Posts in Issue X
Daria Aksenova

Daria Aksenova is best known for her suspended paper dreamscape-like narrative compositions in ink. In the heart of Houston’s newly renovated creative studios, she displays a unique treasure of imagination. The current focus of her work takes on the creation of dynamic movement in a static medium, as a self-taught artist, drawing from her past experience with the fashion and film industries. It is her intent that cinematographic storytelling arises from the layers and complexity of the composition. These pull in both the eye and mind, presenting a space and opportunity for the imagination to wander into a deep narrative that can only be experienced first-hand.

Daria Aksenova uses ink, as it is an unforgiving medium that precludes editing and demands precision. Individual elements are then hand-cut with a scalpel and suspended against each other until the desired depth is achieved. Her technique demands a steady hand and unfailing commitment, often requiring over a hundred hours of dedication and intimacy with each piece.

The subject matter is chosen by a fascination with mythology and folklore. Her pieces evoke a dreamscape-like narrative to serve as a vehicle to transport the viewer back to past, more carefree times, outside the limitations of the everyday world.

Joey Brock 

Joey Brock is a mixed-media visual artist whose work is anchored in abstract expressionism influenced by urban and natural landscapes, street art, and graphic, minimalist forms. He was born in Texas and raised in Colorado, receiving an Associate of Applied Arts degree in Fashion Merchandising. 

Inspired by the events of daily life, he creates a playful narrative reflecting his perceptions, emotions or annoyances represented with a touch of sarcasm. Despite the work being abstract in form and autobiographical in nature, his narratives remain relatable to many. These musings are realized by the way the paintings are assembled and referenced by their titles. The paintings do not necessarily resemble the narratives figuratively but serve more as references to the thoughts through color or composition. Brock’s spontaneous brush strokes, line drawing, mark making, and photographic images are the foundations of his work. His process combines various media, creating textural surfaces juxtaposed with a translucent, ethereal quality. The layering in his paintings pushes the boundaries of the materials while deliberately hiding some elements and revealing others. The choice to stitch the surfaces together with cotton thread was deliberate but also architecturally necessary due to the translucent nature of the materials. Brock’s methodology for graphic construction and use of negative space gives his work objectivity and a sense of floating in the frame. His work encompasses a beautiful sensibility, Japanese elegance and sense of placement. 

A Celebration of the Slow Gaze: Interview with Polly Jones 

Polly Jones grew up in Plainview, Texas surrounded by a vast sky and parents who encouraged her love for art. She earned a BFA in painting at Abilene Christian University, which sparked a love for still life painting that has occupied much of the past thirty years of her life. She is grateful to share this journey with her husband, also an artist, and their creative and lovely daughter. They have spent many years in Tennessee, though the last dozen has been back in Abilene where Kenny teaches art at ACU. A full-time artist, Polly spends time painting in her sunny studio at home. Her award-winning work has been in numerous shows. She is a signature artist at The Center for Contemporary Arts and also has work on display at River Oaks Gallery in Abilene Frame and Arts. Outside of Abilene, her work is shown at Anne Irwin Fine Art in Atlanta, as well as Etsy and Ugallery online. 

Statement

My artistic process is to paint from life. It’s a celebration of the slow gaze, work that comes from a deep sense of gratitude and a longing to practice mindfulness. The still life setups are composed of what I find in my daily life—finding beauty, life, energy, and delight in ordinary everyday moments and objects. While painting, I incorporate paper that ranges from map fragments, ledger paper, hymns, poetry and to vintage Golden Encyclopedia pages for children. This is a way to include other voices and viewpoints into the image as well as a sense of nostalgia. Intense color, light, pattern, and texture are a focus that drives me on this creative journey. I often use polka dot grids as a way to refer to atoms, spirit, pixels, and all of the things that are hard to see that seem to pervade the physical world. 

Interview by Sarah Mills

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Your paintings have an extremely whimsical fun feel to them, how did you develop this style of painting?

I’m glad you respond to them in that manner because on a basic level I would love for the paintings to embody an attitude of positivity and gratefulness. There is satisfaction in domestic pleasures and I find that truly looking at small things is worthy of time and energy. This is a major impetus for my painting. Art making has been a journey of serious play and experimentation based on what I see. My painting style is the result of creating a problem and trying to find a resolution. It begins with a still life that I draw on a canvas. This initiates a process where I explore the relationship of colors and pattern by hanging them on the framework of the drawing. Most of my paintings involve constantly changing the colors within this framework. Additionally, I layer paint and collage materials in a process I find exhilarating. I have a visceral response to color that drives me to keep making art. 

