tag:blog.otherpeoplespixels.com,2013:/posts OtherPeoplesPixels Blog 2014-04-17T14:22:46Z tag:blog.otherpeoplespixels.com,2013:Post/677703 2014-04-17T17:00:00Z 2014-04-17T14:22:46Z OtherPeoplesPixels Interviews Melissa Manfull

Rising & Falling
2013
Ink, gouache, graphite on panel
40" x 60"

MELISSA MANFULL draws together the domains of nature, culture and the spirit in her densely patterned abstractions in ink, gouache and graphite. Her compellingly ambiguous spaces combine otherworldly architecture, geologic formations, the geometry of sacred spaces like cathedrals and mosques and the manipulative order of game design and graphic design. Melissa received her MFA in 2002 from Concordia University in Montreal. She has mounted three solo exhibitions at Taylor de Cordoba in Culver City, California: Tesseracts (2009), Pattern Constraints (2010) and Schemata (2013). Melissa’s work can currently be seen in two group shows: Thin Space at Fuller Seminary (Pasadena, California) through May 5, 2014 and Temporal Residue at Keystone Gallery (Los Angeles) from April 19-30, 2014. Melissa lives and works in Los Angeles.

OtherPeoplesPixels: Sometimes your drawings reference architecture, sometimes landscapes. Other times, they look like the insides of temples and sometimes the insides of pinball machines. How are all these seemingly disparate types of space connected?

Melissa Manfull: I am interested in controlled space, specifically how architecture or human intervention dominates the chaos of natural environments and phenomena. Architecture mitigates our experiences of space and the horizon. It is an intermediary structure that connects sky and land. I use drawing to experiment with space and structure without the constraints of gravity and perceived reality.

Each individual body of work focuses on a specific theme and is informed by an aesthetic, theoretical or topical interest. These have ranged from an interest in the aesthetics of science fiction or mystic architecture from the Southwest to the aesthetics of game design. Over the years, the drawings have shifted from observing architecture from an exterior viewpoint towards an interest in flipping between interior and exterior positions. Schemata’s focus was on the enclosed space of a game, which is a relationship between the interior mind of the player and the interior space of the game. Formally, I play with the depth or ambiguity of the space depicted in the drawing.

Untitled A Frame
2012
Ink on paper
18" x 24"

OPP: Is the meditative act of drawing only the process that drives your work or is it also the content?

MM: Both are very important to me as an artist, and the process is directly related to the content of my work. I develop my drawings in a very controlled, consistent order. From beginning to end, the process is almost mechanical; drawing is the one place where I can control, predict and order the whole experience. First, I research my chosen topic and collect visuals related to the content. Then I plan out the drawing, execute it in pen and ink in the color. The drawing and inking stages are very meditative.

I listen to audio books related to the theme of the drawing. I like to imagine the books are somehow woven into the drawing or affect the choices I make in the process. While working on the drawings from my 2009 show Tessaracts—both the title of a science fiction novel and a geometric form—I listened to books that dealt with time shifts and time travel. I have an underlying interest in dimensional portals, 11 dimensions of string theory and the aesthetics of science fiction. While working on Plato's Cave, Arch, Stylobate and Portico, I listened to Margret Atwood’s Oryx and Crake and The Time Machine by H.G. Wells, among others.

Study for Ludic Space
2013
Ink on paper mounted panel
14" x 11"

OPP: I've witnessed the attitude many times—and I 100% disagree—that pattern, ornament and decoration are insignificant and superficial. Even beauty is sometimes dismissed as not meaningful enough. Have you ever had the experience of your work being dismissed with the descriptor "decorative?"

MM: My work has actually been described as difficult to look at in person. The decorative elements of the work are so dense and obsessively drawn that there’s more a sense of horror than pleasure. This is also changing in my current work. Recently I’ve been using a heightened color palette with fluorescents to create a more challenging visual experience. The drawings are still dense and decorative, but now they have an electric glow which makes it difficult for the viewers’ eyes to focus. The decorative is also a form of order. I am interested in logical, mathematical patterns, such as tessellations, as well as optical and geometric patterns that mesmerize or hypnotize. So, the decorative is a large part of the content.

I do agree that decoration and pattern are sometimes an easy way of not having content and that using it so predominantly puts my work in a position of being viewed as commercial or illustrative. I am okay with this because I feel confident that my work transcends this category and uses pattern in a meaningful way, creating a synergy between the disparate worlds of fine art, the decorative and the graphic.

Colony
2010
Ink on paper
16" x 18"

OPP: The press release for your 2010 solo show Pattern Constraints states: "Due to the obsessive nature of her process, Manfull has often viewed the meditative act of drawing as a way to approach her fear of vast, open ended space (the unknown). By creating her minute sculptural drawings, she gives this abyss a meaning and in essence, gains control." How does this “control” show up in a new way in your most recent exhibition Schemata (2013) at Taylor De Cordoba Gallery (Culver City, California)?

MM: For many years, my drawing style involved imposing a structure on an empty space or on less controlled forms (for example, poured ink forms, which were symbolic of chaos). But now, I am more interested in exploring forms of visual control in society and the relationship between power, manipulation and pleasure. It is still related to the chaos/control relationship, but it is more specifically about corporate, graphic design as a visual language that is used to manipulate.

In Schemata, I was interested in how games hypnotize and entrance the viewer with color and form. The theory behind game design relates to the intentions of architects of spiritual spaces—Gaudi is an example. Both have a visual logic with designated points that manipulate the player into making certain decisions. Squares, circles and triangles move game players’ eyes around the space, leading them on designated paths to preconceived outcomes. There are points of choice, possible actions and payoffs, as well as elements of addiction like relapse. I used these ideas to create compositions or abstracted versions of the original games. Symmetry, patterning and the golden ratio were all a part of designing these works and relate back to geometry found in spiritual spaces.

Point of Choice: No Possible Action
2013
Ink, gouache, graphite on panel
40" x 60"

OPP: Could you say more about the overlap of the aesthetics of game design and of sacred spaces?

MM: Geometry has always been a recurring theme in my work. My initial interest in architecture became abstracted into patterning and design, which are forms of order, logic and control. I began to research the relationships between geometry and sacred spaces like cathedrals and mosques, which were designed to inspire awe and explore the human relationship to the infinite. As an atheist, I want to understand how and why geometry and logical forms inspire such a reaction. The geometry found in the rose windows and spires of cathedrals, in the tile design of mosques and in mandalas is referred to as sacred geometry. Basic geometric forms are imbued with meaning specific to each religion or spiritual belief system. There are certain shapes that lend themselves to this—the circle (infinite perfection), the square (balanced symmetry) and the triangle (male/female duality in Hinduism). I use these forms with an acknowledgment that they have very significant historical references.

To see more of Melissa's work, please visit melissamanfull.com.

Featured Artist Interviews are conducted by Chicago-based interdisciplinary artist Stacia Yeapanis. When she’s not writing for OPP, Stacia explores the relationship between repetition, desire and impermanence in her cross-stitch embroideries, remix video and collage installations. She is an instructor in the Department of Fiber and Material Studies at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, where received her MFA in 2006, and was a 2012-2013 Mentor-in-Residence at BOLT in Chicago. Recent solo exhibitions include I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For (2013) at Klemm Gallery, Siena Heights University (Adrian, Michigan) and Everything You Need is Already Here (2014) at Heaven Gallery in Chicago.

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tag:blog.otherpeoplespixels.com,2013:Post/676389 2014-04-11T19:37:27Z 2014-04-11T19:37:28Z "Heartbleed" Bug Not an Issue for OPP Some of you may have heard about the massive Heartbleed security issue affecting over 2/3 of the Internet. We want to assure you that luckily your OPP website was never vulnerable to the Heartbleed bug. However, this is a great time to remind everyone that changing your passwords regularly is a good idea. Please take a minute to go to ACCOUNT ---> Change Password and choose a new Control Panel password and a new email password (if you have an email mailbox through OPP).

If you haven't changed your OPP passwords in a while, you'll notice we now require stronger passwords, so please be sure you follow our detailed instructions on the top of the page, as well as being sure to carefully enter your current password.


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tag:blog.otherpeoplespixels.com,2013:Post/674582 2014-04-10T17:00:00Z 2014-04-10T14:18:59Z OtherPeoplesPixels Interviews Aaron McIntosh

The Bear
2013

Through the lens of his “own complicated narrative as a nerdy Appalachian queer guy,” artist AARON MCINTOSH examines desire and the role mass-media images and text play in influencing our sexual identities. Combining sculpture, drawing, text and textiles, he references the historically gendered connotations of quilting and employs piecework as a metaphor to address identity construction. Aaron received his MFA from Virginia Commonwealth University and teaches at Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore. His numerous solo exhibitions include shows at Quirk Gallery Vault (2011) and Russell/Projects Gallery (2010) in Richmond, Virginia. Most recently, Aaron’s work was included in Queer Threads: Crafting Identity and Community (2014) at the Leslie-Lohman Museum in New York. His essay "Parallel Closets,” published in the April 2014 edition of The Brooklyn Rail, addresses the twin pursuits of queering craft and crafting queerness. Aaron lives in Baltimore, Maryland.

OtherPeoplesPixels: I've read in another interview that your grandmothers were both skilled quilters. Did they teach you when you were a child?

Aaron McIntosh: My grandmothers actually didn’t teach me to quilt or sew. But they were always piecing, making quilts for family members, dragging out their scraps and in-process quilts and showing these things to us grandkids. I begged my mom to teach me to sew when I was nine, and she finally relented and showed me how to hand stitch. When I was 12, I taught myself to use the sewing machine, and off I went. I made lots of little quilts, clothes for dolls and for myself. I would show these things to my grandmothers. They were impressed and offered me sewing tips sometimes. Mostly though, I think they and everyone else expected me to grow out of this “phase.”

from Fragments
2013

OPP: Why is quilting as a medium so well-suited for exploring "how stereotypes of sexual emotions, experiences, and identities are propagated in mass-produced images and print material, and in turn, how these images and text shape our own identities (from artist's statement)? Could you talk about the historical quilt patterns you reference in Big Little Men (2010), Bedroom Buddies (2010) and your 2013 solo exhibition Patterns?

AM: The quilt is an excellent platform for my content precisely because of the family connection and because it is a medium with multivalent trajectories. Whether personal or communal, minimal or maximal, staid or kitschy, high or low, quilts are flexible, open objects that are full of possibility. Piecework itself can be traditional, rigid or structured, but it can also be loose, intuitive, unhinged. Identity is analogous to crafting: it’s something we work on, obsess over, tend to with care. So I’ve chosen this patchwork medium to unload a lot of disparate thoughts about my identities: queer, Appalachian, textile nerd, academic, hopeless romantic, stray son, feminist, artist.

I am simultaneously deconstructing the quilt and my identity. On one hand, I am stripping away the quaint, Americana charm-factory status from the quilt, peeling back its cultural layers and infusing the medium with the realities of what happens beneath quilts: desire, sex, death and birth. On the other hand, I am enshrining that domestic decorative affinity as another burdened facet of gay male identity, a psychological sub-bottom to hyper-masculinity’s top. I use traditional quilt patterns such as Double Wedding Ring, Chain Links and an obscure one named Daddy Hex to further blur and complicate this relationship of parallel concerns.

In a recent series titled Fragments, I address this disjointed, scrappy, unfinished nature of identity. One work, Fragment #3: Roses are Red, is made by piecing a traditional quilt pattern called Roses are Red into an image of a heaving jock stud from a gay erotica magazine. The patchwork fabrics belonged to my grandmother, and the digital textile print is an enlarged, scanned copy of a cover of FirstHand magazine from the 1990s. Initially, I picked this blocky quilt pattern from my grandmother's collection because it could partially mask the cover model’s face—a direct nod to online cruising culture in which some men blur out their faces, focusing instead on their bodies. Deliberately using feminized quilt squares to dominate the figure reveals my hesitancy around body image, appropriate sexiness and gay male objectification. In the same way that this gay, masculine body is out of reach for a fag like me, so too is a fulfilling relationship with my family and their traditions. Both are just tantalizingly out of reach. So in this very literal way, I am forcing my queer desire to intersect my craft heritage and creating a space for what is in between.

Captive Heart Boyfriend
2009

OPP: You've used gay and straight romance novels as a material in numerous ways since you were an undergrad. What first drew you to this material?

AM: Reading has always informed who I am, shaped my desire and sense of self, so it’s no wonder that I turn to printed text as a material. When I first turned my eye to the thrift store heaps of discarded romance novels, I was searching for a more evocative material than the masculinized plaids and men’s pants I had been using in quilts. I initially chose this material for aesthetic reasons—the pattern of text and yellowed pages—and because the novels were feminized objects that represent heterosexuality.

But after receiving several gay erotic novels as gifts, my relationship to the romance novel began to shift. Romance novels intended for straight women and those for gay men are radically different. Romance novels written for women tend to be drawn-out narratives with more focus on all the details leading up to the sexual act; entire pages may describe a mere glance. Gay novels, on the other hand, are typically printed in large type and double-spaced for quick reading. They have horribly loose narratives and a sex scene every couple of pages. I was fascinated by the simultaneous material resemblance and subject opposition. I played with juxtaposing the straight and gay romance novels to highlight their differences and their commonalities.

Notes for Future Romance(s) (detail)
2009
168" x 94"
Straight romance novels fused to cotton and coded with highlighters, markers, pencil, pen & ink; drawings in watercolor, color pencil, stickers, enamel paint pen, acrylic medium, hair

OPP:
How has your use of these cultural artifacts changed over time?

AM: I was entirely critical of them as reading material for the first several years. But then I decided to seriously read a few and give myself over to the possibility of a romance novel fantasy. I read five novels and was surprised to find my own stories in these novels. I became really intrigued by the small markings, repetitive cursive name writings and underlining by previous readers. I was inspired to start notating the novels, recording my own experiences. I changed (i.e. queered) the text by eliminating female pronouns and devised a coding system for repetitive motifs. I pieced these coded pages together with glue and they became the substrates for many works, including the large Notes for Future Romance(s), Boyfriends Series and Island.

I was drawn more and more to the materiality of sexual identity and began to use printed erotica and eventually porn. This widening spectrum of desire-bound material had one unifying quality: the intended reading space is a domestic setting. The home is the most private space to escape from workaday drudgery into romantic dreaminess or sexual fantasy. These fantasies take flight from the couch or bed. I wanted to make a functional object about reading and taking in desire. The Couch is a very grandmotherly couch covered in hundreds of racy pages. The original novel pages were scanned and digitally printed on fabric, so the couch is wholly functional. When a viewer steps closer, the homey look of patchwork shifts into a barrage of homoerotic titles, colorful straight novel couples, illustrated gay men en flagrante and text from both straight and gay sources. While some images and titles might be aggressive or oversexualized on their own, they are dulled by the conflation of so many disparate desire-driven images and text. As a visitor to my studio pointed out: “There’s something for everyone here!” The Couch has no hierarchy or dominant sexuality. It charts the known and unknown territories of my personal desire, which has been informed by a variety of gendered and sexual experiences.

Chronicles of Cruising (detail)
2010

OPP: Could you talk specifically about the notion of erasure and absence as it is used in many of your works, including Romance Series (2006), Boyfriends Series (2009-2010), Chronicles of Cruising and NSA Boyfriends (both 2010)?

AM: Absence in my works speaks to both the voyeurism and loneliness that can accompany desire. Responding to loneliness and the lack of stable romantic relationships in my personal life, I created a series of larger-than-life boyfriends appropriated from romance novels. The flimsy, cut-paper men in Boyfriends Series are attempts to fill the voids of unattainable love; they are the stand-ins for boyfriends I cannot attain in real life. These boyfriends are “stolen” from their female counterparts in the romance novel covers, but the work is not a statement about removing women. I’m simply calling into question the heteronormativity of these couples and pointing out that straight men are just as desirable to queer men as they are to women. The removed men are made vulnerable and their sexual identity suspect. In eliminating one partner from these cover relationships, I am choosing to highlight what is absent rather than present.

Chronicles of Cruising is a collection of 365—I made one everyday in 2011—paper cut-outs of attractive guys from desire-based, print sources. Each guy is carefully removed from his respective partner, isolated on card stock, and then cataloged by month. Each man carries the traces of his fractured story in his clothing, accoutrement and posture, as well as the absent partner’s removed body silhouette. Such removal creates an overriding sense of loneliness in this set of new bachelors. The act of cruising—taking in quick, furtive glances of other bodies with no specific intention—is echoed in this queer reversal of the male gaze. Men become the objects of scrutiny, and the obsessive nature of desire itself is splayed open, rendered cold, mundane and creepy in the archival act of clipping.

Forest Frolic is my most recent work to take on absence. Two cavorting male figures have been removed entirely from an erotic illustration, The remaining scene is enlarged, printed on cotton and then quilted. This is the first work to completely remove all figures. Suggestive of the dangers of being sexually overt as a queer person in rural spaces, this quilt contains as much personal fantasy as anonymous, pervasive fear.

Weeds: Dandelion
2013

OPP: Untended (2013) was a two-person exhibition with Jesse Harrod. Could you talk about the introduction of nature metaphors into this new work?

AM: The nature-based themes are an entirely new move in my practice, but they have been rising to the top for some time. The exhibition was the impetus for new ideas of embedding queerness into representations of nature. The title of the show is a reference to unmanaged gardens and the surprising, perhaps unwanted, growth that occurs when nature is allowed to freely form itself.

The Bear is a very family-personal work. Like The Couch, this work attempts to reach across generational divides through a language of form, but difference and unease are manifest in the materiality. In my remake of this taxidermy heirloom, the bear has been "freed" from his constraint as a legendary, family hunting trophy. Covered in shredded, gay pornographic "fur," he is the subaltern of my own romantic forays, sexual legends and hunted desire.

The Bear is surrounded by Weeds in an installation mocking "natural habitat.” The weeds—Briars, Pigweed, Broadleaf Plantain—are scourges to the home gardener. I draw a covert connection between these pernicious, unwanted plants and my own anxious efflorescence as a queer person in a tradition-steeped culture. My copies of disregarded, local plants are made strange by their patchwork skins of vintage fabrics and printed, gay erotica. In contrast to most of my other work, the text and images are embedded into the form so tightly that only fragments can be read, favoring subtle meaning over easy decoding.

To view more of Aaron's work, please visit aaronmcintosh.com.

Featured Artist Interviews are conducted by Chicago-based interdisciplinary artist Stacia Yeapanis. When she’s not writing for OPP, Stacia explores the relationship between repetition, desire and impermanence in her cross-stitch embroideries, remix video and collage installations. She is an instructor in the Department of Fiber and Material Studies at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, where received her MFA in 2006, and was a 2012-2013 Mentor-in-Residence at BOLT in Chicago. Recent solo exhibitions include I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For (2013) at Klemm Gallery, Siena Heights University (Adrian, Michigan) and Everything You Need is Already Here (2014) at Heaven Gallery in Chicago.
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tag:blog.otherpeoplespixels.com,2013:Post/670567 2014-04-03T17:00:00Z 2014-04-03T12:54:31Z OtherPeoplesPixels Interviews Bianca Kolonusz-Partee

Staten Island Ferry (Detail)
2010
6” x 76”
Product packaging, colored pencils adhesives, map tacks

BIANCA KOLONUSZ-PARTEE’s colorful, constructed drawings of industrial shipping ports are crafted from repurposed product packaging, directing the viewer’s attention to the tons of commercial goods for individual consumption that move through these oft-ignored, interstertial spaces everyday. Bianca received her MFA from Claremont Graduate University (Claremont, California) in 2007. She has exhibited widely throughout California, including solo exhibitions at Offramp Gallery (Pasadena) in 2012, and Byatt Claeyssens Gallery at the Sonoma Academy (Santa Rosa) in 2010. Having investigated major U.S. ports in New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco,  Bianca now plans to visit various Asian ports to better understand issues surrounding global shipping. Her first stop will be the port of Colombo in Sri Lanka. She is currently raising funds for her trip with her project Sri Lanka or Bust. Bianca lives and works in Guerneville, California.

OtherPeoplesPixels: What fascinates you about ports and industrial landscapes?

Bianca Kolonusz-Partee: I grew up in northern California, and I learned to understand the landscape by traveling through it on the roads that intersected it. That we learn about something by basically breaking it apart is at the heart of my work. When I lived in San Francisco, I became intrigued by the container shipping port in Oakland and how ports are minimally-regulated global freeways that link us to the rest of the world. Later, as an MFA candidate at Claremont Graduate University, I experienced first hand the mega-port of Los Angeles. I began considering the effects of the pollution on the local population and the impact of this space on the global economy and environment. Our collective obsession with stuff became more serious for me.

Project: Outward Inward 2
2009
40” x 180"
Colored pencils, product packaging, adhesives, map tacks

OPP: When and why did you first start using repurposed product packaging as your dominant medium?

BKP: When I left graduate school in 2007, I was using fine Asian and architectural papers. It just didn't feel right. I began using product packaging because it is the debris of the goods that travel through these ports. I never include logos or names, but I love the connection that people have to the highly designed product packaging of our contemporary world. Bottom line: I feel most comfortable with fewer fine tools. I appreciate both high-end and low-end packaging and enjoy pulling the colors, patterns, textures I need out of the material. Nothing is left as is.

OPP: What's your collection/accumulation process like?

BKP: I initially thought it was very environmentally-friendly of me to reuse discarded packaging, but I don't actually accumulate a lot in my own life. I asked friends and family to collect it and send it my way. I quickly realized that I was unfortunately spending resources that negate the "greenness" of my efforts. Also, I’ve been inspired to try specific products out because my friends liked them. I’ve realized that I am just as tied into our consumer culture as anyone else.

Keelung, Taiwan
2012
21"x 53"
Recycled product packaging, colored pencils, adhesives and map tacks

OPP: Your work exists somewhere in the gray space between drawing and collage. Do you consider it more one or the other?

BKP: I love this question because it is a real struggle for me. I don't think of myself as a collage artist AT ALL. Collage talks about creating an image out of found images in a historically surrealist way. I think of my work as constructed drawings. I work with the materials in the same way that I would draw or paint. I began in these media. I still think of myself as a two-dimensional artist, but possibly I am a hybrid. The fact that my constructed drawings are created directly on gallery walls brings up the notion of installation. My favorite contemporary work is installation art: Ernesto Neto, Christo & Jeanne-Claude, Ann Hamilton, Richard Serra. Erwin Redl does these amazing installations with LED lights that make you feel like you are inside of Tron. I went to see his piece at LAMoCA’s Ecstasy: In and About Altered States (2005) several times and walked through the grid that he created in the room. It was truly amazing.

But I have been most influenced by the great masters like Paul Cézanne. When I was an art student, his two-dimensional work absolutely had a physical impact on me. In my drawing class, we learned about figuring out a landscape by the connection points where elements intersected, and we looked at Cézanne. I drew like that for years: first landscapes, then roads cutting through landscapes and then shipping ports. I eventually discovered others like Turner, who documented the industrial seaport of his time. I often think of myself as a new version of an old master using today's technology to observe and document where we are right now.

Bridge to Bridge (Detail)
2010
12” x 40”
Recyclable materials, colored pencils, adhesives, map tacks

OPP: Can you walk us through the process of drawing with these materials?

BKP: I work from a video of the port. I choose materials from three boxes of collected packaging organized into color groups: cool, warm, black/white/neutrals. My process is just like drawing a line or painting a section of color except that I am cutting out these shapes. I sketch a shape/area onto the packaging with colored pencils while looking at the video. Then I put double stick tape on the shape, cut it out with the yellow scissors—so as not to goo up my nice scissors—and place it on the piece. I am one of those people that has trouble drawing a straight line freehand. I allow my process to mimic my drawing ability by cutting out the straight lines and shaving it off piece by piece until I get it right. It is always about figuring out the space. As I revise, one area often becomes very built up with material. Sometimes I cut sections away with an even stronger pair of scissors. I might cover up an area if the color or pattern doesn't feel right or work to recreate the space. The dense sections of my work result more from my process than my subject matter.

OPP: One of the most significant aspects of your work is the use of the map pins. Was your decision to use them conceptual, formal or practical?

BKP: The pins began as a practical way to hold the work together. When I began working this way, each piece would be partially built and pinned together. Then I would finish building it into the space where I was exhibiting. Eventually, I decided that the pieces typically ended up being a set chunk on the wall, so I started to make sure the pieces were entirely connected before I installed. My largest piece Outward Inward 2, which is 15 feet long, is in three sections. I like the added random mark, which is why the tacks are multicolored, but they do hold the work to the wall. I use the tacks to make some structural pieces appear stronger and more stable on the wall. For example, if there is a big, heavy crane next to a tree, I don’t want the crane to be slipping around on the wall at all. But it’s okay if the tree moves a little.

Rambler Channel, Hong Kong B
2011
20" x 30" framed
Recyclable materials, colored pencils, adhesives, map tacks

OPP: Could you talk about the difference between the larger landscapes pinned directly to the gallery wall and the smaller pieces pinned inside frames?

BKP: The framed pieces are the same as those that are pinned directly to the walls. I frame them on white backgrounds in white frames in order to evoke the white cube gallery wall. When I sell them framed, I do provide instructions and a container of map tacks to those who plan to install them on their walls. I prefer hanging the work out of the square and transforming the gallery space into a mock landscape where the walls become water and sky.

To The Ocean (Installation view at Project_210)
2010
12” x 112"
Product packaging, colored pencils adhesives, map tacks

OPP:
You've visited ports in Manhattan, New Jersey, San Francisco and Los Angeles. In 2011, you shifted focus to Asian ports in your series Countries of Origins (2011). Could you talk about this shift? Have you visited any Asian ports in person?

BKP: Most of the goods that move through the US ports are made in and come from Asia. To see the full picture of consumerism and its global impact, I needed to shift my gaze to those countries providing inexpensive goods to the rest of the world. Countries of Origin, based on images from online videos, explores ports in Japan, Singapore, Hong Kong and Taiwan.

I haven't been able to afford to travel to Asia yet, but I have been able to piece these places together remotely. However, visiting the ports in person is a big part of my work. I have decided to kick off that effort by traveling to Sri Lanka to visit the port in Colombo. I am raising funds for my current project, Sri Lanka or Bust, using my website and a Facebook page. I will sell the work that I make before the trip from a series of images that I found on the internet to pay for the trip. I am currently making drawings with elements of the paper work in them. I have a dear friend from Sri Lanka who lives there and will be able to introduce me to her home, which will make the trip even more rich. Good or bad, we all make assumptions about foreign places. I look forward to replacing those assumptions with a real experience and to taking a look at shipping from a Sri Lankan perspective. I'll use my own video, photographs and experience to make work about the port in Colombo, Sri Lanka upon my return.

To view more of Bianca's work, please visit bkolonuszpartee.com.

