Posts in Interview
Interview with Megan Magill: Venus with Folds 
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Megan Magill is an artist based in Chicago and Maine. She received her Masters from Northwestern University and her MFA from Maine Media College. Her work has been exhibited in group and joint shows nationally and she was recently a semi-finalist in the Print Center's International Competition. My Business is Circumference was featured at the Detroit Center for Contemporary Photography and The Habit of Winning was featured in F-Stop Magazine’s portfolio issue with an interview by William Cox and in a print publication with LDOC . In the fall of 2017 her was published in American: Authors, Interpreters, and Composers a book series created by Patricio Binaghi of Paripe Books and designed by Matt Wiley of the New York Times Magazine. 

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Statement: Venus with Folds 

I begin each piece with a xerox copy of a woman's painted portrait. Most of the paintings are well known, and others were found through a google search for 'famous portrait paintings' which I then narrowed down to paintings of women. So far all have been painted by men and folded by a woman but this is not a requirement...it's just what predominates when you search for 'famous.' I don't have a preconceived idea of how each piece will look...I just start folding and re-folding until I've made something that feels right to me. The process is in part a visual exercise is seeing something new in something that already exists. A way of keeping my options open and my optimism up. Photographing them after I've folded them extends the process. 

How did your artistic career begin?

I started making art in 2009 after taking a class on the history of photography at my local art center. I realized pretty quickly that art was a long lost friend that I had lost touch with years earlier for reasons of ‘practicality.’ Photography was my entry into art and remains an integral part of my practice as the majority of my work springs from found imagery.

In your artist statement, you mention that you begin most of your work with existing imagery, where do you tend to find this imagery? Do you have any criteria that you look for?

For about 2 years I collected imagery somewhat obsessively. I bought crumpled up old photos primarily at antique stores, huge lots of old Kodachrome slides through eBay and also a number of old college yearbooks from the ’40s and ’50s. I am still amazed at some of the images I was able to find. I am drawn to collect images that speak to our shared humanity from a somewhat demented point of view.

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What is the first thing you do when you start a new piece?

At the moment my entry into a piece is to draw over an existing image digitally. I start on my iPad and just see where it goes.

What is your favorite part of your creative process?

The excitement I get when something that I have created surprises me and makes me gasp just a little.

In a few statements describing your different bodies of work you reflect on the idea of not having control over every aspect of your work, how does this mindset affect the way you work?

I think this mindset helps me keep an open mind to where a piece might want to go. I spent a good portion of my life (before I started out as an artist) trying to control my life to the nth degree. What I realized is that not only did this suck the joy out of living but often I would end up in places that I no longer wanted to be and would wonder how in the hell I got there. Staying open to the process keeps me in the moment of making and lets a piece evolve like a collaboration. This doesn’t mean that every piece will work out but they do have a better chance of surprising me and taking me to places that my logical brain might not have mapped out ahead of time.

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What has been the most challenging part of your artistic career?

Hmmm. I went to a school that was primarily for photographers and filmmakers to get my MFA. It was a great education but I realized pretty quickly that I wasn’t really a photographer and so finding my place in the art world has maybe been more challenging because I’ve had to forge new relationships outside of the ones that I made in school in addition to teaching myself new processes. But this is also part of the fun…so challenge=fun.

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What should we be on the lookout for in 2019?

I am SUPER excited about some of the things I am working on. I have a series of sketches I am calling ‘you me and everyone we know.’ I have plans to turn these into hook rugs (I have one already started) and oil paintings. I hope to have the first hook rug completed this month.

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Renewed Sense of Wonder: Interview with Yuria Okamura

Yuria Okamura's art practice focuses on geometric drawing on both paper and walls. She collects, rearranges and transforms abstract symbols of various cultural and religious traditions. In this way, her work brings together and reinterprets various idealities from across cultures and histories in the hope of invoking a renewed sense of wonder into our contemporary worldview.

She maps and reconfigures geometric patterns and symbols that reference esoteric symbolism, occult diagrams, religious architecture and decoration, and spiritualist abstract painting through the use of diagrammatic aesthetics. By doing so, she examines the implications of harmonic ideals that seem to be universally embedded in the orderliness of geometry, and how such ideas might be reinterpreted in the new interrelated compositions. Yuria also deploys wall drawing to unify the diverse geometric forms and to create immersive drawing installations through the use of architecture and gardens as visual metaphors. By incorporating spatiality in this way, she explores abstract drawings' potential to operate as open-ended contemplative spaces for reimagining possibilities of metaphysical harmony and connectivity. 

Yuria is a Melbourne-based artist whose drawing practice explores harmonic ideals through the use of geometry and diagrammatic aesthetics. She has completed Master of Fine Arts (Research) at the Victorian College of the Arts, the University of Melbourne in 2015, and Bachelor of Fine Arts (Honours) in 2010 at RMIT University. In 2016, Yuria was selected for Abbotsford Convent Studio Start-up Residency and Bayside City Council Residency. She has received a number of awards and scholarships, including Stuart Black Memorial Travelling Scholarship, Ursula Hoff Institute Drawing Award, Lloyd Rees Memorial Youth Art Award, RMIT Honours Travelling Endowment Scholarship, RMIT Siemens Fine Art Scholarship, and Facetnate Visual Art Grant. Yuria has been showing her work in solo and group exhibitions both nationally and internationally, including C3 Contemporary Art Space(Melbourne), Anna Pappas Gallery(Melbourne), Five Walls (Melbourne), Rubicon ARI (Melbourne), Kunstraum Tapir (Berlin, Germany), Langford 120 (Melbourne), Seventh Gallery (Melbourne), Japan Foundation Gallery (Sydney), and Mølla På Grim (Kristiansand, Norway).

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Tell me about yourself and your creative background.

I am a visual artist based in Melbourne, Australia. My drawing practice, which includes works on paper and immersive wall drawings, explores harmonic ideals through the language of geometry and diagrammatic aesthetics. I'm interested in different beliefs and worldviews, and I map these out to try to make sense of it all by a visual means, I suppose, through a kind of aesthetic logic. I bring together and reconfigure geometric patterns and symbols that reference esoteric symbolism, occult diagrams, religious architecture and decoration, and spiritualist abstract painting. I examine the symbolic implications of harmonic ideas that seem to be universally embedded in the orderliness of geometry, and how such ideas might be reinterpreted in the new interrelated compositions. Abstract visual language can be interpreted in so many different ways, and through this quality, I hope my work can operate as open-ended maps or contemplative spaces for reimagining possibilities of metaphysical harmony.

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When did you start integrating the geometric patterns and symbols into your work? What inspired your most recent series?

I started using geometric patterns in my final year of BFA and really focused on it for my MFA, which I completed in 2015. My last body of work resulted from a research trip to Morocco and Southern Spain. I looked at Moorish architecture and ornamentation with a particular focus on mosques, and how geometric structures and designs embody the idea of interconnectedness and harmony in this cultural context.

My inclination to bring together diverse visions in my work from across cultures is, I think, influenced by my own experiences: migrating from Japan to Australia, and also traveling to Indonesia, India, Morocco and all over Europe. Having an appreciation for different cultures, and at the same time finding commonalities amongst the diverse worldviews expressed through visual language, has led me to engage with the universality of geometric forms.

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Your work is beautiful, delicate and extremely detailed. Share a little bit about your process with us. How do you prepare for each work and what goes into making each piece?

