Posts tagged Women Artists
Studio Sunday: Brandi Hofer
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This week’s Studio Sunday feature highlights the work of Canadian artist, Brandi Hofer. With three pieces from her GUS series currently on view with PxP Contemporary, we wanted to learn more about her creative practice, how she tackles creative blocks, and what inspires her work. Behind the bright colors and gestural marks lies a wealth of emotion tied to love, loss, new life, and most importantly, the joys and challenges of motherhood. Learn more about the artist and her work in the interview below!

Bio

Brandi Hofer was born in Lloydminster, Saskatchewan in 1986. She studied in Red Deer, Alberta, at Red Deer College from 2004 - 2006 before transferring to the Nova Scotia College of Art & Design in Halifax, where she completed her Bachelor of Fine Arts in 2008.

Hofer has worked in several art media including: drawing, printmaking, and painting, with oils, acrylics encaustic, mixed media, and watercolors.

Hofer has long focused on female portraits and has explored themes of feminism, empowerment, the emotional self, and the female psyche. Hofer's work has been shown in solo and group exhibitions in France, London, New York, and all across Canada. In 2011, she attended residencies at Red Deer College, Toronto Island, the Marnay Art Centre outside of Paris France, and was part of artist Robin Lambert's project in Montreal, Quebec. She was listed as the online Saatchi Gallery’s “Artist to Watch” feature on their website. Most recently her work appeared on HGTV’s House of Bryan, Bryan Inc, and has been published in The World of Interiors Magazine and a General Motors commercial.

Her show "Gus", based on parenthood, for 2018 traveled to Red Deer at the Harris-Warke Gallery, Lloydminster with through The Collective Art Market, and the Rouge Gallery in Saskatoon.

Brandi Hofer's studio where she works and creates is located in Lloydminster, Alberta, Canada.

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When did you first become interested in art?

Art or being an artist and creative has always been a part of me. From a very young age, I was interested in all forms of art, particularly painting and drawing. Every book in our home had an original drawing on its pages. My parents were always very encouraging and open to my interests, they never pushed or questioned, they were just supportive of whatever interest my siblings and I had. If I received a gift from someone, it was always related to the arts. I remember breaking a wishbone on Thanksgiving when I was about 4, and I wished aloud for a pack of markers, that week in the mailbox the “wishbone” delivered. I was very fortunate, in the regard that I had a support system, encouragement, love, and the space to experiment, explore and create.

Around my second year in the visual arts program, something began to shift, and I made a conscious decision to actively pursue the avenue of becoming a professional visual artist. I had no idea what being an artist and running an art studio or what it meant to run a self-employed business actually entailed. I just knew that I was passionate about creating, it made me happy, it was fulfilling, and I would do anything to be able to do it every day.

Tell us about the inspiration behind your work and what your creative process is like.

Nothing can prepare you for parenthood, being a parent is one of the most difficult and challenging endeavors in one's life, however, I have no doubt it is the most meaningful. As an artist, I am influenced and inspired by my everyday environment. In this new series of artworks, I aim to highlight and capture the beauty of being a parent, (from what I've experienced) as the richest time in my life. This series aims to speak about my triumphs and struggles as a mother. It deals with the ideals of motherhood, its morals, and its priorities. It is an exciting series that revels in a mother’s time with her child.

I would like to begin by establishing that I rarely like to bring up or to discuss the subject matter of losing my mother in 2014, being that it is emotionally painful. I lost my mother, my beacon of wisdom and love, my sense of home. After a brief fight with lung cancer, my mom passed, I was six months pregnant at the time with my first child. I found her death to be beyond life-shattering. Devastatingly I lost my “home”, the constant in my life. Though her values and way of life are entrenched in my every day, I still long for the sound of her voice and cling to the dream of her meeting her grandchildren. Her meeting them for even a minute, to see how amazing, beautiful, and smart they are, those thoughts are the most heart wrenching for me. There is no doubt in my mind that my son Gus and my husband Carly saved my sanity in those trying months following her death. Gus was my focus, and Carly was my strength. I learned in that trying time that a mother’s love for a child is an insurmountable love, and I now know how much my mother loved me. 

That experience and shock of death awoke something in me. I had a new thirst for life. Nothing scared me anymore. Nothing could be more painful than losing my mother. You will not get the things you want in this life by not taking a chance in the first place.

“Remembering that I'll be dead soon is the most important tool I've ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Almost everything--all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure--these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.”

-Steve Jobs

Since the passing of my mother, my life has kicked into high gear. Time is our most precious commodity and should be spent on the things that matter most: family, love, and one’s passions. Moments are fickle and fleeting; I have endeavored to make the most of mine. I refuse to lock myself away in my studio alone and not include my children in my passion for the arts. I want to show them the beauty of mark-making, dancing, and expressing yourself with a brushstroke or a splash of paint. I want to teach them that it’s ok to make a mess, “YES Gus you can step in the paint, squish it between your hands, and no Finn, you can’t eat it”!  My 2-year-old son Gus and I had the most amazing time together painting this series; I hope the unique artwork can even scratch the surface of the significance of our time together.

The paintings consist of a series of portraits. The intention of the work is to project strength, integrity, love and the struggle of what it takes to be a parent. This series is a celebration of motherhood, parenthood and the sheer innocence of being playful. The mindset and mood of the artwork is to project the incorruptible freedom of a child’s open cognizance, and zest for living life in the moment. 

What do you hope your viewers take away from seeing your art?

My aim and hope are that the viewer can connect in some way, get a feel for the artwork, and grasp not necessarily the exact meaning that I have intended while creating, but to have their own associations and perceptions.  Moreover, the viewer can feel the passion and emotion behind the imagery, figure, portrait, and forms in the artwork. 

What is one piece of advice that you would give to your younger self?

I do think about this from time to time. I have a few “wishes”, like utilizing social media a few years ahead, in a more effective manner for business purposes, I could have built a wider audience had I been more focused or aware of its effectiveness earlier on. I also wish I had applied myself as hard as I do today, and made a point of being in the studio, including it as a part of my daily routine, like I do presently. I have always been very prolific, but I think could have had more of a vision and focus for my practice. I still would not change a thing about how my life or my creative process, or the way my art business has evolved into what it is today. There are important lessons to be learned in the way that life falls into place. I feel like changing anything would possibly affect the outcome of where I am now, I am happy and grateful for the life that I have presently, and in the end, I guess I wouldn’t take my future self’s advice. 

How do you overcome creative blocks? 

