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Meet Iris Bechtol

Today we’d like to introduce you to Iris Bechtol.

Every artist has a unique story. Can you briefly walk us through yours?
When I was a kid my parents purchased a series of books titled, Things to Make and Do. The books consisted of craft-based projects using traditional and non-traditional materials. They were fairly simple and because both my parents sometimes worked more than one job, the Things to Make and Do books served as a creative guide to keep my mind and hands busy. I always made things, but I didn’t set foot in a museum until my senior year of high school. The experience was a sort of eye opener for me, but even then, I had no idea I would later study art in college and continue to make art to this day. When I met my future husband, Brennen Bechtol, who is also an artist, I realized art was a possible career for me. I was in the final year of my Bachelor of Fine Arts at The University of North Texas when I had the great fortune of being accepted as a member artist of 500X Gallery, Texas’ oldest, artist run, cooperative gallery. It was a great experience for me as a young artist to be surrounded by other artists making great work and have the opportunity to experiment with content and material in my own practice. Today I’m a practicing artist as well as an educator and Gallery Manager overseeing the galleries and permanent art collection at Eastfield College.

Please tell us about your art.
With an interest in just about everything, I see the world as a living field – a space that requires a diversity of responses. Avoiding categories that might simplify my work or stifle the breadth of my interests, I refrain from working with only one material or process. Having an undergraduate degree with a focus in photography, I’ve made a lot of traditional and non-traditional photographic work, However, I’ve always been interested in pushing my practice into other areas, even in undergrad I started working with installation processes to push my photography work into a more sculptural mode. These days I don’t do much with my cameras anymore other than document my artwork. I see myself as an artist and not as a photographer, so using other materials and processes is intentional and stimulates my practice. I have a love for drawing, watercolor, and ink processes, so those are always present in my practice even if they don’t result in what I would consider a complete work. Currently, I’m learning ceramics processes and making small sculptures. My most recent exhibition at The Safe Room in the Texas Theater featured several ceramic based sculptures as well as drawings and prints made with wet clay. I don’t really have a message for the viewers of my work. I draw on my examination of the phenomenological or “lived experience” and how it is reflected back through image, object, and place. What I’m presenting to the viewer is a transformation of that “lived experience” so they can see it from another perspective other than their own.

Given everything that is going on in the world today, do you think the role of artists has changed? How do local, national or international events and issues affect your art?
The role of an artist changes when the artist makes the choice to change their role. The world is always in flux and there are many artists who feel part of their studio practice involves responding to this flux. I think I do respond to this flux, but I do it in a subtler way.

How or where can people see your work? How can people support your work?
I have a print on view in the Art214 exhibit at the Oak Cliff Cultural Center through June 1, 2018 and I have an exhibit scheduled for Fall of 2019 at Mountain View College. My solo exhibit at The Safe Room in the Texas Theater just closed in April, so I’m hard at work on some new things and prepping for gallery submissions outside of Texas. My work can be viewed at IrisBechtol.com.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
All images courtesy of the artist

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