Posts tagged Urban
Lindsay Jones

Lindsay is a contemporary artist, textile designer, and graphic designer, originally from Lee's Summit, Missouri but currently residing in Western Colorado. She works in a variety of media including drawing, painting, digital art, sculptural constructions, and installations. Lindsay’s work reflects on ideas of landscapes and environments that are built, altered, shaped, and manipulated, while using playful patterns and abstracted imagery. When she is not working, she is doing her best to spend as much time outside as possible, including camping, exploring remote lands, mountain biking in the desert, and racing cyclocross. 


“The word landscape itself becomes problematic: landscape describes the natural world as an aesthetic phenomenon, a department of visual representation. A landscape is scenery, scenery is stage decoration, and stage decorations are static backdrops for human drama.”

--Rebecca Solnit

Abstracting images from architecture and landscape, I create drawings, small sculptures, and installations out of materials such as paper, collage, and balsa wood. My work is the result of my observations of the landscape: the rural, the urban, the exquisite, the boring, the natural, the unnatural, etc. I find myself both in awe of, as well as disturbed by, the way that we build, and transform our environments and believe that humanity will always be trying to figure out how to negotiate our life in this shared environment.

This collection of drawings uses imagery from the Western Colorado and Utah deserts, whose environments I find to be valuable because of their lack of human development. I use hand-drawn elements and abstracted symbols to represent these ideas of culture, and environment that I myself am always trying to process.

Lorena Sferlazza

Within the Walls

We are sheltered in walls as we are housed in the skins of our bodies. Lorena Sferlazza’s paintings peel back and probe how urban facades absorb the burden of trauma in scars, carried and repossessed through generations. In this age of the Anthropocene, where human interactions with natural and man-made environments demand critical focus, Sferlazza’s paintings exist as architectural palimpsests that battle erosion and forcible affliction via the workman’s hand. Tactile and tangible yet distant and bruised, they make the struggle of transience palpable in their resilience against decay.

Lorena Sferlazza is a Philadelphia-based artist of Italian American descent completing her MFA at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in May 2019. Sferlazza earned a dual Honors BA from the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Massachusetts, and studied for a year in Florence, Italy, at the Università Degli Studi di Firenze and the Libera Accademia di Belle Arti. Her work has been exhibited in Philadelphia at the Museum of the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, The Plastic Club, Cherry Street Pier, and the FMC Tower, in Worcester at ARTSWorcester Aurora Gallery and the Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Art Gallery, and in New York City at Anna Zorina Gallery and Sotheby’s Auction House.

The Complexity and Intricacy of Graffiti Tags: Interview with Stef Sutton

Stef has been practicing photography for about 10 years, starting with film in college. She gained an AA in Photography and later a BA in Art History and Museum Studies. Since then, she has worked with various Philadelphia museums and nonprofits such as the Penn Museum, Rosenbach Museum & Library and the Stedman Gallery at Rutgers University-Camden. She currently works full-time as Executive Assistant at the National Museum of American Jewish History and serves on the board of AIGA Philadelphia—a local chapter of the National graphic design organization—as Communications Director, practicing photography in her free time and through her travels around the city of Philadelphia. 


The birthplace of graffiti and home to its own unique style of writing, Philly is filled with various forms of street art, yet tags are often the most overlooked form of street art, often appearing on (and quickly disappearing from) dumpsters, construction equipment, and the walls of abandoned buildings. In photographing tags, I hope to highlight the complexity and intricacy of this artform and the diversity of the artists that create them.

By Sarah Mills


Tell us a little bit about your background in the arts. 

I’ve had a love for art and have a B.A. in Art History. I’ve worked in various Museums and nonprofits and have been introduced to many different forms of art. Art is something I’ll never get bored of. 


Were you always interested in tags? What was it that drew you to them?

I’ve always been interested in graffiti in general and tags seemed like the very underappreciated form of graffiti. Everyone likes the big, colorful pieces but less people notice tags—which are just about everywhere. Philly’s tags are surprisingly intricate and are unique to the artists creating them. I love when I’m able to recognize tags throughout the city. I’m trying to figure out a way to add that skill to my resume.  

ive been drinking.jpg

How has photographing artists tags helped you connect with that art community?