It begins with collecting source images. I'm constantly adding to my library of esoteric illustrations, early scientific diagrams, religious architecture and decoration, and abstract artworks. I extract shapes and patterns from these, modify and combine them to create new compositions. First, just with free-hand drawing, and once I'm happy with the composition, I make a proper draft on graph paper. I then trace the outlines through embossing onto the watercolor paper and start drawing lines and adding color. These drawings are often installed together with wall drawing, which is aimed at spatializing the work to create an immersive and contemplative quality. This aspect is inspired by a variety of religious architecture and gardens. The religious architecture provides a space for imagining immaterial possibilities, and gardens across cultures embody the idea of a paradise: an earthly site of harmony. In particular, Japanese gardens together with its architectural structures are intended to be mediating spaces where natural and metaphysical, or material and immaterial elements come together. Similarly, I hope my work can visualize a contemplative space for integrating inner and outer realities.

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What do you do when you feel stuck or frustrated? How do you get out of a creative slump?

If something is not working in the studio and I feel frustrated, I allow myself a short break to go for a walk or do some gardening. But then I usually get straight back into the studio because it's impossible for me to relax or think about anything else until I figure out what to do! Sometimes this means scrapping the work and starting again.

Fortunately, I haven't had a creative slump for a long time. I think it's because I've gotten into the habit of going into the studio every day (unless I have other commitments) even if I don't know what I'm going to do. Even when I feel uninspired, I force myself to get into the studio and at least think about my practice by looking at pictures, sketching, reading or writing. I don't believe in just waiting for inspiration. It does occasionally come to me out of the blue, but for the most part, I consciously search for it through practice.

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What is a typical day like for you and how do you find a balance between art and personal life?

I try to exercise a little and get my errands and admin tasks done in the morning, spend all afternoon in the studio, have a dinner break and back in the studio for an evening session. But in reality, every day is different. Sometimes I have to spend all day running errands, writing applications, or working at a part-time job, and I'd enjoy a relaxing evening with my partner, family, and friends a few times a week.

What I experience in my personal life feeds into my art practice and vice versa in a constant loop, so I like to think of them as one and the same. For example, travel is an integral part of my art practice: every trip inspires a new body of work, and my practice, in turn, drives me to seek a new adventure. I also love being in nature, spending time with family and friends, reading books and listening to podcasts, all of which I used to neglect because I thought I had to focus solely on art. I still tend to overwork, but I'm aware now that my creative energy gets depleted if I lock myself in the studio for too long and it needs to be reinvigorated by experiencing the world.

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What are you currently working on and what should we be on the lookout for?

I'm working on a new body of works on paper inspired by my trip to the U.S last year. It is a continuation of my diagrammatic, geometric drawing practice but it references Native American sand paintings and tapestry. In this series, I considered how a kinship to the natural world can be expressed through geometric patterns and how geometric forms can have a symbolic function within rituals. I'm actually coming back to the U.S in March 2019 for a residency at Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art, which I am very excited about! I'm planning to further develop the spatial component of my practice by examining MASS MoCA's extensive collection of Sol LeWitt's wall drawings.

A New Mythology: Interview with Textile Artist Amy Meissner
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Alaskan artist, Amy Meissner, combines traditional handwork, found objects and abandoned domestic textiles to reference and revere the work of women. She has shown internationally, with textile work in the permanent collection of the Anchorage Museum, the Contemporary Art Bank of Alaska and the Alaska Humanities Forum as well as many private collections. Her solo exhibition Inheritance: makers. memory. myth. – a body of work crafted from 13 months-worth of globally crowdsourced vintage linens and personal narratives from over 70 contributors -- debuted at the Anchorage Museum in May 2018, and is slated to travel through 2021. Her background is in clothing design, illustration and creative writing.  

Statement

My work with needle prods the literal, physical and emotional work of women — gathering the collective thrum of women’s abandoned handwork and combining with my own to generate a new mythology. I approach this textile work with the traditional skills taught in girlhood, confronting an expectation of beauty, decoration and domesticity with a raw female gaze. The resulting narrative does more to reveal an emotional truth about a life than any partial or assumed history; completing a story feels human, crafting by hand even more so.

This is time-based work. A landscape.

An act of slicing apart, then piecing oneself back together.

Tell me about yourself. When did you develop an interest in sewing?

I’m the twelfth first-born daughter to a first-born daughter, a line that can be traced to 1640. These women are Swedish (I’m the first one to be born in the US), so handwork is a skill I was taught at a young age. I learned to crochet and embroider at age 3 or 4, run a sewing machine when I was 9, and my initial interest in sewing was probably based on wanting to do what my mother was doing. I quickly lost interest when she began instructing me in a very Scandinavian “the-front-has-to-look-as-good-as-the-back” way, and I cried a lot, but by the time I was in high school in the 1980s I was making my clothes and friends were hiring me to design and make rad prom dresses. At 17 I landed an internship at a small atelier that made costumes and custom wedding gowns, and I stayed in the fashion industry until I was 30, mostly working for similar shops where I had to know how to do everything from production cutting, to sample sewing, to pattern drafting, to fine finishing, to knowing enough breezy conversation to make a half-naked bride feel comfortable in the fitting room.

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It is a beautiful decision to make such time-based, intricate work in a fast-paced world. What are your favorite parts of your process and studio practice?

I’m glad you’ve referred to it as a decision because this work does feel very intentional. I could take so many shortcuts, so many, but I choose not to because I want to honor the history of women’s handwork. So much of it has been lost, discarded, disregarded…those makers were such talented women, whether they would consider themselves talented or not. They knew how to make something out of nothing, and no one called it “upcycling” or “repurposing.” This was mending and remaking and making do, especially the women from my family who lived a life of meager resources, but seriously mad skills.

So I love making something out of nothing. I love the physicality of the work, the repetitive quality of handwork, the problem solving that arises from using fragile, cast off vintage linens and cloth intended for the domestic realm, often made according to someone else’s idea of beauty. 

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What inspired your most recent series?

 In 2015 I received a box of vintage linens in the mail from a woman in New York state. She’d seen my work using a personal collection of family embroidery and crochet and wanted me to have hers. I blogged about it (www.amymeissner.com/blog/box-of-mystery) and then other women wanted to send their linens as well. This became the catalyst for a 13-month crowdsourcing effort to collect unwanted handwork and narratives from women all over the world, called the “Inheritance Project,” whereby I became the final inheritor. This provided people with a place to send the family linens no one else wanted rather than sending them to the landfill, and it provided me with raw material. Over 80 contributors sent over 650 objects, representing 20 countries and 25 states. 90% of the makers are unknown.

The stories women shared were heartbreaking. One woman from Illinois sent a scrap of tablecloth crocheted by a woman incarcerated in the Detroit House of Corrections for killing her abusive husband in the 1970s. Other women sent stories of grandmothers emigrating from Europe with nothing, lost histories, lost languages. Many contributors were also artists who recognized the value in these items, often collected them, but decided not to use the material in their own practice and were happy to have someone to send it to.

The body of work that arose from the project became the solo exhibition, “Inheritance: makers. memory. myth.,” funded in part by the Sustainable Arts Foundation and the Rasmuson Foundation. It showed at the Anchorage Museum during the summer of 2018 and is at the Alaska State Museum in Juneau until February 2019 as part of their Solo Exhibition Series.

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What do you hope your viewers and collectors experience and take away from your art? 

