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

By Christina Nafziger

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

www.nadiawaheed.com

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(And thanks so much for reading!)

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

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

Eliana Marinari
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Eliana Marinari is a visual artist living and working in Geneva.

Her paintings, created by superposition of glazing layers of aerosol paint on ink and pastel drawings, are a surreal representation of the subject, speaking of both the distorted quality of memory and the ephemeral nature of our experiences. 

The vestigial image composed of transparent imperceptible paint particles, mimics the process of creating a visual representation of an image in our mind, which is matched in our memory to attribute meaning.

Eliana began her training in Florence as a scientist, while studying Art under the mentoring of Greta Villa from Academy of Florence. She continued her studies in London, where she obtained an interdisciplinary PhD at University College London (2008-2011).  In 2012, she continued her studies at Central St Martins, focusing on her studio practice and her interpretation of realism in figurative painting. She then moved to Switzerland, where she continued her quest in bridging the gap between Art and Science. In 2015, she received the prestigious Swiss National Funding Award for the development of an interdisciplinary project.

Her work has been exhibited and held in private collections in Switzerland, Italy and UK and it has been featured by thejealouscurator and BOOOOOOOM among others.

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

Image courtesy of Christian Böhmer.

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

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

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

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

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

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Images courtesy of Christian Böhmer.

Images courtesy of Christian Böhmer.

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

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

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

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

Image courtesy of Christian Böhmer.

Image courtesy of Christian Böhmer.

What will you be showing at Moniker in New York? 

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

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

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

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

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

Learn more about Moniker Art Fair by visiting their website.

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

Photo by Milana Braslavsky @milanabphoto

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

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

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

You can find Michelle at:

Coaching Services: www.artisttoartpreneur.com

Creative Unions Event Design: www.creativeunionsllc.com

Email: michelle@creativeunionsllc.com

IG: @michelleigomez and @creativeunion

Julie Liger-Belair
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Julie Liger-Belair lives in Toronto, where she attended the Ontario College of Art and Design (now OCAD University). For the past 20 years, she has participated in group and solo shows in Canada, the United States and Europe.  When not doing her artwork she likes to go camping with her partner, their three creative kids, and little black dog, Frida.

Statement

Fairy tales, legends, dreams and the surreal worlds they evoke have always been a part of the human experience, a way to make sense of our surroundings and explain our fears.  As a child these captured my imagination and wove themselves into the fabric of my personality.  Because of this, I am today a collector at heart, constantly collecting fragments of ideas and objects, each with their own little stories to tell.  Combining them in different ways in my work, they form new narratives and meanings.

I create mixed-media works using acrylic paint, wood, metal, Japanese paper, and found photographs.  I use Victorian era photographs I’ve collected over the years, finding that these evoke imagined histories and feelings of nostalgia.  Their serious and stern faces provide an ironic counterpoint to the humour and levity I try to inject into the work.  Alternatively, my pieces make evident a playful fascination with all forms of iconography, creating alter-pieces for everyday life, making sacred of the mundane.

In my latest work I’ve been attempting to combine these vernaculars – the ironic and the sacred – to tell a story about the disconnect between our private and public selves.  That is, who we are is often at odds with what we project to others.  What do we choose to reveal, conceal or fabricate?  More importantly, I explore the toll exacted by this ‘duplicity:’ specifically the feelings of sorrow, resentment, anxiety, and martyrdom it engenders.

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Lee Nowell-Wilson
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Lee Nowell-Wilson is a figurative artist, living and working in Baltimore, MD. Through large scale drawings, paintings and installations, Nowell-Wilson’s work explores weight, movement and maternal elements within the wrestling interaction of human relationship. Her work incorporates humor and universal benign experiences as a way to grapple with the formless, occasionally incoherent navigation of daily life; to reveal the unseen weight of motherhood, or the incalculable rhythm of marriage through layers of both defined representation and abstracted, indistinct mark making.

Nowell-Wilson earned her BFA in Painting from the Maryland Institute College of Art in 2011. She has participated in artist residencies in Annapolis, MD and Lyon, France. Her work has exhibited in New York City, Italy, Baltimore and France, and she has completed murals + urban art pieces in Norway, France, Northern Ireland and Chile. In 2018, she was featured in Maker’s Magazine, Bmore Art online, and the online blog “Both Mother and Artist”, showcasing and discussing her work created since giving birth to her daughter. Most recently, Nowell-Wilson was invited to speak about the “Maternal Creative Instinct”, on an artist panel hosted by Hamiltonian Gallery in D.C.

