Posts tagged Color
Saskia Fleishman

Saskia Fleishman b. 1995 graduated Rhode Island School of Design in 2017 with a BFA in painting. Fleishman is based in Brooklyn, NYC. Recent residencies include Vermont Studio Center, Trestle Art Space, and The Otis Emerging Curator Retreat.

Curious about curating other artists’ work, as well as exhibiting her own, Saskia continues to collaborate with peers around the greater New York area. In addition, Fleishman has exhibited her work in Miami, Providence, Rome, San Juan, and Milwaukee.


This series of paintings is generated through photographs of American landscape taken on recent vacations and images sourced from my family’s collection. These photographs are then composed as geometric abstractions, op-art, or color studies from  ”The Interaction Of Color” by Joseph Albers, in order to deconstruct, reflect upon, and rebuild early memory and perception. I pair flat, smooth, hard-edge paint applications aesthetic with textural materials such as sand, resin, and paper clay, to add unexpected dimension and reflection. The paintings explore nostalgia while contemplating moments in time, perception, and our relationship to memories embedded in landscapes.

Jacquie Comrie

Jacquie Comrie is a multidisciplinary, whose colourful work has been making a global impact, using colour as a main tool for social change and mental health at large. 

Whether as murals on buildings, large scale structures or canvases,  her work has a  wellness approach, that combines scale, movement, and colour to transform city scapes while catering to the mental well being of its communities.   

Comrie’s colour palette s  are deliberately orchestrated aiming to repair, heal, uplift spaces and minds. With mental health issues on the rise across the globe, her work continues  contributing to much needed inclusive public spaces, aiming to ultimately unite and  improve lives of all individuals. 

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

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

-Phyllis Gorsen

Tell me about your creative journey so far. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


What can visitors expect from this exhibition?  

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

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

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Paula Cahill

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

- Paula Cahill


Tell me about your creative journey so far. 

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

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


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

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


What can visitors expect from this exhibition?  

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

Lael Burns


Artist Statement

Drawing from my personal spiritual experiences and daily life as a mother, my work investigates the way playful craft materials such as glitter, fabric, and pompoms can be manipulated with other fine art components as a means of exploring connections between the visceral, graphic, sublime, and carnal. The organic forms I describe are synthetically adorned organs, wombs, and hearts that display the external evidence of internal rebirth and are a physical manifestation of things intangible and infinite.  

I utilize material and sensory experience as a means to explore meaning. Material is worked until there is a shift into another realm: fabric becomes flesh, a sack, or an embryo, pins become candy, paint becomes a skin of strawberry ice-cream or bubblegum, a pom-pom becomes a microorganism or disease. My work strives to have a visceral presence by virtue of formal aesthetics, often riding the line between what is beautiful, grotesque and delicious.  This speaks to various dichotomies I often reference in my work, such as light and dark, spirit and flesh.


Lael earned her BFA from Southern Methodist University and her MFA from the University of Iowa, both with a concentration in painting and minor concentrations in printmaking and sculpture. She exhibits of her work extensively both locally and nationally. Her work has been written about in Peripheral Vision Arts Salon 2017, Studio Visit Magazine, Art Habens Contemporary Review, and on the International Fine Arts Fund and Create! Magazine blog. Lael has taught at the secondary and college level and currently lives in the Dallas/Fort Worth area with her husband and children.

Jenniffer Omaitz
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Jenniffer Omaitz (b. 1979, Cleveland, OH) lives in Kent, OH and works in Kent and Cleveland. She holds an M.F.A. in painting from Kent State University and a B.F.A. in painting from the Cleveland Institute of Art. Solo exhibitions of her work have been held at The Sculpture Center, Cleveland; Sandy Carson Gallery, Denver; and Kent State University, Hinterland, Denver, and the Museum of Contemporary Art, Cleveland. Her work was also featured at the 2010 Biennial of the Americas in Denver, Fresh Paint at Manifest Gallery in Cincinnati (2017), CAN Triennial in Cleveland 2018 and recently was awarded a fellowship residency with the Akron Soul Train. 


Our urban and geographic environment is in a constant state of transformation. My work explores states of change between order and chaos that relate to the visual experience of environmental shift. Painting and Installation Art are modes of communicating our sensitivity to environmental factors; these practices provide me with a cadence and context through which to express ideas. My installations explore order/chaos theory by invoking abstraction through the juxtaposition of technology, architecture, and nature colliding. Paintings are a meditation on movement, color, permutation, and gesture; boundary coordinates operating between space and color.