I believe in working through creative blocks. As long as you are in your studio creating, there is a lesson to be learned or ideas to explore. You are never going to get ahead if you can’t take the first step of being present in your practice. I also believe in rest. You cannot master your active life if you cannot master your resting life. Living a balanced life helps my practice immensely: getting a proper night’s sleep, taking naps, reading, eating well, spending time with loved ones, meditating, and exercising. Because when I finally get that time in the studio it feels like an honor and a special treat. How many people can say they do what we do as artists? I am always grateful for the ability of simply being an artist, creating something out of nothing, and creative blocks are just an organic part of the process. 

Do you have any big collaborations, projects, exhibitions, etc going on during the rest of the year that you'd like to share?

The most recent show that I am involved in is with PXP Contemporary for their “Faces & Figures” show. My work from the “MINE” series is soon to be available in an upcoming publication titled, “FEMME Issue II”. My “MINE” series (from 2018/19) has found homes in several galleries. I just had my third child recently, and I am taking a month or two to rest. I will continue working on my ongoing commissioned work, as well as my personal in-progress series. The focus of my new series is based on heritage, lineage, and imagery from found photos from the past, this series will be opening at the Assiniboia Gallery in 2021. I also was recently featured in an episode for a documentary series “Making it in Saskatchewan” which aired in June. The “GUS – artwork created by Mother & Son” series just finished its tour. The series was a 44-piece show and interactive installation, travelled to 3 Galleries across Canada, in 2017/18. 

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By Alicia Puig

Studio Sunday: Natalie Bradford

This Studio Sunday we meet Natalie Bradford, a multimedia artist based in Michigan. Inspired by the connection between humans and nature, her work also depicts themes of absence and decay. Two of her surrealistic ink drawings are currently on view with PxP Contemporary. Learn more about the artist in her interview below!

Bio
Natalie Bradford is a young, emerging artist en route to earn her BFA with an emphasis in Printmaking from Western Michigan University. She splits her time between Kalamazoo and Detroit, where she is from, and creates prints, paintings, drawings, and collages. She has exhibited locally and previously been featured in Average Art Magazine, Wotisart Magazine, A5 Magazine and Juste Milieu Lit + Art Zine.

Statement
My artwork is mostly surreal and imaginative and oftentimes deals with themes of absence, decay, humans, and nature. It explores my concerns, anxieties, and curiosity about the future and what happens to our bodies and souls when we die. I create images and narratives of what I perceive to be life after death depicted by the human figure, nature, and animal/hybrid creatures.

When and how did you first become interested in art?

I was always interested in art, ever since I could (kind of) hold a pencil. I started to get serious about it during my senior year of high school when I had to decide on what college to go to and which ones had the best art program. I ended up choosing the Frostic School of Art at Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo, MI, and love it!

Tell us about what inspires you creatively. Can you share a bit about the meaning behind your drawings that we're exhibiting in Faces & Figures?

I’m inspired a lot by nature. My drawings depict birds and human body parts and speak to the circle of life and the temporality of life. Basically, how humans, being organic beings, eventually die and their body goes back into nature to nourish new life.

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What is your process like?

My process starts with a very rough, vague pencil sketch to establish important lines and curves and then I move into using a pen. I know using a pen this early on in a drawing is risky since it can’t be erased, but as I work through a drawing, I’ll sometimes instinctively make marks or add pieces that weren’t originally sketched out and it adds another element to my drawings

Describe your current studio space. What is most important about it or one thing that you can’t live without in your work area?

My studio space is kind of split in half at the moment; I have my own studio space through the Printmedia department at WMU where I work on my prints and other class projects, and then I have a little makeshift studio space in my sunroom at my house. That space is where I do most of my drawings. I always keep a stack of sketchbooks and an empty coffee canister of pens and pencils in both studios.

What is one piece of advice that has stuck with you or a quote that you think is especially meaningful?

One thing my now-retired high school art teacher said to me my senior year was that making art isn’t just dependent on talent; he said: “Art making is about 1% actual talent and 99% dedication and time spent on your craft.” I oftentimes put this pressure on myself to make masterpieces every time I sketch, paint, draw, or print. That quote has stuck with me for a long time because it acts as a reminder to myself not to rush the process and really take my time with planning and sketching out my pieces, and working through the actual piece.

Are there any exciting exhibitions, projects, or collaborations going on this year that you’re currently working on or will be soon?

I have three prints that are going to be in a holiday exhibition at the Lansing Art Gallery and Education Center this November to December! This will be my second time exhibiting work at this gallery and I’m really excited about the prints that will be on display because they are three of my favorite ones and it’s nice to have work in a gallery that’s close to home for me.

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Empowering Women in the Arts | Eliza Sara Ali, ART SHE SAYS
Eliza Sara Ali, Founder and Editor-in-Chief of ART SHE SAYS

Eliza Sara Ali, Founder and Editor-in-Chief of ART SHE SAYS

On this episode of our podcast, Art & Cocktails, get to know Eliza Sara Ali, who is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of ART SHE SAYS, which is the leading digital platform designed to empower women in the art industry. Based in New York and London, her mission is to bring women to the forefront of the art world, particularly those who embody the "artrepreneur"—an innovator of the arts; one who breaks the rules and disrupts the status quo.

This episode covers :

  • Overcoming imposter syndrome

  • Reaching our to higher-level professionals in your industry, even if it scares you

  • The importance of starting your platforms and how to do it

  • Fostering the creative community

Studio Sunday: Karen Navarro
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Our Studio Sunday interview this week highlights the work of photographer Karen Navarro. Learn more about what inspires her colorful, figurative images, her creative process, and the motto that keeps her going in tough times! You can also view two of Karen’s works in ‘Faces & Figures’, a group exhibition presented by PxP Contemporary.

Bio

With a background in fashion design, Argentina-born artist, Karen Navarro, works with a highly stylized aesthetic in a diverse array of mediums that includes photography, collage, and sculpture. Her constructed portraits, as she describes it herself, are known for the use of color theory, surreal scenes and minimalist details. Navarro’s work expresses self-referential questions that connect in a much larger scale to ideas of construction of identity, societal expectations and the understanding of the being; prompting a discourse about the subconscious will to comply with the contemporary societies' canons when these are in fact misleading. Similarly, Navarro explores in her work femininity as a cultural construct.

Navarro has lived in Houston since 2014 where she completed the certificate program in photography at the Houston Center for Photography. In 2018, Navarro was awarded a scholarship at the Glassell School of Art | The Museum of Fine Art Houston where she studied analog photography. Most recently, she received the Artadia fellowship in 2019.

