OtherPeoplesPixels Interviews Eric Huebsch

Mt. Elephant
2008
Mixed Media
24 x 20 x 12 in.

OtherPeoplesPixels: In drawings like Watch What You Say Cause… (2006), The Abject of Man's Gaze (2009), and I Know What You Said (2005), you use an interesting diagonal composition which creates a sense of one thing leading to the next, but the juxtapositions and the scale discrepancies are sometimes nonsensical. The same composition can also be seen in some of your sculptures, such as Beastmaster (2006) and Mount Elephant (2008). What's it like to draw and build in this way? Do you start at one end and not know what will be at the other end?

Eric Huebsch: I really think in 3-D, I made the drawings first thinking they could become sculptures. As for ideas, I kinda have a vision and I see some details, but generally it never turns out how I first envisioned it. Also with those pieces, I like the puzzling challenge of putting it together and figuring out the composition. So the diagonal layout helps convey a certain depth in graphic quality of the pieces. A lot of those earlier works have a particular flatness to them and that style of drawing is somewhat akin to the drawings of a stoned teenage boy.
I Know What You Said
2005
Colored pencil and enamel marker on paper
44 x 30 in.

OPP: Your most recent work, Spit the Winkle, is a group of 40 collages which combine imagery from contemporary porn with older sources, possibly from the 40s and 50s, including weightlifting magazines, children's books and cartoons. Could you talk about the juxtaposition of sexuality and nostalgia?

EH: I was given this vintage scrapbook and decided to use it to create a story. I have lots of different types of source material that I have used for other 2-D pieces and thought I could create a entertaining story using the scraps of my source material. Most of the images have some sexual connotation, and I was thinking that people have been bonking forever and will continue to do so. It’s timeless really. Everything can be sexualized, even the most innocent thing.

OPP: Is that because sex is naturally embedded in everything all the time? Or because anything can be transformed into anything else? Is your intent to say something about the power of appropriation or about the power of sex?

EH: I believe that sex/reproduction is at our core. As primal as that sounds, I really think it is true. Generally speaking, people are pretty shy and conservative about sex, even though people in the entertainment industry (i.e. music, television, movies) and in advertising all use sexuality as the key component in some of their messages. Obviously, not everyone is reproducing, but everyone is still enjoying the act of sex.
 

Untitled
2010
Mixed media collage
14 x 11.5 inches

OPP: Can you talk specifically about the imagery of Br'er Rabbit, Br'er Fox and Br'er Bear from the 1946 Disney musical Song of the South, which is notoriously considered racist and has never been available on DVD or home video in its entirety due to this controversy. How does this history of your source material contribute to what you are trying to say with the collages?

EH: It’s interesting, because it is somewhat generational. Some get it, some don’t. So it adds another layer for the folks that can make that reference. And if you don’t have that reference, you see it purely as imagery but with the question of where that found imagery came from. For the most part, I feel that I have decontextualized the imagery and appropriated it to create something new.  The imagery still teeters on the edge of what is and isn’t acceptable.

OPP:  Theoretically, can everything, even the most loaded material, be decontextualized?

EH: That’s a tricky one. I‘d like to think so. There are so many variables that can play into it: location, audience, etc. Nothing is absolute.

Keep Attacking the Body
(Anonymous #1)
2011
Ink, pencil, collaged elements
30 x 22 inches

OPP: In sculptures like Human Growth (2007) and The Oogie Boogie (2007), you seem to have an intense fondness for materials that appear to drip and ooze, evoking body fluids like semen and vomit, as well as tar and even melted flesh. Is that some kind of expanding foam insulation? How did you start working with this material?

EH: Well, in art school I initially worked in glass. I was drawn to the wet, syrupy, plastic-like feel and look of the material. In graduate school, I became a bit disillusioned with the material of glass because of its size and cost limitations. I started using materials like foam, epoxy, and fiber glass to try and achieve that illusion. Also, there is a bit of alchemy that happens when you work with two-part expandable foam. There is a finite amount of time when you can work with this stuff, and it really has a mind of its own. I find that there is a lot of beauty in those chaotic moments. The work just happens and you are just part of the catalyst. 

As a metaphor, I like playing with the excess of this stuff coming out of any and all orifices. There are times when we are so sick that we have to surrender to the intense moments. There is no grace when the body decides it needs to purge; those moments are involuntary.

Human Growth
2007
Mixed Media
47 x 22 x 17 in.

OPP: Your artist statement is on the sarcastic side. Is this your actual voice? What role does sarcasm play in your work in general?

EH: Yes. BIG.

OPP: Tell me a little about the Miscellaneous Muses section of your website. Are these found images and sculptures? In what ways do they inspire your work?

EH: So, the Miscellaneous Muses are my life.  I’ll find them, sometimes they’ll find me. They (the images) all have a story and they all make me smile in one way or another. I’ve been trying to collect life’s truths and life’s little inspirations, and these nuggets have kept me motivated and interested through the years. The search is everlasting and enduring. I put them on the website to share a little window into my world/brain with visitors.
To view more of Eric Huebsch’s work visit cockandoodle.com.