I hope to create a new conversation around the value of women’s work - the literal handwork, the physical work of the body, and the emotional labor we bear. Working with textiles offers an opening to have these exchanges, which can be confrontational, but since no one initially feels assaulted when looking at a doily the work is approachable; viewers are thinking of their grandmother, their own intimate experience with cloth. My work has a recognizable quality to it, whether it’s the sometimes quilt-form I work in or the components I use, but it is layered and emotional. I want people to realize the vibrant inner life of the women who sat quietly with needles or hooks. This was a dense landscape, not the vacuous or meaningless work often portrayed. If society and history hadn’t channeled these women to only make functional or beautiful work for the home in order to justify their creative impulses…if the material and conceptual exploration had been the goal…what would they have made?

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What do you wish more people knew about handwork and the intersection of craft and fine art? 

It’s important to me to have a relationship with materials. There’s a reason why I use cloth -- it’s a vehicle for deeper meaning, it’s part of my culture, it belongs in my skill set. As a woman and a mother, the cloth has become more important as I get older. I didn’t start using this medium until after I had children, stopped painting for a variety of reasons, and returned to this skill I learned as a girl. This was work I could engage in with children at my feet - like all of those other first-born daughters who’d likely done the same. I’m coming closer to understanding the importance of their craft.

I think the line between art and craft is shaggy and blurry and widening, as people have ongoing conversations regarding materials and technique, attempt to define craft, and identify its qualities and value compared to fine art. Some of this interest in craft might be a direct response to a technological, fast-paced world, but it could also be the rise in awareness of the craft-based work traditionally done by women and therefore historically dismissed. I feel like there’s a lot of untapped energy in this realm, especially for younger women ready to infuse cast-off chapters of women’s work with new energy, sometimes rage.

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What is your creative community like in Alaska? What are some highlights?

I’ve been here 18 years, and while Alaska is remote I feel fortunate to be an artist in a supportive culture. There aren’t many studio spaces available (mine is in my home), our galleries and opportunities to exhibit are limited, but this generates exciting projects utilizing alternative spaces and ways of practicing. Although we can mail-order anything, shipping is expensive or unavailable to non-contiguous states, and many artists choose to look to their surroundings for materials, still in a mindset of making do and utilizing resources that have always been abundant here. Alaska has a powerful history of indigenous art and I’m so honored to be surrounded by contemporary Alaska Native artists and have the privilege of sharing this incredible landscape.

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What are you currently working on and what do you hope to accomplish in the next few years? 

I’m currently engaged in a body of work around motherhood and birth. I’m in the early stages of “not knowing,” but what I do know is my relationship to the materials -- which are still old, still abandoned, still fragile -- and that what I want to say and how to say it relies on cloth.

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Writing About Art: Podcast Interview with Emily Steer, Elephant Magazine

Let's go behind the scenes of Elephant Magazine!

I have been a long time fan of Elephant and recently got the amazing opportunity to interview editor Emily Steer. Emily shares her personal story and talks about how she took an untraditional route to journalism, overcame imposter syndrome and eventually established herself as the editor of this leading art magazine.

This episode includes bonus tips for artists and gives insight into how contemporary art editors discover new talent.

Emily Steer, Photography by Hannah Miles

Emily Steer, Photography by Hannah Miles

Elephant West. Photography by Dirk Lindner

Elephant West. Photography by Dirk Lindner

Emily’s Artist Picks

Maisie Cousins

Maisie’s work is repulsive and seductive at the same time, a squidgy conglomeration of weird food and lots of oily liquid, with beautiful colour palettes including pops of electric blue, pale pink and minty green. It’s fun and celebratory—a glorious mess. Maisie was the first artist to show at Elephant West, and she created a wonderful environment that made the space feel so playful. She is a classic Elephant artist.

https://elephant.art/event/maisie-cousins-dipping-sauce/

Maisie Cousins

Maisie Cousins

 Ramona Zoladek

Ramona has just won the Elephant x Griffin Art Prize, and her work is a subtle balance of manmade and natural elements, with delicate pea shoots growing through the cracks. It is political work which draws its viewer in first and foremost through visual intrigue.  

https://elephant.art/life-hangs-urgently-balance-ramona-zoladeks-sculptures/

Ramona Zoladek

Ramona Zoladek

 Ben Sledsens

I have a (perhaps childish) love of animals in art, and I especially enjoy Ben’s work. His animals are wild but oddly regimented, made sleek and elegant in his working of them.

Ben Sledsens

Ben Sledsens

 Tristan Pigott

Tristan’s practice is really developing at the moment—he’s currently studying sculpture at the RCA and his dream-like paintings are currently getting even more of a hallucinatory edge. There’s something really languid and peaceful about them, even in their weirdness. 

Tristan Pigott

Tristan Pigott

 Anna Liber Lewis

Anna is the next solo artist to show at Elephant West, alongside the musician Four Tet, who she has known since childhood. Her paintings are lively and gutsy, and often sexual without being explicit. There’s a great energy to her work.

Anna Liber Lewis

Anna Liber Lewis

 Hun Kyu Kim

More animal paintings. Bunnies wearing umbrellas for hats, woodland pig parties and eyeballs drinking martinis; Hun Kyu Kim’s work is like Beatrix Potter on acid.

Hun Kyu Kim

Hun Kyu Kim

 

Robin Francis Williams

Robin created one of my favourite paintings at Frieze, depicting a crazed-looking woman combing her hair with a fork. Her work is bold and frenzied, and her depiction of light is stunning.

Robin Francis Williams

Robin Francis Williams

Elephant Magazine’s Manifesto

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Beauty and Toxicity: Interview with Meganne Rosen

I just moved back to Springfield, Missouri after residing in Oakland, California for two years where I recently graduated with a Master of Fine Arts (MFA) at the California College of the Arts in San Francisco. I completed my Master of Arts (MA) in Studio Art and Theory at Drury University in 2011.

My recent projects include my thesis exhibition at Minnesota Street Project in San Francisco; the publication of “Isoluminance, Racial Trauma, and the Stamina of Perception: Amanda Wallace’s Field | House” for the Wattis Institute of Contemporary Arts and contemtporary.org; my curation and participation in Artifice & Nature, a four person exhibition at CCA; and my inclusion in group exhibitions in Davis, California; Ventura, California; Woodstock, NY; and Newport, OR.

I just returned from artist residencies at LACAWAC in Aerial Lake, Pennsylvania and Byrdcliffe in Woodstock, New York.

My next solo exhibition will be at Bookmarx in Springfield, Missouri and opens December, 7, 2018.

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Statement

Observation and curiosity drive my studio practice. Through the investigation of and experimentation with different kinds of materials, I express discontent with the current political climate as well as reflect on my experiences growing up in the American Midwest. My work explores entropy, artifice, consumerism, and my place in the lineage of abstraction in contemporary and modern painting and its relationship with installation art.

I compose mixed media pieces which are layered in visual dialogues. Some of the works reference the body in scale and are costume-like. The work evokes an intimate recollection of garments worn, skins shed, and packaging discarded. Each assemblage or installation is a partnership between the materials I work with and the sociopolitical, cultural context of our times.

Currently, I am working on a series of oil paintings on transparent acetate. For these works, my palette is inspired by the alluring sheen of oil spills on pavement and the iridescence of polluted sea foam. The intersection of the natural and the artificial is a site of challenge, conquest, and cohabitation. This work explores toxicity through artifice and decay. As light filters through the paint and acetate, ephemeral auras are projected on the walls creating an additional layer of color. When the works are rolled, they become core samples. Black holes of color with little universes enclosed inside. When the various iterations of this series are placed in proximity to each other, a visual conversation emerges between painting and sculpture, density and light, toxicity and beauty.

www.megannerosen.com

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Tell me about yourself. What was your artistic journey like up to this point? How did you arrive at your current body of work?

