Posts in Issue IX
Bodily Experiences: Interview with Sara Anstis

Sara Anstis was raised on a small island off the Canadian west coast and draws and lives wherever she finds good light. Her investigations take place at various sites, and with different social groups. Discomfort and bodily experiences cause her work to evolve through drawings and installations that question the image of the body and the desiring look. 

She is currently completing the postgraduate drawing year at the Royal Drawing School in London.

www.saraanstis.com

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You were born in Sweden, grew up on an island off the Canadian coast, and now live in London studying at The Royal Drawing School. How has living in these very different environments influenced your artistic approach or outlook?

I grew up on Salt Spring Island, which is a small and very creative community. I haven’t been back there since my father died, and in my mind, it remains the idyllic space I roamed barefoot as a teenager. I think it has been the most important and formative environment for me artistically.

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Although much of your work is rendered in graphite charcoal, your more recent work has adopted the use of color as well as elements of further abstraction. Tell us about this development. What inspired you to diverge in style as well as palette?

I change the medium I work with to fit the subject of my work. Right now, I am looking at male bodies performing survival tasks in the contested location of “wilderness” and trying to figure out my attraction to survivalism reality television shows. Using color became essential as I realized that color forms a large part of this attraction; the surrounding greens of plants is what gives these bodies a soft bed to lie on. In Bluets the author, Maggie Nelson, tries to map her fixation with the color blue and its connection to her sexuality, her melancholy, and the female gaze, through poetic writing. Through drawing, I am attempting something similar, to speak of how these notions merge with my greens. I’m also putting together a publication with writings from seven artists, which is a re-imagining of a classic wilderness survival guide.

The figures in your drawings are often layered, overlapped, or twisted, transforming into different modes of being. Can you tell us about the highly psychological effect these bodily distortions create in your compositions?

The outlines of our bodies are deceptive. Skin is porous and many foreign organisms live inside us. In Vibrant Matter, Jane Bennett talks about skin as “a superficial indication of where an organism ends and its environment begins” – this is something I think about in relation to my figures melting into each other and sometimes their surroundings. Drawing other bodies, from life and from photographs, also has to do with merging and becoming part of; in the act of drawing, something is exchanged, which changes both the drawer and the observed subject. I often draw the body of the lover, whose skin is a surface on which I project existential questions and whose presence enhances the horrors of scopophilia, abjection, and domesticity.

Your artist statement states that your work, “question[s] the image of the body.”

Can you discuss this in relation to your most recent drawings?

At the moment, I’m transfixed by images of men alone in nature, particularly in a reality

television about survivalism called Alone. When I first saw an episode, I wasn’t sure why

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I was so attracted to the images it portrayed, so I decided to unpack this attraction. I think it concerns the gender politics around the figure in the landscape, typically a romanticized man or a man in the Romantic tradition seeking out natura naturans, and the eroticism and vulnerability of this figure interlaced with greenery. It also has to do with envy, as

I’m very comfortable with solitude and spending a lot of time outside, and with my connection to the Canadian west coast, which is where the series is filmed.

In my recent drawings, I’ve been getting my ideas from survival courses I’ve taken where we might butcher an animal carcass or build fires with limited tools. My position as an outsider visiting survival groups allows me to examine the contradictions inherent in their activities and the unethical nature of my desire. I want to depict masculinity from a desiring female standpoint, which I find a lack of in the images I’m exposed to.

What has your experience been like working in a creative environment at The Royal Drawing School? Tell us a bit about this program and what it was that drew you to it.

I’m really enjoying it. It’s a one-year postgraduate program during which we draw from observation while developing our studio practices. Often, we are in the life room, but also in Kew Gardens drawing plants, or in different museums in London studying paintings, drawings, and prints. The sensation of being watched while I draw in public places is something I’ve gradually become accustomed to this year. I applied because I wanted to develop my visual language after I finished my MFA in Sweden, as I felt that I knew my work, but I’d lost touch with my materials. We’re working towards three exhibitions that will happen this coming winter at the drawing school in Shoreditch, at Space

Studios in Hackney, and at Christie’s London.

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Is there any specific artist whose work has helped shape your aesthetic? Are there other artists currently working primarily in drawing that inspire you?