OtherPeoplesPixels Interviews Mara Baker

All that is not very much
2011
Blue painters tape and 6 years of studio residue.
Installation at Happy Collaborationist's, Chicago IL

OtherPeoplesPixels: Your work unites the concerns of formal abstraction in painting and sculpture with the conceptual concerns of fiber and material studies. Is one ever more important than the other? Can they be separated?

Mara Baker: I think, within individual works, one or the other may have a stronger voice, but both concerns are always present. When I am creating work I try not separate out the two. In fact I have found the work suffers when one voice takes over. The material or process is usually the conceptual engine in most of my work, but if the material’s voice is too strong than the work becomes didactic or narrative in a way I don’t like. I do like the idea of an abstract history embedded in any given material. When starting a project, I try not to think too hard. It is enough to use a material simply because I visually respond to it. For instance in a recent piece the whole jumping off point was the fact that I loved the found texture in an old landscape print next to the texture of grey packaging foam; that was enough. After I make some initial intuitive decisions the hard work happens. Most pieces in my studio see at least four or five different actual lives. I have to make and then unmake most of my pieces in order to build up sufficient relationship with a material or idea. There is no denying that my studio practice is process driven, but I strive for the work to operate on many levels that engage both formal and material concerns.

Untitled (Detail)
2011
Found print, photographs, acrylic and packaging foam

OPP: Your recent body of work Blue Glue and Other Explorations, which uses painter's tape and the residue from your studio, shows the way discarded remnants from the creative process feeds into the creation of new work. This really illustrates what you say in your statement: "Underpinning all of the work is a desire to explore the performative and conceptual role of deterioration and residue." Can you speak more broadly about this theme, either in this project or in your practice as a whole?

MB: I am interested in the history and relationship I can generate with any given material. I like to fondly, and somewhat facetiously, call my studio a factory for the generation of history. I tend to generate vast amounts of material leftovers that have been edited out of whatever I am working on at the time but that I am unable to throw away. Over the past six years I saved and cataloged, by color, size, and texture, all of these back end leftovers in plastic paint liners. Similar to a junkyard that is full of objects displaced from their former uses, the Blue Glue project used the junkyard of my studio practice as its primary material. As a rule I tend to stack and pile materials I like next to each other as the first step in making work. In a very democratic way I was determined to do this with all of the remnants I had saved. The installation played with how these fragments, embedded with all of my studio failures, could function together as one coherent thought. Blue tape served as a vehicle for both drawing as well as binding. I like that blue tape has a natural relationship to architecture. We use it to temporarily protect and block off spaces we intend to change. Perhaps one of my most literal pieces, the work was a reflection on failure and the process of making.

Internal Weather (construction cord orange)
2010
Found soap factory residues, Plexiglas, construction cords, poly-tubing, straws, vinyl, acrylic, rust, charcoal, and graphite.
Durational Installation at Soap Factory [link to: http://www.soapfactory.org/ ], Minneapolis MN

OPP: You use the term "durational installation" for several pieces. Can you define that more clearly for us? You've installed your "durational installation" Internal Weather at least four times, and each time it's a little different in form and color. Can you explain the piece in more detail?

MB: I used the term “durational” to define installations that changed and eventually broke down over a set duration of time. Specifically, the Internal Weather Project pieces were all comprised of hundreds to thousands of drinking straws (depending on the site) that were joined together with surgical tape. I created line drawings in space with the connected straws that were then hooked up to high-powered water pumps. Over time, the straws would develop kinks and cause pressure that would eventually break down the straws and the system. Leaks, breaks, popping sounds, and mini-geysers were all integral parts of the work. In making the installations, I was constantly striving to make the systems more ambitious while at the same time always balancing the fact that I was using flimsy plastic straws. The liquids I chose to run through the systems varied from acrylic paint to road salt. I was also interested in the residue that was created when the system failed. The work was constantly changing both internally and externally. The final form of each installation was determined by a response to the space, time constraints and genuine curiosity. The series ended when I could no longer take the stress of putting together mini-apocalyptic art scenarios. I came close to ruining a couple of gallery spaces. What I loved and still love about the work is that it was a very real and raw response to the strengths and limitations of materials over a duration of time.  Each installation played with the edge of failure and strove to put the proverbial “last straw” on the camels back.

Untitled,
Wood, Various Construction Materials, Tarping, Vinyl, Acrylic Found Residues and Tape.
Site-Specific Installation for Cara and Cabezas Contemporary

OPP: How did you begin your ongoing collaboration with Rafael E. Vera? What do you like more about collaborating? What do you like more about working alone in your studio?

