Posts tagged Women Artists
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

Max Cole 'Crosswinds" at Larry Becker Contemporary Art
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If you find yourself in Philadelphia before the end of the year, we highly suggest stopping by Larry Becker Contemporary Art to see their current exhibition. To be honest, it wasn’t yet on my radar when I decided to go gallery hopping on a Saturday in November. I happened to begin chatting with an artist sitting a co-op space nearby and he urged me to go over and take a look. ‘Crosswinds’ presents paintings and works on paper by American artist Max Cole. I won’t give away too much here since the owners are more than happy to tell you about this incredible artist and her work - so go see some great art and say hi to their adorable gallery cat!

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’Crosswinds’
On view Nov 10 - Dec 29, 2018

You can follow the gallery on Facebook & Instagram.

Max Cole’s paintings suggest an approach to infinity through the use of vertical repetitive lines, a record of intense focus that is said to contain energy as embedded content. The artist describes this process, which she has worked in for over 50 years, as meditative. Though sometimes compared to the work of Agnes Martin, the similarities between the practices are superficial. “There is no other way to produce the work except for a depth of engagement requiring the abandonment of self," Cole has explained, "and this process opens the door to infinity enabling reach outside the physical. For me art must transcend the material.” Born in 1937 in Hodgeman County, KS, she received her BFA from Fort Hays State University in Kansas and her MFA from the University of Arizona in Tucson. Influenced by the Suprematist works of Kazimir Malevich during the late 1950s, she began producing paintings which reflected on time with simple forms. The artist lives and works in California. Today, Cole’s works are held the collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art and The Museum of Modern Art in New York, and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, among others.

Artist biography adapted from Artnet.

Using Your Voice: Podcast Interview with Erika b Hess

Join us for a fun co-interview with artist Erika b Hess who recently launched her own podcast, I Like Your Work. We talk about artist residencies, feminism, and being a painter, podcasting and entrepreneurship. Erika and I also discuss the importance of fostering our own artist communities and using our voice as artists.

Erika b Hess is a painter based in Boston recognized for her use and interest in color. Hess’s work has been exhibited nationally including Prince Street Gallery in NYC, Last Projects in Los Angles, CA, and Boston Center for the Arts in Boston, MA. In 2017, she had two solo exhibitions, “The Line Between the Past and the Present,” at Musa Collective, Allston MA and “Viewing Light,” at Newton Free Library, Newton, MA. Her work has been featured in various publications including, Poets and Artists, Fresh Paint, Charles River Journal and Post Industrial Complex, a book released by the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit. Her work was selected by John Seed to be featured in, “Fifty Memorable Artists 2015”. She has served on panels such as Cleveland Institute of Art’s, “Feminism Now: Exposing the Truth”, was a visiting juror for Dayton Visual Art Center’s 2016-2018 biennial, and is a recurring juror for the Walker Art MFA Prize at Boston University. Hess is a co-founder of MUSA Collective, an artist-run collective in Boston, and received her MFA from Boston University.

I Like Your Work is dedicated to interviewing creative people from painters and artists to collectors and curators. People who are involved in a creative lifestyle and also in building community within the arts. 

You can see images of artist work on the blog or on Instagram at ilikeyourworkpodcast.



Interview: Jeanette Morrow

Jeanette Morrow earned her B.F.A. from the Savannah College of Art and Design. After college, she worked in public relations for a number of years before eventually returning to her roots as a fine artist. She formally launched Morrow Studio in November 2016 and has been working out of her studio in Manhattan ever since. Her abstract paintings are hallmarked by larger scale color stories that are loose, gestural and emotional. 

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What inspired you to become an artist? Can you tell me about your background in art? 

I was born with a draw to the arts, but it was my high school art teacher who was the first to nudge me towards exploring my work further. He, and an accumulation of other voices collected in my head saying, “Yes. This. Do this.” fueled my desire to become an artist. As a rising senior, I went to a summer art camp (nerd alert!) and decided to apply to an art college. By the fall I was accepted into the Savannah College of Art and Design.

How was it to break away from art for a period of time in your early career? What urged you to return to it? 

Honestly, I was finding a lot of fulfillment in my career in the digital arts that I didn’t really miss the fine arts for the first few years of my corporate career. Once I had a family and knew I didn’t want to do the travel my job required, I decided to stay at-home with my daughter and freelance. It was then that it became less and less of a joy and more and more apparent that I missed painting and ceramics. At the time we were living on a small farm outside of Atlanta and converted our barn into a studio. The very early official works of Morrow Studio were born there!

