Posts in Interview
Hidden Nature: Interview with Darko Vuckovic
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Talent is a good advantage, but it brings us to our goal only if nurtured through constant work.

Vuckovic was born in Podgorica, Montenegro and graduated from Faculty of Fine Arts in Cetinje in 2001, in the class of professor Dragan Karadzic, painting department.

From 1999 to 2000, he attended L’ecole Superrieure d’Art du Grenoble, France, where he started to experiment in computer-generated imagery, photography and experimental sound.

In 2012, he completed specialized studies, painting department, at the Faculty of Fine Arts in Belgrade, in the class of professor Zoran Vukovic. He has been a member of ULUCG (Association of visual artists of Montenegro) since 2002.

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The Heraldry of Nature (Imprints and Traces)

Every shape in the visible nature, the smallest as well as the biggest, is revealed as harmony. 

The Māori from Polynesia had the word “mana” for expressing the unity of things, the strong feeling that life is a unity in which not only gods, people and all living things partake, but also things that to us seem dead. “Mana” thus represents an immediate experience of the “sacred force that permeates life”. All of their art is filled with spirals as visual displays of the force. They were engraved into wood and stone, painted, or even tattooed on the body. One can find identical spiral motives in many other parts of the world, some originating from prehistoric times.

In nature we find the spiral movement in the structure of the DNA molecule, as well as in the spiral galaxies. The “murmur” of the cosmos is expressed through shape, just as fine sand placed on a string instrument makes precise geometric shapes when one plays a tone.

György Doczi, a Hungarian architect from the early 20th century, discovered the same mathematical laws at the basis of architecture, the elements of landscape, the anatomy of humans, animals and plants, the tone scale, the rhythm in poetry, prompting him to introduce the concept of a dynergic pattern“.

The displayed works have a common thread. They represent different imprints of the universal energy flow, which is visible just partly. This energy weaves tirelessly behind the curtain of the material world, maintaining it and driving it. The idea once obsessed J. W. Goethe (Essay on the plant), and later Rudolf Steiner when he speaks about the active spiritual reality, deeming it the cause of what we perceive with our outer senses. The wide field of his work and his views had a profound impact on art: the works of Kandinsky, and later Joseph Beuys, among others.

Occasionally, the hidden, dynamical and changeable nature finds its artistic expression and displays itself in physical form. That is why I consider myself only as a formal author of these works.

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When and how were you first introduced to working with ceramics?

I started doing ceramics about ten years ago. Considering I received a degree in painting, the main techniques of my artistic expression were drawing, painting, photo collages. A set of circumstance led to my sharing a studio with some sculptors. This was a decisive factor for my gradual shift to ceramics and getting to know its secrets. Ceramics enabled me to add a third dimension to the visual images I created. I was and still am fascinated by the possibilities it offers, which are practically inexhaustible.

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What inspires your work?

Inspiration is something that is in my case spontaneous, which arrives the moment I start communicating with the material, in this case with clay.

There are certain conditions that have a positive effect on achieving a required state of sensitivity when creativity can be expressed in the proper way.

Frequent trips to nature contribute to this state. The rhythms of nature and its changes are somewhat similar to the rhythms of the forms I create. My forms are organic and changeable, almost natural.

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What is your process like when you start a new sculpture?

In most cases, I don’t have a clear idea and plan about what I wish to accomplish because I want to leave open the possibility of a surprise.

I allow the forms to change by their own inner rhythm and impulse. This is probably the main reasons why the technique has been holding my interest for so long. Later, after the first round of baking clay, some additional effects are made with texture and glaze, making it even more interesting. Sculptures are often baked multiple times in a row until the desired effect is achieved.

Below is the link for my short film on clay and an ancient method of sculpture making. The film was screened at the AVI Fest - Short Film Festival 2017, where it won the first prize.

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Who are some artists that inspire you?

It used to be Hieronymus Bosch and Flemish painters. Afterward, surrealists like Max Ernst, the metaphysical painter Giorgio de Chirico, but also M.C. Escher.

As for sculptures, I am most fascinated by the sculptures by Joan Miro and some works by Joseph Beuys.

These are the artists whose work always leaves an impression on me.

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What has been the most challenging aspect of your career thus far? How did you overcome it?

The greatest challenge is persisting in doing what one loves. It isn’t always easy. It means not compromising what one considers truly worthy of doing. Like the moment I left my steady office job as a graphic designer so I would have more time for my artwork. It often means entering a zone of economic instability. These decisions bring many questions, doubts, and dwellings, and one needs to learn how to cope with that. It becomes easier as time goes by.

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What would you say your greatest strength is as an artist?

For me, art is something that gives meaning even at times when we cannot find it in our surrounding, in the outer world. The fact itself is encouraging and gives strength and motivation. For me, that is enough.

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Do you have a piece of advice you have received that you would like to share with our readers?

There is good advice in the tale about Aladdin. It says that if you rub the lamp long enough, a genie will appear. The lamp represents us and our unnurtured talents. This means that if we are persistent and focused, results are inevitable. Talent is a good advantage, but it brings us to our goal only if nurtured through constant work.

The Economy of Poetic Verse: Interview with Stacey Beach

Stacey Beach is a painter without paint, making two-dimensional works of fabric, both solid and patterned, incorporating hand-drawn and screen-printed elements. Inspired by the economy of poetic verse and the transgressive in fashion, she works with collage, beginning with a pared down vocabulary of shape and form. Beach allows the fabric to make its own moves once it is sewn and stretched on a panel, allowing the wrinkles and pulls in the textile to add to the composition.  The works embrace awkward and uneasy relationships, exploring the concepts of beauty and anti-beauty, construction and decay, form and void.

Stacey Beach lives and works in Berkeley, CA. She received her MFA from California College of the Arts and has exhibited in California and New York, where she worked as a studio assistant to Takashi Murakami.

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Tell me about your creative journey so far. Were you creative as a child? What made you decide to pursue art?

Art making has always been a part of my life, and from my earliest days in school, the art room was where I felt at home and felt that I belonged. My parents were always supportive of any direction I wanted to take, so when I decided that I wanted to pursue art in school, they supported that 100%. I went to both undergrad and grad school for painting and have never looked back. It has always just been what I do. This means I have worked many odd jobs, waitressing, in cafes, galleries, and as an art assistant, but have always had the mentality that these are the job but my work is my artwork. I have had my ups and downs with that balance though, and at times the 9-5 job has defeated my creativity. I feel like I've come to a place where I don't feel like I have any more time to screw around, like this is it, and my drive is stronger than ever to make the work that I see in my head.

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Where did your interest in textiles come from?

Since I was a child, fashion has fascinated me, and I love the idea of decorating one’s self. I love the drama of fashion and pattern, form and proportion. I learned to sew when I was young and it has always been a tool in my home, but never a serious pursuit. Painting was my main interest creatively. But after a few years of creative frustration after working as an art assistant in NY, I started quilting when I was pregnant with my son, and sold quilts for a time when I was feeling that I just wanted to make useful things rather than art. I quickly realized I did not find joy in recreating my quilt designs and what I was making was becoming much less quilt-like and much more like my paintings. I feel I’ve finally found a medium that is much more personally connect to my sense of self than paint.

What is your current body of work about?

I am currently working on a series that focuses on textiles and highlights the medium of fabric as the subject of the work. The craft of construction through sewing is of critical importance, the textiles are joined by a thread, not glue, resulting in pulls and wrinkles when stretched on the final panel support. The pulls create line and texture, imperfections and a tactile closeness. I am currently interested in spaces that are traditionally female like interiors and looking at objects of decoration.

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Talk about your experience working with Takashi Murakami. What were some highlights and important things you took away from it?

Working for Takashi was a once in a lifetime experience, I am super grateful to have had that opportunity. I admire his dedication to work and art, and the team that I worked with was an amazing group of artists. We were really on a crazy ride together. Painting for another artist is something that was hard on me creatively, we worked such long hours there was nothing left outside of work. I kept pulling back my hours until finally, I needed to make a drastic change to reclaim my creative life and moved to New Mexico. I took this time as a time to work with no one looking, to reassess what was important to me in art. I focused on line drawings and collage. I didn’t paint again for years.

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Describe your creative process. How does each work come to life?

It always varies, there may be an image that is stuck in my mind, like the coat in Matisse’s Woman in a Purple Coat and I really wanted to make a piece like that, that had a prominent textile as the composition. Other times there may be a pattern that I’ve designed and screen printed on several yards of fabric and keep playing with until it finds a home. Other times, pieces that didn’t turn out as I wanted are cut up and that edited form is the base for new work. I arrange and rearrange, snapping pictures on my phone like a sketchbook until it is resolved.

What is currently inspiring you?

Matisse, Georgia O’keefe’s biography, textile design, American folk art and the amount of women artists out there right now working like total bosses.

Interview with James Oliver, Artist and Owner of James Oliver Gallery

James Oliver is a painter whose precise visual language pushes the tradition of twentieth century abstraction into a contemporary context. Oliver is a conceptually driven formalist whose work is inspired by his dreams and emotional states, which he abstracts into an undetermined and subjective viewing experience by emphasizing line, color, and form. Even as Oliver turns to a figurative practice in recent series, rendering cultural icons like chopper bikes, Pontiac Firebirds, and his childhood poodle in detailed line drawings, these representations similarly evoke broadly accessible affects abstracted from his mental landscape.

Tell me a little bit about yourself and your art.

I'm known as a near-minimalist painter that first got attention working abstractly. Now I'm getting known more as being a painter who delves into representational and figurative works. I have been working on a series of paintings of muscle cars and vintage motorcycles and completely enjoying it. I use minimal color in my works and am known for my line-work.

What inspired you to start your gallery? Give us a little history of the beautiful exhibition space in Philadelphia.