MB: Rafael and I met working as adjuncts teaching at the College of Dupage. We both work in installation and drawing, and Rafael approached me about creating a body of work together. What was appealing about the collaboration was that we share a love of formal language and a similar approach to space both in drawing and installation; however our individual aesthetics are very different. His work is clean and minimal and mine tends towards the maximal. We were interested in playing our different approaches off of each other. The beginning collaborations were simple exchanges of drawings (Trading Paper series).  I would start a drawing, he would finish it, and vice versa. We did this for a year. It became increasingly apparent that the drawings were blueprints for installations, and we have since worked on three different site-specific installations together. What I love about working in a sustained collaboration is that we have developed a visual language that is neither his nor mine. During the installation of our last piece in Kansas City the curator of the gallery commented on how our conversations were nonsensical to the outside observer. We have developed a way of interacting, talking and making that is uniquely ours. In our collaborative work, I make different decisions than I would make in my own work , which is very freeing. Working alone in my studio is just different. I could never give up my own practice, but collaboration has enhanced my understanding of my own process.

OPP: What's going on in your studio right now?

MB: I recently finished creating three site-specific tactile paintings for a group show entitled Two Histories of the World. The project was inspired by William H. Cooper, an old manufacturing plant turned resale business that is in a state of great disrepair due to the hailstorms that occurred last spring. The curator, Karsten Lund, asked 4 artists (Sarah Black, Laura Davis, Mike Schuh and myself) to create works inspired by the site and the materials present within the site. The work will be dismantled and re-envisioned in a new show at the Hyde Park Art Center in 2012. Otherwise, I am looking forward to some time to make small drawings that are not for any particular purpose but thought and growth.

To view more of Mara Baker’s work, visit marabaker.com.

OtherPeoplesPixels Interviews Casey Vogt

Chow Time
2010
House paint, collage, envirotex/panel

OtherPeoplesPixels: You identify yourself as a "dot painter." Could you explain the history and context of Dot Painting?

Casey Vogt: I can offer you my personal history and context of dot painting. It is actually quite simple and rather banal, but here it is anyhoo. I came to art later in life than most, 25, and the first major exhibition I saw was of Australian Aboriginal Tingari “dot paintings.” I was totally blown away. I had always thought of paintings as portraits, landscapes. The use of color and repetition of the same form was mesmerizing. I was hooked then and continue to be today, because to me it is far more compelling to make a line out of dots rather than to simply draw a line. When a painting is comprised of dots there is a sense of obsessiveness that permeates the piece. It is my way of mark-making. Yet, at the same time, my hand is removed from the work. I enjoy the contradiction, as I myself am a living contradiction.

OPP: Could you say more about the obsessiveness you mention?

CV: I think that I'm obsessed with making my paintings as over-the-top as I can, yet maintaining an overall balance throughout the piece. In a way, I want to complicate them so much that they appear simple; then the viewer realizes that the work is made up of 80,000 dots.

OPP: The motif of the mandala, often with anti-depressants like Wellbutrin at the center, is omnipresent in your work. To quote Wikipedia: "In various spiritual traditions, mandalas may be employed for focusing attention of aspirants and adepts, as a spiritual teaching tool, for establishing a sacred space and as an aid to meditation and trance induction." When looking at the focused, repetitive mark-making you use, I think of both of the compulsion and anxiety that can beg to be medicated and about prayer practices like the rosary and meditative tools like the mantra and the mandala. Are prescription drug use and spirituality being equated with one another?

Rapture
2010
House paint, collage, envirotex/panel

CV: Let me begin this answer by saying that I am not religious, nor have I ever been prescribed any medication other than for various injuries, Percocets mainly. One of the great things that artists do is choose something they want to explore: an idea, a technique, etc. They contemplate it, figure out how they’d like it to look, and create it. While most of them have a strong opinion about how they want their art interpreted, it hardly ever happens that way. So when you ask if I’m trying to equate prescription meds and spirituality, I understand why you’re asking. The simple answer is yes… partly.

While those major topics are always on my mind, there are also really menial, logistical reasons for a lot of elements too. The mandala, for example, has a ton of inherent meanings and associations that I utilize in my conceptual framework, meditation being chief among them. But, truth be told, it is also a wonderful way to get the viewer to look at various places on my painting, because our natural inclination is to look at the center of concentric circles to see what’s in the middle. It is in the middle of these mandalas, or explosions, that I place color copies of prescription pills. In a way, I’m asking the viewer to contemplate a meteoric growth in prescription medication use, specifically, but not limited to, anti-depressants. It is in this vein that Western religions can be brought into the fold as well. In the time before Big Pharma, most people who were having “problems” often sought the assistance and guidance of God, and found solace in that “embrace.” However, it seems more and more that a similar “hug” is being dispensed in a candy-colored dose. I know that anti-depressants help millions of people achieve an equilibrium in their everyday lives, but I also feel that they are being doled out in copious amounts to people who probably would be just fine without them.

OPP: I think the comparison of Big Pharma with organized religion is interesting because both have the capacity for negative and positive effects on their users/followers. The same could be said about the obsessive repetition in your paintings. It could be seen as excessive, overwhelming, almost nauseating. But in truth, I find it simply beautiful... and calming. How do viewers generally respond to your work?

CV: It's funny because most people do find them calming. I think the cowboys help that a lot, they serve as anchors and access points that allow the viewer a respite from the ever-present dots.

Banal Ideas Can Be Rescued By Beautiful Execution
2010
House paint, collage/panel

OPP: Thanks for bringing up the cowboys. In your series Meaning and Nothingness, appropriated images of cowboys people abstract, decorative, overwhelming landscapes of color. What is your source material?