Navarro's work has been exhibited in the US and abroad. Her most recent shows include ones at the Elisabet Ney Museum in Austin, TX (2019), Presa House Gallery in San Antonio, TX (2019), Melkweg in Amsterdam, The Netherlands (2019), Museo de la Reconquista in Tigre, Argentina (2018), The Union in Houston, TX (2018), and Houston Center for Photography in Houston, TX (2018).

Statement

Driven by an insatiable curiosity about understanding the self and the resulting human behaviors shaped by social norms. Furthermore, understanding the role of social norms in the construction of personal and social identity, my work seeks answers and proposes questions that may not yet have a predetermined answer.


Through the use of color theory, surreal scenes and minimalist details, the constructed portraits, as I like to call them, recreate a character that usually doesn’t have an identity. My photo process blurs those lines of identity by disguising, hiding and covering the faces. In the performative photographs, often times, the characters are isolated in a serene environment. I believe photography allows me the expression of self-referential questions. By expressing personal worries, my work appeals to connect these ideas to a much larger scale of ideas of construction of identity, societal expectations and the understanding of the being; prompting a discourse about the subconscious will to comply with the contemporary societies' canons when these are in fact misleading.

When did you first become interested in art? 

I first became interested in art while doing a photography assignment for an art class in high school. But I would say that I grew up surrounded by an artistic environment, my grandmother was a dressmaker and my grandfather, who I didn't get the chance to meet, liked to draw. I remember spending my childhood days with my grandmother in her atelier. And, I think that was what led me to study fashion design and then photography. My fashion design training had a strong art program. I gained a general overview of art and history but it wasn't until I came to Houston that I started to get more interested in the contemporary art world and the art scene.


Tell us about what inspires you creatively.

My inspiration comes from different sources. Color, lighting and shadow from the everyday can inspire a mood. I usually use these moods to approach new artwork and link it to philosophical ideas, self-referential questions, or something else in what I believe in and I want to share. Looking at artwork and specially from the Surrealist, Renaissance and Cubist periods brings a lot of inspiration. I'm interested in the concept of identity so I explore it in many different ways. Photography for me is about creating conversations, making relevant a topic that may be only relevant for me. It's about inviting people to question along with me. My work doesn't offer answers because I don't believe in absolute truths. And, in the in-between of this dichotomy of not believing in absolute truths and having an opinion at the same time is where I position myself every time I approach a new body of work. Inviting you, seducing you through a highly stylized image to reflect on topics that may challenge our social notions.

What is your process like?  

Usually, everything starts on the sketchbook, then I pay a visit to the warehouse to buy some painting to paint the backdrop wall. After that I go to the thrift store to get some clothing and some props to prepare for the photo shoot. In my performative photographs I create characters, for this reason I meticulously arrange the elements in the scene. Although, while in the photo shoots I allow myself to get creative and try new things, I don't stick entirely to the sketchbook. 

Since my work is evolving and I am working on new mediums, like collages and soon sculpture, my process changes according to the work I am doing. For example in my last series of collages "El Pertenecer en Tiempos Modernos"  I added laser-cutting, 3-D printing, and embossing.


Describe your current studio space. What is most important about it or one thing that you can’t live without in your work area?

I like to call my studio ‘big white box’. I love the high ceilings and how airy it is. Natural lighting is something I can't live without. My studio has small window that faces the top of a tree. I enjoy looking at the the wind blowing the tree with the sky on the background. During the mornings the sunlight is very beautiful. For me, my studio is my sacred temple, everything has to be in order and be very minimal for me to be able to concentrate.

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What is one piece of advice that has stuck with you or a quote that you think is especially meaningful?

My motto is from a Spanish saying, Persevera y triufarás, which translated literally into the English language means Persevere and you will Triumph. If at first you don't succeed, try and try again. 

Are there any exciting exhibitions, projects, or collaborations going on this year that you’re currently working on or will be soon?

Yes! There are two things I‘m very excited to share. I'm currently working on some sculptures that explore the notion of body and beauty. It’s an extension of my body of work “Soft Objects”. I’m currently at the first stage, but am very excited about it!

I’m also organizing and co-curating a show called “Alternate Pathways”. The show celebrates Houston’s cultural diversity and has received a grant from the city. The show opens on October 19th 6-8 PM at 2315 Union St, Houston, TX 77007⁣⁣. 

Samantha Louise Emery returns to The Other Art Fair October 3 - 6
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Artist Samantha Louise Emery is set to exhibit a multimedia portrait of author and journalist Caitlin Moran at The Other Art Fair in London in October as part of Art Below.

Caitlin Moran is one of ten in Emery’s portrait series IKONA | Mirrored Interior featuring the influential female trailblazers who have inspired the artist throughout her life. After creating original digital artworks from photographs of her chosen muses and superimposing imagery of her own body, the artist instinctively paints and embroiders directly onto the printed canvas. Through her layering of pigment and texture, the artist intricately translates her perception of her subjects’ unique voice, expression, and aura.

Emery’s work conveys a powerful message about female solidarity and empowerment. By including a self-portrait in each of her portraits, she seeks to keep in touch with her own evolution as a woman as well as highlighting the importance for all women to regard themselves as modern muses.

“Throughout my life, I’ve sought to understand who it is to be a Woman. What is the nature of our roles as a daughter, mother, partner, sibling and ultimately an individual? The root of feminine strength lives in us and is a birth right to all Women. I am on a journey to rediscover the source of a woman’s power, the Feminine Spirit. We’ve been graced with living in a time when many women have asserted their feminine selves and have inspired others through their actions. Yet more awareness still needs to be brought to the world about feminine solidarity, education and the positive effects it can have for girls and women today, and into the future. This sense of purpose drives the exploration and rendering of IKONA | Mirrored Interior; celebrating women who have inspired my life through their actions, attitudes and accomplishments. Some of these women I have known quite well and have participated in my evolution as a woman, and as an artist. Others have inspired me from afar, and yet all of them share something in common; they exercise their feminine vulnerability with courage and dignity. This internal mirroring is a phenomenon that I work to expand through my use of hand embroidery, digital drawing and traditional painting techniques, and digital photo compositing. I follow an intuitive process which seeks to combine shape and colour to develop textures that interpret the deep and intricate feminine qualities of each subject while honouring their unique personality.”

