Haley Cormier is a Boston-based artist who creates beautiful things from natural elements. Today she talks to us about her process, inspirations and how she got started as a visual artist.
I am amazed by the detail of texture in your work? Did you sew those leaves? Can you explain some of the processes you used to create these pieces?
I did! I had a series of leaves I embroidered into, whether it was imagery or playing around with different materials to see how the leaf reacted to it. When creating these I would sew into the lemon leaves that fell off the trees I keep in my apartment then let them dry naturally.
Where do all of these natural pieces come from? Do you collect flowers as you go through your life?
A lot of different places. Some come from the plants I keep in my apartment (about 25 right now?), others are flowers from the store and the rest are things I see in my travels or everyday life. Stores like Agway and other hardware or greenhouses are a large source of both materials and inspiration for me.
The gallery installation is incredible! What was your thought process going into that? Did you have the whole piece visualized before you started? What was the process of making it like?
I honestly was not sure what the final product would be. I had a vague idea of what I wanted it to look like but really it did not fully come together until I was actually installing it.
The whole body of work started with my interest in bark. I originally tried recreating it with plaster castings and though the object looked interesting it wasn’t quite what I wanted. It was then suggested I just use the bark itself. The bark I decided to use is Pine Bark Nuggets which actually is what my mom uses on her gardens, so it was a material I was very familiar with as I’ve spread many a bags of it when I was younger.
Once I had the material the piece came together through experimentation of how I could combine the pieces of bark to each other and what could make sense in some type of suspension. Most of the art I make is very exploratory in this sense. I find materials I like and see what I can do with them, very much trial or error.
What do you try to express in your work?
This is a question I never have a great answer to. I think I am mostly expressing myself and my interests, if it happens to peak someone else’s interest then the expression becomes even richer.
What kinds of reactions do you think your art gets? How do you feel about that?
I would say overall positive reactions to most pieces. Some are always more of a hit than other but it’s part of the learning and artistic process. I am very okay with failure in a piece because there is always something to be learned from it.
Are there any artists who inspire you?
My first art crush at age 13 was John Baldessari (watch this if you do not know about him), his work was the first time I ever saw art that wasn’t an impressionist or renaissance painting. It showed me what art and my art has the potential to be. Since, I have loved artists like Patrick Dougherty and Yayoi Kusama to name some famous ones. I also am constantly inspired by different florists, foodies and pie makers on Instagram.
How did you get started doing this kind of work? What were your initial inspirations?
My mom has had gardens my whole life and I’ve always lent a hand, whether I wanted to or not, in taking care of them. As a kid I was always outside and playing with my imagination, I remember friends and I being entertained for hours coming up with different scenarios and games, using whatever was around us as props. Later, I worked for Hart’s Greenhouse and Field & Vase which really made my interest not only in art but plants as well ~flourish~. I’ve always found support in those places as well as meeting some of the most inspiring women. They showed me so much support be it in friendship or in letting me take home the wilted flowers.
I love your use of natural pieces in all of your art, does your medium change throughout the New England seasons?
I actually haven’t explored much of the seasons, although I could retrospectively pair up different pieces to a different season. I am constantly collecting materials and surrounded by plants that seasons do not necessarily interfere. That said, I am a true New Englander and love all the seasons, I think there is beauty in every day of them.
What is your goal as an artist?
Like most “making it big” doesn’t sound too bad, but my ultimate goal is to continue making art and to find ways to always incorporate it into my life. My goals as a human are to always be surrounded by art, plants and happiness. Art connects people and I want to be a part of that connection.
How can people reach you? Are there any websites or social media links you’d like to share?
Haley can be found on Instagram @haley.cormier.art and at www.haleycormier.com.