Art has always been part of my life. My family home is filled with art and books and artifacts. My mother is a fiber artist and teaches weaving at a liberal arts college. My paternal grandmother was an artist and a poet who made stained glass windows and velvet wall hangings (image of one of Barbara Rosen's windows is attached). On family vacations, we always visited art museums. I love museums. Growing up in a family that held art in such high regard and also created an environment embedded with art objects made studying and pursuing art seem reasonable and normal. I met a lot of people in college who were majoring in business or something equally pragmatic who lamented the fact that they had to give up their love of the arts because of familial pressure. I understand that I come from a place of privilege on many levels, but I am particularly aware of how fortunate I am to have parents who value art. Their support has been very fundamental to my pursuit of a career in the arts. As an undergraduate, I majored in art history and minored in fine arts and English. I have a master's of arts in studio art and theory (Drury University) and a master's of fine arts in painting (California College of the Arts).

My current body of work developed while I was pursuing my MFA at California College of the Arts. I relished the opportunity to have devoted studio time and feedback from advisors. I was able to spend a great deal of time experimenting with new materials and concepts to push my painting further.

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Tell me about the inspiration behind your recent series.

Currently, I am working on a series of oil paintings on transparent acetate. For these works, my palette is inspired by the alluring sheen of oil spills on the pavement and the iridescence of polluted sea foam. The intersection of the natural and the artificial is a site of challenge, conquest, and cohabitation. This work explores toxicity through artifice and decay. As light filters through the paint and acetate, ephemeral auras are projected on the walls creating an additional layer of color. When the works are rolled, they become core samples. Black holes of color with little universes enclosed inside. When the various iterations of this series are placed in proximity to each other, a visual conversation emerges between painting and sculpture, density and light, toxicity and beauty. A large source of inspiration for these works comes from the material itself. Working with acetate opened up a new realm of possibility in the studio for me. I had the opportunity to further explore this work in a natural setting during two artist residencies (Byrdcliffe in Woodstock, NY, and Lacawac in Lake Aerial, PA). I attached a couple of photos from Lacawac and one of me in my studio at Byrdcliffe.

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Describe your creative process. How does your work come together from inspiration to execution?

This is a tricky question to answer. I work in a few different ways. I am sometimes inspired by something I read or see external to my studio and I then start working with the theme or concept until I come up with an idea for a painting. Other times, I work intuitively with paint and other materials until something starts to take shape and then I start to steer the painting in a particular direction.

Your work is visually beautiful but has an important underlying message for the viewer. What do you hope those experiencing your work take away from it? What questions should they be asking?

I love the Helen Frankenthaler quote about a really good painting looking like it "happened all at once". I think that applies to my paintings as well. They tend to have an organic, haphazard feel to them like perhaps they came together out of a series of spills or accidents and then ended up strung from the ceiling somehow. In reality, they take me months to create a endure quite a lot of meticulous editing and arrangement. I suppose I want the viewer to been drawn in and to question what they are looking at and how it came to be. I tend to give hints (or in some cases greater enigmas) by the titles of the work. I hope the viewers end up thinking about beauty and toxicity. About the ethereal and the tangible.

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

When I am not in the studio I love to read; to play trivia and do crossword puzzles with my partner, Ken; and to play with our cats.

What's next for you and what do you hope to accomplish in the next five years?

I am teaching fiber arts and 2D design as a per course instructor this semester at Missouri State University in the art and design department. Next semester, I am teaching art history and art appreciation as an adjunct at Ozarks Technical Community College.

Since my MFA thesis show last May (2018) at Minnesota Street Project in San Francisco, California, I have exhibited work in several group shows (in California, Oregon, New York, and Missouri). I am preparing for two upcoming solo exhibitions. For Blips this December (2018) I am painting one-hundred small, four-inch square paintings for BookMarx in downtown Springfield, Missouri. I am also starting work on several large acetate installation paintings for Transparency and Toxicity, a solo exhibition at Artlink Gallery in Fort Wayne, Indiana that will open in November 2019.

My proposal for the 2019 PCA/ACA conference in Washington D.C. was recently accepted, and I have begun writing “Craft, Color, & Contours: The Influence of Pop in Contemporary Art” to present next April in the Art & Design Culture section. This paper represents another area of interest for me: craft technique and media in fine arts. The last five years have seen an unprecedented uptick in the appearance of fiber art and ceramics in blue-chip galleries, international art fairs, contemporary museum collections, and graduate level fine art curriculum. Techniques and materials previously relegated to the realms of craft and hobby arts publications are now presented front and center in ArtForum. The common thread (no pun intended) between these works seems to be a heavy reference to the paintings and sculptures of the midcentury Pop Art Movement both in terms of palette and subject matter.

I would like to have a full time teaching position at the collegiate level, at least one additional solo exhibition, and at least three more published articles within the next five years. You can read my first published piece here

I enjoy writing about art and find that the research and analysis that goes into my writing projects often influences my studio work.

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Tropical Utopias: Interview With Fei Alexeli

Fei Alexeli is a digital visual artist, born and raised in Seres, Greece in 1987. While studying architecture in Oxford, she found her passion for visual arts. She completed her BA in Arts and later finished her post-graduate architectural studies at the University of East London. Fei uses photography, photo-montage and digital collage in her practice, and is interested in mixing real elements to create surreal environments and situations. 

Tell us about your creative journey. When did you decide to become an artist?

I'd say it took me a while to believe in the idea and myself, probably when I was studying architecture. School of architecture introduced me to all the creative fields, there was a moment I realized I didn't need to have great drawing skills to become one.

I did finish architecture, worked as an architect for a while, but it was suffocating. I knew I invested a lot to become one, but I had to be honest with myself and go for my passion which is the visual arts.

You frequently introduce tropical elements in your work. What is the inspiration behind your recent series?

Tropical is associated with summer and holidays, happy places in general so I really like to use them for my utopias. And from the other hand tropical evokes something exotic for me. In my recent series, I use a repetitive element, this of the sun. I like to play with the dichotomy of the sun and the moon, and this idea that they both coexist at the same time. Who doesn't love a bunch of palm trees and sunrises on the moon after all?

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What would you say your art is about?

Contemporary pop surrealism. I like to create surreal utopias, with a mixture of Americana, universe and tropical elements blended with pastel colors and pinks. It's a form of liberation from the oppressive boundaries of reality.

How do you come up with the imagery and color palette in each piece?

I have a huge library of images, my own, scanned old magazines and online open sources that I use. I start with an idea, sometimes this is just a color palette that I want to use, sometimes it's a quote or even just a feeling, sometimes it's something more solid like I have this concept in my mind very precisely structured. Whatever the case, the result always evolves in ways different than what I have in mind. So I could say it starts from a very conscious place and in the process, I let go to something more visceral.

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Do you feel participating in art fairs has helped push your art career forward? If so, how?

Yes, a lot. The reason I am a full-time artist at the moment is because of the fairs I've participated too. The first one was The Other Art Fair back in 2016 in London, I sold a few pieces and there were galleries interested in my work and I managed to collaborate with a few of them. I mean it doesn't always work like this but it worked so far for me. You need to find your audience and your market and fairs help you build your audience although it takes time.