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Evoca1 Artist Feature | Moniker Art Fair
Image courtesy of Evoca1.

Image courtesy of Evoca1.

We’re just a few short weeks away from Moniker Art Fair which will be held May 1-5, 2019 in New York City. The international fair’s 2019 exhibitors include some of the world’s most renowned urban & contemporary artists and galleries in booth exhibitions as well as solo presentations and installations. 28 exhibitors and four special projects, hailing from 13 countries around the globe, will present work in alignment with this year’s theme, Cause & Effect, which examines our shared roles and commitment to addressing the current state of political, social and ecological issues. Create! will be providing coverage of the fair, but we’re also excited to be bringing you a sneak peek at some of the artists who will be highlighted at this year’s NYC edition of Moniker. Last week we introduced you to WK Interact and this week we’re sharing the incredible work of Evoca1!

Image courtesy of Evoca1.

Image courtesy of Evoca1.

Evoca1 was born in the Dominican Republic, where he spent most of his childhood drawing on walls and playing baseball, until eventually moving to Hollywood, Florida at age 11. 

As an autodidact, he has received his art education from the compulsive study of the old masters’ works and techniques. His pieces are a personal reflection of his life experiences, as well as observations of human behaviors and social struggles.

He currently lives and works out of South Florida, where he continues to develop his craft and research of figurative painting. In recent years, this mainly happened in public spaces where he has painted large-scale murals. His interaction with the local environments has been essential in generating the concept of his work.

Image courtesy of Evoca1.

Image courtesy of Evoca1.

For more information about Moniker please visit their website and follow along with Evoca1 on Instagram.

Image courtesy of Evoca1.

Image courtesy of Evoca1.

Tracy Murrell
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Tracy Murrell is an Atlanta-based artist and curator.  A graduate of Centenary College, she has been a fixture in the growth and development of Atlanta's arts community.  Murrell assisted Louis Delsarte in the creation of the 125-foot mural “Dreams, Visions & Change” honoring Martin Luther King Jr., and studied under the direction of renowned artist Michael David as a member of Fine Arts Atelier (FAWS). 

Murrell has shown in numerous group, solo, and juried exhibitions.  Her work is currently on view at the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport through January 2019.  Her work has been featured in ArtVoices Magazine and Studio Visit Magazine Issues 29, 35, 38, and 41.

Murrell is a board member for Burnaway, Atlanta-based digital magazine and advisory board member for ChopArt, a non-profit serving middle and high school youth experiencing homelessness through multidisciplinary arts immersion and mentorship.

Murrell served as the curator for Hammonds House Museum (2012-2017), the President of African Americans for the Arts (AAFTA) for two years and is currently the visual arts consultant with the National Black Arts Festival.

Statement

As an artist, I am drawn to the lines of the feminine form and source images to create figures personifying grace and strength.  I explore the use of silhouettes by re-contextualizing images from popular culture to use as entry points for deeper conversations on gender, race, and the perceptions of beauty. 

In my current body of work, I am focusing on the themes of identity, migration, and displacement in the human narrative by incorporating hand cut patterns and specialty papers with the silhouettes.  Painted in high key color, my paintings are reminiscent of Pop and post-pop Masters such as Lichtenstein, Katz, and Hume, prompting the viewer to question their own beliefs about race and gender.

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Monumentalization of the Human Form: Interview with Lauren Carly Shaw

Interview by Sarah Mills

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

Statement

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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What are you currently working on?

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

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What links all your work?

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

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

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

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What is the most rewarding part of your creative practice?

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

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WK Interact Interview | Moniker Art Fair
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Create! Magazine is a proud partner of Moniker International Art Fair which will be held in May in New York City. Moniker shines a spotlight not only on young and emerging artists, but also on leaders in the urban and new contemporary art movement. For the forthcoming iteration of the fair, they will be highlighting one of NYC’s most recognized wheat pasting artist, WK Interact. Originally from France, WK Interact has been working in New York for over 20 years. Read our interview below to learn more about his work!

