has it been a smooth road?
I always managed to make art in some manner, but it wasn’t easy. I remember making drawings in my bedroom at night after the kids were in bed and my husband was traveling for work. I had been given advice by one of my continuing ed teachers to work as large as time allowed and do it where you were most comfortable. Additionally, I made an agreement with myself to make a drawing every day no matter what and continued that practice for 2 years.  The rigor of teaching and taking classes to supplement my art making and teaching experiences kept me motivated to continue making work and aided in overcoming the major hurdle of time management.

We’d love to hear more about your work and career as an artist.
I am an independent self-employed artist, currently a company of one. I make abstract fiber-based sculptures, mixed-media installations, drawings and photographs. My primary focus has been sensuous soft sculptures that often integrate found objects and furniture. Manipulating pantyhose into abstract shapes and transforming the parts into a whole by stretching and stapling the sexiest spandex I can find over them has become a means to make objects that are emotional repositories of memories and emotions. I’m compelled to work in this manner because of the voyeuristic qualities I can create with this medium, engaging the viewer in a game of curiosity, seduction and revulsion.

Is our city a good place to do what you do?
Chicago definitely has a competitive art scene and is the place I choose to remain to do what I do. Recently I was speaking with a fellow artist who moved to New York who said that artists in Chicago are like hungry wolves grabbing for scraps. This artist felt they would have more opportunities to show their work in New York City. I’m not sure if that is true, I feel that striving to stay involved and be noticed is an issue for artists everywhere. We have so many excellent art schools in Chicago, the sheer volume of graduates increases that competition yearly. Thinking positively, this influx of new creators also offers opportunities for inspiration and unexpected connections. I am thankful there are so many apartment galleries and non-for-profit spaces available for artists here and will continue to maintain my practice in this city of hungry wolves! 

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Magalie Guerin, RCH/EKH, Tom Van Eynde, Nathan Keay

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