Posts in Interview
Unconventional Forms: Interview with Deane McGahan
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Interview by Alicia Puig

Deane McGahan is contemporary sculptor currently residing in the Seattle metropolitan area. As having grown up in the Northwest, her aesthetic sensibilities are deeply rooted in the region. Not only as an appeal to the natural beauty at her doorstep but the lived-in experience of people, the effectual charge of living, which Seattle and its many haunts have afforded her.

"This new body of work is inspired by the desire to create unconventional forms. Shapes that push the boundaries of the material employed. Altering what ordinarily is the solid uniformity of concrete into casts that seem pulled, stretched, in transit. To take the stone and make it rip, blend, emote. To revise what is normally the process of casting the wet matrix of concrete into a solid block. To discover instead a form that looks like a sound wave instead of a static obelisk. A reverberation rather than an inert constant.  

My aim is to create work that inspires, connects and contributes. Work that bridges the abstraction of human emotion and solid objects. If there is a message in my work, it is the suggestion that untamed feeling might be captured for a moment in the immutable. A snapshot, as it were, of flow caught in an object and held in stasis."

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How did you first become interested in art and can you explain a bit of how it led you to the work you create today?

I always knew from a young age that I wanted to fully pursue art. I studied commercial art in college where I sort of fell into making video games before gaming jobs were a thing. Over the course of 25 years, I primarily worked as a 3D environment artist on AAA titles. It was a great way to make a living, but over time I felt the need to build more tangible things, made real, be effectually experienced. Shifting from 3D modeling to sculpting felt like a natural shift, as I found that the spatial awareness I developed in the digital world was applicable to the real world.

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Tell us about the inspiration behind your artwork or a specific series that you're currently working on.

On a high level, my inspiration fuels from how we evolve through creativity. I'm obsessed with connecting the dots of human growth and art. I have to sculpt every day or something feels wrong. It's like a raw encoded emotion in me to create or die. Capturing these feelings through new shapes and space helps me navigate life. That, and it feels damn good.

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What mediums do you use and how do they add to the effect of your work?

I primarily sculpt with concrete because the medium itself connects back to my inspiration for evolving. Normally it's cast into solid blocks for function but to revise the process, experiment, and present new shapes highly influences my work. It's also not a very forgiving medium, which forces me to make lots of decisions in the moment while it's still in a workable state. Ultimately the process itself defines and continues to evolve my style.

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Describe your current studio or creative space. What is most important about it or one thing that you definitely need in your work area?

My space is quite small for sculpting. I'm constantly rearranging to make room for projects. Right now I'm fine with that, as I've learned that the most important thing about a creative space is to not let it dictate your ability to move forward. I figure it out as I go.

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Can you tell us about how where you reside and grew up has influenced your art?

Currently, I live in Seattle but I grew up in Portland and have been in the Pacific Northwest most of my life. The beauty of our region is a given as an influence in my work but the lived-in experiences of the people and the city really drive me.

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Do you have any big collaborations, projects, exhibitions, etc going on during the rest of the year that you'd like to share?

I'm excited to share that I'm going to be part of the Relish group art show opening on June 7th. It's at the new 9th and Thomas building in South Lake Union. It's great to see non-traditional curated shows starting to pop up around town.

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The Future of Our Planet: Interview with Nick Pedersen
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Interview by Alicia Puig

Nick Pedersen is a photo-based digital artist and illustrator whose work focuses on environmental issues and political activism. He holds a BFA degree in Photography, as well as an MFA degree in Digital Imaging from Pratt Institute in New York. He has shown artwork in galleries across the country and internationally, recently including the Los Angeles Center for Digital Art, the Fleisher Art Memorial, and the NYC Affordable Art Fair. His work has been featured in numerous publications such as Vogue, Juxtapoz, Hi-Fructose, and on the covers of Photoshop User and After Capture. In the past few years, he has also completed Artist Residencies at the Banff Center in Canada, the Gullkistan Residency in Iceland, and the Starry Night Retreat in New Mexico. 

Statement 

My artwork is primarily inspired by my experience with nature and environmentalism. It is specifically motivated by my concern for the future due to the effects of climate change, sea level rise, deforestation, and many other environmental impacts humans have had on the planet. My goal with these projects is to visually depict this modern conflict between the natural world and the manmade world in interesting and provocative ways, to create elaborate, photorealistic images that carry a message of conservation and sustainability. Through my work, I want to show a glimpse into these hypothetical worlds and provide viewers a space in which to contemplate the future of our planet.

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How did you first become interested in art and can you explain a bit of how it led you to the work you create today?

Growing up, I was always interested in photography, documenting my adventures in the outdoors and all the places I travelled. I got my degree in photography and started learning how to use digital tools for photo editing, which was a revelation. I realized that instead of using photography just for documentation, I could also create whatever I could imagine. I did a lot of experimentation with digital photomontage and came up with my own style and conceptual motivations. A few years later I decided to pursue an MFA degree in Digital Arts at Pratt Institute in New York to really focus on these techniques and concepts. After taking everything that I’ve learned, now I’m working on various personal projects and commissions, showing my work in a few galleries, publishing my artist books, and teaching workshops on photography and digital imaging.

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Tell us about the inspiration behind your artwork or a specific series that you're currently working on.

The main inspiration for much of my artwork has been my experience with nature and environmentalism. I’m motivated by my concern for the future, due to the effects of things like climate change, sea level rise, deforestation and many other environmental impacts humans have had on the planet. My goal with these projects is to visually depict this modern conflict between the natural world and the manmade world in interesting and provocative ways, and create elaborate, photorealistic images that carry a message of conservation and sustainability. I portray this as an epic struggle and in my work these forces clash in “theatrical, post-apocalyptic battlegrounds”.

My newest series, "Floating World" is an ongoing project exploring the impending issues sea of level rise in coastal cities around the world, and depicting those most threatened by flooding in the future. With carbon emissions reaching levels not seen in 15 million years, the atmosphere is currently on course towards a ‘climate crisis’ where modern civilization could become unsustainable. From melting polar ice caps, ocean acidification, and sea level rise to historic droughts, stronger wildfires, and more extreme weather events, we are quickly approaching a strange and unpredictable future. This work explores the idea that the world as we know it might not be around forever, and questions the legacy that modern humanity will be handing down to the next generations.  

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What do you hope your viewers take away from seeing your art and how do you think working in photography and digital art specifically adds to the effect of your work?

All of my artwork is created using my own photography, so after researching and sketching out ideas to work with, the next step is to photograph everything I need for the project. For much of my past work I started with images from cities on the east coast like New York, Brooklyn, and Philadelphia which was perfect to collect photos of urban decay like buildings overgrown with vines and industrial ruins. The images of animals came from the wild, zoos, aquariums, taxidermy shops, and museums of natural history. Finally, many of the landscape images came from traveling around the US and to a few different countries over the past few years to capture the best source material. Then to create my images, I use a complex process of digital imaging and each image is actually made up of about 50 or more photographs meticulously pieced together. So I spend a lot of effort building up an image, figuring out the lighting, shadows, color, and other effects to make it look realistic and seamless. Each piece is carefully planned out and created as an intricately layered construction, which gives it such a hyper-real, illustrative quality. Through this work, my main goal is to show viewers a glimpse into these hypothetical worlds that I’ve created, and provide a space to contemplate the future of our planet.

Describe your current studio or creative space. What is most important about it or one thing that you definitely need in your work area?