Featured Artist Interviews are conducted by Chicago-based interdisciplinary artist Stacia Yeapanis. When she’s not writing for OPP, Stacia explores the relationship between repetition, desire and impermanence in her cross-stitch embroideries, remix video and collage installations. She is an instructor in the Department of Fiber and Material Studies at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, where received her MFA in 2006, and was a 2012-2013 Mentor-in-Residence at BOLT in Chicago. Recent solo exhibitions include I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For (2013) at Klemm Gallery, Siena Heights University (Adrian, Michigan) and Everything You Need is Already Here (2014) at Heaven Gallery in Chicago.
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tag:blog.otherpeoplespixels.com,2013:Post/667504 2014-03-27T17:00:00Z 2014-03-27T14:42:12Z OtherPeoplesPixels Interviews Patrick D. Wilson

Subdivision
2013
Laminated C-prints

The photographed-covered, fractured planes of PATRICK D. WILSON's discrete objects read as multifaceted mirrors, reflecting the details of a larger, surrounding environment. He employs the interplay between surface, volume and depth to reveal the complex amalgam of geometry, texture, meaning and memory that comprise geographic and architectural spaces. Patrick received his MFA in Sculpture from San Francisco Art Institute in 2005. He has exhibited extensively throughout California at institutions including the SFMOMA Artists Gallery (2010), Berkeley Art Center (2011), Headlands Center for the Arts (2012) and the San Jose Institute of Contemporary Art (2013). He was awarded a 2012-2013 Fulbright Fellowship to travel to Chongqing, China to document the city’s pervasive construction sites. He recorded his experience on his blog and exhibited new work in a solo show at Sichuan Fine Arts Institute (2013). Having recently returned to the U.S., Patrick is in the process of relocating to Brooklyn.

OtherPeoplesPixels: What was your first piece that combined sculpture and photography?

Patrick D. Wilson: Infinity Crate was the first piece I made combining sculpture and photography. I used downloaded images of stars photographed through a telescope to cover the outside of a small meteor-shaped crate sculpture. I made this piece in response to some of the reactions I was getting to my sculptures including Low Earth Orbit, Crash Site (2007). Viewers would often ask, "What's inside?" I always thought this was a strange question to ask about an artwork, as I would assume that the artist is showing me what they want me to see. Ideally, the viewer will imagine what objects are inside any of my crate or box sculptures. I once jokingly replied that the sculptures were filled with infinite space. I initially made this piece as a humorous response, but I felt that the photographs actually created that paradoxical sense of space on the surface of the vessel. So I started to explore other ways of replicating that.

Westfield Centre Skylight
2009
Laminated photographs
12" x 20" x 12"

OPP: Sculptures like Westfield Centre Skylight (2009), Cloud City I (2010) and The One That Looks Like a Cloud (2010) are reminiscent of crystal formation. Is this a visual reference for you?

PDW: A lot of people see crystalline structures in these works, but there isn't really a conceptual link to that. It's not something I am conscious of when I compose them. I think it's just that crystals also have very apparent geometries and form in these conglomerated structures that are similar to the way my sculptures are built up.

I think more about architecture and rocky landscapes when I am sketching these. I hope that the arbitrary geometric formations will create an intuitively habitable space. The sculptures are like architectural models, which invite viewers to imagine themselves inhabiting the space as if the tiny rooms and hallways were real. Photographs similarly lead a viewer to imagine the environment beyond the edge of the frame. Both of these forms encourage a nearly-automatic, imaginary transformation without any form of verbal suggestion. This involuntary image production occurs all the time when we watch television or listen to the radio, whether or not we are fully conscious of it. It's the part of us that stitches stories out of fragmented scraps of perception. I take advantage of this unique function of the human mind to create spatially-constrained objects that also suggest an environmental or immersive embodiment.

Right now, viewers feel very connected to the hard edges and geometric faces because of the amount of digitally-composed imagery they are consuming. I imagine these sculptures will look quite different in ten years, and that my compositions will adapt with the compositional tools that I have access to.

House Crisis
2010
Wood and laminated photographs
33" x 33" x 28"

OPP: There are many steps to your artistic process: taking photographs, designing using three-dimensional modeling software and fabricating your sculptures. Is there any part of the process that you enjoy most?

PDW: I definitely like taking the pictures the most. I imagine myself to be visually mining the environments for their interesting materials and textures. It's sort of out-of-body approach to looking. Really there are two separate phases to the photography. In the first phase, I photograph entire scenes as a way of contextualizing the work and to figure out where my interest really lies. That process informs the three-dimensional models. Then I have to go back for the second phase to get the surface photographs that will fit the sculptural form. I don't generally use pictures of entire objects to get the textures. I photograph smaller parts. That way I get better resolution, and I can photograph from angles that create interesting geometry on the sculpture.

OPP: Is there any part you wish you didn't have to do?

PDW: Assembling the cut photographs is probably the most painful. I always think I am going to enjoy it. But about half way through the process, I start to melt down because it requires a lot of slow, careful handwork, which usually has to be redone at least once. Anything creative is already done by that point, and there isn't even any problem-solving to do other than keeping the dust and air bubbles out of the adhesive. But it's a good chance to space out and listen to a year's worth of podcasts.

Materials Yard
2013

OPP: You were awarded a Fulbright Fellowship to travel to China in 2012-2013. What led you to Chongqing specifically?

PDW: My general topic was construction sites. Chongqing is a gargantuan and rapidly-expanding area of China, so it seemed like there would be plenty of relevant material for me there. Wikipedia puts the population of Chongqing at over 29 million, though the actual urbanized population is probably a third of that. I was fascinated by the idea of this inland, industrial megalopolis that most people hadn't heard of, especially prior to its recent corruption scandals. It was off the radar for people who weren't specifically interested in China, and I assumed that meant that it was sheltered in some ways from the westernization you see in comparable cities like Beijing and Shanghai. The Sichuan Fine Arts Institute is also there. They have a sculpture department that is very famous for public works, especially government-commissioned, large-scale monuments. This seemed to be a very unique part of the sculptural universe, so that drew me there as well.

OPP: What’s fascinating about construction sites for you?

PDW: Virtually all sculptors have a fascination with industry and its capabilities. Construction sites are one field within the industrial landscape. The sheer accumulation of materials—steel scaffolding, concrete, plywood—is exciting to anyone who is a maker. But I am particularly interested in documenting the construction site as a continuous, nomadic event that exists independently of architecture and development. The construction site is more than a stage in a building’s life; it is a roving matrix of material and labor that is the generative edge of the urban world. It's a necessary agent of change, but it creates so much waste, pollution, noise and human toil. It is the dark and dirty complement to the shiny image that is presented by real estate developers. It is this value-neutral beast with its own momentum and economy that is hidden behind the curtain of progress. That conception of a construction site's existence continues long after the buildings are bulldozed.

Kashgar Column
2013
Wood and laminated C-prints
32" x 18" x 32"

OPP: Could you highlight some of the new work created in China that was in your solo exhibition at the Sichuan Fine Arts Institute in October of 2013?

PDW: The most successful piece in the show was Kashgar Column. Kashgar is in Xinjiang province near the borders of Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Pakistan. It was an extremely inspiring place. I didn't feel like I was in China anymore. The relevant issues in my research shifted; the geography took over. The images on the outside of that sculpture are of the doors saved by the families in the old city of Kashgar. I read that the doors are thought to contain the family history and must be moved with the families when a home is demolished. When I left Chongqing, I gifted that piece to the sculpture department at the Sichuan Fine Arts Institute and brought a duplicate copy of the constituent photographs home in a plastic tube.

Learning to make sculpture in Chongqing was definitely more challenging than I expected. You would think that a city that builds as much as Chongqing does would have limitless access to materials, but procuring the materials I wanted was difficult. Fractal Architecture is a piece that I made in a furniture factory where they fabricated Ming Dynasty-styled furniture. I was invited to work there after complaining to one of the sculpture professors about the quality of the wood I was finding. When I got to the furniture factory, I found that they actually used a lot of oak imported from the U.S. I lived there several days a week—it was more than two hours away from my apartment—and worked alongside their crew. Most of the workers spoke local dialect, so I could only communicate directly with the two that also spoke standard Chinese. That was a great experience in making because we largely communicated through our shared language of the craft.

To see more of Patrick's work, please visit patrickdwilson.com.

Featured Artist Interviews are conducted by Chicago-based interdisciplinary artist Stacia Yeapanis. When she’s not writing for OPP, Stacia explores the relationship between repetition, desire and impermanence in her cross-stitch embroideries, remix video and collage installations. She is an instructor in the Department of Fiber and Material Studies at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, where received her MFA in 2006, and was a 2012-2013 Mentor-in-Residence at BOLT in Chicago. Recent solo exhibitions include I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For (2013) at Klemm Gallery, Siena Heights University (Adrian, Michigan) and Everything You Need is Already Here (2014) at Heaven Gallery in Chicago.

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tag:blog.otherpeoplespixels.com,2013:Post/665144 2014-03-20T17:00:00Z 2014-03-20T13:44:37Z OtherPeoplesPixels Interviews Janelle W. Anderson

The Chase
2013
Graphite, colored pencil, and ink on mylar
11" x 15"

JANELLE W. ANDERSON's layered, graphite drawings on mylar evoke a surreal sense of loss, nostalgia and confusion. Dreamlike, undefined spaces are populated with juxtapositions of human limbs, gaping maws with sharp teeth, eyeballs, butterflies, birds in flight, bunnies and the tangled web of power lines city-dwellers must peer through to see the vastness of the sky. Janelle received her BFA in Painting from the Metropolitan State University of Denver, where she won the Nagel Art Thesis Award in 2011. Her work will be on view in The Octopoda Invitational, curated by Scott Bailey, at Love Gallery (Denver) until March 28, 2014. Janelle's solo exhibition All Together Now opens in July 2014 at Pirate: Contemporary Art in Denver, Colorado, where she lives and works.

OtherPeoplesPixels: Are the juxtapositions of animals, objects, patterns and body parts in your drawings random? Is it more important to evoke a narrative or a mood with these juxtapositions?

Janelle W. Anderson: I use a lot of recurring symbols and animals in my work: rabbits, skulls, all-seeing eyes and, within the last year, the open mouths of carnivorous animals. I repeat these symbols because they have complex meanings for me personally but can also be interpreted in numerous ways by the viewer. I enjoy art that I can stare at for hours and still have questions about. The narratives in my work are loose enough to encourage multiple readings. Ultimately, the entire composition is designed to be examined closely and trigger a range of emotions. I want to get an immediate reaction out of my viewer, and I try to direct that through the wide range of emotions and human qualities associated with animals.

Rabbits, for example, are cute and cuddly. But they’re also rodents and will reproduce to the point of grotesque infestation. They’re also lucky, spontaneous, vulnerable, clever and quick-witted. I personally identify with the sensitive, timid side of rabbits, and I always associate them with "time running out" because of the White Rabbit in Alice in Wonderland. I try to draw my rabbits with a good balance of cute and creepy to make them mysterious. Right now, I’m obsessed with drawing roaring lions and barking dogs because of the sudden burst of that emotional release. It’s like an explosion. I’m fascinated by the texture and physical form of their open mouths. It’s the contrast of sharp teeth and wet tongues. There’s a sense of danger that makes the imagery really enticing.

Self Portrait with Teeth
2014
Graphite, colored pencil, and ink on mylar
9" x 12"

OPP: Could you talk about the interaction of real and imagined space in your compositions? I'm thinking about the differences between your series of paintings Big Empty Sky (2012) and the surrealistic drawings from Voyage (2013).

JWA: Space and time have both been important components in my work since I was in school. The paintings in Big Empty Sky are depictions of real, physical space, but the true subject of the paintings is the uniform blankness and depth of the sky on a dreary day. I’m still really interested in creating that feeling of blankness. The great thing about working with mylar is that I can get that hazy effect from the material. In a sense, I’ve progressed from depicting a blank sky to placing my subjects inside of this ambiguous blankness. The figures in Voyage, and in my current work, transcend time and space. There is much more freedom in working with this indefinable space; it allows me to be more creative with the ideas I’m trying to express.

OPP: Is there a pervasive mood to the blankness? Is blankness truly ambiguous, or do you see it as more positive or negative?

JWA: This feeling of blankness is definitely existential. I keep coming back to the idea that life is inconsequential, due to its temporary, fleeting state. I have both positive and negative feelings about being temporary. I consider my art practice to be an ongoing exploration in finding meaning and purpose in the ephemeral.

Sanctuary
2011
Graphite and ink on mylar
18" x 18"

OPP: Many of your drawings on mylar have layered imagery, in which one image seems more tangible, more present, while other images seem like wispy ghosts. This is especially true in your series Entangles. How do you achieve this effect? How does it convey your conceptual interests?

JWA: The works from Entangles are each made up of three to four separate layers of mylar. I drew different elements on each layer and stacked them to create the ghost layer effect. I continue to push the effect in my current work by drawing on both sides of the paper and even creating double-sided pieces that become sculptural.

I’m attracted to the ghost image for several reasons. For one thing, people have to look more closely to see the ghost image. It requires a viewer to spend more time with the piece. I want to reward the patient viewer and give people something to seek out in my work. Another reason I like the ghost image is that it seems like a memory or dream and evokes the feeling of nostalgia. This relates to my interest in the passing of time, our perception of it and the desire to hang on to the single, fleeting moment.

Titanium Expose (detail)
2012
Graphite and colored pencil on mylar
12" x 36"

OPP: In 2013, Curious Nature was a two-person exhibition featuring your work and the work of Myah Bailey. The hybrid animals in this show are less dream-like and surreal than in earlier work. They are more horrific or uncanny. I'm thinking of Beast and Baby Creature, which make me think of genetic engineering, or Seeing Shell and Octopus Flower, which make me think of fantasy and science fiction worlds. How do you think about the creatures you created?

JWA: I read Geek Love by Katherine Dunn for the first time about four years ago and was struck by how the narrator Oly Binewski, a blind, albino, hunchback dwarf, felt that her “freak-ness” was special. She thought it would be terrible to be “normal.” One of my favorite quotes of hers is: “I get glimpses of the horror of normalcy. Each of these innocents on the street is engulfed by a terror of their own ordinariness. They would do anything to be unique.”

For this series, I created creatures that are confident their freak-ness. They’re not hiding, but they’re not flaunting themselves either. They’re comfortable in their own skin. I find them quite romantic and charming.

Baby Creature
2013
Graphite and ink on mylar
18" x18"

OPP: What's happening in your studio right now?

JWA: I’m showing a new piece titled Juice in the Octopoda Invitational. It's part of an ongoing portrait project I’m working on. The starting point for each drawing is a photo sent to me by another person. Most of the time people send me photos of themselves. But sometimes the photos are of loved ones or they contain two or more people. This challenges me with a starting point that I don’t get to choose. It forces me to construct a composition that uses a portion of the photograph and fits with what I’m trying to communicate through my work. The working title of this in-progress series is All Together Now, and the unifying theme of the series is the complexity of the human condition.

To see more of Janelle's wok, please visit janellewanderson.com.

Featured Artist Interviews are conducted by Chicago-based interdisciplinary artist Stacia Yeapanis. When she’s not writing for OPP, Stacia explores the relationship between repetition, desire and impermanence in her cross-stitch embroideries, remix video and collage installations. She is an instructor in the Department of Fiber and Material Studies at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, where received her MFA in 2006, and was a 2012-2013 Mentor-in-Residence at BOLT in Chicago. Recent solo exhibitions include I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For (2013) at Klemm Gallery, Siena Heights University (Adrian, Michigan) and Everything You Need is Already Here (2014) at Heaven Gallery in Chicago.
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tag:blog.otherpeoplespixels.com,2013:Post/662124 2014-03-13T17:00:00Z 2014-03-13T13:24:41Z OtherPeoplesPixels Interviews Genevieve Quick

AstroAquaAnaglyph: Scaphandre
2013

Artist GENEVIEVE QUICK is fascinated by the historical lineage of image-making technology from Victorian projectors like the magic lantern and the zoetrope to modern day cameras, space satellites and telescopes. Her low-tech versions of these instruments are constructed from model-making materials like foam core and styrene, and her subtractive drawings on transfer paper replicate the aesthetics and display of photographic negatives and simple 3D effects, reminding us of the profound role these mediating devices have played in the human exploration of previously uncharted spaces and ideas. Genevieve received her MFA from the San Francisco Art Institute (2001). Her recent solo exhibition Vertical Vistas at Royal Nonsuch Gallery in Oakland, California closed in February 2014. She has received a Center for Cultural Innovation Investing in Artists Grant (2011) and a Kala Fellowship (2011) and has also been awarded residencies at the de Young Museum (2011), MacDowell Colony (2010), Djerassi (2004), and Yaddo (2003). Genevieve lives in San Francisco, California.

OtherPeoplesPixels: What was the first machine you ever built?

Genevieve Quick: The P4 Series (Periscopic Panoramic Pinhole Photography) (2006) was the first machine I built. Before this piece, I was making these oversized landscapes out of modeling materials, like really big miniatures. I began thinking about integrating mirrors and lenses into the landscape itself as a way to explore the relationship between image and object. But the landscape became secondary in P4, and I ended up housing it inside an octagonal, cabinet-like form with a rotating pinhole camera attached on the top. Hiding the landscape inside this new piece forced the idea of landscape as an image, rather than as an embodied interaction.

TerraScope
2007
Foam-core, paper, dowel rods, mirror, Fresnel lens, model trees
89" x 74" x 52"

OPP: Could you talk about your choice to use lo-tech materials like foam core and paper to build optical machines like ScopeScape (2007), TerraVision (2005) and SnubSubScope (2008)?

GQ: I use foam core, styrene and paper because they are materials used in model making or prototyping. I draw upon engineering, architecture and design through my materials and the fabrication process. But I make devices that are completely redundant and fantasy driven; they have no real world functionality. Rather than more durable materials like wood, metal or injection molded plastic, I use materials that convey a sense of an incomplete and ongoing design process. More conventional materials, combined with the level of detail in the work, would make the objects too plausible and real.

OPP: Why is it important that these machines are “redundant and fantasy driven?”

GQ: Coming from sculpture with a limited knowledge of optics, I tend to think of things in mechanical or analog ways, rather than in mathematical or electronic terms. Current, emerging and useful technologies tend to be digital, but I'm not interested in writing code. And for that matter, Sony does a much better job than I could ever do. I am, however, really interested in how high-tech imaging relates to its analog ancestry. For instance, the front ends of digital and film cameras are similar; both need to respond to the physical world and the way light travels. The back end, where imagery is stored and later processed, is different. But even still, both operate similarly: a light sensitive sensor in a digital camera has replaced light sensitive film. While the objects I make have no real practical application, they allow me to break down vision or imaging in ways that are consumable. I think of what I do as a macro approach; my sculptures offer a way to think about generalizable ideas.

Astroscopic Series
2009
Blue transfer paper in light boxes

OPP: You've combined drawing and photography in several projects, including Analog Missions and Other Tests (2010) and your AstroScopic Series (2009) by creating hand-drawn "negatives" that are displayed on light boxes. Could you talk about the photography references in these drawings?

GQ: I’m interested in blurring the boundaries of photography through the materials and processes of sculpture and drawing. These drawings are a low-tech approximation to how photography works. The transfer paper I've been using is visually similar to a film negative. The imagery is inverted, left to right and in terms of value. The blue transfer paper references cyanotypes, an early photographic process that uses Prussian blue, light-sensitive chemistry. Until recently, cyanotypes were used for the blue print processes of architectural and engineering drawing, so this process has always had one foot in photography and one in drawing. I've since expanded the materials to grey transfer paper—following the development of photographic processes from cyan to black and white photography—and gridded vellum, which references drafting. Calotypes, another early photographic process, were actually paper negatives. So, all of these images are also displayed in light boxes to reference the photographic process, and they are capable of producing prints. The imagery all relates to space exploration or testing. The images in the AstroScopic Series are all space telescopes and the Analog Missions and Other Tests are all based on the testing that scientists do on the ground before launching the objects or people into space.

A Trip to the Abyss 20,000 Leagues Beneath the Far Side of the Sun and Moon
2013
Two channel video on stacked broadcast monitors
17:22:02

OPP: Recently, you've drawn a clear connection between space travel and deep-sea diving in your video A Trip to the Abyss 20,000 Leagues Beneath the Far Side of the Sun and Moon (2013), which pairs underwater clips and outer space clips appropriated from over 50 science fiction movies. Your AstroAquaAnaglyphs (2013) are works on paper that appear three-dimensional with 3D glasses. They compare space suits and underwater diving suits. What's fascinating to you about these different domains of exploration?


GQ: Given their lack of a breathable atmosphere, as well as gravity and pressure issues, sea and space are both completely inhospitable places for humans. But there are a wide range of technological mechanisms that allow astronauts and scuba divers to briefly inhabit and see these places. Since most of us are unable to go to either, these devices get transformed or complimented with photography and video technology to create a sort of remote vision. The visual experience can be so disembodied and mediated, both for the astronauts/scuba divers and for everyone else looking at the video or photographs. 

AstroAquaAnaglyph 8
2011

OPP: Growing up in the 80s, I remember a sense of awe about space travel. It seems like when space is in the news, no one is really impressed anymore, like the mystery is gone. People seem more interested in the iPad than Mars. Has our collective cultural interest in space been surpassed by the advent of the internet and technology for personal use? I'm wondering if this is just because I'm older now, or if our collective attitude has changed. Thoughts?

GQ: I think that there is still a lot of public interest in space. But there is a difference in how we are thinking about space travel. Basically we’ve abandoned manned flights and are thinking about robotic or mechanical means of exploration, like the Hubble Telescope and Mars Rovers. While I agree that NASA’s golden era is over, private enterprises (like Space X and James Cameron) and foreign countries are pursuing manned space exploration. I don’t think that private enterprise will create great discoveries or inventions, but will allow wealthy non-professionals to buy an experience that was previously reserved for astronauts, who were the physical and intellectual elite. If trickle down economics technology actually works in this case, it could provide greater accessibility to space travel for common individuals, much like what happened with airplanes.

OPP: Do you think mediated experience of mostly inaccessible spaces adds to or detracts from a collective sense of wonder?

GQ: It definitely adds to a collective sense of wonder. After all, every experience is mediated by our senses. So, mediation itself doesn't really affect our reading of imagery. The bizarreness of deep sea creatures like the Dumbo Octopus, which was only recently discovered, is completely amazing. It just proves how much we still don’t know. Since we first mastered the ability to capture an indexical likeness, we've been using lens-based technology to see things not readily perceptible to the naked eye. Muybridge and his galloping horse, x-ray photography, surgical applications of fiber optics and space telescopes are all attempts to visualize ideas or things that humans had never seen before but had hunches about. They've all, at least momentarily, satisfied and sparked our sense of wonder. 

To see more of Genevieve's work, please visit genevievequick.com.

Featured Artist Interviews are conducted by Chicago-based interdisciplinary artist Stacia Yeapanis. When she’s not writing for OPP, Stacia explores the relationship between repetition, desire and impermanence in her cross-stitch embroideries, remix video and collage installations. She is an instructor in the Department of Fiber and Material Studies at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, where received her MFA in 2006, and was a 2012-2013 Mentor-in-Residence at BOLT in Chicago. Recent solo exhibitions include I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For (2013) at Klemm Gallery, Siena Heights University (Adrian, Michigan) and Everything You Need is Already Here (2014) at Heaven Gallery in Chicago.


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tag:blog.otherpeoplespixels.com,2013:Post/660207 2014-03-06T18:00:00Z 2014-03-06T18:23:40Z OtherPeoplesPixels Interviews Rogan Brown

Clone
2012
Layered lasercut paper sculpture (limited edition)
74 x 74 centimeters

Self-taught artist ROGAN BROWN’s monochrome, hand-cut paper sculptures reveal the interconnectedness of human beings and nature by conflating the microscopic, the cosmic and everything in between. His labor-intensive process and choice of paper as a material emphasizes “the delicacy and durability of the natural world.” In 2013, Rogan won Best Installation in the UK National Open Art Competition. In 2014, he was awarded first place in the Sculpture/Installation category of the Florence-Shanghai Prize, allowing him to exhibit his work at the Present Art Festival in Shanghai (July 2014). He was recently appointed to be an artistic adviser to the Eden Project, a well-known ecological education center in the United Kingdom. He will collaborate with both scientists and artists to create exhibitions and programs exploring the theme of the human body and its hidden microbiological wonders. Rogan lives in Les Cevennes National Park in the Languedoc Rousillon region of France.

OtherPeoplesPixels: Tell us a little about your history as an artist. Have you always worked in cut paper?

Rogan Brown: My history as an artist is a little unconventional in that I did not go to art school but studied literature and cultural theory at university. Although I wouldn’t call myself an “outsider artist,” I do see myself and my work as coming from outside the establishment and this perhaps accounts for its hybrid quality: part craft, part design and part sculpture. I started working on the paper sculptures about four years ago after a period of experimenting in the studio. The work is a direct response to the move that I made from London to a remote, rural area in southern France. I was looking for a way to engage with the subject of nature that avoided both painting and photography because I felt that the weight of history and tradition in these media was simply too great. I began drawing detailed fragments of leaf, tree moss and rock textures that I discovered on my walks in the forest. I realized that my approach was more in the tradition of scientific observation and illustration. I developed this further by buying a microscope and delving deeper still into detail.

The monochrome paper cuts emerged because I was looking for a technique that focused purely on process and form. Time is a key element in the work. The process had to be slow, progressive and meditative in order to reflect the natural processes that I observed around me: seasonal change, growth and decay. Few other art forms foreground the time that went into their construction as well as paper cutting does: every cut is a moment, every sheet a month, every sculpture a season.

Cut Pod (detail)
2013
Hand-cut Paper/ boxframe
150 x 84 centimeters

OPP: You mentioned the fact that the pieces are monochrome. I agree that having the work be one color highlights the process and form, but why do you choose the color white? Have you ever considered other colors?

RB: White maximizes light and shadow and evokes marble, dead coral and fossils. I think of my work as creating fossils, time fossils, imaginary fossils. I see myself as an archaeologist of the interface between nature and the imagination—nature IS imagination, according to William Blake. The fossil allusion also contains a warning about what we are in the process of doing to nature. In addition, white carries associations of purity and innocence, which is a counterpoint to the explicit sexuality. But above all, the calming effect of white allows me to be as frenetic and excessive as I like in terms of form without overwhelming the viewer. I have tried using color (or rather tonalities of the same color). It works very well but carries different associations. It is certainly something I will be developing in the future.

Seed
2013
Lasercut paper sculpture (limited edition)
50 x 40 centimeters

OPP: What is the difference between the hand-cut and laser-cut works? What makes you choose the automated process for certain pieces?

RB: There are technical, conceptual and economic differences. It is possible to do things with a laser cutter that are impossible by hand. There are certain shapes that are very difficult to cut at a small scale by hand. Clone exemplifies this. Conceptually, the hand and laser cuts are completely at odds with one another. One could argue that the laser cuts destabilize and question the value of the hand cuts, that they undercut—pun intended—the aura of authenticity in the hand cuts. However, there are also simple, real world economic imperatives at play. The hand-cut work is so labor-intensive and time-consuming that it makes no commercial sense at all. It doesn’t merely subvert the time-money nexus; it completely torpedoes it. In short, the limited edition laser cuts allow me to sell work at an accessible price. Since I wish to make my living from my work, this is very important.

Growth
2013
Hand-cut paper
110 x 75 centimeters



OPP: The beauty of the work is in their delicacy and precision. Do you experience any anxiety about ruining a piece with one sloppy cut?

RB: The cutting itself is very precise and controlled. Everything is minutely hand drawn in advance, each layer giving birth to the next one. There is no real anxiety during this phase. It is in the final gluing process that problems emerge: each layer has to be placed with perfect precision on top of the preceding one. There are usually about eight layers of paper separated by a hidden spacer to create the illusion of floating. The glue does not allow repositioning. I have only one shot, and mistakes are sometimes made.

OPP: What do you like about the process?