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Tell us about your background. Were you interested in art as a child or did you come to it later in life?

Well, I started to draw when I was 8 years old as my father was a painter. I think I became passionate about art from seeing him in his studio.

What brought you to New York?

I was first in New York when I was 13 years old, but did not have a chance to visit as I had only landed there for a connecting flight to Miami. I came back at age 16 in 1982 and it ended up having an incredible impact on me. My flight arrived late at night and I only knew the address of my hotel on 82nd street near Central Park. Of course, it was the cheapest place to stay and the worst hotel at $15 per night. I spent the next three months traveling all over the state using Greyhound buses and after this, I decided to focus on creating art ‘in motion’. At the age of 18, I came up with a process of making distorted images using a Xerox copy machine which helped me find my signature style. After placing many canvases in my hometown in the south of France illegally, it was obvious to me that the best city to create that sort of interaction with my work would be New York. I ended up living in the city for many years and became a french New Yorker. I’m still living there today!

How has living there affected your work?

Living in New York for me was important to just be there and connect with the city. For my work, I feel that it becomes part of an event or a corner of the street. Even I start to blend in with my work by wearing all black clothes.

Can you explain your interest in figures and your unique techniques to create your work?

My work is based on the following concept: First illustration, then the location, then the motion interacting with the scale of the building. My real motivation is film. I decide to use the street to recreate a story and take photos with people passing by. The interaction part of my concept and process is where I came up with the name WK INTERACT.

What are some of your inspirations?

Sculptors and photographers like Calder and William Klein as well as the film industry including French Connection, Blade Runner...and so many others.

What will you be exhibiting at Moniker?

I  will have one large work and 8 posters plus a large print directly installed on a wall.

Besides showing with Moniker, do you have any other projects this year you'd like to share?

Plenty of projects, but I can’t mention anything yet :)

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Moniker Art Fair has earned a reputation as one of the most exciting contemporary art fairs with it’s roots embedded in urban culture. Learn more by visiting their website or follow them on Instagram.

The First Love: Interview with Jenni Stringleman
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Interview by Sarah Mills


After twenty years of working in graphic design and animation, Jenni Stringleman has returned to her first love - working in oils.
 
Based in Auckland, New Zealand, she paints contemporary, bright expressionist florals, fresh, abstracted nudes and portraits.
 
“For me, painting is an expression of joy. I simply love the act of applying oils to canvas, and this has lead me to explore a heady mix of thick oils, and semi transparent washes of colour, high detail combined with gestural strokes.”

Jenni's recent pieces focus on the figure drawn from life in charcoal, erased, rotated, and attacked with brayers and solvents with slabs of flat colour finally applied to obscure and reveal. 

Jenni sells and exhibits at Gallery De Novo and Endemic World Gallery in New Zealand, as well as shipping pieces to international collectors.

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You came back to painting after 20 years of working in graphic design and animation, what drew you back to oils?

I painted almost religiously at high school, partly to get out of PhysEd but mainly because I was obsessed with art! At our school, we had hessian or paper stapled to walls and never-ending acrylic paint, and it was heaven. I wanted to be a full-time artist but decided to go for something practical - graphic design. I assumed I’d paint in my own time after work, but I never did! Instead, I worked on a bungee jump for years, in New Zealand and the UK, then painted murals and eventually ended up in graphic design in the City in London. I was having too much fun to remember to paint (or practice the flute, but that’s another story)!

Eventually, after 11 years in London, I returned to New Zealand, got married and retrained in animation which I adored, but after falling pregnant with my eldest daughter, I decided to give up work for a while. I played a domestic goddess for some years, then sadly a friend was diagnosed with terminal cancer and given only a year to live. It was absolutely tragic as she was a mum of two, and it made me reassess my life choices. I felt it was too late to retrain as a brain surgeon so instead I decided to jump back into painting to leave a legacy for my two young daughters. It was one of the bravest things I ever did, walking into a painting class under the tutelage of artist Robert Campion, however, he was nurturing and kind and downloaded his years of education and experience into my brain, and from there I had a new career!

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You work with such a wide variety of subjects ranging from florals to portraits to abstract work. What do you see as the connecting factor between all your work?