Last year we bought a house, so I’ve actually been working to set up a new home/studio. So far, I have a desk station for my computer equipment, a photo space with backdrops and studio lights, and a large-format printer, along with a drafting table and flat-file cabinet. The studio space is set up really well for me to create my digital photomontage pieces and then print my own limited editions of the work. A large part of my creative time is also spent taking photos out in the wilderness, at parks, museums, or travelling to get all the source material I use in my artwork. So I would say the single most important thing for my work would be my camera, because I take it with me everywhere. 

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What one piece of creative or business advice would you give to your younger self?

In terms of business, it is really important to realize early on that you will be running a small business as a visual artist. I resisted that for a long time because I just wanted to create artwork, but I’ve learned a lot since then and I think I’m now at a place where I’m confident about what I’m doing with my career. Creatively, I think it is important to continuously learn new things and expose yourself to new situations so you have something relevant to respond to. I would say that the most important thing is to follow your own path, and create the artwork that you are actually interested in and care about. For me, it has been important to create artwork that is about the time I live in, that has personal meaning and raises significant questions.  

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Do you have any big collaborations, projects, exhibitions, etc. going on during the rest of the year that you'd like to share?

A few weeks ago I completed a great artist residency in southern New Mexico called the Starry Night Retreat. It was a really interesting place to work, and I gathered a huge amount of new source material taken from many strange and beautiful parts of the Southwest. With this work I’m thinking about creating a new series using the expansive landscapes I photographed at the White Sand Dunes, and combining it with my other imagery from the region showing astronomical research, space exploration, and weapons testing that has been a big part of New Mexico’s history. So this year I’m taking some time away from exhibitions to focus more on researching, experimenting, and coming up with new ideas for environmental series and other projects. One big thing I’m looking forward to is that I will be a Visiting Artist at Pratt Institute coming up this fall, where I will be doing guest lectures and critiques for the Digital Arts Department. 

Stay tuned for new work, and feel free to follow me at: 

https://nick-pedersen.com

https://www.instagram.com/nick_pedersen

https://www.behance.net/nickpedersen

Studio Sunday: Samantha Morris

It’s Sunday and you know what that means - another behind-the-scenes look at one of the artists from our community! This week we’re so excited to be sharing a brief interview with Samantha Morris, who we’ve had the pleasure of working with on our very first exhibition with PxP Contemporary.

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Bio

Samantha Morris was born in 1995 and grew up in Madison, Connecticut; she now lives and works in Brooklyn, New York. Morris graduated from The University of the Arts in 2017 with a BFA in Fine Arts with an emphasis in Painting and Drawing. In addition, she will begin her graduate studies in the MFA Fine Arts program at Pratt Institute in September 2019. Recent solo exhibitions include:  Kanna Rými, Listhús Gallery in Ólafsfjörður, Iceland; and BFA Thesis Exhibition, The Space Between, The University of the ArtsSelected group exhibitions include Black and White, Site:Brooklyn, Practice: In Progress, NARS Foundation, and Space Invaders, Fountain Street Gallery among others. Morris’ work has been published in FreshPaint Magazine, Opción Magazine, ArtMaze Magazine, and Underground Pool.

Statement

In my artwork, I focus on the idea of an individual traveling through a space; exploring place through architecture and landscape, abstracted through line, shadow pattern, contrast, and negative space. I am interested in dynamics, what can and can’t be seen. The seemingly mundane aspects of everyday life, one light shining through the square of a window frame, or the corner of a plant casting shadow on glass. Influenced by photography and film, my work investigates the stillness of night; the frozen moments before something happens. It exists in the “in between”, the time when your eyes adjust to the contrast of natural illuminated light and the depth of darkness. I feel immersed, traveling through such spaces. Each piece has reference to an environment, while existing in its own space.

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How did you first become interested in art and can you explain a bit of how it led you to the work you create today?I have been passionate about art for as long as I can remember. I knew that it was what I wanted to pursue, which led me to earn my BFA from University of the Arts. There, I was able to develop my artistic practice that now informs the work I create today.

Describe your current studio or working area. What is most important about it or one thing that you definitely need in your creative space?

Right now I have a studio at NARS (New York Artist Residencies and Studios) in Brooklyn, NY. The most important aspect of my studio is having expansive wall space. I’m currently working on large wooden panels directly on the wall, which gives me the ability to step back and view my paintings from a distance. It’s also very important for me to have reference material surrounding me in the studio. This can range from drawings, collages, photos, and film stills, all of which inform my work.

Tell us about the inspiration behind your paintings.

In my artwork, I focus on the idea of an individual traveling through a space; exploring place through architecture and landscape, abstracted through line, shadow pattern, contrast, and negative space. I am interested in dynamics, what can and can’t be seen. Influenced by photography and film, my work investigates the stillness of night; the frozen moments before something happens. It exists in the “in between”, the time when your eyes adjust to the contrast of natural illuminated light and the depth of darkness. The work is influenced by Scandinavian architecture, from experiences in Iceland and Norway. Each piece has reference to an environment, while existing in its own space.

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What is your process like? Do you do a lot of sketching or make work more intuitively?

All of the work I create comes from places I have experienced first-hand. I start by using photography as documentation and reference, then drawing and collage to explore composition and space, which then translates into paintings on panel. I pay attention to the differences between being in an actual physical space, experiencing a photograph of that place, and then finally creating, and experiencing that space through a form of rendered imagery such as painting or drawing.

Do your works often undergo a lot of changes before you consider them complete? How long does a piece take?

I have found that painting with oil on panel most successfully captures the concept of the work. It allows me to build passages of color through the use of mediums and thin transparent layering. Through this process, a sense of internal light emerges from the work. Changes occur throughout the act of making, and painting in this way can take weeks, working in layers and accounting for drying times. I consider a painting complete when the space is compelling, and asks the viewer to enter into it through the depths of light and dark within the subtle differences in tone and value.

Are there any exciting exhibitions, projects, or collaborations going on this year that you’re currently working on or will be soon?

I am showing work in the exhibition Collage, at Site:Brooklyn from June 14th - July 13th in Brooklyn, NY, as well as Paperworks, at b.j spoke gallery in Huntington, NY from August 1st - 28th in Huntington, NY. I will also be exhibiting work in the MFA Welcome Back Show at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, NY from September 16th - October 10th.

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Mother and Daughter, Lot Brandt and Sophie Holt, Ceramic Artists
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Interview with Sophie Holt by Alicia Puig

Mother and daughter, second and third generation ceramic artists, are collaborating for the first time.

Our genes, our treasure, our commitment results in a sculptural collection called ‘SoLo’ Lot, who lives in The Netherlands, came to visit her daughter in Motueka, New Zealand for nine months. And those nine months they have been working together, almost every day, on a collection of sculptures.

I love clay. It is a pure and honest material. People used it centuries before me. When I see work created by long lost civilizations, sometimes thousands of years old, I feel connected, and amazed…the tendency to tell your story through a hunk of clay is so ancient.

Egbert Brandt taught me to be a ceramist. From 1981 to 1985 I attended the evening academy in Utrecht; modern oil painting techniques, anatomy, and portrait drawing. The urge to transform experiences into ceramic forms, my creative energy, for me, it is innate. To listen to my passion and act upon it, to continuously evolve, are my rewards.

It is beautiful and intense that my hands make that what I take in from the world around me and in me. Because I work from a space where words do not exist, it is difficult to find the right ones to accompany my work. 

It is wonderful when someone comes by and identifies. While you do not know one another, it suddenly creates an intimate connection. I once read; you are the connections that you make. This always remained with me. And in those moments, I feel it is true. 

Sophie has watched me work on the kitchen table from the age of 2, and it is very special to have been working together as mother and daughter each our person but together one, SoLo.

www.instagram.com/studiosoph

www.lotbrandt.nl

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How did you first become interested in art, and can you explain a bit of how it led you to the work you create today?

