Alice Vander Vennen

Ontario, Canada

Mixed Media Artist

Alice speaks about her art as a work toward daring and delight, the convergence of the disparate, the creation of beauty out of mystery. Alice works with multiple materiality, fabric, branches, wire, copper, paper and ceramic shards as part of a visual language suggesting a story.

Alice Vander Vennen- works in three-dimensional assemblage!

“I work with multiple materials, such as fabrics, branches, wire, copper, paper and ceramic shards, creating an assemblage as part of a visual language suggesting a story. The narrative speaks of gathering the work of divergent cultures, histories and generations. Materials from around the world, created by many hands, are represented in a single multimedia assemblage. Fragile branches may be used as framing devices; tapering willow twigs and knotty grape vine tentacles are bent as if resisting the interstitial pull of perhaps a hundred different textiles, each attached with thread, strings, wire and weighted with smooth stones or other found objects. The assembled sculptural form may be reminiscent of a quilt, a canoe or a totem. I strive to have the materials form a new voice of a gathered people, a celebration of the human spirit in relation to its Creator, whether from secret spaces or the most flamboyant expressions.”



At what age did you know you wanted to be an artist?
When I was a teenager I realized that what I loved doing was so different from my friends. All I wanted to do was walk to the back woods and get some clay from the pond and make things out of clay, and also work with old horse harnesses and shining up all the brass and put it into assemblages.
What is the earliest artwork you did that you can remember?
I was in grade 8 and I did a Spirograph with yarn. My grade 8 teacher sent it off to a competition and it became part of an elementary art show.
Which classical or contemporary artists have inspired you?
I love the work of Joseph Cornell where he does assemblages in boxes and while they’re esthetically beautiful, they’re also incredibly meaningful. I also like the work of Mark Di Suvero and his concept of creating large sculptures like the one on display in Millenium Park in  Chicago, which speak about the importance of the process being visually part of the final piece. While he worked with large, welded sculptures of found, building material, he was famous for saying “let the welds show”. Don’t hide the bolts, they’re part of the story.
How would you describe your artistic style?
I create three dimensional assemblage. I work with copper and wire and to get my colour fields, I use textiles.
When did you first sell an artwork? How did you feel?
One of my first sales was my professor. He loved a little ceramic piece that I did. It had a sky blue glaze. We mixed our own glazes then, a pinch of that, a pinch of this. And while it was done as accurate as possible, there are so many variables when working with ceramic that to get that one magic colour of blue, it has been impossible to reproduce. My professor then gently explained that it’s important to get sell one’s gems or favorites because it inspires you to keep trying to do it again and again. Every piece that I have made since then has always struck me as incredibly unique and with a touch of magic, and so I’m constant trying to recapture the magic. Of course, that one particular flash never happens again, but other wonderful things happen. And so, it’s a never-ending journey into work that ends in capturing even a little elusive flash of magic.
What's your workstyle? Do you work on one piece at a time or work simultaneously on multiple pieces?
I generally work on one piece at a time.
How do you get the inspiration for a new piece?
I’m always surprised with how inspiration comes, often when I’m skating or cross country skiing or running, ideas just start tapping into my head. I remember one time walking down by the beach in the winter, I saw the snow fence with it’s wooden slats cutting through the white expanse of snow, and it triggers ideas and thoughts — inspiration. It’s important that I work immediately with them or they will float into a new idea or a new inspiration. I’m never out of inspiration, the important thing is that I work with an idea while it’s still taken up residence in my head.
Tell us a bit about your personal life ...
I’m full time in my studio. I haven’t always been that, for I am a wife, I’m a mother, and I was a part-time art teacher. And while all those things have always been incredibly important to me at various points in  my life, they have taken up more time and energy than the artwork. Of our three children, the youngest has just turned 25. Their bedrooms are empty and I no longer fill my day caring for them. And while I do still think of them every day, I don’t worry about what they’re going to eat for breakfast or lunch or if their mittens are mended or if their socks match. I have a lot more mental and creative energy to spend on my artwork.
My work can best be described as textile assemblage. I use textile like paint, sewing different fabrics, cutting and repositioning nearly to the point where one would call it an abstract painting. I assemble the textiles with sculptural objects like willow branch, copper, copper wire and stones.

A few pieces from Alice Vander Vennen’s gallery


Circle Echo

Why they love Alice Vander Vennen’s art

Eileen W., Houston, Texas

“As I do everyday, I looked at the beautiful piece of art we bought from you. I thought about how thankful I am for it and the magnificent gifts God gave you to enable you to create such beauty.  Thanks again”

Jeanne and Don, Virginia Beach, Virginia

“We love your artwork that we purchased yesterday at the Boardwalk Art Show.  We hung it today and absolutely think it’s perfect in our home.”

More about Alice Vander Vennen

Shows & Exhibitions
Solo Exhibitions

“Passages”, Gallery at the J, Miles Nadal Jewish Community Centre , Toronto

“Transforming”, The Al Green Gallery, Toronto

“Stories Lost and Stories Found”, Crimson Feather Gallery, Alton

“C Formations”, Permanent Sculpture Installation and Commission, Town of Cobourg

Petroff Gallery South, Toronto

Yorkminster Park Gallery, Toronto

“Sticks, Stones and Colour Tones”, Colborne Art Gallery, Colborne, Ontario


Group Exhibitions

“Terrain”, Craft Ontario, Toronto

“Five Year Retrospective”, The Al Green Gallery, Toronto

“Verona Tessile”, Verona, Italy

“Rock, Paper, Scissors!”, OENO Gallery, Prince Edward County, Ontario

“From the Ground”, OENO Gallery, Prince Edward County, Ontario

“Free Motion”, Art Gallery of Northumberland (with Melanie Brown)

“Catch the Weave”, Earls Court Gallery, Hamilton, Ontario

“Travel”, Pearson International Airport, Toronto

“Convergence”, Tom Thomson Gallery, Owen Sound, Ontario

“Women’s Work – Celebration of Life”, Three Women show at Roy Bonisteel’s restored Johnston Gallery Church, Trenton Ontario


Juried Exhibitions

Rittenhouse Square Fine Arts Show, Philadelphia

Des Moines Arts Festival, Des Moines, Iowa

Ann Arbor Street Fair, The Original, Ann Arbor, Michigan

Ruidoso Art Festival, Ruidoso, New Mexico

Toronto Outdoor Show, Toronto. Participant since 2001.

Armonk Outdoor Show, Armonk, New York

Cherry Creek Art Festival, Denver, Colorado

One of a Kind Show, Chicago, Illinois

World of Threads, Oakville, Ontario

Las Cruces Art Festival, New Mexico

The Artist’s Project, Toronto

Toronto Art Expo, Toronto

Craft as Art Festival, Nassau County Museum of Art, Long Island, New York

Wells Street Art Festival, Chicago, Illinois