RB: The process can be frustrating, but it’s also exciting. I only see the work properly for the first time once all the gluing has been completed. Each piece suddenly comes alive when it is placed vertically in the light. Photos only catch them at a certain moment. In reality, the pieces move with the changes in the ambient lighting, so they are always slightly different. There is a transient play of light and shadow that creates a feeling of incredible delicacy and fragility.

Erode
2010
Hand-cut paper/ boxframe
110 x 75 centimeters

OPP: What strikes me most about your imagery is the connection between the very small and the very large. Some pieces are identified by title as being based on spores and kernels, but these pieces make me think of weather systems and the cosmos, as well as cell structures. Obviously, the vagina is clearly present, but so is the more metaphoric spiritual void at the center at many of the pieces. What inspires you most about the imagery you create?

RB: I dislike giving titles to my work because it limits the free play of interpretation, but it is a practical necessity for identification. It’s marginally better than a numbering system which would carry its own freight of meaning and association. I create pieces that encourage multiple readings because I’m interested in representing interconnectedness. The vagina or yonic element is, of course, present (a nod towards Georgia O’Keeffe), but there are multiple references to the human body including organs such as the heart and lung, intestines, arterial systems, neurons, tissue membranes and cell structures. The point here is that we are not physically separate from nature but contiguous with it: it is us and we are it. Consciousness imposes a completely fictitious division. What fascinates me in nature is the beauty and barbarity, the barbed beauty, the deadly voluptuousness. When you observe nature closely, you come to realize that it’s a vast process of feeding and breeding. Everything is devoted to this end. . . this primal Darwinian purpose. Beauty is there. It exists. It is not merely a cultural construct but a key element and strategy in this process. Perhaps it is there you can find your spiritual void. . . in this sheer godless logic.

To see more of Rogan's work, please visit roganbrown.com.

Featured Artist Interviews are conducted by Chicago-based interdisciplinary artist Stacia Yeapanis. When she’s not writing for OPP, Stacia explores the relationship between repetition, desire and impermanence in her cross-stitch embroideries, remix video and collage installations. She is an instructor in the Department of Fiber and Material Studies at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, where received her MFA in 2006, and was a 2012-2013 Mentor-in-Residence at BOLT in Chicago. Recent solo exhibitions include I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For (2013) at Klemm Gallery, Siena Heights University (Adrian, Michigan) and Everything You Need is Already Here (2014) at Heaven Gallery in Chicago.

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tag:blog.otherpeoplespixels.com,2013:Post/658752 2014-02-28T18:00:00Z 2014-03-03T16:48:13Z Calling All Chicagoland Artists: The MAKER Grant is Back! Deadline March 15, 2014

The MAKER Grant is an annual award opportunity for Chicago-based contemporary visual artists who demonstrate a commitment to a sustainable artistic practice and career development. MAKER Grant’s unrestricted $3000 and $1000 annual grants are intended to recognize two exceptional artists and support the advancement of their artistic careers.

This grant is funded in part by a portion of proceeds from the Chicago Artists Coalition’s annual Starving Artist fundraiser and a matching contribution from OtherPeoplesPixels. MAKER Grant recognizes both the CAC’s and OPP’s mutual commitments to supporting local artists’ practices and professional development.

Mirror Selves
Mary Patten, 2013 Winner

AWARD INFORMATION

In addition to financial support, MAKER Grant awardees receive:
  • Published interviews and promotion through CAC and OPP communications, including a feature on CAR-Chicago Artists Resource & the OPP blog
  • A one-year CAC artist membership
  • 'Lifetime' access to OPP's exceptional portfolio services
  • Two tickets to attend CAC’s Starving Artist fundraiser on June 21, 2014 (winners will be recognized at the event)

ELIGIBILITY

Applicants must be at least 21 years old, a U.S. citizen or legal resident, as well as a resident of the Chicagoland region (within a 30-mile radius of Chicago). Applicants may not be currently enrolled in a degree-granting program or its equivalent, nor may they apply as a collaborator on more than one proposed project.

WHO SHOULD APPLY

  • Artists who can show that they are at a defining moment to achieve growth in their creative and professional careers
  • Artists who demonstrate a strong and active engagement with and professional commitment to their artistic practice
  • Artists whose work as cultural makers impacts the development of art and culture in a meaningful way
White Guilt
David Leggett, 2013 Runner-up

    SELECTION PROCESS

    Submissions are evaluated by a jury of professional peers from leading cultural institutions in Chicago, as well as representatives from Chicago Artists Coalition and OtherPeoplePixels. The 2014 jury is:

    • Greg Lunceford, curator of exhibitions, City of Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs & Special Events
    • Cesáreo Moreno, chief curator, National Museum of Mexican Art
    • Lori Waxman, Chicago-based critic and art historian

    HOW TO APPLY

    • Complete the online application form
    • Upload your Resume
    • Provide 10 Work Samples
    • Pay non-refundable, $15 application fee

    Click here to apply for the Maker Grant.

    For questions, please contact Cortney Lederer (Director of Exhibitions and Residencies, Chicago Artists' Coalition) at 312.491.8888.


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    tag:blog.otherpeoplespixels.com,2013:Post/658706 2014-02-27T16:09:15Z 2014-02-27T18:25:07Z OtherPeoplesPixels Interviews Sandrine Schaefer

    Stairs to Nowhere
    2009
    Duration: untimed
    Location: Boston, MA USA
    photo by Philip Fryer

    Performance artist, writer and independent curator SANDRINE SCHAEFER literally and figuratively explores the concept and experience of fitting in. Her site-sensitive live actions in public space offer the opportunity to contemplate the relationship of our bodies to time and space. In 2004, Sandrine co-founded The Present Tense, dedicated to the presentation and preservation of live action art in transient spaces. In 2012, she was a recipient of The Tanne Foundation Award for artistic excellence. Her curatorial project ACCUMULATION is on view through March 26, 2014 at Boston University’s 808 Gallery in conjunction with the group exhibition The Lightning Speed of The Present. Sandrine lives and works in Boston.

    OtherPeoplesPixels: You use the term "site-sensitive" instead of the more prevalent "site-specific" when referring to your performances. Could you clarify the difference?

    Sandrine Schaefer: Working site-sensitively requires an artist to surrender to the present moment and accept all of the chance encounters that come along with making work for a specific environment in real time. Site-specific work can do this too, but this it isn’t a requirement.

    Organico
    2012
    An infiltration into a trash can in Mexico City
    Duration: 57 minutes

    OPP: In 2012, you spent time in Mexico and did a series of durational live actions in public space—including Ascensions, Fusions and Illusions—that grew out of your 2009 project Adventures in Being (small), which was a literal and figurative exploration of the theme of fitting in. How were the performances in Mexico an extension of that earlier project? What was different? How did time factor into these projects?

    SS: When I began working on Being (small), I was measuring my body by infiltrating a wide array spaces and was not too discriminating about what those spaces were. If I thought I could fit some part of my body into a space, I would try. In the early work, I was interested in the accumulation of the project. There are two rules for Being (small): I enter the space the way that I find it, and I stay (often in sustained stillness) for as long as my body or the space allows. My intention was to work similarly in Mexico, but there were many historical and environmental elements that insisted on becoming part of the work. 

    My first destination was Puebla, a place that is known for its cathedrals. Locals kept telling me that these cathedrals were “built on the backs” of the indigenous communities. It is said that the indigenous people built idols of their own deities into the churches in Puebla. When forced to pray to the saints, they were actually praying to something they believed in. I appreciated the rebellion of this story, and I found the notion of a hidden history kept alive through memory inspiring. It made me reconsider the notion of “smallness” and “being.”

    A Nicho for Coatlicue
    2012
    Site-sensitive action with sun-burned image of Coatlicue on back, infiltration into domestic space in Puebla, Mexico
    Duration: 50 minutes
    Photo by Daniel S. DeLuca

    OPP: What other unexpected factors changed the work?

    SS: The sun has a presence throughout Mexico that I had never experienced before. It’s no wonder why early civilizations were influenced by the cycles of the sun! It had a profound effect on my body and impacted my internal clock. The work became shorter because I had to be very specific about what times of the day I was outside. I had to move at a different pace while in the sun. I wanted to actively incorporate these limitations into the work, rather than allowing them to be passive byproducts, so I started researching. 

    I found that before Puebla was called Puebla, the Aztecs named it Cuetlaxcoapan, which means "where the serpents shed their skin.” I began engaging in sun rituals where I sunburned the image of Coatlicue, an Aztec serpent goddess, onto my back. I then sought out places of tension throughout Puebla: places where ruins had been built over or where buildings with different architectural styles touched. As I fit my body into these spaces, I simultaneously placed this (literally) fading historic icon into contemporary situations.

    As I continued my travels, I chose images relevant to the history of other locations throughout Mexico. In Oaxaca, I burned a Zapotec huipil onto my chest. In Mexico City, I burned an image designed from ruins I studied at Monte Alban onto my stomach. There was something powerful about wearing the traces of one place and bringing them into another. Histories travel through us.

    Half Sadhu
    2013

    OPP: How does the presence of a camera, used to document your performances, affect the performances themselves?

    SS: While working on Being (small), I started to view the camera as a collaborator. Although the actions I performed were rather benign, being still in public spaces can cause concern. This is intensified because of my perceived gender. The goal in all of my work is to create a pause for my audience. . . a chance encounter that inspires a shift in their perceptions about how we interact with our environment. The presence of a camera gives people permission to look. I’ve found that the more professional the camera looks, the less anxiety the encounter induces. The audience is usually more willing to engage. Being (small) intentionally has two different audiences: those who encounter the work in the present moment and those who encounter it through its documentation. But is the “art” in the live act, the photograph or video or both? This is slippery territory that performance artists of our time are navigating in different ways. For me, the art is the live act, but I also see the artistic value of the documents themselves.

    For You. . . and anyone else who might be watching (1)
    2013
    Photo by Daniel S. DeLuca

    OPP: That brings to mind recent pieces like Mirror Stage (2013) and For You. . . and anyone else who might be watching (2013), that include video-sharing technologies like the iPhone and live-cam on the Internet as integral ways for viewers to experience live actions. How have these technologies changed your work? Do you think they are changing the nature of performance art in general?

    SS: Living in an increasingly documented society, it is impossible not to consider the potential and the limitations of these technologies. I certainly think that technology is changing spectatorship of performance art. These technologies are amazing in the sense that we can connect easily—almost instantly—and see documentation from pieces that might be impossible to witness live. However, no matter how thorough, documentation is not a substitute for the live piece. In Mirror Stage and For You. . . and anyone else who might be watching, I use contemporary technologies to intentionally fragment the experience of the performance in order to inspire an active dialogue about the tensions around the act of witnessing in the 21st century. 

    I often work with the idea of breaking the traditional performance space by rewarding the curious viewer. This is expressed through small details that can only be experienced at a close proximately. In both Mirror Stage and For You. . . and anyone else who might be watching, I found that viewers are willing to engage a bit more intimately than in some of my other work. Perhaps the mediation of an interface reads as an invitation to interact.

    Mirror Stage
    2013

    OPP: For you, is documentation of live performance a problem to be solved or a creative opportunity?

    SS: Both. As an independent curator and archivist of performance art, I am always thinking about this. False Summit (phase 2), my collaborative project with Phil Fryer, revolved around the idea of archiving through the body and memory. There are many artists that are doing interesting work with archiving and alternative strategies for documentation. Jamie McMurry, Boris Nieslony, Márcio Carvalho and Shannon Cochrane are just a few.

    My curatorial project ACCUMULATION explores documentation of art action through objects. Over the duration of this exhibition, participating artists are given one day to create a live-art piece. All evidence from their actions is left behind, challenging the following artists to incorporate these remnants into their own work. Any materials that come into the space must remain until the exhibition closes. ACCUMULATION challenges ideas about artist collaboration and simultaneously creates an innovative exhibition of experiential art documentation. This has been generative for me. 

    OPP: What is The Present Tense?

    SS: In 2003, action art experienced a resurgence in Boston. Inspired by the explosive movement happening around us, Phil Fryer and I created The Present Tense in 2004. It started out as an initiative that organized and produced live art events and exchanges, but quickly grew into much more. We believe that art is an access point for growth. To date, we have organized and curated dozens of art events, festivals (including the Contaminate Festival), artist exchanges and exhibitions. In 2009, we co-founded the late MEME Gallery in Cambridge, Massachusetts. We have shown over 300 artists from across the globe, accumulating footage and relics from performances. We wanted to share this further, so The Present Tense launched an online archive in 2009. The goal of this living archive is to provide a permanent presence for ephemeral art that has difficulty finding space to be seen. The Present Tense challenges cultural perceptions of what art can be through its commitment to curating this often misunderstood art form.

    We are celebrating our tenth birthday later this year, so Phil and I are also using this time to reflect and explore what the future of The Present Tense might look like. In 2014, the archive will include never-before-seen footage, posts by guest writers, a series of posts with the theme "Family" and artist accounts of performances that have had no witnesses.

    To see more of Sandrine's work, please visit sandrineschaefer.com.

    Featured Artist Interviews are conducted by Chicago-based interdisciplinary artist Stacia Yeapanis. When she’s not writing for OPP, Stacia explores the relationship between repetition, desire and impermanence in her cross-stitch embroideries, remix video and collage installations. She is an instructor in the Department of Fiber and Material Studies at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, where received her MFA in 2006, and was a 2012-2013 Mentor-in-Residence at BOLT in Chicago. Recent solo exhibitions include I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For (2013) at Klemm Gallery, Siena Heights University (Adrian, Michigan) and Everything You Need is Already Here (2014) at Heaven Gallery in Chicago.
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    tag:blog.otherpeoplespixels.com,2013:Post/655401 2014-02-20T18:00:00Z 2014-02-25T15:22:40Z OtherPeoplesPixels Interviews Doug Beube

    Max Weber Deconstructed (detail)
    2009
    Altered book
    6 3/4" x 5 1/4" x 3/8"

    A book is both an object and a transmitter of information. For the last 34 years, artist DOUG BEUBE has transformed this "seemingly antiquated technology" into sculpture and collage. He cuts, folds, gouges and rearranges the contents of each tome, stretching the limits of its form and calling attention to the incidental juxtapositions of text and image in various genres, including the novel, the art-historical text and the reference book. Doug lectures internationally and acted as curator and consultant for The Allan Chasanoff Bookwork Collection from 1993-2013. In 2011, he self-published a comprehensive monograph with numerous essays by critics and curators titled Doug Beube: Breaking the Codex. His two upcoming solo exhibitions open in October of 2014: Codex at BravinLee Programs and Emendations at Christopher Henry Gallery, both in New York. Doug lives and works in Brooklyn.

    OtherPeoplesPixels: You received a BFA in Film and an MFA in Photography. Did your early interest in the moving image and the image frozen in time lead organically into your sculpture and collage made from altered books?

    Doug Beube: My photography ranges from social documentary to a formal exploration of visual phenomenon, i.e. how recognizable objects are collapsed into a two-dimensional plane as light and dark forms. The transition to collage and bookwork was an organic move. When I look at how I composed my early photographs, I notice certain abiding preoccupations: the compression of foregrounds and backgrounds, the construction and deconstruction of sequences, the repetitive use of forms, images and actions. These repeated gestures show up across separate artifacts and formal systems but also from one medium to another, verging on an obsessive compulsion. For example, the composite photographs like AloeVera: Negative/Positive (1980/1993) were created just as I was turning to collage and bookwork. They emphasize the negative spaces connecting primary objects in the illusory flat plane. In later pieces like A Passion Play (1995) and Masters in Art (2009), I carve and deface that same two-dimensional plane, creating negative spaces through such erasures.

    Masters In Art: Van Gogh
    2009
    Altered book
    6 3/4" x 5 1/4" x 3/8"

    OPP: You are certainly a biblioclast, in the literal sense of the word, but are you also a bibliophile?

    DB: I have a love-hate relationship with the medium of my art. I love the collection of concrete words in a book and the rich history of global inventiveness in binding pages and ideas in fixed margins. I love the heft of a book’s pages, the exposition, the narrative, the linearity and curvature of a story, the unfolding of a point of view, the simplicity and even the assumed preciousness of this object. Yet, its technology is outmoded in this digital era. As a method for recording, preserving and transmitting culture and information, it’s frustrating. On my Mac, I can delve into ideas with a series of clicks. I can drill down through websites into an almost infinite library of human expression. I can reshape, rearrange, erase and restore, at will. All such acts, so intrinsic to digital technologies and so unnatural to books, are nevertheless what I am driven in my art to do.

    The codex, with the span of its body and its spine, is a metaphor for the human form. With its story, it is a metaphor for human expression and an artifact of civilization. Like a physician or an archeologist, I am driven to examine it, to dissect it, to cut it open, to dig into it. I am compelled to unfix margins, make tomes weightless, empty volumes of their stories and twist a point of view into its opposite.

    When I select books for particular pieces, I’m standing on the shoulders of giants.  I use the author’s work, held between the covers, to reveal my own story. Up-cycling and re-purposing the book pays tribute to the original author’s title, which can also be a critique of the content as well.

    Life
    2004
    Altered book
    13 1/2" x 22 1/2" x 11"

    OPP: Are there books you would never alter?

    

DB: Books in our culture are presumed to be objects of affection, accorded a high status; their significant value may be due to the quality of materials, monetary expense of publication and the relevance of ideas. As one of the oldest technologies for disseminating information, all books, regardless of content, are made in the likeness of that familiar, black-clothed object: the "good book," the venerated Bible. Destroying a book is almost like destroying, not only the author’s soul, but God’s word immortalized in the wisdom of an ancient text block.

    For centuries, responsible parents and repressed librarians have universally proclaimed, “Respect books, don’t touch them with sticky fingers!” If we even think about damaging a book, we scan the surroundings, waiting for an omniscient voice, “If your mucilaginous fingers blacken that book, if you have specious thoughts and you intend to sacrifice that volume, even for a righteous artistic cause, you will be punished, doomed to a life filled with eternal library fines and the worst, I will strike you down with guilt!” It’s as if an a priori code is imprinted within our cerebellum that inflicts pain if we clutch a tome with bad intentions or fingerprint it with filthy digits.

    In my work, I primarily use discarded novels, atlases and art monographs. At one time, their spines stood upright on thousands of miles of dust-free shelves. As the information in the books became redundant, new volumes supplanted the well-read copies. They were tossed into a molding heap: vanquished titles stacked into smelly cardboard boxes and relegated to dank catacombs with cockroaches and rodents as their custodians. So, who will punish me if I revive a lost publication from the 42nd Street Public Library’s dumpster, a neighbor’s trash bin, the basement of Strand Books or a Judaica book shop in the East Village? I have actually saved numerous books from becoming landfill.  

    But there are certain books I won’t re-purpose because they are rare, such as the Guttenberg Bible—it’s perfect as is. I also wouldn’t modify a book whose title does not resonate with my sensibilities or a religious text, where doing so might endanger my life.

    Disaster series: Twisted Borough
    2009
    Altered phone book
    14" x 15" x 5"

    OPP: Gouge is a series of cut, drilled and pierced books. You describe the process as excavating, "as if it were a thrilling, previously undiscovered site in an archeological dig." While archeologists never know what they are going to find, they don't just start digging anywhere. There's a reason they pick the sites they pick. Once you make that informed choice as to where to dig, how often are you surprised by what you discover?

    DB: There are two revelations that occur while working with power tools; one is immediate and the other delayed. I use a high-speed rotary drill to eliminate text from the front of the page, turning ink and paper to dust as the words disappear, as in the pieces Red Hat with Veil or Patterns of Abuse. Sometimes I work from the reverse side, and it’s not until turning it over that I see the effect of eliminating the inks, as in Erosion or Tessellation. Both are nontraditional drawing methods. Drawing with a pen or graphite is an additive process in which you see the results immediately. Instead, I use power tools as my stylus to create marks through a reductive process. There’s a third discovery made when I begin shuffling the gouged pages on top of each other and temporarily stacking them—sometimes five pages deep—and the excitement of a visually stimulating image emerges. On the website, it’s difficult to see the actual results in some series. In Frieze, Disorder and Erosion, I use quarter-inch spacers between each page. Not until the pages are finally glued in place does the excitement of what I’m seeing become real.

    When doesn’t it work? When I think a found image is a good candidate, but the image doesn’t interact with the empty squiggles and hollow marks I grind into the paper. I’ve learned what works through trial and error. The buzz occurs when there’s a collaboration between the original image and my alterations; the two create a synergetic, revelatory spark that ignites an aha moment.

    Modernism
    2013
    Altered book, collage
    12" x 14 1/4"

    OPP: My favorite series is Indicies (2002- ongoing). These abstractions evoke mountain ranges, ocean waves, EKG readings of the human heartbeat and EEG readings of brainwaves. I love that the process appears so cut—pardon my pun—and dry, but it produces such poetic results. Could you talk about the process of creating these pieces?



    DB: Each piece in this series teaches me something new about how to put a line together and how to modulate the peaks and valleys. The book is sliced into strips, that are slightly fanned out on top of one another, creating a calligraphic gesture that appears to be a line doodle or scribble. After I configure the individual strips, I tape them together, creating a perpetual replay of the abstracted content and allowing the viewer to scan the entire book. For example, in Modernism and Pollock, the alternating currents reference both admiration for these artists and their falling out of favor at certain times then swinging back into adulation. Another reference is to the daily modulations of the stock market and precarious art investment in an unstable economy.

    OPP: What are your thoughts on e-Readers?

    DB: Fantastic! E-readers are convenient, hold a multitude of reading materials and are accessible with the click of a button. One day they may mostly supplant the paginated book—but not completely. There are too many readers who insist on physically turning the page. Who has heard of anyone passing on a dog-eared Kindle or reading the serendipitous hand-written notes in the margins? The choice to read using an electronic device or to turn the actual pages of a book are not mutually exclusive. Both technologies transmit an author’s words to an audience. We don’t have to choose between watching a film on a large screen in a movie theater and watching it on a TV or computer monitor. The experiences of viewing are different, but both are effective.

    Right now I don’t use an e-reader, but their versatility excites me. Software programs allow the reader to interact with the published text or imagery, shrinking the gap between the reader and author. They become collaborators, whether the author likes it or not. I am working on a number of digital animations that will use a computer screen or iPad. But unless it’s a mixed media installation that requires that kind of technology, I’m sticking to the 'actual' book.

    To view more of Doug's work, please visit dougbeube.com.

    Featured Artist Interviews are conducted by Chicago-based interdisciplinary artist Stacia Yeapanis. When she’s not writing for OPP, Stacia explores the relationship between repetition, desire and impermanence in her cross-stitch embroideries, remix video and collage installations. She is an instructor in the Department of Fiber and Material Studies at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, where received her MFA in 2006, and was a 2012-2013 Mentor-in-Residence at BOLT in Chicago. Recent solo exhibitions include I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For (2013) at Klemm Gallery, Siena Heights University in Adrian, Michigan and Everything You Need is Already Here (2014) at Heaven Gallery in Chicago.
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    tag:blog.otherpeoplespixels.com,2013:Post/653745 2014-02-13T18:00:00Z 2014-02-13T15:01:28Z OtherPeoplesPixels Interviews Adrienne Ginter

    Two Trees
    2013
    Hand-cut paper
    24"x 32"

    ADRIENNE GINTER relishes the details of nature: the gnarled web of tree branches, the modulating texture of a flower's surface, every individual blade of grass. Her cut-paper works, etchings and paintings of nature scenes draw on ancient myths, history and personal experiences. Each meticulous detail reveals a unique narrative, adding depth and nuance to the larger whole. Adrienne received her MFA in Painting from Boston University in 2008 and recently completed a residency at Vermont Studio Center. Since 2013, she has served as a trustee on the Vermont Arts Council of Windham County as well as the Vermont Crafts Council. In July 2014, she will have a solo exhibition [title?] at Outerlands Gallery in Vergennes, Vermont and will be featured in the Spring 2014 issue of Studio Visit Magazine. Adrienne lives in Wilmington, Vermont.

    OtherPeoplesPixels: In your artist statement you say, "My approach to a painting is that of an exploration into the reoccurring oddities and subtle fascinations of the natural world." Can you give us some examples of the oddities? What fascinates you about nature?

    Adrienne Ginter: The largest flower in the world is the Rafflesia arnoldii, which I reference in my paper-cut work Red Crane and my mini gouache painting Craneflower. The Rafflesia arnoldii grows up to three feet and only blooms for a couple of days. It is nicknamed the "corpse flower" because when it flowers it emits a horrible odor of decaying flesh. It does so to attract flies and beetles which pollinate the flower. The pollinators must visit the male then female flower in that order. Red-crowned cranes will attack larger predators like wolves and foxes when protecting their nests. Other smaller birds such as mockingbirds will attack snakes and even humans to protect their nest as seen in my paper-cut Snake in the Garden. In Whale Hunters, I portray a whale shark, a species which originated 60 million years ago. It is the largest fish in the world and times its arrival to coincide with spawning fish shoals and feeds on clouds of egg and sperm. So much in nature is left up to luck and chance, yet every plant and animal has evolved to better its own chances of survival.

    It’s crazy that I can spend three consecutive days painting outside on the same watercolor, and everything changes day to day because plants and animals are continuously growing and dying. I often think about how many different processes are happening in the natural world at any given moment and how we as humans fit into this, copy it and ignore it. We are animals, after all.

    Red Crane
    2012
    Hand-cut paper
    25.5"x 19.5"

    OPP: You have experience with many different painting and print media: oil, watercolor, gouache, monoprints, etching. More recently you've been making work in hand-cut paper and collage. When did you make this shift? Do you consider it a break from or an extension of painting?

    AG: I work in different media because I enjoy learning/teaching myself something new. The first hand-cut paper piece I made was Jungle (2008) during graduate school. I was struggling with a 6' x 7' all-green oil painting of the same title and created the paper-cut in order to inform my painting. After I made that first paper-cut, I was hooked. Working with paper allows me to open up and be more creative in experimenting with imagery and ideas. Paper allows me to be more fantastical for some reason. It doesn't have to make as much sense as I think a painting should. Paper also simplifies my palette since I use archival papers, usually Canson Mi-Teintes, and they only make 42 colors. Also, since I am working reductively and with a border on every piece of paper there is a built-in stopping point. There’s a natural limit to how much paper I can cut out.

    I do not consider cut-paper a break from painting; each medium informs the other. I created a book from etchings I made during my first year in graduate school. That book of etchings was a huge turning point for me. I felt much more free with my imagery with the small scale of the etching plates, and those etchings led to the large oil paintings that ended up being my thesis show. I never would have made those large paintings without creating that book first.

    Spring
    2012
    Hand-cut paper
    32"x 24"

    OPP: How important is planning and precision in your hand-cut paper works? Could you explain a little about the process?

    AG: I do not plan out the paper-cuts. The only thing I plan is to have a connecting border on every layer. I typically use a X-Acto swivel blade. It’s an extremely small blade on a pivot, so I can cut curved lines. I begin with a color palette in mind, but this usually changes as the work progresses. I start with an idea (which often changes as the work progresses), and work on everything backwards, as I loosely draw the image on the reverse side of the paper, always leaving a border. I cut the smallest details first. That way, if I have a slip with the X-Acto knife, it happens towards the beginning of the process. After the first sheet of paper is cut to my liking, I register it on the next piece of paper, upside down, so I can again draw on the back and always leaving a border. I work this way, from the top sheet towards the back sheet, which is left blank. When I glue-tack everything down, I work in reverse from back to front. I am limited in what I can achieve with the paper, a fact I like. Paper is more graphic than painting. Images like clouds that require a lot of variation do not register well, so I just omit them.