S: I come from an artistic family. I have always been surrounded by art. My mother often took me to galleries and lucky for me, there are a lot of them in The Netherlands, where I grew up. What I love about art is that you can be free of what it means to you; the emotions you feel might not be the same as what someone else gets from the same piece.

I now live in New Zealand, the country where I was born, but I grew up in Utrecht, The Netherlands. Last year my mum came over for nine months so we could work together for the very first time. She taught me new techniques, and together we created 17 sculptures.

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We love that your illustrations and ceramics are so colorful and fun. Can you tell us about what inspires you?

S: I always find that a difficult question to answer. I think because I’m not very good with words and expressing myself verbally I like to do this visually. So everything that happens around/inside me, the good and the bad, I use as inspiration.

Can you talk about some of your favorite works, and what makes them special to you?

S: What I loved about making these big sculptures is that they take a very long time to make. That feeling when you open your kiln and everything is still in one piece- is one of the best feelings you can get. It was a new experience for me.

And what makes the sculptures even more special is that it was a collaboration with my mother, creating together in one room for those months was very special. I hope there will be a lot more of that in the future.

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Describe your current studio or creative space. What is most important about it or one thing that you definitely need in your work area?

S: At the moment I am working in the extra bedroom of my house.

What I need is good light, a good seat, and a table. And I work best listening to podcasts or have a documentary going in the background. I’ve always been like that, even in high school, I was always drawing while the teachers were talking to the class.

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What one piece of creative or business advice would you give to your younger self?

Don’t undersell yourself. And to my creative younger self- don’t freak out if you have a creative block. It will come back eventually.

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Do you have any big collaborations, projects, exhibitions, etc. going on during the rest of the year that you'd like to share?

We will exhibit all the sculptures we made at the Quiet Dog Gallery in Nelson, New Zealand. This will happen very soon- this coming July!

Complexity Through Minimal Expression: Interview with Yihong Hsu
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Yihong Hsu has an interesting multi-cultural background. She was born in Seoul, Korea as 3rd generation Chinese immigrants. She received American education since elementary school to college. She now lives permanently in Hong Kong.

 Yihong Hsu received her Bachelor of Art in Graphic Design at  Maryland Institute, College of Art, USA and later received her Master in Arts, Design Management, at International Design Advanced Studies Hongik University in Seoul, Korea.  

Her multi-national and cultural background lead her to have a successful career in design and branding industry for 18 years.

In 2018, she had a first break through as an artist, by being commissioned to do an art installation of 10 meter wide giant Panda and 7 meters tall Camellia tree - LOVE.FOUND. in Chongqing IFS mall (with co-artist Simone Carena of Italy). Ever since, she has found a new passion in contemporary art and have been painting for the past year. 

Artist Statement

Seed Series

The “Seed Series” was developed as a personal interpretation of nature and carries a deeper meaning of how that relates to us - humans. Flowers are portrayed as carriers of the seeds. All flowers carry female and male parts and thus self-reproductive. It is in all nature of things, a desire to reproduce and seeds are the beginning of that. My paintings are the exploration of seeds, seeds journey. Every seed will carry its own path, it may fall out sometime, it will one day be received, and it will grow.

Ball Series

Circles (balls) are very intriguing. They create movement and tension in the space and create odd spaces around them. They are so simple yet so powerful and I find myself using circles (balls) to interpret life, my own encounters, experiences, and emotion. Using the most minimal expression to interpret some complicated thoughts.

Interview by Alicia Puig

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How did you first become interested in art, and can you explain a bit of how it led you to the work you create today? 

I was a graphic designer for 18 years working in branding and advertising agencies. During those years, I always felt like there was an artist in every designer.

However, designers are very restricted, as they also have to be sensitive to the project's objectives, client's needs, market trends, etc. I was longing for freedom to express myself the way I wanted to and about things I was interested in. In 2018, I was lucky to be commissioned to do an art installation piece in Chongqing, China. A 10-meter long chrome finishing panda lying on top of Chongqing IFS shopping mall complex - named LOVE.FOUND. (co-artist Simone Carena) and a 7-meter tall metal-chrome camellia tree. During the project, which lasted one year, I did a lot of research on flowers and how to express them. I sketched a lot of camellias and ways to make it more interesting. It is during this time that I fell in love with flowers and nature and decided to quit my 18 years of career in advertising and start the journey of depicting flowers and nature. I have been painting ever since and find it very therapeutic and self-satisfying. 

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We love that some of your work is minimalist while other pieces have more complex layering and patterns. Can you tell us about what inspires you? 

It was a long train of thought and curiosity that led to these two very different types of paintings. I personally called them the "seed series" and "ball series." As I started to dig into and experimenting with different ways of expressing flowers, I became more curious about the anatomy of the flower. Something not everyone draws about when they draw beautiful outskirt of flowers. What I learned from the biological anatomy diagrams of flowers was that all flowers carry female and male parts and what I thought were the seeds of flowers were only pollens and that the seeds are carried deep inside the ovary and ovule. This was very intriguingand interesting to me, and it inspired me to start painting flowers always emphasizing on the seeds that they carry. I also started to imagine them all around us in nature, how they strive to survive and get transferred to other flowers, and so on. To me, it somehow reflects human life and what we go through in life. For the "ball series," it began when I started to draw a lot of circles for the "seed series." It was very fun and interesting to me how circles affect the space around it. It gives a sense of motion even in a still 2-dimensional space. It is a perfect round-edge shape but provides oddness. I was inspired to just use circles (balls) and the most minimal expression to depict this tension. When I want to tell a very complicated story and put a title to the "ball series" pieces, it makes perfect sense!

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What is your process like? Do you do a lot of sketching or make work more intuitively? 

I do a few sketches before just to make sure what is already in my head looks okay on flat surface. 

Describe your current studio or creative space. What is most important about it or one thing that you definitely need in your work area?

My creative space is an extra room at my place that I transformed into my workspace. There is no most important "thing" for me. I just need absolute silence and natural sunlight. I love my big window. 

What is your favorite thing about being an artist? That I can transform my thoughts and feelings into art. I don't need to organize my thoughts into PowerPoint slides and excel sheets and use fancy words to write about it. I just draw them. I feel free!

Studio Sunday: Seth Remsnyder

We’re so excited to be bringing you a Studio Sunday feature with Seth Remsnyder!

My current body of work is titled: “Signage”. These are paintings on metal pieces like signs. The paintings are non-representational works focused on color, arrangement and movement. Some are placed on sign posts and installed in the public to play off of the signage that covers our communities. The intent of this body of work is to place serious works of visual art in a public context that deals with the concept of taking notice of the world around us. Signage is intended to grab the attention. So is visual art. The difference is often the context. Why do we so often miss what we are supposed to see when we are out in the world? Is the benefit of visual art in the public space the benefit of helping us remember how to see? I propose that it is. My current work aims to play off of the concept of signage to confront the public with visual art work in the public spaces that we traverse and all too often ignore. Perhaps most important is the basic idea that works such as these hold the possibility of brightening the days of the residents of our communities.

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How did you first become interested in art and can you explain a bit of how it led you to the work you create today?

I became interested in art when I was about 9 or so? I liked to draw well before that but my Mom stashed a little post Impressionism/Impressionism catalogue in her magazine rack and I saw a painting by Vincent van Gogh called “Stairway at Auvers” and I was blown away. I tried to paint a lot after seeing that. I think I know how to say it better now than I could have when I was younger but I looked at “Stairway at Auvers”, it was unreal, almost cartoonish in a very good way, but also, so real, so tangible, and dense that I felt like I was there with him. I never thought a picture could make me feel as strongly as that one did. I still get chills when I look at it. If you’re reading this, look it up.