I have been presented a huge space for my studio practice. I quickly realized that the space was bigger than the amount I would really need. Shortly after receiving the keys to the space, I showed it to some close friends and most determined I should open an art gallery; the landlord also mentioned this. I quickly concluded with their input and my own background in the arts, that I can do this! So, long story short, JOG (James Oliver Gallery) was born. We have featured many great artists from the local talent pool to artists from near and far at our gallery that generally showcases works that may be on the minimalist and clean side, both abstract and figurative. All mediums. Over the course of the years, people have mentioned that maybe we should expand within the building at some. An opportunity arose in 2017 to take over the second floor, and we would make this a particularly unique endeavor. This all came about with the partnering through partnering up with our neighbor, Bryan Hoffman, owner of Hoffman Design Group. His company specializes in interior landscape and does business throughout the city. We decided in this partnership to "marry" horticulture with contemporary art. The artwork we feature at Hot-Bed would be a plant, animal, or science-driven exhibitions. So far so good!

Over these years I had the good fortune of working with some great interns and assistants. Most notably, Aubrey Loftus who first interned here for a year and then became staff and now is director of both galleries. She is a very talented artist and curator/director that has helped bring us into our biggest phase.

How has running a gallery influenced your own art making?

As one might imagine, being surrounded by great quality works over these months and years has uniquely inspired and driven me to create and develop my best works to date. My recent series of works was inspired not only by being around the gallery and the art scene but from input by visitors and fellow artists and their encouragement to develop the series. Lovin' it!

Sacred Geometry: Interview with Phyllis Gorsen and Paula Cahill
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Phyllis Gorsen

I have created a series of multi-canvased paintings that describe how we are all connected together by having elements of everyday life in common. I use symbols in both visual and written language as depictions of these commonalities highlighting the connections created by their universality despite varying perceptions. I use a combination of abstraction and representation in the work.These paintings explore connection in two ways: larger multi-canvased compositions that are broad symbolic illustrations of elements of common human experiences, and smaller “couples” paintings that represent two universal elements symbolically paired together in written language. These works are more specific in nature. 
My paintings are intended to move the eye using energetic patterns, movement and vibrancy. My hope is that viewer is captivated by the visual allure of the surface to allow for a slow unveiling of the meaning of the work – which is that we all connected by sharing many of these human experiences.

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Tell me about your creative journey so far. 

I have been painting most of my life, primarily figures.  What I loved most about figurative work is that many times it contains the thing that is most basic to all of us. Race, gender identity, religion, etc. inform our experiences and perspectives and thus there are multitudes of viewpoints stemming from that. But, even with these differences, there are overarching similarities that we are share. That is the place that I want to put the emphasis on. As an artist, my work has always been about connection. I try to portray the human aspects that are intrinsic to all people regardless of our differences.  

When I went back to school and got my MFA in 2014 from the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Art, I studied the figurative painters that I loved so much, mainly the Bay Area Figurative Painters like David Park and Richard Diebenkorn. It was then that I started to concentrate on figurative work that captures the patterns of everyday life, but I never made my work autobiographical. I was always much more interested in those spaces that are common to everyone. And although the figure was a catalyst for my work, between the use of color, collage, and pattern, there has always been a strong abstract component. After I graduated, I started to play around in the studio thinking more about the literal interpretation of patterns of everyday life. That’s when I took the turn into geometric abstract work.

As I delved deeper into the abstract elements, both in subject matter and execution, I began portraying components of everyday life in symbolic terms. I created paintings mimetic of the human experience without the use of figures. Most people don’t realize that my paintings contain symbols, I think mostly because I try not to make them too obvious. I prefer a slow unveiling of the meaning behind the work. I do fuse abstraction and representation within many of my paintings as long as I feel they describe the various facets of our commonalities. Some of these elements are recognizable and others are symbolic interpretations of components such as language, technology, nature, culture, etc. Often, I use lines to bridge these symbols together, illustrating how they connect us together. Linguistically, I am exploring the use of symbolism through my titles. These play a critical role in telling the story of each piece and drive the composition of some paintings. All of my work has a high degree of vibrancy and vibration that is a constant within my practice.

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What inspired you to create the work you are including in the exhibition at James Oliver Gallery?


My works in the show contain pieces that are more complex and have various visual components and meanings, as well as paintings that are more distilled and simplified. In addition to the complex paintings that are attached to multiple canvases, I wanted to include paintings that were separate but related. So I have works that are both interconnected such as “Essence and Pursuit” and outwardly connected such as “Of a Circular Nature…”- which are a set of four paintings? It was an exciting exploration in the idea of connection to depict it internally and externally. All of the work is painted on circular canvases or within circular spaces. The circle to me is beautiful in that there are no defined edges. They feel like complete bodies to me and allow me to investigate the idea of connection in a more fluid way.


What are some ongoing themes or ideas you have been exploring within your paintings?

As I mentioned before, I focus on how the commonality of shared patterns connects people together by using symbolism- both abstract and representational. I personally feel that the most powerful works are the ones that combine visceral sensory experiences with fundamental content underneath. I like making the surfaces of my paintings beautiful with the hope that the viewer is enticed enough to uncover the underlying message of human connection. In “Interweave”, the idea was to illustrate that regardless of our differences, people are internally woven together creating a society. In “Interlink #1-12”, the 12 separate canvases each represents a microcosm of a society that is linked to ones surrounding it. In “Essence and Pursuit”, there are eight canvases representing elements of humanity. From the top left panel going across and down, they are: Connection, Essence (red rings emanating outward), diverse populations of people moving together and apart (top middle), Vegetation, Geography, Technology (bottom middle), Knowledge, and Cities.


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What can visitors expect from this exhibition?  

Sacred Geometry describes the patterns found in nature from the most minuscule particles to the greater cosmos. We obviously took on the title of the show “Sacred Geometry” with some poetic license. The idea behind the show was to exhibit work that had geometric abstract elements that also incorporated the meaning behind it.

When you walk into Hot-Bed Gallery, the viewer is immersed in a room of vibrant pattern and color. It really is visually exciting due to the interplay of color and movement from our work. I was really happy to be exhibiting with Paula Cahill because I am an admirer of her work and I felt that our paintings would fit well together. Hopefully, the audience will be seduced by the luminous surfaces to want to know more about the paintings.

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Paula Cahill

Is it possible to pinpoint when straight and curved lines were invented? The contours of ancient rock paintings give us organic lines and line is evident in the motifs of early Greek vessels and Egyptian Funerary art. Renaissance artists were lauded for their invention of perspective, a system contrived of straight lines that extend to infinity. Modernists isolated and formalized gestural line as subject. I strive to extend this conversation by painstakingly mixing and repeatedly laying down up to 100 gradients of color in my attempts to contemporize line.

- Paula Cahill

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Tell me about your creative journey so far. 

I studied figurative painting for many years before transitioning to complex abstract paintings. While in Graduate School, one of my critics looked at my figurative work and told me that if I wanted to paint flesh better, I should paint a fish. So, I did. When he came back, he said: "That's a pretty good fish, you should paint another one." Apparently, my other critics also thought that I should paint fish and they told me so. I never figured out if they thought I painted great fish or lousy flesh, but I kept painting fish. Pretty soon, I became interested in the way fish were moving in my aquarium and I began tracking their movements with line. I used those lines to make my first linear abstract paintings.

Being an abstract painter was like being a kid in a candy store for me. I wanted to experiment and try every type of abstract painting. I experimented for about six years. When I decided to get serious about showing my work, I asked friends for advice. They basically told me that I was a gallerist's nightmare! I needed to settle down to create a cohesive body of work. That's when I returned to the lines and I’ve been developing this body of work for almost two years. I’m glad that I made this commitment because the work has become more precise and complex. I’ve moved beyond fish and have used a variety of catalysts for the paintings. Art historical reference, movement, music, geometry, and memories have all been sources for my paintings.

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What inspired you to create the work you are including in the exhibition at James Oliver Gallery?

To me line is everything! Line is everywhere and it has been with us forever. I often wonder if we can pinpoint when straight and curved lines were invented. The contours of ancient rock paintings give us organic lines and line is evident in the motifs of early Greek vessels and Egyptian Funerary art.Renaissance artists were lauded for their invention of perspective, a system contrived of straight lines that extend to infinity. Modernists isolated and formalized gestural line as a subject. I strive to extend this conversation by painstakingly mixing and repeatedly laying down up to 100 gradients of color in my attempts to contemporize line.

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What can visitors expect from this exhibition?  

My new 2019 paintings will be exhibited for the first time in Sacred Geometry at Hot Bed. Geometry and historical reference are heavily weighted in this work. I think that viewers will be surprised to see some color shifts and compositional changes.

A Quiet Revolution: Interview with Martin Beck
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I want my work to reflect this through the study of the nude form as something that uplifts our experience of being human. This is not prescriptive art and does not have the power to change the world. But it might help spark a quiet revolution in one’s own experience.
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Martin Beck is a figurative artist best known for large pastel and mixed media paintings of the nude human form. These drawings often contain palimpsests – ghost figures from previous drawings - that evoke half-forgotten dreams or alternate realities. 
Beck has exhibited widely with solo shows at the Contemporary Arts Center, Cincinnati, OH and the Jersey City Museum, NJ and most recently at ARC Gallery, Chicago, IL. Recent group exhibitions include Mixed Media at Site:Brooklyn, New York, NY and Art Connections 13 at George Segal Gallery, Montclair, NJ. His exhibitions have been reviewed in The New York Times and The Sunday Star Ledger. 

In 2019 Beck’s work will be included in the publication International Drawing Annual 13, Manifest Press, Cincinnati, and the Create Magazine Winter print edition. An interview with the artist is currently live on VoyageChicago.

Martin Beck received two New Jersey State Council on the Arts Fellowships (1994, 2000). Beck holds a Master of Fine Arts degree from Carnegie Mellon University and a Bachelor of Fine Arts, Cum Laude, from State University of New York at Buffalo. In April 2009 Martin Beck participated in the two-week residency MMMart, medana.art pomlad in Medana, Slovenia. 