    Altair and Vega
    2008
    Oil on canvas
    48"x 36"

    OPP: There's little sense of the modern world in your oil paintings from 2008, around the time of your MFA thesis exhibition. The human figures often look like statues or figures from paintings of a different era because of their clothing and hairstyles. Some rare exceptions include the bikini in Me and My Mama (2008) and the making-out couple in Where Babies Really Come From (2008). The landscapes themselves seem idyllic and make me think of the romantic poets of English literature. Were you romanticizing nature in your work at this time? Has that changed in recent work?

    AG: I still like using people of different eras in my work, as in my paper-cut Spring. I wanted my paintings from my thesis exhibition to feel like you were stepping into a different world. I often referenced french porcelain, anatomical statues, etc. Humans have emotional connections to items in history, and I wanted to represent that. For example, in the painting Altair and Vega, the touch that occurs between the two women feels so more emotional to me than if I had used representational figures in the same pose. I think it is just easier for humans to feel that emotion and connection if it is step removed from reality.

    I am romanticizing nature. I want to make my own world. Many of the animals, people and flora in my work are combinations of the real, the extinct and the imaginary. Birds in The Forgotten Forest, for example, are sourced from emus, ostriches and my imagination. My current work is more about creating my own history/nature. In Red Crane, the corpse flower is birthing the red crane. This scene is from my imagination; it couldn't be possible.

    Mayday
    2008
    Oil on canvas
    84"x 96"

    OPP: Could you talk about the importance of detail in your paintings and cut paper work as it relates to macro and micro narratives?

    AG: I always have multiple narratives going on in each piece: a more universal narrative and a more personal one. I have to include my personal narrative in order to keep myself engaged, but I also offer viewers an opportunity to create their own narratives through the presence of detail. Mayday, for example, is about that moment of falling in love and how fantastic and vulnerable it is at the same time. A heaven/hell or light/dark theme emerges through the painted details in the scene, i.e. the juxtaposition of scary roots and tree branches with whimsical flowers. Regardless of what medium I’m working in, I strive to create work that is legible from a distance and becomes more engaging as the viewer moves closer. I want my work to be compelling whether you are across the room or just an inch away.

    I have always noticed the details in a room or in a painting or the accessories people are wearing. As I progress in my work, I have become more and more intrigued by learning which components make up a whole. If I am representing a bird, I pay attention to each feather, to how wing feathers are very different than body feathers and to how the texture of the body differs vastly from the texture of the eye, beak or legs. I consider how each element in a scene has distinct qualities and requires precise visual language to describe it. This is something that is easier done in oil paint than cut-paper: leaf and rock textures can be built up with paint, and the sky can be a thin wash. Detail is so easily overlooked in everyday life, and I want to make people notice it. It heightens the narrative. Maybe because that's all there really is: millions of details making up the whole.

    To see more of Adrienne's work, please visit adrienneginter.com.

    Featured Artist Interviews are conducted by Chicago-based interdisciplinary artist Stacia Yeapanis. When she’s not writing for OPP, Stacia explores the relationship between repetition, desire and impermanence in her cross-stitch embroideries, remix video and collage installations. She is an instructor in the Department of Fiber and Material Studies at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, where received her MFA in 2006, and was a 2012-2013 Mentor-in-Residence at BOLT in Chicago. Her solo exhibition I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For at Klemm Gallery, Siena Heights University (Adrian, Michigan) recently closed, and her solo exhibition Everything You Need is Already Here is on view at Heaven Gallery in Chicago until February 17, 2014.

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    tag:blog.otherpeoplespixels.com,2013:Post/648095 2014-02-06T18:00:00Z 2014-02-06T13:32:15Z OtherPeoplesPixels Interviews Adam Friedman

    Uncontainable Esoterica
    2013
    Acrylic on Panel
    37"x 45"

    ADAM FRIEDMAN is aware of the tropes of sublime nature. His chosen subject matter—mountains, sunsets, oceans and outer space—have all accumulated symbolic meanings through the lenses of science, literature, pop culture and art history. He merges these meanings in two-dimensional and three-dimensional paintings that bend the rules of perspective, space and time, representing the mysteries of nature rather than a realistic rendering of it. Adam received his MFA from the San Francisco Art Institute in 2008. He is represented by Eleanor Harwood Gallery in San Francisco, where he mounted his solo exhibition Space and Time, and Other Mysterious Aggregations in 2013. His upcoming solo exhibition Esoterica opens on March 7, 2014 at One Grand Gallery in Portland, Oregon, where Adam lives.

    OtherPeoplesPixels: Mountains and glaciers are recurrent visual motifs in your work. What is so compelling about these landforms for you?

    Adam Friedman: I’m originally from a small town in North Lake Tahoe. I literally grew up surrounded by some of the most epic mountains in the continental U.S. (if not the world!). My family eventually moved down to Encinitas in North County, near San Diego, where I became obsessed with the ocean. . . I was surfing, swimming, fishing almost every day. I have a deep-seated love for the great outdoors. For me, a snow capped mountain or a stormy ocean is the ultimate symbol of sublimity. Aside from my own personal investment in these motifs, there are art historical references. From the Hudson River School to Ed Ruscha and beyond, a large mountain has and always will be a powerful trope, simultaneously beautiful and terrifying.

    The Spiral of Time, The Black Whole of Space
    2010
    Acylic, Screen Print, Gel Transfers, and Collage on Panel
    16"x 16"

    OPP: An Impossible Ascendancy (2013), Never Still-Life (2013) and A False Assignment of Ownership (2012) are paintings of landscape sculptures sitting on familiar white pedestals. In each one, mountains or glaciers are breaking through the top of the glass case that is meant to contain or preserve them. Could you talk about the attempt to contain nature in art (or in general)?

    AF: The vitrines/pedestals are recognizable as objects that we see in museums and galleries. These structures typically house articles of particular human accomplishment in art, science, history, etc. Through the lens of science, they represent understanding, as in a natural history museum. But there is a fine line between “understanding” and “ownership.” We name things, places, people and cultures so that we can begin to comprehend them. But in doing so—especially in the case of the natural world and the cosmos—we deny their overwhelming mystery. Painters, photographers and writers have tried for centuries to create representations of the awe-inspiring experience of nature. As powerful as they may be, they never adequately represent the real thing. The landscape sculptures breaking out of glass are my way of recognizing that human beings can never fully grasp, nor control nature. These pieces are about relishing in the mystery of it all.

    Bedrock of Being
    2012
    Acrylic on 2 Panels
    36"x 46" (each panel)

    OPP: Your newest paintings remind me of album covers for classic rock bands like Pink Floyd and Led Zeppelin. Is album art an influence for you?

    AF: That’s awesome, and it’s something that I’ve heard a few times. I think that I’m more influenced by the music than the album covers. The album art is a sort of representation of the music, so it makes sense that I share a similar aesthetic. I love psych rock from the late sixties and seventies: Blue Cheer, Hawkwind, UFO, Zior, Ashkan, Tangerine Dream, Cactus, Captain Beyond. "Larks Tongues in Aspic" by King Crimson is one of my favorite albums of all time and has been highly influential for me over the years. Music is a HUGE part of my process. I typically spend 8 to 12 hours a day in the studio, listening to music the entire time, so it makes a lot of sense.

    Spacial Aggregation (front)
    2013
    Acrylic on Wood
    57"x 68"x 28"

    OPP: Could you talk about the integration of time into your paintings of space? I'm thinking of pieces like Oceans Before and Behind Us in Time (2010) and Bedrock and Paradox (2013).

    AF: Time is present in a variety of ways. First off, my paintings take a long time to complete. I have friends that can finish work really quickly, and I’ve always been a bit envious of them. But I’ve learned to embrace my process and not try to force or rush things along. But more importantly, Time is conceptually interesting. For a human being, 100 years is a long time. . . But I paint landscapes. Geologically speaking, 100 million years isn’t very long. So our understanding of time is completely skewed as it relates to the cosmos and the bigger picture. We also understand time through the lens of space. For instance, if I stand on top of a mountain looking off towards the ocean, I understand that the ocean is far away based on how long I imagine it would take to get there. But time and space exist independently of one another, and the universe exists without all the binaries we use to understand it (time and space, up and down, in and out). So I like to make paintings that break the rules of those imposed binaries. Space and Time, for example, displays multiple locations folded on top of one another. Vanishing points don't follow typical rules of perspective, and objects in the foreground appear the be far off in the distance.



    That Which Swells
    2009
    Acrylic, Screen Print, Gel Transfers, and Collage on Panel
    35"x 60"

    OPP: Before 2010, your works were collages on panel which involved acrylic, screen print and gel transfers. Now, you are working primarily in acrylic. What precipitated the change in media? How did the collage work lead to the new paintings?

    AF: I started painting when I was really young, but became focused on printmaking in college. I had almost stopped painting entirely until I entered grad school. I began cutting up my prints and collaging them onto wood panels, basically making “paintings” again. Screen printing is inherently pretty flat, so I began reincorporating paint. Acrylic made sense for mixed media works. Slowly my love for the paint—feel, color, directness, process—took over, and I started using the printed media less and less. I barely use it at all anymore, but my years of printmaking have definitely influenced the way I paint. I’m very detail and process oriented. I apply paint in non-traditional ways. For instance, I often paint onto polyethylene plastic, peel it up and apply it to my panels with gel medium. It then gets painted over again. In this sense, it is a collage-like process, but I’m using all acrylic medium.

    Recently, I’ve been moving towards three-dimensional work. I still consider them paintings, but they are also sculptural in nature. Sculpture has been a huge influence on my work lately through painting all of the pedestal imagery. I’m working towards a solo show that opens on March 7, 2014 at One Grand Gallery here in Portland. There will be a lot of three-dimensional paintings, as well as actual pedestals with objects under glass.

    To view more of Adam's work, please visit artbyadamfriedman.com.

    Featured Artist Interviews are conducted by Chicago-based interdisciplinary artist Stacia Yeapanis. When she’s not writing for OPP, Stacia explores the relationship between repetition, desire and impermanence in her cross-stitch embroideries, remix video and collage installations. She is an instructor in the Department of Fiber and Material Studies at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, where received her MFA in 2006, and was a 2012-2013 Mentor-in-Residence at BOLT in Chicago. Her solo exhibition I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For at Klemm Gallery, Siena Heights University (Adrian, Michigan) recently closed, and her solo exhibition Everything You Need is Already Here is on view at Heaven Gallery in Chicago until February 17, 2014.

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    tag:blog.otherpeoplespixels.com,2013:Post/647422 2014-01-30T18:00:00Z 2014-01-30T14:55:36Z OtherPeoplesPixels Interviews Megan Stroech

    Ninja Turtle
    2012
    Mixed media and collage on paper

    MEGAN STROECH employs shared associations of color and texture to hint at human emotions, traits and drama in her abstract, mixed media works. She chooses easily-accessible materials such as vinyl, fleece, latex, cardboard, paper and various printmaking techniques, often straddling the two-dimensional and the three-dimensional in her collages constructions. Megan received her BFA from the University of Texas at Austin (2008) and her MFA from Illinois State University (2012). In 2012, she was an artist-in-residence at Anderson Ranch Arts Center in Colorado. In 2013, she began the year-long HATCH Projects Artist Residency at Chicago Artists’ Coalition, which pairs emerging artists with emerging curators to produce three-person exhibitions. She has two upcoming solo exhibitions: Social Niceties at Jan Brandt Gallery in Bloomington, Illinois (April 2014) and Megan Stroech: New Work, SUB-MISSION at The Mission in Chicago (June 2014). Megan lives and works in Chicago.

    OtherPeoplesPixels: You've written that you are "fascinated by the tendency to assign human capacities like joy and aggression to patches of color and textured elements of collage." How much does "the anthropomorphizing of non-representational objects and shapes" affect the compositions you make? As the artist, are your own emotional experiences and interpretations dictating the juxtapositions of color and texture, or is it more about the tendency of viewers to assign meaning to abstraction?



    Megan Stroech: When I start making a piece, I go in with an idea of an object or an action that interests me. In the beginning, my experiences come into play, but I don’t necessarily want the viewer to get back to that place in the finished work. My initial idea becomes more and more abstracted throughout the process. I muse on the imagined viewer’s possible preconceived notions that come with particular colors and formal relationships. Ultimately, I’m more concerned with the meaning that a viewer can assign to the colors and textures that I place in conversation with one another.

    Sunk
    2011
    Woodcut,mixed media and collage on paper
    24"x20"

    OPP: Can you give us an example of a really surprising or exciting response from a viewer to one of your pieces?

    MS: At the opening of my Anderson Ranch installation, a viewer was so eager to get up close to Green Giant that he asked if he could jump into the "hole"—the area of the floor that was not filled by green paint. He then excitedly jumped inside, careful not to touch any of the green painted areas. It was fun to see that kind of physical interaction with one of my works, and it paved the way for more thinking about how to dictate viewer interaction with a piece.

    Green Giant
    2012
    Latex, gouache

    OPP: Could you talk about your interest in the space between the floor and the wall? When did you first get the urge to straddle this boundary line?

    

MS: During my last semester of grad school, I began to produce larger scale works. They were more dynamic and could function as objects, playful figures or spaces. Extending the work onto the walls and floor was a natural progression for me; it allows the work to become an active participant in the gallery space. It is also a playful way to critique the gallery as a closed system with specific parameters. Many gallery spaces have strict rules about altering the space itself in order to present a work. The act of painting on the floor or directly on the wall calls attention to that.

    I had been thinking about this for a while, but was able to first put into action during my ten-week residency at Anderson Ranch Arts Center. I had already been experimenting with works that cascaded onto the floor, but for the first time I had the freedom to alter the installation space in any way I wanted. I didn't have a studio at home in Chicago at this point, so I wasn't sure when I would get that chance again. I had to take the leap and work directly on the wall. I loved the immediacy of painting on the wall and that it forced me to quickly react to each mark I made.

    Processing
    2011
    Monotype,mixed media and collage on paper
    22"x 30"

    OPP: If someone's life depended on you choosing one or the other, what's more important to you: color or texture?



    MS: I’d have to say color. Color carries so much weight in terms of constructing a place or object. I keep that in mind while creating work. One of my guilty pleasures when starting a piece is to pair two colors together that come with a distinct association—sky blue and grass green, for example—and then try to take them out of that context. I’m always interested in learning how color can play a role in one’s daily routine. For example, grocery stores use specific colors to market products to consumers. Texture is an area that I’d definitely like to push more in my work. In the future, I plan to use more substantial materials like wood in order to be able to support different textural elements.

    Don't Go Too Far
    2010
    Mixed media on paper
    22" x 30"

    OPP: What are your thoughts on abstraction as play?


    MS: The work I identify most with from other artists is that which incorporates humor or play, but still participates in a serious and relevant conversation in contemporary art. My work is very playful, and I think abstraction allows for so much exploration into the nuances that make up one’s everyday observations. I am drawn to specific formal elements that seem to take on challenges, but don’t quite succeed. Or they fail in a funny way, like imitating a piece of fabric with paint or repeatedly painting over a line in an attempt to make it look straight. I’m drawn to these little details that appear to be missteps. I see them as a way to mimic awkward or funny human interactions.

    OPP: You have an upcoming solo installation at THE SUB-MISSION, the basement space at The Mission in Chicago (June 2014). Will you give us a sneak preview of what you are planning?

    MS: At the THE SUB-MISSION I plan create approximately three works that start on the wall, and flow onto the floor through the use of paint and fabric. In addition to the wall works, I hope to construct some floor pieces that have three-dimensional elements, which will force the viewer to interact with the space in specific ways. I’m interested in building three-dimensional forms that act as an underlying armature for fabric or paper. My show there is slated to open in late June, 2014.

    To see more of Megan's work, please visit meganstroech.com.

    Featured Artist Interviews are conducted by Chicago-based interdisciplinary artist Stacia Yeapanis. When she’s not writing for OPP, Stacia explores the relationship between repetition, desire and impermanence in her cross-stitch embroideries, remix video and collage installations. She is an instructor in the Department of Fiber and Material Studies at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, where received her MFA in 2006, and was a 2012-2013 Mentor-in-Residence at BOLT in Chicago. Her solo exhibition I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For at Klemm Gallery, Siena Heights University (Adrian, Michigan) recently closed, and her solo exhibition Everything You Need is Already Here is on view at Heaven Gallery in Chicago until February 17, 2014.
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    tag:blog.otherpeoplespixels.com,2013:Post/645010 2014-01-23T13:34:13Z 2014-01-26T14:34:24Z OtherPeoplesPixels Interviews Geoffrey Chadsey

    Recliner (in progress)
    2014
    Watercolor pencil on Mylar
    42" x 63"

    GEOFFREY CHADSEY’s watercolor portraits on Mylar are amalgams of found images from chat rooms and hook-up sites geared toward men seeking men. His poignant and provocative drawings reveal both the specificity of their source material and the universality of donning plumage—in the form of performances of gender, race, persona and cultural affinity—to make ourselves more desirable and to communicate our availability to others. Geoffrey received his MFA from California College of Arts in 1996 and was awarded the prestigious Eureka Fleishhacker Fellowship in 1999. His numerous solo exhibitions include shows at James Harris Gallery (Seattle), Jack Shainman Gallery (New York) and The Contemporary Museum, now part of the Honolulu Museum of Art. His work will be included in the group show, Drawingroom, which opens March 7, 2014 at Galerie im Taxispalais in Innsbruck, Austria. The exhibition, curated by Peter Weiermair, will travel from Ursula Blickle Stiftung in Stuttgart, Germany, where it was shown in December 2013. Geoff lives and works in Brooklyn.

    OtherPeoplesPixels: Do you consider these drawings to be portraits of individuals?

    Geoff Chadsey: Each drawing is a portrait of individuals, plural. They are composites of photos taken from a number of social media sites—other peoples’ self-portraits (or should I say, Other People’s Pixels?)—that are further fleshed out with my own photo studies and images ripped from magazines. I spend so much time on them that they feel imbued with personhood. Frankenstein’s monster, but without the creator's god-complex or nature-challenging hubris?

    Wolf
    2011
    Watercolor pencil on Mylar
    36" x 57"

    OPP: The morphing of figures and the presence of multiple heads/arms/bodies is a richly compelling aspect of your drawings, and it seems to be used to different ends throughout your practice. Sometimes the extra body parts evoke potential motion, as with Reacher (2012) and Reacher, revisited (2013). In works like Vestigial Velasquez (2011) and Portrait (Pink Beak) (2011), I read the second face as representing a buried part of the personality trying to escape. Visually these remind me most of horror movie effects used when someone is possessed. Tinchy Klimt (2011) brings up the idea that our own personalities contain distinct elements of the surrounding culture, i.e. hip hop and fine art. I could go on and on—I haven't even mentioned Hindu deities! What does this hybridity of form and body mean to you?

    GC: I have no grand narrative. I am no great revelator, although I enjoy and agree with your readings. I pursue the uncanny, but as a wary surrealist, who is suspicious of images that beg interpretation or that try to look weird or provocative. The multiple poses, limbs and faces—pentimenti—render indecision into full form. I read a review of a friend's show, which described her paintings as portraits of people who couldn’t make up their minds about who they wanted to be. That description of multiplicity, confusion, playfulness of identities delighted me. That's what the internet was supposed to be about when it became a popular medium. People were talking about how you could reinvent yourself in chat rooms and be whoever you wanted to be. It was supposed to be a post-identity space. Instead, people have become even more entrenched in their identifications of who they'd like to be—and who they'd like to be with.

    The added limbs, faces and traces of previous poses also add distance between my drawings and the unseen source material of the screen and its frozen image. They add a physicality to the figure, as well as movement and the passage of time. Reacher, which quotes a Sports Illustrated basketball cover, and Marines, which evokes Leonardo da Vinci’s Vitruvian Man, both read like dance. Portrait (Pink Beak), a self-portrait, reminds me of spirit photography; the vulpine mask came from a moment of wanting to just SCRIBBLE. Tinchy Klimt is a melding of two common source materials for me: hip-hop and Klimt. There is no reason for it, other than those are images I am repeatedly drawn to: the riveting swagger, the rancid glamor, the spectre of murder. Theater, basically. Popular metaphor of the mask is about hiding, artifice, fakery. Popular psychology is about removing the mask, revealing the true self. But masks enable action. Giorgio Agamben writes that, “‘Persona’ originally means ‘mask’ and it is through the mask that the individual acquires a role and a social identity." He goes further to describe how, in the online era, this mask gets separated from the individual as a profile of online behavior, purchases and likes. Data mining companies collect this information in order to present further enticements or calls-to-action to the individual. You are what you “like.”

    In online chat-rooms, you can see how men increasingly identify themselves with costumes that indicate a masculine archetype: the straight-acting (an overtly theatrical role that requires great skills in projecting illegibility), the jock, the leather-daddy, the preppy/ Abercrombie-and-Fitch collegiate, the scruffy urban-woodsman, the executive, the thugster, the punk. Each one calls out to other lovingly-detailed archetypes for a meeting of the masks. The hybridity in the drawings is about pursuing identities that aren't easily summarized as racial, gender, personality types.

    A Sure Thing
    2003
    Watercolor pencil on Mylar

    OPP: I've read that many drawings are based on images from Grindr, an iPhone app for meeting "gay, bi, and curious guys" and other internet chat sites, although they aren't identified that way on your website. For me, knowing this source adds a distinct layer of longing to connect and to belong that might not be otherwise present in the drawings of single figures. Would these drawings be the same if you drew these figures from life? How important is the source material to you?

    GC: “Curious”—isn’t that hopeful? Yes, Grindr is one source, Manhunt another. I have an archive of photographs from sites I have been collecting for over 10 years. I’ve been an active participant in these sites, by the way. These images are about longing and the self-presentation that goes into being longed-for. Men post themselves in an online bazaar to a fantasized other; it’s a peacock gallery. Maybe that’s the discomfort of these drawings. Here is a figure presenting himself to you. You are an implied part of the drawing. He is looking out at you, he is looking FOR you, but you are also not the original intended audience.

    Someone asked me a few years ago if there was any empathy in these renderings. It’s complicated. While looking at so many beautiful men online, I find myself collecting the photographs where the performances are wonky. There’s some sort of excess that disrupts the aspiring hotness factor, like a bulging belly or an overenthusiastic hairdo. Empathy and delight enter in those moments. Popular gay iconography is all about desirability: beauty, youth, the fitness factor. I seek to capture a more disruptive figure, something you can’t take your eyes off of, something disorienting, alien, horrific like a movie monster that rivets the gaze. Let’s call it the aspirational abject.

    Blondie
    2005
    Watercolor pencil on Mylar

    OPP: All your drawings are watercolor pencil on Mylar. Why do you choose it? Is there anything about your work in this medium that doesn't translate well online? What are we missing as online viewers?

    GC: The image ecology from screen to Mylar back to screen is largely how my work is seen these days. I joke that I am represented by the gallery called Facebook, and they give me a show whenever I want. It’s fun to gather "likes" and to see your work bounce around Tumblr. But the jpegs are pale ghosts of their originals—you miss the WORK involved in making it, the physicality of the line, the painterly goop of the melted scribbles, not to mention the size (some of these drawings are six feet tall). So then the question becomes: why draw? I have a Masters in photography, but I drew my thesis show. Call it digested photography, a reconstituted archive. Drawing is a sentimental attachment to the personal mark, to the mastery of the rendered copy and to the intimate privacy of mulling over images alone in my studio.

    Black Couch
    2010
    Watercolor pencil on Mylar
    36" x 60"

    OPP: You are a 2013-2014 Mentor at Queer | Art | Mentorship, which is an organization dedicated to "pairing and supporting mentorship between queer working artists in New York City." Will you tell us a little about the program and why you decided to become a mentor?

    GC: The program is about nurturing conversations between (roughly) two generations of participating gay male and female creatives. Because of homophobia, the closet and a generation lost to AIDS, these relationships have to be sought out, created and fostered outside of the university. This is my second year participating. Each generation of gay youth coming into their own has perhaps less baggage than the generation before. The generation before meanwhile has accrued experiences that might be summed up as wisdom—not just about being a thriving gay adult but about being a working artist in New York. The mentorship is about an exchange of ideas, readings, film recommendations, critiques. My participation comes from a desire to integrate my practice into a larger community, to share and receive new ideas about what it means to be queer today.

    To view more of Geoffrey's work, please visit geoffreychadsey.com.

    Featured Artist Interviews are conducted by Chicago-based interdisciplinary artist Stacia Yeapanis. When she’s not writing for OPP, Stacia explores the relationship between repetition, desire and impermanence in her cross-stitch embroideries, remix video and collage installations. She is an instructor in the Department of Fiber and Material Studies at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, where received her MFA in 2006, and was a 2012-2013 Mentor-in-Residence at BOLT in Chicago. Her solo exhibition I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For at Klemm Gallery, Siena Heights University (Adrian, Michigan) recently closed, and her solo exhibition Everything You Need is Already Here is on view at Heaven Gallery in Chicago until February 17, 2014.

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    tag:blog.otherpeoplespixels.com,2013:Post/640827 2014-01-16T18:00:00Z 2014-01-16T14:53:10Z OtherPeoplesPixels Interviews Lily Martina Lee

    Larry Halbert, Middleton, Idaho (Failure to Appear: DUI)
    2012
    1994 Ford pickup hood, body filler, steel, resin colorants, resin, vinyl, steer horns
    50" X 69" X 17"

    LILY MARTINA LEE memorializes the forgotten, the discarded and the overlooked. She juxtaposes intimacy and anonymity in her embroidered and appliquéd memorials to unidentified human remains, her beaded scratch ticket medallions and her car hood portraits based on the tattoos of fugitives wanted for non-violent crimes. Lily received a BFA in Fibers (2008) and a BA in American Indian Studies (2009) from the University of Washington in Seattle. She received her MFA from the University of Oregon in Eugene (2012). Her work was recently included in Post-Racial U.S.? at the University Art Gallery at New Mexico State University (Las Cruces, New Mexico, 2013) and Across the Divide IV: The New Boondocks< at Center on Contemporary Art Georgetown Gallery (Seattle, 2012). She teaches Sculpture and Fiber Art at Truman State University. Lily lives and works in Kirksville, Missouri.

    OtherPeoplesPixels: Your Fugitive Portraits (2011-2012) are based on the tattoos of wanted fugitives and the facts found in legal and news media documents. Some of the crimes the men committed are "escape from community custody," "burglary," “failure to appear: DUI," and "criminal endangerment." Was it a conceptual decision not to include fugitives for more violent crimes, like murder or rape? What makes you pick the fugitives you pick?


    Lily Martina Lee: My decision to work with the narratives of fugitives wanted for non-violent crimes was a conscious one. Rather than sensationalize the criminal element, I wanted to make more intimate work, bringing attention to these individuals, where they come from, and the personal narratives and identities as constructed through their tattoos. Their stories may seem banal or even despondent, but they are also so evocative of our present day culture.

    I initially researched most-wanted postings in the Inland Northwest region because that’s where I am from. But I also noticed a pattern in higher-profile, national stories: fugitives often seem to run to Idaho or are captured in this region. I always choose people who are wanted in jurisdictions outside of major metropolitan areas. I began to think of this body of work as cumulatively articulating a contemporary iteration of the romanticized west: anonymous and removed from authority.