“Above all else, Caitlin Moran makes me smile. From the inside out. Her desire to bring laughter into the world channels my sense of self respect by being able to laugh at my own circumstances and daily struggles. Her strength of character and articulate nature sharpens my own wit and feminine intuition as I continue to grow and mature.”   Latex, acrylic and embroidered gold, silver and copper on canvas.  120cm x 170cm

“Above all else, Caitlin Moran makes me smile. From the inside out. Her desire to bring laughter into the world channels my sense of self respect by being able to laugh at my own circumstances and daily struggles. Her strength of character and articulate nature sharpens my own wit and feminine intuition as I continue to grow and mature.”

Latex, acrylic and embroidered gold, silver and copper on canvas.

120cm x 170cm

Emery is currently working on her next series IKONA | Wise Women which will showcase cultural activists, journalists, and filmmakers, amongst others, who inspire women to rise to their highest potential through their work.

A portion of all income from the series IKONA | Mirrored Interior is donated to the Working Chance charity and the Malala Fund. Working Chance is the only recruitment consultancy for women leaving the criminal justice and care systems. The Malala Fund works to give all girls the chance to an education.

London born Emery completed her Ceramic and Design degree at Central Saint Martins in 1993. In 1992 she won the award at the Young People’s Film & Video Festival for her short film Night Shift inspired by the work of Sylvia Plath. Emery then moved to Canada and debuted several series of paintings which she exhibited in Toronto and New York. The multimedia artist splits her time between the UK and her studio in Bodrum, Turkey, her spiritual home.

For more information please contact: Phoebe Ruffels, phoebe.ruffels@damsonpr.com or +44 (0) 203 981 5200

Studio Sunday: Michelle Lee Rigell

It is the last week of our show ‘Pilot’ with PxP Contemporary so this Studio Sunday highlights one of our invited artists, Michelle Lee Rigell. She is a contemporary realist painter who is based in St. Louis and we have featured two works from her ‘1,000 Crane Project’ in the exhibition. Read on to learn more about her creative practice, studio space, and exhibitions for the rest of the year!

Bio

Born and raised in Atlanta, Georgia, Michelle Lee Rigell is a St. Louis-based contemporary realism artist who works in acrylics. Since 2015, Rigell has shown her work in several locations in the Greater St. Louis area including SOHA Gallery, Art Saint Louis and fundraising art events such as Wall Ball for Artscope and Art of PAWS for St. Louis Effort for AIDS. Rigell also volunteers as an instructor and is the assistant director of Arts As Healing Foundation, a nonprofit organization that brings the therapeutic benefits of art to cancer patients and those with chronic illnesses.

Statement

I tend to gravitate toward subjects that evoke nostalgia and whimsy. I am currently working on a project called the "1000 Crane Project" because of my childhood love for origami. When I wasn't drawing or painting, I was constantly folding origami. My goal is to capture the beauty and precision of origami while incorporating the flawed nature of wrinkled papers and used wrappers and labels of some of my favorite childhood American products.

Cranes are also a symbol of good fortune and longevity in Korean culture. They have been an apt subject matter in my life because rediscovering my passion for painting began as a way to cope with my miscarriages and difficulties with infertility. I am a firm believer that art can provide healing, and I want to be able to help others heal by providing a sense of sentimentality and humor through my art process and experiences.  

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How did you first become interested in art and can you explain a bit of how it led you to the work you create today?

I’ve loved art for as long as I can remember. As a child I wanted to be an animator and graphics designer like my uncle, the other artist in our family, but in high school, I focused on getting into medical school. I was convinced by the adults in my life that this was a more practical career path, but ultimately I chose not to pursue a career in medicine after graduating from college.

After moving to St. Louis for my husband’s medical training, my mother-in-law encouraged me to take art classes. When I signed up, it never crossed my mind to pursue a career in art because I didn’t have any formal education in art and I had lost a lot of confidence in myself. Around the same time, I had a miscarriage and my second not too long after, so it was a period filled with a lot of hurt. Fortunately through the classes, I met my mentor and began volunteering for the Arts As Healing Foundation, reigniting my passion for art and opening new possibilities for me. I went on a long and roundabout journey back to an art career, but now I am sharing my love for art to others who need it and love it with more appreciation and passion than when I was younger.

We love that your work is so fun and whimsical with hints of nostalgia. Can you tell us about what inspires you and the story behind your series of origami cranes specifically?

A few years ago for Christmas, my mentor gifted me a glass jar with the Chinese character for happiness and good fortune on it. Along with art, I also loved origami growing up, so I decided to fill it up with cranes, which then led to an even better idea of painting them.

Before my “1000 Crane Project”, I was already painting nostalgic subjects like record players, musicians, vintage signs using earthy, dark tones; I grew up listening to a lot of Oldies music. But as I gained more confidence in myself and my work, I wanted to experiment with bolder compositions and colors. I had found the perfect subject that was not only iconic and symbolic but had been a big part of my childhood as well. Instead of using crisp, new sheets of paper, I thought it would be more interesting and challenging to make cranes with wrinkled, brightly colored candy wrappers that are sometimes more plastic and wax than paper. It would give me more opportunities to play with lights and darks to create all the tears and odd folds. And who doesn’t love candy? As long as I can bring a smile to the viewers’ faces, I know I’ve done a good job.

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What is your process like? Do you do a lot of sketching or make work more intuitively?

I fold all the cranes I paint first. Occasionally I’ll go on a folding spree and fold whatever piece of paper or candy wrapper that catches my eye, so that later if I need inspiration or a new idea I can go through ones I’ve already folded. Sometimes I have to do a little cutting and taping supplemented with thumbnail sketches especially with the candy wrappers, so I can get the right labels and patterns to show through. I prefer to paint from my still-life set up, but I also take photos to refer back to because the cranes are tiny.

Describe your current studio or creative space. What is most important about it or one thing that you definitely need in your work area?

Currently my studio is in our guest bedroom. I’ve tried almost every other room in our house before settling into where I am now. The guest bedroom has the best lighting as it faces north with lots of windows. I try to take advantage of the natural lighting as much as I can, so my colors don’t shift. For me, lots of sunshine leads to lots of motivation and productivity. I would eventually like a space where I can make larger paintings and move more freely, but I also like being comfortable and having everything I need at home.

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What is your favorite thing about being an artist?

One of my favorite things about being an artist is being able to express myself but also being able to have a safe place for me to tune everything out. The other is that I never stop learning as an artist. I’m continuously finding ways to improve my technique and to challenge myself to elevate my artwork.

Do you have any big collaborations, projects, exhibitions, etc going on during the rest of the year that you'd like to share?

