Member Interview: Holly Berube

Member Interview: Holly Berube

New England Wax member Holly Berube was recently interviewed by fellow member Jeanne Borofsky.

Please share a little about yourself. 
I’m divorced and have one daughter who will be graduating from UNH this spring. I have changed almost everything in my entire life, and believe it or not most of the time that feels good. I’m completely free and spend a lot of time socializing, exploring the North Shore and making new friends. My top priority is having fun. I’ve been given a gift – the opportunity to start completely over. As much as possible, I strive to create and live an enchanting, fantastic lifestyle.

Where did you grow up and what (if any) were any early influences on your work?  I grew up and lived, for most of my life, in Tewksbury, MA. I have always been creative. As a child, I was enrolled in many classes including sewing, gardening, painting, wood working, skiing, horseback riding and swimming. My Grandmother also taught me to knit, crochet, do needlework and rug hooking. In school I would alter and tailor all my clothes and my friends’ frocks. Art, Fashion, Hair, Design and Decorating are all my passions.

Where do you live now?  I was magically guided to live in Manchester-By-The-Sea. It is truly where I belong and I love it there. I was looking for a place to live and I kept thinking, I could go anywhere but where would that be? I traveled to California thinking I could get used to a beach life. I went to Paris with the idea that if an opportunity happens I might live in France, and then I went to Seattle to look at the prospect of houseboats. Once back in Boston, I was becoming desperate to find a place to live. An intuitive friend said, “Ever since I’ve known you, I’ve told you, you are supposed to be living on the North Shore. That’s where you belong and when you see your house, you will know it.” I searched all of the North Shore and finally I looked in Manchester-by-the-Sea. There it was, my favorite house in my favorite town!. Three days later it was mine. Once I moved in I realized I actually got everything I wanted. It’s a “petite chateau” so I feel like I’m in France. It’s floating on the property with absolutely no land at all so I feel like I live on a houseboat, and Manchester-By-The-Sea is the closest feeling to living in California that you can get in Massachusetts. It’s magical and it was meant to be,

Describe your process of creating art,  When I get inspired by a project that I’ve committed to then I think about it, turn the wax on and usually I can just start creating. It’s definitely not a process.

What are your inspirations?  My inspirations usually come from observing art, fabric or designs. I like to incorporate natural items and found objects juxtaposed with certain color combinations.

Has your practice changed over time? How and why?  My practice has changed over time. Art making can be a very lonely, solitary practice. I love going out and about town exploring and beachcombing so I find I have to schedule time on my calendar to commit to making art work, which is just the way it is right now….and I’m fine with it.

Describe one of your pieces and what you were thinking as you created it.  I’m working on an exhibit that will be on display at our bookstore – Manchester by the Book . I decided to buy a few books and then use them as my inspiration for the exhibit, which was fun and challenging. I cut them up and then started creating. I really don’t think I was thinking of anything while I was working on it. I just let myself and the work go with whatever happened. I have a few more pieces to complete, but I’m happy with what I’ve done so far.

Do you sketch or pre-plan for a piece or does your art evolve during the process?  The answer is yes to both. Sometimes I’ll see something that inspires me and I’ll think about how I could incorporate it into an encaustic work, and I’ll draw a sketch so I don’t forget. Other times I will pick something up in my studio and start working with it spontaneously.

How do you work?  When I feel inspired to work, I open all the French doors in my studio and turn on 80’s rock music, I get my dog settled beside me, and plug in the wax and then I just start picking through the pieces I have started until I find one I’m inspired to work on further. At this point I may see, or think or feel something I didn’t before.

How did you start working with wax?  I was on vacation in Maine, and went to visit the Maine Cottage showroom in Falmouth. As I enjoyed each vignette; the textiles, the vibrant color palettes, the comfortable furniture designs and the complimenting artwork, I came upon a very small piece that was stunning. It was a dinghy floating in a foggy harbor, just barely visible. The fog was so realistic. I read the wall text and it said the medium was encaustic….and I thought, what’s that? When I returned home, I googled it. I then found an artist who taught: Gregory Wright at Western Ave Studios in Lowell. BUT, instead of finding Greg, I ended up renting a studio at WAS myself. Eventually after a year we were introduced and he taught me the basics. My guru is Kim Bernard. I’m very grateful to her for sharing her knowledge with me.

Do you use other mediums (e.g. prints, quilts, resins, etc.) or exclusively work in wax?  Like most of us, I have tried almost everything creative….but it all came together when I found encaustic. I still play around with other mediums but I love wax the most.

What might someone be surprised to learn about you?  About three years ago, I had an Energy healing. I had no idea what that even meant, but it changed my life forever. The healer told me a lot about other incarnations, with one being a very strong past life as a famous artist in Paris. This information was such a gift. It was so thrilling and exciting; it overshadowed the other issues I was going through. I actually know who I was in a past life…and that information has inspired me in countless ways. I am extremely grateful for the way my life has unfolded since.

Do you have other jobs other than making art. If so, please give us some details.  I am very busy with my job at deCordova Sculpture Park and Museum where I’m the Head of Visitor Services, Security and the Café. I have been working there for almost 10 fun years. I started as an Event Manager and transitioned to Director of Events and Visitor Services. It’s a magical place to work. I have been fortunate to work on several exciting and rewarding remodeling and construction projects during my time at deCordova.

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