Are you now painting full-time? What is your studio like? 

I split my time in the studio between painting and ceramics. I thought to get traction or exposure, I had to choose one or the other, but the perk of being my own boss is that I can do whatever I want! I’ve had to wrestle with preconceived notions of what “success” was going to look like for me. Exposure is important to the survival of an art career, but so is genuineness.

We have the very rare luxury of space in Manhattan and have converted a spare room in our townhouse into my current studio. When I’m not in there, I’m hanging with my two toddlers.

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How do you plan a day in your studio? Are there certain tasks that you always do? 

Time management is crucial to my time in the studio, as I only get a few hours a day to create (thanks to the aforementioned toddlers). A gift I am thankful for is my ability to work quickly. It doesn’t help with my patience in day-to-day tasks, but I sure do appreciate it when I have to focus on a commission deadline! Studio must-haves are a huge cup of black coffee, my favorite music playing (playlists change depending on the mood of the piece) and bodega blooms.

Use a few words you think best describe the aesthetic of your abstract paintings. Is there a specific feeling or idea you wish to convey through your work? 

Layered, moody, dramatic, loose. My favorite pieces are the ones that capture a feeling of movement and emotion. I have respect for the medium and let that play heavily in the process. I can’t control when the paint bleeds or how it sprays. As hokey as it may sound, it feels like a collaborative creation between myself and the medium.

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Why don't you title your works? 

Each piece most definitely has an intention or inspiration behind it, but I shy away from overtly sharing that with the observer. I don’t want to rob them of their imagination and thoughts of the piece by bulldozing over them with mine. Kind of like when a book gets turned into a movie.

What media do you use? 

I use a variety of materials, but primarily acrylic paint and prisma colors. Since acrylic is water-based, I can achieve the fluidity and texture that I desire.

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What is your painting process like? What do you do to generate new ideas?

To the disappointment of many art teachers, I have found the more methodical and planned I try to be before actually putting paint on the canvas, the unhappier I am with the end result. I can easily overthink and overwork and feel the first mark is the scariest, so I rip the bandaid off. If it’s a commission, then of course I’ll make sure the palette is correct and keep inspiration photos and notes nearby.

I find my environment the most fruitful to generating new ideas. I seek beauty in interiors and nature and when I’m immersed there, it’s the easiest to be inspired.

Which other artists interest you? In what ways do you find inspiration from their work?

Robert Rauschenberg was the artist who first lit the fire in me to create. I remember learning about his career in high school and couldn’t shake the urge to get my hands dirty after that. Currently, there’s so much talent out there that I find those who are unapologetic about their work to be the most interesting. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good, safe and pretty floral piece, and have many in my home, but artists who seemingly don’t care what others think is the most appealing. Southern folk art has always inspired me in this way. Artists in that genre usually have little formal training, but cannot stop themselves from creating and their love and passion just pours out into their work.

How has your practice developed or changed since you first launched your studio? 

I’ve learned so much in the infancy of studio. First, that comparison truly is the thief of joy. I check-in with myself often and if feelings of doubt outweigh my feelings of creativity then it’s time to log out of my social media and sit with myself so I don’t lose sight of my intentions. From a business perspective, I realized quickly that getting a thick skin was going to be as important as a good brush.

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Interview: Jas Petersen

Create! Magazine was excited to catch up with Chicago painter and muralist Jas Petersen as she prepares for her solo show “Not a Still Life.” Known locally for her street art works that feature cartoonish characters of glamorous, urban women, she has recently completed a new series of paintings that will be featured in her first major exhibition to be presented at Leslie Hindman Auctioneers. Read on to learn about the life-changing moment that led Jas to pursue art in earnest post-graduation, the story behind the “FastGirls” who appear in her work, and a teaser of what to expect from her upcoming showcase.

Header photo credit: Rose Kaz. Additional photos courtesy of the artist and Allan Weinberger.

Tell us briefly about your background. Were you always interested in art? Where and what did you study and when did you decide to pursue being an artist as a career?

My parents put me in an art class at the age of 4, and even then, were always encouraging me when it came to painting. My mom let me paint on the walls of my house as a kid. One of my first memories is my dad showing me how to draw a Mickey Mouse head just with circles. I took on pretty quick and in school, found painting and drawing to be unique and useful.

