When it came to choosing interesting women who embody the art of Chico’s to model our new pants, artist Cora Roth immediately came to mind. A painter whose rich, color, textural, abstract work has been seen in galleries and shows worldwide, she continues to create awe-inspiring masterpieces at the age of 80. Here, a glimpse into her world of art and style.
Tell us how you became an artist.
As far back as I can remember, drawing and painting were activities I most enjoyed. The hunger and longing were always part of me, but not until I was an adult did the opportunity to nourish and develop that need finally arrive, and I took full advantage of it.
What inspires you?
Most of my motivation grows out of my own life experiences, but occasionally an external image will stimulate me to go in a particular direction. One evening at a Mark Morris dance performance, I was blown away by a lime green backdrop that set an entire body of work in motion. Also watching a Giallo movie one night, I was struck by the stunning use of cobalt violet and yellow.
How important are textures to you and your art? Does this inspire what you wear?
Paint is the dominant element in my work, and the act of putting down the paint is important. The texture is not planned, it just happens that way. How many times have I been asked if one of my paintings is a woven fabric?! And I do love texture in clothing, too. I prefer textured and woven fabrics like tweeds to prints.
Clearly you love color. Where do you find color inspiration?
Color inspirations can come from the most unexpected places. A very recent series was inspired by a photograph one of my sons sent me from Morocco. The colors were mouth-watering and reminded me of our trip there many years ago. The dusty pinks, earth tones, colors of the dry desert, punctuated by rich ultramarine blue tiles…I could go on. My response to color is so visceral, it’s not just an opinion, but rather a neurological response. If a color displeases me I’m utterly miserable, but the opposite is true when a color delights me.
My response to color is so visceral. It’s not just an opinion, but rather a neurological response. If a color displeases me I’m utterly miserable, but the opposite is true when a color delights me.
How does black work with color?
Black doesn’t work well with color; it is a color. Matisse said it is the “queen of colors,” and like the queen on the chess board, it can go anywhere. Black can help other colors look richer.
What does “Chic” mean to you, and how do you define it?
It’s an attitude of confidence, being comfortable in your own skin, optimally using your own assets, being beautifully groomed, and avoiding excess and exaggeration. Keep things simple, but with a dash of spice, and always age appropriate.
You have a great sense of style, how did you develop that? Did you always love clothes and fashion?
I keep things classic and classy, and always try to hit the right notes for the particular occasion. The day to day life of a painter is hardly glamorous, so I spend most of my time in jeans or overalls, but when I leave the studio I try to clean up well. Growing up in New York one is surrounded by fashion, so you just inhale it every day. My mother and aunt loved beautiful clothes, so undoubtedly they influenced me, without my even realizing it.
Growing up in New York, one is surrounded by fashion, so you just inhale it every day. My mother and aunt loved beautiful clothes, so undoubtedly they influenced me, without my even realizing it.
What are your go-to closet pieces?
I hate to throw anything away so I hold onto some clothes for years. I have jackets and blouses I bought many years ago, and as long as the infamous California moths haven’t enjoyed them, I still do. Combining new pants with a lovely old jacket and a blouse or sweater suits me just fine.
You can see Cora’s work at her site CoraRoth.com.