    In order for authorities to know and list tattoos in a Most Wanted posting, the fugitives must be a repeat offenders. These individuals often have lengthy histories of petty crimes. In pouring over the list of tattoos—information which is made public for the purpose of finding and capturing them—I couldn't help but imagine and try to understand the characters of the individuals who had made those specific choices. I read hundreds of cases, paying special attention to those fugitives who had enough tattoos listed so that I could create a formal composition. More importantly though, I became intrigued by the discursive combinations of tattoos, such as a pentagram and Tweety bird, as in Israel "Izzy" Rodrigues, Butte, Montana (Criminal Endangerment), or text in English and Spanish with a Thai name, as in Jimmy "Bam Bam" Rodriguez, Pasco, Washington (Escape from community custody).

    Automotive decals and accessories share striking similarities with tattoos in both style and subject matter: flames, Chinese characters, tropical flowers, mythical creatures and religious symbols that are often cliché and rooted in cultural appropriation. Even as tattoos have become more mainstream, they retain their transgressive status, which the marketplace has capitalized on by generating a multitude of consumer products carrying these graphic styles. Despite the commercialization, individuals still permanently mark themselves with such graphics and attach personal meanings to these tattoos. I find this very beautiful; it transcends preconceptions of originality and meaning within a visual language.

    Jimmy "Bam Bam" Rodriguez, Pasco, Washington (Escape from community custody)
    2012
    Dodge Caravan hood, applied, carved, inlaid, and stenciled body filler, resin colorants, polyester resin, primer, cut vinyl, chrome emblem
    Detail

    OPP: You've used auto body materials like body filler, automotive enamel, fenders, chrome and tires in a number of sculptures, including Universal/Tramp Stamp Soldier (2011) and Nightbringer (2011). Did you have any experience working on cars before you started using their parts in your art practice? What's compelling to you about these materials?


    LML: My experience with auto body materials was originally from an observational perspective. In college and during graduate school, I worked seasonally as a flagger at construction sites. I watched cars go by all day and naturally began to personify them as we occupied the same space. It’s a special situation to be clad in safety gear while standing out in a live lane of traffic, choreographing the movement of vehicles. To entertain myself, I began a list of the worst cars I saw each day, where I spotted them and who was driving. For instance, at an apartment complex in Renton, Washington, I saw a gold Nissan Pulsar wagon being driven by a young, Hispanic male.

    When I began to use auto body products in my work, I was initially intrigued by the phenomenon of a cosmetic repair. In our society, it often seems like everything is produced for function and cost-effectiveness. However, the whole auto body industry is essentially aesthetic. It is this curious bastion of formalism practiced outside the context of fine art and is even endorsed by insurance companies. I wanted to explore and participate in this phenomenon by physically manipulating these materials to conceptual ends.

    Fender Flare
    2011
    Toyota fender, body filler, icing, chrome
    27" X 44" X 7"

    OPP: Could you explain the process of working with the body filler?

    LML: I use resin colorants to dye body filler, and then apply these colored layers to the car hood. In some cases, I cover colored layers with a fleshy-colored layer (the default color of body filler when using a standard red cream hardener). I carve through the flesh-toned layer into the colored body filler using woodcut gouges and electric and air rotary tools. In other cases, I carve into a filled area of the flesh-toned body filler, and then fill it back in using body filler dyed to different colors. By repeating this process, I achieve a fairly high degree of detail and generate color gradations by controlling the direction in which I spread the body filler into the carved areas. An example is the rays coming out around the cross on Jimmy. I’ve also experimented with different solvents to thin the body filler in order to pour it into molds I make for casting forms like the masks on Izzy. In some cases, I achieve fine outlines by carefully carving the body filler, spraying on a black primer and then sanding it away to reveal the carved areas.

    This methodology of inlaying is analogous to the process of tattooing and strengthens the connection between body and car; the body filler becomes flesh. I reaffirm the surface of the car hood by juxtaposing the inlayed imagery with decals, chrome emblems and fabricated steel components affixed to the surface or floating above it, such as the pentagram in Izzy or the numbers in Michael. I challenged myself to work completely with products and materials from the automotive industry. The body filler can be carved, thinned and dyed different colors, and it can be applied to itself or to the steel. The material affords me great flexibility in combining these techniques in each piece.

    Chips & Salsa
    2010
    Scratch ticket, beads, poker chips

    OPP: How did your Bachelors of Arts in American Indian Studies from the University of Washington inform your beaded work including Regalia, Skulls and Medallions, your series of beaded scratch tickets?

    LML: I began doing beadwork long before college under the mentorship of the late Pauline Lilje, an artist of Chippewa descent, and my interest in beadwork partially led me to pursue a degree in American Indian Studies. I was very fortunate to study at a university that had such a department, and I was continuously surprised by the contemporary issues facing Native Americans. My understanding of our nation’s history was constantly challenged and reshaped during my coursework.

    While I had done beadwork since a young age, it wasn’t until I became involved with the student group First Nations at the University of Washington that I started to make regalia for formalized events. During my first year in this group, I made a crown for the royalty contest at the annual First Nations Spring Powwow. Royalty are selected—primarily based on dancing, essays and interviews—to be role models in educational and career goals and for their strong connection to their tribal traditions and identity. The winners of royalty contests wear their crowns at all of the powwows they attend throughout the year they hold that title. It was a tremendous honor to make such a crown. Watching Carmen Selam, the winner of the first crown I made, wear it was rewarding far beyond any art-making experience I had previously had. I went on to make another powwow royalty crown and then began to make beaded medallions. At powwows, I often saw people wearing medallions as stand-ins for things that are typically printed on T-shirts, such as sports team logos. I decided to make metal band logo medallions like Slayer Medallion (2009) to function in a similar capacity.

    I later referenced the form of the beaded medallion in Medallions. The series explores the relationship between decoration, value and labor, as well as the cliché themes—Gold Rush, Buck$ and Dough and Asian Riches, to name a few—of the scratch tickets. This work has a clear relationship to tribal gaming enterprises, but I’m most interested in drawing an analogy between the status of decoration and the status of Native Nations. Much in the way that American Indian and Alaska Native Tribes are legally defined as “domestic dependent nations” by the U.S. government, decoration exists on the surface of an object. It’s often defined within the context of its surface instead of being a thing unto itself. The analogy is in the struggle to define both tribes and decoration; neither is given full autonomy under the power structures of U.S. law and the art historical cannon. In many critical legal cases where tribal sovereignty has come into question, ambiguous phrases like "quasi-sovereign" or "semi-independent" become law. In conjunction with this body of work I wrote an imaginary court decision in which I use key language from historic cases in Federal Indian Policy that define the legal status of Tribes to talk about the status of decoration in fine art.

    Portland Elk
    2013
    Applique, embroidery, and beadwork
    16 1/4" X 17 1/2"

    
OPP: Unidentified is a relatively new series of embroidered and appliquéd memorials based on "police sketches and photos of unidentified remains." On your site, you say, "My designs are made using computer-generated graphics relating to grieving from social networking, such as Imikimis and Facebook cover photos." What are Imikimis?

    LML: Imikimis are a brand of pre-made, photo frame graphics. There are a lot of sites out there where you can upload personal images into a computer-generated photo frame for posting on social networking sites. Most of these sites have collections of different themes such as holidays, romance, the seasons and “In memory of.” This paradox of “personalizing” a one-of-a kind photo with a pre-made, computer-generated graphic is intriguing. I have observed the use of these images in social media by individuals who are celebrating a relationship or mourning a loss. I am interested in how grieving through social networking forums can be impersonal but also enables people to have these public conversations about very personal and emotional topics.

    OPP: How does the immediacy of grieving on social media relate the slowness of embroidery?

    LML: The instantaneous nature of social networking, including the photo frames, makes it impersonal. I am using the slowness of embroidery to complicate that. I pair the police images of unidentified individuals with the computer-generated photo frames in a way that is almost camp. Then I recreate it with appliqué and embroidery to make this digital image physically tangible. The work is both deeply intimate, and yet the subjects remain anonymous. As an artist, I devote my time, labor and thought to these cases of unidentified remains and contextualize them within the historical tradition of memorial embroidery. I am fascinated by how a person could be deceased for decades yet still remain unidentified, especially since there is ample evidence such as what clothing they were wearing and what objects were found with them. I wonder how anonymous their lives were to leave them so unknown. I use embroidery to commemorate their lives, even if I’m the only person to take the time to think about them.

    To see more of Lily's work, please visit lilymartinalee.com.

    Featured Artist Interviews are conducted by Chicago-based interdisciplinary artist Stacia Yeapanis. When she’s not writing for OPP, Stacia explores the relationship between repetition, desire and impermanence in her cross-stitch embroideries, remix video and collage installations. She is an instructor in the Department of Fiber and Material Studies at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, where received her MFA in 2006, and was a 2012-2013 Mentor-in-Residence at BOLT in Chicago. Her solo exhibition I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For at Klemm Gallery, Siena Heights University (Adrian, Michigan) recently closed, and her solo exhibition titled Everything You Need is Already Here opens tomorrow night at Heaven Gallery in Chicago. The opening reception is from 7-11.
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    tag:blog.otherpeoplespixels.com,2013:Post/638520 2014-01-09T19:00:00Z 2014-01-09T13:36:57Z OtherPeoplesPixels Interviews Becky Flanders

    Babydoll teeth
    2013

    BECKY FLANDERS' photographs of feminine archetypes peeing while standing up playfully and provocatively comment on cultural constructions of gender, while her photographs of vaginas with mandalas nestled inside add nuance to the political by introducing the possibility of relating to the vagina as a site of the sacred. Becky received her MFA in Studio Art from the University of South Florida in Tampa. In 2013, her work was included in the group exhibitions Post Coital at Mindy Solomon Gallery (St. Petersburg, Florida), Subversive Narratives at Balzer Art Projects (Basel Switzerland) and Ransom at Wayfarers (Brooklyn). Becky lives and works in Tampa, Florida, where she owns the Mermaid Tavern with her partner and is in the process of renovating an abandoned, mid-century warehouse to house artist studios and workshops.

    OtherPeoplesPixels: In general, do men and women respond differently to your work?


    Becky Flanders: The work definitely sparks a lot of dialog about conceptions of gender, sex and bodies. I especially love when the work opens the door to talking openly about female genitalia and the way women touch, interact with and relate to their bodies. While it’s no longer a Victorian-level taboo subject, it’s still not so often broached, particularly in a professional situation or with complete strangers. I love it when people I’ve just met tell me interesting stories about touching themselves now and as children, birth control mishaps, squirting, bathroom politics, personal gender gripes, the shape and size of their labia or, if they’re trans, what exactly they have in their pants and how they feel about it.

    I get objections to the work from both sexes, but truly more often from women who feel that the work is somehow a debasement or a betrayal of the feminine. I’ve never felt that the act of exposing any part of my body was ever giving anything away or taking anything away from me, but some women feel disturbed by the exposure. Some think that it is a rejection or a cheapening of femininity. Some reject it as being too second wave, but they’re missing my point. One of my most basic goals is to expand and refine the conception of the feminine to include my own experience of it. I’ve always felt like a gender outsider, and yet I’m happy with my body and very comfortable in my skin. I know I’m not alone in that.

    With men, it runs the gamut as well. There are always people who want to poke holes in anything feminist, and I’ll debate with them. But if people are into my work because they are turned on by it, that’s fine, too. It’s not my explicit goal to turn people on sexually—although I’ve considered making porn-related work at some point in the future. But now, I want the work to be luscious and titillating in a broader sense. The sexual is sacred to me and that is part of it.

    Swamp 1
    2013

    OPP: In almost all of your Female Standing Urination photographs, the face of the figure is either off camera or masked. Sometimes it's a result of the angle of view, as in pieces like Stomach (2013), or the photograph is a close-up, as in Methods 1, 2, and 3. But then there are studio shots like Pan, Egypt, and Venus of Willendorf. Was your choice to mask the peeing figure a practical or conceptual decision, or both?

    BF: That choice initially arose from my irresistible desire to mask my own face and faces in general. It’s like the seventh veil. Growing up, I always felt more social anxiety about the exposure of my face than that of my body. Facial expressions have never come naturally to me. They are willful, conscious, often painstaking acts. On the contrary, sex and nudity comprise a space in which I could remain naturally blank-faced, yet not invisible or abject. That space has always been a palliative. As a young person, it was a real confidence booster, almost therapeutic.

    But conceptually, the face is a site of the dispute of power. We cannot even legally mask our faces in public now. Facial expressions are daily acts of submission or resistance, a daily game in a culture of spectacle and persona. I always fantasized about being free from this, wandering in public like a ghost. In the work, I wanted to contend with the realm of the body, separate from this facial dialog. I want to consider the figures as archetypes, icons, goddesses. They are not specific individuals.They are platonic forms, abstractions.

    Goddess 1
    2013

    OPP: I assume that the peeing figure is you, but the identity doesn't matter in terms of the content. Still, it makes me curious about the practical concerns involved in these photographs. Part of the implication of the entire series is that it isn't that difficult for a woman to pee standing up. But is it difficult to photograph?

    BF: Yes, it’s usually me, mostly because I prefer to work alone, without communicating verbally or directing as part of my process. And no, it’s not difficult to pee standing, though you should practice in the shower first to learn how not to drip. Though if you have trepidations about touching yourself, you might be out of luck.

    Some of them are exceedingly difficult to photograph because I am both in front of and behind the camera. This is important both conceptually and practically for me. I’ve sometimes worked with another photographer, or an assistant to help carry equipment through the swamps and look out for park rangers. But my ideal shooting situation is alone in the studio with a set that I can manipulate slowly and take my time on. I shoot with a Toyo 4x5 field camera, and I use a cable release, which is the only thing I’m not hesitant to remove from the shots in post production. I often take a lot of polaroids to perfect the setup, and position myself within the shot.

    The first person perspective photographs of the Omniscient Sadistic Fantasies series (Heart, Mirror, Stomach, Baby) are the most difficult to shoot because I’m basically trying to put my body in the same location as the gigantic tripod and camera, and none of the equipment can get into the shot. The camera must go where my head should be, and my head is bent backwards and off to the side. This is uncomfortable, and I can’t see where I am aiming. The cable release goes in my mouth because my hands are busy in the shot. It takes a lot of concentration and multitasking. Also, I have to constantly drink water and take vitamins to keep the pee somewhat yellow. I had to learn how to tolerate impartially emptying my bladder over and over again for hours at a time. It’s kind of fun actually. When I’m in the zone, I can’t even feel the mosquitoes biting me.

    I choose to shoot in film for technical and aesthetic reasons, but I think this process is a good metaphor for a woman’s relationship to her genitalia. It’s “complicated” (not really), tricky to work, sometimes painful, very analog, incredibly performative, and she can’t really see what she is doing without external reflection of some sort.

    Daily meditation 2
    2012
    Archival Inkjet Print
    20" x 30"

    OPP: In 2012, you did a series of photographs called of Gorgons and Ana Suromai. Each photograph of a vagina with a mandala peeking out from behind the folds of the labia is titled as a numbered Daily Meditation. Could you address the idea of the vagina as a gateway to sacred space?

    BF: Think Kali, a creator/destroyer, or Medusa. The gorgons with actual eyes are both. They might swallow you up or turn you to stone, they might settle feuds or calm the angry sea. There are countless fascinating myths about effect of the sight of a vagina.

    I think of these photographs as icons, almost in a religious or meditative sense. They represent a platonic aspect of the feminine and consciousness diverted to the genitals rather than the head. There is also a relationship between yoga and meditation and the poses and forms that I use. These images came to me whole; I just had to get them out. I’m always mining mythology and symbolism for content in my work, also history and natural history. It’s not fashionable anymore to work with religions or mythologies other than those you’ve inherited, but I love Joseph Campbell. However the original impetus to do ana-suromai work came from reading The Story of V, A Natural History of Female Sexuality, by Catherine Blackledge. It’s a goldmine of a book. 

    Hurricane 1
    2013

    OPP: Your Hurricane paintings from 2013 broaden the read of the Gorgon and Ana Suromai photographs by drawing visual connections between our personal experiences of our bodies and the bodies of others and our understanding of the larger weather systems on the "body" of this planet. What does the eye of the storm have to do with the vagina?

    BF: I currently live in Florida. Hurricanes are a reality here. Like the alligators, you get used to them after a while and may even begin to feel somewhat fond of their power to destroy. A hurricane is a weather system that has become so large, so singular that it is given a name. In Florida, the destructive power of nature is right there in front of you on a daily basis, along with the extremes of beauty and exhaustion. The feminine is often equated with nature. Though this is a trope that feminism has long since rejected, I definitely continue to mine it, sometimes mockingly, sometimes in earnest. I grew up close to nature, and it’s dear to me: the wild, the feral, the willful, headless power.

    I suppose you could say the hurricanes are another aspect of the gorgons, like a goddess who changes aspect. They are a similar metaphor, and very much a meditation for me to make. I made these drawings during the summertime, when thunderstorms are a daily and powerful occurrence in Florida. They take over the landscape, not only during the 30 minutes of deluge and surface flooding, but also in the aftermath. The summer rainy season is a time of sisyphusean striving to keep nature from swallowing what humans have built. Whether by vines or by mold, leaks or floods, she will eventually have you one way or another.

    The drawings are based on photographs taken by satellites. Until relatively recently, it wasn’t possible to see these storms from above. There’s that metaphoric connection to female genitalia: the storm cannot see itself completely unless externally reflected. This also applies to feminine persona in general. The human power to reflect is one of our greatest, like we are the way the earth has of looking back upon herself and reflecting.

    I, the State Am the People
    2013

    OPP: It might appear to the average viewer that your hand-embroidered Aphorisms from Nietsche's Thus Spoke Zarathustra were made by another artist, but there's a connection to your photography. What is it?

    BF: The work may only be related to the body and feminist pieces in that it is political and somewhat anarchist, but I suspect there are other links which will be revealed over time. I’m beginning to explore the political in a broader sense: the relationship of individuals to the state, the language of extremism and revolution and Americana and its symbols and icons. The What is Value? pieces are also part of this process. The embroideries started with translations of Nietzsche quotes from a particular chapter in Thus Spoke Zarathustra called “the State,” but I have branched out to other quotes and language, some of which I write, but most of which I gather.

    I’m interested here in the language of memes. I studies memetics in the earlier days of the internet, but it has taken off with the public at large in recent years. I’m at once fascinated and horrified with the effect that the conscious use of memetics seems to be having on language usage and thus on the transmission of thoughts. The current supposed dividing lines in popular American politics, i.e. the deep polemics of the right and the left, serve mainly as an obstruction to dialog. They seem to be a tool created to control thought and keep people divided and distracted. I think the whole thing is a big charade, and I’m trying to see through it.

    Stitching is more of a commitment than the posting or sharing of a Facebook meme. The sheer amount of time it takes to render these texts (about an hour per letter) runs me backwards and forwards, questioning my belief about the statement. Do I mean it in earnest, in irony, in nostalgia or sadness, or in a complex combination of ways? Or perhaps I don’t even “mean” the statement at all, but put it out for consideration alone and as part of a constellation. It’s an attempt at grounding.

    These pieces are also a bit nostalgic in terms of their relationship to technology. I sometimes have nightmares that we are being fog-marched via silicon valley into a fascist-capital-slavery state (loosely quoting Willie Nelson here), into a technological age beyond human utility. I am not generally a luddite, but lately I’m gripped with the feeling that we are speeding into a progress trap, and I can’t help but attempt a feeble protest with my meditative embroidery.

    To see more of Becky's work, please visit beckyflanders.com.

    Featured Artist Interviews are conducted by Chicago-based interdisciplinary artist Stacia Yeapanis. When she’s not writing for OPP, Stacia explores the relationship between repetition, desire and impermanence in her cross-stitch embroideries, remix video and collage installations. She is an instructor in the Department of Fiber and Material Studies at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, where received her MFA in 2006, and was a 2012-2013 Mentor-in-Residence at BOLT in Chicago. Her solo exhibition I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For at Klemm Gallery, Siena Heights University (Adrian, Michigan) recently closed, and she is currently preparing for another solo exhibition titled Everything You Need is Already Here (Heaven Gallery, Chicago) in January 2014.
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    tag:blog.otherpeoplespixels.com,2013:Post/636914 2014-01-02T16:21:17Z 2014-01-02T16:33:42Z OtherPeoplesPixels Interviews Lavar Munroe

    For The Slain Dragon Is Precisely The Monster of the Status Quo
    2013
    Cardboard, cloth, rubber, and bed mattress

    Drawing on the stages of Joseph Campbell's Monomyth, LAVAR MUNROE assumes the role of trickster "to confront and disrupt disparities faced by the excluded and marginalized poorer-class blacks in the ghetto." He frames the economically disadvantaged as heroes and villains, kings and queens, gods and goddesses in his painting, sculpture and installation. He repeatedly blurs the line between the two-dimensional and the three-dimmensional just as he blurs the the line between honor and shame, rich and poor, man and animal. Born and raised in Nassau, Bahamas, Lavar moved to the United States in 2004 to attend Savannah College of Art and Design, where he received his BFA. In 2013, he received his MFA from Washington University in Saint Louis and was awarded a Joan Mitchell Foundation Grant and a scholarship to attend Skowhegan. In 2014, he will mount solo exhibitions at Segal Projects in Los Angeles and The National Art Gallery of the Bahamas. Lavar lives and works in Germantown, Maryland.

    OtherPeoplesPixels: Could you talk about your chosen role as "trickster?" Are all artists tricksters?

    Lavar Munroe: As an artist-trickster, my role is more amoral than immoral. It’s neither blasphemous nor extremely rebellious. It is my duty to blur the lines between what society dictates as right and wrong, since most societies are managed in a way whereby the dominant class benefits more so than the majority. In reference to the subjects my work targets, I speak with the voice of the ghetto, as the ghetto has little if any voice outside of its own confines. I embrace the idea of being a rebellious force against what is considered normal within the larger constructs of society. My duty is to be a champion of sorts for disadvantaged people who call the ghetto home.

    I am the embodiment of cultural and societal hero. When considering the roles of the trickster, the folktale hero Robin Hood comes to mind. The idea of robbing the rich to give to the poor is parallel to that of the disruption of rules, boundaries and the status quo, all of which are attributes of the trickster. In The Hero With A Thousand Faces, Joseph Campbell states, “for the mythological hero is the champion not of things to become but of things becoming; the dragon to be slain by him is precisely the monster of the status quo.”  



    My work rebels against the status quo. It contradicts societal norms, and it celebrates what the mainstream dismisses. My art favors the disadvantaged and fights hierarchy. I intend to visually lure mainstream society with my work, allowing me the opportunity to further engage and educate people who look like me, who have lived the way I have and outsiders who could benefit from gaining a more realistic and broader understanding of the stereotypes I examine. It also affords me the opportunity to use the institution as my message board, exposing the taboos and preconceived ideas held against those most desperately in need.

 Maybe subconsciously all artists are tricksters, but my undertakings are all executed consciously.  

    BIG C: Goddess of Coke (Heavens' Dust)
    2012
    Mixed Media Assemblage
    20ft x 11ft x 14ft

    OPP: You grew up in the Bahamas. Did your upbringing inform the work you make now?

    LM: Born and raised in the “impoverished” community of Grants Town in Nassau, Bahamas, I grew up challenged with a lot of stigmas and stereotypes that were associated with the community that I lived in. Though many people lived by meager means of survival, my family and I were economically more privileged than the vast majority of people in our community. There was simultaneously a sense of pride to be from the ghetto and a sense of resentment towards those who were afforded better lives outside of the ghetto.

    Over the past nine years, I have observed many behavioral similarities between the mainstream society and the ghetto in the United States, a place that has constructed its own myths and stereotypes concerning race, poverty and hierarchical social structures. I have an advantage of having experienced both mainstream society and the ghetto, so I am able to use the stereotypes that exist in each sector to measure the strengths and downfalls of the other.

    OPP: I'm curious about the manifestations of poverty in the Bahamas versus the cities you've lived in since moving to the U.S. What are the differences or similarities in your experience?

    LM: There are similarities between the Bahamas and the United States in regard to societal structures and economic deprivation among poorer class blacks who reside in the ghetto. Like the ghetto in America, the ghetto in the Bahamas is an unstable place where many people are undereducated, mis-educated, uneducated, and left unfit to compete in the larger job market. As a result, many turn to lives of crime.

    I retain my sense of pride to be from the ghetto and have learned to use the negative stereotypes of the ghetto as fuel for my visual investigations.

    Boy Predator, Boy Prey
    2012
    Cardboard, duck take, cloth and acrylic on canvas
    72’’ x 52’’

    OPP: What are the benefits of addressing real-life "societal divisions dictated by wealth, class and race" through fiction and myth?

    LM: Like mythological practitioners of ancient cultures, I use myth as a tool to further understand and evaluate societal disparities and my own existence. I use personification and allegory to narrate and elaborate on real life events. 
Though framed in fictional narratives, my forms and images are all based on real life occurrences that I have either personally experienced or encountered through research (readings, documentaries and real world conversations).

    In mythological narratives, beastly hybrids and animals function as allegoric substitutes for humans. The intersection of the paradigms of historic, civic and contemporary notions of the animal serve as a trajectory of investigation in my work. My intentions are to evoke a sense of power and employ social hierarchy, while also pointing to Otherness. In so doing, the animal is metaphor for the human Other. In particular, I am interested in contradictory understandings and the idea of skewing meanings as it relates to the animal in pre-modern and contemporary societies. 

    from Shank=Survival

    OPP: Shank=Survival is a series of sculptures that are also functional shanks. It seems counter-intuitive to make these make-shift weapons pretty, but then I think of bejeweled swords throughout history and the sacred moment in every quest movie I've ever seen when the hero/heroine forges his/her own weapon. Could you talk about aestheticization of tools of violence in this body of work?



    LM: Joseph Campbell’s Monomyth, or the Hero’s Journey inspired this work. I was interested in the mythological stages of initiation, survival and the return as they relate to time served in prison. In many ghettos, having served time in prison is considered a rite of passage. I metaphorically align prison with the stage of the "Belly of the Beast" where, through violent and heroic acts, heroes are either born or reborn.



    Aesthetically, I used material and color as a vehicle for revealing prison as a simultaneously violent, heroic and homoerotic space. I thought of the shank as trophy, the shank as weapon, the shank as phallus and the shank as relic. I was also interested in the notion of concealment through disguise. Pearls, flowers, pink cloth, thread, among other “feminine” materials, were used to make weapons which belong in the arguably male-dominated space of the prison. 

This body of work was executed at the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture. The environment there fueled the early beginnings of the shivs; my studio metaphorically and psychologically became the confines of a prison cell.



    Untitled Bed no. 2
    2013
    Cardboard, duct tape, mattress skin, adhered with flour and water

    OPP: House of Indulgences is your only performative work to date. While in residency at Atlantic Center for The Arts in New Smyrna Beach, Florida, you recreated a dilapidated building used as a crack house from the street you lived on as a child from memory and performed inside it. What was your personal experience performing like? Do you think it was very different from what viewers experienced?



    LM: That experience was surreal. I was intentionally under the influence of a substance and temporarily became that person that I grew up seeing. Putting myself in that state was important to the performance and to the message I wanted to portray. Becoming THE addict engaged both the audience and myself. I got a first hand experience of being crippled and watched, but not helped by able members of society. During the opening, visitors got to experience what it is like to peer into a crack house littered with broken glass and debris and to see a person in a hallucinogenic state desperate for help. As people looked over my lifeless body, I heard a few somber sobs and words such as powerful, touching, sad, compelling and moving. Many people also speculated that I was someone brought in off of the streets. Comments such as “that is not the artist” and “is that the artist?” echoed across the space. 

