Sunday, September 19, 2010

New Art: An Interview with Artist Teresa Korber

Here is my article based on my interview with artist Teresa Korber. "New Art" was originally published in Gala Magazine.

Hope you'll enjoy the read,

New Art: An Interview with Artist Teresa Korber 

By Alina Oswald

BIO: Alina Oswald is a freelance writer and photographer, and the author of Journeys Through Darkness, a biography. She can be reached at

"I've always been, I think you can say, obsessed with love," Teresa Korber confesses, talking about her source of inspiration for her Heart series. The 25-year-old artist plans to use her love-inspired artwork in a show later on this February, the month of love. "I'm a passionate person. […] Love is very close to my heart. I want it. I need it. I gotta have it. I think it's an obsession," she adds, laughing. For Korber, love is, indeed, a passion, not only as love for another person, but especially for her work.

Born in Miami, Florida, and raised in San Juan, Puerto Rico, Korber spent her childhood between the two places. The daughter of two internationally renowned artists, she grew up always having a canvas at hand. As a child she used to sit in her mother's studio, painting. Her mother would give her some paint brushes and a canvas to keep her busy. Korber's first painting was her version (at that young age) of Vincent van Gogh’s Starry Night. "It's funny," she explains nowadays, "because you look at it and it's immature." The painting is still one of her favorites. It marked the beginning of her becoming the unique artist she is today. It also inspired her later work. An example is a painting called The Tree, which brings up similar emotions. 

Van Gogh may have influenced her artwork, but, growing up with parents who were also accomplished, renowned painters has also put its imprint on Korber's artwork. "I [actually] didn't even know that they were recognized at all,” she explains. “I just kinda knew them as my parents."

As a child, Teresa Korber would watch her father, artist Michael Korber, put on music and "go nuts with the canvas," she recalls. "[It's amazing just] watching him. It blows your mind!" She would also accompany her father to coffee houses where she would be exposed to various expressions of art—like music, poetry, and painting.  It was an inspiring experience for the future artist, but also one that made it more difficult for her to decide which art form to embrace.

The answer came to her a couple of years ago, through a painting. The Embrace portrays an embrace between a man and a woman, but it can also be interpreted as between two men or two women. "I was preparing for my first show," Korber explains, "and I would not [be able to] get my colors right. It just wasn’t working.” She considered going over the painting with white paint, to cover it up. Until then, she’d thought she could paint only in a certain way; therefore, she’d felt boxed in. But then she took a step back from the painting and realized she was going to work on it. “And from that moment on, I just kinda broke through that box,” she says. And once she did that, she became freer in the way she was painting. She also realized that painting was the way she could express herself artistically.

Since then she has continued to break down walls and free her creative process, and, with that, find her own artistic identity. As a result, her artwork has started to capture some of the deepest, most powerful emotions humans are capable of experiencing—fear, loneliness, envy and love—emotions ranging from the blackest darkness that can imprison human souls to the brightest light shone over us by rays of hope and love.

One of her newer favorites is Mi Soledad [My Solitude], a portrait of a woman shown sitting down on the floor with her hands on her knees, like in a ball. “It’s almost very sad, and very interesting in the same time,” the artist comments on her subject. There is something almost enigmatic about the woman in the painting, as if she has a lot on her mind. As viewers we can only wonder about her—on one hand, because we are curious creatures; on the other hand, because, like the artist, we can relate to Mi Soledad.

Some of Korber’s paintings seem simple yet, looking closely, they are very complex. Shadow Emotions is such a painting. While created using only two colors—black and silver—Shadow Emotions is a striking, almost haunting painting based on fear and loneliness. It is also the first artwork Korber has created using not a brush, but a palette knife, to give the image a rough touch and a thick, rich texture.

Almost at the opposite end of the spectrum of emotions captured in Shadow Emotions we discover Anticipation, yet another example of Korber’s artwork that engages viewers. Anticipation portrays a beautiful woman, “maybe [with] a little bit of an ego,” and who seems to be very confident. She’s anticipating somebody or something and the viewers can’t help but wonder about her Anticipation.

There are times when Korber asks herself if what she’s trying to express through her art really reflects the reality. In that sense, she’s right on target, especially with paintings like Green with Envy, an artwork displaying the perfect male body. “He’s, well, Green with Envy,” the artist says. “It’s funny,” she adds, “because when I painted it, I didn’t really know it was so true.” Only then she realized how real the feeling was, because a lot of men could connect to it. After all, what man wouldn’t want to have the perfect body of the male in Green with Envy.

When working on her art pieces, Korber prefers to do it without models because it leaves her creative work more to her imagination, consequently allowing her to further break down more walls and become freer in her creative process.

For the same reason she has never stopped experimenting. She participated twice in the Lake Worth Street Painting Festival, an annual event in downtown Lake Worth, Florida. To enter the festival artists fill out a form. They are assigned a square piece of street on which they can “go crazy, […], doing art with pastels,” Korber explains. People stop by to watch the artists create, and take pictures. “It’s outside, sunny, hot and sticky, but it’s a lot of fun,” she adds.

She also participated in a live body painting show. She got to paint the body of her friend, using finger paint—a kind of paint, not harmful to the body, that kids use in kindergarten when learning to paint with their fingers.

Teresa Korber does not only participate in live art shows. She also curates a live art group show in downtown West Palm Beach. The Art Nouveau show features more than 20 artists who create in various media, including painting and body painting, sculpture, and photography. They all do their art live and showcase it in front of people. And they have a good time while at it, too. “It’s been very successful, very busy,” Korber says. “The fire department showed up the last time because we were over capacity.” Although she was hesitant at first, the experience turned out to be an inspiring and fulfilling one.

Teresa Korber’s artwork continues to be as inspiring and fulfilling. She has come so far because she passionately believes in the power of persistence.

She is so certain of the power of persistence that she extends her message of  “Never give up [and] persistence will pay off,” not only to those who want to make it in the art world, but also to everybody else who want to make a positive difference in the world like, for examples, the individuals who fight for equal rights. In that sense, Teresa Korber’s artist’s voice becomes a distinctive voice for equal rights. “I think lesbian and gay rights are very important,” she says. “We all need to stick together, no matter what we do, [because our voice is more powerful] when we are united. We’ve come a long way as far as our rights,” she adds, “and it’s only the beginning.”

Interview with Teresa Korber,