Whitney Peckman has always been drawn to the arts, but her passions have shifted over the years – shaped by experiences and exploration.
“I think a passion doesn’t have to be a single path,” she said. “A passion can be that part of you that loves to experience many things or that likes to experiment. I think we tend, in our language, to talk about ‘a passion’ when maybe there are many things we are passionate about. I think it was always with me and I was just fortunate enough to wander down enough paths to end up here.”
Her first foray into the arts was language arts, and while that passion has remained, Whitney has woven her way through textile design, tapestries, drawing and painting. Then almost by happenstance, she stumbled across gourds as a medium.
“I was so intrigued by the object – by the organic, unusual qualities of gourds,” Whitney said. “Once I got into them I just couldn’t stop working on them.”
Working with gourds also tapped into another passion she had – working with organic materials. For Whitney, feeling that connection to the earth is essential, and working with gourds fulfills that need.
“There’s something about the material that just draws me,” Whitney said. “I’m really captivated by the material and I see things in it. So that I completely understand a marble sculptor who says ‘you just cut the marble until you release the figure.’ That’s what I see in the gourd. I guess it kind of calls to me.”
While the foundation of her passion remains, Whitney continues to push the envelope with it – weaving in a hint of experimentation and a splash of exploration. In the past few years, at the Celebration of Fine Art, she has explored collaborations with other artists – Joseph Woodford, Kevin Powers and husband Syed Ahmad – and loves the process of two passions joining forces.