Coral Springs, FL / United States
We are beyond thrilled to have interviewed Twiggy Boyer, a mother, collage artist, art educator, and founder of Photo Trouvée Magazine who shares her love for old photographs through her art. Twiggy is a full-time artist living in South Florida with her husband and a daughter.
Twiggy, you live in South Florida but you were born in Paris. Tell us more about you and your journey into the art world (brief bio/history/backstory)?
I was born and raised in Paris, France until the age of 14 when my mom moved my brother and I to South Florida because it had been one of her dreams to live there. I'd say it was pretty difficult for me - I spoke no English whatsoever and was (and still am) pretty shy plus this is generally a difficult age for many girls - but I survived and can actually see some of the opportunities this brought into my life over the years.
I've always been interested in art even since a young age and my interest in fine art solidified itself my Junior year of high school. That year, they hired a second art teacher because there were too many students for just one and he influenced me greatly. He is also a MICA (Maryland Institute College of Art) grad. During my senior year of high school, I only had 1 academic class left as a requirement so the rest of my classes were all art classes with him. My high school was very underfunded - no fancy art supplies there - but he gave me access to his studio which was really special. After graduating, I attended the Maryland Institute College of Art and graduated in 2012 with a BFA in painting and curatorial studies.
How has your career evolved since your studies?
Since graduating I have been a part of many group exhibitions and art publications. Upon graduating, I worked as a museum educator at the Walters Art Museum in Baltimore.
In 2013, I moved back to South Florida - that year after graduation was challenging emotionally for me and I felt like moving back closer to my mom and having a change of scenery could help me. I have worked full-time as an Elementary art teacher from then on until last August (2019). This is when I made the decision to stay home with our daughter (2 1/2 at the time) and pursue my art career full-time. In addition to making art and caring for a little human, I also teach collage workshops, sometimes do commissions, and work on a digital art magazine I created in the beginning of this year (more on this a little later).
In 2018, I also became a certified birth and postpartum doula, but I have had to put this on hold for now because we were not able to make it work with our current schedule and living situation. Birth is very unpredictable! I am still interested in birth work and the maternal journey, especially in postpartum mental health and art.
You have been teaching art for the past 8 years. Could you please describe your teaching process and your specifics?
As I mentioned above, last year was my last year of teaching elementary art full-time; I loved teaching but I found that my personal art practice really suffered. All my energy and creativity went into teaching and being a new mother; it was nearly impossible to fit in art. I also found it really hard when I had to leave my daughter and go back to work when she was just 12 weeks old. Although she was with her dad and in great hands, I still longed to be with her. I still want to continue teaching in my practice - I started hosting collage workshops on ZOOM which I really enjoy and I hope to be able to teach workshops for children and adults alike when it is safe to do so.
In February 2020, you founded Photo Trouvée Magazine. Tell us all about it!
Photo Trouvée Magazine is a digital art publication that features contemporary artists who work with found photographs as a medium and interviews collectors of found ephemera. I really wanted to create a community for artists (and collectors) who share my love for found photos and thought a publication would be really special. I proposed the idea to my friend (and amazing found photo artist) Juliana Naufel (@naufss) and she agreed to be the co-founder with me! It has been so special to see our community grow, to discover new artists and to see the new connections between those artists.
The magazine comes out 4 times in the year (Spring, Summer, Fall, and Winter) and we hope to be able to offer it in print soon. We also do daily features of works on our social media accounts and curated IG stories. If you'd like to follow along, follow us @phototrouveemagazine or head to our website www.phototrouveemagazine.com.
What were the most exciting moments in your art career so far?
I would have to say the most exciting moment in my art career so far was when I took the leap and resigned from my full-time job - exciting but also terrifying! I feel that I have grown so much in just a year and my work continues to evolve. It definitely isn't easy every day; financially it is very hard for us most months and taking care of my daughter is a full-time job on its own, but it is SO worth it. Every day, I feel so grateful to be able to do what I love and I feel confident that this is only the beginning of my journey.
How has your art practice changed since becoming a mother? What are the most amazing aspects and the greatest challenges?
This is a question that comes up a lot! For me, it didn't change much because I wasn't making a lot of art in the time right before we had our daughter.
There are so many amazing aspects of being a mother, I think that it expends your love, empathy and caring for others tremendously. I always knew that I wanted to be a mother and I love being Marah's maman but it also demands everything of you! I know that for myself, becoming a mother has opened up wounds from my own childhood that hadn't been opened in a really long time. It can feel really hard and lonely some days but when I hold her in my arms, I forget about all the hardships. Now that she is a little bit older, we are finding our rhythm together, one day at a time.
How did you feel about motherhood in the past and how do you feel about it now?
I think I mentioned in an earlier question, but I have always known that I wanted to be a mother someday. I think that you just have no idea what it means to be a mother (or primary caregiver) until you become one. For me, being a mother means loving my daughter unconditionally. I think it's easy to believe that you do this already as a parent but truly loving without any conditions is a lot more difficult than it sounds. Conditional parental love is almost the norm and it takes a lot of work to strive to do otherwise. I think empathy plays a big role in unconditional love.
I also never realized that being a mother would also mean constantly feeling scared - scared that something will happen to them, scared that something will happen to you, scared that you will mess them up or that others will. Being a mother is so complex yet such a special privilege.
What is the message behind your art?
Memories are recollections of the past, a collection of fleeting moments ingrained within us forever. In my work, I seek to explore how our own memories are often parallel to another person's. I believe that we have all shared the same sort of memory as someone else but from a different perspective. My pieces aim to bring a sense of connection to one another through filters of culture, traditions, and time. I want to bring the viewer a visual experience and an emotional response - borrowing aspects from the memory of others, I mold them into my own and aim to create new ones for others to borrow from.
What does your art do for you?
My work is vital to me, like breathing. It fulfills me so much and feels like a part of me I could no longer live without. I want my daughter to see that, I want her to see how important it is to have "something" that brings joy, happiness and a sense of purpose to her life (even though there are times of frustration of course).
What are your plans for the future (career, parenting etc.)?
My ultimate goal is to be able to live from my art. I also plan to homeschool my daughter which will be a big journey for the both of us! I would love to move back to France but I will have to wait and see what life brings my way.
What advice do you have for fellow art mums?
I think the advice that I would give is to just keep going and to surrender at the same time. Especially for mamas with younger children, just be flexible and don't be too hard on yourself if you don't make it in the studio as often as you wish - you're keeping a little human alive and that is hard work!
When I feel frustrated that I can't have more studio time, I try to tell myself that my daughter won't need me this much forever - one day, I will have more than enough time for the studio (and the gym, and yoga and reading and, and, and) but until then, I want to cherish those younger because that time is fleeting.