CV: I find images of cowboys everywhere! It’s truly amazing where you can find something when it’s the only thing you’re looking for. I have a bunch of old western movie books, I search the internet for old movie stills, I also used the cover of an ArtForum that had Martin Kippenberger on a horse. This is an image-glutted society, so it’s pretty easy to find source material. I love how the cowboy is perceived in this country. I mean, America’s football team is the Dallas Cowboys! In many ways the cowboy and the mandala are two of the most loaded icons/symbols I can think of, at least in their respective cultures. I think that is one of the reasons some find my work compelling. Not only are there these clashes of form, color, and dots everywhere, but there is also competing cultural iconography. To me, the cowboy represents the rugged loner or gang that lives the land and solves problems, whatever they may be. He is butch beyond butch; he is the real American Man. I read that after Marlboro cigarettes introduced the Marlboro Man sales went up like 2000%! There’s something about the mystique, the adventure that makes men want to be one and women to be with one. Being from Colorado, and having known real cowboys when I was young, it’s really funny to see how romanticized their life is when in actuality it is one of the most physically and mentally challenging occupations there is. Sorry, that was a longer tangent than I planned on. I use the cowboy to serve as a surrogate for the time before Big Pharma, when self-medication meant slugging from the whiskey bottle.

OPP: The combination of a complex american cultural symbol like the Cowboy with contemporary use of prescription drugs and spirituality, makes me think about how our collective perceptions of history shift over time. We don't see the Cowboy the same as we did in the past. Nor does religion play the same role in our collective lives. How do you think our collective view of prescription drug use will change?

CV: I already think attitudes are shifting. When teenagers take their lives and it gets linked to the anti-depressant they were taking, people take notice. The problem is that everything is so incestuously linked together. First graders are on Ritalin to keep them calm, yet they only get 20 minutes of recess. Teenagers are on Lipitor, yet school cafeterias serve processed shit food for them to eat. It’s all cause and effect. Sadly, Big Pharma controls Washington D.C., and they’re not going anywhere. Everyone should read, “Comfortably Numb” by Charles Barber. It sheds a light on how intertwined everything is, from Big Pharma to doctor to patient. I do still have hope that this culture will return to a more conservative/cautious approach when it comes to prescription medication.

Semi-Intelligent Design #7
2007
House paint, collage/panel

OPP: How did you end up painting with house paint?

CV: I started using house paint out of convenience. I have been a house painter off and on for 18 years, and it just made sense as a poor undergrad art student to try it. I tried “painting” with it and realized that wasn’t going to work, because it dries too fast and blending with it was nearly impossible for me. However, it works optimally when dotting, precisely because it does dry so fast. We have a store here in lovely Akron, Ohio that sells other peoples mis-tints, and the palette that exists is nearly endless. My wife and I will go there and return home with 15 different shades of blue, 20 browns, etc. And as I said earlier it’s cheap--$1 a quart, $5 a gallon. My process is so low-tech, it’s funny. I use the non-bristle ends of paint brushes, wooden skewers, marker ends, the “bulb” of a turkey baster, and so on. I dip the implement into a can of paint and repeat, thousands upon thousands upon thousands of times. I do utilize a lot of collage elements as well, beyond the images of cowboys. I’m a sucker for wallpaper and scrapbooking patterned paper.

OPP: What are you working on in your studio right now? Are you excited about any new ideas, directions, or upcoming  exhibitions?

CV: I typically have four or five painting going on at the same time. My gallery in NYC, Tria Gallery, has been very good at moving my work, so I need multiples going in various stages of completion. I would love to start working bigger. My work is usually 24” x 24,” but it takes a long time. Maybe a couple of years from now that can happen. I’m also kinda jazzed about a new piece: I literally drilled hundreds of holes through the support and am dotting in the negative spaces. There are the physical dots on the surface, the “void” dots, and then the cast shadow dots on the wall. And of course, cowboys sitting on a fence staring and taking it all in.

To view more of Casey Vogt’s work, please visit caseyvogt.com

2012 : New Year, New Copyright Dates

You may be wondering why it seems like the folks at OPP didn't notice that it's a New Year. (Change our Copyright Dates, please!)

The reason OPP does not change your copyright dates is because the copyright dates on your site should reflect the dates upon which the material was created.

Therefore, you should use the earliest date in which you created material for the site, as well as the latest date. If you have not posted any work from 2012 as of yet, your copyright dates will not update automatically.

If you'd like to change your copyright dates regardless of when you created the material on your site, you are definitely free to do so.

Please see our Pixelpedia Section for detailed instructions on how to change your Copyright Holder Text.

http://wiki.otherpeoplespixels.com/help/cp/changing-the-years-in-your-copyright

Of course, another way to get your copyright dates to change automatically would be to post new work -- so get back into that studio, and create away.

OtherPeoplesPixels Interviews Tory Wright

Obsession, detail
2009
Cut plastic
30 inches x 40 inches

Other Peoples Pixels: Your most prevalent media is “cut duratrans” or “cut poster on paper.” Can you tell us more about your source material and about the process of cutting such detailed pieces? It appears to be precision work. Is there a lot of planning before you make the first cut?