My paintings explore ideas of Fold, Gesture and Movement. These are approached in two ongoing series: Solid Movement and Folding Gesture. Solid Movement is an investigation into gesture and its ability to encapsulate time and psyche, fuse internal and external, and record conceptual state changes in solidified form. Folding Gesture explores changes in spatial order that appear fractured or fragmented. These states can remain calm or reconfigure coherence in the painting. I am interested in the connection between a fold as it relates to architecture or design and gesture as it relates to aspects of drawing and 20th century painting. This series struggles to define beauty, exploring abstraction as incident and artifact of the process in which paint is applied, exposing interior and exterior spaces that may not coexist. There is a constant struggle between surface and ground, between paint and the boundaries within the painting. This series of work attempts to unify my sculptural endeavors with my interests in painting.

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Polychromatic Fragmentism: Interview with Riccardo Liotta

Professionally trained and practicing as an architect, I have also been producing art inspired by physics, mathematics, and geometry, the foundation of my artwork. 

Abstract art is characterized by dynamic, angular geometries, contrasting shapes, overlapping polychromatic polygons, vibrant colors, sharp lines, and graphics elements.

Derived from the application of mathematical formulas and geometric principles, it expresses concepts like speed, movement, and energy, reflecting the changing, unstable characteristics of nature, as well as the fragmentation, uncertainty and undeterminability of life. 

Technically these compositions are influenced by Futurism, Rayonism, Constructivism, and Suprematism, but take inspiration from comics, graphic design, diagrams and photographs of particle collisions and electron microscopy.

Through continuous artistic research and development, and by learning/experimenting with different techniques, methods and tools, the art has evolved, becoming less rigid, less systematic, but more intuitive, gestural, fluid, and it is created by experimenting with figure-ground relationship, proportions, harmony, contrast, overlaps, layers, movement, and by analyzing and altering the behavior of colors, fields, shapes, lines and segments.

All my artwork, despite which diverse approaches it originates from, shares many common stylistic traits and characteristics, and belongs to a broad style I identify as "polychromatic fragmentism".

I find acrylic to be the medium that best expresses my ideas and theories. However, I also work with colored pencils and pastels, pen, markers and collage. I also extensively utilize the computer to generate patterns, shapes and compositions, and to alter/enhance paintings and drawings.

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How did your artistic career start?

My career as an artist started in architecture illustration while working on my master in architecture. that is where I started painting and discovered acrylics.for my school projects and my thesis I began producing architectural paintings, but in a very abstract, interpretative way.

From there I transitioned to pure geometric, abstract compositions, gradually abandoning the architecture influence.


What is your studio practice like?

I am still a practicing architect, so I usually split the day between architecture and art. I typically work on my artwork in the afternoons and evenings. many days, having not much time to devote to an actual canvas or composition, I find myself working on smaller drawings, collages or mixed-media work, or just sketching. quite a bit of time is also spent on just creating and analyzing forms – painted, drawn or cut-out - that will either be used on or as starting points for actual compositions. I also spend a fair amount of time writing about my work process, or to analyze ideas.

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You have such a specific style. How did you develop it?

my architectural thesis project was based on particle physics and quantum mechanics, the concepts of randomness, chance and probability, and the application of these principles to the design methodology. this, along with my interest in mathematics and geometry, led me to develop a series of mathematical/geometrical experiments that generated what I called the “eigencompositions”: analytical, polychromatic abstract compositions consisting of simplified yet very dynamic geometrical shapes, fields, lines and segments, derived from the superposition of different forms generated and arranged systematically by these experiments.

Later on, I started using new mathematical concepts and mechanisms to generate different compositions. I also had different opportunities to learn and experiment with a variety of techniques, methods, and tools that have allowed me - if not forced me - to diversifying my modus operandi and to generate art using new processes, different from the abovementioned systems.

All these approaches, along with continuous artistic research, evolved and developed into what my art is today: less rigid, less systematic, but more intuitive, gestural, fluid, also influenced by comics, graphic design, diagrams and photographs of particle collisions and electron microscopy.

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What has been the most memorable moment of your artistic career thus far?

In recent months, my work is regularly being published in different magazines and catalogs, as well as being recognized by some of the most important art sale and collection sites. being invited by important galleries and art fairs to exhibit with them is also quite rewarding.

What first drew you to working with geometric shapes?

When I started painting, my artwork was related to or influenced by architecture. but my architectural projects were all based on mathematics, geometry and physics. so, directly or indirectly, that is always been the foundation of my work. but I also think it is all simply driven by my innate, genuine interest and fascination with geometry.

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You use such bold colors in your work, how do you choose your palette for each piece?