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We love that your work is so bold and colorful. Can you tell us about what inspires you and what inspired your series of metal painted signs specifically?

Well, van Gogh absolutely drove me to just go after color and to not be afraid of it so I think that was very formative for my approach to a palette... Perception is such an important part of life... attentiveness to what is going on around us or passing us by, and with my current body of work I am really getting a lot of imagination material from horizons that I see. Sunsets and sunrises and the stuff of life that’s kind of all crammed underneath the skyline is what I imagine most when I’m painting the lines in my work. So, if I see a certain gradient in the sky I try to amplify it a little as a backdrop for the lines I’m painting. I also just tend to think in masses of color so sometimes I just spray down a color and stare at it for a while and see what it reminds me of or what other colors it calls to mind. It never ceases to amaze me the way our minds make connections to certain colors. Another inspiration for the motifs, the lines and the compositions I’m making with them, is a sort of visualization of relationships. We travel along through life with other people, cross paths etc. and so I’m often painting two lines at a time together and then basing the rest of a piece off of those interactions. I think that we think of life in a very linear way... I don’t means straightforward, but rather, the concept in general. I think we all tend to see ourselves going through life in a kind of GPS kind of way. We imagine ourselves going places and we think of life as a path and that concept really interests me. I think lines are really an endlessly interesting motif.

What is your process like?

My process has changed a lot with the current work I’m doing. Spray paint and air brush removes a certain kind of control that I had spent a lot of time developing with a brush and I am really enjoying that. It has helped me forget myself in an important way. I was always very emotionally connected to the brush, the romance of an expressionist stroke runs deep with me so detaching myself from the work with spray has helped me think more clearly about my paintings. I’m more in tune with the formal elements now I think. Process is a strange thing... it always has to start with something metaphysical, as in, what got me working on a given day... and then its a matter of either improvising or trying to fulfill a plan. With my public work I’m really focusing on a certain kind of place to put my work. I want them to be in spaces that are easily visible but neglected. We don’t always see what we’re supposed to see when we’re out and about and we could probably go on all day about why that is but this work is meant to just go straight at a solution to that... namely, putting serious paintings in a signage form and trying to snag the eyes of passers by. I pay more attention to my world when I think I might be missing art along the way.

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Describe your current studio or creative space. What is most important about it or one thing that you definitely need in your work area?

My current studio is on the first floor of my house. I love it. It’s fairly well lit and my family is around. I don’t need much space right now but I am really grateful for what I have... right now at least it’s more than enough.  Music is important to me, I kind of like everything. I do sometimes like to paint without it because the background noise of my kids watching Scooby Doo Where Are You or the old Batman TV show is such a happy kind prof background noise to me. Or, they’ll get caught up in such a good little kid jam session just playing some imaginary game together, my seven year old daughter playing with my three year old is the sweetest noise I can think of. They’re pretty hilarious too so I just listen to them and laugh while I work. One thing I definitely need is a pot of coffee. I’ve been burning the candle at both ends for too many years now and that’s my need I guess.

What is your favorite thing about being an artist?

My favorite thing about being as artist is the way that it has helped me learn to use my eyes. I’ve been really fortunate to pursue my Masters Degree in painting at the Savannah College of Art and Design over the past few years and I think the most important skill I’m leaving there with is a vastly improved ability to take notice of my world, the ability to really use my eyes and take things in. I’m so glad for that. I think it’s also helped me sharpen my memories too. I can remember colors from my childhood better now. I know that sounds strange but I think it’s true.

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Do you have any big collaborations, projects, exhibitions, etc going on during the rest of the year that you'd like to share?

The big things going on for me right now: I graduate on Friday, May 31st!! I’ll be in Savannah to walk and get my degree! Who knows, maybe I’ll leave some signage behind too... My thesis exhibition is in Richmond, Virginia on Friday, June 7 at Gallery Edit on Broad Street and I’m excited to install this show. Last but not least, my wife and I added our fourth child to our family at the end of April!  His name is Hank and he’s the sweetest little guy. Mom and baby are both doing well. Oh yeah, getting picked up by PxP of course. Grateful.

Browse Seth’s available works with PxP Contemporary.

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Dolls Exploring the Experience of Motherhood: Interview with Nicole Havekost
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By Alicia Puig

Nicole Havekost is an artist living in Rochester, Minnesota. Her own work is varied in media and technique but linked by her interest in material and process. Recently, Nicole was both a 2018 Minnesota State Arts Board Artist Initiative Grant recipient and Southeastern Minnesota Arts Council Advancing Artist Grant recipient. She has recently exhibited work in New Orleans, Dallas, and Tasmania, Australia. Nicole earned her BFA in Printmaking at the Rhode Island School of Design and her MFA in Printmaking from the University of New Mexico. 

I make figures that are doll-like in form. I began making these figures when my son was small. I expected these figures would teach my son about my world, but instead, this work has been a way to teach me about his. These figures are observers, thoughtful participants in the process of discovery. They nurture and protect, yet they are neither beast nor human. These animals are my evolving experience of motherhood; the profound change of body, heart, and desire I never expected and couldn’t control in a new world rich with possibility.

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How did you first become interested in art, and can you explain a bit of how it led you to the work you create today?

I've always loved to draw. I didn't know a person could be an artist, and the only art form I was familiar with was the newspaper comics. So I wanted to be a cartoonist. That interest later turned to fashion design, but after my foundation year at RISD, I realized there were so many other possibilities. I graduated as a printmaker but began making sculptural objects during my senior year. I haven't stopped since.

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Tell us about the inspiration behind your artwork or a specific series that you're currently working on.

I currently have two different bodies of work in progress, but they both come from the same place. I am deeply interested in exploring what it feels like to be in a body. The animal dolls that are published in Create! Magazine reference my transition to motherhood and how it felt to nurture another soul in this world. The other work includes mixed media sculpture exploring my bodily experience of sickness, pregnancy, aging, and recently, perimenopause.

Can you talk about some of your favorite works, and what makes them special to you?

My favorite works are often the ones I make at the beginning of a series. I don't yet know what the work will look like, but I can tell we will be the best of friends once it is complete. Often as the work progresses, there are stronger pieces, but that first one always holds a special place. It was there before I saw it, and then I made it. I love creating doll-like forms; my "Candy Lady" series of figures with candy innards are some of my favorites.

What is your process like? Do you do a lot of sketching or make work more intuitively?

I work intuitively. Mostly I keep a list of descriptors related to the series I am working on. I am terrible at planning at planning my work; I get too tight. I like to have to problem solve my way through the process. Natural consequences make the work pretty interesting.

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Do your works often undergo a lot of changes before you consider them complete? How long does a piece take?

My work does change as I make it, but that's because I am responding to the process as I work instead of altering original plans. Because I do so much hand stitching in my work, progress is slower than I would like. But the process is deeply meditative and brings me much joy while I am doing it. I haven't paid attention to actual hours, but I can account for the time in episodic television. Some works take the length of several seasons of a Netflix binge, while other processes are a couple of stand up specials. I can't watch anything I really have to pay attention to when I am stitching, but I can keep track of large narratives. It is the best way to work.

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Are there any exciting exhibitions, projects, or collaborations going on this year that you're currently working on or will be soon?

I am excited to be shipping work to the Southbend Museum of Art Biennial 30 next month as well as the exhibition "Modern Archetypes" at Higher Art Gallery in Traverse City, Michigan. I will be participating in RISDCraft 2019 in Providence, Rhode Island in October and teaching the workshop "The Doll as Storyteller" at Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts in Gatlinburg, Tennessee in November.