Tory Wright: My day job is in retail as a visual merchandiser. So whenever a light box Duratrans or a fragrance poster was slated for the trash shoot, I would roll it up, tuck it under my arm, and take it on home to my studio instead. These posters and Duratrans prints were large versions of the magazine adds I had been altering before I had this job. The funny thing is the scale shifted to a larger format while the detail of the cuts became more intricate. I just dive in and start making cuts free hand with a standard X-Acto® blade. I usually start at a point of interest like the eyes of the model.

OPP: I’m interested in the recurring shape of the loop. What does the shape mean to you and how did it emerge in your work?

TW: The shapes in my work are based on the body. When I made paintings I would look at high fashion magazines and then translate those forms (the models themselves and the cuts of the clothing) into flat, biomorphic forms that had a distance from the source. In graduate school at MICA I had a shift in the relationship between the source material and the final work. Why not cut my forms and patterns directly into the source material? It was about surface beauty and alienation, so why not change the surface of the source material itself? The most obvious step is often  the hardest one to make.

Crimson and Clover Interior, detail
2011

OPP: Crimson and Clover (2011) seems to represent a shift in your practice from delicate and intimate gallery pieces to larger public art works. The piece is both a billboard and has an interior life in a gallery space. Can you tell me about how it was developed?

TW: Good Citizen in St. Louis is a great space. They have a billboard on top of the gallery and have programmed the use of it as well as the gallery space. I was so excited to have a solo show there. On top of that, to be able to have a billboard for two months was beyond what I could have hoped for. The billboard was where I started the work for the show. So in a way I worked from the roof down. The work is about transformation of a single image and a single face (Kate Moss). As I continued to work with the transformative qualities of this cut and copy methodology, I was able to see the possibility of where this new work could go.

Untitled Floor Piece, detail
2010
Cut collaged photocopies

OPP: Untitled Floor Piece (2010), an abstracted collage using repeating imagery of the Venus of Willendorf  is distinct from most of your work. Its source material is from Art History instead of advertising, and it uses a process of accumulation instead of a process of deletion, as most of your cut pieces do. Can you talk about these differences?

TW: Untitled Floor Piece-Venus was the second cut, copy, and accumulate piece that I was able to do in a gallery. The first was at The Front in New Orleans in 2010. For this project at Lump gallery in NC, I was encourage to take advantage of the freedom of treating the space as an extension of the studio. Being able to glue the work to the floor opened up new avenues that wouldn't have been possible in a more formalized gallery setting. There was both humor and social commentary in drawing a face on the art historical Venus and then setting up the installation for interaction with the audience. Well, the interaction was more like watching people stand on top of the cluster of Venuses regardless of how many people were at the show. It was definitely a good time with a healthy sense of humor about some important topics.

OPP: What kind of important topics?

TW: The use of the Venus was my way of working through the position of feminism in my work. Giving her a sort of blank face seemed to sum up a internal commentary I have with a feminist history. I wrestle with where I might fit in. I just took my thinking out of my studio and into the gallery, thanks to Lump Gallery and the encouragement of Bill Thelen. The majority of my work is I engaged with the altering of the female form. I edit images constructed by fashion photography into a new form of beauty: just as alluring, but now more powerful with the absence of the cliche.

Kate, Back in Black, #4
2011

OPP: What’s changed in the way you work over time?

TW: The work I make has gotten more labor intensive as I have challenged myself on how much information from the original image could be striped away without losing the sensuality of the original image. However, now the cut and copy work is about the  accumulation of all those choices made in my past work. Now I just need another opportunity to push the installation of the work into a total environment.

OPP: What project are you most excited about right now?

TW:  I am really into a collaborative project I have with Lydia Moyer. Hateful is a zine and blog were we challenge each other by juxtaposing our separate aesthetics with images from artists we invite to participate. It has been a great avenue for approaching my work in new ways and pushing what I think my work is or should be.

To view more of Tory Wright’s work, visit torywright.com.

Black-out your OPP website tomorrow in solidarity with the protest against SOPA/PIPA

***UPDATE: Once you've blacked-out your site, post it to OPP's Facebook page under the black-out thread***

Tomorrow, January 18th, many companies across the Internet, such as Wikipedia, will be "blacking-out" their websites to protest two pieces of legislation, which if passed, could have devestating consequences for online freedom.

You can read more about the protest, the proposed bills, and take action at AmericanCensorship.org.

If you have an OPP website and want to participate in the protest, here are simple steps you can take to black-out your OPP website tomorrow.  

(Remember to change your website back to the way it was on the 19th -- and that keeping track of and making the changes is up to you. We suggest you make a note of your current settings: font names, template names, color number etc. If you choose to participate, we applaud you!)

 

1. Download the image below and post it as your Home Page image or feel free to make and upload your own protest image.

2.  Go to 'Appearance' ---> 'Template' and click on the 'Black' tag. Change your Template to any of these black templates.