Martin Beck’s work solo exhibition pal•imp•sest(2): bearing traces of earlier forms is currently on view until March 30, 2019 at MS Rezny Gallery, Lexington, KY.

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What is your creative process like? You tend to work on prepared paper. What do you typically do to prep a sheet of paper?

I’ve recently gotten involved with the process and the nature of materials. My main tools are chalk pastels, brushes, a random orbit sander, sanding blocks, atomizers and sometimes a garden hose. Mark making is an important element as I build up the surface over time through multiple life drawing sessions. I’m interested in creating a visceral experience for the viewer and provide a journey into the art-making process.

There are two methods I use to start a piece. The first begins with a drawing from life on a blank sheet of paper. This could be a sheet of gesture drawing or some other result of a life drawing session. These drawings are often incomplete. So, after the session, I manipulate them – prepare them by applying water or pigment (usually both), or sand them, apply to spray paint and let them dry in the sun on a textured surface. This provides a rich ground to work on.

The second method involves preparing the paper with various media: gouache, dry pigment, graphite, spray paint and acrylics. After either of these two methods, I’ll have a toned piece of paper with arbitrary marks and color that seem like abstract paintings.

I use this paper in life drawing sessions using some of the accidental marks, color, and texture as information to enhance the act of drawing. I respond to the paper almost as much as to the model. A resulting unsuccessful drawing on prepared paper might be further manipulated by obscuring the image with water, medium, and sanding. In those cases, the ground becomes quite thick with layers of color and texture. The final piece is more like a painting than a drawing.

As a result of all the layers, these works on paper often contain palimpsests – ghost figures from previous drawings - that evoke half-forgotten dreams or alternate realities. Or, as the 4th-century philosopher Augustine of Hippo wrote: “A present of things past, a present of things present and a present of things future.”

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What about the human form inspires you?

I am fascinated by the Neue Sachlichkeit artists of pre-World War II Germany. Their work was informed by the experience of the First World War, the turmoil of Germany society at the time and the dehumanizing aspects of new technology. We are living through a similar time with our own seemingly endless wars and terrorism, climate change and income inequality, gun violence, racism, and bigotry.

We are distracted from our lives through the ubiquity of social media and the hand-held device. We are jaded, selfish, insensitive and addicted to convenience and immediate gratification. It seems like society has a metabolic disease.

So, we are living in a difficult and interesting time. I want my work to reflect this through the study of the nude form as something that uplifts our experience of being human. This is not prescriptive art and does not have the power to change the world. But it might help spark a quiet revolution in one’s own experience. I want my work to help “express and overcome our humanity” (a quote that I, unfortunately, can’t attribute).

I’ve written elsewhere that our bodies are road maps of our individual experience. Part of that is the model’s self-expression. Hairstyle, tattoos, piercings, body hair or lack of, makeup or lack of are all clues to their identity. My work also then presents an emphatic confirmation of personality and a space to contemplate and celebrate humanity in all its variety.

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How has your style and technique evolved over the years?

I’ve always been a figurative artist because of my fascination with people and how we live in our culture. My work used to consist of large multi-figural paintings with social and political themes, based on photos and invention.

These were demanding pieces to make, made more difficult since I have Ankylosing Spondylitis (AS), an autoimmune arthritic disease. For years I was able to control it using over-the-counter drugs, but when the disease intensified in 2012, I had to make some changes. Standing or sitting at the easel for extended periods is no longer possible. I’m currently focused on drawing and painting from life in two to four hours long sessions with the model. These sessions are challenging, but the level of intense observation and control necessary allows my body to “fall away". It’s like moving meditation. And focusing on another person in this way is uplifting and liberating.

These physical limitations also have me working in a more quick and loose way. The tight control I used to exercise isn’t possible. I’ve had to “let go” and let the cosmos help me draw through accidental mark making. As a result, there is a certain amount of surrealism and abstraction in my work.

I’ve also developed a sense of how ephemeral our experiences are. Working from life is like trying to capture time. The materials I use are fragile. The paper, pastel and water media are supple and vulnerable.

I’ve come to believe that the nude speaks most directly of the human condition. To study another’s face and form is to understand their essential humanity: their frailty and imperfection. My own arthritic condition has allowed me to see more of these qualities in the others. I’ve also found that if you study anyone with the level of intensity my kind of figurative work requires, you see their beauty and strength as well.

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What is your favorite thing to focus on when you are drawing someone?

In a way, I am more concerned with the act of drawing than the finished piece. Just as people are complex the attempt to depict them involves many variables. I try to let the figure emerge from the ground and let the model’s presence inhabit the prepared paper. It is remarkable how palpably present the model is once you begin to draw them.

The model often looks inward as they try to hold a pose. Some of that inwardness is outwardly expressed, not only in their face but also in their body. I’ve come to think of these pieces as portraits, even when the face isn’t visible or there is no likeness.

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How have you overcome setbacks in your career?

There are times when it’s difficult to deal with the career aspects of art-making, especially in a society that prizes money-making above all else. But I recall that the opportunity to make art is a privilege. Having a voice in our society through art even more so, and as such a responsibility. In my practice, the concern is not with the finished piece but the experience of art-making. For me each piece is like a journey – and I feel a responsibility to share that with my audience.

The act of drawing expands outward into other parts of my life. Whatever happens, is part of the larger journey of trying to be in the moment. This attitude is in part informed by my AS, which has forced me to deal with physical limitations. Despite treatment, it’s a disease that waxes and wanes and so the other shoe is always about to drop.

Tessa Miller wrote recently in the New York Times about having a chronic disease that “…your relationship with yourself changes. You grieve a version of yourself that doesn’t exist anymore and a future version that looks different than you’d planned.” (https://www.nytimes.com/2019/02/18/smarter-living/five-things-i-wish-i-knew-chronic-illness-crohns-disease-ibd.html)

And maybe that’s the source of my current fascination with the nude – to capture the artist and model in such a fleeting moment so that the four-hour session endures. Despite inherent fragility.

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What are you up to in 2019? Anything we should be on the lookout for?

My solo exhibition pal•imp•set(2): bearing traces of earlier forms currently on exhibit at 
MS Rezny Gallery is an exciting event for me as it is my first solo show in my new home town, Lexington, Kentucky. Seventeen recent works will be on display through March 30.

A two-person show at the Lexington Art League tentatively titled The Present of Things Past will be on view July 26 – August 23. This exhibition of figurative work by myself and Brandon C. Smith should have interesting juxtapositions and intersections. Brandon and I both run life drawing sessions here in Lexington. His on Thursday nights at the University of Kentucky College of Fine Arts and my Sunday afternoon in my studio.

Two somewhat unusual pieces will be on display at the One Shot exhibition at Manifest Gallery March 8-April 5 in Cincinnati, OH. This show features works done in one sitting and my works on paper generally evolve over time. These two pieces came together in one session.

My work is also included in the publication International Drawing Annual 13, Manifest Press, Cincinnati, available mid-2019.

An interview with images is currently live on http://voyagechicago.com/interview/art-life-martin-beck/

Please visit https://www.spondylitis.org/ for more information about Ankylosing Spondylitis and related chronic arthritic diseases.

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Stories of Love and Loss: Interview with Nanci Hersh
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The overarching theme of my work is a personal narrative about home and family. Stories of love and loss; both letting go and losing, are interwoven and explored with mixed media. This newest body of work is a return to printmaking as a centering prayer and meditation on process. Lines, fragmented patterns and assorted textures are part of my visual vocabulary to honor the ephemeral and make space for the tangible and intangible to coexist. 

Nanci is a professional mixed media artist, illustrator, educator, arts advocate and administrator as Executive Director of the Delaware Institute for the Arts in Education. 

Her work has been exhibited throughout the United States including “Eons Beyond the Rib,” at Seraphin Gallery in Philadelphia, PA, “Navigation Puzzle,” at the Delaware Center for the Contemporary Arts, “Paper Work”, at the Trenton City Museum at Ellarslie and “The Demoiselles Revisited” at Francis M. Naumann Fine Art, NYC, along with solo exhibitions in PA, NJ, DE, and Hawaii. Nanci has received numerous honors including three purchase awards from the State Foundation of Culture and the Arts, Hawaii and three Leeway Foundation Art & Change Grants. Her work is included in the Public Collections of Johnson & Johnson, Herspace Breast Imaging, Leland Portland Cement, and OSI Pharmaceuticals to name a few

With her cousin and author, Ellen McVicker, Nanci illustrated and co-created the children’s book Butterfly Kisses and Wishes on Wings: When someone you love has cancer… a hopeful, helpful book for kids. Having sold over 10,000 copies in English and now with a Spanish edition, Nanci and Ellen were invited in 2015 to participate in 798 ICAF, International Children’s Art Festival in Beijing, China in 2016.

www.nancihersh.com

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Initially, my work was influenced by the tropical beauty of the landscape, but I began to find my voice as an artist as the work became more personal.
— Nanci Hersh
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In your artist statement, you reflect on the idea that your work is a personal narrative about home and family. Can you tell us about your experience creating work that is so deeply personal?

From my first pale pink padded diary at age 11, complete with lock and key, to my current expressive mixed media paintings, collages and sculptures, my compulsion has been to chronicle, gain understanding and find the magic and connection in the everyday.

In 1985, I moved to Hawaii, far from family and friends on the East Coast. What was to be a six-week vacation led to a 12-year journey of living the dream; making art, surfing, managing an art gallery, studying, teaching and traveling. Initially, my work was influenced by the tropical beauty of the landscape, but I began to find my voice as an artist as the work became more personal. Through subsequent series that both examined and celebrated relationships at home and in my rural plantation neighborhood on the North Shore of Oahu, I began to feel a deep connection to the people, the place, and my work that felt more authentic. It also became cathartic and healing in many ways.

What are you currently working on?

I am working on a new series of monotypes and mixed media prints. This is a return to my undergraduate and graduate work in printmaking. Following the passing this summer of my mother, I am finding comfort in the rituals and process of working with a limited palette, my love of an expressive line and layered textures. Primarily black and white, with limited color, some encaustic and collage, they are a meditation on the transitory nature of life and death and the fine line between the two states of being.