In high school, I had an amazing art teacher who changed my life. Mrs. B was her name. She put me on all kinds of art, music, literature, world news, and ideas that I probably wouldn’t have crossed otherwise. She made me see that I could paint and make something out of it, go to college and even focus a career in the arts.

I attended The School of the Art Institute of Chicago and studied Architecture, Animation, and Arts Administration. School was an investment, so to make the most of it I studied more technical subjects.

Within a few months of graduating, my apartment was robbed and my computer with everything I had ever made was stolen. I lost all of my work - everything, except my paintings. I was devastated. How was I going to make money and survive? Even prove that I went to college? I picked up more paint brushes as a result. Whoever that robber was, thank you. You were a huge influence on my career.

How did you develop your style? What are some of your influences or sources of inspiration?

Roy Lichtenstein, Chuck Jones, Takashi Murakami, Stephen King, Robert Rauschenberg, Salvador Dali, Pablo Picasso, Andy Warhol, Williem De Kooning, Pose, Hebru Brantley, Dabs Myla, Craola, 90’s cartoons, 80’s music, 70’s pin up girls.

My Danish and Ecuadorian roots in comparison to my American upbringing is a strong influence too. I find a lot of my day-to-day inspiration for my characters through friends, family, and immersing myself in whatever city I’m in.

How did the character FastGirl come about? She takes various forms throughout this series of work. What does she represent? Are any of the versions of the character meant to be self-portraits or are they more of a reaction to your experiences and environment?

In 2011, I painted my first FastGirl, who’s my signature character. It started when I painted my friend’s mother in the way I knew her and saw her. I felt that the exaggerated and satirical component to the painting showed her in her true light. That made me want to explore this idea further.

These girls are made up of all the girls who enter my life, not really me specifically. They’re not self portraits, although I get that a lot.

When people think “fast girl”, they immediately think promiscuous but that’s not what it’s about. These girls capture both confidence & hedonism. All of my work documents the experience of a modern day girl in an urban landscape. Consumption, opulence, rebellion, temptation, being on the move in new America; these are all elements that make up the FastGirl.

I’ve been working on these pieces since early February. I was in New York City during this time and I decided to use my environment as a catalyst. The allure, grit, impulsive nature, and raw aesthetic of the city resonated with me as I developed my pieces. I looked at girls that were out at night, bathroom make up conversations to living their heart out - they became my muses.

I paint what I see and how I feel… it’s all I know.

As both a painter and muralist, your work can run the gamut between smaller gallery friendly paintings to large-scale wall pieces. What affect does scale have on your work? Do you approach each differently?

Oddly, paintings on canvas takes significantly longer than walls. You’d think it would be the opposite, but it’s not at all. The largest canvases for this coming show are are made of a mixed media and can take me weeks to complete. On walls, I use exclusively spray cans and can bang out a 25 foot in about 4 working days.

Jas Petersen, on the top floor at Google Chicago

Jas Petersen, on the top floor at Google Chicago

Your upcoming exhibition “Not a Still Life” at Leslie Hindman Auctioneers is a new venue for your work. What was the process of preparing for this show like for you?

This is a learning experience. This is the largest show of my career thus far, so the pressure is daunting but exciting. There are a lot of people coming to see these paintings and it’s a good test for myself.

I’d like to give a huge shout out to Adam Holzrichter, who’s an amazing artist in his own right. He assisted with stretching & custom framing all the work for this show.

Can you give a brief description of the paintings that will be on display? What was your intention behind giving your show the title “Not a Still Life”?

The paintings portray the clique of girls that you see every day. Whether on Instagram, in magazines, or in your neighborhood.

Well a “still life” refers to a work of art depicting an inanimate subject matter - plants, food, flowers, vases, jewelry, glassware, dead animals. My characters are very much alive. They take on a lot of movement and color, and are by no means dead. I wanted a title for the show that would convey that while paying homage to the name of my character, the FastGirl. My manager wanted a title that would reveal my fast paced and typically unplanned behavior. Cheeky and true, “Not a Still Life” fit both perfectly, and it’s what being a FastGirl is all about.

Thank you to Leslie Hindman Auctioneers for providing a venue for this body of work. Thank you to Young Chicago Authors for the support over the years, its contribution to Chicago’s youth and cultural fabric, and being part of my first solo show.
 