    OPP: Where Heroes Lay is a series of “bed” sculptures made mostly of brown cardboard, evoking the cardboard boxes that many homeless people sleep on and in. Tell us about this series.

    LM: The series grew from a material exchange with a homeless person. Periodically, I removed soiled cardboard pieces from the homeless person’s sleeping quarters and replaced it with clean cardboard. In a sense, I became a maid. By serving him as the trickster, I inconspicuously inducted the homeless person into the role of the Hero. Secondly, presenting the Hero’s soiled bedding as a consumer good in the art-market allows the objects to serve as weapons of critique and ridicule targeted against mainstream society.

    To see more of Lavar's work, please visit lavar-munroe.com.

    Featured Artist Interviews are conducted by Chicago-based interdisciplinary artist Stacia Yeapanis. When she’s not writing for OPP, Stacia explores the relationship between repetition, desire and impermanence in her cross-stitch embroideries, remix video and collage installations. She is an instructor in the Department of Fiber and Material Studies at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, where received her MFA in 2006, and was a 2012-2013 Mentor-in-Residence at BOLT in Chicago. Her solo exhibition I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For at Klemm Gallery, Siena Heights University (Adrian, Michigan) recently closed, and she is currently preparing for another solo exhibition titled Everything You Need is Already Here (Heaven Gallery, Chicago) in January 2014.

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    tag:blog.otherpeoplespixels.com,2013:Post/634258 2013-12-26T18:00:00Z 2013-12-26T13:35:45Z OtherPeoplesPixels Interviews Stephanie Patton

    Meeting
    2013
    Vinyl, batting, muslin
    55" x 86" x 17"
    Photo credit: Mike Smith

    Multimedia artist STEPHANIE PATTON uses humor, word play and an attention to materiality to address the universal human experiences of suffering, comfort and healing in her quilted sculptures, videos and installations. Stephanie is represented by Arthur Roger Gallery and is a member of the artist-run collective The Front, both in New Orleans. Her numerous solo exhibitions include Private Practice (2013) and Diffuse (2010) at Arthur Roger Gallery, as well as Upkeep (2012) and General Hospital (2011) at The Front. In 2013, her work was included in group exhibitions at the Frederick R. Weisman Museum of Art, Pepperdine University (Malibu, California), Biggin Gallery, Auburn University (Auburn, Alabama), Vox Populi (Philadelphia) and Acadiana Center for the Arts (Lafayette, Louisiana). Stephanie lives and works in Lafayette, Louisiana.

    OtherPeoplesPixels: Could you talk about the relationship between pain, healing and humor in your work?

    Stephanie Patton: Healing takes many forms, both physically and emotionally. Painful experiences can lead to creative expression and are often the impetus behind some of the most engaging work. What source material would a stand-up comedian have if it weren't for strange life experiences and painful moments?

    I believe the same is true for many visual artists, musicians and performers. There have been many instances in my own work when I was drawn to an idea, material or image for no particular reason. Then later the relevance became clear to me. One example is Life Saver. In 2006, while in residency at the Vermont Studio Center, I kept envisioning a grid-like pattern of multiple inner tubes covered in white vinyl lying on the floor. I wasn't quite sure why this image kept entering my mind. I later realized that this was in fact my own reaction to Hurricane Katrina and the devastation that it had caused here in Louisiana. This idea was not completely resolved until 2008, when I decided to suspend the inner tubes from the ceiling instead of placing them on the floor. Instead of white vinyl, I used mattress quilting—a material that I continue to use today—for the first time because of its multiple references.

    I have heard that an artist has one or two great ideas in a lifetime, and the core of my work is based on striving to empathize with and understand those afflicted with physical and mental health issues. Certainly, we are in a day and age in which mental health is a growing concern, and it is luckily not as taboo as it was in the past. I am particularly interested in how physical ailments often manifest as extreme stress and/or traumatic emotional states and vice versa. I strive to illustrate connections between physical and emotional states in my work. This is especially the case in the white vinyl pieces that I have made in recent years.

    Life Saver
    2008
    Mattress quilting, inner tube
    48" (diameter) x 15"

    OPP: The patterns in pieces like Strength, Valor and Meeting in your 2013 exhibition Private Practice evoke the raked patterns in Zen gardens, and I see a connection between the handwork of quilting and the contemplative state associated with the Zen garden. Is this a visual reference for you?

    SP: Zen gardens were not a direct reference for me, but I see the visual and conceptual connection. In researching visual symbols relating to the emotions, I was very drawn to the Adinkra symbols of West Africa. These symbols are very simple, yet visually powerful and could easily translate into the material of vinyl that I continue to explore. The emotions they represent are conceptually appropriate for what I was trying to convey in Private Practice. Some of the white vinyl pieces such as Strength and Valor were taken directly from the Adrinkra symbols.
     
    OPP: I imagine from the shapes of these pieces that quilting vinyl is unwieldy and difficult. What is it like to work with this material? When did you make your first quilted piece?
     
    SP: Yes, working with vinyl is quite a challenge. I have often described it as "wrestling alligators"!  Years ago, I first used quilted fabric pieces for various installations. Satin was my fabric of choice. I made quilted satin walls for my 1996 thesis show while I was a while a graduate student at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago. These quilted walls lined a lingerie showroom which showcased fantasy lingerie products such as the Heart Filter™ and the Anxiety Guard™ by Renella®. In 2004, I used quilted satin to reconstruct the interior of a minivan for a project entitled Custom Built. Although I was still very interested in the idea of padding or cushions, I later discovered that vinyl was a more appropriate choice both in terms of its physical properties and its conceptual impact. Certainly the idea of padded walls comes into play. For me, these pieces allude to protective environments whether that is a reference to mental health and/or any soft, protective, physically-comforting space. My first stuffed, white vinyl piece, Protection (2008), hung flat against the wall. In 2011, I made Center Piece, which was more of a relief sculpture that pulled away from the wall. Today they continue to take various forms. I am interested in pushing the materials in ways that I have not yet encountered.

    Private Practice
    2013
    Installation view
    Photo credit: Mike Smith

    OPP: Your videos Conquer (2013), Heal (2011) and Diffuse (2008) are embodied metaphors for emotional experiences that use language as a jumping off point. I also see a relationship to the trajectory of feminist performance art. Are you influenced by pioneers like Martha Rosler, Janine Antoni, Hannah Wilke and Marina Abromovic? If not, what has influenced you?
     
    SP: Although I highly regard all of these amazing pioneers and their great contributions to performance art, I cannot say that I was directly influenced by them. I consider my main influences to have come form various musical personas such as Dolly Parton and Loretta Lynn. I've also been inspired by female comedic players such as former members of the cast of Saturday Night Live including Gilda Radner, Molly Shannon, Rachel Dratch, Tina Fey and Amy Poeler. I LOVE the SNL men as well! I've been making videos since 1995 and had the opportunity to study various types of performance in NYC between 2000-2002 at the Upright Citizens Brigade, Gothum Writers Workshop and the New School. This amazing experience has informed my more recent video work.
     
    Funny enough, another major source of inspiration for me was actually the mail order catalogs that my grandmother kept next to her recliner, such as Old Pueblo Traders and Dr. Leonard's. I grew up looking at these catalogs when I was bored as a child visiting her in the country. The gadgets in these catalogs inspired some of my earliest work, as in the products that I made for the lingerie showroom that I mentioned. They also led me to the idioms that I have used in my video work including "when life gives you lemons, make lemonade" and "walking on eggshells.”

    Diffuse
    2008
    Video
    17 minutes 31 seconds

    OPP: Do you have a favorite piece of your own work? Is it the same as the piece you consider to be most successful?


    SP: That’s a hard one! I am very attached to the white vinyl pieces at the moment. One of my favorites is Center Piece because of its visual simplicity and the discoveries that it has led me to. This piece was in fact the springboard for all of the white vinyl pieces that I am continuing to make today. A few of my other favorites are my video Diffuse and the sculptural works, Life Saver and Bronze SAS Shoes. Although it is hard for me to judge which of these would be representations of my best work, I do feel that Diffuse is one of my most successful videos. The others that I mentioned are successful to me in the sense that they are all very true to my visual and conceptual intent.



    OPP: You mentioned Renella as part of your MFA work. She’s your alter ego, a country singer, who, when asked in an interview what was inspiring about her trip to the Palace of Versailles, responded, "It's all about being fancy." She doesn't appear anywhere on your artist website, but I discovered her on your Vimeo page and found that she has her own Facebook page. It looks like she's had numerous public appearances in and out of the art world. Does she still perform? How does this character relate to your more recent sculptural and video work?
     
    SP: Renella is actually taking a well-deserved nap at the moment. . . she’s a character that I began to develop in 1992 when I did a performance of a fictitious wedding with fellow artist, Jack Rivas. I needed a name for the bride and Renella Rose Champagne was born! She married Junior Rivas on April 17, 1992. This was a huge collaboration for me. It involved an eight-month engagement, many traditional parties and bridal events along the way, and the wedding itself was attended by 150 guests. I have pursued several major projects and have done many performances in and out of the art world as this character including the lingerie showroom I mentioned.

    In 2005, I chose to devote my creative energy to my multidisciplinary studio work. Although Renella is not visually present in the current work, there is a sense of her ongoing spirit throughout my sculptural and video work. I am certain that she will find her way more directly into my work again someday. Renella has a way of making an appearance when least expected!

    To see more of Stephanie's work, please visit stephaniepatton.com.

    Featured Artist Interviews are conducted by Chicago-based interdisciplinary artist Stacia Yeapanis. When she’s not writing for OPP, Stacia explores the relationship between repetition, desire and impermanence in her cross-stitch embroideries, remix video and collage installations. She is an instructor in the Department of Fiber and Material Studies at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, where received her MFA in 2006, and was a 2012-2013 Mentor-in-Residence at BOLT in Chicago. Her solo exhibition I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For at Klemm Gallery, Siena Heights University (Adrian, Michigan) just closed, and she is currently preparing for another solo exhibition titled Everything You Need is Already Here (Heaven Gallery, Chicago) in January 2014.

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    tag:blog.otherpeoplespixels.com,2013:Post/632492 2013-12-19T17:15:01Z 2013-12-19T17:19:48Z OtherPeoplesPixels Interviews Benjamin Lyon

    Dendroclimatological Meditation (detail)
    2012
    Kraft, tissue, and drawing paper, pine branches, india ink, colored pencil
    84"x 24"x 36"

    Drawing, whittling and shredding paper are all forms of mark-making in BENJAMIN LYON's time-intensive art practice. He seamlessly unites both natural and manufactured materials in mysterious altars and monuments, revealing reverence and curiosity about time, chance and the nuanced experience of change that only occurs through ritualistic, haptic repetition. Benjamin earned a BA in Environmental Sustainability and Social Justice with a minor in Fine Arts from San Francisco State University. He continued his artistic development at City College of San Francisco, and is in the process of applying to graduate school. Benjamin lives in Brooklyn.

    OtherPeoplesPixels: Could you talk about the presence of repetition in your practice and in the resulting work? I see it in the india ink drawings, the paper-shredding and the whittled pine branches, which are all forms of mark-making or marking time.

    Benjamin Lyon: Repetition drives my practice because it brings me into the moment of making. Usually it gets me started and keeps me going. The work often begins without a plan. I think it grows out of a faith in the power of chance; I let go of control and rely more on the experience of making to guide me instead of its outcome.

    My work is an intimate conversation with time. Time is fascinating to me because it's both abstract concept and a real experience. It's hard to define in an concrete way. There are so many different interpretations of it depending on what, who and when you are.

    All of my work is handmade, and often I choose the repetitive act because it helps me become comfortable with anxiety and boredom. It's therapeutic for me. I dedicate a lot of my studio time to making marks, whittling sticks, shredding or braiding paper. Ultimately, the marks and objects function as witnesses that tell a story of change, and that story is written in nuance.

    Wishing Well
    2013
    Kraft paper, newspaper, india ink, acrylic, watercolor, plywood, oak
    55"x 25"x 16"

    OPP: You repeatedly use brown kraft paper, wax paper, newspaper, construction paper in your works. What draws you these particular types of paper? Could you talk about using a two-dimensional material as a sculptural material?

    BL: I've chosen these items because they're accessible, inexpensive and often taken for granted. The challenge for me is to take an object or material that is not precious and to inject meaning into it and express something important. And since my work often appears whimsical or other-worldly, I anchor it in reality with the familiar papers we find in our houses or on the newsstands.

    Paper is a magical material. When I was a kid, art was always two-dimensional. My dad was an architect/engineer, and all of his work was prepared with different types of paper. I trained as a draftsperson with him for a handful of years and learned his quirky and efficient methods of constructing working drawings. These sheets contained layers upon layers of ink drawings on tracing paper. They were glued, taped, whited-out, xeroxed. They contained pasted notes and hand-drawn details that were repeatedly removed and replaced with the old torn edges of other sheets of paper. Each stage of the process remained subtly visible on the original, but would disappear once the paper was xeroxed on a copier set to a low sensitivity. The sheets were neatly organized but wilted by the end of the process. They had a lot of character. If you looked closely, you could see that they documented all of the changes over time.

    Paper was such a large part of my development as an artist, that it seemed only natural to use this traditionally two-dimensional material, historically used for documentation, to create three-dimensional sculptures that document change over time.

    Befriending 5,000 Splinters
    2012
    Fallen pine branches, kraft paper, india ink, colored pencil
    3"x 18"x 18"

    OPP: Paper is just wood in a manufactured form, and the presence of shredded paper makes me think of the absence of wood shavings that must have been produced when the fallen pine branches were whittled down. Was it the process or the material that drew you to wood-carving and whittling?

    BL: I'm glad that the pieces produced such imagery for you. Through the visible marks of the tools, I'm trying to evoke the presence of work and its energy. In those pieces you're seeing manufactured forms as well as my own marks. Present are the many stages of transforming a specific material by machine or by hand. All of this is possible only with work. Tom Sachs is an artist that I admire. In an interview with Gaia Repossi, he says: “I'm trying to communicate transparency. I'm looking to show the scars of labor and the evidence of construction.” I relate to his sentiment. There is something truly satisfying about the act of creating. From cooking tasty food to building a sturdy book shelf, if a thing is made well and the process is satisfying, it makes all the difference for the maker and user.

    I can’t say that it is either the process or material that draws me to these practices because it’s almost always both. I use a material in a way that illuminates the actual work done over time, but I also often choose acts that the viewer won't ever see in the final product. For example, I frequently go on walking adventures through the city and its parks in search of a material to gather. Or, in the new drawings that I'm developing, I've made a gazillion little, repetitive and beloved marks that I call “ink scratches.” I'm not using pens with ink cartridges but instead dipping a pen with metal nib into an ink well after every few marks. It's a little bit ridiculous. . . but enjoyable. It slows everything down for me.

    For each piece, I chose materials that represent both nature and culture. I mix the two symbolic artifacts to address a perceived dichotomy. Time-intensive work allows the two symbols become more similar than they are different.

    To Love and To Work
    2013
    Basswood, gathered fallen pine branches and redwood bark, acrylic paint
    18"x 12"x 16"

    OPP: Many of your pieces, including Fortune Teller (2012), Befriending 5,000 Splinters (2012), and Dendroclimatological Meditation (2012), evoke altars for me. Others, like Tangle Ish (2013) and Wishing Well (2013), are like monuments, sites of human longing or reverence. Does this reading echo your intentions? If so, what are these sculptural altars and monuments for?

    BL: Observing the work through someone else's eyes can be really valuable for seeing new things! After considering what you've said about the 2012 pieces appearing as altars and those from 2013 resembling monuments, I think that the two different years mark different stages in a process of conjuring the energies of both natural and cultural elements. The altars from 2012 were made with the intention of awakening the ideas. I wanted viewers to feel as though they had stumbled upon a ceremony in an unknown world. I created my own rituals that could induce magic, bringing me closer to understanding nature, culture and time. The imagined ceremony itself was distant from the site that remained. It felt distant for me, too, because it was new.

    Perhaps the altars did work as I intended, awakening the energies to produce the monuments in 2013. Reverence is a great word that I also use to describe those pieces. I have a deep respect for the world around me with all of its experiences and interactions. The respect that I try to maintain adds mystery to everyday situations. Life is rich with possibility when you allow the unknown to exist instead of desiring full control.

    Tangle Ish
    2013
    Newspaper, walnut section, Ikea wood slats, Manzanita branches, string
    46"x 20"x 20"

    OPP: How does your experience as a teenaged graffiti artist in San Francisco relate to your current work in sculpture and drawing? What did you learn in that time that affects the work you currently make?

    BL: Graffiti was a rush of excitement. It was a tight community that admired and hated each other at the same time. We shared secrets, tricks of the trade and lived and worked by a code that's hard for everyone to understand. But the code is heavy and present. It's an interesting subculture that I still have a lot of respect for. I think that writing graffiti did not so much transfer into a visual style for me, rather it developed my interest in the process of creating.

    I started writing graffiti when I was in middle school. I still have old drawings of my first pieces on paper dating back to '91. The pieces are so funny with their letters filled in with brick patterns and their star-dotted letter "i"s! We'd go out walking in the streets searching for new spots to plan our pieces before heading to the wall, or we'd explore the streets while bombing, which is what we called tagging. But what's most memorable to me is the practice I put into perfecting my moniker. I must have filled hundreds—I mean hundreds!—of spiral notebooks with my name. I'd write my tag over and over and over, slightly varying the styles or the spelling in search of that perfect combination. This is where I developed my fascination with repetition, the nuance of change over time and the never-ending exploration of my surroundings.

    To see more of Benjamin's work, please visit benjaminlyonart.com.

    Featured Artist Interviews are conducted by Chicago-based interdisciplinary artist Stacia Yeapanis. When she’s not writing for OPP, Stacia explores the relationship between repetition, desire and impermanence in her cross-stitch embroideries, remix video and collage installations. She is an instructor in the Department of Fiber and Material Studies at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, where received her MFA in 2006, and was a 2012-2013 Mentor-in-Residence at BOLT in Chicago. Her solo exhibition I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For at Klemm Gallery, Siena Heights University (Adrian, Michigan) recently closed, and she is currently preparing for another solo exhibition titled Everything You Need is Already Here (Heaven Gallery, Chicago) in January 2014.


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    tag:blog.otherpeoplespixels.com,2013:Post/629180 2013-12-12T18:00:00Z 2013-12-12T15:27:55Z OtherPeoplesPixels Interviews Kyoko Imazu

    Cat town
    2013
    Etching and aquatint
    44.5 x 39.5cm

    Japanese-born KYOKO IMAZU has been fascinated by fantasies of small animals like cats, rabbits and rodents overthrowing society. Her etchings, artist books and cut-paper installations are equally populated with real animals and legendary creatures from Japanese folklore, as well as fictional rabbits from novels and cartoons. Kyoko received her BFA in Printmaking from RMIT University in Melbourne. In 2013, she was an artist-in-residence at The Art Vault and the Australian Tapestry Workshop and had four solo exhibitions: Feathers and Fur at Odd One Out (Hong Kong), Animalis at Port Jackson Press (Fitzroy, Australia), Adore at Bird's Gallery (Melbourne) and Mammals from Melbourne Museum at the Consulate-General of Japan (Melbourne). Her work is on view in a group show called Tiny Universes at Tooth + Nail Studio Gallery in Adelaide, South Australia until November 22, 2013. Kyoko lives and works in Melbourne, Australia.

    OtherPeoplesPixels: Have you always been drawn to animals as subject matter?

    Kyoko Imazu: Yes. Images of animals have always given me pleasure and excitement, and I have always loved drawing animals. In fact, I don’t remember any time when I wasn’t drawing animals, even as doodles in textbooks at school or on letters.

    My mum loved animals, and I enjoyed showing off my drawings to her. Growing up, we always had pets: dogs, cats, fish, turtles. I watched any and all TV programs about animals. In a way, nothing’s changed in my practice since childhood.

    Baku
    2012
    Etching an aquatint
    36.5 x 46 cm

    OPP: Etchings of real animals, such as the northern pika and the sugar glider, and legendary creatures from Japanese folklore, including the Nue and the Baku, populate your work. It's like the real and the fictional live together in one world. Is it the world of your private imagination or is the coexistence of real and fictional creatures in your work a metaphor for something else outside of you?

    KI: Nue and Baku are Yōkai from Japanese folklore. Yōkai are creatures/ monsters transformed from animals, as well as formless, natural phenomena like wind and thunder. Some can be household objects, or even live in rooms like kitchens and bathrooms! As a child, I was convinced—and very scared—that there were Yōkai and other creatures lurking behind me or hiding in the dark corners of the house. They were as real as my dogs and cats, on the same level of existence.

    My work is a continuation of that memory. I like mixing real and mythical animals together because I love imagining what it was like to live in the world before all animals were named and categorized. There was a time when rhinos were as fantastical as unicorns.

    Meeting
    2012
    Etching an aquatint
    30 x 26 cm

    OPP: You made an artist book called I want more rabbits! (2013). But actually, you already have quite a few rabbits! They recur persistently in different styles throughout your work in different media. Sometimes they are realistic, sometimes comical, sometimes combined with other animals. Then there are the rabbits that have parts from different fictional rabbits, like Fiverus Bokko Rabbit (2007), which has the face of Fiver from Watership Down and the ears and tail of Captain Bokko from The Amazing 3, and Rogerous Bugsy Rabbit (2007), which has Roger Rabbit's ears and Bugs Bunny's foot. Could you talk about why rabbits are so significant to you personally and in your work?

    KI: My first drawing was a rabbit, and my primary school art project was of rabbits. I probably just enjoyed drawing their long ears and cute, round tails to start with. But, by drawing them over and over, the image of rabbit has become almost like a personal emblem. My eyes seek rabbit forms everywhere, in logos and packaging or in the shape of cloud or a stain.

    When I relocated from Japan to Australia, I learned that rabbits are considered to be vermin and an environmental disaster, despite also being domestic pets. In Japan, they are fetishized and show up in traditional arts and crafts, as well as popular culture. I thought this difference between the two countries was striking. I am fascinated by the fact that a tiny, cute animals like rabbits can multiply so fast so that they become a threat to people and the environment. I love imagining a society overthrown by small animals—cats, rats and birds, as well—that we usually don’t find threatening.

    Cufulin
    2013
    Etching and aquatint
    45 x 39.5 cm

    OPP: Do you have a favorite fictional rabbit?

    KI: Rabbit from Chōjū-giga is my favorite. It's a famous set of four picture scrolls made by monks in Kozan-ji temple in 12th century Kyoto. It's considered the oldest manga in terms of techniques. Chōjū-giga depicts anthropomorphic rabbits, monkeys, frogs, foxes and so on without any words. It was probably a caricature, but I can imagine the monks having a chuckle while drawing them.



    OPP: You have used accordion-style cut paper in both installations and very small artist books. Will you pick your favorite artist book and tell us the story since we can't hold it in our own hands?

    KI: I like to keep the narratives open and ambiguous so that viewers can make up their own stories, but I imagine a basic tone and theme.

    Rabbit Hunt begins by showing people trying to catch rabbits with nets and ferrets. A group of small rabbits attacks a hunter while another hunter with dogs is pointing at the group, seemingly trying to set his dogs on the rabbits. Some rabbits are caught, but the rabbits fight back by turning themselves into a Cerberus-like creature. It ends with a large rabbit roaring against a machine-like structure.

    Rabbit hunt
    2013
    Paper, leather, board
    6.3 x 7cm

    OPP: Rabbits and other small, non-threatening animals become symbolic of the idea of power in numbers, especially when it comes to disempowered groups of people. Thinking of it that way changes I want more rabbits! into a rallying cry. Now I’m imagining the rabbits as workers organizing for their rights. Have you ever thought of your work as political?

    KI: I draw ideas and inspirations from memories and stories. Similarly, I encourage viewers to bring their own memories and associations to my work. They can decide if it's personal or political.

    For me, this idea of non-threatening animals becoming huge in numbers comes from my memory of growing up around rice paddies in Japan. There are thousands of tiny green frogs singing throughout the night during the summer that made me unable to sleep. To this day, I have nightmares about my house filled with frogs from floor to ceiling.

    Autumn Moon (detail)
    2010
    Paper
    Variable installation

    OPP: What do you love about cut paper as a medium?

    KI: I love being able to see small worlds emerging out of strips of plain paper while I’m cutting. It looks abstract from afar, like decorative lace, but there is a narrative upon closer inspection. It becomes quite intimate once it’s in the viewer’s hands.

    I also love the physical act of cutting paper with a surgical scalpel. It takes a while to come up with drawings for each scene but once the design is finalized and the cutting starts, it demands concentration. Or else I get blood on my work! It is quite meditative; I can usually forget about everything else when I’m cutting paper.

    OPP: You recently spent two months in residence at the Australian Tapestry Workshop (ATW). You worked on several new artist books there, but also learned to weave. Will weaving become part of your toolkit? Any plans to make new work in this medium?

    KI: I hope tapestries will become part of my work. The great craftsmanship that’s required to create a tapestry is quite similar to printmaking and bookbinding. I’m intrigued by the weight of the history attached to those media.

    I want to create tapestries with my animals and monsters, but tapestry weaving requires years of training. I wouldn’t dare exhibit my tapestries any time soon, but I’ll continue to practice. Weavers at ATW still employ the same technique from 15th century. It is so magical to imagine people now still using the same technique from medieval times in totally different environments for different purposes.

    To see more of Kyoko's work, please visit kyokoimazu.com.

    Featured Artist Interviews are conducted by Chicago-based interdisciplinary artist Stacia Yeapanis. When she’s not writing for OPP, Stacia explores the emotional and spiritual significance of repetition in her cross-stitch embroideries, remix video and collage installations. She is an instructor in the Department of Fiber and Material Studies at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, where received her MFA in 2006, and was a 2012-2013 Mentor-in-Residence at BOLT in Chicago. Her solo exhibition I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For at Klemm Gallery, Siena Heights University (Adrian, Michigan) closed recently, and she is currently preparing for another solo exhibition titled Everything You Need Is Already Here (Heaven Gallery, Chicago) in January 2014.
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    tag:blog.otherpeoplespixels.com,2013:Post/626459 2013-12-05T18:00:00Z 2013-12-05T13:27:05Z OtherPeoplesPixels Interviews Nathan Haenlein

    Hypnostage
    2010
    Graphite on Paper
    18"x 21"

    NATHAN HAENLEIN’s graphite drawings of old ladies at slot machines, the willingly-hypnotized, car engines and snow storms use the geographic region of the Rust Belt as a container for exploring universal ways of coping with the life’s difficulties. His gel pen drawings, on the other hand, employ an arbitrary analog system that leads to complex, colorful patterns. The underlying connection for these disparate ways of drawing is an investigation of patience and repetition. Nathan received his MFA from the University of Iowa in 2002 and is currently a professor at Sonoma State University. His work has been included in Shifter magazine (2006 and 2009) and the forthcoming international drawing annual Manifest (2014). He has had solo exhibitions at Visalia Art Center (2008), Cleveland's now defunct Exit Gallery (2006) and The Ridderhof Martin Gallery (2003) at Mary Washington College. His work is included in the group exhibition Deadpan (the art of the expressionless), which closes on December 7, 2013, at Whitdel Arts (Detroit) and in a juried solo exhibition at the online exhibition site Gallery Gray. Nathan lives and works in Santa Rosa, California.

