Posts in Issue XIV
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!)

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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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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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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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.

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

Yvette L. Cummings
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Yvette L. Cummings received her BFA from Kendall College of Art and Design and completed her Masters of Fine Arts degree at the University of Cincinnati’s School of Design, Art, Architecture, and Planning. While still enrolled at DAAP she was director of the 840 Gallery, interned at the Contemporary Art Center of Cincinnati, and was the recipient of the Wolfstien Travel Fellowship to Spain.  Following her graduate work, Cummings became an instructor for the University of South Carolina Department of Art.  She was awarded the Stephen J. Dalton Teacher of the year from USC University in 2011. Cummings is currently Assistant Professor of Visual Arts in Painting/Drawing at Coastal Carolina University in Conway, South Carolina. Her work can be found in both public and private collections and has been featured in the 701 Center for Contemporary Art South Carolina Biennial in Columbia, SC as well as Contemporary South at Visual Art Exchange in Raleigh, NC.  Cummings was the recipient of the 701 CCA Prize 2016 for South Carolina artists under 40. Her work has been exhibited in multiple group and solo exhibitions throughout the south and mid-west. Yvette L. Cummings currently resides in Conway, South Carolina where she devotes her time to her studio work, teaching, and family.  

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Free and Intuitive: Interview with Lauren Mycroft
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Lauren Mycroft is a Canadian painter whose abstract works reference organic shapes using complex layers and staining. Using a contemporary palette and methodical layering technique, Mycroft creates process-driven artwork that feels both fresh and familiar. The compositions are created freely and intuitively, learned through years of practice and formal art training. Inspired by memory of place, Mycroft reflects on our emotional attachment and not specific locales. Through her unique palette and fields of stains, Mycroft offers the viewer a sense of nostalgia and elicits a personal response based on their own experiences with the landscape.

Mycroft studied at Vancouver Island University and Emily Carr University of Art and Design, and now exhibits regularly on the Canadian West Coast.

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In your artist statement, you talk about how your practice is process driven. How did you develop your process?

My process was developed over years of experimentation and working towards the goal of painting without developing an attachment to the end result. I have always enjoyed painting with a fluid medium. However, something clicked for me when I started working with high flow paints. This new medium caused my process to change dramatically, as I started pouring liquid paint over the canvas rather than applying with a brush.

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What is your favorite part about your intuitive practice?

Painting intuitively as opposed to painting with a specific outcome in mind challenges my need to control small details and allows me to problem solve creatively in the moment. Although it can feel overwhelming approaching a canvas in this way, once I overcome the compositional challenges of a painting, I am far more excited by the result than had I approached it with a predetermined outcome.

You also talk in your statement about being inspired by the memory of the place. When and how did this idea become an inspiration in your work?

The process of painting landscapes is something that has allowed me to reflect upon my childhood, as I moved around a lot in my life. Leaving the imagery abstracted and void of representative details allows the viewer to create their attachment to the work. For me, each piece is very personal; however it is not based on a specific locale, it is more representational of time.

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How does the idea of memory drive and come through in your work?

I would say the idea of memory drives the mood of my work and dictates my color palette and the boldness or softness or a painting. That, combined with the indistinct forms, allow viewers to apply their memory and attachment to a piece which creates a connection for the collector.

Can you tell us a little about your color palette? Is the palette premeditated for each piece or do you work intuitively there as well?

I often start with an idea of a palette or a couple of colors; however, it changes as the painting develops.

Can you share a piece of advice you have received that you think our readers would benefit from hearing?

I don’t remember where I read this, however, the simple, yet powerful statement, “walk towards your fear” has greatly impacted how I approach creating such personal work every day and how I navigate this career. I also have a note on my studio wall reminding myself not to allow the work to become precious; this keeps it fun and experimental and will enable me to make my best work.

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

I keep surprising myself with what I’m able to accomplish as a self-employed person (even the fact that I’m self-employed is a surprise to me) who is also raising two little humans! There’s a sense of pride and newfound confidence that I’ve acquired with each hurdle I overcome.

Lindsay Hall
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I create colorfully titillating work revolving around the body, food, and sexuality. Pleasure, desire, and sensory stimulation are activated through opportunities for transformative and emotive experiences. I engage these ideas through the interplay of suggestive forms, materials, colors, and textures, resulting in strangely beautiful and oddly satisfying pieces and installations. Palpable and personal memories of things innocent and erotic, tasty and visceral, intimate and shared, are regurgitated and reinterpreted through an intuitive process that results in each candy colored morsel. Shame and awkwardness are sugarcoated with a provocative playfulness and sensuality is nuanced with humor. The alluring components and scenes are amalgamations of both the foreign and the familiar and can be interpreted as both micro and macro, internal and external, corporeal and temporary, coalescing in decadent fantasyscapes brimming with delectable offerings.

