SCIENTIFIC INQUIRER: Can we start with some background. How did you first get involved in art? Did you have formal training?
TRAVIS BEDEL: There was a moment after viewing some old vintage science and anatomy illustrations. I felt a strong urge to combine these images into collage. I don’t know why I was even looking at these images in the first place . This was in 2009. I had never made visual art before in my life, I never attended art school or even traditional college. Bedelgeuse is the alias I use for the anatomical collage art I have become known for.
SI: What was your work like before incorporating botanical and human forms, and still life’s with portraiture?
TB: No work prior existed, and these collages are what manifested from the first time I was motivated to create visual art. It has evolved over time starting from just black and white to color and mixed media collage.
SI: What made you begin incorporating plants, flowers, and insects into your portrayal of the human body?
TB: They were incorporated from my very first composition. It was not a conscious decision.
SI: What themes or questions are you exploring in your work?
TB: The entirety of my artwork is Memento Mori. It is to remind us of the impermanence of life and the beauty of the natural world. Some of the art was made when I was afflicted by mental suffering. Human suffering is something we all share in this existence. The art was part of my process to heal. Through it I learned an actual understanding of unconditional love and acceptance for everything. Through it I learned to free myself of my suffering and negative thought patterns. Through this love and freedom the art emerged into the physical realm.
SI: A macabre streak seems to run through your collages. Isolated organs. Severed heads. Skeletons walking hand in hand. The plants and flowers sprouting from bodies and organs are like mushrooms appearing in the soil containing a decomposing corpse. What do they symbolize?
TB: They represent humanity’s inherent relationship to nature, our planet and the universe. The cycle of life and death, and how everything is connected as one.
SI: Some of your work also has religious elements — the Garden of Eden, Jesus Christ (or at least saints) —in it. Is this by design?
TB: The figures in my work represent the divine already present within us, not any specific formal religious figure.
SI: What is it about collage that draws you to it as a medium?
TB: I am not an illustrator so collage allows me to take the images from the public domain. The artists I source from spent their life’s work drawing these images before cameras were invented. The illustrations themselves have an element of mysticism that became lost with realism of photography. Collage allows me to remix these images together into something different. Like chemistry, I am combining individual elements to create something greater than itself.
SI: What is next for you?
TB: For Bedelgeuse art I am in the middle of creating new large scale collages that will be shown in the North Bay this summer, as well as some other creative and collaborative projects under different aliases.
For more information about Travis Bedel visit his website.
IMAGE SOURCE: Travis Bedel: Perception (cover image)
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