Jas Petersen’s “Not A Still Life” will be presented at Leslie Hindman Auctioneers from Thursday, August 24th-Saturday, August 26th. There will be a reception on August 24th from 6-9pm, with a charity auction benefiting Young Chicago Authors and comedy performances by Tyler Snodgrass & Allan Weinberger. For full details & RSVP instructions, please click here.

Interview: Heather and Marissa from Carve Out Time For Art

“Our mission is to empower people to stop dreaming and start doing, especially when it comes to carving out time for art. 

We are passionate about building community, encouraging others (especially women), and connecting people.

We want to cultivate a positive and nurturing community for creatives who want to find time to satisfy this part of their identity. We do this by fostering conversations, connecting creatives with resources, and showing people they are not alone.”

— Marissa + Heather

http://www.carveouttimeforart.com/

https://marissahuber.com/

http://www.heatherkirtland.com/

Marissa Huber

Marissa Huber

We are really inspired by your message to make time for art, no matter what your life looks like. When did you originally come up with the idea to start your community? 

Heather: After the birth of my first child, I floundered a bit in trying to define what a mother artist looked like and was disheartened by the lack of examples. A few years later serendipity put Marissa in my path and once we joined forces and created an Instagram account it just all happened so organically. I think I can speak for both of us when I say that the community itself is a force to be reckoned with in terms of its positivity and creativity. We were lucky enough to take that drive and focus it the best we can. 

Marissa: I think the true answer is that I have a rebellious streak in me and was aggravated that so many people tell women (and also men) how they will never be able to do anything for themselves once they have children. There was an inherent suggestion if you wanted to do something for yourself, you were selfish. I took many of these comments as good natured because that’s what people say. But it bothered me because that is what many people truly believe. How many women don’t have alternative examples? Of course life will shift and yes, the early days of motherhood can be tough, but let’s encourage each other instead!

There was a moment that the message and idea of COTFA formed for me. I was asked by a designer to do watercolor illustrations of her interiors, but they had to be done right after my son was born. I was on maternity leave from my day job, and had my mom in town. I decided to go for it. I had to break up my process into 20 minute blocks, but I got it done. I will never forget the relief of sitting down that first time to paint. I felt like myself. I was not just a person with the slightly scary responsibility of keeping another human alive, but I was still me. And it gave me the thread to my life before motherhood and gave me hope that I could do things my way. I wanted to find others, and share their stories and had a secret goal to write a book on this one day. 

Heather Kirtland

Heather Kirtland

How did you meet each other? 

Heather: We haven't met. Ha! True story. We are virtual friends. I found Marissa when someone I followed on Instagram was featured in her mother interview series. I thought, "Where have you been all my life?" this was just the thing I was hoping would of existed in my first year as a new mom. So I said just that in a comment and from there became an interviewee...the rest is history. I am amazed at what a great relationship we have formed never meeting face to face. 

Marissa: I have to remind myself often that I have never met Heather in real life yet! I have a clear memory of our first phone call. I suggested we talk because we were both interested in writing a book on the same topic. I knew in 10 seconds that we would be a great fit and remember blurting out, “Let’s do it! Let’s figure out how to write a book on this together.” There was instant chemistry, nonstop talking, and such a deep personal interest in helping other artist mothers find their own way. Oddly, we don’t speak often, but when we do it is always epic.

What kind of influence has your website and community have on your own art making? What positive changes have you seen in your own lives because of COTFA?

Heather: The COFTA community has been such a positive place for me. It has made me simultaneously aware of the unrealistic pressure I put on myself and provided confidence to go after big goals. 

Marissa: It holds me accountable to practice what I preach. Our community makes me braver, kinder to myself and more confident with my work. In terms of positive changes, it made me realize that I’m a connector – whether that is ideas, resources or people. Connecting others lights me up, and feels like a fun problem to solve. (For example someone looking to do a meetup in Chicago and I can connect them with others). On a personal note, COTFA emerged during a lonely time in my life when I had moved back to Florida from and was spending much of my time at work or commuting. I missed my friends in Philly, and my family who I wasn’t getting to spend as much time with. Being able to take 5 minutes on a coffee break to “hang” with friends on Instagram was renewing during really tough months.

What is a common obstacle that's keeping artists from creating based on your observation and what are some tips to help overcome these blocks?