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How has your creative process changed throughout your career?

It has evolved more than changed. A new series seems to dictate a particular medium or material that I am either practiced in or need to learn. For example, years ago, I had a dream about butterfly nets. Shortly after, I came upon some children’s butterfly nets at a gift shop at the beach which I purchased and began to manipulate by dipping them in the overly beaten paper pulp that dried like a skin, freezing them in time. This led to creating my own net forms from chicken wire, pulp, encaustic, pantyhose, and collage. Then I began finding and collecting different types of nets and netting which I use as stencils on my paintings and drawings. Often I circle back and incorporate elements of a prior series. The process builds upon itself more than changes.

What is your favorite part about creating mixed media works?

I love discovering found or repurposed objects or materials, seeing beauty in the juxtaposition of the elements and the surprises in how they speak to each other. I have always found peace walking along the beach and appreciate the flotsam and jetsam that wash ashore entangled, each part originating from somewhere else with a different unknown history coming together and shaped by the journey it has taken.

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What do you view as your greatest strength as an artist?

One of my greatest strengths as an artist is my perseverance. I keep making art, through raising my family, teaching, well-being or challenges, sales or not, recognition or not, just keep making it because it is who I am and how I find a deeper connection to nature, to others, to myself and a Higher Power. I also appreciate how I am able to see beauty and possibility in everything- and everyone.

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Along with your two-dimensional mixed media work you create three-dimensional sculptures, how does your studio practice accommodate both mediums?

The work informs each other. It is an ongoing conversation. There are times when what I need to explore is two-dimensional, other times it is three dimensional. This can be determined by a subject, a found object, a dream, a beautiful vine found on my walks with my dogs, or a cast shadow. Most often, there is a piece of one in the other or one is the jumping off point for the other. It is a fluid process that meanders with intention, to see how I can look at something in a new way and see where that takes me.

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What has been the best part of your artistic career thus far?

It has to be now. I am able to look at the scope of the work that I have created and see how the work has been an expression and an extension of my life experiences. I also appreciate how the work has led me to people, to conversations and experiences that deepen our connection and appreciation of the richness of this life.

Glowing Auras: Interview with Marit Geraldine Bostad

By Sarah Mills

Through a series of paintings on canvas, Marit Geraldine Bostad investigates the themes that are central to her artistic research, the inner psyche, memories and human interaction. She blends her colours by pouring paint directly onto the canvas using a variety of tools, seldom using the paint brush - to create diverse, versatile effects, resulting in broad expressive strokes whose vibrant color emanates from the surface. As she moves the paint around the canvas, consistent colour blends start to form. These blended gestures become auras that grow and merge with pure colour. Marit Geraldine explores the Nordic Colour tradition in a bold new direction, blending tone to tone pastels with sparks of fluorescent and manifesting her own personal psychic state onto the canvas. She builds up and breaks down the diverse elements of her personal experience and brings them together in a new plastic dimension.

Named one of the “4 must see Artists” at The other Art Fair London in 2017 by Chief Curator of Saatchi Art, Rebecca Wilson, Bostad has exhibited in renowned galleries in Oslo, London, New York and Los Angeles, and recently completed a summer residency at ESKFF MANA Contemporary in New York.

All studio photos: byTXF

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Tell us about your painting process.

I blend my colours by pouring paint directly onto the canvas and using different tools to spread it across the surface, I rarely use a paint brush. This often results in very particular details and broad strokes which are caused by the lightness of my tools. I am always drawn to contrasts, adding layers of paint in disparity with each other to maintain a constant battle on the canvas – searching for the right kind of unbalance; both in gestures, colours and mark making. I am largely influenced by memories, people and situations, whose essence I attempt to preserve on the canvas, translating meaningful experiences into my plastic pictorial expression.

For some time now I have tried to go beyond the conveyance of external emotional reactions to reach deeper into the subconscious, in an attempt to erase the line between the conscious and the unconscious, and allow the canvas to become the tangible manifestation of my inner psyche.

Prior to this I planned my sessions in the studio, I narrowed down what I wanted to focus on, but nowadays my projects focus on complete freedom, the total lack of definition. By allowing myself to embrace the inner world of the subconscious psyche, I hope to reach a new level of interaction, a new source of inspiration, and perhaps a newly refined artistic expression, through continuous exploration of a free expressionistic approach to painting. Instead of using my personal life experiences, I seek inwards, beyond my conscious mind, and use my emotions to guide me, in order to express universal archetypes that transcend the particular conditions of my own life.

This was also the focus of my works executed at my recent residency at ESKFF / Mana Contemporary in NYC where I was so lucky to spend 5 weeks this summer. Saatchi Art blogged about my project.

What is your favourite part about working with fluid paints?

The most inspiring moments are when the paint itself find new ways, takes interesting and unexpected turns across the canvas. At those moments I need to use my intuition, to either follow or reroute. I don´t listen to music when I work, I use silence as a mentor - to enable me to hear my own voice. I am constantly in a dialogue with my material, it is all about give and take.

How did you develop your style as an artist?

I developed my style from an inner urge. I took classes with myself, slowly opening up the door from the inside to the outside. In retrospect, I like to think that I started from the inside and unlearned my way out again.

I was originally an art director, working with visual content in a commercial context, and as such there was always a barrier between me and my material. I was highly influenced by trends and customer’s expectations. I became a robot; always working within limitations. It was from these restrictions that I developed a strong urge to initiate projects for myself. When I got my first big job at a respectable art agency I escaped into painting whenever I had the chance, as a way to unwind and release. My own secret room – where I could freely express myself, away from consumer goods and customer taste.

When ten years later I decided to start as a full-time artist, it changed my life. For the first time, my work was meaningful. Being able to watch people connect to my work also strengthened my own, personal bond with my creations. I experimented constantly, spending thousands of hours in my studio, playing freely with colour, technique, and material. I think I will get old and still feel humble towards my materials. After working as an artist for some years I started to exhibit internationally, and I traveled a lot. I became inspired by so many up and coming artists, I learned that everything is possible as long as you dare to stand out and take some risks.

My style comes from years of studio practice – but also from learning from others. I was confident in my own expression when I sought a new direction and thus I was open for new inspiration. I never changed my style completely, I just added small glimpses of the new. As such I can still recognise myself in my old paintings, there is a certain core of me in it, even though my style has definitively changed over the years, coloured by my technique, rarely using the paint brush. People ask me how long a painting takes to complete. - The work is done when I feel that humble sensation, “did I create this piece?” That is the ultimate sign of a painting being ready to continue the conversation elsewhere.

What is your studio practice like?

I work in a very disciplined and structured way, and as much as I can, which often leads to more practical matters just being set aside. I usually work with several pieces at the same time as I love the possibility of being spontaneous, getting new impulses. I often go back to a piece inspired by something else, a new colour, a new mark. When I have good periods in the studio, I compare it with being addicted to a drug. It is hard to leave, and as soon as I walk out the door I am longing to be back. But interacting with the world outside will make me a better artist in the end. It makes me focused and love what I do even more. So when the alarm clock rings in the studio because I have to pick up my youngest from school, it always makes me smile. What feels like one hour has in fact been a whole day. It never stops overwhelming me…People ask me whether I feel lonely, being in my studio all by myself. But you don´t have to be surrounded with people to have meaningful conversations. It is a different kind of relationship that gives so much back at the end of the day without a word being said.

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You left a career in Art Direction to pursue painting full time, what was that experience like?

Scary and absolutely fantastic. A moment of truth. I have been drawing and painting since I was a child, both my parents were artists so I had creativity solidly rooted in my life. But when they were struggling to make ends meet they had to take on other jobs as well. When I was at the age of making choices at school, planning my future - their voices echoed in my head. “Go for something safe and solid, get a profession where you won´t worry about income,” I remember wondering why adult life had to be about doing the right things. I studied philosophy, psychology, marketing, but had the same empty feeling inside, year after year, I felt that I had chosen wrong. Eventually, I found a school that had some of my creative interests, so I took a Bachelor in Art Direction.

I spent almost ten years working with visual content and design in film and print and traveled the world earning a high income. My work was most often about pushing consumer products out in the world, and living up to others expectations, making something “pretty” or “cool”. During these ten years, I escaped into painting whenever I had a chance. During the weekends, at nights, on holidays. The real moment of truth came after bringing a child into this world. It gave me a new strength, a clearer connection to myself somehow. I finally quit my job, it had almost made me sick. Today I am grateful that creating something from my own inner source was stronger than my fear of failing. I think that it is this that has made my artistic expression strong and rooted, in something real and true.

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Share a piece of advice you have received that you would like to pass along to our readers.

As an artist, I meet so many people giving me feedback on my artwork. Back in 2016, I had a conversation with an art curator, Rebecca Wilson from Saatchi Art, she made me realise that I had my own unique voice. She told me that she had not seen anything like my style before, which made me very happy to hear, of course. Ever since, I have carried her words with me as motivation, a strength on a rainy day. I have worked hard and steadily, always trying to be in contact with myself and with what I really feel, setting aside expectation, perfectionism, and trends, reminding myself that if I stay true to myself I will somehow make the right decisions. Sometimes that means listening to advice from others, and other times it means holding on to something I believe in; a core essence which is about unlearning, finding your own inner voice – a voice which is well hidden amongst the louder echoes of our society.

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What has been the most exciting moment of your art career?