3. Go to 'Appearance' ---> 'Background Color/Pattern' and using the color-picker choose black for your Background.

Optional: You can also change your Title and Navigation, and Body Font colors to black to prevent people from being able to access your content.

 

Thank you for helping to protect freedom on the Internet!

OtherPeoplesPixels Interviews Michael Pajon

Lady Lazarus
2011
Mixed Media Collage
6 x 9 inches

OtherPeoplesPixels: Your father immigrated to Chicago from Colombia, South America where he met your Irish Catholic mother on Chicago’s South Side. Reading your description of your experiences being “the product of the integration and movement of Chicago's populations, the artifacts that groups of people have left behind in the still identifiable ethnic neighborhoods, and the points where cultural identities have overlapped and melded” makes me curious about the relationship between the collages you make now and the art you may have made as a child. What did you like to draw while you were growing up?

Michael Pajon: When my Father was growing up in Colombia he told me about coming across American comic books and being fascinated with them. Even though he couldn't yet read in English he spent time with them redrawing the pictures.

I learned to draw very much the same way, reading and collecting comics as a kid the same way my Dad had.

I am still drawn to very graphic imagery like I was as a child. I remember drawing a lot of dinosaurs, airplanes, weird little cities with castles and skyscrapers. My imagination was a little scattered with ADD (attention deficit disorder) so I would often draw something into a picture that I might have seen on TV or in a movie we rented, and then sprinkle in a dinosaur or an exploding volcano. I distinctly remember drawing Spectre Man (sort of like Ultra Man) into coloring books and in the margins of other drawings as well as the Kit car from Knight Rider.  The only thing that I’ve gone back on to find interesting is that when drawing family members I used a dark brown crayon for my Dad a tan one for myself and my siblings and a pink crayon for my Mom. I wasn’t particularly aware of race at the time, but I was aware that my Dad was from some place far away.

A Century of Progress
2011 Mixed Media Collage
14-1/2 x 12 inches

OPP: You recently moved from Chicago to New Orleans. Has your move impacted your art practice?

MP: Yes, I have more time to focus on my work. The pace of living down here is much more relaxed than Chicago. There are new sites sounds smells and rhythms to get used to and become a part of. The city creeps into my work in various ways, particularly with this series of houses that I’ve been working on. I bike past empty run down homes every day, many of which will be lost to the elements rather than become a home to a person in need.  Those pieces are about the ghosts and memories that haunt those places.

OPP: Tell me about the artworld in New Orleans and your involvement in the community there.

MP: Upon arriving I began assisting my friend Meg Turner in creating a community printshop. A lot of blood sweat and tears went into getting our shit together, and then the plug was pulled as of January 2011—we lost our space. She and a few others have recently relaunched it, and I am hoping to be teaching the occasional etching class again. 

I have been part of a few group shows over the past year and a half, but most notably I was included in a larger exhibition of transplanted artists during Prospect 1.5 that ran from Nov 2010-Jan 2011.  The range of work ran from 2D to video and installation.

OPP: The materials you use in your collages range in date from the 1880's-1950's. What is your interest in this time period?

MP: I find that the imagery is unique and hard to find, but at the same time familiar.  Most likely you’ve seen something like it at a grandparents house or floating around a junk, thrift, or antique store. I hope that it will trigger a unique memory in the viewer. I tend to stay away from using things like Coca-Cola ads and the like for fear of coming off as kitschy.

OPP: You keep a blog accessible from your website. On it you post pieces from your Standard American Collage series as you finish them. You also post the found imagery you come across. Do some of the found images that appear on your blog also end up in your collages?

MP: Sometimes, though I tend to post things that are either too large to use or perhaps I find interesting as a piece of history or nostalgia, like my post of a Nelson Algren poem that I found in a 1940’s Esquire magazine. I don’t necessarily find it interesting as collage material, but I love it as something found in its original context.

OPP: How do you select the images and materials that you post on your blog and that appear in your collages?

MP: I have boxes and boxes of things to choose from. I typically sift through things from piece to piece making a kind of mental inventory of what I have. I work rather intuitively, so if something just hits me the right way and it seems to fit I’ll try to include it. 

The blog is simply another tool where I feel I can include people on the process of my art making and offer some of my personal interests as insight to that work.

Tighten the Screws, and Fear Not the Tigers Oath
2011 Mixed Media Collage
3 x 5 inches

OPP: Everything in your collage work is original and painstakingly cut by hand. What's the hardest part of your process in general?

MP: The hardest part is leaving out something that you love and was possibly very difficult to cut out, but doesn’t fit or ad anything to the dialogue of the piece.

OPP: You have worked as a printmaking technician and assistant to artist Tony Fitzpatrick, how did working closely with an established artist early in your career influence your own practice?

MP: Immensely. I got a front row seat to understanding the ins-and-outs of the art world. He was and remains extremely supportive of my work, which is something that I cherish because it can be hard to find. Most artists are not nearly as generous with their time and resources as Tony. They can be secretive about their techniques or even suspect of younger artists. It’s hard to catch a break without getting a little push and it’s rare that you will find that person willing to give you a break.