Heather: Doubt and fear top that list, followed closely by time. I think having a bit of grace with yourself is important. The "why" you create is something to continue to come back to. It helps to cancel out the noise and refocus on the joy you find in making art. As for time; I think adjusting the way you think about it can help. You don't need hours on end. Make it work for you within your day. I found that sometimes being force to walk away actually helps me not overwork a piece. 

Marissa: The damn comparison trap! Looking at someone else and thinking they have it all figured out without regarding their circumstances and own struggles. Feeling like there is no point to do anything because it has all been done before and nothing is original. Basically the recurring existential crisis that some of my friends and I have. I’m writing this with a smile, but it feels like crap when you’re in that valley. My advice is to just mix paint colors for fun or paint with some ink and make shapes. Don’t think at all, just enjoy the pure bliss of brush to paper. Arrange some leaves. Draw with your kid. Just do anything. We started a hashtag #CreativeCrankiness (https://www.instagram.com/explore/tags/creativecrankiness/) because I get that way if I don’t create something with my hands for too long!

From your experience, is it possible to have a full-time career or raise a family and be an artist? What words of encouragement would you offer someone who is scared they can't do both?

Heather: Hell yes!!! It may be seasonal, and it is a juggle but no one is checking your time clock.  Your work speaks for itself and ultimately people will believe what you do about yourself. Make art, you're an artist. You may wear a lot of other hats too but that doesn't diminish your artistic endeavors. If you are scared that you cannot do both my advice would be visit our community.  You can check out examples of all the different ways artists make it work.  There isn't one way.  Remember to have confidence in your creative self. Artistic sensibility, more times than not comes with an amazing ability to think outside the box. Use that to your advantage and find a way to make it a part of your life. 

Marissa: What I want to tell everyone is this---I think you can have anything you damn well please, but you can’t please everyone, it may not look like you think it will, or what others think it should. (Not the catchiest motto for a t-shirt…) It took me a long time to call myself an artist again, and in many ways motherhood forced me to own it in a good way. When I was facing limited free time, a new baby, a full time job, and the casual side gig, I realized art was what I most wanted AND needed in my life. That must mean I was an artist after all. So I prioritized it in my free time or woke up early. I feel strongly that becoming a mother made me more efficient, decisive, and confident in my art work. I no longer wasted time procrastinating by rearranging my workspace if I was scared to mess up a project. I knew I literally had 20 minutes before Henry woke up and I better make it count. That is the part I want people to know that is not uncommon. This is why Heather and I are going to find a way to make a book for others on this, even if it’s all on our own. 

My advice is to find supportive people who understand your needs for both. I have so many artist mother friends from COTFA who understand that a need to create is in us, and if it doesn’t come out, we’re miserable. I’m also lucky to have a supportive partner in my husband, Mike East (www.mikeast.com). He’s an artist and former art professor who always encourages me to find time to create, and reminds me why it’s worth it when I’m feeling cranky. 

I will say that it can be hard at times, as all life is. I’m sad that I’m with my coworkers more than my family, or that sometimes I get home from work and my son is asleep. There have been many tears. There is also a longing to have more free time for my own work, but guilt to not cut too much into my time with family or friends. But hell yes. It is possible. There are no rules. Make your own and just let other things take a backseat – preferably vacuuming.
Name a few of your favorite aspects of COTFA. 

Heather: Our followers tops that list. They are incredible and always inspire me.  I am grateful for the connections that I've made.  I also really love our Artist Takovers ( https://www.instagram.com/explore/tags/artisttakeovercotfa/ ). It's so cool to see a day in the life of fellow creatives.  

Marissa: It gave me a home base when I was feeling adrift as stated above. And so many amazing people that I consider true friends. As in real friends – that mean something special to me. 

Heather Kirtland

Heather Kirtland

How can our readers get involved and support your organization?

Instagram is where we are the most. We always encourage people to join our newsletter too it's the best place to not miss when we do challenges and events. You can use our hash tag to tell your story and share your work. That is where we find the artist we feature too. We encourage your readers to spread the word and invite others to join us.  

Marissa: I absolutely love the #CreativeConvosCOTFA (https://www.instagram.com/explore/tags/creativeconvoscotfa/ ). Each week or so we ask a question. Some deep, some light hearted, and we get the most vulnerable, wonderful, and thoughtful responses. Conversations are started, ideas spread. Come join in there first, it’s a great way to instantly feel part of the gang (and anyone who is a nice person is instantly part of the gang – that’s how we roll).

