Experience Cortland will be featuring a Cortland County artist at the Visitors Center throughout the year. The program was developed to showcase local artwork and photography to travelers and locals in hopes of them taking a piece of Cortland County home. Feel free to stop by during regular business hours to view the work. Come meet Chelsea in person, March 4, from 12 pm.-3 pm, at the Winter Farmers Market.
The tag line for Beacon Peak LLC reads, "Handmade... with lasers!" This description could not suit this month's artist, Chelsea Horak, any better. Equal parts modest and tenacious, traditional and innovative, Chelsea's works are as multidimensional and eclectic as she is. Her catalog of work includes wood, acrylic, and leather. This month we'll be featuring Chelsea's newest works, a collection of illumined acrylic pieces, both bold and vibrant, a perfect reflection of the community she calls home.
Where do you take your inspiration from?
I find the beauty of nature to be very inspiring, and that’s why I was initially drawn to working with wood. There’s such a variety of characteristics to be found with different types of wood, not to mention all the different methods of finishing to bring out the lasting beauty. It’s also a fairly resilient material when properly prepared and cared for, and the idea that a piece of art or furniture can last and change over the years as the wood ages is really interesting.
Where do you create your art?
I work mostly right out of my bedroom! The laser needs to be near a window for ventilation, and needs to be monitored while working to prevent fires. The painting, sanding, and finishing usually happen wherever there is enough space. It’s definitely nice to be able to take a bunch of earrings and assemble them on the couch.
Who is your greatest influence?
My parents have been my greatest influence, they have always been supportive of my creative side and taught my siblings and I that it’s important to do things that bring you joy in life.
What is your favorite tool/material?
My laser is definitely the most important tool, but I also really enjoy my simple rubber mallet. There’s something so satisfying about putting together a box or shelf and hammering it into place for that perfectly snug fit. (And it came from the dollar store!)
What can you just not live without, in your creative space?
I’m almost embarrassed to admit it, but WIFI is very important to my process! My laser uses it to read designs, and I’m always learning new things, from troubleshooting a highly technical issue with my equipment to researching new painting techniques. Plus, being able to stream music makes work even more enjoyable.
What is your favorite color?
My favorite color is black, it’s so versatile. It’s great for standing out on its own, making other colors pop, or pulling things together with framing. And it works with almost any décor!
What are your current/future projects?
I’m currently working on incorporating different kinds of lighting into my projects, including EL wire and LED bases. EL wire gives the effect of a neon sign, and an LED base allows a design that’s been etched into acrylic to be illuminated in a variety of colors. The next thing I’m excited to try is working with leather, especially wearables and sculptural bags.
If your art was a food, what would it be?
Almost anything kissed by a flame - the natural wood pieces just have the essence of a campfire cooked meal, and the painted and acrylic works are like bright grilled fruit.
What is your favorite winter activity in Cortland County?
Growing up here I always loved skiing at Greek Peak, and now I enjoy relaxing with a warm beverage and watching the snow fall. I really appreciate the calmness and natural beauty of the hills and trees with a fresh coat of snow.
What do you feel is Cortland County’s best-kept secret?
I think the Center for the Arts in Homer is a real gem. It’s a beautiful, intimate venue and draws some amazing talent from all over, in addition to showcasing so many impressive local artists and performers!
Describe Cortland County in three words.
Evolving, Pastoral, Community
Share your favorite Cortland County art with us for a chance to be featured!
Tag @experiencecortland and use hashtag #experiencecortland.