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What is the best piece of advice you received as an artist so far?

To follow my instinct. As an artist there is no specific path to follow, most of the times there's no right or wrong either, so always go for my hunch.

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What do you hope the viewers take away from your work?

When I read Carl Sagan's speech of the Pale Blue Dot for the first time it was inspiring and revealing. When I look in the sky and try to imagine the vastness of the universe, how unknown everything is to us, the endless possibilities of things that might exist, I realize we are ignorant and only here for the short term. This creates a sense of relief and helps me put everything in perspective. Nothing is really important, we are simply here to exist and enjoy. I find comfort in this thought and I want people who see my work to relate to this.

Mental Health For Artists: Podcast Interview with TJ Walsh

On this episode of Art & Cocktails, artist and psychotherapist TJ Walsh shares his story, how he found his way back to painting and the moment that inspired him to help others through therapy. TJ talks about overcoming emotional difficulty, depression, creative burnout and offers practical insight for creatives going through a hard time. We discuss his approach to painting and recent exhibition as well.

Bio

TJ Walsh, BFA, MA is a Counselor/Psychotherapist, Painter, Art and Higher Education Administrator. Prior to receiving his M.A. in Clinical Counseling Psychology from Eastern University in Saint Davids, PA, TJ received his BFA in Graphic Design from the University of the Arts in Philadelphia.

TJ has deep experience working with young adults, university students and young couples with a focus on artistic and creative personalities. He typically works with young couples who are struggling to connect with one another and individuals who find themselves stuck in place. In addition to his work in group and private practice, TJ is a seasoned Student Affairs/Student Life professional with foci in the areas of Counseling, Conduct/Judicial Affairs, Title IX.

Originally trained psychodynamically, TJ has since obtained or is working toward certification in Emotionally Focused Therapy, as well as Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT). No matter the therapeutic theory that may be running through his mind, the primary focus is to build a strong, therapeutic alliance and to instill hope in the person(s) who sits across from him so that they may live a life worth living.

TJ writes and speaks about topics of art, culture, faith & mental health. His work has been exhibited and published internationally. He is on faculty at Eastern University in the graduate school's Counseling Psychology department teaching Personality and Psychosocial Assessment and Psychopathology.

Statement

TJ Walsh explores the inner realm of the subconscious through abstract paintings. As he states, "This work focuses on the hidden conversations that course through the undercurrent of our minds, unconsciously giving form to who we are as human beings. I work fast letting my emotion and intuition drive the painting. It is through this process that I hope beauty reveals itself.

For other artists, beauty is revealed through striving for technical perfection. These artists desire to make any sign of the human creator disappear. For me, the opposite is true. I want my hand to be very evident in the work for it's the human experience, the struggle, the failures, the successes, which is most beautiful to me.

The process of creating is an intimate practice. Art making is a meditative, reflective, physical, emotional and spiritual practice. Creating something that comes out of ourselves, releasing part of us into the world to be experienced by others is something that many people in our culture do not experience. This intimate practice of pulling from within and connecting with the deepest parts of our beings is beautiful because it's natural, pure and uninhibited. It's being human on on of its most raw levels."

Links:

Instagram: @tjwalsh 

Private Practice: www.tjwalshtherapy.com

Art site: www.tjwalshartist.com

Exhibition:

TJ’s exhibition will open on December 8 at Darlington Arts Center

www.darlingtonarts.org




5 Questions with a Curator: Eileen Owens, Philadelphia Museum of Art

We were so thrilled to be able to chat with Eileen Owens, currently a Research and Exhibitions Assistant in the European Paintings Department at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. She curated the exhibition ‘Biting Wit and Brazen Folly: British Satirical Prints, 1780s–1830s', which opened at the museum earlier this year. The show will be on view for a few more weeks, until December 5th, so we highly recommend that you go and check it out!

Connoisseurs, 1799, by Thomas Rowlandson. Hand-colored etching. Given to the Philadelphia Museum of Art by Carl Zigrosser, 1974.

Connoisseurs, 1799, by Thomas Rowlandson. Hand-colored etching. Given to the Philadelphia Museum of Art by Carl Zigrosser, 1974.

Installation view. Photo credit: Joseph Hu.

Installation view. Photo credit: Joseph Hu.

Talk about your background in art and art history. Was it something that you were always interested in growing up?

Yes and no. I grew up in the southeast of Ireland, in a medieval city that was steeped in history. I would visit Kilkenny Castle often (my sister and I could probably still recite the tour now, decades later!) and loved learning about the city’s history. So, I had an appreciation for art in a very broad sense, but I didn’t visit my first art museum until I was a 17. When I moved to New York State, my high school offered an art history class, and I was immediately intrigued--I could actually learn about all these paintings I only vaguely knew about from TV or magazines. Taking that class, and having opportunities to visit the Met and MoMA on field trips, truly unlocked something in me. It was as if I was suddenly in on this secret new world--one I felt profoundly connected to.   

Even with this passion though, the understanding that I could have a career working in an art museum came to me fairly late. It wasn’t until I studied abroad in Rome my junior year of college that I committed to adding Art History to my major. The cliché of falling in love with art in Rome is true for me. I challenge anyone to live there for three months and not contemplate how important, enlightening, and continuously relevant art is in our shared history. Not to mention the sheer thrill of seeing so much beauty in one place! It was impossible to ignore.

You went on to study at Temple University for your MA in Art History. What was your focus and what did you enjoy about the program?

I studied nineteenth-century French art, with a focus on prints and print culture. I felt really supported by the faculty at Temple. The size of the program made it easy to develop solid mentor relationships with professors and some great friendships with fellow students as well. Being in an art history program that is part a renowned fine arts school—where people are creating and exchanging ideas in real time—was really appealing to me too.

Temple’s connection to Philadelphia and its arts and culture scene was also a huge influence, not only for access to exhibitions and arts institutions, but for internships and post-grad job applications, too. Being able to capitalize on that network really helped me get my foot in the door.

Tell us about how you ended up at the PMA! That must have been an exciting transition out of grad school.

It definitely was! I was very fortunate to have gotten a fellowship right out of school and to still be working at such a valuable institution now. I was selected as the Suzanne Andre Curatorial Fellow in Prints, Drawings, and Photographs, which is a two-year fellowship that I began in 2016. In grad school, I developed a love of works on paper—how they were made, how they functioned in society, who collected them—and this was my first museum position where I got to interact directly with these objects on a daily basis. Running the department’s busy study room, preparing for acquisition meetings, completing condition reports, taking courier trips—it was all vital training in the daily tasks of a curator.  

Monster Soup Commonly Called Thames Water, Being a Correct Representation of that Precious Stuff Doled out to Us, William Heath, 1794%2F95 - 1840 Gift of Mrs. William H. Horstmann, 1955.

Monster Soup Commonly Called Thames Water, Being a Correct Representation of that Precious Stuff Doled out to Us, William Heath, 1794%2F95 - 1840 Gift of Mrs. William H. Horstmann, 1955.

As part of your two-year fellowship you had the opportunity to curate an exhibition. How far in advance did you begin planning for it, what was the process like and what did it entail?

All in all, from concept to opening day, the show was in planning for the better part of a year and a half. I started throwing around potential exhibition ideas pretty much as soon as my fellowship began. I had a standing interest in caricature, having researched French satire for my masters’ thesis.  The museum’s holding of caricature, specifically British caricature, is so rich it just made sense to showcase these fantastically funny and perpetually relevant images.

