Q & A with Artist of The Month: Phaedra Plank

Can you talk about the diversity in the range of mediums you use?

I’ve thoroughly enjoyed messing about with all sorts of ways of expressing my creativity, from uke-playing to attempting to learn musical saw (which is a tad dangerous) to painting odd creations on clam shells. I’m grateful I’ve had the opportunity and drive for creation, though at this point I wish I could narrow down my interests a bit.

Where do you draw inspiration from?

The black and twisting pit of my mind! In all seriousness, I would have to place  blame on my dad for passing down an enthusiasm for music and general weirdness and spontaneity. Monty Python, Gary Larson, Bill Watterson, Studio Ghibli, my mom, and the great Chloe Plank inspire me daily, whether in art or otherwise, so there’s that. I also have to shout out Haziel Jackson and Cynthia Csabay as crucial sources of inspiration. Otherwise, I guess I’d just say life in general, always full of surprises.

How long have you been making art/music, how did that start?

I started violin at seven, and a lot of other stuff kind of fell into place after that. For some reason, despite not knowing what a violin was, I begged my mom to let me start lessons. She was hesitant as a result of my great-uncle (a once famous Swiss violinist who quit immediately after learning his mom had forced him to play as a child), but eventually conceded.

How many instruments do you play?

At this point, I’d say five, maybe six if you count my limited knowledge of clarinet, accordion and musical saw.

Can you tell me about your work with film?

During my freshman year, I got involved with NCTV’s Teen View program, a really amazing opportunity to make and present a short film during the Film Fest. I’ve returned every year since, and have become increasingly enamored with film making. Another example where I have been lucky enough to stumble across an amazing opportunity that has become a passion.

You seemed reluctant to call yourself an artist, why is that?

I don’t feel like I really do any art seriously, and being called an artist seems a little too prestigious for the muddling about I do whenever I have free time. I would love to dedicate more time to art and music, but have found it increasingly more difficult. Being called an artist seems to imply what I do has a meaning or importance, and I’m not sure if I feel like I can say that.

What does art mean to you?

I think the ability for creation or enjoying creation is almost as essential as breathing or eating, and is arguably crucial to human survival, especially in the modern age. Maybe our capacity for creation is what makes us human. Contrary to my earlier answer, I kind of feel like everyone’s an artist, or creates, in some way, whether this be through video games, sports, just doodling, texting, or being Michelangelo, you name it! Maybe this is too wide of a definition, but now that I say it, it seems to make sense. Maybe it won’t tomorrow.

If you had a million bucks to put towards any creative project what would it be and why?

Oh geesh. I’d like to do some something involved with oral history; record people’s best (funniest or saddest or most coincidental) stories across generations and origins, then put it into some sort of accessible format. That might already have been done, and I’m sure I could come up with something better with a million dollars, maybe something like Improv Everywhere (worth looking up if you don’t know what I’m talking about). I’ll come up with a more definite answer should I come across a million dollars.


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