At the early stages of composition it is very intuitive. typically, I already have a chromatic scheme in mind right from the beginning, derived from magazine clippings, a photograph, comics, graphic design, other artwork, or by simply sketching with color pencils. I then analyze these color combinations as the work progresses, to make sure they are right for the shapes and that they work as a whole, and add smaller amounts of complementary colors as I move along.


When starting a new piece do you typically have a plan or do you plan as you go?

I always have a plan as the starting point for each work, a way to generate the shapes and the relationships that make the could be a simple drawing – for example, a sketch of a piece done at a museum – a diagram, or a “spontaneous” assemblage of paper clippings and fragments that form an interesting whole. the main colors are also already loosely established.

As the work develops, through a variety of operations new shapes inevitably appear, some get altered, and others are hidden or eliminated.and so the original plan is constantly being modified until there is only some of it left. it’s a process where I let the composition take its natural course, but still within the parameters of the original plan.

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Ben Dallas

Ben Dallas, a long-time Chicago resident, presently lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico. He received degrees in Art History from Indiana University, Bloomington, and The University of Illinois, Champaign/Urbana. He was Professor of Art at Harper College, Palatine, IL until 2001.


The visual form a perceived object or situation exhibits offers a kind of template by which our minds maneuver toward what meaning to give it; thus, the concerns I have in making my art are embodied in its appearances. I’m not interested in storytelling, symbols, and new information. The challenges presented by more perplexing visual presentations have the potential to undermine expectations and reorient viewers to their own processes of perception and thought.


Ellie Ji Yang

Ellie Ji Yang is a Korean artist currently living and working in Brooklyn, NY.

She holds an MFA in Illustration from the Fashion Institute of Technology, New York, and a BFA in Cartoon and Animation from Chosun University, South Korea. She is known for her cheerful and raw unfiltered drawings, and has been recognized for her work by the Society of Illustrators 60 , American Illustration 37, Nylon Korea, ITS NICE THAT, 3x3 Magazine and Creative Quarterly. Ellie’s work is heavily inspired by the innocence of childhood and the colors and intricacies of nature.

Ellie has showcased her work in numerous galleries, including The Museum of Illustration, Kenektid X Gallery, Grumpy Bert, Okay Space Gallery and Ouchi Gallery.


I began my works by imagining a setting where I would like to live and play. As a visual creator, I constantly search for vibrant colors and beauty found in nature. I am drawn to all things cheerful, peaceful, and whimsical. While creating these worlds, I imagine myself dwelling in them, which slowly fills me with a sense of relaxation and happiness.

Each work depicts a different atmosphere with various stories happening at once. I often begin working with line drawing as ideas emerge, focusing on composition and harmony all the while. I do not start with a specific plan. My images come to life and inform what will come next. I allow the drawings to react to one another on the surface and guide my process. This open approach is joyous for me and creates space for chance and discovery. 

By utilizing mixed media, I tried to express different imageries with freedom and diversity. I mostly used acrylic and gouache and finished the details with colored pencil. Mark-making plays an important role in my work. I believe it is one of the most essential elements in conveying visual and emotional texture. I also created some components digitally to avoid limiting myself to physical mediums.


Charmaine Koh

Charmaine Koh lives and works in the San Francisco Bay Area. A painter and new media artist, Koh's work explores dissonance, sentimentality, nostalgia, and place. In her paintings, this takes the form of imaginary landscapes constructed out of a jumble of common tropes and motifs. Koh holds an MFA in Fine Arts and an MA in Visual and Critical Studies from the California College of the Arts. She has participated in residencies in the US, Italy, the Philippines, and Singapore, and has exhibited both domestically and internationally.

Art Miami Exhibitor Highlight: Leslie Feely Gallery

December 4 –9, 2018

In its 29th edition, Art Miami maintains a preeminent position in America's modern and contemporary art fair market and is globally recognized as a primary destination for the acquisition of the most important works from the 20th and 21st centuries.

Friedel Dzubas,  First Run , 1972 Acrylic on Canvas, 96Hx96Win

Friedel Dzubas, First Run, 1972 Acrylic on Canvas, 96Hx96Win

Interview with Dakota Sica

Briefly tell us about your gallery and what type of art you specialize in.

Leslie Feely Gallery is located on the Upper East Side in New York City. We specialize in Post War and Contemporary Art.

What can visitors expect from your booth this year and what specific works should they pay attention to?

This year we have a dedicated a section to Richard Diebenkorn, highlighting works from every period of his career.

Including examples of early abstract drawings, stunning figurative works, and an impressive Ocean Park.

Another star of our booth is “First Run" a rare large-scale painting by Friedel Dzubas - this never before seen work is a Dzubas masterpiece.