The most common comment I have received from people over the years is that my paintings make them happy. I like that. Who doesn’t need a little happiness injected into their day (especially these days)? Ultimately, I think the whimsy comes from my interest in paradoxes. I hope that the work invites a sense of joyfulness and struggle intermingled - that’s what I mean by “serious play”. When looking at my paintings I hope the viewer senses the joy and struggle of the journey to find visual solutions. I consciously connect the work with the genre Vanitas which celebrates life while always aware of the inevitability of change and death. I paint flowers that die quickly, goldfish which were my first experiences as a child with death, and fruit which rot - all that are hidden in an extravagant, palpable skin.

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Can you tell us about the use of polka dots in your work?

Polka dots worked their way into the paintings as a way to refer to an order I felt was in the universe. It is how I include a sense of spirituality that is a vital part of my life. It also refers to other things not visible. It makes me think of atoms, pixels, pollen, dust, light photons and molecules. When I draw what I see I anchor myself in the “now”. I have a desire to paint what I see as an exercise in mindfulness but also know that it’s never that simple. The visual is always complicated by memories and thoughts.

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The moments of collage in your work are fantastic. When did you start using collage in your work? How do you feel this element adds to your work?
         
Thank you! I have been using collage for about 15 years, though at first sporadically. I like the surprise you get when coming in close to the work. I like the complexity that comes from looking at a painting of a pear and finding a fragment of a map of New York City. It has become a way to include or at least allude to voices outside of my limited viewpoint. Often times a subtle narrative evolves from my seemingly random choices of text and images. Below is a lexicon for some of my most used collage materials. 
         
Polka dots (see question 2)
Golden Book Encyclopedia (nostalgia for quantifiable knowledge and analog vs digital)
Maps (the world is bigger than my table)
Hymns (that gratitude thing)
Poetry (love)
Vintage Biology diagrams (fragility of life)

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What are you currently working on? 

I’m planning several large still-life paintings for a group show in the fall. I recently did a bigger one and found the scale a fun challenge. In a fit of ambition, I just finagled the transport of some huge canvases to our home. Feeling a little crazy now because I don’t have a big studio or a great place to store them or a dependable way to transport them. Also, I’m feeling a bit of stage fright… probably always a good thing. I never want to become complacent.  

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What is the best piece of advice you have been given over the course of your career? 

Early on, a professor told me not to worry about trends in art but pursue my personal vision. A lot of nonverbal advice sticks with me through memories of other artists’ work. Some of their paintings haunt me as well as drive me to do better. 

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What is your favorite part of your creative process?

I love it when a painting takes a different direction from how I began and ends up as a total surprise. Even after all of my years of painting, I can’t predict what the combinations of the visual language will form when they come together. The challenge and fun of being open to the unpredictable is what keeps me painting.

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How do you keep yourself motivated at times when you lack motivation?
 
My husband is a great supporter and encourager of my work. He is also an artist and we help keep each other going. We share a studio and just seeing him at work is energizing. Music helps too.

Also, I’ve developed the certainty that bad work is inevitable and I can’t let it keep me in a funk. The gift of a better painting is just around the corner if I work through it. The hope of better work is always pulling me forward.

And like most artists, deadlines keep me motivated. I do try to keep reasonable goals. Too many deadlines and I’m overwhelmed and less creative.

Kim Anderson 

As a scavenger and collector, my paintings reconcile competing histories located in the afterlife of thrift store novelties, home movies and vernacular photography. Situated within the traditions of Baroque genre painting and still-life, my work invokes fantastical fictions located in our colloquial artifacts and personal mementos. Effigies to the fleeting and overlooked, my work serves as a testament to the minutia dividing the sublime and mundane. I was born in San Francisco, raised in Honolulu and now divide my time between Bradenton, Florida and Berkeley, CA. I have exhibited my work in Atlanta, GA, Miami, FL and have been featured in publications including New American Paintings, Studio Visit Magazine, and Manifest INPA. I received my MFA from the University of Florida and BFA from California College of Arts and Crafts. Currently, I am Associate Professor of Art at New College of Florida. 

www.kimandersonstudios.com

Laura Kaktina

I’m a Latvian artist, born and living in Riga, Latvia. I have been fortunate enough to see a good amount of different countries and cultures, therefore my art is always inspired by exotic and bright locations, yet still stays faithfully in love with the pastel colors of my homeland. 

I feel that atmosphere reveals itself with a combination of certain ingredients – may it be a specific color, texture, detail, or proportion. These elements consolidated create distinguished feelings within us. With these mini-universe illustrations I attempt to break down the ingredients of an ambience, withdrawing them from the whole much like a chemist is trying to detect the elements of a substance. I divide a feeling in two, yet simultaneously looking at both mini-universes floating apart in empty space (the color of the sheet of paper I have chosen) creates a wholesome impression. 

