Artist Ardina Seward began her creative career at the tender age of six when she drew silver tulips on her mother's food storage closet (the images remained there for several years until rust eroded the petals). As an adult, Ardina worked as a News photojournalist who covered stories spanning crime, politics and cultural events. Ardina presently co-hosts “Westchester Eye on the Radio,” a weekly talk show that frequently features guests such as artists.

Aside from working in radio, Ardina is actively pursing a career as an artist who works with found objects, mixed media, and abstract forms.

Her work has led her to have some incredible (and even spooky) experiences. On one memorable occasion, Ardina found a piece of wood that she wanted to char to the texture of burned pine until it was completely black and wrinkled. After unsuccessfully attempting the effect several times, Ardina became frustrated and held the wood directly over an open flame made from a burning citronella insect repellent candle.

That was successful--the wood burned just enough to change the surface--but it also resulted in several shapes emerging from the wood which look undeniably like faces!

The freaky experience has stuck in Ardina’s mind as being just one of the weird--yet amazing--experiences that art has afforded her.

Recently, Ardina granted an exclusive interview detailing her art, her career in media, and more.

Found objects, creative muse, and exhibitions

Meagan Meehan (MM): You got interested in making art from a young age, so did your family encourage you?

Ardina Seward (AS): My mother taught me to see things from a different perspective.

One night as we drove across the Whitestone Bridge, lights glistened in the water. She was so thrilled that she exclaimed, "Look at the diamonds in the water, Ardina! They are beautiful!" I was six years old and that was when my view of the world shifted. I loved her very much and she was my mentor and the person who encouraged me in artistic endeavors. We were poor and she taught me to make doll clothes from socks.

Even today, I can make a cool doll couture gown from an old sock!

MM: How did you get into the media business and why did you gravitate towards the news?

AS: As I got older, I developed an interest in still photography but I also liked to write. So, combining the two defined the documentary film genre. I graduated from Columbia University and then did two more years at NYU grad school. Finished with an MFA and then took a job in news as a photojournalist. At the time, it was the best way to pursue the documentary style of filmmaking and still be able to earn a living.

MM: What was your career like, especially working with TV?

Do you think it impacted your creative muse at all?

AS: My career can only be described as a wild ride. I have photographed the whole spectrum of life from birth to death. I have seen babies born and I have seen people die. I’ve been with Presidents, gangsters, scammers, and beggars. The list is endless.

A typical day in news starts with a flower show in Manhattan and ends with a riot in Crown Heights. It is good and bad of everything. It spurred creativity because news photography is a "catch the moment" discipline. You have to act as soon as you see something and you have to photograph it so that it has context and meaning.

It strains the brain at times, but it also hones a photographer’s skill.

MM: How did you get into “Westchester Eye on the Radio” and what can listeners expect from the show?

AS: Two years ago, a former news colleague, Peter Moses, asked me to guest host on his radio show, “Westchester Eye on the Radio.” I have a latent stutter from childhood that comes and goes when under stress so I did not think I could do it. But, he encouraged me to give it a try. The rest is history. I did the first show almost two years ago and never left! I handle most of the booking and like to invite a variety of guests on the show.

It is broadcast live so you never know what will happen. Dimitry Sheinman, a suspect in the 2004 murder of a young Washington Heights jogger, Sarah Fox, was a guest a while back.

He had managed to avoid prosecution due to a lack of evidence but there is a suspicion that he was involved. He is an artist and I wanted his side of the story. He now lives in South Africa and called from that location. Rambling on in incoherent sentences and avoiding the main topic, the discussion got heated. Peter became incensed and hung up on him on the air. The element of surprise is what makes the show exciting!

MM: You recently restarted your artwork career... So, what sparked that interest and how you would describe your style?

AS: I have resumed my art career full time. It is not unusual for me to work until dawn if I get an idea. I was always fascinated with things, shapes, objects and discarded broken pieces. When you put them down and turn them at different angles, you are able to see them in a new way. And when you follow it up with the question of "What if that were...?" you begin the process of making a piece of art. When I worked in TV News, the maintenance people and the truck mechanics had the greatest trash.

Computer guts, mufflers, hose clamps...all of these things became material to convert into something beautiful.

MM: You work with many found objects and recycle them into fine art pieces, so what are some of the coolest things you’ve found to work with?

AS: I like working with rusty objects and also tree bark. Both are challenging. Rust flakes and is constantly changing. The process of rust never stops so the art work you create today can look different five years from now. But that is what makes it alive. Bark has texture and flexibility that has to be set so it does not break. Yet, it makes a cool backdrop to place other objects.

Even mouse traps are fun. When painted, they look very different. I recently did a piece with burned wood and faces emerged from the process that I did not draw. The piece looks like Armageddon. Sounds crazy but they literally appeared in the charred surface and were quite scary. I’m still trying to figure out the meaning.

MM: Where have you exhibited your artwork and how have you found the venues?

AS: I have exhibited at The Fusion Art Gallery at 57 Stanton Street (now closed) The Blue Door Gallery and Urban Studio Unbound in Yonkers, NY. Also An Beal Cafe in the Bronx. All were or are great venues.

An Beal is one of my favorites because it is a restaurant/gallery/music venue that caters to artists, playwrights, and musicians. It is a very nurturing environment where art is valued and appreciated.

Art, media, and the future

MM: Do you find that keeping close ties with other artists helps you produce and exhibit your own pieces?

AS: It is important to be in an artistic community to not only share ideas but to be inspired. Of course, artists are competitive. That is the nature of ego, business incentive, and style. But when you realize that as artists, we are all thinking from the same side of our brain, one understands that we need the support of each other.

MM: How did you meet famous German artist Chris Bleicher and how did you go on to become good friends?

AS: I met Chris Bleicher through a mutual friend many years ago. I liked her positive attitude and the colors that she surrounded herself with Chris is also an incredible technician. What she does not know, she seizes the time to learn. She even taught herself HTML so that she could design her own website. Amazing woman.

MM: What are the best things about being an artist and what have been the highlights of working in the media industry?

AS: The best aspect of being an artist is the gift of "seeing." An artist has an organic connection to his/her surroundings.

Often criticized for being overly sensitive, the artist has the ability to feel more deeply than others. Maybe that is an over exaggeration but in order to create any artistic endeavor, you have to make a connection with what you are doing. That is a good thing because it is as though you are functioning at a higher level in life.

MM: What are your biggest hopes for the future of your art career and position as a radio hostess? Also, how do you envision “Westchester Eye on the Sky” evolving over the coming five years?

AS: My hope is that my art career will grow and end up in more homes. Would I like to be famous? Sure, it helps the brand. But more importantly, I want my art to make people happy. Sometimes they look at my art and laugh. That is really the greatest reward. The radio show is a work in progress. I encourage people to call in when the show is on to either comment or ask a question. The number is 914-636-0110 The show airs from 3-4 PM on Mondays and is broadcast at WVOX 1460AM and streamed live at the WVOX website.

If anyone wants to be a guest or propose a show, contact me at aseward100{at}aol{dot}com. My work can be seen at www secondcycl weebly com and it’s also on Instagram via "thirteensnaps".

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