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Studio Sunday: María Guzmán of Austère & Crudo Atelier
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I recently had the chance to speak with Costa Rican fashion & textile designer María Guzmán in her studio, which is housed in a beautifully quaint Victorian-style residence in San Jose that she inherited from her grandmother. She is the brains behind Austère, a women-run and eco-conscious brand of swimwear and elevated basics. Built from her background working in the fashion industry in both Argentina and Europe, María’s company will be celebrating its fifth year in business come October. Having lived abroad for a number of years, she returned to Costa Rica around nine years ago. Not exactly sure of what she would do next, but certain that she was tired of working for companies that didn’t meet her standards for sustainability, she first lived at the beach and dove into painting. María’s creativity eventually led her to design dresses. Then, after a friend helped her connect the idea of incorporating her paintings into her work, she started making colorfully printed swimsuits as well.

It is clear early on in our conversation that art is an integral part of her business. The prints used in María’s bikinis and one-piece bathing suits come from her own sketches and gouache paintings that she then finalizes on the computer. Looking closely at the fabrics, you notice the deliberate choices of her various color palettes. Bright and fun without being too flashy, she explains the inspiration behind each pattern, calling one ‘feminist camouflage’ and saying that others were inspired by contemporary art or the environment. Like mini abstract paintings, each piece that María makes is unique as much as it is comfortable, functional, and sustainable.


Apart from her fashion design work, however, María also runs a second business called Crudo Atelier. From her same spacious studio, she holds weekend workshops in Costa Rica where small groups take classes such as hand lettering, embroidery, or how to make natural dyes. Now three years old, Crudo Atelier was initially a way for María to share her creative skills with others. It has grown since then, with her moving away from teaching and instead inviting new specialists to diversify the offering of classes. One of the aspects of these workshops that she loves most is the idea of creating community. Like-minded creatives meet each other through her platform and have gone on to continue working together afterwards. She also mentions that students have started projects based on the work they first produced at Crudo Atelier.

As focused as she is on her own businesses, she has an equal interest in paving the way for the next generation. Besides Crudo Atelier, María also serves on a council with the local chamber of commerce and the contemporary art and design museum along with ten other representatives. With this group, she seeks to build out more resources for designers of all types in Costa Rica and additional opportunities to show and sell their work. With stores in the area taking high commissions on locally produced items, especially those created by women, she hopes that this task force can put together more fairs or similar events and spaces that allow makers to have direct access to new customers.

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With so many things going on already, it’s hard to imagine María having time to do much else! However, she’s also currently working on an an ecommerce website to make her collections available beyond the few local and international stores where her items are currently sold. In addition, she’s begun the process of designing low-impact handbags made from wood and wool fibers alongside her other pieces. If all goes well, her portfolios will be shown at Satisfactory, a local design popup in San Jose. While she loves her studio space, she’s also in the middle of renovating it to make it more practical for her businesses. Once that is complete, one of her other goals is to eventually utilize it as a gallery for women artists. The space will then be even more of a hub for all of the things that she believes in: building community, creating quality and sustainable designs, and empowering other female artists.

Learn more about Austère by following the brand on Instagram at @austere_atelier or check out Crudo Atelier’s profile at @crudoatelier!

Studio Sunday: Kristen Elizabeth
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We’re bringing back Studio Sundays and this weekend we’re so excited to be introducing you to one of our PxP Contemporary artists, Kristen Elizabeth! Learn more in our interview below and then don’t forget to check our her available works in our premiere exhibition ‘Pilot’, which is currently on view online!

Artist Biography:

Connecticut based artist, Kristen Elizabeth (b.1986) formally educated in Industrial Design, has been developing her unique artistic voice over the past several years. Having grown up on the coast, she is heavily influenced by the sea and the dynamic tension between power and balance that can be observed around us. Her work seeks to draw viewers in through bold movement and a counterbalance of intricate mark making. Her use of a wide variety of materials such as acrylic, graphite, pastel, and more creates a visual statement that can be experienced on multiple levels. In addition to her art, she has been involved in many creative projects including painting a 50ft tall likeness of Lebron James in Harlem's famed Rucker Park, as well as - developed a new logo and fashion illustrations for New York's influential FABB charity event.  Her work has been featured in multiple publications including Create! Magazine, Art Reveal Magazine, and The Wall Street Journal.  

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How did you first become interested in art and can you explain a bit of how it led you to the work you create today?

As long as I can remember, I’ve always had a passion for art. I grew up in a creative family and had practicing artists on both my mother & father’s side. I’ve always had a desire to be creative, but felt I had to be practical. Because of this, I majored in product design and was approaching graduation right at the beginning of the recession in 2008. The career and life I had been envisioning for the past four years all but evaporated, but this allowed me freedom from a traditional path and ultimately set me on the course to where I am today. It’s been quite a ride - with both highs and lows. I hope to express this dynamism that is life through my current and future works.

Describe your current studio or working area. What is most important about it or one thing that you definitely need in your creative space?

I currently divide my time between my small home studio and a larger studio space where I run my business, a children's art studio called SplatterBox. My space at home is peaceful, harmonious and filled with the books, art, and music I love. That space allows me to focus on smaller more contained works using mostly watercolors and inks. SplatterBox allows me the room to stretch out and work on larger pieces without worrying about making a mess - hence the name SplatterBox. That said, it can be a challenge! It can often be hectic & stressful but it is also highly rewarding. I was able to not only lead a fulfilling path teaching kids but also re-discover my passion for art amongst all the glitter, unicorns, & beautiful mess.

Tell us about the inspiration behind your work.

I really try to absorb my environment. I find the people and places around me to be incredible resources. I’ve found that some series tend to draw from specific experiences, while other inspiration could be found in more ethereal experiences. My ‘Mineral Girl’ series was completely inspired by a trip to the amazing mineral room at the Peabody Museum in New Haven, CT. To contrast that, my ‘Geo Swoosh’ & ‘'The Change’ series took from something much more intuitive and deep within myself. I spent much of my childhood by the sea and observed everything from grey misty mornings to deep dark raging storms. Drawing from these visual memories as well as exploring life experiences I had, helped guide my hand.  You can see this in everything from the large sweeping motions to the tapestry of delicate details and patterns.

What one piece of creative or business advice would you give to your younger self?

The one piece of advice I would give my younger self is DON’T WAIT. On pessimistic days I might see it as time wasted, but I have had a range of other experiences and challenges that inform my art today. That said, I held back from truly jumping into my art career for many years and wish I had started that path sooner. It can be intimidating to put yourself out there, but if you keep delaying and putting it off - you’ll never know what opportunities might come your way.

What are you working on now and for the rest of the year?

Right now I’m coming off of an exciting job working for FABB (The Fashion Accessories Benefit Ball) & can’t seem to stray from creating high contrast fashion illustrations. I’ve found these very cathartic and they allow me to create without the pressure of a series or having any constraints imposed (self or otherwise). I’m happy to say they have enabled me to gain a clear headspace and I now have two new series I’m in the process of designing. Both will be an expansion & evolution of my previous work. As a side note, I have to give a nod to the Podcast - Art & Cocktails - for the invaluable information learned while listening to the episode ‘How To Design A New Series’.

View her collection of available works with PxP Contemporary here!