It will be accompanied by smaller paintings that illustrate the artist’s contributions to color field painting.

We are also proud to present the works of Kikuo Saito. These large-scale gestural abstractions sing with color!

What tips would you share with new art collectors or fair visitors?

I recommend that visitors ask questions. It is very rewarding to talk with people about the work of an artist they may or may not know. Art Miami is an inclusive fair where experienced and new collectors come to learn and grow their collections.

Anna Teiche

Working in large-scale oil painting, Anna Teiche’s work centers around explorations of human and cultural relationships through use of vivid color, light, and pattern. A graduate of the BFA Art & Design program at California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo, Teiche has recently relocated to Seattle, Washington, her hometown. Growing up in the Pacific Northwest, Teiche was always fascinated by color and pattern, especially influenced by her grandmother’s stories of her Scandinavian heritage, and the many Renaissance and Medieval paintings she saw at the Seattle Art Museum as a child. Recently, Teiche completed a public wall-hanging sculpture commission for Cal Poly, which is now on display as part of the permanent collection.

Using bright patterns and vintage fabrics Anna Teiche creates large scale oil paintings and fiber sculptures that feel inviting and friendly at a glance, but allow for more ambiguous, uncomfortable revelations upon further investigation. Through color, pattern, and light Teiche analyzes how bodies interact with each other and the spaces they inhabit, creating narratives that reveal how body language can suggest the underlying psychology of a scene. The work fluctuates between abstraction and figuration, forcing the viewer to find a coherent image in the saturated combinations of fabrics. Using combinations of plaids, stripes, and vintage floral prints, patterns are combined based on color relationships, creating environments that feel pulsating with warm light and pattern, pushing the compositions more towards abstract fragments than real spaces. Referencing the figurative poses found in Medieval and Renaissance painting, Teiche intertwines fabric, color, and seemingly severed limbs to create compositions that are reminiscent of historical paintings, but quickly disintegrate into chaotic scenes of fragmented bodies and dislocated pieces.

DEADRINGER exhibition by Michael Reeder

Hashimoto Contemporary is pleased to present DEADRINGER, a solo exhibition by Michael Reeder. DEADRINGER will be Reeder’s inaugural solo exhibition at Hashimoto Contemporary, in which he will be exhibiting new works that explore themes of self-identity and ego.

Through the use of bold saturated color and graphic geometric patterns blended with figurative elements, Reeder’s work delves into the concept of self, and the innate human desire to be an authentic entity. Skulls and hands are prevalent in the artists work, calling attention to both internal and external physical elements that connect us all as humans. As we strive for uniqueness, we are bound together through our humanity, highlighting the fact that we are ultimately the same.

About the exhibition, Reeder states, “I wanted to focus on how similar we as humans are regardless of our external differences and how desperately we attempt to stand apart in society. We are all composed of distinct experiences, backgrounds, cultures, fashion styles, careers, etc., yet it is all individually mashed up into a dead ringer, almost carbon copied vessel - the human body. This concept is the underlying premise of DEADRINGER.”

Please join us Saturday, December 1 from 6pm - 8pm for the opening reception of DEADRINGER. The artist will be in attendance. As an added bonus, the first 100 attendees of the exhibition will receive a free print.

This exhibition will be on view through Saturday, December 22. For more information, additional images, or exclusive content, please email us at

Michael Reeder was born in Dallas, Texas in 1982, where he grew up influenced by the local skate and street culture. Drawing and painting in traditional mediums from a young age, Reeder found himself drawn to the underground, unseen, yet very public form of painting graffiti. He later moved to New York City where he received his Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in painting from the School of Visual Arts. Post-college, Michael took a job with Eyecon Studios in Dallas, Texas and learned to paint large-scale, traditional murals. These experiences fused with his early graffiti influence formed and grew into his portraiture work today. His work has been exhibited both nationally and internationally, along with numerous printed publications such as New American Paintings, Le Petit Voyeur and HiFructose Magazine. Reeder currently lives and works in Los Angeles, CA.

Jasmin Cañas

Jasmin Cañas is a self-taught visual artist from the Mission District of San Francisco, California. Working with a full spectrum of color and iridescent acrylic paints, she captures and depicts images, inspired by her vibrant neighborhood, colorful family, and inspirational travels. In 2014, Jasmin was commissioned to paint a large heart sculpture for the San Francisco General Hospital’s “Heroes and Hearts” foundation. This sculpture was later displayed in the AT&T ballpark, in San Francisco’s Union Square, and the image was printed on limited edition Ghirardelli chocolate boxes. In 2016, she exhibited her collection “Matanzas”, inspired by her trip to Cuba, in a privately owned gallery in San Francisco. In late 2017, Jasmin displayed her work in the group exhibition, “Housing”, which was held at the offices of Senator Scott Wiener. Jasmin continues to reside in San Francisco, and is passionate about furthering her education and artist career.


