Posts in Issue XII
Interview with Megan Magill: Venus with Folds 
megan-magill-birthofvenus-1.jpg

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

meganmagill-11.jpg
megan-magill-birthofvenus-2.jpg

Statement: Venus with Folds 

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

How did your artistic career begin?

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

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

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

meganmagill-6.jpg

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

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

What is your favorite part of your creative process?

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

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

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

meganmagill-7.jpg

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

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

meganmagill-9.jpg

What should we be on the lookout for in 2019?

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

meganmagill-10.jpg
Raul Gonzalez
UTSA-171026-RGonzalez-DoingWerk-0161.jpg

Born and raised in inner-city Houston, multi-dimensional artist Raul Gonzalez explores topics such as work, fatherhood, construction, labor, the working class, identity, and abstraction through versatile methods of painting, drawing, printmaking, performance, and dance. Now living in San Antonio with his wife and two daughters, Raul spends his days as a stay-at-home-parent.

Raul’s work is often inspired by being a stay-at-home father, challenging stereotypes, and finding beauty in chaos. Raul’s foundations in drawing, painting, and self-taught dancing have allowed him to create a world of narrative, cultural symbolism, color, and energy.

His work ranges from paintings of construction scenes on concrete to colorful abstract installations made of cardboard and duct tape. He has danced 4 1⁄2 miles across San Antonio as a way to “paint a line in space”. He shares drawings of himself as a stay-at-parent and uses his artwork to express himself and educate. Raul recently launched Werk House SA, a short-term rental space/ art gallery that’s conveniently located in his backyard.

Raul has a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Painting (Magna Cum Laude) from the University of Houston, and a Master of Fine Arts in Painting from the University of Texas at San Antonio. Raul has shown artwork throughout the United States, including solo or group shows at McNay Art Museum, grayDUCK Gallery, Miami University Ohio, Artpace, Blue Star Contemporary Art Museum, Lawndale Art Center, MACLA, Mexic-Arte Museum, Centro de Artes, and Forum 6 Contemporary.

Raul was a recipient of a 2016 National Association of Latino Arts & Culture San Antonio Artist Grant and a Surdna Foundation Grant through the Guadalupe Cultural Center in 2017. In 2018, Raul completed an artist studio residency at Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art in North Adams MA.

Raul’s artwork has been featured by Glasstire.com, the Houston Chronicle, San Antonio Express News, San Antonio Current, The Austin Chronicle, and Whataburger. Raul’s artwork is included in public collections such as the McNay Art Museum (San Antonio, TX), The National Museum of Mexican Art (Chicago, IL), Mexic-Arte Museum (Austin, TX), National Hispanic Cultural Center Art Museum (Albuquerque, NM), the University of Texas at San Antonio, and the City of San Antonio.

Angie Zielinski

 Originally from St. Louis, Angie Zielinski received her B.F.A. from Millikin University (Illinois), and M.F.A. from Bowling Green State University (Ohio). Her work has been shown nationally, including solo exhibitions in Oregon and Ohio, and group shows in Tucson, Raleigh, Detroit, Chicago, and Brooklyn. She is currently an Associate Professor at the University of Arizona in Tucson, Arizona.

Statement

I am captivated by the power of shiny things and loud noises.  Mesmerized, I find myself wondering how explosions can be celebratory in one instance and devastating in another. My work examines the paradoxical notions of delight and distress.

With careful thought, I connect unrelated moments and memories to create imagined spaces where themes of whimsy, fragility, cause-and-effect, and spectatorship exist. Chain reactions become clear in the work, and delight and distress are conveyed through an abundance of gleaming materials and layered marks.

The tactile qualities and color of the materials I work with attract me initially, but I am also interested in their history, their everyday use, and their connection to my thematic interests. Drawing with thread is decisive—any missteps remain visible. Embroidery is traditionally a quiet activity, yet my imagery combats this calm practice by describing a contagious action, captivity, and explosions in stitched form.

 

Ben Dallas
About_Nothing_22.jpg

Ben Dallas, a long-time Chicago resident, presently lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico. He received degrees in Art History from Indiana University, Bloomington, and The University of Illinois, Champaign/Urbana. He was Professor of Art at Harper College, Palatine, IL until 2001.

