April 12th, 2017
Jesse Gussow

I remember the first time I stumbled on Emily Wenner’s Facebook page. I was immediately immersed in some of the most beautiful art I’ve seen. I posted a lovely piece to our Instagram page. Now you can see even more of her captivating work that draws heavily on nature and Mother Earth. Her work is truly charming and peaceful. It makes me feel at ease with all the chaos going on in the world. Which, I’m sure we can all agree, is very refreshing.



Where are you from?

Boise, Idaho.  I grew up in a small town called Nampa about 20 miles away from Boise, and my family later moved to Boise when I was in Jr. High.



How did you start on this journey?

It’s kind of just something that I always did.  From a young age I was obsessed with drawing and painting.  It was almost a form of language for me and still is today.  When I went off to college I majored in Fine Art and Art Education, but decided in the end that I ultimately wanted to dedicate my life to painting.  I was a young mother and for a long time after college I worked day jobs at restaurants, cared for my son in the evenings, and painted during the only time possible - late nights.  I later on moved to Brooklyn for a couple years with my son, and now we are back in Idaho.



If you weren't an artist what would you be doing?

I can’t even begin to fathom living without art.  I’ve worked with children throughout my life, and I love their excitement for the world witnessing the magic of every new experience. Their imaginations are always running, especially when outside.  As a mother and caretaker I try to find ways to continuously incorporate creativity into daily life.  Playing make-believe, running through grass, making faces out of food, and photographing the beautiful changes that take place in nature.  That is the life of an artist: always creating no matter where you are or what you are doing.  It is much like the mind of a child.



What is your entire creative process for a piece from start to finish? How long does it take to complete a piece?

Usually before I start to paint I have an idea in my head that just needs to get out.  I have a tendency to be impatient and barely do a quick little drawing to get the idea down before heading straight to sketching on the canvas with paint.  The painting often changes depending on life situations that arise, which is why I have a hard time doing extremely detailed preliminary sketches.  Every piece takes a different amount of time depending on what I’m learning from it.  Some of my pieces help me work through life lessons and they take longer than others.  A very small piece might take a day, and one of my largest works I reworked over the course of two years.



Should the arts be publicly funded? Why or why not?

Yes.  Having public funding for artists allows them time to create and contribute to the voice of our constantly changing culture.  Many artists just need a little contribution to go a long way.  Being an artist is one of the most challenging choices for a career path, and most artists would likely say it’s not a matter of choice it’s just something that they have to do.  Many artists suffer from mental illness if they don’t create, which in turn could cost much more than a few publically funded tubes of paint.



What do you feel your artwork says?

My current work speaks about the importance of human interaction with nature, and transformation of the soul.  A lot of my past work reflects painful feelings I faced during unhealthy relationships.  After choosing to be completely single for the past several years, I have had a lot of time to focus on getting to know the core of my soul.  The majority of the work created in the past year revolves around the magic of our souls going through rebirth.  Over the course of the last several years I have finally come to appreciate rather than shun some of the dark moments of my life, because they have caused my soul to grow in ways I never imagined.  By working through the dark, we are constantly evolving, and light is even more apparent during the good times.  It is important that we face both dark and light so that we don’t become stagnant, and change is continuous.  I’d like to think that my work reflects some of that.



Do you listen to music when you are creating art? What do you typically listen to?

Music is almost crucial for me to get into the flow of a long painting session.  I like a wide range of music.  Pretty much anything except country.  Some of my favorites to listen to are Chelsea Wolfe, Cocorosie, Bjork, Warpaint, Angel Olsen, Tame Impala, Radiohead, Young Magic, Clams Casino, XXYYXX, Sharron Van Etten, Wild Nothing, DIIV, Beck, Interpol, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Deftones, NIN, Blond Redhead, Crystal Castles, Beach House, Bon Iver, Washed Out, Unknown Mortal Orchestra, Fiona Apple and Regina Spektor to name a few.   



What is the artist role in today’s society?

The artist’s role in today’s society is actually full of so many different possibilities.   From casting awareness of certain world issues, to making people laugh, we need all various kinds of artists to help us connect with others around us.  Every artist has a different call, and it is up to each individual to find it.



What are you working on now?

Currently I am working on a painting of a woman guarding a wolf.  My mind has been kind of obsessing on the importance of protecting our environment and wildlife lately.



What is your favourite animal?

That is an extremely hard question for me to answer, because I love all animals and often incorporate them into my work.  I kind of feel guilty only naming one.  Lately I’ve been painting a lot of foxes, wolves, ravens, snakes, coral, octopi, jellyfish, and a variety of fish and birds.  Every animal has unique symbolism behind it, and different cultures tend to give various attributes to each.  I’m usually inclined to follow ideas based on ancient cultures and Native American teachings.



How have you grown as an artist?


In the last few years the content of my work has changed a lot to be more spiritual and focused on rebirth and transformation.  I believe that we all face painful situations as life lessons, and growing through them helps us to not only be stronger, but to have the ability to help others along our life path.   Over the last decade my work has evolved to incorporate a lot more nature and animal themes and brought awareness to the importance of saving our Earth.



What do you want to be more proficient at?

Learning how to be more proficient with my time management and organization skills would greatly benefit my growth as an artist.  Balancing motherhood and running a business can be interesting at times, but there is fun and excitement in the mix!



Do you prefer Oreo or Fudgee-O cookies? Or are you partial to another treat?

I tend to prefer baking desserts from scratch.  I bake all kinds of things from homemade pies, to chocolate fondue.  It’s all part of the creative process and tastes so much better to me when time and love have been put into it.

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