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Meet Drema Montgomery

Today we’d like to introduce you to Drema Montgomery.

Every artist has a unique story. Can you briefly walk us through yours?
Growing up in Northeast Alabama, at the piedmont of the Appalachian Mountains, I spent my childhood in homes, like my Maw maw’s, packed with ceramic collectibles, doily-covered taxidermy, and religious imagery. Those clean, emotionally-charged homes pushed me into myself and into the outdoors. There, by contrast, was an endless, thick, and muggy expanse of honeysuckle and kudzu dotted by caves and hollows. Mystery, magic, and story hummed in all the in between spaces of my childhood and drove me to want to create.

I began by constructing miniature villages out of woody vines and mud. These endeavors took up entire afternoons. I cobbled together homes for imaginary creatures, investigated new lands with my Pitbull, and made sketchbooks of creatures and beings. This need to draw and hot-glue together worlds that I could be submerge myself into, pushed me towards a career in art as an adult. My materials and craft changed with practice, but my drive to explore the between spaces, the unconscious parts of myself, stayed consistent.

Please tell us about your art.
I create sculptures, paintings, and installations that focus on artifacts of play and my own history. Play and imagination are psychological rituals, and toys are their canopic jars. Children often put so much of themselves, and their emotional development into toys. I see a lot of this empty space for mental projection eroding away. I wonder what it means, and what those acts of creation meant for me in my childhood. My art is my way of moving through that research and ritual as an adult.

In my studio, I create intricate sets comprised of augmented, thrift store-sourced toys. Toys I recognize from my own childhood that have been discarded. The dolls, tea sets, and horses reside in flesh-like environments that consume and constrict them. I play with them and photograph as I go. The toys become sculptures over time as they accumulate many layers; a sort of sealing-up. The photographs of these “play sets” become the source materials for my lush, ominous paintings. The pieces’ names, such as Keep Sweet or Honey Child, carry-on the colloquial terms of my home town. It’s my way of dragging my Mawmaw’s voice into gallery and installation spaces- a preservation technique of its own.

What do you think about conditions for artists today? Has life become easier or harder for artists in recent years? What can cities like ours do to encourage and help art and artists thrive?
I’m 30, so I don’t have the experience to talk outside of my own lifetime. I do feel a spatial shift. The virtual world is there and it’s new and it’s heavily visual. Most people will only ever see my work digitally. I can’t guess what that will mean, but I feel the threads of some traditional avenues fraying.

In my experience, fellow artists and locally-run exhibition spaces have always been my places of support. Places to experiment and grow as a maker. Increasing the economic feasibility for artists and small galleries to exist is a good start towards fostering breathing room for creativity to grow.

How or where can people see your work? How can people support your work?
I’ve shown work regionally and internationally. But images of my work are always available to view at my website: DremaMontgomery.com. If ever in Athens, I’m happy to oblige a Studio visit upon request.

Support can be financial, but also sharing and spreading my work to others. Engaging with me in person or through mail to discuss their thoughts on my work. Interaction in its many forms buoys my creative energy.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Drema Montgomery

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