Art New York Highlight Exhibitor: Cavalier Gallery
Federico Uribe (Colombian, b. 1962)   Black Panther , 2017  Bullet Shells 36 x 72 x 12 in. (91.4 x 182.9 x 30.5 cm)

Federico Uribe (Colombian, b. 1962)
Black Panther, 2017
Bullet Shells
36 x 72 x 12 in. (91.4 x 182.9 x 30.5 cm)

Art New York 2019 at Pier 94

Thu, May 2 - Sun, May 5 

www.artnyfair.com

The highly-anticipated fifth edition of Art New York returns to Pier 94 from May 2-5 during the height of New York’s art and cultural season. 

The Fair showcases noteworthy works by important artists from the contemporary, modern, post-war and pop eras presented by more than 70 international galleries. Art New York provides a fresh alternative for acquiring important, never-before-exhibited works from both primary and secondary markets, including CONTEXT, a platform for a selection of new and established contemporary galleries showcasing emerging, mid-career and cutting-edge talent. The fair annually welcomes both experienced and new art collectors who are looking to experience a carefully-curated, rich-in-content presentation of the best in the global contemporary art market. 

Art New York, at Pier 94, will begin with an elegant, invitation-only VIP Preview event on Thursday, May 2 from 2:00 to 5:00PM. The special preview offers collectors, art advisors, curators, and media the opportunity to examine and acquire the finest works available in the market before the fair opens to the public that evening and continues through Sunday, May 5. 

Federico Uribe (Colombian, b. 1962)   I Love You , 2019  Bullet Shells 72 x 36 x 48 in. (182.9 x 91.4 x 121.9 cm)  ACPB0539


Federico Uribe (Colombian, b. 1962)

I Love You, 2019
Bullet Shells
72 x 36 x 48 in. (182.9 x 91.4 x 121.9 cm)
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Interview with Olivia Pek Gallery Associate, Cavalier Gallery

www.cavaliergalleries.com

Tell us about your gallery and the type of art you exhibit.

Adelson Galleries (New York and Boston) and Cavalier Galleries (New York, Nantucket, Greenwich) have partnered together in opening Adelson Cavalier Galleries on Worth Avenue in Palm Beach, Florida. With a combined 85 years of experience in the art business, each gallery brings their expertise in the fields of Impressionism, Realism, Modernism, and Contemporary Art. Adelson Cavalier Galleries exhibits emerging and established Contemporary artists, as well as historically significant artworks by 19th and 20th Century masters. Adelson Cavalier Galleries is open year-round with rotating exhibits.  

Federico Uribe (Colombian, b. 1962)   Baby Panda (Patient) , 2019  Bullet Shells 15 x 11 x 9 in. (38.1 x 27.9 x 22.9 cm)  ACPB0361

Federico Uribe (Colombian, b. 1962)
Baby Panda (Patient), 2019
Bullet Shells
15 x 11 x 9 in. (38.1 x 27.9 x 22.9 cm)
ACPB0361

Name a few artists that you are bringing to this year's Art New York Fair. 

Here are a few of the artists whose work we are exhibiting:

-Jim Rennert 

-William Nelson

-Guy Stanley Philoche

-Wolf Kahn

-Hans Hofmann

-Federico Uribe

-Magdalena Murua

What are you most excited about in terms of your booth selection this year?

We are excited to bring a fantastic selection of artists to Art New York this year. The centerpiece of our booth is the astonishing mixed media piece,  I Love You, by Colombian artist Federico Uribe. Just a few blocks away, at our gallery on 57th Street, our 3,800 square foot ground floor space is currently dedicated to the outstanding work of Federico Uribe, with his solo exhibition “Mesmerized,” on view through June 1st.  

Please share a few tips for fair visitors or new collectors.

Bring your checkbook!

Nadia Waheed: Wearing Your Braid as a Badge
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Wearing Your Braid as a Badge: Challenging Expectations and Finding Your Place

By Christina Nafziger

Through the female body and cultural iconography, Nadia Waheed’s paintings explore dichotomies present in her own life as well as those that affect the female experience, one that forces women to navigate through the unrealistic, and often contradictory, expectations from others. Originally from Pakistan, and now based in Austin, Texas, the artist has lives all over the world, with her artistic practice being the space where she can claim agency and be her true self, away from judgment. The blue, pink, and orange women in her paintings often sport henna on their skin and long braids, both strong and beautiful, nodding at her cultural roots. Recently represented by the London-based gallery BEERS, Waheed shares honest advice on how to stay focused on what is truly important as an artist. Join me as Waheed opens up about her struggles overcoming personal obstacles, and discusses the challenge of balancing the two sides of East and West in her work and life. 

www.nadiawaheed.com

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Have you always considered yourself an artist? When did you first feel like you had found your voice artist voice? 

I haven’t always considered myself an artist, actually. I hold that word and title in very high regard and I don’t think that everyone who makes “art” is an artist. Artist to me implies a very high level of commitment to a certain type of work and practice. Mentally, it is not a “part time” relationship; the thinking about the work becomes something that’s always there, processing in the background of everything you do. It’s everything. I wasn’t comfortable calling myself an artist until I realized that this really was my only purpose in life. I could’ve taken another route after graduating with my BFA, but I felt so empty without my work, it was a clear sign that making paintings is an inherent part of my identity and that I could never be a functional version of myself without it. 

I grew up drawing and that was my primary method for communicating myself artistically. When I moved to paint in 2013, I didn’t at all have the same fluidity or finesse as I did with line. I believe I found my artistic voice many years ago when I was young, but it’s been a years long process of honing it. When my mentor Kevin Wolff passed away in early 2018, his death rattled and pushed me to the brink emotionally—it was like a rebirth. I lost my apprehension and stopped thinking about painting and just did it. Everything clicked into place and this body of work is what came out; Blue Portrait (Sisyphus’s Boulder) is the painting that started it all.

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Originally from Pakistan (born in Saudi, but from Karachi), how has your cultural background affected your artistic practice? Are there aspects of your work that are influenced by cultural elements or iconography?

I think it’s affected everything - it has always been something that I’ve responded to. I didn’t feel like I belonged anywhere, so my sketchbook was always my sanctuary. I could be my unadulterated myself, outside the sphere of judgment from Western or Eastern culture. My practice was born from a need to belong and be understood as myself, and my studio became the space for me to do it. I am heavily influenced by the styles and themes I see back in Pakistan, and am so in love with miniature painting and Islamic architecture, but I only draw from the pieces that feel mine. The things that I’m most excited by, or scared of, are the things that you’ll see in my paintings. The weight that I see carried by women, the different weight of expectation that I see carried by others and myself. Iconography aside, I’m interested in the social dynamics of the East and West - what’s “societally appropriate,” primarily in regards to the development of young women. The difference is incredible, and balancing the two has been a challenge for me. 

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There seems to be an emphasis on hair, specifically on the braid, in your work. Can you speak a bit to this?

The braid has become a metaphor for so many things. Connection, worth, beauty, vulnerability... but maybe the simplest answer would begin with me saying that I wore a long braid similar to the women in my paintings for many years. I felt it was a tangible connection to my culture, a badge I could wear that said, “This is where I come from.” Long braids are symbols of traditional beauty in Pakistan and I pay homage to that tradition in my paintings. It’s a heavily layered symbol, a liberation and simultaneously a huge weight. It can be your pride and your greatest vulnerability; the interdependence of opposites is something I think about all the time. My grandmother’s nurse in Karachi has an incredibly long braid, down to the back of her thighs. She says she keeps her hair wound away and hidden when she’s in public because she’s afraid that her hair is going to be cut off by a jealous woman or a man who thinks she’s being shameless about her appearance. She says it’s happened before to others. I don’t think I’ve fully unpacked it, but to me, the braid says, “I’m trying to be a good Pakistani girl.” It’s totally contradicted by the nudity, but that’s my point - we can have both and still be good.  

