By Emily Williams-Robertshaw
Homewood resident Amber Orr of Amber O’s Art is happy to be back.
She is a regular at Birmingham Art Crawl, a community arts event that since it was founded in 2014 has been providing a space for local artists and makers to not only sell their creations but also to engage with members of the community.
Birmingham Art Crawl took a break during pandemic shutdowns, returning in May. Events are held on the second Saturday of each month from 11 a.m. until 4 p.m. at The Pizitz. Next up is Sept. 11.
“Any art event is crucial,” Orr said. “Our art needs to be seen, especially during this time.
“Oftentimes our art can communicate something words cannot,” she added. “I meet many people who couldn’t explain what a piece did to them, but it spoke to them. It made them feel better, reminded them of someone.”
She finds that artists need the social interaction with each other and the public, as well.
“For me, returning to festival life has been refreshing,” she said. “I feel normal, like I have a purpose again. I feel at peace. I feel at home. I’m having those good ol’ artsy convos again. Man, I really have missed those simple interactions.”
While simply being a part of the community has been a blessing, Orr said that some of her favorite experiences at Birmingham Art Crawl have been her interactions with kids. They’re genuine, she said.
“They have the best reactions to art,” she said. “They don’t hold back. They give praise or criticism without filters. It’s the best. I especially love giving advice to the ones who are hesitant (or their parents and guardians are) about pursuing an art career.”
Orr’s work is very much a product of where she is mentally. She describes her work as a “visual diary,” a product of self-expression.
She describes her pieces as stream of consciousness art, combining abstract and realistic style elements with color and imagery based on her mood at the time.
“I tend to draw a face from my imagination or real life,” she said. “I’m fascinated with natural hair and the exaggeration of eyes and lips.”
The pandemic was a rollercoaster not only for Orr but also for her family, and the sense of chaos was reflected in her work.
“I’m a pretty bubbly and social person,” she said. “Being snatched away from my family, friends and art community was torture. My work went from light to dark during the lockdown.”
Part of her sadness during the pandemic was due to the isolation that anti-COVID measures created.
She found herself emotionally drawn to medical personnel, creating work inspired by and dedicated to the people working on the front lines of the pandemic.
Currently, her work is inspired by her daydreams. According to one of Orr’s close friends, she goes into a trance while at work.
“As an artist, it’s kinda an involuntary obligation to grow,” Orr said. “Experiences, both positive and negative, have helped mold me into something new. Also, when I feel inspired, I break my comfort zone/routine to shake things up.”
Check out Orr’s work on Instagram @mizzambero or Facebook, Amber Orr /AmberOsArt.