Vilaine Frange has planted her roots more than 88,000 Cornhusker football fields from home. But to this native of Besançon, France, the Cornhuskers—and football, for that matter—probably don’t mean a helluva lot. Pardon the Nebraska colloquialism.
Nearly 5,000 miles away, Frange has begun to make a name for herself in the Omaha art community as a celebrated illustrator. In 2014, she showcased an exhibit at the Side Door Lounge and has now created work for restaurants like V.Mertz while also designing event invitations. She may have traded wine fields for cornfields, but a fish out of the water she is not.
“You think of France as this beacon of art, but I’ve found the Omaha art community is more receptive and developed than my home city,” Frange says. “My exhibit at the Side Door was a fairytale that just seemed to kind of happen.”
Every fairytale has a beginning, and for Frange, her once-upon-a-time moment came by chance. Her friends asked her to create a poster for a music festival. She obliged, in part, because she was bored and looking for a new direction in life. Previous attempts to pursue degrees in literature, communications, and linguistics had all come up short. Soon after her first foray into art, though, she began filling her time more regularly with drawing and sketching.
“I started later in life and admittedly have no formal training,” Frange says. “This also means I have no blinders.”
Before moving to Omaha to live with her Nebraska-native boyfriend in November 2015, she developed her skills as an artist working at Superseñor, a screen-printing collective workshop. For the next seven years, when not creating art for local magazines and music venues, Frange filled her time (and wallet) making extra cash selling wine for cheap.
This experience schlepping wine to college tourists inspired her to create a large mural of vino and liquor on the side of a decaying building, knowing it would be destroyed. While her art can be described as simple, yet pretty and pouring with color, she chooses to call it ephemeral—take and discard.
For V.Mertz’s summer Tiki & Tacos event, she designed a promotional image, one that’s sure to have disappeared from the viewer’s mind, perhaps even before the event was over. She also just finished a billboard for a French music venue, more art dressed-up as marketing that’s here then gone. For her 2014 exhibition at the Side Door, she created pieces that captured fleeting moments in time as a reminder that even art is not immortal.
“You think of France as this beacon of art, but I’ve found the Omaha art community is more receptive and developed than my home city”
“I like to make things that aren’t going to last,” Frange says.
Distance, borders, and even the Atlantic Ocean all mean little to Frange. The exhibition, titled “This Is Not A Myth,” was done while she stayed in Omaha for two weeks. Today, most of the works she completes still go back to clients in France.
“There’s freedom in art,” Frange says. “I can do it when I want, how I want, where I want.”
Visit vilainefrange.com for more information.