Taggers aren’t easy to find when they’re even on social media, so in attempting to attribute tags to the right people, it takes research and asking around which in turn has helped me connect with the community. 


What is your favorite part of your artistic process?

I’m still new to this world of tags, so my favorite part of the process is when people—artists and/or other graffiti enthusiasts—help me identify tags when I post on Instagram.  

What is the best piece of advice you have been given in your art career that you would like to pass on to our readers?

I hate the word networking, but it really is the best advice I’ve been given and pass on. Attending gallery openings and other art events is the easiest way to meet other creatives. But even if you aren’t meeting people in person, finding creatives on social media and following their work is really inspirational—it’s also how a lot of really cool collaborations can start.

In your bio you state that you practice photography in your free time, how do you find balance and make time for your art?

I carry my camera with me every where I go, which makes finding time to practice A LOT easier. I can shoot before work, during a lunch break, or on my way to a meeting or event. I’ve also found that having a hobby outside of my regular 9-5 job has been beneficial to my mental health so I really do make an effort to make time for photography whether it’s actually shooting or researching and discovering other photographers.  

What do you hope viewers will take away from your photographs?

I hope that my photographs encourage people to find and appreciate all forms of art. There’s something oddly beautiful about a sharp, crisp tag on a blank wall, door, or dumpster.

Catherine McMillan

Catherine McMillan (BSc, MSc) is a Canadian self-taught stencil artist from Ancaster, Ontario, currently living in Seattle, Washington.

Catherine’s propensity for high level detail is demonstrated aptly through her hyper-realistic paintings of urban streetscapes. By focusing on the instability of public spaces, which often goes unnoticed, Catherine’s work explores a heightened awareness of the minute changes that are perpetually occurring in and to a space. She is drawn to the challenge of translating the energy she personally feels in these spaces, whether they are silent or bustling, into intrigue in the viewer.

Exploration of Urban Forms: Interview with Zandra Stratford

Zandra Stratford is a West Coast abstract painter known for bold, semiotic works. Her pieces lay a foundation of elemental earth tones; clay and cement greys and soil blacks, laying strata after strata of contrasting and ambitious colour as a counterpoint to industrial textures, and this overlaid with confident horizontal structures.

Preferring large canvases and panoramic birch panels, her work stands as an exploration of urban forms and our experience with the material of cities. Each interaction, point of surface contact or scuff, whether by design or by circumstance, is at once something removed, something revealed, and something left behind.

Her use of maps speaks to a sense of place, but it is at the same time indistinct, a kind of universal geography, the design of space within pre- existing space, and how our interactions – organic and emotional and spontaneous – collapse and become aggregate, integrated into pre- established patterns of traffic, structure, and flow.

Stratford studied printmaking at the Victoria College of Art, after more than a decade’s experience as an advertising Art Director. This informs her work’s cadence, graphic sensibility and declarative confidence.

Her piece “Gorgeous Filth #01” (2017) was selected for the prestigious Royal Academy Summer Exhibition in London, the only resident Canadian to be selected for that show’s 249th year.

Her studio, on Salt Spring Island off the coast of Vancouver, is a bright high-ceilinged space filled with the debris of signal - swatches and typographical elements, vintage textbooks and advertisements, spray- bombs and stencils and the ghosts of what someone, at some point, was trying to convey, like decades-old stray radio signals bouncing off the ionosphere to be captured serendipitously by a car radio at night. 


Tell us about your creative background. When did you commit to a life in the arts?

I’ve always hand my hand in the arts. I worked as an Art Director in ad agencies for more than a decade before picking up a paint brush again. My kids were small were so I didn’t have a lot of time to move my work forward, but I was dabbling and experimenting. It wasn’t until 2012 that I really dedicated the majority of my time to making art.


What inspires your current work and the color palette you choose?