I create larger paintings daily, but the miniature illustrations are a way to spur up my creativity and loosen up the often serious and well-considered approach I have towards larger scale canvases. I call this play-day sketching and it has become an integral part of my artistic endeavours. I am less afraid to make mistakes on a small piece of paper (20 x 20 cm) and this generates a more playful and ethereal result. 

www.instagram.com/laurakaktina

Freedom of Expression: Interview with Valérie Butters

Valérie Butters is an artist who burst upon the art scene in Montréal, Toronto, British Columbia and Ottawa. She is fascinated by the subconscious and influenced by surrealism and expressionism. She has studied under many prominent contemporary artists, such as Jennifer Hornyak, Marilyn Rubenstein, Seymour Segel, Shirley Kats, Philip Iverson, Sophie Jodoin, and Jacques Clement. She is also inspired by the revolutionary Canadian artist, Paul-Émile Borduas. 

Borduas created a very different vision of life and art with his spontaneous expressions of emotions, feelings, and sensations. While his work was considered radical at the time, Butter’s work is seen as joyful explosions of colour and emotion. Her evolution and exuberant exploration of colour and composition make her still-lifes and landscapes flamboyant and exciting. 

Valerie attended the Ottawa School of Art in 2001 and, in 2005, graduated from a three-year Comprehensive Arts Program at the Saidye Bronfman Centre where she received art scholarships in 2003 and in 2004. Her quick evolution and exploration of colour and compositions resides in her still-lifes and landscapes. Her large formats and flamboyant style have caught the eye of art critics such as Henry Lehmann of the Montréal Gazette (11 September 2004) who described her work as “...interestingly gaudy, exuberantly messy...” 

“... Valerie's work is an expression of her constant quest for freedom of expression and the passion to let her subconscious take control ...” (Brett Anningson; Arabella Magazine, Spring 2015) Valérie now resides and paints in Pemberton, British Columbia with her husband and son. 

I was born in Chicoutimi, Québec and have also lived in Montréal, North Bay, Ottawa, Winnipeg, numerous countries in Europe, and now reside in Pemberton, British Columbia. 

I have been painting professionally for 15 years. Following one year at the Ottawa School of Art, I completed the three-year Comprehensive Arts Program at the Saidye Bronfman School of Fine Arts in Montréal. About two years ago, I reached a creative impasse with myself. This past year I have painted for myself, grooming my ideologies and exploring my strengths and pushing myself to the maximum that I possibly can. If there is a name I would like to give myself, my brand or hashtag would be “Nouveaux Automatist”. The Automatists rocked my world. They are the reason I moved to Montréal to go to art school. The idea that when a pen sits on paper, given enough time your arm will inevitably move on its own and make a mark. That is your mark. I was always told in school that I had a great mark, a fearless mark. I made this past year all about my mark as well as some conceptual ideas. 

My journey into abstraction and gesture has me thinking of my muse like the stars in the sky. You can look at them (the stars) as if they are really close and really small, or imagine them far away in space but huge. I want my paint to offer that same confusion of perspective. I would like the viewer to, at times, have it figured out but as you continue the visual journey I offer on my canvas, the ideas of space, they contradict themselves. There is a tension between reality and imagination, a distortion of perspective that's relative to the viewer. 

I am an aggressive painter; I paint with long brushes with bamboo taped to my brushes. I know how to paint. I know what a brush does, but when you extend your arm a few feet, you give up control over the process. However, I do believe that, in surrendering to the control, I have become a truth in my process. I have given my work an abstracted realism. I want to continue this journey. 

I have just turned 40, and I have just discovered my truth. I hope you are as excited as I am about my journey this past 16 years and this year in particular, as I am unapologetically determined to pursue this truth.

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When did you first start creating art?

Sometimes when you are good at something it is right in your face but you are too busy looking around it trying to see something else. I never wanted to be ordinary because I’m not ordinary. I have always used art as an outlet and a space to charge my battery. However, it didn’t seem obvious to me. My wild, precarious and fearless spirit distracted me and took me down several paths before I saw myself for me.

I joined the infantry in 1995 for two years, then bartended until I had enough money to leave for a long time where I eventually found myself three years into living on the Greek island of Corfu. It was in Corfu where I had that mid 20’s conversation challenging myself as to whether there was more to life than living on a Greek island? The answer was yes, there was more to life. Next question to my 20 something self, what do you want out of life? The answer, to be successful at what I do and not rely on anyone for my happiness. Next question. Well to be successful at something you should choose what you do best, what is that? The answer, Art! 

Art was always what I was best at and it was my safe place, like home. It was as simple an as complicated as that. So I packed my backpack and flew home to Canada where I enrolled in art school. The rest is history in the making. 

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What are you currently working on?