Statement

The visual form a perceived object or situation exhibits offers a kind of template by which our minds maneuver toward what meaning to give it; thus, the concerns I have in making my art are embodied in its appearances. I’m not interested in storytelling, symbols, and new information. The challenges presented by more perplexing visual presentations have the potential to undermine expectations and reorient viewers to their own processes of perception and thought.

 

Madison Parker
summer_.jpg

In 2013, Madison Parker or “MADPICS", graduated from the Art Academy University with a BFA in Photography. Her college years in San Francisco set the trajectory for her to move to LA to pursue the entertainment industry, an almost gravitational pull for any photographer. There she interned and assisted for photographer, Art Streiber. Learning the ins and outs of the industry, she decided to relocate to San Diego, where she currently works and resides.

While my diploma may be camera-centric, my heart is anything but. I revel in the wonder of exploring all mediums as ways to capture the feelings, ideas, people, and moments that make up life. I embrace creative challenges, encouraging change. The world around me, something wild yet comforting to behold... something you really need to open your eyes to. I've been lucky enough to grow up in an environment that has inspired me throughout life to try and capture everything I find enticing- whether it be the way sunlight leaks through a window, the shapes of shadows, or what lurks between what we can and cannot see.

Ellie Ji Yang
Strawberry_field.jpg

Ellie Ji Yang is a Korean artist currently living and working in Brooklyn, NY.

She holds an MFA in Illustration from the Fashion Institute of Technology, New York, and a BFA in Cartoon and Animation from Chosun University, South Korea. She is known for her cheerful and raw unfiltered drawings, and has been recognized for her work by the Society of Illustrators 60 , American Illustration 37, Nylon Korea, ITS NICE THAT, 3x3 Magazine and Creative Quarterly. Ellie’s work is heavily inspired by the innocence of childhood and the colors and intricacies of nature.

Ellie has showcased her work in numerous galleries, including The Museum of Illustration, Kenektid X Gallery, Grumpy Bert, Okay Space Gallery and Ouchi Gallery.

Statement

I began my works by imagining a setting where I would like to live and play. As a visual creator, I constantly search for vibrant colors and beauty found in nature. I am drawn to all things cheerful, peaceful, and whimsical. While creating these worlds, I imagine myself dwelling in them, which slowly fills me with a sense of relaxation and happiness.

Each work depicts a different atmosphere with various stories happening at once. I often begin working with line drawing as ideas emerge, focusing on composition and harmony all the while. I do not start with a specific plan. My images come to life and inform what will come next. I allow the drawings to react to one another on the surface and guide my process. This open approach is joyous for me and creates space for chance and discovery. 

By utilizing mixed media, I tried to express different imageries with freedom and diversity. I mostly used acrylic and gouache and finished the details with colored pencil. Mark-making plays an important role in my work. I believe it is one of the most essential elements in conveying visual and emotional texture. I also created some components digitally to avoid limiting myself to physical mediums.

 

Elizabeth Jung
DSC_0338.JPG

Elizabeth Jung is a visual artist lives and works in Chicago. Elizabeth received BFA and MFA from École Nationale Supérieure d’Art de Bourges in France, and she was commissioned to make murals in Public buildings in France and was a part of several group exhibitions and a curatorial project in places such as the Palais Jacques-Cœur and the Musée de l’Hospice Saint-Roc. Before moving to France, Elizabeth briefly studied painting and drawing at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and also showed her paintings at Betty Rymer Gallery, Merchandise Mart, 900 North Michigan Avenue, Chicago, the U.S. Capitol in Washington DC, and the Supreme Court of Georgia, …etc. Her recent works were shown at Galex 52, the Chicago Public Library and the Studios Midwest Artist Residency Exhibition.

Statement

Having lived in many different places throughout Korea, the United States and France, my temporary homes and their interior spaces became a fascinating subject for my art, which is about constructing imaginary spaces using colors, geometry, and architectural elements. 

My process of painting repeats construction, deconstruction, and reconstruction, which often results in trompe l’oeil and exaggerated perspectives. Each space is constructed with layers of both personal spatial memories and imagination. There is no inhabitant in my art because I want to concentrate on the characteristics of the spaces and on the composition of architectural elements. Guessing who the inhabitants might be for each space is not important to my work because the spaces themselves are the protagonists. Instead, I want to invite the viewers to find themselves experiencing tension, disorientation and confusion by the layers and mazes of the pictorial spaces and their structures.

