Creators, Makers, and Doers: Belinda Isley

Posted on 11/17/15 by Arts & History


A recycler of small treasures, Belinda Isley creates art out of things others have let go and reintroduces them into the world as magical story-telling talismans. Antique photographs, small shoes, and discarded buttons call out to her. She makes her own sense of ephemera by collaging together disparate items, drawing narrative relationships between them and inviting whimsy to the table. Her resulting work ranges from framed collages, traffic box wraps, to public art installations. While balancing the linear tasks of an artist—meeting deadlines, preparing applications, and responding to the requirements of a commissioning agency—with the necessary emotional investment in making her art, ultimately what drives Belinda  is a passion to create.


How much time do you generally spend in your studio?

I have to be inspired so it’s not like I can just come in the studio and say I’m going to work ten to twelve. When inspiration hits, I work and then I work until the inspiration is gone. Sometimes it will be days and days all day and then sometimes I won’t be in here for a few days. Also, I’m really deadline driven and project driven so if I have a project or a deadline for an application for public art or a call then I’m a little bit more motivated.


Where do you find your inspiration and what’s the driving force behind your work?

I get inspiration from objects. I’m not a hoarder; I’m a collector of fine trash. So I’ll see objects that I am drawn to, whether they have an interesting story behind them, I think they do, or I put my own story on them, but I collect them. I really try to put my treasures back into the world again because I’ve always really liked that. When I go to yard sales and junk stores and all that, it really hurts me to see all those photos and all those really cool things, like somebody’s dolls and somebody’s whatever. I realized that I don’t want to be a hoarder.  I think that the magic of having these things is getting them back out there. Of course there are a few things I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to let go of, but I find that the more you let go, the more comes back into your life.

I get inspiration actually from the object, but even more so, my real inspiration comes from somewhere deep inside me, it’s an emotional inspiration. I really use my emotion as a driving force. I really channel my emotion through my art because then I find it’s almost like a session with a life coach or a counselor or a psychologist and I’ve worked through so many things by the time I’m done that I’m happy again.


Can you talk more about your process?

It’s really irritating to me when people are like oh collage isn’t art or assemblage isn’t art because for as simple as these little book collages are, I just labor over them.

It’s sort of about trying to make sense of things that don’t make sense together. Lots of people say, “Oh I’m turning someone’s trash into a treasure” but to me, it’s more about making sense out of everything. It’s more than of all of these random things just sitting on my shelf or sitting in my storage lockers, they turn into something that makes sense. Something that somebody wants to put on the wall and for whatever reason they become attracted to and calls to them. I really believe that every single thing has an owner somewhere; it’s just a matter of finding that owner.

So my process is just kind of trial and error by the seat of my pants until it makes sense to me and is pleasing to the eye and tells a story. I think that’s a really important part of it, if it’s not funny it’s got to tell a story and sometimes both.


What types of resources do you feel you need to further your art career?

I think there are a lot of resources in Boise, but finding them is a challenge.



Do you feel like Boise’s art community is thriving or do you think there’s something lacking in the community?

I really wish that there were more gallery opportunities for local artists, I really do.

Being an artist is really hard especially if you’re a public artist, well any artist, but especially if you’re a public artist and go that route. You have to have this real business sense and be deadline driven and responsible and then you’ve got to put your other hat on and be really creative and think outside the box and all that kind of stuff. To kind of mesh those two, like to get stuff in on time, it’s hard.


Do you have any tips or inspiring words for other artists?

If you are driven or inclined or inspired to create, whether it’s art or music or banana bread or whatever, then you’ve got to do it. You don’t have to wait for the perfect space with all the storage and with the giant tables. You just have to do it. You have to be creative enough to make it happen and realize that your surroundings, your physical space, is not what’s going to produce a fine object or a beautiful piece. It is about what comes out of you and if you don’t nurture that you’re going to be a really unhappy person. So just whatever it takes, just do it. All those things you’ve always wanted to create, you should go create them.

Creators, Makers, & Doers highlights the lives and work of Boise artists and creative individuals. Selected profiles focus on individuals whose work has been supported by the Boise City Dept. of Arts & History.


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