I couldn’t say there’s one artist in particular, but right now I am absorbed by Carol Rama, Bronzino, and the 15th century Italian painter Lorenzo Monaco. In terms of drawing artists, my friend Behjat Omer Abdulla never ceases to amaze me. His projects have an incredible sensitivity in how they approach difficult narratives. I saw a talk given by

Catherine Anyango Grünewald recently, and her tactile and painful relationship with

graphite, paper, and erasers really resonated with me. Others include Vanna Bowles,

Alphachanneling, and David Shrigley,

If you could visit any place in the world, where would you go next? 

My studio.

Meghan Hildebrand

Meghan Hildebrand’s paintings are constant exercises in innovation and improvisation. With a unique vocabulary of symbols, she translates her northern coastal landscape into electrifying dreamscape scenarios, each image often alluding to a larger narrative. 

Despite frequent reinvention, her works often return to familiar themes—the childhood dream, a sense of journey over land, and the ‘personality’ of place. Defined points of interest, doorways, and inlets, invite the viewer to enter the image and join the narrative.

Anne Canfield

Anne Canfield resides and maintains her studio in Lansdowne, Pennsylvania. Canfield is known for her small, fantastical works in graphite and oil on paper and panel. She has shown extensively in group and solo exhibitions nationally and her work can be found in numerous public and private collections. Canfield is an alumna of Moore College of Art & Design (BFA) and The Yale School of Painting, Norfolk. Canfield has been awarded fellowships through the Center for Emerging Visual Artists and the Fleisher Art Memorial in Philadelphia. She has been a recurring resident artist at Soaring Gardens through the Ora Lerman Trust and has been a visiting artist and critic at Moore College of Art and Design and the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts. Anne Canfield is currently affiliated with Nancy Margolis Gallery in Chelsea, NY and Seraphin Gallery in Philadelphia, PA. 

Statement

I draw and paint on a tiny scale and am inspired by the detail, whimsy, and geometric naturalism of both early Netherlandish and Indian Miniature painting. I use a variety of media as point of departure, ranging from personal photography to elements of film. Loosely narrative, my pieces reveal quiet, solitary moments as a sense of time or place is trapped and brought to stand still. Concerned with identity, memory, and psychological phenomenon, my recent work symbolically explores these fixations. While combing this awareness of being, time, and of place, my works reflect everyday life, daydreams, and, finally, the fragility and the boundlessness of both humanity and the natural world alike.

Kaylee Dalton

Kaylee Dalton is an award-winning, mixed media artist living in northern Indiana. Her work focuses on the fascinating consistency of new plant growth and the expressive characteristics natural forms exude. Abstracting the intricacies of leaves, blooms, and the unseen world beneath the soil of roots and earthly formations. Beginning with an encaustic monotype she collages parts of hand-painted papers, ink drawings, and occasional textiles, creating a whimsical interpretation of lush landscapes. She strives for strong textural differences reflective of the various surfaces found in nature.

Sustainable Painting Practices: Interview with Gillian King

Gillian King is a painter and art educator from Winnipeg, Manitoba and recent MFA Graduate from the University of Ottawa (2016). She is the winner of the RBC Emerging Artist Award 2017 as well as the recipient of the 2017 Nancy Petry Award.

King has shown in galleries nationally and internationally and has completed residencies at NES Artist Residency (Skagaströnd, Iceland), The Banff Centre (Banff, Ab), and Sparkbox Studios (Picton, On). In 2016, she exhibited work at PDA Projects (Ottawa, On) and Karsh-Masson Gallery (Ottawa, On) for the City of Ottawa Annual Acquisitions Exhibition 'Souvenirs' (November, 2016) as well as 'The Full Catastrophe' (March, 2016). King also exhibited a solo show, Becoming Animal, at the Ottawa Art Gallery in August, 2016.

More recently, she exhibited 'Megacaldera', a solo show at the University of Marinette Wisconsin (March, 2017), participated in the group show entitled 'Peau' at La Maison des Artistes (Winnipeg, Mb / April, 2017), and for the second consecutive year, her work was included in 'Longevity', the City of Ottawa Annual Acquisitions exhibition at Karsh-Masson Gallery (October, 2017). In 2017, she was chosen as the Ontario representative in the Robert McLaughlin Gallery's 50th Anniversary Exhibition, 'Ab NEXT' (Oshawa, On / April 29 - Sept 3, 2017) featuring five emerging abstract painters from across Canada. 

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www.gillianking.com

Tell us about your artistic background. When did you first develop an interest in pigment and its history?