Tony also treats his studio time like one should, as a job. He gets up, clocks in, gets his ass to work and doesn’t let anyone tell him “no.” I think this is a model to live by.

I have received emails from all walks of people since launching my website. Most of them simply inquire about the work, but more recently I have had teenagers and other young artists write to me. I make a point to offer them as much insight and help as I can. I try to offer them encouragement and give them a little push.

OPP: What will you be working on next?

MP: I’ve got a few things on the desk at the moment, but home improvement projects are also on the horizon. I have a show at Jonathan Ferrara Gallery here in New Orleans in March and will also have some work at Scope NYC. Watch for updates of new work as well as inspirational ephemera at paperandblades.tumblr.com.

To view more of Michael Pajon’s work visit michaelpajon.com.

Fonts Galore : OPP adds over 500 New Fonts!

Because we know that artists can never have too many choices when it comes to the aesthetics of their websites, OPP is excited to announce a HUGE update, guaranteed to get your websites looking snazzy in the New Year.

As of today, the number of fonts available for OPP websites has tripled. More than 500 NEW FONTS just blasted out of the OPP-Awesome-Update-Queue and into your website life. Bam.

Unlike many other website template services, OtherPeoplesPixels offers a unique way of using custom fonts -- so that you're not stuck with boring old Arial, Verdana & Comic Sans. (Click the link for the win!)

We've hunted down the best fonts, and tagged them all so they'd be easy for you to browse. All the new fonts are gorgeous, but, as OPPers requested, we especially added lots of clean, minimal, simple & classic fonts. You can use tags to search specifically find these types of fonts, and/or click the "Recently-Added" tag to see new fonts only.

OPP now offers a lot of font "sets" too -- e.g. fonts that come in both regular & bold or normal & italic etc. This allows you the extra-classy option of using one of these fonts for the Title Font and another for your Nav Section Font. Oooooh!

And here's another deluxe matcy-matchy tip: Search for the name of your new font online, and download it to use for your business cards, email signature, show emails headers etc. All the fonts OPP uses are free, and many can be found here.

So get cracking and check out the new fonts! Pick two gorgeous fonts and stick with them for a while, or hire an intern to change your font 20 times a day. Your call.

OtherPeoplesPixels Interviews Anne Roecklein

Untitled lure (raspberry & blue), detail
2009
Mixed media

OtherPeoplesPixels: Your body of work contains two dominant modes of production: paper collage, as in Horizon Utopias, Paper Lures, and Tiny Utopias, and assemblage-based sculpture, as in Lures and Nets. What's similar about these different media? What's different?

Anne Roecklein: Whether I’m working two- or three-dimensionally, I work with found images and objects, because they have had a life before I find them. I’m interested in the conceptual, historical, and physical residues that materials bring with them. I can recombine and leverage these materials in new and meaningful ways.

Both the assembled Lures and the collaged Paper Lures explore physical as well as conceptual aspects of fishing lures. Why are certain colors and shapes, such as the form of an egg cluster, so appealing? What does it mean to put something out there that will attract what you want? The assembled Lures are made with materials from actual fishing lures, faux flowers, plastic aquarium plants, and cast hot glue—materials that attempt to replicate nature, but don’t quite succeed. The elements for the Paper Lures come from health, biology, and embryology textbooks, as well as cookbooks—sources that deal with different kinds of potential and fulfillment. Here, I’m interested in the mini-tragedies of discarded books, and I’m using the visual vocabulary of science to address some questions about biological desires.

So, these different modes of production are addressing similar questions but coming from different directions with different processes and material associations.

Untitled Paper Lure
2010
Collage on paper
18" x 24"

OPP: From a strictly process-oriented perspective, what body of work is your favorite? Which did you enjoy working on the most?

AR: The Paper Lures are my favorites right now, which could be partly because this is some of the newest work. It’s still shiny and new to me. These pieces evolved out of the assembled Lures so they’re rooted in the same ideas, but the paper pieces are less about materiality and are a little more formal. I spend a lot of time exploring subtle color relationships. Sometimes it almost goes to a nerdy extreme, but this is an area where I find pleasure in my studio practice. I also spend a lot of time with scissors making this work; it’s contemplative, until I get hand cramps.

I’m currently working on a new version of Constant Lake that’s over twelve feet long. This is pushing some scale boundaries for me, which is exciting.

OPP: In your statement, you say that your work focuses on our desires. What do our desires say about the world we live in?

AR: Desire is the central topic of my work. It’s also a jumping off point from which I explore related ideas like possibility, wistfulness, longing, and need. I’m looking at the world around us through the lenses of  biological desires, desires involving objects, and desires for the unattainable. Investigating these topics can tell us so much; desires are what motivate us to take action. They elucidate our relationships with what we find pleasurable. They may drive some neurological pathways dealing with learning and reward. Processing or not processing desires can have a lot to do with individual happiness or frustration.

Pop Song, detail
2010
Collage on paper

OPP: How is collage particularly apt as a medium to address issues of desire?