A West Coast native, Lindsay Hall is an interdisciplinary artist currently based in Las Vegas, Nevada. She received a MFA in Painting from Indiana University in 2016, as well as a BA in Painting and Drawing (2012) and a BA in Journalism and Media Studies (2010) from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Her work has been exhibited nationally at venues such as the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, the Janet Kurnatowski Gallery (New York), the New Hampshire Institute of Arts, Kent State University (Ohio), Indiana University, the Target Gallery (Virginia), Fort Works Art (Texas) and Ventolin Art Space (Australia), and is featured in Volume 38 of Studio Visit magazine and Issue 2 of Hiss Mag. She has co-curated group exhibitions in Indiana and New York. Lindsay received the Ilknur P. Ralston Memorial Award in Visual Arts in 2016. She was awarded the Post-Graduate Residency Program at the Torpedo Factory Art Center in Alexandria, Virginia in 2017. Lindsay is currently preparing for a solo exhibition in Florence, Italy as a selected artist for the XII Florence Biennale in 2019.

www.lindsayahall.com

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Katherine Fraser
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Katherine Fraser is a graduate of the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts and of the University of Pennsylvania. As a student she received the Thomas Eakins Painting prize, the Cecelia Beaux Portrait prize, and the William Emlen Cresson Memorial Travel Award, among others. Since graduation she has been exhibiting throughout the Mid-Atlantic region, and nationally. Katherine grew up in Maine as an only child, and finds that experience often reflected in her work. Her subject matter comes from memories and experiences that feel in some way universal. By portraying singular figures in sparse settings, she explores the idea that being alone makes us feel most alive and connected to our true nature. She is represented by Paradigm Gallery, in Philadelphia.

My paintings depict moments of quiet reflection and insight, of wonder, vulnerability, yearning, determination, humility, strength, and growth. I see a duality in every moment, and beauty in the tension of opposing emotions existing in a single facial expression. As every person, and every experience is multifaceted, every painting is meant to express a dimensional idea. I am fascinated by the mutability of memory, by the way emotions can shape perception, and the way we unconsciously create narratives to understand our experience and explain our identities.

I paint out of my sincere desire to respect, express, and share the tender qualities that unite us. Compassionately and with a generous heart, I seek to portray our continual need to reckon expectations with truth, and the struggles we endure to feel satisfaction with our choices. My goal is not just to make aesthetically beautiful paintings, but to create works that touch and resonate with the complexity of real world experience.

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Camila Fernández
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My name is Camila Fernández and I’m a graphic designer from Buenos Aires, Argentina. I started experimenting with digital collage a year ago and I’ve found in it a way to truly create without guidelines. I keep surprising myself with how infinite possibilities are, and I like trying new things while developing my own style.

I believe my art is strongly related to graphic design in the sense of conveying a concept or telling a story – and also to try to do it with the least possible amount of images.

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The Human Side of the Marginalized: Interview with Jenn Terrell
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Jenn Terrell is a portrait and documentary photographer. Jenn’s work showcases a wide range of topics and individuals, ranging from portrait sessions to sharing the stories of sexual assault survivors, all presented with a raw, honest aesthetic. She lives in Bentonville, Arkansas.

Statement
I want to use the power of the photograph to create connections and bring people together. I aim to do that by showing the very human side of the marginalized. I want people to feel the tears of trauma, the scars of abuse and the pain that relates us all.

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What is your favorite part about working with photography?

I have a passion for people, from all walks of life. With my camera, I feel I have the power to tell stories; stories of the oppressed and marginalized in society. I feel it is my responsibility to use my privilege to address social issues, educate, and effect change.

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How has your style evolved into what it is today?

My style has evolved from bright compositions to creating darker, more moody scenes. I find it more authentic to show how things actually were. In addition, a documentary style is much more indicative of the style of my work these days.

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Does the way that you create photographs change depending on your subject?