I recently finished a piece that will be up for silent auction on August 3rd at this great fundraiser, Art of PAWS by St. Louis Effort for AIDS. The proceeds help patients care for their furry companions so they can focus financially on their healthcare. I will also be in a four-man exhibition at the Angad Arts Hotel in downtown St. Louis from August 2nd to October 26th.

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Studio Sunday: Brooke Sauer
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Our Studio Sunday interview is with LA based artist Brooke Sauer. She creates unique cyanotype paintings inspired by a deep connection with the natural world and how humans interact within it. We are pleased to be presenting two of her works with PxP Contemporary so if you enjoy this feature, we invite you to check out her work on our site! Make sure to view our inaugural show ‘Pilot’ soon as it will be closing on August 15th.

Bio

Brooke Sauer holds a BFA in Painting from Otis College of Art & Design, and an MFA from Art Center College of Design. 

Statement

Brooke is a Los Angeles based artist inspired by her innate connection to nature. With her art, she strives to connect more deeply with the natural world by exploring and learning about it first-hand and reflecting on our symbiotic relationships to it. The intimate and sometimes whimsical moments portrayed in her work suggest that just as nature surrounds us, it is also within us. Her unique cyanotype illustrations are created by combining a very old photographic printing process (cyanotype), with her background in painting and her love of botany, using the natural sunlight and water available to her to produce each unique and unpredictable piece. Her prints are made from pressed plants that she collects while hiking and exploring. Brooke refers to her botanical collection as her, “nostalgic herbarium”, as they all hold a memory and a story of a wonderful feeling, a place, and the people she was with when she collected them. This nostalgia peeks out from time to time in her works in the form of a longing or introspectiveness on the part of the figures captured within, or perhaps a yearning for a new adventure.

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When did you first become interested in art?

Growing up, I was always drawing and painting, making things and making music. I took a few formal painting classes as a little kid, but it was frustrating for me. I think I was happier just making whatever came to mind. One time I opened up a "greeting card store" in my bedroom with all the cards I designed. It was more conceptual, not like anyone was really going to come in our house and buy anything, but I liked seeing all the designs that I drew together like that. I was also an avid reader and wrote and illustrated my own detective novel. I was always creative, but I don't think I consciously thought I was creating Art until I was a teenager. I didn't have any formal art classes again until I was in my early 20's when I went to art school.

Tell us about the inspiration behind your work and what your creative process is like.

I am inspired by my relationship to nature, which has been growing along with me my whole life. Growing up, we moved to a lot of different places with different kinds of landscapes, plants, and animals, and I had a lot of freedom to, say, roam the woods behind our house by myself. When I was 12, my Dad & I , and often some friends started doing a lot of hiking, camping, and going on some pretty epic backpacking trips to some amazing places. This helped me to feel confident in my abilities and comfortable being out in the middle of nowhere and knowing I would be ok, and that this was actually natural, like how people used to live. The longer you're out there, the more natural it begins to feel, and you truly become one with your surroundings. That feeling of being a part of something in nature, which is vast, and it being a part of me, is what inspires my work. My work starts with a feeling, maybe a memory, or even an experience that I want to have, and then i try to translate that into a simple line drawing. From there I create my final piece, which has many layers.

First, I paint a picture using a UV sensitive fluid under non UV lighting. When it dries, I take wild plants and flowers that I have collected on my hikes and pressed, and arrange them on top of my painting. Next, I expose it to the sun for a certain amount of time depending on the weather, then I remove the plant parts and rinse off the painting and let it dry. The plants and flowers have been photographically printed into the painting, becoming the negative space that creates such a stark contrast against the rich cyan blue. This is actually how some of the very first photographs were made, as well as blueprints, which came much later.

What do you hope your viewers take away from seeing your paintings?

I hope my viewers take away a feeling of being connected to one's surroundings in a way that is poetic and thought provoking. Of being a part of something and having it equally be a part of you.

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What is one piece of advice that you would give to your younger self?

To be confident in my abilities and my creative voice at any given time, even when it is always changing and evolving, because that can spark doubt, but it's really just a part of nature. In fact, I think that's just advice I would give to myself, or any other artist, at any time of life!

How do you overcome creative blocks?

I just force myself to do something - like I'll play a game where I have to draw any object that is in front of me in the room, or on the table, but in drawing it I have to transform it into something magical or mysterious. Those exercises don't usually turn into final works, but they do get me into a more creative headspace which is where I want to be.

Good advice! Are there any exciting exhibitions, projects, or collaborations going on this year that you’re currently working on or will be soon?

I have a solo show in April 2020, around Earth Day, at the College of The Canyons in Santa Clarita California. I am expanding my studio practice in a way that will allow me to work on a much larger scale to create a new body of work for this show. I will also be including a soundscape element and possibly some 3-dimensional applications of my process as well. This will be a big push for me to see what I can do with this medium and the context of my work.

Philadelphia 'Summer Rush' All Female Art Exhibition at James Oliver Gallery
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Kristen Reichert Dark Sister - 45” x 45”, Oil on canvas

Summer Rush will be curated by and take place at James Oliver Gallery as well as their sister gallery HOT•BED, where custom horticulture by Bryan Hoffman will accentuate the organic feel and intense color pallets of this show. The incredible line-up includes a diverse array of works by artists: Michele Kishita, M.K. Komins, Elizabeth Bergeland, Nat Girsberger, Alicia LaChance, Juliet Sugg, Kristen Reichert, Caitlyn Grabenstein, Molly Goldfarb, Ekaterina Popova, Erica Bello, Katelyn Liepins, and Nikki Painter. 

The scope of media includes abstract, surreal and hyper-realistic painting, collage, illustration, jewelry, and much, much more. Summer Rush will magnify the entropy of the season and eviscerate a notion of excitement and activity brewing and cultivating in our spaces. Don’t miss this enticing exhibition! 

The exhibition will be on view from July 13 - August 31, 2019

For more information or private viewings, please contact jamesolivergallery@gmail.com or by phone at 267-918-7432.

www.jamesolivergallery.com

Studio Sunday: Lizz Berry
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Create! Magazine is pleased to present a new Studio Sunday feature with Portland-based artist Lizz Berry. Learn more about what inspired her interest in fiber and textile art, the multiple reasons that she keeps a small forest of plants in her home studio, and what will be keeping her busy for the rest of the summer!