I like what Jerry Seinfeld once said, when he reads the paper, he doesn’t notice the text first, he notices the paper it’s printed on. That’s how I look at life and first impressions. I don’t want to notice what I think people want to notice, I want to take what strikes me right away and try not to veer away from that impression, rather make it shine. 

I am working on several series at once but I approach them both in the same way. With florals, it’s the simplicity of the gesture they are articulating to me. It’s an emotional response, but that doesn’t make it any easier though. Simplicity is a journey. It’s tempting to want to say everything in all paintings. It takes discipline not to.

My spirit series is more complicated and that word alone brings danger and potential for disaster…. But hey, this cookie went through boot camp. Fear doesn’t scare me! 

Although I do have first nation’s blood, (although no one in my family has the same story as to how far back, the Duplesis government was a dark time) I want to be clear that in no way am I using my bloodline for my work, the catalyst for this series can be described in one unapologetic word, curiosity.

I am curious about the mythology that surrounds me, the land that I live on, the history of my own bloodline that is a merging of cultures with all its ugly and beauty, History and future. To be able to make the paint, the gesture, speak to those emotions are again just a matter of discipline. And by discipline, I mean all the things you do before you paint, and many things fall under that umbrella so that when you do paint, you can just let it all go and let it be about the gesture because you already did everything you can to set yourself up for success. I like the phrase “wined her up and let her go…..” like an explosion of wonderful things. 

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In your artist statement you describe yourself as an aggressive painter, can you talk a little about this?

My approach to painting is fearless and intuitive. I believe that as a gestural artist that I have to tap into my own energy to truly find my own voice. I am inspired by the automatists and the automatic way of painting. Everyone has a different mark like everyone has a different signature. All the things that define me also define my work. All these things in the past would have defined me as a contradiction but in these modern times, they define me as just as complicated, or an artist. I am feminine, a feminist, I love being a woman. I love pretty things, style, makeup, design, delicate, soft, beauty, seduction, sexy. But I also love dirt, power, strength, physical impact, physical comedy, swearing, bad jokes, laughing hard and loud, fishing, hunting, playing hard, and working hard. My mom always said as a little girl that I would only play with my Tonka trucks if I had my ruby rings on.

So that’s how I paint, some strokes are tender and controlled, some are aggressive and hard. It’s really a frenzy of emotion that I channel to particular marks for particular references in my mind. A falling petal will feel different than a bow and arrow puncturing a hunt. Its life and I gave myself permission to use whatever internal theatrics to get the job done. It’s scary but the results are so honest that it becomes an addiction, a challenge.

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Where do you tend to get inspiration for your work?

Simply, from life. I like to garden so I like to paint my babies. I’m curious about the land and cultures coexisting so I paint that. In many ways, I am a simple person. It took me a while to strip it down to simplicity though. A few years ago I was getting lost in the staleness and confines of expectation. In Montréal I found the community to be very vocal about what art is. I don’t like being told what to do, I am all for self-discovery with all the failures and success that come with it. It just feels more real to me. The rebel in me moved across the country and lived a simple life in the mountains of BC, withdrew myself from the business of art and gave myself permission to explore and grow. It’s why I like to fly fish. If tying flies wasn’t part of fly fishing I would not be interested. But learning how to make a fly, then catch a fish!!?!? The casting skill will work itself out in time. 

To go for a hike and see old pictographs surrounded by unique botanicals from first nations land, is fascinating to me. To hear the stories behind those pictographs is thrilling. Wondering who my first nation’s great great grandmother was before the duplesis government was, is something I wonder about often. Who she was, how people treated her, her children, how she grew up, am I like her at all?

Then To plant a perennial or a seed and watch it mature as you nurture it, then paint it. Experience all stages of its life, Thousands of times. The skill will work itself out in time. But there has to be a genuine, reflective and obsessive element to it. It becomes your life, it starts to define who you are as human being. I will likely never paint a bear. They don’t interest me, in fact, they scare me and I often find myself bumping into them on my runs and I run home so bloody fast I nearly give myself a heart attack. Although that might seem like painting to you, its not something I need to fall off the edge of my mind with. A cliff maybe.

It all feels like a maternal obligation to me.

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What has been the most exciting moment in your art career so far?

It feels like a ladder to me. And the top of the ladder is not success but rather death. So I don’t ever want to reach the top. Not for a long long time, when my son's son has sons.

So every step is a marking point, and although every step feels more important than the last, you would not get there without any of them. The first was getting scholarships for school. Learning about the Automatists, the silent revolution and the power of artists taking Quebec out of the dark ages with their artists’ manifesto the “refuse global”. Then getting representation while I was still in school. Not having to work in a darn bar anymore. Solo shows in Toronto, Montreal, and Ottawa. Representation in New York City was amazing. Learning from masters was a gift. Discovering my strengths was liberating. Understanding the difference between painting what you see, so instead of responding to it, changed my path. Embracing the idea of abstract realism intrigues me. Most of my marking points are more related to personal growth and I am ultimately a process-oriented artist. 