I spent a long time looking through the more than 300 British caricatures in the museum’s collection. Early on, I made the choice to focus specifically on social satire, intentionally leaving out political works that might be less relevant (or understandable) to a modern audience today. What was so revealing, and actually pretty heartwarming, was how similar our collective sense of humor is now and then. What Londoners in the 1800s found funny and what we laugh about today really hasn’t changed that much. There are so many relatable threads running through the comedy of these centuries’ old prints—from anxieties about new technologies and environmental issues to the struggle to keep up with the latest fashion.

The Gout, James Gillray, c. 1745 - 1818. Purchased with the SmithKline Beckman Corporation Fund, 1949.

The Gout, James Gillray, c. 1745 - 1818. Purchased with the SmithKline Beckman Corporation Fund, 1949.

The show has been up for several months and has been extended until December, congratulations! What are you working on now or what's next?

Thank you! It has been so fun to share the exhibition with visitors. I love sneaking in the galleries and watching people, young and old, giggling at the prints!

I was fortunate enough to stay on at the PMA once my fellowship ended. Currently, I am a research and exhibition assistant in European Painting, working with curator Jenny Thompson on an upcoming Impressionist exhibition that will open in April 2019. In addition to the exhibition, we are planning a reinstallation of the PMA’s nineteenth-century permanent collection galleries too. Both are exciting projects that I’ve really enjoyed digging into!

*Photo credit for all exhibition installation images: Joseph Hu.

Podcast Interview: The Art History Babes

On this episode, Kat interviews Corrie and Natalie (2/4 of the Art History Babes) about the inspiration behind the Art History Babes podcast, handling criticism, the challenges of starting your own projects, building a community instead of competition and more. 

"The Art History Babes are four lady pals with Masters’ degrees in Art History that love to drink wine and discuss visual culture. The show explores various aspects of art and art history from a largely interdisciplinary perspective. Our primary goal is to make art accessible, promote curiosity, and illuminate how relevant and fun the study of visual culture can be."

www.arthistorybabes.com

https://www.patreon.com/arthistorybabes

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The Courage to Enjoy It: Podcast Interview with Andrew Salgado
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On this episode of Art and Cocktails, Kat interviews contemporary artist Andrew Salgado about the inspiration behind his recent exhibition at Angell Gallery, his approach to painting, bringing pleasure back to art-making, the importance of rest for artists and much more.

Andrew Salgado is a leading young figurative painter with over a dozen sold-out international exhibitions, including London, New York, Zagreb, Miami, Cape Town, and Basel. In 2017, Salgado was the youngest artist to ever receive a survey-exhibition at The Canadian High Commission in London, accompanied by a 300-page monograph, both of which were entitled TEN

“The large scale, gestural paintings of Andrew Salgado explore concepts relating to the destruction and reconstruction of identity – a process that he views as re-considering the conventions of figurative painting through a pursuit toward abstraction. Salgado questions the nature of identity and even the act of painting itself as something monstrous, allegorical, or symbolic. Incorporating Classical archetypes alongside a wildly inventive approach to his chosen media, Salgado’s work defies categorization. Recent works include collage, mixed-media, and even hand-dyed and hand-stitched linen and canvas. ”I am interested in how my paintings operate independently from their literal figurative foundation, and how they might deconstruct through colour choices, reduction of forms, and triumph of materiality to become something altogether otherworldly.”

- Beers London

Andrew’s new exhibition at Angell Gallery, Toronto:

BLUE RAINBOW

ANDREW SALGADO

October 4–27, 2018

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.



Opulent Mobility: Interview with A. Laura Brody

A. Laura Brody sculpts for the human body and its vehicles. Her sculptures are conceived with a commitment to social justice and are inspired by art history and the spirit of scientific discovery. Her belief that disability should not mean a loss of beauty has lead to “Opulent Mobility”, group exhibits comprised of art, designs, and creations dealing with and reflecting on disability and mobility. The 2015 and 2017 exhibits were co-curated by the disability activist and historian, Anthony Tusler. Brody gave a talk on the exhibits and their creation for the DisArts Symposium last spring, and took part in a panel discussion on the Spectacle of Accessibility at UCLA’s Disability as Spectacle conference.

A. Laura Brody has 30 years of professional costume making, designing, and teaching experience. She’s taught at FIDM and in independent classes. Brody’s re-imagined wheelchairs and walkers were shared by Frances Anderton on NPR and on The Improvised Life. Her professional career and her passion for reuse and sustainability gave her the skills she needed to create these artworks.  

Interview by Sarah Mills

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Where did the inspiration for The Opulent Mobility project come from?

My interest in wheelchairs, walkers, and other mobility devices started after a former partner had a stroke. I was fascinated by adaptive technology but hated its cold and clinical design. The devices were almost insultingly ugly. There had to be a better option. Without medical device experience, I wasn’t sure how to proceed, so I set the idea aside and didn’t work on it for many years.

Flash forward to 2009, when my good friend Peter Soby offered me an old electric wheelchair of his to refurbish as an art piece. I came up with an Edwardian style throne that looked amazing but nearly dumped Peter on the floor because I didn’t understand that padding the back like a standard upholstered chair would throw off his balance. The idea still intrigued me, but I realized how much I had to learn.

While investigating, I discovered that few interesting designs for adaptive technology ever make it to market. I also found hidden taboos and a surprising resistance to the idea of making these devices beautiful. My research made me more curious, and I looked around to see who else I could work with. Surely I couldn’t be the only one thinking along these lines! That led me to develop Opulent Mobility as a group exhibit, calling out for other artists to re-imagine disability of all kinds.

What has been the most challenging part of this project? What has been the most rewarding?

My background is in theater costuming and craft, with many years spent working in film, television, opera, theater, and dance. Although those experiences gave me the skills I need to make my own pieces, the visual arts world is very different from the performance world and it is sometimes tough for me to navigate. Disability arts can be tricky for an outsider, and I do my best to operate thoughtfully in that arena. The biggest challenge, though, has been finding accessible and affordable gallery spaces in Los Angeles.

On the positive side, this project has given me so many opportunities to learn and grow. I love collaborating and working with others, and the people I meet through the exhibits and my research are overwhelmingly welcoming, bright, and fascinating humans to work with. Each step of this process challenges me in the best of possible ways, and I’m looking forward to the next steps.

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What do you hope people take away after viewing one of your pieces?

My pieces are inspired by my love for art and social history and the desire to repurpose and re-imagine old materials into new forms. These base materials are often overlooked or discarded, in the same way, that our society treats disability, and I want people to see new possibilities. My art is primarily about starting a conversation. Disability doesn’t need to be treated as a tragedy, a taboo, or an “inspirational” lesson. It is part of life, and has both benefits and drawbacks, like anything else. I want my pieces to celebrate all of our states of being.

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Where do you hope your work will go moving forward?

The goal for Opulent Mobility is to expand the conversation, bringing the exhibits to new audiences and developing collaborations with like-minded artists and disability arts organizations nationally and globally. I’d love to work with disability arts festivals and events in Ireland, England, and Australia!

Some collaboration efforts are already in process. Ellice Patterson of Abilities Dance in Boston and I are working on a Black Panther-inspired walker for her performance at Hub Week 2018. I created decorative wagon covers and wheelchair wheel covers for the pediatrics ward at Huntington Hospital in Pasadena. The next step is developing interactive workshops for people to personalize their adaptive devices.

