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Q&A: Amanda VanDenberg Features Tongue-in-Cheek Portraits in Little Art Gallery

The local artist is showcasing her self portrait series "Madonna Complex" in the Little Art Gallery's newest exhibit, "Essential Momentum"

Femininity and beauty (and a little satire) are on display in a farily tongue-in-cheek exhibit inside .

Artist Amanda C. VanDenberg is showcasing her series of self portraits called "Madonna Complex," which pokes fun at the self-obsessing woman. Paired with the work of artist Joseph Bower, is open now through Aug. 18.

Check out our Q&A with VanDenberg to learn a little more about her and her artwork.

North Canton Patch: Tell me about the work you've got in the Little Art Gallery right now.

Amanda VanDenberg: The work that I am currently showing at the Little Art Gallery is a self portrait series that was initially inspired by Byzantine and medieval iconography. I often work with themes of body image and cultural norms of feminine beauty. I was considering that going back in history there have always been unattainable standards for women. Going back I see the Madonna as the original perfect woman no one could live up to. She was not only beautiful, but demure and the perfect wife and mother. I find her to be an interesting figure and how in western civilization she was the most prominent woman for centuries. So this series is a contemplation of my personal relation to this perfect ideal through my flawed reality. 

North Canton Patch: What do you enjoy about creating self-portraits?

VanDenberg: I find a certain artistic freedom in self portraits. I am free to really explores what I find fascinating about human faces, their flaws. When I do self portraits I can be brutally honest with myself. I can be harsh without fear of offense. It gives me a freedom to really delve deep into these things without fear of offending my model.

North Canton Patch: Is being an artist your career? If not, what do you do as your career?

VanDenberg: Yes. I, of course still have a day job, but art is my career. I received my B.F.A. in 2010 from the Columbus College of Art and Design. I am hoping that at some point in the future it can be my full time job. 

North Canton Patch: How do push yourself to improve as an artist?

VanDenberg: For me, it's important to be ok with starting over. To admit that something isn't working. I have also found it important to save critiques until I have stopped working. It's a fine balance between being   hard on yourself and also knowing when what you've made is good. Also, I keep drawing. Doodling is fun, and keeps ideas flowing.

North Canton Patch: What piece of artwork that you've created means the most to you?

VanDenberg: That is almost an impossible question. Often when I finish a piece, it's my favorite. But in general I enjoy the intaglio prints I have made the most. 

North Canton Patch: What's the greatest compliment you've received regarding your artwork?

VanDenberg: I appreciate every compliment I receive. It is such relief to know that what you have worked very hard on has meaning to others. That my late nights, long hours and deep joy in what I do has benefited not only myself,  but those who view my work. On another more practice note , I am deeply flattered when someone chooses to purchase my work. In times when money is tight for many people, it does mean a great deal for someone to say that they believe that what I have made is worth their hard earned money. It is important to me that art remains as valuable in people's lives, as it is in mine. 

North Canton Patch: Any tips or words of wisdom for aspiring artists?

VanDenberg: For anyone pursuing a career in the arts perseverance is the most important thing you can possess. There will always be challenges and people who tell you you are foolish, but sticking with it is the most important thing you must do. 

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