Ohh, that´s a tough one! I have so many great moments… Can I please make a short list: My first solo-show; almost selling out my whole booth at my first art fair in London; managing to stop my crate at the airport when I was returning from New York after a fair because a very good gallery last minute wanted my works and to represent me! My first group show in New York at Madelyn Jordon Fine Art where I was curated in the same show as Gary Komarin; being one of Rebecca Wilsons 4 must-see artists at TOAF London in 2017; getting a phone call from Tonje Buer, curator at Fineart (Norway’s biggest gallery in Oslo); being picked for 2018 EURO ESKFF residency program at MANA Contemporary in New York; getting to work with so many new galleries internationally during 2018; being invited to KHÅK Kunsthall (one of Norway’s most prestigious art associations where I will be having my biggest solo-show ever in late 2019) In addition to that – I have to mention ALL the moments in my studio (at least 5-6 crucial ones), where I have gained precious insight, all of which are an essential part of where I am today both as a person and as an artist.

Creating Environments Through Drawing with Anastasia Parmson
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 Anastasia Parmson is an Estonian artist with Siberian roots and a French education. She is currently living and working in New Zealand.

Parmson’s drawing career began from early childhood. It is during her MFA studies at Strasbourg University that she began pushing the limits of drawing by combining it with other mediums such as video projection, sculpture, ready-made and poetry, winning awards for animation and drawing installation.

In 2010  she served onboard a marine conservation vessel in Antarctic waters. The voyage resulted in a series of light box drawings titled Ship Life. These were the focal point of Parmson’s first solo show at Rundum Artist-Run Space in Tallinn, Estonia.

In 2017 Parmson created a public art installation for Kilometre of Sculpture festival at Tallinn Art Week, drawing a 200m (656ft) long line through the heart of her hometown.

Her latest project – a site specific installation Untitled (my space at may space) for Out of Line exhibition at MAY SPACE gallery in Sydney – is the next step toward Parmson’s vision of creating a whole world in drawing.

These milestones have helped Anastasia define her artistic practice and inspire curiosity toward new unexpected possibilities to innovate contemporary drawing as a medium. In future projects she intends to expand drawing into large scale installations with video mapping as well as virtual- and augmented reality.

Statement

My work has been strongly influenced by childhood obsessions of Dysney comics and coloring books. Traveling a lot and living in several countries around the world has meant that I am constantly looking for belonging while inevitably remaining an outsider. Drawing has been my way of creating pockets of familiarity and intimacy in a world of strange and unknown, like tracing my place in the world.

Stripping everything down to the line - that is the most basic form of every drawing. I want to take drawing past its conventional two-dimensional format by combining it with other mediums such as sculpture and ready-made, video, performance and poetry, social media and augmented reality. I want it to be not just seen – but experienced. I dream of creating a whole environment in drawing; something people can walk through, exist in and interact with.

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When did you first start experimenting with the idea of experiencing and interacting with a drawing? What sparked that idea?

My first experiments began in university during my Master’s degree studies. Learning about contemporary art and what was popular in the art world left me feeling like drawing as a medium was somehow not “enough”. I experimented with video art, installation and performance. But when the time came to pick my Master’s curriculum I discovered that the only class taught by my favorite tutor was a graphics module. That scared me a lot! This tutor had become my mentor and pusher of boundaries and as a painter himself, he always had the toughest questions and harshest critiques for students working with painting and drawing. At first, it was difficult, drawing felt too limited and too traditional to think outside the box. So I began considering mixing it with other mediums and slowly I was able to imagine drawing become so much more than marks on paper. Since then it has kept proliferating in my mind: my artistic practice cannot keep up with my vision of what drawing can be.

What was your experience like shifting from drawing in a more traditional way of creating installations?

Growing up, drawing had always been my “thing”. Then in my first years at university, I completely neglected it because I discovered that all of my favorite contemporary artists were making big shiny work, conceptual installations, and sensory environments. I can still remember the lightbulb moment when I realized I could marry drawing with video and installation art. It was pure joy and felt like I had found my artistic voice. I could at last combine the craft that had shaped my past with the scale and feel of art that had so much inspired me and what I was striving for.

Based on your artist statement travel has played a big part in your life, how has traveling so much affected your art making?

On the one hand, there are the constraints of time, space and available tools, which largely dictated what I could and could not do for many years. I spent a lot of time on a boat where the only medium readily available was photography, so I documented my encounters. This provided a lot of material and inspiration for when I turned to digital drawing (and mixing drawing with photography). It was easy to pack a graphic tablet and take my work with me wherever I went.

On the other hand, there are the personal and cultural effects of moving countries and living in different parts of the world. It is difficult to put into words but it has been an important theme in my work. My Master’s thesis was about the “in-between” – the ever precarious space in which one is divided but at the same time made whole by cultural differences, language barriers, and patriotic loyalties. For me the lines I draw between dark and light areas of an image or an object are like borders: they link parts of an image together just as much as they separate. Art has been my way to work through the enormous experiences of travel, the friendships lost due to distance and it has served as a comfort in times when I was yet again starting as a stranger in a new place.

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What is your first step when starting a drawing that is going to combine more than one medium?

There are many ways to begin. When working on a site-specific project or for a particular event/purpose I start by looking at the existing space and use any constraints as my initial framework. Sometimes I have to ask myself how to simplify everything down to just one line and then build onto that.

Most often though I have these big visions rattling around in my head for a long time before I figure out a way to make something of them. For example, the body of work I am putting together right now has been gestating for years. It’s only in the past 18 months that I have been able to have space, the tools and the confidence to start bringing these visions into reality.

How has your artistic style changed throughout your career?

My visual style - or my handwriting so to speak - has been pretty consistent so far. It’s mainly my tools and materials that have changed over time. I think the greatest shifts have been in how and why I begin a project. In university years I was able to work a lot more conceptually - starting with a personal struggle or revelation and building an artwork around that. Then during many travels and changes, my inspiration came mostly from outside – from objects, places, and people I came across on my journey. And now it’s slowly changing again toward a more reflective and personal expression.

Do you have advice for our readers who would like to take their drawings off the drawing pad?

Begin to draw a line, when you reach the edge of the pad – keep going! Think big but simplify to the max. Try all the tools, surfaces and mediums you are drawn to or feel intimidated by. Regardless of how big and “unfeasible” your idea seems, try to make a prototype out of what you have at hand or can afford. There are so many ways to push the limits of art today: digital tools, virtual reality, 3D printing, street art… Or why not use mediums such as sound, fabric, social media or food to DRAW people together!? There is no limit.

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Has creating installations changed the way you view drawing as a medium?

Yes! I have this huge passion for drawing now because there are no limits to it as far as I can see. I just love how simple lines can be so all-encompassing, I am obsessed with it.

Making digital drawing also brought a big shift in perspective for me. A few years ago I visited a large contemporary drawing fair in Paris, hoping to see how digital art was faring in the art world. It shocked me to find that a vast majority of work there was charcoal, pencil or ballpoint pen on paper. I only found one digital piece in the whole fair – and it looked like a pencil drawing on paper. That experience opened my eyes to what the art world at the time deemed acceptable as drawing. This notion had influenced me in my early years as a student, limiting my ideas of drawing as primarily a tool for preparation and practice. And so I believe it’s important that more artists use the most contemporary mediums and unusual tools available to make art and expand the notion of what a simple line of drawing could be.

Interview with Megan Magill: Venus with Folds 
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Megan Magill is an artist based in Chicago and Maine. She received her Masters from Northwestern University and her MFA from Maine Media College. Her work has been exhibited in group and joint shows nationally and she was recently a semi-finalist in the Print Center's International Competition. My Business is Circumference was featured at the Detroit Center for Contemporary Photography and The Habit of Winning was featured in F-Stop Magazine’s portfolio issue with an interview by William Cox and in a print publication with LDOC . In the fall of 2017 her was published in American: Authors, Interpreters, and Composers a book series created by Patricio Binaghi of Paripe Books and designed by Matt Wiley of the New York Times Magazine. 

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Statement: Venus with Folds 

I begin each piece with a xerox copy of a woman's painted portrait. Most of the paintings are well known, and others were found through a google search for 'famous portrait paintings' which I then narrowed down to paintings of women. So far all have been painted by men and folded by a woman but this is not a requirement...it's just what predominates when you search for 'famous.' I don't have a preconceived idea of how each piece will look...I just start folding and re-folding until I've made something that feels right to me. The process is in part a visual exercise is seeing something new in something that already exists. A way of keeping my options open and my optimism up. Photographing them after I've folded them extends the process. 

How did your artistic career begin?

I started making art in 2009 after taking a class on the history of photography at my local art center. I realized pretty quickly that art was a long lost friend that I had lost touch with years earlier for reasons of ‘practicality.’ Photography was my entry into art and remains an integral part of my practice as the majority of my work springs from found imagery.

In your artist statement, you mention that you begin most of your work with existing imagery, where do you tend to find this imagery? Do you have any criteria that you look for?

For about 2 years I collected imagery somewhat obsessively. I bought crumpled up old photos primarily at antique stores, huge lots of old Kodachrome slides through eBay and also a number of old college yearbooks from the ’40s and ’50s. I am still amazed at some of the images I was able to find. I am drawn to collect images that speak to our shared humanity from a somewhat demented point of view.

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What is the first thing you do when you start a new piece?

At the moment my entry into a piece is to draw over an existing image digitally. I start on my iPad and just see where it goes.

What is your favorite part of your creative process?

The excitement I get when something that I have created surprises me and makes me gasp just a little.

In a few statements describing your different bodies of work you reflect on the idea of not having control over every aspect of your work, how does this mindset affect the way you work?

I think this mindset helps me keep an open mind to where a piece might want to go. I spent a good portion of my life (before I started out as an artist) trying to control my life to the nth degree. What I realized is that not only did this suck the joy out of living but often I would end up in places that I no longer wanted to be and would wonder how in the hell I got there. Staying open to the process keeps me in the moment of making and lets a piece evolve like a collaboration. This doesn’t mean that every piece will work out but they do have a better chance of surprising me and taking me to places that my logical brain might not have mapped out ahead of time.

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What has been the most challenging part of your artistic career?

Hmmm. I went to a school that was primarily for photographers and filmmakers to get my MFA. It was a great education but I realized pretty quickly that I wasn’t really a photographer and so finding my place in the art world has maybe been more challenging because I’ve had to forge new relationships outside of the ones that I made in school in addition to teaching myself new processes. But this is also part of the fun…so challenge=fun.