AR: Collage and assemblage are processes that I have chosen very deliberately for this work. They embody fragmentation, hybridization, and appropriation. They are perfect vehicles for addressing desire in a world where images and objects overwhelm our lives and spaces and where consumerism is presented to us as the fastest path to satisfaction.

These processes are especially well suited to creating fictions that escape the everyday. The individual components are like little “facts,” but when they’re added up and recombined, you get a rubric in which every element is potentially relevant to every other element. This creates countless parallel narratives. When you work with found objects, there is a weird sense that these are “real” objects, because they come from the world and not from art. So when you combine images into an impossible landscape, for example, the viewer is constantly suspended between what is possible and what is impossible. Collage is perfect media for dealing with nostalgia or the longing for utopian places that are simultaneously perfect and nonexistent.

OPP: I, personally, find both the paper and sculptural Lures very visually compelling. They do pull me in, like a fish on a line, and leave me wanting more. In that sense, when looking at them, I engage directly with my desire to possess one. But on the other hand, looking is enough. I notice my desire, and I become aware of pleasure of looking as I contemplate the work. I see your work as an opportunity to contemplate seductiveness and desire through the decorative. Is this a common response?

AR: Yes, that’s it! Sometimes I wonder whether making work about wanting impossible ideals is indulgent daydreaming or a way of curbing my own desires. Perhaps making an object or image about something I cannot have is a way of neutralizing the longing for it. And other times, I find I just need certain things to be possible. It does not matter if those things can’t be real or can’t be mine or are highly unlikely—I just want them to be possible, and it’s through my studio practice that this can happen.

OPP: Are viewers ever dismissive of the content of your work, because of its seductive, eye-candy quality?

AR: I have encountered a few viewers who have been a little dismissive about some of the over-the-top aesthetics in works like Popsong or the Lures like the one covered in pink flocking. I was asked once if “something that is pink and fuzzy can be serious” and my answer was and still is “of course.” Our culture is full of eye candy, and dismissing seductive, opulent, or even campy ornamentation is a missed opportunity for deep understanding.

Untitled
2011

OPP: Your most recent collages from the series Rustbelt are very different in their source material and overall composition. It looks like you are using scientific graphs and illustration, maybe from textbooks or manuals of some kind. How does this new work differ from the Horizon Utopias made with old postcards and the Lures, made with images of plant life?

AR: The images and objects I make can be organized into three categories that address desire from multiple directions: strategies, spaces, and systems. The Lures (both collaged and assembled) and Nets are in the strategies category—they’re about tools of desire. The Speculative Plans, Horizon and Tiny Utopias are in the spaces category—they’re exploring amalgamated landscapes and the longing we have for more perfect places.

The new Rustbelt series and older pieces like System with Yellow Tubes, If you can graph it, then it’s true  are in the systems category—these pieces are exploring the desire we have for knowledge and the need we have for things to work. I’m looking at very broad areas like science and statistics—methods for acquiring information. I’m interested in the optimistic promise of these activities and their inevitable disappointing breakdown. Ideas like the scientific method suggest that, if we’re careful and organized in our research, we’ll arrive at useful and correct answers. But this isn’t always true.

OPP: Where did your interest in this new source material come from? How do these technical drawings play into your overall project about Desire?

AR: I’ve spent the last seven years living in Michigan, Indiana, Pittsburgh, and now western Massachusetts—areas often associated with “the Rustbelt”. The pieces in this series are new, and I’m obliquely exploring how places like the rustbelt used to function. These pieces include things like batteries that don’t connect to anything, light bulbs on dysfunctional circuits, and graphs that don’t really tell us anything. The functional circuits or data are lost. It’s now about the aesthetic information, which is a different kind of truth and a different kind of answer.

To view more of Anne Roecklein’s work visit anneroecklein.net.

OPP Interviewed on ReadWriteWeb regarding dangerous proposed legislation: SOPA/PROTECT IP

Okay, so I know we're technically on "Solstice break," but we wanted to make a quick post about this recent ReadWriteWeb article by Alicia Eler, since it touches on such an important issue. Though not yet widely publicized in the mainstream media, proposed legislation called SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act) and PROTECT IP (Preventing Real Online Threats to Economic Creativity and Theft of Intellectual Property Act) could provide a true and serious threat to online free speech and the Internet as a whole.

To learn more, watch this great video by FightForTheFuture.org (below) that explains the bills briefly and clearly:

Alicia interviewed Brian (Co-Founder of OPP) and our good friend/amazing artist Stacia Yeapanis on how the proposed SOPA/PROTECT IP laws could affect art and artists online. The article focuses on the dangers that the proposed legislation could cause to content providers and services like OtherPeoplesPixels.  If passed, SOPA & PROTECT IP could also have catastrophic reprocussions on the rights of individual artists to publish, share and promote their work online -- especially artists like Stacia Yeapanis, who use, comment on and transform copyrighted material in their work.

Stacia Yeapanis : Buffy Summers #2 : 2007 : Cross-stitched Embroidery : 17.5” x 24.63”
(Text: It seems like the birds shouldn’t be singing anymore, but they are.)

You can find many ways to learn more about these proposed laws and take action to stop their passage, here