Yes, I do! I am probably like that as a person. I want to be trying new things, learning, stretching myself. Most people call me a colorist, and I do love color, it’s hugely instinctual for me, I feel what goes where and get great joy from the marks and drips and combinations. My first love in painting is the figure... life drawing, nudes, faces. But my mum asked me to paint hydrangeas for her, and they were my first sales to friends and locals.

The nudes were put on the backburner for a while. The galleries who approached me, came to me for my semi-abstracted florals, so that’s where most of my energy went. I painted a portrait of my daughter just for fun then ended up getting commissioned to paint other kids. I love the opportunity they afford me to sit down for once! I like being challenged to capture the real essence of this child, in a more classic way that will stand the test of time. They take ages, and they give me a break from the physical effort of the large pieces. Last year I studied under Martin Campos, and he inspired me to combine my love of color and paint with my charcoal sketches of the figure. A new aspect to my work developed, and now I think of myself as working happily across these three strands.

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Where do you draw inspiration from for your work?

Definitely nature, usually in the small details of plants and the effects of light. Also all of human life. I store away images from magazines and TV, fashion shows, of people on the street. There’s not enough time in my day to paint the things I want to. I screengrab so much of Instagram. Today my art hero Andrew Salgado posted a shot of himself in an orange raincoat against an orange wall, and now that’s all I want to paint! As well as the pieces I sell through galleries, I paint on A3 size Arches paper and that’s where I experiment, and they’re all stacked up in a cupboard! I need to have a sale.

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What is the first thing you do when you sit down to start a new oil painting?

So this depends a little on which one of my themes I’m working on. For the big textured botanical pieces, I almost always start with a fast, loose acrylic underpainting. I stand, listen to podcasts or music, move around and go on instinct. I may use a ref photo but often don’t. I start from a position of wanting to use certain colors or shapes, and this informs what I’m working towards. For the portraits and nudes, I tend to sit at the table and use a desktop easel. The nudes are from life or ref photos, I sketch multiple times in charcoal, rubbing out marks and rotating the support. Eventually, I will introduce a limited palette of oils. With the portraits, I dive in from a ref photo. I don’t grid up or anything. I paint the whole face at once and gradually refine.

Your paintings have a beautiful textural quality to them. What is your process like to achieve that texture?

Thank you! That came about mainly through laziness. I use so much saturated oil color that washing out my brushes each night was doing my head in. I tried a painting knife one day and got hooked! I rarely use a brush now except for the portraits. It helped me simplify, and I love the geometric quality.

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What is your favorite part about working with fluid paints?

Oh, it’s just so fun, it’s exciting. It’s a proper thrill to squeeze paint from a tube, mix it with the knife. With the washy underpainting, I love the unexpected blends. With my oils, I enjoy the thick texture and sheer glazes. The only thing I don’t like is how messy I am. Each tube is lidless, covered in paint, etc.

What advice do you have for our readers who are struggling to change their artistic paths?

My week with Martin Campos did genuinely change my life. I’d say if you can afford it, seek out artists you love and admire and try and study with them. Even a weekend will help! Give yourself permission to play, don’t feel the need to show everything. Expect changes to take time. Your audience may take time to catch up to your new style. Imagine you had a year left, what would you do with it? What is your true passion? But be practical! You need to survive, and there’s no shame in working for money to allow yourself the luxury of time to explore.

Moniker Art Fair | New York May 1-5, 2019
Tina Ziegler, Fair Director. Photo courtesy of Moniker Art Fair.

Tina Ziegler, Fair Director. Photo courtesy of Moniker Art Fair.

Create! Magazine is excited to be partnering with Moniker Art Fair for its 11th edition in New York this spring. Read on to learn more about what exciting things you can look forward to at this incredible contemporary art fair!

This May 1 - 5, Moniker Art Fair returns to New York, welcoming international and local collectors to a five-day celebration of New Contemporary Art in Manhattan.

Moniker Art Fair is an acclaimed contemporary art fair with urban influences, which has for 10 years delighted collectors and art lovers in both New York and London with hyper-curated, fully-immersive and broad-scope events.

The next edition, held 1 - 5 May 2019, will dominate the heart of the New York art scene in its 15,000 square-foot venue in NoHo, continuing the never-conventional, always-pioneering fair format that has launched the careers of numerous artists in the past decades in partnership with international galleries.