I’m interested in the stories of urban spaces–the layers of built up debris, dirt, graffiti, and weathered structures, the convergence of the elements with what people have placed there and how that changes over time, the echos of what is left over and how the story changes. That’s reflected in my work. There is as much paint applied as there is removed and somewhere there is a balance that hopefully tells a compelling story. Because these areas are so worn, dirty, and aged, as a modernist I try to juxtapose a soft palette of neutrals and pastels to make something contemporary.

You mention that you live on an artist-colony island. Tell us a little bit about that and what the experience has been like for you.

I’ve lived on Salt Spring Island for the past 9 years. It’s a small rural community off the coast of Vancouver and is magically filled with people doing cool things. It’s a great place to focus because there isn’t really much else to do. I’ve met the most amazing people here, most of my best friends are creatives so while our work may be different there is a similar vein of experience so we really seem to get each other. There’s a shared understanding that you may be locked away in your studio for weeks on end but you’ll emerge eventually and it will be easy to catch up.

We’re about to change things up and are moving to London in the summer to explore opportunities there.


What motivates you and helps you to prevent burnout?

I feel like making art is how I make sense of the world and it’s really not an option to not do it. It’s very bad for my mental health if I’m not actively working. I go through periods when I have too much on the go and usually have periods where burnout is inevitable. I haven’t figure out how to prevent it just yet but after it’s happened, my favourite thing to do is to go the city to recharge. It’s very quite here and spending too much time with yourself can feel isolating.


Describe a typical day in the studio.

My usual practice has me going to studio around 12:30 so I have the morning to work on business stuff, but because I’ve got a couple of shows coming up I’m getting in there earlier. I’ve been trying to incorporate meditation into my routine so have recently started each studio session trying to clear my mind and invite focus and curiosity into my work. Then I’ll usually paint for about 5 hours. My studio is in my home so I take lots of little breaks to drink tea and contemplate what’s happening on the boards.

What are some challenges you face in your studio practice?

I’m always chasing the light. I live in the Pacific Northwest so its grey here more than half the year which can lead to some frustration. I’ve been in this studio for almost four years and I still haven’t figured out how to light it properly. Isolation can be challenging when I get caught up in my own head and can’t see where I need to go. Fortunately I am part of a large online artist community and can bounce challenges off to other artists.


Name a few artists that inspire you.

I really love the #5womanartists campaign so I want to focus on women for this answer.

Jillian Evelyn
Katy Ann Gilmore
Carla Tak
Bonnie and Clyde (Steph Burnley) Tracy Emin
Guerilla Girls

Oops, that’s 6!

Depicting The Urban Environment: Interview with Whitney Babin

In my art, I explore the world in which I live. My artwork is a personal exploration of my environment and emotions. Each individual views his or her surroundings in a unique way. As an artist, I have an opportunity to portray images of my everyday life through my line of vision. Living in Philadelphia and Lancaster has had a vast influence on my subject matter. My interest in depicting an urban environment gradually developed into a fascination with the city at night, and the depiction of light and motion. For me, the city has always been an intriguing environment. I experience it as something that never sleeps; it seems more like a living organism than a place. During the day, people overpower the city. The buildings become a backdrop to the diverse crowd wielding its way through the streets. However, at night, the city itself comes to life and the people are the backdrop. The lights and the sounds create an atmosphere all their own. This energy of changing light and motion makes it a place of constant interest for me and has created a vast subject for me to work with in my paintings.


Tell us about your background in the arts. When did you decide to pursue painting?

Growing up, my family moved frequently during middle school / high school. The only place I felt instantly accepted into a new school was when I was in the art room. It wasn’t until college that I took my first painting class. After taking one class, I decided to focus my major in painting. I traveled to Rome to study art history, and received a BFA from University of the Arts.


When did you start painting the urban landscape? How do you feel your work has developed over the past few years?

My first urban landscape came after a series of portrait paintings I was working on. I liked painting portraits, but was feeling frustrated and not sure about the future direction of my work. I was living in Philly at the time and would spend a lot of time walking around the city listening to music. I came to realize that city itself was a source of inspiration. At night, the city emitted a kinetic energy. It was as if the building and the cars came to life around you. I realized that I wanted to capture the energy of the city in my work, more so than the actual architecture. As my work progressed, I became interested in light and how it could depict life, motion, and energy with one brushstroke. My original work was dark, with limited light. As my work progressed and developed, color and abstract marks that represented cars, or buildings became a focus. My tools have expanded beyond brushes to also include, squeegees, brayers, and palette knives.