Bio

Lizz Berry is the founder, maker, and innovator behind The Wild Textile. All of the products she creates are hand crafted in her home studio in Portland, Maine.  She is a hand-weaver, natural dyer, quilter, and all around fiber enthusiast. 

Her love for cloth began at an early age, when she was exposed to family heirlooms from India - some over a century old. Colorful antique silk saris and other complex weavings were a part of her childhood - whether it be forts, canopies, or costumes. These fueled her love not only for textiles, but also for the color and textures that enliven them. Today you can still find her home adorned with some of the very same pieces that inspired her as a child. 

Lizz received her B.F.A. from Kutztown University in Pennsylvania, where she concentrated in Textiles. She spent her undergraduate years studying hand weaving, color application, and surface design via dyeing techniques.

More recently, she has integrated her fibers studio with her other life-long passion, the outdoors. She loves the simplicity of color in nature, and it never ceases to inspire her. Environmental conservation is also important to her, and she represents this value in her practices as often as possible. Color, the natural world, and fibers are the core elements of her creativity, and the unified embodiment of The Wild Textile.

When did you first become interested in art?

My interest in textile design has evolved from a variety of influences with one commonality: three dimensional, visual design. In grade school I wanted to be an architect, which later shifted to interior design and decorating. I experimented with every artistic medium that was available, both inside and outside the classroom. Throughout high school I took every single art class that was offered, except for Weaving. Ironically, I thought it sounded boring!  However, as a crafts major in college, my attitude quickly changed. I developed a passion for textiles after taking my first class. My focus began to gravitate towards functional pieces - scarves, blankets, linens, tableware and various items of home decor.  Throughout and following my college years, I worked in a sewing studio and fabrics store. This experience supplemented my passion for textiles with exciting new disciplines - sewing and quilting! On weekends and after work I also taught myself to forage for natural dyes and use my kitchen scraps for free sustainable colors that told a story. All of these practices have become key elements of The Wild Textile, and I suspect that my artistic interests will only grow more diverse in the years to come.  

Tell us about what inspires you creatively.

Plant life, abundant light, and nature in every form. Whether it’s the ever-expanding urban jungle in my home studio,  the rocky coasts and sandy beaches of Maine, or the alpine zones of my favorite mountains - I constantly integrate the textures and colors of my natural surroundings with my work. Exploring the outdoors inspires me to build lively color palettes that facilitate unique combinations of surface designs. It is always an extra special day when I come across natural dyes to be foraged in my travels! Another key source of my textiles inspiration emanates from my family heirlooms. My grandmother was a missionary surgeon in Assam, India, and she bestowed to my family a variety of handwoven Indian saris, tapestries and fabrics. The standards of craftsmanship upheld by prior generations never ceases to astound me. I find myself connecting with these textiles more than ever, as I approach reading the end of her diary entries on life in India during the 1950’s. 

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What is your process like? 

I often find my process fluctuates between meticulously planning and complete improvisation. In some instances, I plan each weaving in precise detail to make sure they will work logistically. In these cases, I create multiple scales of drawings with different colorways, pattern options, and sizes. On other projects, I allow my process to depend solely on my instincts. This approach involves designing my pieces while simultaneously crafting them, and has created some of my most interesting weavings to date. I love making up patterns on the loom that have never existed, and perhaps never will again. I often find myself in a meditative state where my feet move across the foot pedals while barely looking down at what I am creating. Some weavers may find this odd, but I think this technique can create truly authentic combinations of texture and color. I am always anticipating the next weave structure to be accidentally discovered!

Describe your current studio space. What is most important about it or one thing that you can’t live without in your work area?

I work out of my home studio in Portland, Maine. I have A LOT of house plants (over 70) scattered throughout my small apartment, which has abundant natural light. The plants are therapeutic to me, and also very functional in the photography process. I use them as backdrops in an effort to help the viewer visualize my products in a livable space. As an added bonus, it allows me to hide the nicks and bumps in my not-so-perfect wall from the early 1900’s.

What is one piece of advice that has stuck with you or a quote that you think is especially meaningful?

If you want to keep it, so will someone else! That’s how the majority of my products have developed. Create something for yourself - something that embodies the colors, textures, and emotions that inspire you - and before long you will have orders for more. 

Are there any exciting exhibitions, projects, or collaborations going on this year that you’re currently working on or will be soon?

I have recently signed on as Show Coordinator for the Maine Crafts Guild, which puts me in charge of organizing four large fine craft shows throughout the summer. This will keep me pretty busy over the next few months, but in my spare time I have been experimenting with a slew of great new materials for product prototypes. I am currently working on a brand new Fall line for the The Wild Textile, including more home decor items than ever, zipper pouches, sling bags, backpacks and more. Keep an eye out for this exciting release!

Check out The Wild Textile online or follow along on Instagram!

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Create! Magazine x Art Girl Rising Collaboration

THEY ARE FINALLY HERE! We’re so excited to bring you a side project that we’ve been working on for a few months with Liezel Strauss, founder of Art Girl Rising. You’ve likely seen us sharing our obsession with her now Insta-famous t-shirts that each list a set of five iconic women artists. We couldn’t resist being a part of her incredible project to support the National Museum of Women in the Arts as well as their #5womenartists campaign so we created a special edition t-shirt (in gray & pink) with five women artists who we love. A portion of the proceeds from each shirt sold will be donated to the museum. As an all female team, we here at Create! Magazine want to do the most that we can to both provide more opportunities for contemporary women artists and also to be educators and champions for all of the women in the art world today!

You can purchase these special edition shirts directly from our webshop! *We only made a limited amount of them so make sure to get yours before they sell out.

Learn more about Art Girl Rising in an interview with Liezel from our 2018 Miami Edition.

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Who are Hilma, Mickalene, Marina, Shirin, and Judy?

Hilma

When Swedish artist Hilma af Klint began creating radically abstract paintings in 1906, they were like little that had been seen before: bold, colorful, and untethered from any recognizable references to the physical world. It was years before Kandinsky, Malevich, Mondrian, and others would take similar strides to rid their own artwork of representational content. Yet while many of her contemporaries published manifestos and exhibited widely, af Klint kept her paintings largely private. She rarely exhibited them and, convinced the world was not yet ready to understand her work, stipulated that it not be shown for twenty years following her death. Ultimately, her work was all but unseen until 1986, and only over the subsequent three decades has it begun to receive serious attention.