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What should we be on the lookout for in 2019?

I am SUPER excited about some of the things I am working on. I have a series of sketches I am calling ‘you me and everyone we know.’ I have plans to turn these into hook rugs (I have one already started) and oil paintings. I hope to have the first hook rug completed this month.

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Renewed Sense of Wonder: Interview with Yuria Okamura

Yuria Okamura's art practice focuses on geometric drawing on both paper and walls. She collects, rearranges and transforms abstract symbols of various cultural and religious traditions. In this way, her work brings together and reinterprets various idealities from across cultures and histories in the hope of invoking a renewed sense of wonder into our contemporary worldview.

She maps and reconfigures geometric patterns and symbols that reference esoteric symbolism, occult diagrams, religious architecture and decoration, and spiritualist abstract painting through the use of diagrammatic aesthetics. By doing so, she examines the implications of harmonic ideals that seem to be universally embedded in the orderliness of geometry, and how such ideas might be reinterpreted in the new interrelated compositions. Yuria also deploys wall drawing to unify the diverse geometric forms and to create immersive drawing installations through the use of architecture and gardens as visual metaphors. By incorporating spatiality in this way, she explores abstract drawings' potential to operate as open-ended contemplative spaces for reimagining possibilities of metaphysical harmony and connectivity. 

Yuria is a Melbourne-based artist whose drawing practice explores harmonic ideals through the use of geometry and diagrammatic aesthetics. She has completed Master of Fine Arts (Research) at the Victorian College of the Arts, the University of Melbourne in 2015, and Bachelor of Fine Arts (Honours) in 2010 at RMIT University. In 2016, Yuria was selected for Abbotsford Convent Studio Start-up Residency and Bayside City Council Residency. She has received a number of awards and scholarships, including Stuart Black Memorial Travelling Scholarship, Ursula Hoff Institute Drawing Award, Lloyd Rees Memorial Youth Art Award, RMIT Honours Travelling Endowment Scholarship, RMIT Siemens Fine Art Scholarship, and Facetnate Visual Art Grant. Yuria has been showing her work in solo and group exhibitions both nationally and internationally, including C3 Contemporary Art Space(Melbourne), Anna Pappas Gallery(Melbourne), Five Walls (Melbourne), Rubicon ARI (Melbourne), Kunstraum Tapir (Berlin, Germany), Langford 120 (Melbourne), Seventh Gallery (Melbourne), Japan Foundation Gallery (Sydney), and Mølla På Grim (Kristiansand, Norway).

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Tell me about yourself and your creative background.

I am a visual artist based in Melbourne, Australia. My drawing practice, which includes works on paper and immersive wall drawings, explores harmonic ideals through the language of geometry and diagrammatic aesthetics. I'm interested in different beliefs and worldviews, and I map these out to try to make sense of it all by a visual means, I suppose, through a kind of aesthetic logic. I bring together and reconfigure geometric patterns and symbols that reference esoteric symbolism, occult diagrams, religious architecture and decoration, and spiritualist abstract painting. I examine the symbolic implications of harmonic ideas that seem to be universally embedded in the orderliness of geometry, and how such ideas might be reinterpreted in the new interrelated compositions. Abstract visual language can be interpreted in so many different ways, and through this quality, I hope my work can operate as open-ended maps or contemplative spaces for reimagining possibilities of metaphysical harmony.

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When did you start integrating the geometric patterns and symbols into your work? What inspired your most recent series?

I started using geometric patterns in my final year of BFA and really focused on it for my MFA, which I completed in 2015. My last body of work resulted from a research trip to Morocco and Southern Spain. I looked at Moorish architecture and ornamentation with a particular focus on mosques, and how geometric structures and designs embody the idea of interconnectedness and harmony in this cultural context.

My inclination to bring together diverse visions in my work from across cultures is, I think, influenced by my own experiences: migrating from Japan to Australia, and also traveling to Indonesia, India, Morocco and all over Europe. Having an appreciation for different cultures, and at the same time finding commonalities amongst the diverse worldviews expressed through visual language, has led me to engage with the universality of geometric forms.

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Your work is beautiful, delicate and extremely detailed. Share a little bit about your process with us. How do you prepare for each work and what goes into making each piece?

It begins with collecting source images. I'm constantly adding to my library of esoteric illustrations, early scientific diagrams, religious architecture and decoration, and abstract artworks. I extract shapes and patterns from these, modify and combine them to create new compositions. First, just with free-hand drawing, and once I'm happy with the composition, I make a proper draft on graph paper. I then trace the outlines through embossing onto the watercolor paper and start drawing lines and adding color. These drawings are often installed together with wall drawing, which is aimed at spatializing the work to create an immersive and contemplative quality. This aspect is inspired by a variety of religious architecture and gardens. The religious architecture provides a space for imagining immaterial possibilities, and gardens across cultures embody the idea of a paradise: an earthly site of harmony. In particular, Japanese gardens together with its architectural structures are intended to be mediating spaces where natural and metaphysical, or material and immaterial elements come together. Similarly, I hope my work can visualize a contemplative space for integrating inner and outer realities.

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What do you do when you feel stuck or frustrated? How do you get out of a creative slump?

If something is not working in the studio and I feel frustrated, I allow myself a short break to go for a walk or do some gardening. But then I usually get straight back into the studio because it's impossible for me to relax or think about anything else until I figure out what to do! Sometimes this means scrapping the work and starting again.

Fortunately, I haven't had a creative slump for a long time. I think it's because I've gotten into the habit of going into the studio every day (unless I have other commitments) even if I don't know what I'm going to do. Even when I feel uninspired, I force myself to get into the studio and at least think about my practice by looking at pictures, sketching, reading or writing. I don't believe in just waiting for inspiration. It does occasionally come to me out of the blue, but for the most part, I consciously search for it through practice.

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What is a typical day like for you and how do you find a balance between art and personal life?

I try to exercise a little and get my errands and admin tasks done in the morning, spend all afternoon in the studio, have a dinner break and back in the studio for an evening session. But in reality, every day is different. Sometimes I have to spend all day running errands, writing applications, or working at a part-time job, and I'd enjoy a relaxing evening with my partner, family, and friends a few times a week.

What I experience in my personal life feeds into my art practice and vice versa in a constant loop, so I like to think of them as one and the same. For example, travel is an integral part of my art practice: every trip inspires a new body of work, and my practice, in turn, drives me to seek a new adventure. I also love being in nature, spending time with family and friends, reading books and listening to podcasts, all of which I used to neglect because I thought I had to focus solely on art. I still tend to overwork, but I'm aware now that my creative energy gets depleted if I lock myself in the studio for too long and it needs to be reinvigorated by experiencing the world.

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What are you currently working on and what should we be on the lookout for?

I'm working on a new body of works on paper inspired by my trip to the U.S last year. It is a continuation of my diagrammatic, geometric drawing practice but it references Native American sand paintings and tapestry. In this series, I considered how a kinship to the natural world can be expressed through geometric patterns and how geometric forms can have a symbolic function within rituals. I'm actually coming back to the U.S in March 2019 for a residency at Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art, which I am very excited about! I'm planning to further develop the spatial component of my practice by examining MASS MoCA's extensive collection of Sol LeWitt's wall drawings.

A New Mythology: Interview with Textile Artist Amy Meissner
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Alaskan artist, Amy Meissner, combines traditional handwork, found objects and abandoned domestic textiles to reference and revere the work of women. She has shown internationally, with textile work in the permanent collection of the Anchorage Museum, the Contemporary Art Bank of Alaska and the Alaska Humanities Forum as well as many private collections. Her solo exhibition Inheritance: makers. memory. myth. – a body of work crafted from 13 months-worth of globally crowdsourced vintage linens and personal narratives from over 70 contributors -- debuted at the Anchorage Museum in May 2018, and is slated to travel through 2021. Her background is in clothing design, illustration and creative writing.  

Statement

My work with needle prods the literal, physical and emotional work of women — gathering the collective thrum of women’s abandoned handwork and combining with my own to generate a new mythology. I approach this textile work with the traditional skills taught in girlhood, confronting an expectation of beauty, decoration and domesticity with a raw female gaze. The resulting narrative does more to reveal an emotional truth about a life than any partial or assumed history; completing a story feels human, crafting by hand even more so.

This is time-based work. A landscape.

An act of slicing apart, then piecing oneself back together.

Tell me about yourself. When did you develop an interest in sewing?

I’m the twelfth first-born daughter to a first-born daughter, a line that can be traced to 1640. These women are Swedish (I’m the first one to be born in the US), so handwork is a skill I was taught at a young age. I learned to crochet and embroider at age 3 or 4, run a sewing machine when I was 9, and my initial interest in sewing was probably based on wanting to do what my mother was doing. I quickly lost interest when she began instructing me in a very Scandinavian “the-front-has-to-look-as-good-as-the-back” way, and I cried a lot, but by the time I was in high school in the 1980s I was making my clothes and friends were hiring me to design and make rad prom dresses. At 17 I landed an internship at a small atelier that made costumes and custom wedding gowns, and I stayed in the fashion industry until I was 30, mostly working for similar shops where I had to know how to do everything from production cutting, to sample sewing, to pattern drafting, to fine finishing, to knowing enough breezy conversation to make a half-naked bride feel comfortable in the fitting room.

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It is a beautiful decision to make such time-based, intricate work in a fast-paced world. What are your favorite parts of your process and studio practice?

I’m glad you’ve referred to it as a decision because this work does feel very intentional. I could take so many shortcuts, so many, but I choose not to because I want to honor the history of women’s handwork. So much of it has been lost, discarded, disregarded…those makers were such talented women, whether they would consider themselves talented or not. They knew how to make something out of nothing, and no one called it “upcycling” or “repurposing.” This was mending and remaking and making do, especially the women from my family who lived a life of meager resources, but seriously mad skills.