I am a painter originally from Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada and a recent MFA Graduate from the University of Ottawa, Ontario where I am currently based. I started my undergraduate degree in Fine Arts on the path to becoming a ceramic artist. Three years in, I transitioned my focus to painting but found that the elements that drew me to ceramics are still alive and well in my paintings. Material connection to the earth, the visceral, bodily qualities of the materials, and the ease at which they move in my hands are elements that attract me to both ceramics and painting.

My interest in pigments began in grad school when I started to explore how the materials I chose could speak to the body and the land. The first cave painters developed their painting materials from burnt bones, charcoal, and minerals, and depicted non-human animals and human animals, our relationships, and our interactions together. With this in mind, I began using raw (also known as loose) pigments—plant and vegetable matter, hair, animal ashes, sand, and dirt—in my paintings for their symbolic relevance as well as their physical properties. I use my hands to apply the materials in order to gain a more intimate understanding of them.

Using pigments in painting, I attempt to connect ancient art practices and our changing geographical landscapes as a way to address our collective histories, mutual fragility, and mortality with other living beings and the Earth. I explore ways in which we may move forward in this destructive environmental time while questioning what it is to be a human animal and possible ways to reconnect with nature and other living beings.

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How do you feel your work evolved over the past few years? What are you currently focusing on?

Over the last few years I have continued to educate myself on new materials and sustainable methods for painting. I have been reading and listening to audiobooks on Earth Based Spirituality and Witchcraft as well as authors that challenge and build on the idea of the Anthropocene: a new destructive environmental period thought to be caused by human impact on the natural environment. These texts explore how to navigate existence by being actively aware of art-making from postcolonial, feminist, and environmental perspectives.

In 2017, I received a Canadian painting award that gave me the opportunity to live and work in Europe in order to research changing geographical landscapes and the methods and techniques used in ancient painting practices. I travelled to the Lascaux and Chauvet caves in southern France to see the land that the first cave painters collected their materials from and was able to experience the replicas of the original caves which were located close by but are permanently closed for preservation purposes. Following my research at the caves, I spent the next three months in my Berlin studio working on a new series of paintings. I continued that work during a month-long residency in rural Iceland early 2018. The work I’ve been making for the last six months will be exhibited in Ottawa with my gallery, PDA Projects in a solo exhibition ‘Ghosts’ this spring.

Your process is fascinating. Tell us a little bit about your work with plants and natural dyes. What initially inspired this part of your practice?

Thank you! After experiencing the Lascaux and Chauvet cave paintings, I was eager to continue to learn how to create pigments and dyes from my surroundings. I was in Berlin, so I contacted a local eco fashion designer, Elke Fiebig of Still Garments, and began working with her to dye my canvases using locally gathered plants and flowers. Learning from Elke about dye plants and how they function was an incredible experience. She has many years of experience in plant dyeing, so working with her allowed me to learn quickly from her breadth of knowledge in the area. We dyed canvases with a variety of plants, including tansy flower, wildflowers, ferns, acorns, madder root, onion skins, avocado, and one of my favourites, rose petals. Yellow rose petals create beautiful speckled lime green when dyed with a steaming process.

When I arrived at the residency in Skagaströnd, Iceland, I continued to gather my own materials for dyeing, including seaweed, moss, and the blueberries that a previous artist had picked in the summer months. My wonderful studiomates also saved their avocado pits and onion skins for me!

Through material gathering, I am able to develop a more intimate understanding of my immediate surroundings. These working materials reflect my aim to become more aware of how I function within local ecosystems. My new body of paintings combines the beeswax, raw pigments, and oil paint I was using in previous bodies of work with plant dyeing.

What do you hope the viewer learns from your paintings?

My hope is that when viewers experience my paintings they will feel that the marks made by my hands could be made by their hands. I want them to be able to imagine what it is like to move the wax, pigments, plant materials around the canvas as I did. I hope that the familiarity of materials used combined with the visual unease created by contrasting colours and shapes will prompt viewers to question their own relationship between their bodies and the natural world.

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How has traveling and participating in artist residencies in Germany and Iceland influenced your art?

Travelling to Germany and Iceland had an immediate impact on my paintings because of my choice to start plant dyeing with European plants. However, the impact both places will have long term are still unfolding.