Marissa Huber

Marissa Huber

What do you hope to accomplish within the next year? 

Heather: Marissa and I would like to finish our book! We are also going to introduce a Creative Pinkie Swear challenge to help our community accomplish some of their goals with the accountability of the group.  

Personally I would like to expand my wholesale sales and make some room for more commission work as well.

Marissa: I first want to humbly celebrate a personal win for myself this year. My goal for 2017 was to license a pattern and create a fabric collection. Heather told me to enter a Minted.com competition earlier this year and I won several Editor’s choice awards there and now have 6 patterns in 5-10 colorways each for sale on fabric, lamps, pillows, etc. This has been a new direction for me and I put a lot of work in to learn Adobe Illustrator and the pattern processes (still learning). To balance that out I want to finish our book. We rehashed what we wanted to do and the new version makes me so excited that I can’t wait to get all of my other commitments over with so I can focus on it! We are going to make this happen, somehow!  https://www.minted.com/store/marissahuber

Heather’s Photos: Head shot credit is: Kirsten Smith Photography.

Marissa’s Photos – Marissa took them..

"Sex Symbol" Group Exhibition in Philadelphia

Nancy Hellebrand in collaboration with Shira Yudkoff, Judy Gelles, Ekaterina Popova, and Phyllis Gorsen

Philadelphia, PA – ARTSPACE 1241 at 1241 Carpenter Street, Philadelphia is pleased to announce a group exhibition, Sex Symbol, from July 6, 2017 – July 30, 2017. 

The gallery’s opening reception will be held on Friday, July 14th from 6:00-9:00 p.m.

Artist talk is Sunday July 30th from 1:00pm to 3:00pm.

Sex Symbol is an exhibition representing symbols of sex from a woman's perspective, with ‘sex’ having a broad interpretation, including: femininity, sexuality, intimacy, and the physical act itself. The artists, who are all from the Philadelphia area, are: Nancy Hellebrand in collaboration with Shira Yudkoff, Judy Gelles, Ekaterina Popova and Phyllis Gorsen.  Using a variety of mediums, the show explores what women perceive as emblems of the female gender.  In many instances within the work, femininity and sexuality are cross bred in both internal identities as well as in external social constructs.   Though the symbols chosen are broadly recognized, they are filtered through the lens of each artist exposing individual personal narratives such as identity, life experiences and cultural beliefs. There is a rousing interplay between works that espouse subtleties of importance with works more pronounced in their intention.

Nancy Hellebrand, a graduate of Columbia University. Her photography is exhibited in museums and galleries internationally including:  The Museum of Modern Art, Philadelphia Museum of Art, The Institute of Contemporary Art, Tate Britain, The National Portrait Gallery in London, Yale University Art Gallery, Pace/MacGill, Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, and Locks Gallery.  Hellebrand lives and works in Philadelphia. 

Shira Yudkoff, a graduate of the University of Maryland, specializes in multimedia and documentary photography.  She has worked with University of Pennsylvania, Drexel University, among others. Yudkoff works in Philadelphia.

Judy Gelles received her MFA from the Rhode Island School of Design.  Gelles’ work is exhibited in museums and galleries internationally including: National Portrait Gallery in London, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Fleisher Wind Challenge, Philadelphia Museum of Art.  She is represented by Pentimenti Gallery in Philadelphia. Gelles lives and works in Philadelphia.  

Ekaterina Popova, a graduate of Kutztown University, is a painter whose work has been exhibited nationally, including Uforge Gallery in Boston, The Boxheart Gallery in Pittsburgh, Chris White Gallery in Wilmington, A.I.R. Gallery in NY and Art Miami.  She is also the founder of Create! Magazine.  Popova lives and works in Wilmington.

Phyllis Gorsen received her MFA from the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts. Her work has been exhibited nationally, including The Site: Brooklyn in New York, The Painted Bride, The Center for Emerging Visual Artists, and Santa Clara University.  She has also curated shows at Philadelphia’s ARTSPACE 1241.  Gorsen currently works out of her studio in Philadelphia.

Sex Symbol will run from July 6th through July 30th.  Gallery hours are Wednesday and Friday from 12-5pm as well as by appointment.  For further information or to schedule a gallery visit, please call or text Phyllis Gorsen at 856.685.4312 or email at phyllisgorsen@gmail.com.