    OtherPeoplesPixels: What do the seemingly unrelated subjects of your meticulous graphite drawings have in common?

    Nathan Haenlein: This body of work began with the collapse of our economy in 2008, the bankruptcy of GM and subsequent bailout by the government. I was raised in Michigan and Ohio. The majority of my family was employed or benefited from the auto industry. I was distracted by what I read and heard in the news and the reality of the people living through the lowest point in an economy that had been below the national average for decades. My graphite drawings are broken into conceptual subgroups that expose the complexity of a geographic area and the varying possibilities of experience.

    The willingly-hypnotized are a metaphor for the Rust Belt. For years, the people in this area watched as economies constricted and changed their cities. Works depicting food, vice and escape shine a spotlight on how we cope. Additionally, the drawings elicit a small amount of shame followed by guilt. These feelings are powerful motivators that can cause either change or stagnation. The factory and its products are the gems in my work. I focus on the product and how they make it. I think of them as science and the genius of engineering. Lastly, the environment is always present. The weather and landscape shape a community. I am interested in natural beauty and the human impulse to control it.

    Mount Pleasant Freedom
    2010
    Graphite on Paper
    11"x 13"

    OPP: Are the human subjects in your drawings individuals or are they just symbols of unwavering consumption? Do you relate to them or feel compassion for them?

    NH: The human subjects in my drawings are archetypes. Since I have lived in California for ten years, I have become more and more removed from the day-to-day experiences I have taken on in my work. I purposefully avoid the use of friends and family as subjects. The distance, both physical and personal, allows me to build a narrative without conflict. I am absolutely empathic to the individuals in my work. I come to them with a sense of loss and hope to somehow elevate them from struggle. I take extreme care and patience producing the drawings. I am at times conflicted about the act of consumption. Why we consume and how what we consume shapes our personal economies, class and perceived wellness. Where does this lead us?

    Untitled
    2008
    Gel Pen on Paper
    32"x 40"

    OPP: What are your thoughts on patience and repetition in the digital age?

    NH: As I answer these questions for the blog of the company that hosts my website, the obviousness of the digital age is too apparent. It sounds moot to use the term, but the speed of change has an impact on how I work and experience art in general. I fall victim to the constant distraction that technology affords. My studio practice is a counterbalance to these distractions.

    Since childhood I have been a model of impatience; my daily life is a battle of impulse control. These struggles have led me to hone my working habits. There are now long periods of exaggerated patience. I have yet to understand my ability to focus completely on the production of art works. Additionally, the daily act of working satisfies my compulsions/obsessions and brings about a state of equilibrium. I am curious about the act of repetition. Whether it is revisiting the same ideas or repeating the same physical exercise, this need for repetition in our lives somehow reflects the human condition in a non-narrative way. What propels these acts and thoughts?

    OPP: In my opinion, it's about a spiritual need. Repetition involves a way of comprehending the world that is beyond the intellect, especially when it includes a physical act, an embodied motion. Through physical repetition, anxiety can be transformed into presence. So when you say that your studio practice is a counterbalance to the distractions of speediness and technology, I think about meditation, which is about coming back to the body and to the present moment. Is it a stretch to call your studio practice a meditation practice?

    NH: It would be a stretch to call my practice meditation. I think of meditation—which I have been advised to utilize by professionals—as an internal space of absolute calm, a way to remain still both physically and mentally, and recharge. While my studio work is very repetitive, it is wrought with a constant stream of thoughts and urges I tamp down in order to produce the work. I find the finished art works have a richness that comes from forced patience and this internal battle. Lastly, I think you answered my question on what propels these acts and thoughts, and I will adopt the idea of repetition transforming anxiety into presence.

    Volt
    2010
    Graphite on Paper
    11"x 13"

    OPP: Quad Drawings, a series of geometric, gel pen drawings, and your resin and enamel paintings from 2006 are stylistically different from the realistic, graphite drawings? What made you decide to unite these two styles as postcards in 2011?

    NH: The Quad Drawings and resin works grew together in my studio, informing each other and allowing me to formally investigate a two dimensional plane. All of the quad works began with a detailed plan before entering the studio. I focused on color and a mathematical system similar to knitting or crochet to create the compositions. Additionally, this detailed plan was an analog system, quoting the vector software used to produce the resin work. I was interested in building a three dimensional illusion simply by my counting and color choice. After years of counting, color testing and sitting still, filling in rectangular boxes, I became dubious of my intent and started to question whether these drawings were fulfilling my need as an artist.

    In 2008, I simply put down the gel pen and cleaned my brushes. I needed a new challenge. I was no longer able to ignore my needs for a concrete narrative in my work. I made rules: no color, no counting, be descriptive and simplify my tools. The graphite drawings are the result of these new rules. They are visually completely different, but the planning and execution of the drawings mirrored the quad works. The tedium of my practice started to take its toll on my production, and slowly I began to break these rules. My intent in the postcards was to give myself a break from a rigid system that didn’t/doesn’t allow any play or improvisation in the production. Soon I had made over 50 new small pieces, and my daily practice was consumed by working on the postcards. I still don’t know if this is a bridge of the two bodies of work, but I continue to produce these small works.

    List 10
    2013

    OPP: Your newest body of work is a series of paintings of repeated racquetball instructions. The text reads like an advertisement, encouraging the constant striving to be better that advertising always capitalizes on. Stylistically, the work evokes psychedelic concert posters from the 60s. When I Googled you, I found that you have a racquetball player profile and ranking, so obviously you have some experience with the game. How did this body of work grow out of your personal experience? Is racquetball a metaphor in this work?

    NH: There is an apparent under-current of obsession in all of my work. I am obsessed with racquetball. It keeps me up at night. I replay matches in my head and focus on points where I could have made better decisions. I decided to make a gouache painting of the growing list of things I need to work on. Before I knew it, I had made eight. I photographed the courts I played on, digitally printed them on fine art paper and painted the list directly on the court. My initial intent was to become a better player, but soon these paintings started to reflect a larger narrative of my daily experience.

    The game for me is a metaphor for control. The paintings let me impart my will on the game. While making these paintings, I began to look at vintage GM ads and the promises of a better life through Chevy. These absolutes are mirrored in my lists. I have never shown the list paintings, but for some reason I decided to put them on my website. I still read the list before each match. And I have enjoyed answering this question immensely.

    OPP: What about the experience of flow? Do you feel it more on the racquetball court or in your studio?

    NH: Again, I am enjoying these questions too much!! I believe there is a time when flow in the studio happens. It is so elusive, here then gone, and only recognized days later that it occurred.  But to link my obsessive hobby/sport with my professional practice is giving me too much credit as a racquetball player. My studio is a place of ideas and actions converging into objects. Also, the underlying structure of my studio practice hinges on current conceptual concerns for the project at hand. Whatever the content, it is the impetus for making the work. Racquetball on the other hand can be a metaphor in my work, but it doesn’t go both ways for me. I can remember a NBA finals game when Michael Jordan scored an insane amount of points in the first half, and the announcers proclaimed he was in a place of “flow." I guess my point is that flow comes to the truly invested and focused regardless of the endeavor. I have not reached that yet in racquetball.

    To see more of Nathan's work, please visit nathanhaenlein.com.

    Featured Artist Interviews are conducted by Chicago-based interdisciplinary artist Stacia Yeapanis. When she’s not writing for OPP, Stacia explores the relationship between repetition, desire and impermanence in her cross-stitch embroideries, remix video and collage installations. She is an instructor in the Department of Fiber and Material Studies at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, where received her MFA in 2006, and was a 2012-2013 Mentor-in-Residence at BOLT in Chicago. Her solo exhibition I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For is on view at Klemm Gallery, Siena Heights University (Adrian, Michigan) until December 6, 2013, and she is currently preparing for another solo exhibition titled Everything You Need is Already Here (Heaven Gallery, Chicago) in January 2014.

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    tag:blog.otherpeoplespixels.com,2013:Post/623605 2013-11-28T13:50:38Z 2013-11-28T13:50:45Z I'm grateful. . . Your regularly-scheduled Featured Artist interview will be back next Thursday. But since Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday—sharing food and watching TV with the ones I love make me feel grateful—I'd like to take this opportunity to say I'm thankful for this fantastic job. As an artist and educator, asking other artists about their work and their experiences making art couldn't be more satisfying. I've had the opportunity to get to know numerous amazing artists. The only thing that would make it better is to see all this work in person.

    So on the occasion of Thanksgiving, I'd like to highlight a few of my favorite interviews from the past three years. Click the names to go to the interviews.

    Melissa Wyman
    Spring Play @ VIAF Performance Festival
    2009
    Performance/ Installation

    Ian Davis
    Resource
    2011
    Acrylic & spray paint on linen

    Caroline Wells Chandler
    Thunder Spoon
    Stretched blanket, foam, paint, pompoms, copper leaf, shetland pony, mancala beads, tacks, brads, flowers, sculpey casted: oatmeal, and coffee beans, moss
    48" x 65"
    2012

    Nathan Prouty
    Hot Spots & Rocks
    Bits and bobs
    2011

    Lauren Fensterstock
    Mound
    2010
    Paper, charcoal, plexi
    14 x 12 x 5 ft
    Installation at Sienna Gallery, Lenox, MA

    Bayeté Ross Smith
    Got The Power: Minnesota
    2011
    Mixed Media and Sound
    6ft x 2ft x 15ft

    Opening Soon (Grand Gateway Mall, Shanghai)
    2009
    Lightjet Prints
    Grid of 4, 20" X 30" each

    Floating Forest
    2010
    Oil on canvas
    6' x 10'

    Reversed Racism
    Hand-embroidered cotton
    Series of 12 counted cross-stitch images of stills taken from the George Holiday video of the Rodney King beating

    Happy Thanksgiving!

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    tag:blog.otherpeoplespixels.com,2013:Post/621666 2013-11-21T18:00:00Z 2013-11-21T16:10:56Z OtherPeoplesPixels Interviews Homa Shojaie

    Cocoon (detail)
    2011
    Warps of Raw Canvas

    Iranian-born artist HOMA SHOJAIE's background in architecture and painting informs her work in frayed canvas. Architecture responds to the needs of the body in space, while the repeated, meditative gestures in her painted surfaces and deconstructed canvases respond to the need of the spirit to be embodied. Homa received a Bachelor of Architecture from The Cooper Union in 1991. She attended the year-long BOLT Residency (Chicago) in 2011-2012. Her frayed canvas works, which bridge painting and sculpture, have been displayed in solo exhibitions Ascent in the BOLT Project Space (2012) and Cocoon at Flash Atolye in Izmir, Turkey (May 2013). Most recently, her work was included in the group exhibition Fibre to Fabric at Madder Moon (September 2013) in Singapore, where Homa now lives and works.

    OtherPeoplesPixels: Your 2012 solo exhibition Ascent was a series of sculptural and wall-hung works made from frayed canvas. Tell us about the process of fraying. What led you to begin to deconstruct the surface that you had previously painted on?

    Homa Shojaie: During a studio visit, my friends Jonathan Miller and Anna Kunz challenged me to re-examine the surface on which I painted. At that point I was painting on store-bought, stretched canvases. So I bought a 50 yard roll of raw canvas and got to work.

    The series Frayed Canvas Works started as an examination of the surface and site of painting. My first gesture was to cut a piece of raw canvas out from the roll and then fray the edges to create a defined surface. The warp threads that are freed from the surface of canvas have an uncanny energy when piled together, and the wefts hanging from the edges have such fluidity. These discoveries began to drive the process. Some of the themes that emerged were: body and persona, border and boundary, connectivity and freedom, complementarity and separation, masculine and feminine, maximum and minimum, tension and compression. As I was pulling out these thousands of threads, I pretty quickly realized that I had started to put lines into my painting for the first time. Before I started fraying the canvas, my paintings were fields, so I really owe the introduction of line into my painting to all those pulled out threads. They were physical lines that emerged from the surface of the canvas, as if they had placed themselves there.

    Ascent
    2011
    Raw Frayed Canvas
    1' x 12' x 12'

    OPP: Many of the pieces in Ascent relate to the body. Did your training in architecture play into this body of work?

    HS: Canvas is such a beautiful material. It is like skin. Then you fray it, and it looks like hair, which also brings you to the body. Then there are the spines: each one is a group of threads bound together by a central column that approximates the height and width of an average human spine.

    My friend Sheila Mostofi, who has the best eye in the world, helped me to hang the show, and there were certainly hours of architectural debates during the installation. But my architect side also showed up earlier in the creation of work for the show. In order to respond to the height of the Bolt Project Space, I made Ascent, the piece that lent its title to the whole exhibition. The smaller spines measured about 36 inches. Ascent was a 21-foot-long spine. The idea for this scale shift came up in one of the Bolt Residency group discussions when we were planning for a group show in the Bolt Project Space. Even though I ended up presenting Requiem For Waking Things, an architectural collaboration with filmmaker Melika Bass, in that show, the idea of responding to the dimensions of the room lingered. I later made Inside and Outside, two columns that each measure 1 x 1 x 12 feet, the exact size of actual architectural columns throughout the exhibition space at Chicago Artists’ Coalition.

    There was also the presence of a persona in the project called Girl on the Lower Deck, which is the title of the piece that began the fraying. Most of the writings on the spine pieces are investigations into who this character is, what she thinks, feels and wants. Sometimes I refer to this dimension of the work as the emotional side. Architecturally, the Girl on the Lower Deck is the inhabitant of the whole series.

    Everything is Possible from Word Series
    2010
    Oil on Canvas
    72"x 48"

    OPP: Aside from the canvas itself, I see connections between your frayed work and your paintings, in the presence of a repeated gesture. Is the repeated gesture a kind of meditation?

    HS: The repetition existed in the earlier paintings in the form of the brush stroke. Later in the Word Series, I was really meditating, sometimes on the subject and sometimes on the word. I wrote the words over and over in the hopes that the painting would become what the words described or pondered. The act of writing in itself is a repetition. It is also an act of weaving, both literally (the rows, weaving a textural field) and metaphorically (weaving a world of meanings and associations).  

    OPP: Aside from its presence in your work, what does repetition mean to you in your life?

    HS: There are repetitions I cherish: a walk with a friend on a path we’ve been on before, the way my parents answer a Skype call, the love of the familiar. And then there is the default repetition of habits: going to grocery store again, emptying the dishwasher, listening to the rotating CDs in the car stereo that I haven't changed for a year, hearing myself repeat a sentence I have said before and will say again, complaining.

    In my work, sometimes I fray canvas for days. The act of pulling out the threads one at a time becomes a measure of a large chunk of time and the area of the canvas that becomes free. . . these are all repetition. I do it because these works demand it. I imagine that one day the work/ the process might not demand it anymore, and then I will no longer do it.

    Feather and Gold Part
    2011
    Installation shot

    OPP: Last year, you moved from Chicago, where you were part of a community of artists, to Singapore, where you knew no one but your family. How has this move affected your studio practice and your work?

    HS: My work changes every time I change my studio space. Even in Chicago when I moved two blocks away into a new space, my work would change. My initial thought when I got to Singapore was: I  will never fray another piece of canvas. I did a series of Skype portraits during the first three months because I was on Skype six to seven hours every day talking to friends and family all over the world. But soon, at the suggestion of my new studio neighbor and now friend, Susanne Paulli, I was knotting threads to a piece I had brought from Chicago, and it genuinely felt real. With every knot, I was tying the cut-off past to the possibility of a future, creating a continuity. As long as I find these wonderful and brilliant friends, things always work out.

    Right now, I am working on two different bodies of work. One is a series of paintings called Sexiness, and the other is called How To Stretch Canvas named after the essay Jonathan Miller wrote for Ascent. It is an investigation into the space, structure and materiality of stretched canvas. I’m exploring the relationship between the canvas and the stretcher by taking it apart and reconstructing it in a new way. So in a way, after 14 months, I am back to my usual studio practice: two parallel bodies of work, seemingly unrelated, but each feeding into the other.

    Continuity (detail)
    2013
    Raw frayed canvas, threads, wood stretcher, black ink
    3.5 m X 1m

    OPP: Do you have any advice for other artists about moving to a new city where they have find their way into an existing art community?

    HS: Be open and do your work. Go to museums, openings, artist talks, discussions and shows. I knew that as soon as I got to Singapore I needed to find a studio and start working. Preferably this studio would be in a community setting where I could be in contact with other artists. I started to call different artist organizations. I went to gallery openings and asked the gallerists where their artists had their studios. I sent tens of emails to artists I found on the Internet. I joined Singapore Contemporary Young Artists (SYCA), a wonderful group of artists and the only art group in Singapore that accepts non-Singaporean members. It was crazy, but it paid off. I found a studio in a setting where there were 15 other artists, and a lot of my friendships started from there.

    That’s the practical side. There is also the emotional side. Allow yourself to feel displaced, homesick, lonely, sad and all the other emotions that come with a big move. And then seek solace. Nothing pulled me out of homesickness more than seeing a great show, lecture or a movie. I joined a film group last year. We watched masterpieces of Asian cinema, and this year we are watching Singaporean movies. This has been such a great way to feel the culture and begin to embrace it. Give yourself time, encouragement and get Skype.  

    To see more of Homa's work, please visit homashojaie.com.

    Featured Artist Interviews are conducted by Chicago-based interdisciplinary artist Stacia Yeapanis. When she’s not writing for OPP, Stacia explores the emotional and spiritual significance of repetition in her cross-stitch embroideries, remix video and collage installations. She is an instructor in the Department of Fiber and Material Studies at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, where received her MFA in 2006, and was a 2012-2013 Mentor-in-Residence at BOLT in Chicago. Her solo exhibition I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For is on view at Klemm Gallery, Siena Heights University (Adrian, Michigan) until December 6, 2013, and she is currently preparing for another solo exhibition titled Everything You Need is Already Here (Heaven Gallery, Chicago) in January 2014.


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    tag:blog.otherpeoplespixels.com,2013:Post/619012 2013-11-14T18:00:00Z 2013-11-14T13:53:05Z OtherPeoplesPixels Interviews Kevin Earl Taylor

    Shrine
    2013
    Oil on panel
    25" x 30"

    KEVIN EARL TAYLOR's oil paintings are part fantasy, part allegory and part social commentary. He highlights humanity's repeated, misguided manipulation of nature, asking, "how can we relate to animals as beings rather than objects?" Kevin received his BFA from Savannah College of Art and Design in Illustration (1994) and exhibits internationally. His numerous solo exhibitions include shows at Circle Culture in Berlin and Hamburg, Rebekah Jacob Gallery in Charleston, South Carolina and Guerrero Gallery and Eleanor Harwood in San Francisco. His solo show Inner Wilderness at Rebekah Jacob Gallery runs from November 1 to December 31, 2013 with an opening reception on November 14. Kevin lives and works in San Francisco.

    OtherPeoplesPixels: My favorite paintings are Sympathetic Situation (2013), Negotiation (2012) and Red Thread IV, which portray interactions between animals that usually don't interact. Sometimes there's potential danger. Sometimes there's a sense of poignant possibility that these animals could be friends. Are these paintings fantasies or allegories?

    Kevin Earl Taylor: A bit of both actually. I enjoy a sense of mystery in my paintings, so I’d rather imply a story than tell one. The narrative becomes the abstraction. It's a way of letting the work transform with regard to the viewer. The best way I can explain my approach would be similar to starting a story at the end instead of the beginning. I prefer things to feel somewhat unresolved. It's that type of situation that draws a person in. It's in our nature to want to solve it. When my paintings are most successful, they are making people's minds restless.

    Sympathetic Situation
    2013

    OPP: Animals are often portrayed as objects in many of your paintings. Could you talk about the differences and similarities in pieces where animals are surrounded by scaffolding, as in The Whale Structure (2013), The Chimp Construction (2013)) and The Rhinoceros Construction, and pieces where animals are portrayed as art objects on pedestals, as in Pisces (2013, The Ram Installation (2012) and 23:12:56.78 (2013)?

    KET: The scaffolding pieces, or "constructions," reference humanity's ongoing action to dominate, manipulate and reinvent nature. The animals are synthetic, seemingly forgotten and "in progress." They could exist in the not so distant future as relics, initiated during a time which parallels man's own extinction from earth.

    The pedestal series presents organic matter as artifact. I was amused by the idea that preserving a thing often requires removing it from its natural environment. We put something in a museum or zoo to appreciate it, making it untouchable, dysfunctional and guarded. I was hoping people might think more about appreciating animals while they still exist in nature.

    I've had people feel sympathy for the animals in these paintings, but it's not necessary. The animals in the pedestal and construction works are no more alive than a church or hospital. What these works have in common is the now absent human hand which constructed, plotted and staged the elements within them. They ask us to remove ourselves from the center of our own universe.

    Polaris
    2013
    Oil on panel
    48" x 26"

    OPP: What about Shrine (2013) and Beckoning (2013)? Is worship a different impulse?

    KET: The idea of worship runs through much of my work, but it exists more as a vehicle to focus on things being mesmerized by other things. It's a way to emphasize an admiration between disparate entities.

    OPP: Do the animals admire the humans in any of your work, or just each other? Is admiration a necessary part of coexistence?

    KET: It's more of an equal respect for one another and their respective roles within the ecosystem. Essentially, I'm trying to dissolve the imaginary boundaries separating humans from nature and coax people to treat everything as an imperative part of the cycle. The more I can twist the characteristics of the diverse elements of nature, the better. It's easy to forget that we too are animals, and our ever increasing separation from the natural world tends to spawn poor decision making. I'd like to think that if we treated our habitat with the same sensitivity as non-human animals do to theirs, we'd consider the consequences of our actions much more than we do presently.

    OPP: The very notion of animals as art objects brings to mind Damian Hirst's The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living (1991), et al. Whatever this piece was originally about is constantly overshadowed by its price tag, and whatever potential meanings it had are almost shutdown by the spectacle of it. I'd like to put aside speculation on Hirst's intentions and his personality, and think about the work itself. A painting of a dead shark as an object can do something an actual life-size, dead shark cannot, and vice versa. Were you thinking of Hirst's shark at all when you painted Chapel (2013)? Are there any similarities between your piece and his?

    KET: I wasn't thinking about Hirst directly when I painted Chapel.However, 03-23-56-48 is another painting from the Pedestal series that references his work directly. For me, it was a way to make the museum scene more "realistic.” As far as similarities within our work, I imagine we're skirting along the same lines; asking questions which challenge the concepts of nature, art and mortality.

    Chapel
    2013

    OPP: Many new and emerging artists receive no comprehensive professional practices training, even in graduate school. Even the most practical amongst us has had the fantasy of randomly being discovered and offered a solo exhibition. And that does happen to some artists, but not most. You've had a lot of solo shows, more than one every year since 2005. Can you offer any practical advice or anecdotal experience to younger artists who are seeking solo exhibitions and confused about how to land them?

    KET: Persistence and patience. Strive to make unique work for the right reasons and eventually people will take notice. If things aren't happening fast enough, don't get discouraged. You don't want to be in the spotlight when you're not ready. It's hard to recover from something like that. Let things happen organically, so you're always where you're supposed to be, working with people who genuinely believe in what you do. Whatever you do, NEVER be completely satisfied with the work you're making. . . and remember, it's not a contest. If you want to compete, go out for the football team.

    To view more work by Kevin Earl Taylor, please visit kevinearltaylor.com.

    Featured Artist Interviews are conducted by Chicago-based interdisciplinary artist Stacia Yeapanis. When she’s not writing for OPP, Stacia explores the emotional and spiritual significance of repetition in her cross-stitch embroideries, remix video and collage installations. She is an instructor in the Department of Fiber and Material Studies at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, where received her MFA in 2006, and was a 2012-2013 Mentor-in-Residence at BOLT in Chicago. Her solo exhibition I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For is on view at Klemm Gallery, Siena Heights University (Adrian, Michigan) until December 6, 2013, and she is currently preparing for another solo exhibition titled Everything You Need is Already Here (Heaven Gallery, Chicago) in January 2014.
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    tag:blog.otherpeoplespixels.com,2013:Post/616484 2013-11-07T18:00:00Z 2013-11-12T16:25:00Z OtherPeoplesPixels Interviews Morgan Rosskopf

    You And I Are Intertwined
    2013
    Mixed media drawing
    50" x 55"

    MORGAN ROSSKOPF combines free drawing, collage and intaglio printing in the creation of two-dimensional works that evoke the poignant tension between beauty and excess, desire and pain. The flat surfaces of her pieces appear to seethe with motion and emotion due to surprising juxtapositions and dramatic scale shifts between images representing American middle-class aspirations towards status and pleasure. Morgan graduated Magna Cum Laude with a BFA in Printmaking from Sonoma State University in 2010. She received her MFA from the University of Oregon in 2013 and was awarded the Philip Halley Johnson Schlorship in 2011. Her work has recently been included in Light Out at White Box Gallery, Speaking Between at Disjecta Gallery and A(muse) at LaVerne Krauss Gallery, all in Portland, Oregon. Morgan lives and works in Los Angeles.

    OtherPeoplesPixels: You describe yourself as "visual hunter-gatherer." Do you think about hunting and gathering as a subject in your work or just a method?

    Morgan Rosskopf: Hunting and gathering images is both subject and method. Or perhaps the subject of my work is also fueled by its method. I believe that all my images already exist; I just have to find them and rearrange them. Accumulating images is not simply a process that leads to a final product. It is also a way of discovering what my work is about. It is mostly intuitive: I tear images I am attracted to out of magazines and then reflect on that attraction. Once I have an understanding of what I want my drawing to be about, I look for other images that speak to the drawing’s overarching idea, even if they are seemingly unrelated or tangential. Certain ideas push me to collect a large amount of a particular type of image, often leading to countless hours on Google or Bing. I typically end up with a mess of downloaded images on my desktop.

    The images I ultimately use are always fragmented and removed of their original context. The way we see ourselves and the rest of the world is comprised of a multitude of images. I see myself and my work as an accumulation of ideas and experiences. I am especially interested in how our inevitable accumulation of everything leads to paradox and internal conflict. My completed drawings are composed portraits of psychological states, each fragmented image contributing something to the larger, interwoven chains of meaning.

    He Said I Was A Lobster Girl (detail)
    2013
    Mixed media on paper
    60" x 34"

    OPP: Could you talk about the tension between beauty, desire and the "conventional middle class aspirations and feelings of internal dissonance" that inspire your work?

    MR: Desire is this underlying force that shapes how we see and experience beauty, as well as the ideas that conflict with it or cause feelings of tension. Desire isn’t just something we feel, but it is also a form of self-expression. Fulfilling our desires can range from choosing what we eat for breakfast to what car we feel adequately reflects our sensibilities. Middle-class aspiration is such a strong, governing force on our desires. Middle-class aspirations are advertised to us everywhere, and the pressure to achieve status can be crippling. More so, many middle-class conventions are superficial and devoid of meaning. Despite my criticism and longing for alternatives, part of me still wishes to uphold these middle-class values.

    Beauty gets wrapped up in this issue because we are obsessed with achieving it. When our expectations of beauty do not align with those of popular middle-class culture, feelings of dissonance start to grow. Even though we live in a postmodern culture where freedom of self-expression is our supposed mantra, that middle-class convention maintains a strong presence, complicating our personal desires.