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Can you tell me about the presence of the female in your work? Are the scenes in your paintings allegories or are they perhaps reflections on your own thoughts or experiences?

I’d say a combination of both. I love women. I love men too (I love all humans!) but I’m amazed by women every day. So much is put onto us, and for generations women have persevered, raised families under constant abuse, broken countless glass ceilings and fought for respect in society and from our male counterparts. In my paintings, all my imagery is very personal; a lot of it is a surrendering, the resignation and the waving of a white flag. Someone looked at my paintings and said that none of my figures were empowered, that this work doesn’t empower women. I still grapple with that today, but I don’t disagree. Some of these figures are not empowered. It’s because sometimes I don’t feel empowered. There is an idea of “conditional” love that I see everywhere in my world which panics me - why is our worth and value as an entity dependent on our appearance or our paycheck or our marital status? I paint women because I am a woman, and mitigating the endless layers of complexity surrounding femininity and vulnerability and whatever ideas are thrust onto us, hoops we need to jump through to be given “worth”... these are all questions I’m painting through. At this point I have no definitive answers, rather I’m more interested in the question and the idea.

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Congratulations on your gallery recent representation with BEERS London! Do you have any advice for artists seeking gallery representation?

Thank you! It was an incredibly serendipitous occurrence and I couldn’t be happier about it, BEERS has been one of my all time favorite galleries for years and I’m so thrilled to join the team. 

Advice wise, there is only one thing that matters: making a good painting. We all know it’s a very difficult thing to do, so that honestly should be the only thing on your radar. If you try to curate your authentic voice towards a particular gallery or type of gallery, you are doing yourself and your work a massive disservice. The only thing an artist needs to be doing is making the work the best and most authentically that they conceivably can. There is no timeline. There is no falling behind. The only thing that matters is the quality of the work. If you can proudly stand next to your art and say, “This is me, this is mine,” then that’s all that matters. Everything else will come. Any young artists out there who are feeling anxiety, take charge and tell yourself this, “as long as it’s not impossible to do, it can be done”. Even a 1% chance is still a chance. Commitment is key.

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Do you listen to anything (podcasts, music, etc.) while you paint?

I used to listen to music when I worked, but I’ve switched to NPR and podcasts in October 2018. I’ve placed really stringent restrictions on the music I listen to because I’m just so overwhelmed by it now. Commercials make my heart race and make me cry, any music that’s too emotive takes me too deep inside myself and my vision warps. It’s almost funny how strongly I react to it! Pretty much the only music I can tolerate without weeping is lo-fi hiphop, very calm music with few words, and nothing too emotionally charged. I’ve become a really big fan of On Point and Fresh Air on NPR, and the podcasts Philosophize This! by Stephen West and Making Sense (formerly Waking Up) by Sam Harris, and also, The Adam Buxton Podcast. I highly recommend all three of those. I deal primarily in ideas, so these are great podcasts that explore a particular idea or person in each episode, a deep dive into the nuances of a certain topic. Nothing in this world is black and white; I love being exposed to shades of grey I hadn’t thought of before. 

Can you tell me about a time where you had to overcome an obstacle, either in your art career or during your painting process? 

Things in my personal life during 2018 overwhelmed me to the point that, at the tail end of the year, being alone with myself in the studio became dangerous. I prefer working without natural light so that I don’t see the passage of time and I can just get lost in the flow of the work, but things in my life were happening one after the other and I was drowning. Going into my studio and being alone in a windowless room for 10 -14 hours a day was so isolating. My studio was slowly becoming this echo chamber for all my terrifying thoughts and feelings: of failure, of worthlessness, of hopelessness - but I couldn’t stop working. More than being alone with myself, I was afraid of not painting, I couldn’t stop. If I stopped I was afraid that one day would become two, that two would become three, and that I’d wake up one day and it had been a year and I hadn’t painted. Even thinking about it now is terrifying. My practice is about communing with myself and my deepest thoughts about different ideas, if my mind is full of fear and anxiety, it becomes intensely amplified in the studio. Learning how to mitigate the part of me that is compelled to paint and the part of me that was terrified of being alone with myself is something I consider to be one of my biggest accomplishments.

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Do you have anything coming up this year that you’d like to share?

At this point in time nothing in particular besides a group show in Toronto and my two-person show in May with BEERS! I’m very excited to make a whole new body of work for that show and to see what comes out. I’ve got some really good ideas rattling around in my noggin and while they’re very labor intensive I think they’re going to look super good. If you want to keep up with my work or get more insight into my process, feel free to follow me on Instagram at @nadiakwd.

(And thanks so much for reading!)

Let Yourself Grow: Podcast Episode with Erika Lee Sears
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On this episode, Kat has a fun and inspiring conversation with Erika Lee Sears. Erika is a self-taught oil painter who took the plunge to leave her corporate job in order to paint full time.

Learn about how to commit to a daily painting practice, get tips for painting while traveling, set up a perfect morning routine, balance family life and more!

Christian Böhmer Interview | Moniker Art Fair
Image courtesy of Christian Böhmer.

Image courtesy of Christian Böhmer.

For our next preview feature from the upcoming Moniker Art Fair in New York, we’re sharing an interview with Christian Böhmer! Christian is a self-taught contemporary artist who creates large-scale murals along with drawings and paintings. He has exhibited work around the world including in Australia, Germany, The Netherlands, and Switzerland among others. Most recently, he completed a mural painting for the "one wall project" curated by the Urban Nation Museum of Urban Contemporary Art in Berlin. After learning more about his work and process, we’ll certainly be looking forward to seeing what he exhibits at the fair!

Tell us about your background. You describe having roots in the graffiti movement of the 90's so was this the type of art that first inspired you and that you first created? 

Yes, graffiti was the kind of art that influenced me most when I was a kid in the mid-nineties. I was lucky enough to live only a few kilometers from Europe’s largest legal graffiti hall of fame at that time, which was the famous "Schlachthof Wiesbaden". Once a year, there came the world’s most famous writers together to have a graffiti jam for one weekend. I was so fascinated to see what was possible to do just with a spray can, that I decided to try this on my own. As it was a legal spot to paint graffiti, there was no need to hurry or to get nervous. I think this is why I had time enough to experiment in every direction, which included painting characters, too. I found out that I had much more talent in character painting then in writing letters....

How has your work developed since then? When and why did you turn to portraits? 

The first few years I developed in painting characters and as I got better and better, I moved towards a photorealistic style. I believe the most difficult subject one can paint in photorealism is a portrait, where there are no mistakes allowed. And when you dive into this world of painting portraits, you find out that there’s a lot of stories you can tell with that kind of art.

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Images courtesy of Christian Böhmer.

Images courtesy of Christian Böhmer.

Can you explain your reasoning behind covering various body parts of your subjects - namely their heads and faces, but also in recent work, their hands as well?

As I said, it is very interesting to tell stories within portraits. I did that for a long time, but one day you ask yourself, what will be the next challenge? What else can I add to these stories? When you think about that, the next logical step will be to transform the portrait, to paint it in an abstract way. But the abstract in my portrait painting is not the transformation of color or shape, but the paper bag. I found out that for me this is a perfect medium to use in order to transform shape, to give it a message, or to simply hide the face itself. Sometimes less is more :)

You recently completed a new mural in Berlin, congratulations! How did that project come about? How often do you create larger, public works and do you enjoy it as much as your smaller pieces? 

It was Yasha, the director of the Urban Nation Museum of urban contemporary art in Berlin, who asked me to paint this specific wall. I just began working on a new series of drawings, which plays with red colored hands, that tell all those stories that hidden faces can’t tell. This series deals with people on the edge of society, the ones nobody listens to. And the wall I painted in Berlin is located in an area where these people live. So it was the perfect match.