As of lately, getting published in Create! Magazine was an achievement. My galleries wanting and selling my more abstracted and gestural paintings is motivating. Feedback from my followers, all of that is validating. Something that often as artists we are so desperate to hear and see. Learning that I’m a good teacher justified a legacy I feel I inherited. It’s expensive to paint, to pay for daycare so I can pursue what I know I’m good at. You reach these lows but trust that if you work through it, it will pay off. Figuratively and literally. With this magazine for example, (Create!) I was waiting for a cheque from a gallery to pay off my credit card just so I could afford the application fee. It arrived in the mail, the final day for submissions. I sent it with within hours of closing. And I got in! That was a great day. Instagram has been exciting. To feel connected. Less isolated, to be inspired and to share. They are all just steps in growth, and I trust that one day I won’t have to wait for a cheque in my mail to apply for something! 

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Share a piece of advice or a favorite quote with our readers.

Gosh I have so many, we all have our inspirational heartstrings to pull at so I won’t try to sweep you away with a cliché, but rather “process-oriented” advice given to me by some of my mentors.

A painting is a visual journey… a trip, you will go to exciting places, calm places, boring places, you will also need places to rest... all of these places will guide you to your final place, your focal point. (Something like that)

"A painting is like a house, start with your foundation. Don’t put your curtains up before you build your walls.”

-Jennifer Hornyak

And most importantly, “The eye loves variation”. (I cant think of one thing that doesn’t apply to.)”

-Brian Atyeo

“And for goodness sake, paint from your shoulder or at least your elbow, not your wrist. You are not writing a book and your arm should not look like a T. Rex.”

-me

Art and Story: Podcast Interview with Filmmaker Jesse Brass

Jesse Brass is an artist and storyteller whose two passions have come together in the film series Making Art. The series, launched in 2012 in collaboration with his brother, Matt, has reached an audience of millions and been featured by leading art publications and blogs around the world. His work has also been featured by National GeographicHuffington Post, and American Express. The films have real impact on the careers of the artists they represent and serve as a compelling platform for the artist to express his or her motivations, passions, and influences. In addition to art and story, Jesse has a passion for art advocacy and continues to pursue new stories and opportunities for the artists he showcases.

vimeo.com/jessebrass

https://www.patreon.com/makingart

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Tell us about your background and training. When did you first get interested in filmmaking?

I grew up in a family of artists and was always encouraged in my art. I didn’t pursue it as a career however, because I didn’t like art talk, which seems ironic now. I thought artists should be able to just make their art without explanation. It seemed like, at least at that time, success was less about your work and more about who you knew and how you talked about your work. Recently however, either my perception has changed or the art world has, but I think good work is being noticed and rewarded. It’s an exciting time to be an artist!

As far as film, I never had training. Bought my first video camera to film my kids.

Film still from "Desire" featuring Alonsa Guevara

Film still from "Desire" featuring Alonsa Guevara

How did Making Art come about and what inspired you to start documenting artists and their process?

In 2012, my brother, Matt—who was also filming his kids—suggested we profile my artist mother for a Vimeo weekend competition. We won, and we were hooked. So we started reaching out to local artist friends and friends of friends to profile. It just continued to grow from there.

There is something magical that happens when you just listen. There are so many things that get in the way of us really hearing each other, and I wanted these films to be an opportunity for artists to be heard. In normal conversation, we feel the need to interject, share like experiences to avoid awkward silence. But there’s an opportunity to get more out of a conversation.

When interviewing, often the first answer I hear is buttoned up, thought through. But if I pause afterward, allow the awkward silence, the artist continues. That answer, a lot of times, is in the moment, less perfect, more personal. That’s when the audience gets a feeling for the artist. It’s an unposed moment. That’s the magic, and that's what inspired me to continue.

My favorite line from the series came from Mario A. Robinson: "People don't want an idea of what you think they like, they want you. And there's only one you." For me, that sums up the Making Art series. I’m not trying to share what the artist thinks; I’m trying to share the essence of the artist.

Initially Making Art just featured local artists we knew in Knoxville and Asheville, N.C. (Our film of Melanie Norris got Making Art its first Vimeo Staff Pick) but I wanted to expand it. As an avid blog follower, I came across an artist from Toronto and reached out. She was interested, and in effort to make it worth my time, I also reached out to six more artists and ran a Kickstarter campaign to fund Making Art Toronto.

The Toronto series received another Vimeo Staff Pick. I was hooked, and within a couple of days I was already planning a trip to New York.

Film still featuring Carole Feuerman

Film still featuring Carole Feuerman

What do you love most about your project?

The people.