While in Europe I was exposed to the art practices of contemporary artists from all over the world as well as new landscapes and dynamics between people, their environments, and other animals who share those environments. My friends joke that most of my photos and videos from the big cities I visited were of the animals that live in them. I would continually find myself following the German crows around Berlin, fascinated by their grey and white feathers, their intelligence and adaptability to the city.

Iceland was drastically different than Germany. The sparseness of the volcanic landscape in winter, the low population density, combined with the harshness of their weather made me feel right at home—as if I was in the Canadian prairies, the maritimes, and the Rockies simultaneously. The immense power of that landscape will have a lasting effect on me.

I have been looking at my home in Canada in a different way since returning. Back home now, I am experiencing the everyday surroundings with fresh eyes, which has allowed me to appreciate the Canadian landscape in a new way. For instance, I’ve gained a new appreciation of the particular animals we share our home with here. In Iceland, the largest animals you could run into in remote areas are reindeer, horses, and foxes. Meanwhile, in Canada, you will find moose, bears, elk, and coyotes. I’m also looking at my garden in a new light. I was growing mostly edibles last year, whereas now I am beginning to consider plants that can be used for plant dyeing and will thrive in my specific environment. One of my goals since my experience overseas is to plant and maintain a dye garden and to continue to learn what painting materials can be sustainably gathered and grown within Canada.

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What do you enjoy doing when you're not in the studio?

I keep myself very busy in and out of the studio. When I’m not in the studio I am often playing cribbage or knitting over wine with friends, attending art openings, travelling, cooking vegan meals and reading. Last year, after a long hiatus, I started playing soccer again, so once a week I can be found running around on a soccer pitch working on my bruise count.

Living in Ottawa also means that the wilderness is very close to city. In fifteen minutes you can travel from downtown Ottawa and be in the middle of the woods. I feel best away from the noise of busy cities, so I try to plan escapes into nature as often as possible. A substitute for being in the woods is being in my garden.

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Share a quote or a piece of advice that helped you so far.

A piece of advice that was given to me by my former painting professor Sharon Alward was when it comes to painting, “... Don’t be precious”. This is a challenging instruction but is something I think of often. It was very helpful advice when I first began painting and still is today. It allowed me the confidence to edit and eliminate work in order to rebuild and improve.

It is an idea that I wrestle with though, especially as I become increasingly concerned with the materials I am using and my processes of making become more labour intensive. What does ‘don’t be precious’ mean when you have given so much thought, time, and energy into the sourcing and production of your materials? What does ‘don’t be precious’ mean when you think about sustainable painting practices?

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Susannah Montague

Susannah Montague was born in Peterborough, England and emigrated to Canada with her family when she was five years old. She graduated from Emily Carr University of Art and Design in 1996. She was also educated at the Ontario University of Art and Design and the Vancouver Film School. 

In 1996 the B.C. Ceramic Gallery awarded the artist studio space and kilns for one year as Top Emerging Ceramic Artist. 

During the next several years Susannah was involved in many Art Installations and design projects for Public spaces, night clubs, and restaurants in Vancouver, such as Shine, Lotus Sound Lounge, Ballantyne's and "C-Level Bar" for Norwegian Cruise Lines to name a few. 

In 1999, Susannah was selected as one of 30 founding artists for the C.O.R.E Artist Live Work Studios and she made this her studio and home. 

That same year Susannah also became a member of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (I.A.T.S.E.) in the departments Sculpture, Prop Building. Susannah maintained this membership until 2009 and this gave the Artist the opportunity to work in sculpture on many major films such as the X-Men series and Night at the Museum

Working in film allowed Susannah to finance work on her personal sculpture projects and in 2005 Susannah was the recipient of a Canada Council Arts Grant. The grant was an honour that allowed her to dive into a series of ceramic sculptures building and studying the sphere. 

In 2007 Susannah and her husband moved to Bowen Island where she works full-time in her studio as a ceramic sculptor. Her and her husband’s life changed significantly in 2009 with the birth of twins. The artist now finds herself drawn to different themes particularly her perceptions of life, death and growth.

Statement

Susannah Montague is a British-Canadian ceramic sculptor who lives on an island off of the wild West Coast of Canada with her husband, two children, and a tutu-wearing terrier. 