Read more: https://www.guggenheim.org/exhibition/hilma-af-klint

Mickalene

Mickalene Thomas, who lives and works in Brooklyn, New York, is best known for her elaborate paintings composed of rhinestones, acrylic and enamel. She draws on art history and popular culture to create a contemporary vision of female sexuality, beauty, and power. Blurring the distinction between object and subject, concrete and abstract, real and imaginary, Thomas constructs complex portraits, landscapes, and interiors in order to examine how identity, gender, and sense-of-self are informed by the ways women (and “feminine” spaces) are represented in art and popular culture.

Read more: https://www.mickalenethomas.com/about

Marina

Marina Abramović, born November 30, 1946, is a Serbian performance artist, writer, and art filmmaker. Her work explores body art, endurance art and feminist art, the relationship between performer and audience, the limits of the body, and the possibilities of the mind. Being active for over four decades, Abramović refers to herself as the "grandmother of performance art". She pioneered a new notion of identity by bringing in the participation of observers, focusing on "confronting pain, blood, and physical limits of the body".

Read more: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marina_Abramovi%C4%87

Shirin

Shirin Neshat is a contemporary Iranian artist best known for films such as Rapture (1999), which explore the relationship between women and the religious and cultural value systems of Islam. Born on March 26, 1957 in Qazin, Iran, she left to study in the United States at the University of California at Berkeley before her the Iranian Revolution in 1979. While her early photographs were overtly political, her film narratives tend to be more abstract, focusing around themes of gender, identity, and society. The split-screened video Turbulent (1998) won Neshat the First International Prize at the Venice Biennale in 1999.

Read more: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shirin_Neshat

Judy

Born July 20, 1939 in Chicago, IL, Judy Chicago is an artist, author, feminist, educator, and intellectual whose career now spans five decades. In 1974, Chicago turned her attention to the subject of women’s history to create her most well-known work, The Dinner Party, which was executed between 1974 and 1979 with the participation of hundreds of volunteers. This monumental multimedia project, a symbolic history of women in Western Civilization, has been seen by more than one million viewers during its sixteen exhibitions held at venues spanning six countries.

Read more: http://www.judychicago.com/about/biography/

Studio Sunday: María Guzmán of Austère & Crudo Atelier
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I recently had the chance to speak with Costa Rican fashion & textile designer María Guzmán in her studio, which is housed in a beautifully quaint Victorian-style residence in San Jose that she inherited from her grandmother. She is the brains behind Austère, a women-run and eco-conscious brand of swimwear and elevated basics. Built from her background working in the fashion industry in both Argentina and Europe, María’s company will be celebrating its fifth year in business come October. Having lived abroad for a number of years, she returned to Costa Rica around nine years ago. Not exactly sure of what she would do next, but certain that she was tired of working for companies that didn’t meet her standards for sustainability, she first lived at the beach and dove into painting. María’s creativity eventually led her to design dresses. Then, after a friend helped her connect the idea of incorporating her paintings into her work, she started making colorfully printed swimsuits as well.

It is clear early on in our conversation that art is an integral part of her business. The prints used in María’s bikinis and one-piece bathing suits come from her own sketches and gouache paintings that she then finalizes on the computer. Looking closely at the fabrics, you notice the deliberate choices of her various color palettes. Bright and fun without being too flashy, she explains the inspiration behind each pattern, calling one ‘feminist camouflage’ and saying that others were inspired by contemporary art or the environment. Like mini abstract paintings, each piece that María makes is unique as much as it is comfortable, functional, and sustainable.


Apart from her fashion design work, however, María also runs a second business called Crudo Atelier. From her same spacious studio, she holds weekend workshops in Costa Rica where small groups take classes such as hand lettering, embroidery, or how to make natural dyes. Now three years old, Crudo Atelier was initially a way for María to share her creative skills with others. It has grown since then, with her moving away from teaching and instead inviting new specialists to diversify the offering of classes. One of the aspects of these workshops that she loves most is the idea of creating community. Like-minded creatives meet each other through her platform and have gone on to continue working together afterwards. She also mentions that students have started projects based on the work they first produced at Crudo Atelier.

As focused as she is on her own businesses, she has an equal interest in paving the way for the next generation. Besides Crudo Atelier, María also serves on a council with the local chamber of commerce and the contemporary art and design museum along with ten other representatives. With this group, she seeks to build out more resources for designers of all types in Costa Rica and additional opportunities to show and sell their work. With stores in the area taking high commissions on locally produced items, especially those created by women, she hopes that this task force can put together more fairs or similar events and spaces that allow makers to have direct access to new customers.

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With so many things going on already, it’s hard to imagine María having time to do much else! However, she’s also currently working on an an ecommerce website to make her collections available beyond the few local and international stores where her items are currently sold. In addition, she’s begun the process of designing low-impact handbags made from wood and wool fibers alongside her other pieces. If all goes well, her portfolios will be shown at Satisfactory, a local design popup in San Jose. While she loves her studio space, she’s also in the middle of renovating it to make it more practical for her businesses. Once that is complete, one of her other goals is to eventually utilize it as a gallery for women artists. The space will then be even more of a hub for all of the things that she believes in: building community, creating quality and sustainable designs, and empowering other female artists.

Learn more about Austère by following the brand on Instagram at @austere_atelier or check out Crudo Atelier’s profile at @crudoatelier!

Studio Sunday: Kristen Elizabeth
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We’re bringing back Studio Sundays and this weekend we’re so excited to be introducing you to one of our PxP Contemporary artists, Kristen Elizabeth! Learn more in our interview below and then don’t forget to check our her available works in our premiere exhibition ‘Pilot’, which is currently on view online!

Artist Biography:

Connecticut based artist, Kristen Elizabeth (b.1986) formally educated in Industrial Design, has been developing her unique artistic voice over the past several years. Having grown up on the coast, she is heavily influenced by the sea and the dynamic tension between power and balance that can be observed around us. Her work seeks to draw viewers in through bold movement and a counterbalance of intricate mark making. Her use of a wide variety of materials such as acrylic, graphite, pastel, and more creates a visual statement that can be experienced on multiple levels. In addition to her art, she has been involved in many creative projects including painting a 50ft tall likeness of Lebron James in Harlem's famed Rucker Park, as well as - developed a new logo and fashion illustrations for New York's influential FABB charity event.  Her work has been featured in multiple publications including Create! Magazine, Art Reveal Magazine, and The Wall Street Journal.  

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How did you first become interested in art and can you explain a bit of how it led you to the work you create today?