Like many artists I am shy and reserved. Sitting behind a camera allows me access to diverse and fascinating worlds. In addition, the series has brought me friendships and connections with so many inspirational people. It's been personally enriching.

I also love the permanence of what I'm making. The films follow the artists year after year, to blog posts, shows. They introduce artists to new opportunities, potential buyers, and in two cases, TED Talks. They are continuous representation, allowing a large audience intimate access. Enabling genuine encounters with the artists.

A funny side note is that artists I reach out to are nervous about the project for that reason. A bad film is a stain that doesn't go away quickly. And there are many bad artist profiles out there.

Film still featuring Zaria Foreman

Film still featuring Zaria Foreman

What do you hope to communicate to the viewers of your films?

Honesty.

My films are simple, not flashy. I don’t go into a shoot with any preconceived ideas about them or message. I let the artists speak.

I think good art is clear communication of someone’s point of view. I love realism, but that’s not what I’m talking about. There’s so much to be seen beyond what a camera captures. Mario A. Robinson (can you tell I’m a fan of his?) says, “The power of art is the ability to galvanize and organize all those different pigments and materials and pour a soul into it.” And the soul is more than what you see. Art allows that expression. But artists have to be honest.

I think so much art over the years has been phony, and people know that. And over the years, the majority of people lost interest. But art is changing. Social media (I know this is a big debate) is pushing art that communicates and connects. It’s giving people direct access to the art. This whole new world of media is letting people enjoy art without the lectures and explanations from museum and gallery curators. That's honesty, and I’d like to think Making Art is playing a role in that.

Film still featuring Cayce Zavaglia

Film still featuring Cayce Zavaglia

What are you currently working on or excited about?

Helga, a collaboration with Bo Bartlett and Betsy Eby.

Helga was Andrew Wyeth's (who I'm named after, Jesse Wyeth Brass) muse and most frequent subject. It's my most extensive project yet and involved nine hours of interview. Very exciting!

Also I'm working on new relationships, partnerships, and I have one more Making Art edit to finish up.

The films are my passion; I don’t see that changing. Much more to come!

Cayce Zavaglia detail

Cayce Zavaglia detail

What are you most proud of with Making Art so far?

I’ve explored art in several forms over my life. This project has involved more of me than any other. That is satisfying.

As an artist, I think the goal is to leave yourself behind. What you witnessed, what you thought was valuable, beautiful. I am leaving that behind. Although my voice isn’t heard, it‘s responded to. There’s a reflection of me in these films.

"Artists have a powerful need to be heard; I'm no different. But I found a way to fulfill that need while allowing others to be heard."

How can we learn more and support what you do?

Production is expensive. I need all the support I can get. You can become a Patreon of my work at https://www.patreon.com/makingart

Also, watch and share my films and reach out to me for any reason. I welcome any conversation.

Lindsey Warren 

Lindsey Warren is an American artist, born and raised in Los Angeles. She graduated from Boston University, earning a BFA in 2004 and MFA in 2008. Lindsey’s paintings have been exhibited throughout the United States with recent shows in Los Angeles, New York City, and Laguna Beach. Lindsey has been a studio artist in Chashama’s Workspace Program in NYC and a participant in the Bronx Museum’s AIM program. Her public works and murals have been installed in Boston and New York City. 

I make paintings using an arrangement of shapes to construct images of moments I experience during daily activities. I capture observations using photographs, later comparing them to my memory of the time. Color and proportions are revised until the image most closely reflects my perception. I am constantly aware of the distinct colors and light within each environment and how these atmospheric differences alter the way we experience and interact with the urban landscape. The paintings are visual responses to my past and current homes and stem from observations of basic daily encounters that are commonly overlooked. 

Michael F. Kondel 

I'm painting from a distant memory of growing up on a farm in Michigan, using the barn as a storage unit, so to say. For me the barn provides a rich language visually and conceptually. Texture, colors, and emotions I’ve experienced correlate to and are mapped throughout the architectural structure. This structure allows me to compartmentalize and organize thoughts and actions I remember as I think back and contemplate what they mean to me now. The idea of the barn as a stand in for the body has begun to influence the work. Like a body, I begin to see the barn as a place that harbors birth, stores energy, and holds a history. The barn is where I learned to nurture others and about self-sufficiency; it becomes a symbol of survival to me as I decipher my inherited knowledge that has been passed down through generations of farming. 