Montague’s art is as humorous as it is subversive. Her pieces are a daydream in clay, wryly communicating the intransience of the human condition with a wink and a nudge. Stepping into her studio is like discovering an Eighteenth-Century Cabinet of Curiosity. Her art is a collection of shamanistic characters which imbibe the peculiar, scientific and mythical qualities involved in creation. Rollicking, cherubic figures wearing masks and antlers frolic among symbols of decay, in a world that is equal parts shadowy and lighthearted. Her lively sculptures are an amalgam of animal, human and object. Combined, the images evoke a whimsical narrative of folk tales, childhood fantasies, dreams, and nightmares. 

The artist draws on her deeply personal history to reference fertility and childbirth, using babies, blastocysts, and vanitas symbolism to convey a frenetic celebration of the divine comedy of existence. There is a precarious balance in her work between life and death, creation and destruction, innocence and corruption. The artist states, “These characters know much more than they let on.” Each individual sculpture is an island of ideas, a cluster of creative life-force/death-drive, and a barge of becoming. 

Montague’s medium is also her message. It’s fitting that her raw material is clay, taken from the earth, lovingly molded, fired, and finally made into deliciously delicate porcelain that will—inevitably—return to the earth. Ashes to ashes. This cyclical perception of time is enhanced by her rediscovery of a forgotten art medium, bursting with the floral blooms of a porcelain past and decorated with all the excesses of a lost century. Even as it is born, each piece has somehow curiously already died away. 

Ultimately, viewing a Susannah Montague piece is a bit like falling down a rabbit hole, and feeling in turns terrified and utterly charmed. 

Sarah Winkler

Sarah Winkler lives and works near Denver, Colorado. Originally from Manchester, England, Winkler studied Art and Earth Science at William Patterson University. She has exhibited her work nationally in solo and group exhibitions at K Contemporary, Space Gallery, RH Contemporary Art, Helikon Gallery, Gallery MAR, The Thoreau Center for Sustainability, Fouladi Projects Gallery, Berkeley Art Center, and Gallerie Citi. Art commissions have been placed in private and corporate art collections internationally. These include Chevron, Marriott, Hyatt, Ritz Carlton, One Empire Pass, Montage, Deer Valley Resort, Hilton West Palm Beach, Viceroy, Mountain Shadows and The Cosmopolitan Hotel. Winkler's art has been featured in Scientific American Magazine, New American Paintings, Dwell, Mountain Living Magazine, and Alpine Modern Magazine.

My approach to landscape painting involves selecting textural elements of mountain or desert geology and rearranging them into a utopian vision of Open Space where the only human encroachment in these invented worlds is the artist and the viewer. 

I begin in a miniature collage format, creating fully realized landscape compositions. I scale up these paper sketches by hand drawing them onto wood panels and recreating their colors and textures in a large scale with acrylic media. The hard edge, sectional quality to my imagery reflects the many layered strata, deposited over time, that makes the whole scene appear quite natural. The artistic techniques used both in creating my collage papers and in applying the paint not only reflect the geological forces of landscape accretion and corrosion, but also reenact them. I often use crushed minerals embedded into the paint and apply resists of ground water, wind, friction and heat to erode the painted surfaces. 

In viewing these luminous mountainous worlds, I hope that they seem sentimentally familiar. That the environments carry an air of nostalgia and wonder about the natural world as if you are discovering a place for the first time. 

Support the production of a Making Art film about Sarah's work by signing up on Patreon.

Collecting Words: Interview With Brian Fouhy

Brian Fouhy is a photographer and digital concept creator who has grown an international following with his efforts to transform the internet into one big friendly neighborhood. Injecting all of his work with a shot of humor, Fouhy offers a unique take from behind the viewfinder. 

As a constant observer, Fouhy has taken notice of the words surrounding us every day that go unnoticed. The storefronts, graffiti, city signage, and art of which they are a part give them a richer visual experience, opening up the imagination to interpret words beyond their dictionary definition. 

Wherever he goes, Fouhy makes an effort to see what he can find, and enjoys getting "lost", which is where the most interesting words are often found. "I like the words I don't see coming, which I'll sometimes pass only to realize I need to track back, photograph, and collect." Throughout this project Fouhy has learned that words and objects in the world are more ephemeral than we realize. Often thinking we'll catch it next time, but it is important to remember there may not be a next time, and remind ourselves how important it can be to live in the moment. 

Fouhy currently resides in Boulder, Colorado and travels extensively. He has been collecting words for the past 7 years, amassing well over 600 photos.

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Give us a little bit of a background on how you got started in your art career.