So I love making something out of nothing. I love the physicality of the work, the repetitive quality of handwork, the problem solving that arises from using fragile, cast off vintage linens and cloth intended for the domestic realm, often made according to someone else’s idea of beauty. 

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What inspired your most recent series?

 In 2015 I received a box of vintage linens in the mail from a woman in New York state. She’d seen my work using a personal collection of family embroidery and crochet and wanted me to have hers. I blogged about it (www.amymeissner.com/blog/box-of-mystery) and then other women wanted to send their linens as well. This became the catalyst for a 13-month crowdsourcing effort to collect unwanted handwork and narratives from women all over the world, called the “Inheritance Project,” whereby I became the final inheritor. This provided people with a place to send the family linens no one else wanted rather than sending them to the landfill, and it provided me with raw material. Over 80 contributors sent over 650 objects, representing 20 countries and 25 states. 90% of the makers are unknown.

The stories women shared were heartbreaking. One woman from Illinois sent a scrap of tablecloth crocheted by a woman incarcerated in the Detroit House of Corrections for killing her abusive husband in the 1970s. Other women sent stories of grandmothers emigrating from Europe with nothing, lost histories, lost languages. Many contributors were also artists who recognized the value in these items, often collected them, but decided not to use the material in their own practice and were happy to have someone to send it to.

The body of work that arose from the project became the solo exhibition, “Inheritance: makers. memory. myth.,” funded in part by the Sustainable Arts Foundation and the Rasmuson Foundation. It showed at the Anchorage Museum during the summer of 2018 and is at the Alaska State Museum in Juneau until February 2019 as part of their Solo Exhibition Series.

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What do you hope your viewers and collectors experience and take away from your art? 

I hope to create a new conversation around the value of women’s work - the literal handwork, the physical work of the body, and the emotional labor we bear. Working with textiles offers an opening to have these exchanges, which can be confrontational, but since no one initially feels assaulted when looking at a doily the work is approachable; viewers are thinking of their grandmother, their own intimate experience with cloth. My work has a recognizable quality to it, whether it’s the sometimes quilt-form I work in or the components I use, but it is layered and emotional. I want people to realize the vibrant inner life of the women who sat quietly with needles or hooks. This was a dense landscape, not the vacuous or meaningless work often portrayed. If society and history hadn’t channeled these women to only make functional or beautiful work for the home in order to justify their creative impulses…if the material and conceptual exploration had been the goal…what would they have made?

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What do you wish more people knew about handwork and the intersection of craft and fine art? 

It’s important to me to have a relationship with materials. There’s a reason why I use cloth -- it’s a vehicle for deeper meaning, it’s part of my culture, it belongs in my skill set. As a woman and a mother, the cloth has become more important as I get older. I didn’t start using this medium until after I had children, stopped painting for a variety of reasons, and returned to this skill I learned as a girl. This was work I could engage in with children at my feet - like all of those other first-born daughters who’d likely done the same. I’m coming closer to understanding the importance of their craft.

I think the line between art and craft is shaggy and blurry and widening, as people have ongoing conversations regarding materials and technique, attempt to define craft, and identify its qualities and value compared to fine art. Some of this interest in craft might be a direct response to a technological, fast-paced world, but it could also be the rise in awareness of the craft-based work traditionally done by women and therefore historically dismissed. I feel like there’s a lot of untapped energy in this realm, especially for younger women ready to infuse cast-off chapters of women’s work with new energy, sometimes rage.

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What is your creative community like in Alaska? What are some highlights?

I’ve been here 18 years, and while Alaska is remote I feel fortunate to be an artist in a supportive culture. There aren’t many studio spaces available (mine is in my home), our galleries and opportunities to exhibit are limited, but this generates exciting projects utilizing alternative spaces and ways of practicing. Although we can mail-order anything, shipping is expensive or unavailable to non-contiguous states, and many artists choose to look to their surroundings for materials, still in a mindset of making do and utilizing resources that have always been abundant here. Alaska has a powerful history of indigenous art and I’m so honored to be surrounded by contemporary Alaska Native artists and have the privilege of sharing this incredible landscape.

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What are you currently working on and what do you hope to accomplish in the next few years? 

I’m currently engaged in a body of work around motherhood and birth. I’m in the early stages of “not knowing,” but what I do know is my relationship to the materials -- which are still old, still abandoned, still fragile -- and that what I want to say and how to say it relies on cloth.

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Writing About Art: Podcast Interview with Emily Steer, Elephant Magazine

Let's go behind the scenes of Elephant Magazine!

I have been a long time fan of Elephant and recently got the amazing opportunity to interview editor Emily Steer. Emily shares her personal story and talks about how she took an untraditional route to journalism, overcame imposter syndrome and eventually established herself as the editor of this leading art magazine.

This episode includes bonus tips for artists and gives insight into how contemporary art editors discover new talent.

Emily Steer, Photography by Hannah Miles

Emily Steer, Photography by Hannah Miles

Elephant West. Photography by Dirk Lindner

Elephant West. Photography by Dirk Lindner

Emily’s Artist Picks

Maisie Cousins

Maisie’s work is repulsive and seductive at the same time, a squidgy conglomeration of weird food and lots of oily liquid, with beautiful colour palettes including pops of electric blue, pale pink and minty green. It’s fun and celebratory—a glorious mess. Maisie was the first artist to show at Elephant West, and she created a wonderful environment that made the space feel so playful. She is a classic Elephant artist.

https://elephant.art/event/maisie-cousins-dipping-sauce/

Maisie Cousins

Maisie Cousins

 Ramona Zoladek

Ramona has just won the Elephant x Griffin Art Prize, and her work is a subtle balance of manmade and natural elements, with delicate pea shoots growing through the cracks. It is political work which draws its viewer in first and foremost through visual intrigue.  

https://elephant.art/life-hangs-urgently-balance-ramona-zoladeks-sculptures/

Ramona Zoladek

Ramona Zoladek

 Ben Sledsens

I have a (perhaps childish) love of animals in art, and I especially enjoy Ben’s work. His animals are wild but oddly regimented, made sleek and elegant in his working of them.

Ben Sledsens

Ben Sledsens

 Tristan Pigott

Tristan’s practice is really developing at the moment—he’s currently studying sculpture at the RCA and his dream-like paintings are currently getting even more of a hallucinatory edge. There’s something really languid and peaceful about them, even in their weirdness. 

Tristan Pigott

Tristan Pigott

 Anna Liber Lewis

Anna is the next solo artist to show at Elephant West, alongside the musician Four Tet, who she has known since childhood. Her paintings are lively and gutsy, and often sexual without being explicit. There’s a great energy to her work.

Anna Liber Lewis

Anna Liber Lewis

 Hun Kyu Kim

More animal paintings. Bunnies wearing umbrellas for hats, woodland pig parties and eyeballs drinking martinis; Hun Kyu Kim’s work is like Beatrix Potter on acid.

Hun Kyu Kim

Hun Kyu Kim

 

Robin Francis Williams

Robin created one of my favourite paintings at Frieze, depicting a crazed-looking woman combing her hair with a fork. Her work is bold and frenzied, and her depiction of light is stunning.

Robin Francis Williams

Robin Francis Williams

Elephant Magazine’s Manifesto

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Beauty and Toxicity: Interview with Meganne Rosen

I just moved back to Springfield, Missouri after residing in Oakland, California for two years where I recently graduated with a Master of Fine Arts (MFA) at the California College of the Arts in San Francisco. I completed my Master of Arts (MA) in Studio Art and Theory at Drury University in 2011.

My recent projects include my thesis exhibition at Minnesota Street Project in San Francisco; the publication of “Isoluminance, Racial Trauma, and the Stamina of Perception: Amanda Wallace’s Field | House” for the Wattis Institute of Contemporary Arts and contemtporary.org; my curation and participation in Artifice & Nature, a four person exhibition at CCA; and my inclusion in group exhibitions in Davis, California; Ventura, California; Woodstock, NY; and Newport, OR.

I just returned from artist residencies at LACAWAC in Aerial Lake, Pennsylvania and Byrdcliffe in Woodstock, New York.

My next solo exhibition will be at Bookmarx in Springfield, Missouri and opens December, 7, 2018.

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Statement

Observation and curiosity drive my studio practice. Through the investigation of and experimentation with different kinds of materials, I express discontent with the current political climate as well as reflect on my experiences growing up in the American Midwest. My work explores entropy, artifice, consumerism, and my place in the lineage of abstraction in contemporary and modern painting and its relationship with installation art.

I compose mixed media pieces which are layered in visual dialogues. Some of the works reference the body in scale and are costume-like. The work evokes an intimate recollection of garments worn, skins shed, and packaging discarded. Each assemblage or installation is a partnership between the materials I work with and the sociopolitical, cultural context of our times.

Currently, I am working on a series of oil paintings on transparent acetate. For these works, my palette is inspired by the alluring sheen of oil spills on pavement and the iridescence of polluted sea foam. The intersection of the natural and the artificial is a site of challenge, conquest, and cohabitation. This work explores toxicity through artifice and decay. As light filters through the paint and acetate, ephemeral auras are projected on the walls creating an additional layer of color. When the works are rolled, they become core samples. Black holes of color with little universes enclosed inside. When the various iterations of this series are placed in proximity to each other, a visual conversation emerges between painting and sculpture, density and light, toxicity and beauty.

www.megannerosen.com

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Tell me about yourself. What was your artistic journey like up to this point? How did you arrive at your current body of work?

Art has always been part of my life. My family home is filled with art and books and artifacts. My mother is a fiber artist and teaches weaving at a liberal arts college. My paternal grandmother was an artist and a poet who made stained glass windows and velvet wall hangings (image of one of Barbara Rosen's windows is attached). On family vacations, we always visited art museums. I love museums. Growing up in a family that held art in such high regard and also created an environment embedded with art objects made studying and pursuing art seem reasonable and normal. I met a lot of people in college who were majoring in business or something equally pragmatic who lamented the fact that they had to give up their love of the arts because of familial pressure. I understand that I come from a place of privilege on many levels, but I am particularly aware of how fortunate I am to have parents who value art. Their support has been very fundamental to my pursuit of a career in the arts. As an undergraduate, I majored in art history and minored in fine arts and English. I have a master's of arts in studio art and theory (Drury University) and a master's of fine arts in painting (California College of the Arts).

