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Meet Cory Sewelson

Today we’d like to introduce you to Cory Sewelson.

So, before we jump into specific questions, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
It was my second semester of college and I was sitting in my car in the parking lot having my own private meltdown. I’d been majoring in science, as I’d planned all along, but now I thought studying art would be a better fit. I’d enrolled in a beginning drawing class and decided that if I did all right, I’d switch majors. I was anxiously drawing in my car before class to recheck my skills. Generally I thought science was more practical for making a living and art more personal and selfish in a way. But, art school eventually won the argument because I realized that when I was making art, I felt my most honest and authentic self. I had no idea that day that other interests and studies, and actually everything else for that matter, can enrich ones art practice by providing great content and imagery.

After school, I decided I needed a day job and that I would do my own work on the side. Eventually, I was fortunate to work many years as a designer at Disney’s theme park company, Imagineering. Some things I learned working there have had a big effect on my own artwork. The importance of storytelling and the idea of architecture as experience are two examples that show up in my painting now. I’ve maintained my art practice all along and now that I’m retired I have lots more time to focus on my own painting.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
I don’t know anyone who’s had an easy time as an artist.  It means finding and continually reconnecting to one’s authentic inner voice.  The familiar expression that art is a calling is accurate because there is an aspect to it that it isn’t just a choice, but rather a need.  It’s a life-long journey with many ups and downs.  I think my toughest time was transitioning from student to my own practice. Finding the necessary creative motivation, and deciding what personally constitutes success are all real challenges.  Making time for art while keeping a day job was always difficult too.

We’d love to hear more about your work and what you are currently focused on. What else should we know?
Like all artists, my work comes from a personal place that is a unique mix of my psychology, life experiences, education, and interests.  I’m currently making paintings and mixed media work that are figurative, narrative, and explore the way our built world interacts with nature and our own human experience. This work starts with collaged photos I take or images found on the Internet.  This digital collage work is really my sketching process.  I use these as reference for the paintings.  My extensive traveling, work experience, and earlier studies in biology all contribute to the content of this current body of work.  And of course, besides making art, I’m always looking for opportunities to show and sell my work.

What were you like growing up?
My childhood years were, in some ways, pretty typical for growing up in the 1950s and 60s Los Angeles.  When not in school, I was free to run around with the gang of neighborhood kids all day.  But, maybe not typically, I was surrounded by a lot of art world influences.  Our neighborhood was the Melrose and La Cienega area, then the center of the art gallery scene.  My best friend’s parents owned one of the galleries and we would play tag among the piles of paintings in their house.  My parents took me to look at those gallery shows and I got to spend time at an after-school studio that offered classes for kids.  There I learned about stained glass and ceramics as well as painting and drawing.  Later, I added an interest in hiking the local mountains and a general love of the outdoors.   I learned to snorkel at a camp on Catalina Island. I’m sure those early diverse experiences started me on the path to where art making became the central focus of my life.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Bea Lamar, HOTE Gallery (for the photo of me)

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