Erica Green
13_August_22_2018.jpg

Erica Green is a fiber-based artist who lives and works in Boulder, Colorado.  Erica received a Bachelor of Fine Arts with an emphasis in Ceramics from the University of Nebraska and completed a two-year post-baccalaureate program in Ceramics at the University of Colorado. Her work has varied from clay sculpture to thread drawings to fiber installations.  She has exhibited work in notable galleries such as RULE Gallery, Redline Contemporary, the Firehouse Art Center, The Diary Center for the Fine Arts and was included in the Art of the State show at Arvada Center for the Arts in Arvada, CO. She has also participated in several artist in residencies around the country including receiving a fellowship at Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, NY.

Statement

My work focuses on the seemingly unending process of repairing and rebuilding one's self.  I 'mend' or knot simple fibers and thread together in meditative and obsessive manner.  The work gradually becomes a visual accumulation — a visual record — of the time it takes to heal.  Each moment, each struggle amasses and blends and eventually becomes impossible to distinguish.  Looking back, the viewer sees that this fundamental human undertaking is simultaneously strong and fragile, messy and disciplined, heavy and light.  This work tries to find comfort in such fraught moments.

Renewed Sense of Wonder: Interview with Yuria Okamura

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

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

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

8.yuria_studioportrait.jpg

Tell me about yourself and your creative background.

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

3.YuriaOkamura.SpaceInBetween.jpg

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

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

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

5.YuriaOkamura-Recollection2.jpg

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

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

6.YuriaOkamura-gateway.jpg

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

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

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

1.YuriaOkamura_invocation.jpg

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

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

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

4.YuriaOkamura.Revisitation4.jpg

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

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

A New Mythology: Interview with Textile Artist Amy Meissner
Descent_H_3000.jpg

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

Statement

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

This is time-based work. A landscape.

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

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

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

Acquistion_3000_Full.jpg

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

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

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

FatigueThreshold_full_3000.jpg

What inspired your most recent series?

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

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

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

GirlStory2_full_2400.jpg

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

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

Inheritance_full_cafe.jpg

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

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

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

Lamb_full_2400.jpg

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

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

Materfamilias_full_3000.jpg

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

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

SpontaneousCombustion_3000.jpg
Aly Morgan
Native_Tongue_3.jpg

Led purely by a natural sense of curiosity, Aly Morgan follows each spark of inspiration until it leads to a new discovery - either about herself, the world or her place within it. Although she prefers to work with acrylic paint and newsprint, inspiration has led her to try many unconventional materials in the journey of finding her creative voice. Her early works were heavily influenced by her days as a jewelry designer and were created using items such as wire, fine silver and found objects. Now specializing in hand painted and found paper collage, she works intuitively to create compelling combinations of shapes and color to convey stories of self-discovery. As a self-taught artist, she has explored expressing her ideas for many years using different mediums but has focused the last 6 months on unraveling her own personal definition of art. In doing so, she has created a large body of work that reflects not only her current inspirations but also explores themes such as womanhood, connection, and language. Her most recent series, Native Tongue, explores the relationship between an artist and what inspires them as well as celebrates the translation of that inspiration into one’s work. By using her literal inspirations to create abstract characters, she is continually building a language in which the forms are all at once familiar yet foreign, while challenging the viewer to seek their own interpretation.

Statement

Inspiration is everything to me. It is what motivates me, leads my creative process and ultimately, what nourishes my soul. A concept that is the cornerstone in creating my personal work is what I call “following the golden thread”. To me, it simply means following a spark of inspiration to see where it leads.

Having lived most of my life believing that art was simply paintings that hung in museums, it wasn’t until I was introduced to mixed-media art 12 years ago, that I learned differently. Once I discovered that art was not just for long ago masters to create, I was compelled to seek my own definition of what art could be.

I am fascinated by color and what it can convey. I am continuously exploring ways to combine color and shape in order to translate a thought or feeling into a recognizable form. While I continue to explore various techniques, I am most drawn to creating my own collage material using acrylic paint and newsprint. Although they are humble materials, they allow me to create endless combinations of colors and shapes.