What is your favorite part about creating three-dimensional works?

I think with my hands, and I think in terms of sculpture instead of two-dimensionally. Reused materials speak to me: it’s like they are buried treasure, waiting to be discovered. Truly, though, my works don’t feel complete without interaction with others. Maybe it’s my years of theater and performance-based art training- my works need to be touched in order to come alive.

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What is the best piece of advice you have received that you would like to share with our readers?

This is the advice of all the great artists and writers that I admire: there is always a way in. Find it or make it, and pursue it for as long as it works for you. It doesn’t mean that it’s easy or that the path will be clear, but you’re guaranteed to find something valuable if you keep searching.

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What is next for you? What should we be on the lookout for?

There is a lot on the horizon! Opulent Mobility 2018 will be at Thymele Arts in Hollywood December 2-8th. I have two solo exhibits coming up: Kali/Medusa runs November 10- December 16 at Highways Performance Space and Gallery in Santa Monica and Goddess/Monster, a show with Project La Femme, is scheduled for the beginning of February at the Magowski Arts Complex in Fullerton.

The next Opulent Mobility is planned for 2019, and I welcome your suggestions for great accessible venues.

Space for Women's Stories: Interview with Hiba Schahbaz

Hiba Schahbaz was born in Karachi, Pakistan and lives in Brooklyn, NY. She works primarily with paper, black tea, and water-based pigments. She depicts women’s bodies while referencing self-portraiture, creating a space for herself and other women to tell their stories and reclaim their histories. Since migrating to the United States, her practice has expanded from miniature painting to human-scale works on paper.

Schahbaz trained in miniature painting at the National College of Arts, Lahore and received an MFA in painting from Pratt Institute. Her solo shows include The Garden (Spring/Break Art Show, 2018), Hiba Schahbaz: Self-Portraits (Project for Empty Space, 2017), Hanged With Roses (Thierry Goldberg Gallery, 2015), and In Memory (Noire Gallery, 2012). 

Schahbaz has participated in numerous group exhibitions; including shows at NiU Museum of Art, The Untitled Space, and Center for Book Arts; and at art fairs such as Pulse Art Fair, Art.Fair Cologne, and Vienna Fair. Her work has been written about in Vice, Hyperallergic, The Huffington Post, Coveteur, Vogue, NY Magazine, Art Critical, and others.

Schahbaz has curated painting exhibitions in Pakistan and India. She was an artist-in-residence at Mass MoCA, The Wassaic Project, Vermont Studio Center, and the Alfred Z. Solomon Residency at the Tang Museum. She teaches miniature painting at the Art Students League in NY.

Interview by Sarah Mills

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When did you know you wanted to be an artist?

I can’t say that there was a single decisive moment. When I was a young girl, I would keep little scraps of paper, markers, and a torch under my pillow. I would draw imaginary landscapes hidden under my blanket when I was supposed to be sleeping. I always assumed that I would be an artist, and luckily life flowed in that direction.

When did you decide to start creating large-scale works? What pushed you to do so?

I began painting larger human scale works a couple of years ago. It was a big shift from miniature painting, and although I’d been thinking about it for years, I was still hesitant to do so. I think the shift happened because I had become very comfortable and settled as a miniature painter. I needed to develop something different. I craved growth (no pun intended). 

In part, the transition also happened because I began painting the gaze. When I moved to New York, I wasn’t painting faces at all. Over time, I began painting the side profiles of figures and eventually the women in the paintings turned to face the viewer. At this time I wanted to make their eyes life size to further this engagement.

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How did your work in miniatures inform your large-scale works?

I trained as a miniaturist and painted within the genre for over a decade. I see the human sized paintings as an extension of my miniature works. I still paint very stylized bodies and imaginary landscapes. My use of tea, pink, and turquoise are the same colors I utilized in miniature paintings. I also still use a fine miniature brush to articulate areas of detail. Most of the materials I use are a direct extension of my miniature practice, such as handmade paper, tea, gouache, watercolor, and gold leaf.

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Can you tell us a little about your studio practice? 

I’m a full time artist. My studio practice is entirely self-disciplined and self-motivated. I like working at my own pace and being in a state of flow at the studio. I prefer to paint without goals for exhibiting my work, and I don’t need deadlines to get things done. I find I’m most satisfied when I work without pressure and my paintings develop organically. The opportunities to show these paintings arise along the way.

I appreciate harmony. I wake up with the sunrise and come to the studio first thing in the morning. Early mornings are very important to me, since I’m most centred and productive when I have substantial mental space and quiet time in which to work. 

In the studio I often work on more than one thing at a time. These days I’m not working from preliminary sketches or drawing or color studies. All my energy is going into the paintings themselves. If I get stuck, I shift my attention to another work until things fall into place. I often shift scale, moving from working on large paintings to small ones.

What has been the biggest surprise you have faced in your art career thus far?

I think the biggest surprise has been all the support and encouragement I have received from both inside and outside the art world since moving to New York. Even when things got rough in my own personal journey as an artist, I always feel stronger and more accepted when I received a note from someone who had seen and experienced my paintings for the first time. It’s always a surprise and it’s always welcome. I feel a lot of gratitude towards everyone who has supported me on my path.

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What is one piece of advice that you got that you feel our readers would benefit from hearing?

Believe in yourself and make work for yourself. If you’re fulfilled as an artist, the rest of the world will come around. Ninety percent of the validation you need should come from within. Consistency is key, so work everyday—it’s not about ‘feeling’ inspired. Lightning will probably strike you before inspiration does! You’re an artist, so create your own inspiration. Never give up.

Between Love and Fear: Interview with Horacio Quiroz

Based in México City. After working for several years in advertisment industry, I began my self-taught painting studies in 2013. 

I graduated in Graphic Design from Universidad Iberoamericana. Following this, I worked for nearly twelve years as the Creative Art Director for various renowned international advertising agencies, such as Publicis México and Zeta Advertising. As a publicist, I learned to work under pressure on several projects at once; I gained a thorough understanding of how the industry works through dealing with customers, planners, brand managers, designers, producers, models etc.

Despite working full-time as a publicist, my artistic education never stopped, as I was always learning from the work of other art directors and great photographers, whom I was fortunate to work with both here in Mexico and abroad. 

In 2013, driven by my passion for the visual arts, I decided to leave behind advertising and devote myself entirely to artistic activity, to somehow reconnect with the spontaneity I had in my childhood. Thus, over the last four years, I have launched myself on a new career path, experimenting with various self-taught techniques of pictorial representation, formats and themes, which have guided how I define my vision and identity as an artist. This change in my life has given rise to deep personal introspection, closely linked to what now shapes my body of work.

Photo courtesy of  http://www.fabianml.com/

Photo courtesy of http://www.fabianml.com/

STATEMENT

My work is a reflection on the human condition, linked intimately to my psychological and therapeutic evolution. I view the body as a mechanism that not only functions physiologically, but as an emotional vessel that contains our entire temporal and spiritual history. In this way, the body perceives matter and space, through which it learns to experience its own humanity.

Everything around us has a dual manifestation. We have day and night, good and evil, feminine and masculine, love and fear, etc. This is so obvious that it is taken for granted. Consequently everything, absolutely everything that exists, has to be composed of the duality of these opposites. In my work, these apparently discordant forces are expressed in the flesh as a single dynamic unity.