Raised on a farm outside of Flint, Michigan, Michael Kondel received his BFA at SUNY Purchase, NY. After working as a Master Printer for seven years, Kondel is currently pursuing his Master’s degree at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts. His work has been featured in New American Paintings and has been shown in NY, AZ, MI, PA. 

www.michaelkondel.com 

Reconstructing Experiences: Interview with Lisa Wicka

Lisa Wicka received her BFA from the University of Central Florida, and MFA from Purdue University. Her work has shown both national and internationally in solo and group exhibitions, and is in many public and private collections. She actively participates in artist residencies around the world including Sparkbox Studios (Canada), Ålgården Workshop (Sweden) and Officina Stamperia del Notaio (Sicily). Her experiences traveling and living throughout the US have greatly inspired her practice. Wicka currently resides in Marinette, WI where she is the Assistant professor of Art at the UW Colleges. 

Statement

We live in the spaces... 

between past and present, 

between empty and occupied, 

between mind and body, 

between physical and virtual, 

between tangible and lost, 

between loneliness and love, 

between exposed and hidden. 

Through the breakdown and rebuilding of the in-between, my work mimics the everyday navigation of these realms. Temporary moments of clarity come together and fall apart, creating a self in motion, evolving through experience, place, failures and successes. My work is a surface where this dialogue becomes visible explorations of my surroundings and my identity, a surrogate self with limitless possibilities. 

Often referencing architectural spaces, wallpapers, and raw materials, my work brings into question the solidity and accuracy of things we hold true. Printmaking, drawing, and mixed media methods allow me to acknowledge my experiences, dissect them, and reconstruct them into something concrete, if only for a moment. 

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Interview by Sarah Mills

What are you currently working on? 

I am currently working on a new series of work Along the Way while continuing to work on my series, Focus. Along the Way is made up of fragments that incorporate patterns, textures, and in most cases, some little legs interacting with the construction. Focus is a series I started a few years ago, where I build miniature abstracted domestic spaces and photograph them in various locations. These photos then become a part of an interactive piece that invites the viewer to have their own intimate experience. (See short video clip.)

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What is the inspiration behind your current series? 

In my artist statement, I talk about my work as a surface where the dialogue between my surroundings and myself can take place, as if a surrogate form. With this new work, I am reflecting on transitional spaces, and how one functions in them. These spaces are in-betweens, such as trains, cars, etc… but I also draw connections to the space that exists on our digital platforms. Both types of space feel heavy and physical; they take up space and time and are often occupied, but at the same time can be lonely. This new series is about existing within them, recognizing their rules and limitations, and finding yourself (even if only temporarily) in those moments. A number of things have brought me to this series, but primarily it stems from my last three years in a fairly remote location in the Midwest. This being my first location post grad school, I went from having a network of artists, friends, and resources within my reach to having a lot of physical distance from these things. I am learning to rely more on communications online, staying up-to-date through Facebook, and other resources, and traveling whenever I can. This means that I am mostly isolated, with bursts of New York, Philadelphia, or Chicago, where I try to soak up as much of my surroundings as much as possible, as if I could store it like a camel. This approach has given me the time to reflect on both ends of this experience and evaluate this balance that we all try to create in one way or another.

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Tell us about your process when you start a new piece. 

At this point, very rarely am I starting a piece totally from scratch; I have built up a large collection of screen printed patterns, monoprints, drawings, wood shapes, etc. and they often make their way into my work. The patterns I create are often reflections of past experiences or are reminiscent of an existing pattern from my everyday. I work like a collage artist, so for the most part when I am drawing or printing my patterns, I am creating flat sheets that will be cut up, folded, layered along the way. My sketchbook is filled with shapes and notes more than anything, and I can pretty confidently say I never know what the piece is really going to look like when I start it. I have found this way of working allows the more controlling side of me to have a say in the creation of the individual collage pieces, then I rely on experimentation and instinct when I start to combine things together. I intentionally make room for happy accidents, which sounds strange, but that is the place where the good stuff happens.

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In your artist statement you talk a lot about how your surroundings and identity influence your work. Can you talk about some of the biggest influences in your life?

I think moving around and traveling has had such an impact on my work and my life. I have experienced small towns, big cities, and some in-between, and finding who I am in those places has challenged me to questions what is important to me: what to keep, and what to let go. For me, embracing the uncomfortable has offered me the opportunity to try new things, meet new people, sometimes fail, but learn more about myself along the way. I can see the fluidity in which I change from place to place, recognizing changes in career, age, and priorities. But each location also offers me the opportunity to try something new. This playfulness allows me to find new parts of myself and has become a very important part of my process. I work hard to keep embracing the uncomfortable in my practice; it is where I am the most vulnerable and honest.

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What advice would you give to artists looking to find their voice and technique? How did it happen for you? 

That is a big question! I think my suggestion would be to experiment and do what keeps you engaged. It took me a lot of work, writing, reflecting, and bad art to really start to feel solid about what I was doing. I thought for a long time that once I “figured it out” then I would be stuck in it, which scared me a little. For me, I have found a way of working that lets me move, experiment, twist and turn, while still staying true to what is important to me. Once I got to that point, I felt so much better because at the end of the day, if you are not interested in what you are doing, why would anyone else be? My way of working constantly gives me to new problems to solve, and I enjoy figuring them out.