I am most inspired by finding beauty in unexpected places, so while my work is unapologetically feminine in color and themes, it is also heavily influenced by my love of long forgotten and neglected objects. I feel my most compelling pieces are ones that marry color with organic texture and invite the viewer to seek their own interpretation.


Forrest Lawson

Forrest Lawson is a multi-media sculptor who explores complicated issues experienced within the LGBTQ+ community. Lawson has participated in multiple exhibitions throughout Florida, was featured in Artbourne magazine in 2017, and was commissioned to install a public art sculpture on the University of Central Florida campus. Lawson will obtain his Bachelor of Fine Arts from the University of Central Florida in December 2018 and plans to pursue a Master of Fine Arts degree upon graduation.

Through sculpture and assemblage, my work explores the array of complexities experienced by individuals within the gay community. I create work to reveal internal and external resentments with a variety of mediums and symbolism. As a tribute and a memoir, my practice touches on feelings that resonate personally and universally. I hope for viewers to engage with the work emotionally, and to question their own similar or dissimilar experiences. My work is merely a glimpse into the often unknown or unrecognized struggles of being gay.

Charmaine Koh

Charmaine Koh lives and works in the San Francisco Bay Area. A painter and new media artist, Koh's work explores dissonance, sentimentality, nostalgia, and place. In her paintings, this takes the form of imaginary landscapes constructed out of a jumble of common tropes and motifs. Koh holds an MFA in Fine Arts and an MA in Visual and Critical Studies from the California College of the Arts. She has participated in residencies in the US, Italy, the Philippines, and Singapore, and has exhibited both domestically and internationally.

Val Shamma

Val Shamma is a visual artist and ceramist born in State College, PA. His work investigates consumer electronics through form and function. He received his BA in visual arts and archival studies at The Evergreen State College in Olympia, WA. He currently lives and works in Brooklyn, NY.

My practice incorporates personal narratives and timelines of technological progress that are synthesized by consumer electronics. I see electronic devices as objects of devotion, vessels that contain and inform memory, sites of visceral interactions between the animate and inanimate, mediators of communication, and signifiers of change. My sculptures, made of clay and found technology detritus, are recognizable but resist immediate identification. I draw from design languages that emphasize serial rigidity, intuitive functionality, and visual simplicity, but my work is offset from manufactured aesthetics. I imbue my work with a tactile softness that is a natural product of using my hands as my primary tools and of referencing my own distant experiences. The gentle corners, smoothed additions, and hazy surfaces of my work point toward incomplete memories of interactions with objects. I aim to make forms that are a convergence of private and cultural experience, using the visual aesthetics and symbolism of functional devices, both real and imagined, as catalysts.

Anna Teiche

Working in large-scale oil painting, Anna Teiche’s work centers around explorations of human and cultural relationships through use of vivid color, light, and pattern. A graduate of the BFA Art & Design program at California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo, Teiche has recently relocated to Seattle, Washington, her hometown. Growing up in the Pacific Northwest, Teiche was always fascinated by color and pattern, especially influenced by her grandmother’s stories of her Scandinavian heritage, and the many Renaissance and Medieval paintings she saw at the Seattle Art Museum as a child. Recently, Teiche completed a public wall-hanging sculpture commission for Cal Poly, which is now on display as part of the permanent collection.

Using bright patterns and vintage fabrics Anna Teiche creates large scale oil paintings and fiber sculptures that feel inviting and friendly at a glance, but allow for more ambiguous, uncomfortable revelations upon further investigation. Through color, pattern, and light Teiche analyzes how bodies interact with each other and the spaces they inhabit, creating narratives that reveal how body language can suggest the underlying psychology of a scene. The work fluctuates between abstraction and figuration, forcing the viewer to find a coherent image in the saturated combinations of fabrics. Using combinations of plaids, stripes, and vintage floral prints, patterns are combined based on color relationships, creating environments that feel pulsating with warm light and pattern, pushing the compositions more towards abstract fragments than real spaces. Referencing the figurative poses found in Medieval and Renaissance painting, Teiche intertwines fabric, color, and seemingly severed limbs to create compositions that are reminiscent of historical paintings, but quickly disintegrate into chaotic scenes of fragmented bodies and dislocated pieces.