Through my paintings, I strive to capture and interpret the beautiful struggle that is the world I live in. Often referencing Latino cultures and the neighborhood I grew up in, my work documents the good, and the bad, of the broad spectrum of what I call home. My collections of work have depicted subjects such as gentrification, community, spirituality, and family. I work with vibrant colors and iridescent acrylic paints in order to honor and record the spirit and reality of the subjects I chose to paint. Living by the motto of “stop and see the beautiful”, has evolved my work in recent years. This way of thinking has opened my creative eyes to praising the beauty that resides around me, while acknowledging the ugliness that balances our existence.

Personal Mythology: Interview with Nessi Alexander-Barnes

By Sarah Mills

Nessi Alexander-Barnes uses the pronouns xe and xyr. Xe earned both a BFA in Studio Art & Design and a BS in Art History at Towson University, MD. Xe is currently an MFA candidate at the University of Missouri. 

As someone who identifies as nonbinary and transgender, I have found a dearth of representations in popular media of people whose lives resemble my own. The things I create are my answer to this problem. Popular culture is our contemporary version of mythology- stories in which we invest parts of ourselves, that celebrate ourselves and our people, and that explain the world as we experience it. My artwork involves the creation of a personal mythology to fill that gap, populated by brightly-colored zoomorphic characters whose system of iconography is partially influenced by my art historical research and my idiosyncratic (mis)interpretations of mass culture. These characters enact allegorical narratives about my experiences as a person who is, among other things, genderqueer and pansexual and generally queer in a number of ways. I do not disclose the lexicon that goes into the creation of my imagery, because I want viewers to experience my work similarly to how I experience culture at large: as an outsider, who nevertheless forms relationships to the culture I’m trying to interface with through idiosyncratic interpretation.

Tell us about your artistic background.

Formally, I had some art training in high school, where my teachers thought I was a promising if a frustrating student who had some problems with authority and was easily distracted. I furiously resisted the idea of taking art seriously for a very very long time, tried to do a biotech degree, spent a brief year as a history major wherein I didn't actually take any history classes and took a bunch of art classes instead, and finally just leaned into it and shifted to art. During my time as an art major, I was really into art history as well, because it fed my work, and I got halfway through a double major without noticing it, at which point I added the major and a semester. I thus have two undergraduate degrees, a BFA in Art & Design and a BS in Art History from Towson University. I am currently doing an MFA at the University of Missouri.

Informally, I have always drawn compulsively. Usually, on things, I wasn't supposed to, much to the chagrin of my family and teachers and the occasional unfortunate employee of restaurants where I was given crayons as a child. I got on the internet early, in 2000, at the age of 10, and immediately gravitated to fandom communities with a drawing component. These communities are the places where I learned how to obsessively read into anything narrative left nearby, how to queer mainstream culture, how to use these personal stories to understand the world around me, and the powerful symbolism that one can put into an original character. It was also my first connection to the queer world at large, and the first space where-- it's not so much that I wasn't alien in terms of my experiences and the way I interface with the world, but it was the first space where it was okay to be alien in that way.


You identify as Nonbinary & Genderqueer, Panromantic, and Demisexual. How do these identities influence and drive your art?

They are primary drivers of everything I do. I exist at a confluence of many different identities, some of them big and systemic and others of which are more minor. Nonbinary/genderqueer/panromantic/demisexual are the ones I put most forward in my work, but they're not the only ones in it. As one would expect, they mark me as an atypical subject.

One of my major interests is culture and cultural products; alongside the interpersonal ill-treatment and institutional abuse that comes with being queer or LGBTQ, you're always highly aware of the fact that culture at large wasn't designed to include queer people. That awareness is profoundly alienating, because of these cultural products-- books, movies, anything we engage with-- functions as our contemporary mythology-- a set of stories that explain the world in a way consistent with or that reflects the experiences of the people engaging with them. The exclusion, which is usually deliberate and often viciously advocated for by whole swaths of our culture, is a reiteration of queer & LGBTQ people's being welcome in society at large.

At the same time, I love our cultural products. I engage with them all the time, even when I'm not represented in them. And, as so many LGBTQ and queer people have, I've taken those cultural products and altered them for my own purposes, reworked them so that I fit into that narrative. My work is the product of that. I've taken all the cultural influences and all the idiosyncratic ways I've queered them over my lifetime and churned them into a personal mythology that I put out there to make myself visible.