My current body of work developed while I was pursuing my MFA at California College of the Arts. I relished the opportunity to have devoted studio time and feedback from advisors. I was able to spend a great deal of time experimenting with new materials and concepts to push my painting further.

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Tell me about the inspiration behind your recent series.

Currently, I am working on a series of oil paintings on transparent acetate. For these works, my palette is inspired by the alluring sheen of oil spills on the pavement and the iridescence of polluted sea foam. The intersection of the natural and the artificial is a site of challenge, conquest, and cohabitation. This work explores toxicity through artifice and decay. As light filters through the paint and acetate, ephemeral auras are projected on the walls creating an additional layer of color. When the works are rolled, they become core samples. Black holes of color with little universes enclosed inside. When the various iterations of this series are placed in proximity to each other, a visual conversation emerges between painting and sculpture, density and light, toxicity and beauty. A large source of inspiration for these works comes from the material itself. Working with acetate opened up a new realm of possibility in the studio for me. I had the opportunity to further explore this work in a natural setting during two artist residencies (Byrdcliffe in Woodstock, NY, and Lacawac in Lake Aerial, PA). I attached a couple of photos from Lacawac and one of me in my studio at Byrdcliffe.

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Describe your creative process. How does your work come together from inspiration to execution?

This is a tricky question to answer. I work in a few different ways. I am sometimes inspired by something I read or see external to my studio and I then start working with the theme or concept until I come up with an idea for a painting. Other times, I work intuitively with paint and other materials until something starts to take shape and then I start to steer the painting in a particular direction.

Your work is visually beautiful but has an important underlying message for the viewer. What do you hope those experiencing your work take away from it? What questions should they be asking?

I love the Helen Frankenthaler quote about a really good painting looking like it "happened all at once". I think that applies to my paintings as well. They tend to have an organic, haphazard feel to them like perhaps they came together out of a series of spills or accidents and then ended up strung from the ceiling somehow. In reality, they take me months to create a endure quite a lot of meticulous editing and arrangement. I suppose I want the viewer to been drawn in and to question what they are looking at and how it came to be. I tend to give hints (or in some cases greater enigmas) by the titles of the work. I hope the viewers end up thinking about beauty and toxicity. About the ethereal and the tangible.

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What do you love to do when you are not in the studio?

When I am not in the studio I love to read; to play trivia and do crossword puzzles with my partner, Ken; and to play with our cats.

What's next for you and what do you hope to accomplish in the next five years?

I am teaching fiber arts and 2D design as a per course instructor this semester at Missouri State University in the art and design department. Next semester, I am teaching art history and art appreciation as an adjunct at Ozarks Technical Community College.

Since my MFA thesis show last May (2018) at Minnesota Street Project in San Francisco, California, I have exhibited work in several group shows (in California, Oregon, New York, and Missouri). I am preparing for two upcoming solo exhibitions. For Blips this December (2018) I am painting one-hundred small, four-inch square paintings for BookMarx in downtown Springfield, Missouri. I am also starting work on several large acetate installation paintings for Transparency and Toxicity, a solo exhibition at Artlink Gallery in Fort Wayne, Indiana that will open in November 2019.

My proposal for the 2019 PCA/ACA conference in Washington D.C. was recently accepted, and I have begun writing “Craft, Color, & Contours: The Influence of Pop in Contemporary Art” to present next April in the Art & Design Culture section. This paper represents another area of interest for me: craft technique and media in fine arts. The last five years have seen an unprecedented uptick in the appearance of fiber art and ceramics in blue-chip galleries, international art fairs, contemporary museum collections, and graduate level fine art curriculum. Techniques and materials previously relegated to the realms of craft and hobby arts publications are now presented front and center in ArtForum. The common thread (no pun intended) between these works seems to be a heavy reference to the paintings and sculptures of the midcentury Pop Art Movement both in terms of palette and subject matter.

I would like to have a full time teaching position at the collegiate level, at least one additional solo exhibition, and at least three more published articles within the next five years. You can read my first published piece here

I enjoy writing about art and find that the research and analysis that goes into my writing projects often influences my studio work.

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Tropical Utopias: Interview With Fei Alexeli

Fei Alexeli is a digital visual artist, born and raised in Seres, Greece in 1987. While studying architecture in Oxford, she found her passion for visual arts. She completed her BA in Arts and later finished her post-graduate architectural studies at the University of East London. Fei uses photography, photo-montage and digital collage in her practice, and is interested in mixing real elements to create surreal environments and situations. 

Tell us about your creative journey. When did you decide to become an artist?

I'd say it took me a while to believe in the idea and myself, probably when I was studying architecture. School of architecture introduced me to all the creative fields, there was a moment I realized I didn't need to have great drawing skills to become one.

I did finish architecture, worked as an architect for a while, but it was suffocating. I knew I invested a lot to become one, but I had to be honest with myself and go for my passion which is the visual arts.

You frequently introduce tropical elements in your work. What is the inspiration behind your recent series?

Tropical is associated with summer and holidays, happy places in general so I really like to use them for my utopias. And from the other hand tropical evokes something exotic for me. In my recent series, I use a repetitive element, this of the sun. I like to play with the dichotomy of the sun and the moon, and this idea that they both coexist at the same time. Who doesn't love a bunch of palm trees and sunrises on the moon after all?

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What would you say your art is about?

Contemporary pop surrealism. I like to create surreal utopias, with a mixture of Americana, universe and tropical elements blended with pastel colors and pinks. It's a form of liberation from the oppressive boundaries of reality.

How do you come up with the imagery and color palette in each piece?

I have a huge library of images, my own, scanned old magazines and online open sources that I use. I start with an idea, sometimes this is just a color palette that I want to use, sometimes it's a quote or even just a feeling, sometimes it's something more solid like I have this concept in my mind very precisely structured. Whatever the case, the result always evolves in ways different than what I have in mind. So I could say it starts from a very conscious place and in the process, I let go to something more visceral.

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Do you feel participating in art fairs has helped push your art career forward? If so, how?

Yes, a lot. The reason I am a full-time artist at the moment is because of the fairs I've participated too. The first one was The Other Art Fair back in 2016 in London, I sold a few pieces and there were galleries interested in my work and I managed to collaborate with a few of them. I mean it doesn't always work like this but it worked so far for me. You need to find your audience and your market and fairs help you build your audience although it takes time.

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What is the best piece of advice you received as an artist so far?

To follow my instinct. As an artist there is no specific path to follow, most of the times there's no right or wrong either, so always go for my hunch.

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What do you hope the viewers take away from your work?

When I read Carl Sagan's speech of the Pale Blue Dot for the first time it was inspiring and revealing. When I look in the sky and try to imagine the vastness of the universe, how unknown everything is to us, the endless possibilities of things that might exist, I realize we are ignorant and only here for the short term. This creates a sense of relief and helps me put everything in perspective. Nothing is really important, we are simply here to exist and enjoy. I find comfort in this thought and I want people who see my work to relate to this.

Mental Health For Artists: Podcast Interview with TJ Walsh

On this episode of Art & Cocktails, artist and psychotherapist TJ Walsh shares his story, how he found his way back to painting and the moment that inspired him to help others through therapy. TJ talks about overcoming emotional difficulty, depression, creative burnout and offers practical insight for creatives going through a hard time. We discuss his approach to painting and recent exhibition as well.

Bio

TJ Walsh, BFA, MA is a Counselor/Psychotherapist, Painter, Art and Higher Education Administrator. Prior to receiving his M.A. in Clinical Counseling Psychology from Eastern University in Saint Davids, PA, TJ received his BFA in Graphic Design from the University of the Arts in Philadelphia.

TJ has deep experience working with young adults, university students and young couples with a focus on artistic and creative personalities. He typically works with young couples who are struggling to connect with one another and individuals who find themselves stuck in place. In addition to his work in group and private practice, TJ is a seasoned Student Affairs/Student Life professional with foci in the areas of Counseling, Conduct/Judicial Affairs, Title IX.

Originally trained psychodynamically, TJ has since obtained or is working toward certification in Emotionally Focused Therapy, as well as Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT). No matter the therapeutic theory that may be running through his mind, the primary focus is to build a strong, therapeutic alliance and to instill hope in the person(s) who sits across from him so that they may live a life worth living.

TJ writes and speaks about topics of art, culture, faith & mental health. His work has been exhibited and published internationally. He is on faculty at Eastern University in the graduate school's Counseling Psychology department teaching Personality and Psychosocial Assessment and Psychopathology.

Statement

TJ Walsh explores the inner realm of the subconscious through abstract paintings. As he states, "This work focuses on the hidden conversations that course through the undercurrent of our minds, unconsciously giving form to who we are as human beings. I work fast letting my emotion and intuition drive the painting. It is through this process that I hope beauty reveals itself.

For other artists, beauty is revealed through striving for technical perfection. These artists desire to make any sign of the human creator disappear. For me, the opposite is true. I want my hand to be very evident in the work for it's the human experience, the struggle, the failures, the successes, which is most beautiful to me.

The process of creating is an intimate practice. Art making is a meditative, reflective, physical, emotional and spiritual practice. Creating something that comes out of ourselves, releasing part of us into the world to be experienced by others is something that many people in our culture do not experience. This intimate practice of pulling from within and connecting with the deepest parts of our beings is beautiful because it's natural, pure and uninhibited. It's being human on on of its most raw levels."

Links:

Instagram: @tjwalsh 

Private Practice: www.tjwalshtherapy.com

Art site: www.tjwalshartist.com

Exhibition:

TJ’s exhibition will open on December 8 at Darlington Arts Center

www.darlingtonarts.org