Moniker has become the go-to for art collectors to learn more about the contemporary art world and to buy art assured by the curation, instinct and advice of professionals.

Moniker London 2018. Photo credit: Sam Roberts.

Moniker London 2018. Photo credit: Sam Roberts.

NEW YORK EXHIBITORS LIST

INTERNATIONAL GALLERIES

GAREY THE THIRD | LA & Hong Kong

FIERCELY CURIOUS | Brooklyn

MAZEL GALERIE | Brussels & Singapore

FOUSION GALLERY | Barcelona

VINYL ON VINYL | The Philippines

ROMAN FINE ART | The Hamptons

CAKE AGENCY | Chicago, Illonois 

11.12 GALLERY | Moscow, Russia

LIVING ART GLOBAL | UK

ANALOG CONTEMPORARY | Philadelphia

PERSEUS GALLERY | New York

 

OPEN STUDIOS

SIRIS HILL | UK

FATHERLESS | Illinois

DEREK GORES | Florida

BURAK KARAVIT | Istanbul

NICK FEDAEFF | Russia

ARTHUR BECKER | New York

TXEMY & AMAIA ARRAZOLA | New York

 

SPOTLIGHT ARTISTS

EVOCA 1 | Dominican Republic

CHRISTIAN BOEHMER | Cologne

WK INTERACT | New York

ICY & SOT | Iran

YOK & SHERYO | The Philippines

ARINZE STANLEY | Nigeria

NUNO VIEGAS | Portugal

Photo credit: Icy & Sot. Photo courtesy of Moniker Art Fair.

Photo credit: Icy & Sot. Photo courtesy of Moniker Art Fair.

FAIR SCHEDULE 2019

Wednesday 1 May 2019
Collectors Day: 3pm-7pm 
VIP Celebration: 7pm - 10pm
$75 (Includes $50 towards your first original artwork purchase)

A program of educational talks, panel discussions and networking sessions
around collecting contemporary and urban art.

Thursday 2 May 2019 
Public Opening | 1pm - 5pm 
Opening Celebration | 5pm - 9:30pm 
$25

General Fair Days
Friday 3 May | 1 - 10pm 
Saturday 4 May | 12 - 8pm 
Sunday 5 May | 11am- 6pm 
$15

STUDENTS AND SENIORS

Students can visit Moniker free of charge. A valid student ID will be required before entry.

Seniors (65+) ticket price is $10 (+booking fee) with code: REDUCED.

FAIR ACCESS

Children under the age of 16 do not need a ticket to visit the fair.

Well behaved leashed pets are welcome on site.



For more information, please visit their website: https://www.monikerartfair.com/ or follow them on Instagram.

Photo credit: WK Interact. Photo courtesy of Moniker Art Fair.

Photo credit: WK Interact. Photo courtesy of Moniker Art Fair.

Monica Ikegwu
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Monica Ikegwu is a 20-year-old Baltimore based figure painter. She has been awarded as a first place winner in the XL Catlin Art prize (2018), a Young Arts Finalist (2017), a Gold medal winner in the NAACP ACT-SO National competition (2016), and as a Scholastic silver medal portfolio winner (2016). Her work was recently displayed and exhibited at the Reginald F. Lewis museum, as well as at Ida B’s Table in a joint show early in 2018. She now attends and studies at Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA) as a Junior.

Statement

Monica Ikegwu’s work is structured upon the portraiture and depiction of African Americans. She displays figures rendered in the three dimension while accompanied with two dimensional design elements. Her work brings to focus subtleties that she notices in the black community, as well as her personal life. Living in Baltimore and the way that she experiences it plays a big role in the ideas that she develops for the work. Taking feelings and aspects from her surroundings, she presents them in a way that is not only captivating but also unconventional. The figures presented in her work are often times her siblings and family from whom she draws most of her inspiration from as she watches them progress through life.

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Teklė Ūla Puzauskitė
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Teklė Ūla Puzauskitė is a female illustrator / artist / graphic and textile designer based in Vilnius, Lithuania.

The general aesthetic of her work reflects a personal experience and real life events from the perspective of a woman. Tekle‘s work is influenced by dreams, magic, mythology, death, anxiety, depression, self-love, classic paintings, feminism, and just simple casual life.

She creates illustrations using patterns and similar colors tones