The lack of representation of queer & LGBTQ people in media is changing in good and meaningful ways, but that's an extremely slow process, and it necessarily involves simplification. You get one LGBTQ character in some media, and usually, they're one of two types: a gay man, usually white, or a lesbian who so frequently dies in the storyline that it's become a trope. We'll all die of age if we're content to wait around for the companies that make our mythologies to decide that we're profitable enough to market to and start representing us on their own. Additionally, even with the changes that have already happened and the push we are making for more representation, what can be given to us externally won't be able to represent the beautiful variation of queer and LGBTQ experiences. I have had a very unique experience of queerness and being LGBTQ, and so has every other queer and LGBTQ person I've spoken to. Those experiences deserve to be represented, and they deserve more than the boiled-down simplification that happens when you try to tell multiple peoples' stories at once, especially when that so often comes with a few voices being elevated further than the rest. The queer/LGBTQ communities have a historical problem of some members trying to speak for the experiences of all members, which has led to the alienation of an injury to queer/LGBTQ people of color and transgender people.

My work is my answer to some of those problems. It's my belief that if we want a cultural mythology, and if we want that cultural mythology to be representative of the many rich queer/LGBTQ experiences in all of their elegant complication, the best way to do that is to tell our own stories, and to make our own art, and to do it in our own voices. My work is my mythology, it reflects my unique subject position, it tells my stories and it renders me visible and it seeks to reflect the world that I experience as I understand it.

I hope for it to exist alongside the work of people engaged in similar projects. It also invites people to cross-identify with it, just as I cross-identify with external culture. People who share some of my identities might recognize some of the symbolism, but because it comes from the point of convergence of several identities, most viewers will only get part of it, and some might get more than others. Thus, I invite viewers to cross-identify and to queer it in order to find some space in it, just as I queer mainstream culture.

Can you tell us a little about where you source your imagery from?

The shortish answer: I filter my experiences, the serious thoughts that vex me, my concerns, my hopes, my happinesses, my victories, and my trials and tribulations-- all of the stuff that feeds into my experience of being - through a personal iconography, which I use to come up with characters and situations, that I then draw as allegories and render into whatever materials prove relevant to the individual work's meaning.

The longer answer is that, as I previously mentioned, I've spent my life engaging fondly (and queering) an external culture to which I am alien and whose cultural products were never meant for me. I also have two undergraduate degrees, one of which is in art history, and a lifelong fondness for mythology. This has given me an appreciation for iconography and for how zoomorphic entities have been vectors for symbolism and ideas. I grew up on the internet engaging with fandom, which is a fantastic education in how to queer things. All of these things combined have fed an internal iconographic lexicon that is composed both of mass cultural symbolism and some idiosyncratic deviations from that received symbolism. I use that lexicon to formulate the characters and the situations that become my imagery.

I've done this for a very long time, particularly with the characters, though it has grown a lot more sophisticated and intentional across that time. The oldest characters I've drawn, who are also my three most frequently used and who figure prominently in the laser-etched Ablations series, were all first made when I was about 10. Their iconography has evolved, but the roots of this project started early.

You work a lot with laser-etched quilting cotton how did that start? What drew you to this practice?

At the time, I was working with hand-cut appliques in highly-patterned quilting fabric. Hand-cutting the complex figures of my characters is a time-intensive and painstaking process. To save me some time, one of my advisors suggested that I try to use the laser engraver to cut out my figures.

I took a while to think about it, specifically about what it might mean. I use the quilting fabric because it's an intimate material, its intended purpose is to make a blanket that touches our skin, and those quilts often have a narrative attached-- either in the imagery or in the making ("my grandmother gave this on the occasion of etc"), or both-- they keep us warm and protect us. More staid versions of the same fabric (cotton or silk) get turned into clothing that we wear, that touches us intimately all the time. The cotton fabric is thus a kind of skin that carries a lot of cultural and intimate symbolism, and that we use, through deliberate choices of surface design, to represent information about ourselves. The laser burns material to cut through it, and my first thought with lasers was the medical application-- we use them to burn out imperfections or remove dangerous growths. Ours is not a medical laser, but it still burns out the designs of its user's choice from a substrate by removing the sections that are unwanted. One of the identities that I only occasionally disclose but which does drive my work is Masochist, and within that, I have an interest in the scarification of my body, and my scars as being a record of experiences.