Image courtesy of Christian Böhmer.

Image courtesy of Christian Böhmer.

What will you be showing at Moniker in New York? 

I will be showing this new series of people with red hands hidden behind their paper bag mask. But you need to see it in person!

Do you have any additional exciting projects going on in 2019 and beyond that you'd like to share?

Yes, I will have a huge solo show in Mainz, Germany in September. I’m very glad to be there because that is the place where I grew up and where I had my first graffiti writing experience. I have not been back there for more than 15 years!

I will also have a group show in October at 19Karen Gallery near Brisbane in Australia, which I’m also looking forward to. I love the idea that people from all over the world can have the opportunity to see my art in person.

Moniker will be held May 1 - 5 in New York City at:
718 Broadway
NoHo, Manhattan
New York City, NYC
10003

Learn more about Moniker Art Fair by visiting their website.

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Taking the Power Back in Your Art Career with Michelle I. Gomez
Photo by Milana Braslavsky @milanabphoto

Photo by Milana Braslavsky @milanabphoto

On this episode of Art & Cocktails, Kat talks with Michelle I. Gomez about her entrepreneurial journey and how artists can take back self-worth and gain control over their life and finances.

Michelle I. Gomez is the founder of Creative Unions Event Design LLC, the first event planning company dedicated to integrating contemporary art into life’s celebrations, she views marriage celebrations as specially curated art exhibitions that bring people together to celebrate and express unique love stories.

After having founded her own successful arts business, she now serves as a Launch Strategist for Women identifying Artists wanting to launch their own arts businesses by coaching her clients on business strategy and emotional intelligence so they too can do what they love (and get paid for it).

You can find Michelle at:

Coaching Services: www.artisttoartpreneur.com

Creative Unions Event Design: www.creativeunionsllc.com

Email: michelle@creativeunionsllc.com

IG: @michelleigomez and @creativeunion

Monumentalization of the Human Form: Interview with Lauren Carly Shaw

Interview by Sarah Mills

Lauren Carly Shaw (American, b.1986) is an artist currently based in Brooklyn, New York. Primarily working with sculpture, Shaw utilizes various mediums such as synthetic hair and glass to represent the female human body. Her work has been exhibited internationally, in Barcelona, New York, San Francisco, and New Jersey. She has had solo exhibitions at The Active Space, Brooklyn, NY (2013) and as a 2014 Sunroom Project Space Artist in the Glyndor Gallery at Wave Hill in the Bronx, NY (2014). Shaw has participated in residency and intensive programs across the world most recently at the Vermont Studio Center, Starry Night AIR program, and Metafora, in Barcelona, Spain. She received a BFA in sculpture from the School of Visual Arts 2009 and an MFA focusing on New Genres from the San Francisco Art Institute in 2016. 

Statement

My work investigates the nature of the human form and the monumentalization of the individual. I compose sculptures and installations in order to fully consider the body as an object. Surreal and imagined elements within the works and throughout the spaces they occupy create illusions and perceptual shifts in the way we view our own bodies. This abject and bizarre universe allows a disassociation from a pre-constructed reality, Anatomy, and emotion.

I create anthropomorphic forms to explore facets of feminism and historical unconscious. The surfaces of these fictionalized realities are representations of the thoughts, feelings, and psychology of our bodies. While alluding to a loose narrative the figures, cast replications, or prosthesis become equivocal while simultaneously paying particular attention to the uncanny nature of their human likeness. Seemingly floating, climbing up walls and floors, confronting the viewer, or interacting through digital media the objects appear to exist in an abject and bizarre alternate universe somewhere between birth and collapse.

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When did you become interested in sculpture and the human form as a subject in your work?

I have always been interested in sculpture and the human form. I started making sculptural work while an undergrad at the School of Visual Arts in Manhattan. I was studying graphic design and took a 3D class as part of the requirements for that program. It became quickly apparent to me that I was not interested in working strictly digitally and needed to get my hands dirty. The human body has always been my main subject of investigation as I am interested in the disconnect that happens when a human form becomes an object. When presenting a sculpture that is objectively human in its physical properties, I aim to challenge the idea of what makes a person human. Is our notion of being human tied innately to the physicality of our forms? How are these objects given intelligibility with the viewers own unique experiences?

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In your statement you talk about your use of synthetic materials and how they act as a channel for your viewer to challenge their own form, when and how did your interest in that idea begin?

I started using synthetic hair for the series Hairy Ladies as a way to further remove the sculpture from its ties to the human body. I wanted to infuse a figurative sculpture with a sense of the uncanny. I liked the idea of using something that isn’t actually from the human body but speaks to its presence. Albeit superficial, this abject element adds a life-like quality to the figures. The use of fake hair also references beauty standards, vanity and the extreme lengths people go to in order to make themselves beautiful in accordance with societal standards. These works are an exaggeration of that in some aspect. Additionally, there are a number of beauty stores in the neighborhood I live in and after walking by them a number of times I became interested in this culture of exaggerated vanity.

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How does your process change when creating instillation-based work verse small sculptures or drawings?

Installation based work takes a lot more planning and time to flesh out as they typically incorporate some of the smaller sculptural works. In the past, my installations have been very narrative and methodical in their construction. I start by making a figure and create an otherworldly environment for it to occupy. The smaller sculptural elements help to displace the viewer from their own reality. By situating a figure in an environment and surrounding it with surreal objects, I am able to disassociate our given reality and create a new, unique environment for the objects to exist in. The smaller works do take a generous amount of planning and time as well, but putting them together is much more technique based. Once I have sketched and settled on the final shape and material of the smaller pieces, it really is a question of figuring out how to make the original and mold. Mold making is tricky, it takes some time to figure out how to best break down an object for molding and casting.

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What are you currently working on?

Currently, I am working on a large immersive installation that will incorporate elements of sculpture, performance, video and augmented reality. I want to take the idea of installation to the next level and create an environment that makes you question the reality of what you are looking at. I've made a figure and smaller objects and have begun to create the environment that they live in.

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What links all your work?

I rely on the figure as a signifier in my work and rarely make sculptures or installation that does not have some sort of figurative element. I also typically work life-sized which helps the various projects communicate in a linear way.

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How do you run your studio practice? Do you have any advice for our readers about a healthy studio practice?

I need to spend consistent time in my studio in order to focus conceptually as well as materially. I like to work in large chunks of time (8-10 hours straight) for a few days consecutively and then take a day or two away from the studio to step away from the work. I can get nitpicky and a bit obsessive when working and I think its equally important to take the time to walk away and take a breather. It is hard for me to think clearly when I'm too close to the work. Since my sculptures are figurative and a lot of them are made from molds of my own body or in my own likeness, they easily become an extension of myself. It's important for me to remove myself from the work. I think it is paramount for artists to have interests and hobbies outside of the studio and the arts to have a healthy work/life balance. I find the hobbies, jobs, interests, and distractions I have from my studio are like palate cleansers. They end up giving me the space I need to think clearly and inform the work in the long run.

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What is the most rewarding part of your creative practice?

Without question, the most rewarding part of my creative practice is when I see someone engage with my work in a meaningful way. I did a series, Large Children Having Lost Their Heads, a few years ago that are balloons with faces on them. When installed, they look like actual balloons. I had an installation with about ten of them, and a family came through. The two children immediately went up to the balloons and tried to pull the ribbon as though it was a real balloon. They were a little confused when they realized the balloon was a sculpture and not a balloon, but then they caught the faces and started giggling uncontrollably. There is nothing better than putting a quizzical smile on a curious face.

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