I received my BFA from Syracuse University, so you could say it started there, but I didn’t really start to get serious about my art career until 7 years later when I moved to Boulder, CO for grad school and I embraced the iPhone and the convenience of having a camera on me at all times, this was also when Instagram launched. The combination of having a camera in my pocket and regularly viewing photographs and absorbing different techniques for composition, color, and content, was a great learning tool that I was able to apply to my own work in real time. Instagram is also where I began #CollectingWords. Creating a theme to work with I feel was really beneficial in helping me to become a better photographer and motivated me to consistently be taking photos with the byproduct of also becoming a better observer of the world and things that surround us. From Boulder I moved to New York City, which allowed my collection to really grow, from there I moved on to Pittsburgh. It was while there, through coolhunting.com, that I discovered a publishing company in Sweden called New Heroes & Pioneers. I pitched the idea of creating a book from my collection, which had grown to around 500 photos, I also added an extra conceptual layer for the book, utilizing the words in the photos to create a series of short, visual stories, in a bit refrigerator magnet style, and becoming a little poetic in nature. I now find myself back in the Boulder/Denver area continuing to collect words, travel as much as I can, and experimenting with different ways to display my photographs, including projecting them on old tube televisions (https://vimeo.com/171496652) and with 35mm slide projectors.

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Tell us about your process. Do you have to be in a certain mindset to explore and discover the images you are after?

I don’t set out looking for any particular word or types of words, I try to let the words find me, and allow myself to let things happen. Maybe I take a right 2 blocks early, or pass the left I am supposed to take and inevitably take the “long way” to my destination. I suppose what draws my eye to the words I end up finding is subconsciously affected by my mood or the state of mind I am in that day, but ultimately the process I most like to employ is putting myself places I might not have intended, combined with some happenstance.

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Your practice sounds like it has meditative and mindful qualities. What advice would you give others who are interested in pursuing a project that involves exploration and elements of surprise? 

Don’t overthink it, don’t have any kind of in-depth plan, and don't put any unnecessary pressure on yourself to find anything specific. Just let it happen, go where your gut leads you, and trust you’ll find something, even if it isn't what you were trying to find.

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What was your favorite place which you traveled to up to this point?

This is a tough one. I haven’t done nearly enough international travel, but I loved Copenhagen. I also loved Asheville, NC. And going back to New York City always inspires and leads to finding something unique and unexpected.

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Share a favorite quote or piece of advice that has helped you on your journey so far.

I have always enjoyed this Warhol quote “I Never Read, I just look at pictures.” I Feel like my Collecting Words project exemplifies this and also slightly subverts the meaning Andy intended it to have.

Another good quote or piece of advice that ties back to Warhol comes from this interview (https://www.artspace.com/magazine/interviews_features/how_i_collect/how_i_collect_peter_brant-52192) with Peter Brant and what he references having learned from Andy: "Beauty is all around you, and you just have to open your eyes and look at the architecture and the clothes and the magazines and the movies—that’s the culture. Creative things are being done every day in all of these mediums, and if you're aware of it then your life will be more beautiful.” I think this is a big one, and important to remember, culture is what we are experiencing every day, it’s in the streets, it’s not just in museums, and movie theaters or coming from the TV. Essentially we are all "the culture."

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What contemporary artists or creatives inspire you?

I really like the work Sebastian Errazuriz has been creating. I love the way he subverts objects and words and presents them in ways that cause you to think about them completely differently than you would ever expect. 

I also recently saw the Stephen Shore exhibit at the MoMA in NYC, and fell in love with his work from the 80’s and his “Uncommon Places” series. The compositions and color palettes are what I aspire to create with my own photography.

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What's next for you? What should we be on the lookout for this year? 

To bring it back to the Warhol thought, combined with that same Dada, Duchampian philosophy that beauty is all around us, I am planning to start exploring bathrooms and capturing the spectacle that is the urinal. From their dirtiest forms to their most beautiful. I find we often use bathrooms without giving it much thought, by photographing these spaces my hope is it will cause people to think about those environments more and realize that even toilets can be beautiful and unique. Focusing on urinals also has a pretty obvious tie back to Dada and Duchamp and his Readymades, which I was inspired by while in school at Syracuse. 