Using the laser to burn my mythology into these quilting fabrics, and so to add onto their surface design the impression of my history, seemed really appropriate to my goals for the work. I also found it appealing to appropriate and slightly-misuse an industrial technology in the name of artmaking, as did Rauschenberg and Johns and Warhol, who are excellent historical references for anyone making queer art and, at least partially, deriving their imagery from popular culture and subcultural experience. Finally, the results of this process are extremely delicate, because the visible lines are actually the trapped ash remnants of the burning. For them to resolve into images against the busy backgrounds I frequently choose for them takes some work on the part of the viewer, and can only be done from a few feet away. They require a quality of intimate attention from the person who views them.


What is your studio practice like?

My studio practice is nomadic, which is partly because of my many processes and partially a relic from when my living situation was insecure and I could only consistently access scraps of paper and found ballpoint pens. My practice is also very academic. At least half of what I call my studio practice is research and reading, often things like queer and feminist theory. I have learning disabilities; I listen to my books with voiceover (my partner hates the robot voice) while I'm drawing, which actually helps me internalize what I read and feeds later concepts. I do consider that an extremely critical aspect of my studio practice.

There's also a segment of my studio practice grounded in writing; I'll often write about some concepts I'm interested in, or the things that are bothering me, and that I'd like to feed into a picture, in the form of little loose journal-essays, and then that will guide me when I start thinking about what iconography I need to turn those thoughts into an image.

My studio practice also shifts between digital and analog, but it's always grounded in drawing. I get the ideas into the imagery, and then I draw out the imagery either digitally or with tracing paper or in variously colored pens literally on top of one another, and then I translate that imagery into the media and/or states that feed its meaning.


You work in so many different mediums is there one that stands out to you as being your favorite?

The decision to work in a lot of media is a conceptual decision because my experience of being queer and LGBTQ (and neuroatypical) has been so fluid and variable and required a lot of adaptation. I also tend to genuinely enjoy all of the media I work in, but I think that's because I'm actually pretty easy to please. But in addition to their historical context and material traditions and their interpretations, which are the basis for my choosing them in any particular piece (a nod to my background in the academic arts and one that people with a similar background can find interpretive purchase in), each media and process has physical benefits and limitations that are both enjoyable and really frustrating in the making of each work.

If I had to choose, I think my favorite medium/process would be drawing, either digitally or with a ballpoint pen. It is the process that remains consistent (if, occasionally, invisible) across all of my work. I like it for its immediacy and for the flow of thinking through these ideas that bounce around my head all the time, and their translation through my hand, in real time.


Where do you hope to see your work go next?

I would really like my work to be included alongside of that of other queer artists and writers who are working to represent their experiences and lifeworlds, because I really do believe that the best way to represent and celebrate the fantastic variation of queer and LGBTQ communities & people is to elevate the voices of many of us at the same time, and to forge identifications and connections both across and within communities. I want to help make that happen.

I also have some projects in mind for the future that involve an element of curation and/or archiving.

Exploring the Worlds of Humanity and Culture: Interview with M.K Komins

By Sarah Mills

For the past decade, artist and illustrator M.K Komins has been passionately committed to the pursuit of creative excellence. Based out of Philadelphia, she draws inspiration from the politically vibrant, collective consciousness of its artistic community. Her work uses a combination of hyper-stylized, dreamy realism and boldly saturated colors to explore the worlds of humanity and culture.

Former creative director for avenue u design in baltimore, maryland, she now works as creative coordinator for elysium marketing group. With a vast and diverse range of skills, her professional experience spans from music poster commissions to large-scale creative collaborations with companies like lord & taylor and the special olympics.

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Were you always interested in art?

Without question. As a kid, I used to sit dangerously close to our TV and try to draw cartoon characters as perfectly as I could before they left the screen. In first grade, I got in trouble for "tracing" a picture of Jafar from Aladdin and handing it in as an original drawing. When my art teacher refused to believe my cries of innocence I had my first creative epiphany. I realized if I could make adults think I was so good at drawing I must be lying about it, I could probably have a career as an artist. I also learned you can't always trust the judgment of adults, and sometimes knowing your truth is all you have when the grown-up world is against you-- both lessons that have guided me into my development as an artist and a woman.

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In your bio, you talk about the influence your creative community has on your work. Can you tell us more about that, specifically how they influence you?

