With her new Lobby Gallery exhibit at the Harbor History Museum, Gig Harbor artist Carol Virak is merging fantasy and reality in her collages to provide a new look at everyday objects.
The exhibit is titled “Collage: Between Fantasy and Reality,” and venturing into the surrealistic has been a journey Virak, 73, has enjoyed exploring with her work.
“I’m trying to push the envelope,” she said. “I think as an artist you’re always trying to grow and keep exploring and not be satisfied.”
An artist with a strong classical training, Virak holds two master’s degrees and her career includes work as the director of education for the Tacoma Art Museum, time on the Tacoma Arts Commission, ownership and curatorship of the Contemporary Craft Gallery, Inc in Tacoma, and an appointment as a fellow to The National Endowment for the Arts in Washington D.C. to work on the Challenge III Program.
I’m trying to push the envelope. I think as an artist you’re always trying to grow and keep exploring and not be satisfied.
Carol Virak, artist
Virak was commissioned by the Pantages Theatre Board to raise funds through the Be a Brick for the Pantages project, which earned her a Time Magazine Person of the Year Award.
She also designed the label for the Olalla Valley Winery, and has held shows both at Morso Wine bar and Canterwood Golf Course.
Virak continues her work in a home studio and gallery space where she collects items for her collages such as pieces of paper, old drawings and ephemera.
“A lot of my collages are from pieces I’ve done, and I deconstruct and rework them,” she explained. “I like to add the collage element because it really energizes the artwork.”
For her next project, Virak is looking to work more with portraits and historic family photos to create stories and add dimension. She is also looking to challenge herself with a 30-day collage, where she creates a collage a day and then combines those smaller pieces into a larger piece of artwork.
Hopefully everyone who looks at art brings their own symbols, meaning of symbols and experience of symbols to the art. I hope they bring something to it that they see and not just what I see.
“I’m really looking for my own voice in the journey,” she said. “I’m really enjoying mixing it up a little.”
With her show at the museum, she hopes that viewers will bring their own experiences and interpretations to the symbolism and objects she uses in her pieces.
“Hopefully everyone who looks at art brings their own symbols, meaning of symbols and experience of symbols to the art,” she said. “I hope they bring something to it that they see and not just what I see.”
“Collage: Between Fantasy and Reality” is available for viewing through April 16 in the Lobby Gallery of the Harbor History Museum, located at 4121 Harborview Drive. Virak can be contacted at 253-219-6718.