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Kaetlyn Able

Kaetlyn grew up in the suburbs in and around Boston, Massachusetts. She holds a BA in Studio Art from Wellesley College and an MFA from the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. In 2011 she moved to Montana with her husband and their infant son. In the intervening years she continued making new work and honing her craft while caring full-time for her family, having another baby, and surviving breast cancer. She has exhibited her work throughout New England, New York, Montana and Washington. Today she works full-time on her art from her home studio in Bozeman.

Statement

I create dreamy portraits based on found historical photographs. Using tattoo needles and an x-acto blade, I etch into thin layers of black ink that I have painted onto white clay panels. Traditionally, this drawing technique is known as scratchboard, or scraperboard, but I don't love those clinical-sounding names. They don't do the process, which feels utterly, completely and perfectly magical, any justice at all! For me the practice is part meditation, part act of devotion. I slowly build delicate layers of marks, gradually adding more and more light and life to the image, until suddenly, a character and a story seem to emerge out of the black. It's a surprise every time. I often layer these black and white drawings with pops of colorful elements that I paint in acrylic gouache, creating further texture, dimension and emotional resonance. 

My images, and the stories that they tell, are intuitively derived. They seem to pop into my head, usually a bit hazy at first, until I begin to sketch them out and develop them on paper. I look to old photographs from the 1800s—early 1900s, and my collected wildlife images for source material. Once a sketch resonates deeply and viscerally with me, I transfer it to a panel and begin to bring it to life in a final direct etching. As I work, the concepts behind the image reveal themselves. Themes and ideas that come up again and again in my drawings include references to American and European folk tales, the history and mythology of the American West, and human connections to nature. 

Leah Pantéa

Leah Pantéa’s paintings represent a deliberate and ceaseless game of hide-and-seek. Delicate details fight through a veil, glimmers of an under-painting peek through. With smooth fields of white covering most of Pantéa’s paintings, there is not a lot immediately viewable. The paintings are documents of the chase, each one showing the flash of understanding that the universe graces us with, before it dips back out of sight. Alan Watts expands upon the chase in the audio archives “Out of Your Mind,” by laughing, “[m]ake the telescope bigger and bigger and bigger and the universe expands because it’s running away from itself. It won’t do that if you don’t chase it!” Each flash is brief, an incomplete picture, a tease, which makes it impossible to stop looking for more. 

Each stroke of white on the under-painting is added with the intention of eliminating information. This topical technique was inspired by Albert Rothenberg’s philosophy of janusism, the process of imagining two opposing principals birthed out of the same moment. The end result is minimal looking, but maximalist driven painting, pulling influence from abstract expressionist artists and masters of layer: Julie Mehretu and Nava Waxman. 

The universe running from Pantéa pulls her forward, driven by the pursuit of what we can sense, but not see. But through all of this hunting, perhaps the inquiry is inward and useless, just as Alan Watt’s describes, “[i]t is like searching for our own heads, which we can’t see, in which you might conceivably imagine that you’ve lost. So that indeed is the point! … We are in search of the self. But that’s the one thing we can’t find because we have it and we are it!”

Nic Koller

Nic Koller is a multidisciplinary artist whose works explore the outer-boundaries of collage. He creates collage-inspired acrylic paintings, video collages, a surprising take on “analogue” video work that is shot and displayed on multiple iPhones, and even extends collage into the audiosphere by layering found sound into musical compositions. 

These works iterate upon themselves, overlapping conceptually and thematically, and share a distinct, complementary visual language. Regardless of the medium, Nic depicts common people (and places as representations of people) while embracing spontaneous, collaborative moments as the foundation of his process. This ongoing exploration has expanded Nic’s understanding of his composited style. It’s not just about seeing multiple angles and different moments in time at once; it’s also about fractured human relationships. 
  
At first glance, Nic’s pool series is an homage to David Hockney’s swimming pools of the 60’s and early 70’s. However, these paintings are not about light interacting with water or even the pools themselves. Instead, this series focuses on small group dynamics. Nic combines moments captured from his everyday life to recreate emotive, neo-figurative memories in these paintings. Each person depicted is absorbed in their separate story, including the viewer, who is simultaneously ignored and posed for, a part of the pool party group and a voyeur. The collaging and containing of Nic’s subjects suggests isolation within these groups, and that these memories have distorted, combined and simplified over time in order to form something new. 
  