Starting with the body’s emotional fluctuation, I explore the oscillation between love and fear as primary antagonistic vital forces, using the human body as a tool to represent the constant movement of our reality. This permits the incarnation of mutant emotions through the creation of impossible anatomies, similar after a fashion to x-rays of the experiences that we undergo as people while evolving.  

In the same way, my painting explores the boundaries of the tensions between the aesthetic and the non-aesthetic on the same support. It probes the resulting dichotomous movement between the beautiful and the grotesque.

www.horacioquiroz.com

You went from working in advertising to leaving it behind and becoming a self-taught artist. Can you tell us about that transition and how it affected your work?

No doubt working for many years surrounded by talented creatives in the gestation and production of visual messages educated my eye and my aesthetic conception. I acquired the discipline and understanding to realize that good ideas take time. However, in my case, advertising showed me that which I didn’t want to be.

From my personal point of view, advertising sells via deception, projects idealized scenarios and nonexistent archetypes. Needs and products are newly created to prevent large corporations from losing market share, preying upon people's anxieties.

Advertising generates plausible realities, where there is no room for polarity, much less negative emotion. It presents a reality devoid of substance, where the only purpose (with the sole intention of selling) is to make you believe that buying a certain product will make you "happy".

I was exhausted from being part of this vicious circle that feeds the collective unconscious with ideas and concepts, in which I don’t believe. This situation was compounded by my own extreme anger and frustration at having abandoned drawing and painting for so long (these were natural and extremely satisfying activities during my infancy and adolescence).

Similarly, I was annoyed with myself for ending up working in publicity. Since this had never been a planned decision, but rather where life and circumstances led me

Although being a painter was something I greatly desired, the fear I felt was proportional to my love for doing it. The process was not unlike coming out of the closet, but this time as an artist. I didn’t know what it would be until I was able to actually experience it. Before that, it was nothing more than a vague idealization, a world unknown and undiscovered, somewhere completely cut off from ads and ad agencies.

I built a small studio in my house and locked myself in there to teach myself to paint. This forced me to realize that I needed to rethink what I wanted from my life, where I wanted to direct it and what kind of person I wanted to be. I also realized how closely linked my personal life was to my professional work.

Via psychological therapy and introspection, I have sorted through many personal issues, nothing out of the ordinary, existential problems we all have. The painting also emerged as part of that cathartic process and, just as I did as a child, I took refuge in my drawings to make sense of my existence. The painting now began to function similarly, helping me let go of frustration, fear, and anger.

Accepting that I was petrified with fear was key to moving forward. In the same way, I realized that when you act with love, doors open.

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How do you go about starting a new painting?

My process varies from painting to painting. It oscillates between the freedom of expression when drawing/painting and in conjunction with photographic references. Sometimes I start from a mental sketch, sometimes from a photo. I try to visualize an already finished painting, although this visualization changes a lot during the process: Sometimes things turn out very differently to how originally imagined them. As soon as the feeling comes over me I just let it happen, I don’t really pay too much attention to it. I do like to put a lot of emphasis and detail in the eyes because I think they transmit much so much emotion/information. A lack of patience is a big obstacle for me; I struggle to control my temperament and I despair of the process, I need to breathe slowly, relax and maintain communication with the canvas, so as not to get lost. I have a hard time concentrating.

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Can you tell us about the distortion of the figure in your paintings? When did you start painting in that style?

My style simply came about, it wasn’t conceptualized. I can’t give you some rational explanation of how it emerged. What I can tell you, is that when I began my career as a painter I was weighed down by years of frustration and career dissatisfaction. So when I decided to change my profession and dedicate myself to art, painting functioned as a catharsis representing the internal exploration of my psychological processes.

Considering that humans are an amalgam of dually-opposed, antagonistic elements such as the body and the spirit, I can view this humanity as a physiological mechanism, but also as an emotional vessel that contains our entire temporal and spiritual history. In this way, the body perceives matter and space, through which it learns to experience its own humanity.

In my work, these apparently discordant, dual forces of reality are expressed in the flesh as a single dynamic unity, as a representation of the movement of the human body. This dynamism facilitates the creation of mutant emotions through the creation of impossible anatomies. Similar, I like to think, to x-rays of people’s experiences while they are in the process of evolving.

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How have your paintings evolved over your career?

I guess my style has evolved over a few years I've been painting. Compared now to the past, the color palette is much more varied, the compositions are more complicated and the aesthetic, although still surrealistic, is less grotesque or obscure. My work has always been a reflection of my emotional situation and the evolution can obviously be attributed to that.

Yet I feel my career is too young so I can see a quite clear evolution I think need more time and space to notice it by my self but aesthetically speaking, it would be difficult for me not to continue painting human bodies. However, in terms of specific themes, I have no idea how the content of my work will be developed over time. Actually, I tackle topics such as transsexuality, feminism, homosexuality and emotional disability, because these are the social issues that interest me. In the future I suppose, I will continue to touch on those issues that affect society.

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On your website you have a few installations that you have done, can you tell us about those? How did they come about? How was creating them in comparison to creating a painting?

Yes, those installations are composed by drawings, sketches, and quotes during the creative process on the making of a painting or a whole body of work, it is a natural process to me where all the ideas come together. The paper works installations are just about to share what is going on the walls of the studio while creation is taking place and bring that intimate process into the gallery.

This time, I've also been playing with garments for the installations. My interest is to take the painting out of its dimension and propose a different approach to the pictorial image through a three-dimensional object, which in this case is a garment.

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What is the best piece of advice you can give to artists looking to transition out of a day job and focus solely on their art?

I would say don’t be afraid and do it as long as your desire is true. You must also plan your finances.

Where do you hope your work will go moving forward?

I don’t like to think about that I prefer to keep working hard and be ready when the opportunity comes.

Finally, I just want to invite you to my solo show "Polarities" in NYC at Booth Gallery on view now through October 20th. This is my debut solo show in the US. The collection includes 11 paintings, 4 of which come paired with garments and almost 50 works on paper.

Photos courtesy of Fabian Ml

On Curating: Podcast Interview with Margaret Winslow, the Curator of Contemporary Art at the Delaware Art Museum
Photo by  Lindy Powers

Photo by Lindy Powers

Join us for a fun and informative conversation with Margaret Winslow, the Curator of Contemporary Art at the Delaware Art Museum. Margaret shares her journey of becoming a curator, offers advice for those interested in pursuing museum or curatorial work and shares tips for interested in getting a museum exhibition.

Margaret Winslow currently lives and works in Wilmington, Delaware where she is the Curator of Contemporary Art at the Delaware Art Museum. Margarethas curated for the Neuberger Museum of Art and The Delaware Contemporary and assisted with exhibits for the Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum. Her recent exhibitions at the Delaware Art Museum include Dream Streets: Art in Wilmington 1970–1990Retro-Active: Performance Art from 1964–1987Anne Truitt: Luminosities, and Once Upon a Time in Delaware: In Quest of the Perfect Book, the most recent installment of Nina Katchadourian’s Sorted Booksproject. In 2010, she attended Independent Curators International’s Curatorial Intensive in New York and in 2015, she served as juror for Art of the State: Pennsylvaniaat the State Museum of Pennsylvania. Margaretholds a B.A. in Art History from the University of Mary Washington and an M.A. in Modern and Contemporary Art, Theory, and Criticism from SUNY Purchase College.

Resources:

https://www.delart.org
http://www.mdartplace.org
https://www.nationalservice.gov/programs/americorps

(header image via website)