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You work in multiple different mediums, is there a medium you are most drawn to? Why?

 Printmaking plays a large role in my work by allowing me to create multiple versions of the same image. I enjoy the spontaneity that arises through the print process. I can change colors, use painterly approaches and embrace the unexpected results that will later often get cut up, and mix and match with other images and materials. Outside of the process of printmaking, I enjoy working with materials that have a physicality to them and they often include some sort of building materials such as wood, house paint, or enamel, mixed with delicate materials, such as paper, gold leaf, wax, etc. The combination of these materials can feel solid and temporary at the same time. It is important to me that my work feels as if it is in motion, possibly coming together, or falling apart, and my choice of materials help to reinforce this concept.

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Because you use many different mediums, your series are all pretty unique. Is there one body of work that you are the most fond of? Why? 

This is a complicated question. Although some series may look unique, they are very closely related. Some are a response to a particular time or location, while an ongoing series can show the growth within a particular idea. I can appreciate both ways of working; I do feel I need to have some more spontaneous work along with the controlled because they reinforce each other. An example of this would be In-between series, which was made during the time I began the Focus series. Although this work does not look too similar, In-between allowed me to explore shape and space in a way that can be seen in the Focus series. There are also some repeated patterns between the two.

Rachel Gregor

Rachel Gregor is a fine artist currently living and working in Kansas City, MO. She graduated from Kansas City Art Institute in 2012 and has studied abroad at Studio Art Centers International in Florence, Italy. Born and raised in Minnesota where her parents own and operate a farm and greenhouse, floral motifs are a constant present throughout her drawings and paintings.


In her work, Gregor seeks to create psychological portraits of young girls caught between an awkward tension of girlhood and womanhood, innocence and sexuality. Depicted in oil, the figures are painted in a naturalistic manner but tiptoe between the line of realism and artificiality. The figures are caught in a single moment between the mundane and the melodramatic. Wide-eyed and wistful, the girls become frozen in a state somewhere between boredom and shock. The spaces can become completely ambiguous, and through patterned wallpaper or a crocheted blanket, only suggest an idea of a setting while retaining a strong sense of nostalgia.

Rajab Ali Sayed

Rajab Ali Sayed is a visual artist who lives and works in Houston, TX. He received his BFA from the National College of Arts in Lahore, Pakistan in 2013 and his MFA from the University of Houston, TX in 2017, minoring in Art History.

Rajab has attended Augustana University in Sioux Falls, South Dakota as a Fulbright Exchange Scholar (2011) and completed the Sam and Adele Golden Foundation and Vermont Studio Center Residencies on the East Coast (2017). He has also taught drawing and painting at The University of Houston and Art League Houston.

Rajab was recently curated by Whitney Museum Curator Chrissie Iles into "30 under 30", an emerging artist showcase at Viridian Artists in Chelsea, Manhattan. His work has been acquired into private collections in the US and Pakistan.

Statement

My work creates a dialogue between identity and representation within the history of painting. I often co-opt visual cues from historical paintings and lived experience to express personal mythologies, placing figures in compositions as pictorial devices, or leaving figures out of compositions to reflect on human presence in absentia. My paintings are thickened internal narratives, and visual devices such as color, mark and perspective are married with titles to explore conceptual ideas within, and across multiple bodies of work.

Sergio Barrale

Sergio Barrale has been featured in Hi-Fructose magazine vol. 41, Juxtapoz, SUPERSONIC, American Art Collector magazine, as well as been shown in Mesa Contemporary Museum of Art and Honolulu Museum of Art. Renowned art critic, Donald Kuspit, has compared Sergio's work as being linked to Goya and Redon.

Statement

I work 250 hours on each large-scale drawing. I destroy around 500 pencils with each large work. When I am gone, my work will live on. I may not be immortal, but my artwork and my message will be, in that way I make work for future people. That’s my mission: carry the light.

Tori Angeline

Tori was born in Curitiba, Brazil (b.1983) She is a self-taught contemporary abstract and portrait artist and currently works as a Firefighter. Tori received a Bachelor’s degree from Florida International University in Miami, Florida. She enjoys discovering new techniques and experimenting with the movement and balance of color to yield dynamic images, shapes, and strokes. Tori is drawn to strong, flowing lines, profound expression and vibrant color. Being drawn to a wide variety of art forms growing up has given her a broad perspective and appreciation for different techniques. She has exhibited at several festivals and venues, including locations in Miami, New York, Baltimore, and Annapolis. Tori currently lives in Timonium, Maryland with her cat Tom, and continues to paint and be inspired.