Geer's Creations - ACV Interview



In 2005 I was interviewed by Charlotte LaRoy for the Artisan Center of Virginia newsletter.  Here is a transcript of that interview.

1. Where are you from? Are you working in your hometown? Family?

I am orginally from upstate New York, descended from Irish, German, and Native American heritage. I have lived in Roanoke, Virginia for over 25 years. longer than anyplace else in the world,. I would call it my adopted hometown. I am married and have three adult children, and one grandchild, Andrew, aged 2.

2. Did you have formal art/craft education? Where? Describe your work. How long have you worked in current medium? Great teachers or influences on your work. Do you see your work changing significantly in the future?

I am a New York City educated Registered Nurse, and still work as an elementary school nurse in Roanoke. Professional schooling in art started 36 years ago in Phoenix, Arizona. I studied sliversmithing with the Navaho in the local Community College. I have always taken classes. I took two years of sculpting at Virginia Western Comminity College in the 1980’s with Che Che Davis. We started with clay and worked up to stone. I now work in stone and pewter. My love is the feel of the finished stone, after hand polishing. I consider myself an abstract minimalist.

I have been working in stone for 19 years. After eleven years I went to study in Italy. Tuscany is the place of the great carvers. I had to go there to learn to work in marble. After two months and four sculptures I was hooked on the perfect white stone. I just takes four times longer to make a sculpture.

In Italy my teacher was Kyle Smith, a young woman that comes from the same part of New York state that I do. She is the four-foot eleven inch dynamo that makes the perfect rose and drapes on clothing. It is the highest paid master carver’s job. She makes it look easy.

My work is always changing. Orginally the sculptures were stiff. Now they have more movement and feeling. They cry out to be touched. If you don’t want to touch my work, then I didn’t do it right.

3. How long at ACV? What has ACV done for you and your work? What have you done for ACV or its predecessor Ass'n of VA Artisans?

Five years at ACV has given my work exposure to folks from all over the state, and the world. We need a place to have other people see what we can do in Virginia.

4. Other craft organizations you belong to. Do you teach? Where else is your work, in galleries, shows, etc.?

I belong to the League of Roanoke Artists, and the Virginia Association for Art Educators. I teach fourth and fifth graders in a six-week after school program in Roanoke City Schools, and a similar program for High School. Both are organized by the Arts Council of the Blue Ridge. I never thought I would enjoy teaching as much as I do.

I also teach at ACV in the barn, and give a workshop for art teachers at the annual VAEA conference. I sometimes give private classes for adults at my studio.

Besides ACV, you can see my work at Gallery 108 in Roanoke, The Allegheny Highlands Arts and Crafts Center in Clifton Forge, and the Vincent Hester Gallery in Portsmouth. I currently have work on display in the “Fall and Winter” invitational exhibit at the Jefferson Center in Roanoke.

I usually do four to six outdoor shows each year, including the Sidewalk Art Show in Roanoke, the Lynchburg show at EC Glass Highschool in September, An Occasion for the Arts in Williamsburg, Fall Foliage Festival in Waynesboro, and Art Affair in Midlothian. I have also done shows in Baltimore and Bethesda Maryland, and Melbourne Florida.

I have a web site,, where you can see my current work, old favorites, and my gallery and show schedule. I share the site with my daughter, Cris Chagnon who is also a sculptor.

5. Please write a paragraph or two about your creative process.

I see my subjects – animals, figures, and abstract shapes – in the rock. When I chip and grind I always see the finished form. It just pops out. Then the real work begins: hand sanding from 60 to 600 grit with wet sandpaper. All the tool marks must be gone, turning the surface into a smooth, sensual piece of art.

Pewter is my winter work, when I cannot work in my outdoor studio. I begin with a clay maquette, then form a mold from two-part resin around them. I cut and clean the mold, then put it back together with rubber bands. Next I pour four hundred degree pewter into it an vibrate it to remove the bubbles. The last step is to trim off the mold marks and polish the surface. I make jewelry and small sculptures in metal.

A copy of my resume is available on my website. Also, please visit my web site for more photos of my work.

November 10, 2005
J. Gail Geer
5037 Upland Game Road
Roanoke, VA 24018



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