How does each piece come to life? Tell us about your inspiration, references, and process.  

I travel between Philadelphia and New York as often as possible. On every trip I take photos of the city, as well as lights reflected on the streets, or reflected on rain splattered roads. While many city scenes I paint have a specific location that I focus on, many are made up of a collection of images or lights.

I recently started painting on wood rather than canvas. I’ve enjoyed working on a smooth surface and it’s allowed me to build paint in a different way.

I start by sketching a rough outline of the skyline and road. I put a base layer of color down then use, brayers and squeegees to streak paint and create blurs. I then go back into the piece with brushes to build detail and light. Each painting is unique and I try to experiment with at least one new process or technique to keep evolving my work.


Name a few artists that you look up to.

Jeremy Mann, Michael Chamberlain, Edward Hopper, John Wentz, Gavin Glakas

We noticed you have several different bodies of work, which is exciting. How do you feel they relate to each other? How are they different? 

I’m a strong believer that every piece of art you create, regardless of the theme, leads to development and growth. I love experimenting with abstract painting styles. It’s helped me to understand how streaks of color relate to one another and has influenced the way I paint buildings and streets. I don’t think it’s safe to only paint one subject matter. I love painting urban landscapes, but I’m also a fan of taking a day to paint flowers with watercolor, or push acrylic around a canvas with a squeegee. I had a teacher once tell me that I should “stick to what I’m good at.” That advice bothered me for years because, as an artist I want to constantly be challenging myself to refine my techniques and to explore new approaches to art. I want to keep it fresh and invigorating.  

What is a must-have item in the studio? 

Music! I can’t express how much a great song (preferably an entire album) can lead to an entire day in the studio flying by. My studio is in my house, and anytime I paint I have a candle going, music on, and plants and paints scattered throughout the room. 

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

My husband is a woodworker. I draw all the designs for his furniture and help him on his projects. It’s an entirely different creative outlet and I’ve really come to love it. We’ve slowly restored our house from the 1840’s entirely on our own, one room at a time. We’re now building furniture for friends. Since working as an artist, can be very isolating at times, I like that I get to collaborate in a creative way in a new medium.

Mathew Tucker

Mathew was born In Harpenden, United Kingdom where he lived with his sister and parents until the age of two. He was then brought up, and Educated in U.A.E (Abu Dhabi), Qatar, Bahrain, St. Lucia and England as his family moved around due to the nature of his father's work. Mathew first studied Art and Design at West Surrey College of Art and Design and later at London College of Printing (London Institute). He then lived and worked in London for ten years before moving to Ireland in 2006 to teach surfing and to study for a BA (Hons) degree in Fine Art at Sligo Institute of Technology. In 2014 Mathew moved to New York City to study an MFA at Hunter College as a painter, graduating in May 2016. He now lives and works in New York, and his studio is located on the waterfront in RedHook, Brooklyn.


As a painter, I am interested in the built environment and the forms, shapes and perimeters of the spaces, places and non-places we define. There are numerous formal, material and compositional elements that inform my work but mostly it is an attempt to unearth some kind of understanding of myself and my sense of place. As someone who travelled extensively as a child my sense of home has always been very fixed to an internal sense of familiarity and never to a physical location as defined on a map. As such, my paintings are a way for me to question my surroundings and the definition of space that we collectively impose on ourselves. I am most interested in spaces that might be considered non-places or that are fairly utilitarian like subway stations or gateways and barriers that divide space and either refuse or control access. These spaces are often transient in nature and may serve either as connecting blocks or conversely as barriers to other places. My work is deeply rooted in the conversation between photography and painting and I use my own photographic images as a framework from which to build each painting. The resulting paintings are a departure from the source image that dismisses the illusion of the photograph and highlights the structure, materiality and building process of the painting itself.

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All images courtesy of Mathew Tucker