Besides going to Parsons, moving back home to Philadelphia a year ago was the best decision I've ever made for my career. This city has the warmest, collaborative and artistically supportive community of working creatives I've ever experienced. It sounds trite, but "the City Of Brotherly Love" is a perfectly befitting nickname for Philly, and it's nowhere more evident than in our art scene. There are countless artist-run galleries and collectives here, tons of spaces dedicated to showcasing local work, our Mural Arts program is globally unprecedented and to put it simply, I'm in love with this town. When I was working and living in New York, I felt very small and was consumed by the constant anxiety to be winning at something and everything all the time. There's no room to be still finding yourself, or a work in progress even though everyone is all of those things all the time. The pressure to act like you're doing way better professionally and financially than you really are was highly oppressive. Maintaining an impossibly high social currency can be poison to your self-worth, which equated to a sort of creative death for me. I will always love and appreciate my time and education in New York because I cut my teeth on some deeply important creative rights of passages there. If you want to learn how to take a self-esteem beating, face rejection, be broke as hell and still have the desire to drag your ass to the studio the next day and keep making work, move to New York and become an artist.

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Besides your art community, where do you draw inspiration from?

Inspiration can be such a tricky thing to quantify for me, because I feel like the source of it is always evolving and I'm taking it in on a constant, often subconscious basis. Truthfully, I'm inspired the most by pop culture and my daily interactions with other people. Whether it's passionate political conversations with my family or waxing poetic about the philosophical merit of competition-based reality TV with my friends, my work is simply telling stories of humanity. I think the reason why I gravitate to portraiture and figurative work is that I genuinely admire human beings. We're so complicated and messy and difficult. We destroy what we love all of the time but we still have an innate sense of humanity that propels us forward to try and connect with other people and create art. I majored in illustration in school and what I learned the most is that being an Illustrator means you have to make art that is "subtly obvious". That concept carries over into my fine art as well and once I stopped obsessing over what kind of artist I was meant to be, I gave myself room to just make what made me happy. I've learned that inspiration really finds you when you give yourself room to grow as an artist. This past year I've come to just embrace my conflicting desires to be both bottom-scrapingly lowbrow and sophisticated high art.

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You have an extremely bold color palette, what drew you to such bold and saturated colors?

I'd love to have a profound answer to this question, but the truth is I just like them. I think when we are children, everyone draws and we aren't afraid to use the brightest colors in the crayon box and make bold, vibrant messes. Most people stop making things as they become adults and the ones that do often refine their tastes and palettes. To a large degree, I think I just never did that. I've never fully let go of my sense of whimsy or creative adventure and I'm not being hyperbolic when I say that the driving desire to make art has saved my life through some very low bottoms. The work I make as an adult and the process with which I make it isn't precious. I'm interested in beauty, but I don't have a much of a desire to make light, subtle things, so I think the subject matter and style sort of inform the harshness and vibrancy of my color palette. There's so much delicate, detailed, feminine work in the art world right now and while I absolutely see it's value, I just don't want to be another artist painting soft, pretty women.

What does your studio practice look like?

It's pretty exploratory. Lately, I've been developing a style of working that combines digital painting and traditional art mediums where I paint in programs like ProCreate or Photoshop, print on large scale canvas or giclee and then manipulate the printed pigments with destructive chemicals like acetone or bleach. The ink reacts sort of like watercolors and can be wiped away or redistributed on the image. Then I go back into it with oils, acrylics, colored pencils, and other mediums to add in detail. Fusing digital and analog methods of image making is a quest I am deeply passionate about right now and, I think, a pursuit whose time has come in the fine art world.

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What has been your favorite moment in your artistic career so far?

Hm, that's a toughy. There are a few projects in the works that I can't publicly announce yet that have got me pretty freaking excited, but I'm about to travel to London for 10 days in October to show my Florida, USA series during The Anti Art Fair with Creative Debuts. I have work in 2 shows in LA later this fall and winter as well so I think just being able to travel and bring my work to a wider audience has been super rewarding. I'm tremendously grateful to be in this position.


What are some goals you are working towards in your career?

Too many to count. My original career goal was to be a concept artist for someone like Pixar and to illustrate children's books. The latter is something I'm actively working towards and the former is something I would love to do eventually. Personally, I don't know if I'll ever stop wanting to explore, grow, and get better as an artist. I hope I never get complacent in my quest for creative evolution. I love spending countless hours on a piece and feeling like I've done a good job, only to immediately see new work by another artist and think "Oh sh*t, that's way better!" That feeling used to crush and derail my process. But once I accepted that being an artist means staying constantly open to new ideas and self-improvement, I learned that I needed to frankly, get over myself by thinking I would ever be the best. I had a class at Parsons taught by this great illustrator Mike Perry who was tired of hearing a bunch of 20-year-old, privileged kids in an overpriced New York City art school complain about how unfair the art world is telling me something I'll never forget. He said that your career is just an escalator; there would always be someone behind you and there would always be someone in front of you. Stop trying to be the person in front of you. Just stay on the damn thing and you'll get where you want to go.