We had the good fortune of connecting with Viviane Le Courtois and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Viviane, what role has risk played in your life or career?
I am always willing to try new things, to submit ideas for something new that I envision, even if I don’t know what the result might be. I have taken many risks in my life and in my art. At 17, I applied to art schools, not knowing what my future would be. When I was in college to hitch hike all over Europe to visit new places and see art exhibitions. At 19, I almost died from Malaria after traveling to Senegal. I recovered, graduating with an MFA at 23. I then took the risk of leaving everything behind (in France) to travel and learn about other cultures. After living on a budget for 18 months in Asia, I arrived in America with a backpack and $500. This was a serious risk to take, but I figured it out, one step at a time and never had to turn back. New forms of art and new businesses are created by individuals not afraid of risks. In 2014, I started Processus, a shared experimental art space and art services studio with Christopher R. Perez. In 6 years, we grew from a living room studio to a professional artist studio with most of the equipment we needed. This was a dream to have a place to work with other artists but it had to take a pause in 2020, when the rent went up and COVID19 made our current business model unsustainable. But from these challenges, Processus moved and is being reinvented to be more sustainable in the future. Creativity comes from taking risks and encountering new difficulties. I love to travel and hike, even if there are some risks involved. In art, in cooking, in life, if we don’t take risks, it would always be predictable. New spice mixtures, new fermentation experiments, new clay experiments or new ways of etching a plate may lead to new discoveries. I work like a scientist, always trying new material experimentations. However, I take the least possible risks when it comes to my health and the health of others, especially this year with COVID.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
My art is very conceptual and based on process. I constantly experiment with people and materials. I have been able to continue to make art for over 30 years without any major interruptions. The most difficult is to balance a way to make money and take the time to still make art. This has become more difficult as the cost of living keeps going up in Denver. I set up times to make art weekly, I read about art to teach, everything I do even for money relates to art somehow. Things happen when you keep working, one exhibition, or project leads to another. Having a website and a community presence has helped. Most things happen because of people I have met somewhere or people who saw my work online. However, sometimes you are asked to do too much, and have to learn to say no. This is may be the most important thing to learn. Opportunities have to be selected by the artist to stay true to the work. Artists need the time and space to come up with new ideas. At this time, I have shown my work in most venues in Colorado, the ongoing challenge is to make connections and show work nationally and internationally. The idea of Processus (and of my personal work) is a place where new ideas come from interactions and collaborations between artists and experimentation with new processes. We work with other artists, collectors, galleries and museums to create and present artwork through wood fabrication services, framing, crating, printmaking, ceramics and photography. Processus was started out of a mutual need to have the tools and space to create works at a professional level. For my own work, I just need to keep experimenting, keep researching new ideas and processes. Every time I can I am in my studio making things, sketching, writing… This ongoing art research inspires my teaching and curating practice as well.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Right now is a difficult time to answer this question. In normal times, I would go to the MCA (Museum of Contemporary Art, the Botanical Gardens, local art galleries, the Denver Art Museum. I would go hike in the mountains, or go where I like to escape to in southern Colorado or Northern New Mexico. I would cook, hang out in my studio, and backyard, may be visit a local Ethiopian Restaurant or eat Masala Dosa at my favorite South Indian restaurant. I would visit local food places run by refugees at the Mango House in Aurora.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I would not be where I am today without the support of curators, fellow artists and professors that pushed me to think and conceptualize my ideas. Many of my projects are created with collaborations of friends and the artistic community. The way I design, document and produce my work has evolved with the ongoing critical comments of my partner and artist Christopher R. Perez.
Viviane Le Courtois and Christopher R. Perez