As long as I can remember, I’ve always had a passion for art. I grew up in a creative family and had practicing artists on both my mother & father’s side. I’ve always had a desire to be creative, but felt I had to be practical. Because of this, I majored in product design and was approaching graduation right at the beginning of the recession in 2008. The career and life I had been envisioning for the past four years all but evaporated, but this allowed me freedom from a traditional path and ultimately set me on the course to where I am today. It’s been quite a ride - with both highs and lows. I hope to express this dynamism that is life through my current and future works.

Describe your current studio or working area. What is most important about it or one thing that you definitely need in your creative space?

I currently divide my time between my small home studio and a larger studio space where I run my business, a children's art studio called SplatterBox. My space at home is peaceful, harmonious and filled with the books, art, and music I love. That space allows me to focus on smaller more contained works using mostly watercolors and inks. SplatterBox allows me the room to stretch out and work on larger pieces without worrying about making a mess - hence the name SplatterBox. That said, it can be a challenge! It can often be hectic & stressful but it is also highly rewarding. I was able to not only lead a fulfilling path teaching kids but also re-discover my passion for art amongst all the glitter, unicorns, & beautiful mess.

Tell us about the inspiration behind your work.

I really try to absorb my environment. I find the people and places around me to be incredible resources. I’ve found that some series tend to draw from specific experiences, while other inspiration could be found in more ethereal experiences. My ‘Mineral Girl’ series was completely inspired by a trip to the amazing mineral room at the Peabody Museum in New Haven, CT. To contrast that, my ‘Geo Swoosh’ & ‘'The Change’ series took from something much more intuitive and deep within myself. I spent much of my childhood by the sea and observed everything from grey misty mornings to deep dark raging storms. Drawing from these visual memories as well as exploring life experiences I had, helped guide my hand.  You can see this in everything from the large sweeping motions to the tapestry of delicate details and patterns.

What one piece of creative or business advice would you give to your younger self?

The one piece of advice I would give my younger self is DON’T WAIT. On pessimistic days I might see it as time wasted, but I have had a range of other experiences and challenges that inform my art today. That said, I held back from truly jumping into my art career for many years and wish I had started that path sooner. It can be intimidating to put yourself out there, but if you keep delaying and putting it off - you’ll never know what opportunities might come your way.

What are you working on now and for the rest of the year?

Right now I’m coming off of an exciting job working for FABB (The Fashion Accessories Benefit Ball) & can’t seem to stray from creating high contrast fashion illustrations. I’ve found these very cathartic and they allow me to create without the pressure of a series or having any constraints imposed (self or otherwise). I’m happy to say they have enabled me to gain a clear headspace and I now have two new series I’m in the process of designing. Both will be an expansion & evolution of my previous work. As a side note, I have to give a nod to the Podcast - Art & Cocktails - for the invaluable information learned while listening to the episode ‘How To Design A New Series’.

View her collection of available works with PxP Contemporary here!

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!)

Women Working in the Arts: Alana Voldman
Image courtesy of the Josef and Anni Albers Foundation/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York/DACS, London

Image courtesy of the Josef and Anni Albers Foundation/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York/DACS, London

For our first-ever women’s issue (available for purchase here) I profiled four young and entrepreneurial women working in the arts to highlight those not only creating work, but also those who are supporting artists as curators, gallerists, educators, writers, and more! I’m keeping this series going on our blog with this mini-interview with art consultant Alana Voldman.

Image courtesy of the Josef and Anni Albers Foundation/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York/DACS, London

Image courtesy of the Josef and Anni Albers Foundation/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York/DACS, London

Alana Voldman is an independent art consultant currently based in Antwerp, Belgium. Originally from southern California, she first relocated to Chicago to study art history at DePaul University, after which she began working with several Asian art galleries in the city. She eventually relocated to London to pursue a Master's Degree in Art Business at Sotheby's Institute of Art, with an emphasis on 20th-century art and modern design. In 2017, she relocated to Antwerp, first working as a curatorial assistant at the MoMu Fashion Museum, and now as a freelance advisory consultant and art writer for several companies and institutions. 

Choose one woman artist from history or who is working today and tell us about why she inspires you or has had an impact on you.

I have always been drawn to German-born artist Anni Albers, both for her amazing textile works and her personal story. Forced into weaving, the only workshop available to women during the early years of her art education at the Bauhaus school, she was able to transcend the medium from craft to a recognized and functional art form. In line with the Bauhaus approach to form meeting function, Albers at first explored the limitations of her materials, making objects that not only looked nice but also served a purpose.  Eventually, she became known for her distinct use of color, and 'pictorial weavings', which were essentially modernist artworks made through the process of weaving. What I really admire is her sense of persistence - she mastered something despite it not being her first choice - during a war and in a male-dominated industry no less. It is very easy to be discouraged in the art industry, especially because it can feel quite oversaturated and as if (money-making) opportunities are rare. I often remind myself of people like Albers who had to persevere under even harsher limitations.

Image courtesy of the Josef and Anni Albers Foundation/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York/DACS, London . Photo is by Tim Nighswander/Imaging4Art

Image courtesy of the Josef and Anni Albers Foundation/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York/DACS, London . Photo is by Tim Nighswander/Imaging4Art

Annual International Women's Print Issue Selected Artists
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Congratulations to the following artists selected for our first annual International Women's Print Issue!

We received an incredible response to this opportunity and it was extremely challenging for our team to choose such a limited amount of artists out of hundreds of submissions.

We are so thankful for everyone who took the time and effort to submit to our magazine. We want artists to know that we keep work permanently on file and review it for appropriate opportunities and curatorial projects.

Let's celebrate this small and brilliant selection of women in our art community! The issue release date eta is mid-March 2019.


Selected Artists

Yvette Arendt

Ciele Beau

Charlotte Brisland

Ivana Carman

Andrea Castro

Hollie Chastain

Natalie Ciccoricco

Maggie Evans

Camila Fernández

Erin Fitzpatrick

Saskia Fleishman

Katherine Fraser

Orit Fuchs

Rachel Grobstein

Lindsay Hall

Chloe Hedden

Daina Higgins

Emma Hill

Monica Ikegwu

Christina Klein

Julie Liger-belair

Eliana Marinari

Jelena Marjanovic

Tracy Murrell

Lauren Mycroft

Carrie Pearce

Loreal Prystaj

Teklė Pužauskaitė

Simona Ruscheva

Denise Sanabria

Natalia Savinova

Annie Scull

Lauren Shaw

Jamie Bates Slone

Shamona Stokes

Jenni Stringleman

Claire Sweitzer Hawkins

Jessica Tenbusch

Jennifer Terrell

Patricia-lee Wilson