Working with different subjects changes the way I photograph, specifically the reasoning for the shoot. Family shoots, couple shoots, and styled shoots are much more laid back and relaxed. My biggest goal with those is to make sure the subjects feel comfortable with me so that I am photographing them as who they really are. Photographing to try and inspire change is different. When I photographed victims of sexual assault for the Hidden Reality Project, it was very raw and difficult. These women were pouring out their souls to me and many of them still had not completely dealt with the trauma they had experienced, particularly ones that received no justice. I tried to be extremely sensitive to what they were going through and I paused the photographing as many times as needed to help them get through telling me their stories. I think the photoshoots were a bit of a resolution for some of the women. I believe most women have been through some kind of sexual assault or harassment and sadly we can all relate and connect through those horrific experiences. So I think for some of the women they were able to talk to me about this and I could respond with some knowledge of where they are coming from and why they felt certain things.

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What are you currently working on?

Right now I am working on finishing up the design of a poetry book by a Haitian American woman that I did photographs for as well. I am also designing my own photobook that includes stories from sexual assault survivors that I have collected over the years. I also have a few more versions of my project called "Femina" which explores femininity in the modern day.

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Do you prefer working on styled shoots and more controlled projects or events where the environment is less controlled?

I really enjoy both controlled shoots and documentary style. The most rewarding, though, is always photographing to tell the stories of the marginalized that have the potential to inspire change or just to inspire people. That can come from either a styled shoot or a documentary style shoot.

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You have three projects on view on your website, Hidden Reality project, The depression Project, and Femina project. Can you tell us a little about those projects and how they originated?

The Depression Project (jennterrell.com/the-depression-project) was the first full series that I ever completed. I started it because I was very close to someone who had pretty severe depression. I didn't know much about it so I researched and researched. I couldn't believe all of the information I was finding. I thought more people should know about this to understand what others are going through. I wanted more people to have the epiphany that I had. I thought a great way to get that information out is to have it come firsthand from a variety of people living with depression. I got a variety of firsthand accounts as well as stories of spouses and family members of those dealing with depression. The project became a sort of therapy for me too.

The Hidden Reality Project (jennterrell.com/hiddenrealityproject) came next. I kept thinking back to a night in 2008 when I hosted a girls’ night at my apartment in college. Nine women from various parts of Arkansas who all moved there to go to college came to my apartment that night. We were sitting in a circle talking and one girl starting talking about her son. We were all a little baffled that she had a son. We started showering her with questions. “How old is he? Is the dad in your life? How difficult is it to have a child in school?” She answered the first question with “He is 9.” We were all shocked. She was our age (19-24) and she had a nine-year-old!?! Is this possible? At this point, she decided to share with us the horrific story of how she lost her virginity by being raped while she was passed out at a party. She didn’t even know she wasn’t a virgin until her doctor told her she was pregnant. This story sparked stories from other girls in the circle about their own rape experiences. At one point I looked around the room and asked who all had been raped. I was the only person who did not raise their hand. Little did I know by the time I turned 24, I would be able to raise my hand too. This gathering was where I realized sexual assault was a much bigger problem than I had ever imagined. Young women from all different cities of the same state shared a similar fate when it came to rape. What a horrible thing to have in common. I never forgot that night and still think about it often. It was the inspiration for the Hidden Reality project where I also shared my own story.

Femina (jennterrell.com/femina) is my current ongoing project. It started with a group boudoir photo shoot that I did to showcase a variety of women. The photo shoot ended up being so much more than that. On the day of the shoot, all of the women came together and problem solved as soon as tiny setbacks happened. Each time we did individual shots of one woman from the group, the others would gather around and encourage her and tell her how beautiful she was. This type of love and togetherness fostered the perfect environment for this photoshoot. I never would have dreamed up this day the way it happened. It was amazing and inspiring for me to see how this group of women, who were mostly strangers, interacted and helped to produce a raw and beautiful set of photographs. This spurred an ongoing project about exploring femininity. I just finished up the second installment of the series with a diverse group of 3-7-year-old girls. They wore black dresses, leggings, pants, and jackets to foster a look of togetherness. They held hands, sang twinkle, twinkle, little star and laughed and played together throughout the photoshoot.

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What advice would you like to give to people who want to start their photography careers?

Work, work, work. Work pretty much every day. If you truly love it, it will feel natural. Focus on your craft and create. A mentor of mine, painter Hubert Neal, Jr., once said that even if he was making no money at painting and was poor he would still be a painter. This made me realize that no matter what I do, I have to be all in. Photography is my passion and I am all in no matter if that means no money or lots of money.

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Credits: 

Photographer: Jenn Terrell Photography

Hair: Giovanna Barboza

Make up: Brushed By Shae

Planner & Creator of the amazing crowns: Sonnet Weddings

Models: Destiny LaNeé, Tylr DeShae Mustin,J'Aaron Merchant, Monique Beilby, Cynthia Hernandez, Jasmine Hudson, Jessie Wagner

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