How Sylvia Hommert Went From Fashion Designer to Full-Time Artist

Erica Pratt | September 11, 2020 | Culture People Features

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I briefly met Sylvia Hommert, a former fashion designer for Donna Karan and Ralph Lauren, at a party at Urban Zen last fall. Her art appeals to me on many levels but first and foremost, I find it entirely and refreshingly feminine. The glossy surfaces reveal works that are at once elusive yet approachable, inviting yet dangerous, graceful yet labored. There seems to be in each a buried treasure ready to be uncovered. Anxious to know more about the woman behind these ephemeral works, I invited Hommert for an electronic chat, and she graciously obliged my interest…

How did you make the transition from the garment industry to working as a full-time artist?

I always drew and painted, and I spent all my free time in galleries and museums. I tended to date artists because it was what I liked. Art leveled me out. If money were no object, I would have chosen to study fine art, but I didn’t. Which probably helped, because when I became a full-time artist, I entered with a business mind. I sent letters and images to galleries, and I was picked up by a few galleries within the first year, which is highly unusual.

Tell me about your artistic process.

I am interested in the interactive play between light, surfaces, textures and resins. I work a lot with holographic paper; I absolutely love it. I inundate myself with layers. It’s almost a conveyor-belt situation: I bury something on the surface to dig it out later, and then I seal it with resin. I began working with geometric, minimalist patterns. Even though I have moved away from that, nature and its organic calendar has always been a constant in my work.

What relationship would you like to see between your art and the viewer?

I like the idea when you hang something on your wall, it changes moods; it shifts over the hours. I want it to interact with you! I believe it is important what you live with. I always feel comforted when I exist alongside something a friend gave to me. It’s heartwarming.

The art world can be challenging. How do you navigate it?

It certainly can be finicky, but I feel comfortable where I exist in the art world just as I did within the fashion space. We all experience varying amounts of success at different times in our lives. I really like the idea of peaking when I am older, and I can see that happening with art. I expect to live to a ripe old age with a body of work that I am proud of.

What do you enjoy most about life in the Hamptons?

I love the rich community we have here, the camaraderie. There is a wonderful group of artists around here, and it’s a nice place to do what we do. I treasure The Watermill Center, the LongHouse Reserve, Almond’s Artists & Writers series, and oh so many countless others! Sylvia Hommert is represented by Sara Nightingale Gallery in Sag Harbor and various others across the U.S.

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Photography by: Courtesy of Sylvia Hommert.