Posts tagged Women Artists
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

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!

Max Cole
’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..