Nic was raised in the outskirts of Austin, attended the Fine Arts Program at the University of Texas, and has been chasing bigger cities since. He spent eight years with the 70’s architecture and swimming pools of Los Angeles before relocating to New York, where he currently lives and works. Nic’s works were recently featured in the nightly video program at MonkeyTown 7 in LA, premiered at the Video Art Experimental Film Festival at Tribeca, and exhibited with the Brooklyn Collage Collective. Nic currently curates for STRAIGHT THROUGH THE WALL, a guerrilla Arts Collective that projects video art onto walls throughout NYC.

Tracy Kerdman

I was born in Huntington, West Virginia. A city now known as the heart of the opioid epidemic. At the age of five I moved to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. I studied painting at the College of Charleston, where I earned a BA in Studio Art. In 2010, I moved to New York to continue my study of painting at the National Academy Museum and School and MoMA, where I would take extensive lecture classes. My paintings have been exhibited in Germany, Canada, New York and throughout the United States, from the Korean Cultural Center in Los Angeles, to the Museum of Fine Arts in Tallahassee, Florida. My painting, At My Real Job, is the book cover art for Gallagher Lawson’s 2015 novel, The Paper Man. I live and paint in New York City and Saugerties, NY with my husband.

www.tkerdman.com

Ying Chew

I am interested in challenging the distinction between art and craft. My aim is to explore the connections between art, craft and technology and through this to focus on aspects of the human condition. 

While every culture has traditions of needlework, it has been widely viewed as little more than a hobby, typically produced by women within the domestic sphere and associated with notions of comfort and familiarity. My intention is to seduce viewers with this familiarity and to invite or encourage them to rethink their preconceptions. 

Today textiles are products of technology, which means that there is little opportunity to instill them with individual and spiritual values. I am interested in combining the technological with the handmade. Specifically, I use digital technology (Photoshop) as a tool to produce a pattern, which is then hand-embroidered employing techniques that have been used for centuries. In this way, I hope to imbue humble raw materials (mass-produced cotton and canvas) with a uniqueness, visual richness and excitement. I am particularly interested in the use of textiles as a medium because of their ephemeral qualities—it seems appropriate that a medium that embodies a conceptual idea should not be everlasting. 

These works are part of a series inspired by daguerreotypes. Through the superimposition of images these portraits of unidentified people suggest the layering of experience and how our environments affect us. Specifically, I am interested in capturing a sense of the impermanence of life, as well as what we leave behind. 

www.yingchew.com.au

Mark Bradley-Shoup

Mark Bradley-Shoup earned his BFA from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga in Painting and Drawing and his MFA from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in Studio Art. He has exhibited his work in Los Angeles, Boston, Atlanta, Nashville, Knoxville, Omaha, Miami, Birmingham, Santa Monica, New Orleans and Vancouver, B.C. In addition to his extensive exhibition record, Bradley-Shoup has been the recipient two Make Work grants, the Individual Artist Fellowship from the Tennessee Arts Commission, an Individual Arts Grant form Allied Arts of Greater Chattanooga, and a Pollock-Krasner Grant, as well as nominated for the Dedalus Foundation, Joan Mitchell Award and a George Marshall Fellowship. His work has been published in New American Paintings, Backwards City Review, and the New Orleans Gambit Weekly

Currently, Bradley-Shoup is based in Chattanooga where he lives with his wife and two children and is a Lecturer at the University of Tennessee Chattanooga. 

Statement

When it comes to studio practice, I consider myself a pluralist, meaning that I do not dedicate myself to a singular vision or practice of creating images. The intention of my abstract and representational work is to address the theme of expansion and recession, consumption and growth, and in short, the elegance of brutality. The majority of my work is derived from my observation and interaction with the natural and constructed landscape and how we respond to our sense of place in the world, as I am deeply intrigued by how we inhabit and utilize space. Such work is often derived from my own photographs, as well as mapping systems and architectural schematics.

Given my response to consumer relationships and waste, I dedicate a third series of work that is derived from discarded items that culminate in the form of collages and mixed media. The images in this particular body of work are a form of aesthetic play and experimentation of media. While the majority of my work has distinct conceptual underpinnings, this series of work presents a more sincere discourse with the concept of ‘play’ within the confines of studio practice where I allow the images and compositions to present themselves throughout the course of experimentation. While these images are not directly addressing the concepts embedded in my other work, they are directly linked and continue to influence one another in ways that are not always obvious or apparent to the viewer. My collage and mixed media work is the truest form of studio research as many of the techniques and compositions that are fleshed out within these works often find themselves residing in my more traditional painting practice.