    I am interested in beauty that is strange, confrontational or kitschy. While I admittedly feel juvenile, my inspiration comes from rebelling against these conventions while I search for something that feels more genuine. For the most part, we all share similar ideas of what beauty is, regardless of class. However, I think it is important for us to question our ideas of beauty because they have become predictable and one-dimensional. Sometimes the role of beauty in popular culture is merely to denote that something fits into our paradigm of thought. The word beauty used to be reserved for things that were awe-inspiring, even slightly terrifying or unhinging. While I am not arguing that beauty needs always to be attached to the sublime, I do feel that pushing the boundaries of beauty is important. Doing this might never relieve feelings of dissonance, but it might provide a new and more satisfying way to experience beauty and fulfill our desires.

    Caution Isn't Ours
    2013
    Mixed media on paper and frosted mylar
    24" x 30"

    OPP: There's a lot of interplay between literal and figurative meanings of the images you use in your drawings and collages. Do you always know consciously why you are putting images together, or do you get surprised in the process?

    MR: My drawing process is largely intuitive, but I have to be smart about it. My method is based in collage and requires that I edit myself all the time, as my exposure and interest in images is overwhelming. It is easy for me to get carried away or to let my drawings wander conceptually. I have found that, if I limit myself to a few different symbols for each drawing, I have a little more control over what the image says. Though I try to exercise some control over my imagery, meaning will just suddenly show up. It often surprises me. Collage is a great tool for these types of moments because I can easily continue to expand on this new meaning or simply cover it up. Because I try to limit my signifiers, I rely on formal elements, such as color and quality of line, to harness these surprises. Black sumi ink is one of my favorite tools to create formal cohesion between disparate signifiers; silhouetting repeated images or interjecting a new one not only provides heightened contrast and visual variation, but it also evokes conceptual contrast. I have also found that there are a few constant symbols in my work, such as the cigarette, hair or roses, that make it into the drawings no matter what. They become superfluous and foundational at the same time, and I really like that juxtaposition. How many other superfluous things are in our lives that we just cannot live without?

    Juxtaposition and paradox are the main conceptual forces in my work. I am particularly interested in the experience of cognitive dissonance: anxiety caused by holding two conflicting beliefs at the same time. Resolving cognitive dissonance requires that we let go of one conflicting belief or figure out a way to mediate the two. Juxtaposition is a natural way to visually represent such abstract feelings, as well as a way to explore where this conflict arises from or possible ways to find resolution. This is my favorite part of drawing because it lets me meditate on totally outlandish possibilities. I create strange metaphors, or indulge in my most exaggerated and melodramatic ideas as way to interrogate the complex actuality of our psyches. I enjoy conflating images as a way to make sarcastic jokes, probe delicate subjects or to make myself vulnerable to the viewer. There are moments where I let the drawings expand out of control and others where I maintain a more regimented process, mirroring the ebb and flow of our own internal dialogues.

    The literal and figurative interplay of images is where all the fun stuff happens. For a long time I was nervous about my work being too easy to read, so I made vague references and tried too hard to muddy up my intent and meaning. Because collage creates a type of schizophrenia in the work, I realized that muddled meaning happened naturally. I was working against myself and my methodology by attempting to be vague or mysterious. Choosing to highlight the literal meaning of many images allowed juxtaposition and relationships between symbols to happen faster. It has enabled me to be more confrontational in my work.

    Shorty Wanna Be A Thug
    2013
    Mixed media on paper
    40" x 50"

    OPP: Could you pick your favorite piece and tell us how you understand some of the juxtapositions?

    MR: Shorty Wanna Be A Thug is probably the best example of literal interplay between images. I wanted to address the pain that comes along with desiring excess. Literally, this drawing pokes fun at the stomachache that follows a decadent dinner; it's our punishment for indulging in too much boozy and buttery goodness. Metaphorically, I was also interested in the psychological stress that often manifests as physical pain and seems to follow from a hedonistic and materialistic life. I spend a lot of time observing how the “good life” brings about a lot of internal conflict, both psychological and physical. I chose to address these ideas by conflating components of a lobster dinner with images of ulcers, bones and fatty tissue, chaotically and beautifully intertwined. Juxtaposition of images and meaning is my attempt at understanding our cultural and personal expectations. The act of juxtaposition not only posits one meaning with a counterpart, but also opens both up to the beautiful grey area that exists between their extremes. Derrida might call this différance, but I see it more as an acceptance of the reality we chose to make for ourselves.

    OPP: You've recently received your MFA in Printmaking (June 2013) from the University of Oregon. How did your work change while you were in graduate school?

    MR: In graduate school, the foundational ideas of my work did not change, but the way I executed them did. I have always been interested in the complex and often muddy nature of the psyche. My time in graduate school allowed me to investigate what that meant to me. I got to spend three years reading psychology and philosophy and indulging in all of my intellectual and creative interests. As a result, my ideas were clarified and complicated at the same time. My imagery became more specific, but it was also fragmented. I started drawing realistically, but with the intent to create something totally abstract.

    Crystal Candy Mountain
    2013
    Mixed media on paper
    36" x 36"

    OPP: How have the first few months out been for you? What's next?

    MR: Now that school is over, I have to keep pushing myself. My urge to create is always present, but it is easy to fall back on things I have made in the past, instead of looking forward into new territory. Immediately after school ended, I was commission by a public defense office up in Idaho to make a drawing that was inspired by one of their cases. This case in particular involved a baby that was exposed to so much methamphetamine that it was supposedly growing meth crystals on its skin! When I heard this story, I was immediately inspired by the images that were manifesting in my head. Even though I was overflowing with ideas, I felt the subject matter was so sensitive that I had to be careful with my imagery. Crystal Candy Mountain is the piece that came out of this commission. I was aiming to make something strangely innocent, grotesque and cracked out, and I think it worked. Sometimes making work for school has the ability to validate its “goodness,” and I am spending a lot of time fighting that. I can make good work outside of school.

    Right now, I am interested in some vile imagery. I have been listening to a lot of hip-hop, and I admire how grotesque a lot of the lyrics are. When I am listening to these songs in my car, I often ask myself why I am not drawing images that parallel some of the grit and horrifying things these young rappers are talking about. The metaphors they use are so beautiful and confrontational, which is what I am about. Even though I find it incredibly difficult, I think it feels good to draw yucky things.

    To see more of Morgan's work, please visit morganrosskopf.com.

    Featured Artist Interviews are conducted by Chicago-based interdisciplinary artist Stacia Yeapanis. When she’s not writing for OPP, Stacia explores the emotional and spiritual significance of repetition in her cross-stitch embroideries, remix video and collage installations. She is an instructor in the Department of Fiber and Material Studies at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, where received her MFA in 2006, and was a 2012-2013 Mentor-in-Residence at BOLT in Chicago. Her solo exhibition I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For is on view at Klemm Gallery, Siena Heights University (Adrian, Michigan) until December 6, 2013, and she is currently preparing for another solo exhibition titled Everything You Need Is Already Here (Heaven Gallery, Chicago) in January 2014.


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    tag:blog.otherpeoplespixels.com,2013:Post/614404 2013-10-31T17:00:00Z 2013-11-12T16:24:50Z OtherPeoplesPixels Interviews Doo-Sung Yoo

    Vishtauroborg001.OMH5 version1.0
    May 2011
    Robotic Performance (preparation)

    DOO-SUNG YOO has been re-contextualizing discarded animal organs in installations, robotics and performances since 2007. The mechanical sculptures of Organ-machine Hybrids have evolved into Vishtauroborg001.OMH5, a "performance project that incorporates robotics, electronic music and sound, dance, visual performance, and industrial design." Vishtauroborg Version 2.6 was featured on the cover of the 2013 summer edition of Media-N, a new media art journal. Doo-Sung's solo exhibition Replay: Red, Stench, Shriek, & Heat will be on view at the Columbus Metropolitan Library Gallery in Columbus, Ohio from November 9 to December 12, 2013. Doo-Sung has two MFA degrees: one from Sejong University in Seoul, South Korea (2003) and the other from Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio (2010), where he now teaches several courses.

    OtherPeoplesPixels: Could you explain the title Vishtauroborg001.OMH5? How did this project grew out of your series Organ-machine Hybrids?

    DooSung Yoo: Vishtauroborg is a compound word: Vishnu, minotaur, robot, organ, and cyborg. The 001.OMH5 is the artificial species’ number. Vishtauroborg is the fifth character in my Organ-machine Hybrids project (OMH), for which I reused and recontextualized discarded animal organs in installations, robotics and performances. The OMH characters—low-art-hybrids or low-artificial-animals—are ancestors to Vishtauroborg’s characters—high-art-hybrids or high-artificial-animals.  

    Both projects aim to create a hybrid through artistic synthesis: physical transformation, as opposed to genetic modification. Both combine animal organs and electronic devices that collaborate with live animals (fish, for example) and human performers. The Vishtauroborgs are more technically advanced hybrid models and involve interdisciplinary media, exploring more complex experimental articulations. While the early organ-electronic devices are visual metaphors of transforming the body through mechanical means, Vishtauroborg explores how the mechanical motions can be harmonized with the human body and how artists find possible solutions for the disjunctions that occur when the natural is combined with the artificial.

    Vishtauroborg version 3.1 - Incompatibility
    September 15th, 2012
    Robotic Performance at Ingenuity Fest 2012, Cleveland

    OPP: Do you have a favorite version/performance?

    DSY: It is really difficult to choose a favorite. As the director, I, of course, like all five of Vishtauroborg’s versions because each one has different theme and focus with different characteristics. However, if I must decide, the 3.1 performance was the best so far. It was romantic; it combined Kazuo Ohno’s style of butoh improvisations and Merce Cunningham’s western style of improvisations with mechanical and random motions. The exaggerated facial expressions and improvised dance created a balletic harmony with both the organs and machines. The makeup designer also perfectly understood my vision, including androgynous characteristics and the combination of shamanistic visualizations of Japanese natives and Native Americans. It seems that art movements like contemporary dance can extend their life span with technological augmentations or evolve into new "species" of fine art.

    The performance day of 3.1 was also very dramatic. Believe it or not, the crew of Vishtauroborg 3.1 and I had only two hours to set up and test the machines— ideally five to six hours are needed—due to the horribly unlucky break down of my car on the way to the Ingenuity Fest 2012 in Cleveland, Ohio. The machines worked well, although a part of the sound sensors was broken in the accident. It seemed to me somehow there was a spirit in the machine that automatically controlled itself through intelligence without the technical team’s perfect maintenance. It felt like a car racing competition: eight hours lost on a track, two hours with the car technician team and 30 minutes on the dead run to the finishing line. Unbelievably, we won the race!

    OPP: You are usually the director, not the performer. But you wore the suit/exoskeleton at the Vishtauroborg project's inaugural performance at the ROY G BIV Gallery in 2011. What's it feel like to have it on?

    DSY: It’s just like carrying two-year-old twins on your chest and back. Luckily, we don’t need to tie/untie the carrier of machines to change diapers! The machines weigh approximately 30 pounds each, but they are very stable and easy to balance the front and back for performing motions. Wearing one felt like exercising with dumbbells attached to my body.

    It was quite strange to feel the wriggles, shakes, vibrations and pressures and hear the sound effects, which were mechanically created to react to the motion of my arms and hand. It gave the illusion of being a robot or cyborg, but my physical feelings were still in disjunction with the mechanical movements. 

    Interestingly, I don’t feel any elements of fantasy or physical phenomena when I use a computer or smartphone. I cannot imagine how wearable technological augmentation, like the Google Glass, might expand our five senses at this point. The wearable devices will probably result in an experience of revulsion—as Masahiro Mori’s uncanny valley theory states—due to disjunctions between our organic, human senses and technology.

    Vishtauroborg Version2.0 - Reembody
    December 18th, 2011
    Interdisciplinary performance at The Columbus Performing Arts Center (Columbus, Ohio)

    OPP: For the performances you direct, are you choreographing the dance or collaborating with dancers who improvise?

    DSY: I collaborate with professional dancers in the sense that I design the scenario for his/her own choreography within my artwork. The dancer’s choreography and improvisations have to illustrate the mood of each scenario of the performance. For instance, the introduction and the climax require different motions, sounds and other visual effects. The dancers must be able to create natural improvisations or choreography beforehand that works in conjunction with the articulations of other media, especially the mechanical motions.

    As a director, I interweave visual and audio narratives from multiple media into a real time and place. It’s like recontextualizing material and expression, which creates new visual and audio metaphors and contexts. I ask questions when creating the scenario: What motions and expressions could be useful in the multiple performances? How do the choreographed motions (acting) connect with different media simultaneously (installation, sculpture, sound, makeup, costume, lighting, color, place)? What moments of harmony or disharmony of multiple media could be aesthetic metaphors? How do choreography and improvisation incorporate the mechanical motions in real time? How do the dancing motions enhance the visual narratives (like Mis-en-scen in cinematic and theatrical production) and create a mood, such as verisimilitude or surrealism?

    Preparing for the performances of Pig Bladder-clouds in Rainforest, for example, all six dancers and I had many meetings and rehearsals for designing their choreography and allowing for improvisation. I recorded videos of all their practices and rehearsals. These were good sources to develop the art plan with other collaborators, including the mechanical engineer, the sound designer and the industrial designer. One day, I drove four hours round trip to capture Merce Cunningham’s original Rainforest (1968) video with my camera because only two libraries in Ohio have the original video tapes, and they do not check those tapes out. I showed my dancers the clips and other reference videos to influence the choreography. Also, I collected and recorded a lot of sound samples as references for the sound designers to create background music and sound effects.

    It is not always easy to match my ideas with other collaborators’ creations. However, I am a driver of the art bus. The driver has to guide the project to a desired destination safely. Sometimes, my passengers cause a stir and suggest different routes. My art bus has been on a few happy journeys so far with my excellent passengers.

    Pig Bladder-clouds in Rainforest
    May 8th, 2010
    Multimedia Performance

    OPP: The feedback between movement and sound in the Vishtauroborg performances creates a different mood—for me, it's more cerebral, less visceral—than in your earlier robotic sculptures. I've only experienced sculptures such as Kinetic Pig Stomach (2007) and Lie: Robotic Cow Tongues (2007) through the video documentation on your website. Even though I've never seen them in person, I become very aware of sensations in my own body. I feel nauseous as I watch these dead parts moving. Do you have a strong visceral response to the organic materials you use?

    DSY: I love raw flesh, meat and animal entrails in my art work. However, ironically, I am a vegetarian. Touching raw flesh and organs is still uncomfortable for me although I have used them for seven years. I observed more than three hundred butcherings of hogs, cows and lambs in slaughterhouses when I was collecting pig bladders and other organs for my pig bladder series. I still remember the red color, the stench, the sounds and the temperature of those horrible moments. As an artist, I challenge myself to transform disgusting materials into art. I ask myself, “How can discarded biological materials be used in art? How can a spectacle be both repulsive and beautiful at the same time?

    OPP: Your work explores both negative and positive aspects of the human body’s response to an increasingly technologized society. Are you more optimistic or pessimistic about technology's effect on the body and on our lives?

    DSY: I would prefer to be optimistic about technology. I do not believe that technology can solve everything, and there are risks associated with its effects on our mental and physical health. Human beings may encounter the tragedy of genetic catastrophe and the destruction of the human form from the evolutionary decay caused by technology. Or, dominant genes could ultimately choose technology to reconstruct new bodies to survive as the natural selection in the technological evolution.

    The futurist Dr. Max More’s Technological Self-Transformation is quite interesting for me. Dr. More champions Extropianism, which argues that human beings may overcome biological, physical and mental constraints to improve human conditions with science and technology. The ideal human ultimately ascends to be a more advanced species or to move beyond the conventional parameters of human nature. Humanization of technology could save humans from the force majeure and extend human lifespans, leading to a techno-utopia, which conveys the notion of the human being’s rebirth with technology.

    Video_Aqua001.c02: Robotic Pig Heart-jellyfish
    2009
    Robotics & Installation

    OPP:
    In other interviews, you've mentioned art-world influences including Nam June Paik, Joseph Beuys, Damien Hirst, Duchamp and Stelarc. What fictional representations of cyborgs or human-machine hybrids are interesting to you?

    DSY: Most sci-fi cyborgs or robots embody fantastical fairy tales. They are much too exaggerated, likely in order to create a strong enemy for plausible stories. I do not believe that human beings will create an artificial intelligence that surpasses the human brain or organic processes. Android robots or humanoid machines would need to mimic a living being’s neural network to be lifelike entities capable of to overcoming their limited algorithms and forms. Cyborgs, which extend the existing human form and expand physical abilities, are possible.

    In Robocop, police officer Alex Murphy, who was already murdered, is revived as a cyborg policeman. However, that story is still chimerical idea in physics. Can the human’s dead organism be revived in a machine without incorporating another living organism? Could the mechanical system perfectly cover or functionally replace the dead organism without inserting cloning and growing stem cells? How can the revived natural body in the cyborg sustain its life?

    I agree with Stephen Hawking’s opinion that a disembodied human brain (data) could live permanently in a computer network, although it is just a theory for now. So, could the humans’ spirit (data) experience a revival into the digital network, like Major Motoko Kusanagi, the heroine of Ghost in the Shell? Kusanagi’s spirit-data briefly appears through hacking (connecting network) a gynoid (adult doll-female-robot) in the next series, Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence. I believe that those ideas could at least contribute to develop artificial intelligent systems in the robot industry. However, the duplication of human brain’s data and memories with/without an avatar or machine could be lifelike, but not a real-organic-existence. So, could we define that immaterial entity as a human? The current technology is still a small leap in the long voyage of those ideals.

    My favorite robot character is the only surviving Laputan soldier in Hayao Miyazaki’s Castle in the Sky, which is a very optimistic narrative of the human-nature-machine world. Lichen live on the robot’s shoulder and other animals play on the gigantic, walking robot’s body. The robot soldier is devoted to keeping bird’s eggs and gives flowers to other destroyed robot soldiers. It ultimately rescues the main human characters, illustrating robot goodwill toward humankind. Miyazaki’s robot soldier is a perfect example of an advanced machines that enhances the lives of humans and the natural environment.

    To see more of Doo-Sung's work, please visit doosungyoo.com.

    Featured Artist Interviews are conducted by Chicago-based interdisciplinary artist Stacia Yeapanis. When she’s not writing for OPP, Stacia explores the emotional and spiritual significance of repetition in her cross-stitch embroideries, remix video and collage installations. She is an instructor in the Department of Fiber and Material Studies at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, where received her MFA in 2006, and was a 2012-2013 Mentor-in-Residence at BOLT in Chicago. Her solo exhibition I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For is on view at Klemm Gallery, Siena Heights University (Adrian, Michigan) until December 6, 2013, and she is currently preparing for another solo exhibition titled Everything You Need Is Already Here (Heaven Gallery, Chicago) in January 2014.

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    tag:blog.otherpeoplespixels.com,2013:Post/612091 2013-10-24T17:00:00Z 2013-11-12T16:24:39Z OtherPeoplesPixels Interviews Kristyn Weaver

    Staring Contest #2 (detail)
    2011
    Graphite on paper
    38 x 25"

    KRISTYN WEAVER courts absurdity anywhere she can, inadvertently referencing Internet memes that tap into the joy of shared ridiculousness. Her graphite drawings of cats in unexpected places and modified found object sculptures entertain, ultimately posing the question: Does art have to be so serious all the time? Kristyn received her BFA from The University of Texas at Austin (2004) and her MFA from Washington State University (2008). In 2010, she received the Austin Critics Table Award for Outstanding Work of Art in Installation. Recent exhibitions include Fakes II at the New Jersey City University Visual Arts Gallery in Newark and Man & Animals: Relationship and Purpose at Avera McKennan Hospital and University Health Center in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Kristyn lives and works in Brookings, South Dakota.

    OtherPeoplesPixels: Talk about your interest in the absurd, both in general and in your work.

    Kristyn Weaver: I have always reveled in the ridiculous and the ludicrous. I delight in silly things that don’t need to happen. Marveling at how someone’s brain conceived of something so perfect in its bizarreness. My philosophy of creation has always been that of enjoyment, both for me and for the viewer. In that, absurdity runs parallel to enjoyment. My hope is that if I enjoy something, someone else will, too. And that delight in the pointlessness connects us in a purer way than a clear message or narrative could. Art in itself is at variance with reason, yet we still endeavor to create it and seek it out.

    Limp Stiletto (detail)
    2005
    Silicone rubber and leather
    12 x 6 x 12"

    OPP: A simple pleasure shared with another person is a profound human experience that is never pointless. To me, the connection is the point. It’s just an unexpected point that not everyone thinks should be the function of "capital A-Art." That’s one of the functions of entertainment, but many people want to guard the border between art and entertainment because they believe allowing that border to be fluid denigrates art. Do you think there is or should be a border between art and entertainment?

    KW: In my opinion, the sooner we can get the masses to consider themselves legitimately entertained by "capital A-Art," the better. The type of entertainment that art provides inspires divergent thinking. I have always considered it to be more reminiscent of the way that we entertained ourselves as children when we were left outside to our own devices. There can simultaneously be very strict self-imposed rules and complete gratuitous freedom. It is wholly unfettered by reason, and you get out of it what you put in. That is why I aspire to make work that morphs from viewer to viewer and can be interpreted in a myriad of ways. Art is more denigrated by people choosing not to see it as a sincere form of entertainment. I find it disheartening when people feel that they have to “get it” to enjoy it. If only they could experience a moment of enjoyment without reason. The sooner that people consider themselves “entertained” by something other than Iron Man, the better.

    The imagery I work with in both the drawings and sculptures is sourced from the everyday. They are populist images like cats, celebrities and so forth. Access to this subject matter is not exclusive; it really belongs to everyone. The question that I ponder when people say they don’t get it is why does the act of me creating/pairing/composing these different situations and making “Art” out of it and then placing it in a gallery change the relationship that the viewer has with it? Part of the reason I choose certain subjects/images is because they are accessible to the larger public and have the potential to attract others besides myself.

    Nope... Face Down Garfield
    2009
    Mirror, plexi glass, contact paper, plush Garfield
    42 x 29.5 x 12"

    OPP: What isn't absurd?

    KW: The collective absurdity. . . and ellipses. . . and cotton candy.

    OPP: Speaking of absurdity, is Nope. . . Face Down Garfield a reference to Chuck Testa?

    KW: Well, it is now. I had actually never heard of Chuck Testa before your question and I watched his video on YouTube. That man deserves a medal.

    OPP: Instead of a traditional artist statement, you've written a treatise. In it, you first say that you don't want to use language to define your work, but then you go on to use quite a lot of words. It's very funny and also gives a clear sense of how you think about the nature of art. It feels like a piece in and of itself. How did you generate the Q&A format? Are these questions you were repeatedly asked or questions you ask yourself?

    KW: I still hesitate to use words to define my work. I wish I could use images to answer these questions—insert picture of grandmother’s hands here. The work is already communicating with the viewer. Words have the potential to unnecessarily complicate things. . . but, I digress. The Q&A format came about as an attempt at a more succinct way of answering certain questions that I was asking myself. I referred to it as a treatise to add ridiculous formality to the whole stream of consciousness mess.

    The Kittenseum
    2007
    Graphite on paper
    24 x 32"

    OPP: Since 2007, you've been making a series of graphite drawings of cats that have the feel of internet memes (although I don't think I've seen these particular memes anywhere). It all started with Kittenseum but continued with Staring Contests and your series of cats inserted into Steve McQueen movies. KnowYourMeme.com charts the early origins of cats on the Internet, but cites 2007 as a moment of major growth:

    . . . the online popularity of cat-related media took a leap forward beginning in 2006 with the growing influence of LOLcats and Caturday on Something Awful and 4chan as well as the launch of YouTube, which essentially paved the way for the ubiquitous, multimedia presence of cats. The LOLcat phenomenon is thought to have entered the mainstream of the Internet sometime after the launch of I Can Has Cheezburger in early 2007. (Knowyourmeme.com)

    Could you talk about the relationship between your drawings and the phenomena of cats on the internet?



    KW: My series of cat drawings began because I had an epiphany that I should be making art that I wanted to spend time with and see happen, and not to question from where these desires stemmed or what it all meant. I think that the Internet viewing world at large had the same inclination. Cat memes fulfill our unabashed desire for release through frivolity. We don’t have to question why we like watching them or what it is that draws us to them. We can just sit and appreciate them for what they are (often for hours at a time). If I am going to put my art out there for consideration by the public, I want it to be something that is valid in its simple, joyful enrichment of the time that viewers spend with it. In summation, cats are fuzzy. I want to hug them, and so does everyone else.

    Today I Cut Out the Words
    2010
    Newspaper
    12 x 12 x .5"

    OPP: In sculptural work, including your series of altered newspapers, rubber sculptures and altered school chairs, you use the repeated strategy of rendering everyday objects useless, at least in the way that they were originally intended to be used. Have you stripped these objects of function or have you created a new function?

    KW: I suppose I have done a little bit of both. Most of the objects’ direct functions are to make one's life easier, and now, in their altered form, the ease of their use has been stripped. My sincere endeavor in creating these pieces is to have the objects to be viewed in a fresh way. Not necessarily in a different way than their initial pre-altered form, but just with an added dimension. It is my intention to transform them in a way that doesn’t obliterate their relevance or original form, but draws attention to something that might have otherwise gone without consideration. I want the viewer to ruminate on objects that take up space.

    Lines Out
    2013
    Ball point pen on paper
    18 x 24

    OPP: It seems that that’s also what you are ultimately doing with your cat drawings and with the very notion of frivolity or absurdity. Forgive me for putting words in your mouth—and please feel free to disagree—but it’s like you are saying: “You think you know what frivolity and silliness is, but guess what, it’s something more profound than you think. Boo-ya!

    KW: Perhaps it is more of a Shazam! than a Boo-ya! But yes, I suppose I want to say that the notion, desire and need for absurdity and frivolity are, in a strange way, serious and are just as deserving of one’s contemplation as anything else. The act of pondering and taking something away from a work of art doesn’t have to be only reserved for works that have somber themes. I want the joy that comes from encountering this work to be just as valid of an emotional experience as a deadpan work elicits.

    OPP: What are you working on right now in your studio?

    KW: Currently, I am finishing up my second drawing of cats with rap lyrics and working on another pen-swirl drawing like Jonathon Livingston Seagull (2013) where I cover the entirety of a Sculpture Magazine. This one will probably take me the better part of a year, because I can only do so much at one time before it starts to make me feel like a lunatic. I have some sculpture projects on the horizon where I’ll be working with expanding foam. I also have plans for a new series of large drawings of various exploded diagrams. In addition to that, there is a Morris Louis inspired painting that I have been dreaming about for some time, and some expressionistic paintings on paper that I envision hanging sculpturally off the wall. I haven’t really done any paintings since I was at The University of Texas for undergrad, so. . . fingers crossed on those two.

    If you want to see more of Kristyn's work, please visit kristynweaver.com.

    Featured Artist Interviews are conducted by Chicago-based interdisciplinary artist Stacia Yeapanis. When she’s not writing for OPP, Stacia explores the emotional and spiritual significance of repetition in her cross-stitch embroideries, remix video and collage installations. She is an instructor in the Department of Fiber and Material Studies at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, where received her MFA in 2006, and was a 2012-2013 Mentor-in-Residence at BOLT in Chicago. Her solo exhibition I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For is on view at Klemm Gallery, Siena Heights University (Adrian, Michigan) until December 6, 2013, and she is currently preparing for another solo exhibition titled Everything You Need Is Already Here (Heaven Gallery, Chicago) in January 2014..


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    tag:blog.otherpeoplespixels.com,2013:Post/609599 2013-10-17T17:00:00Z 2013-11-12T16:24:18Z OtherPeoplesPixels Interviews Nathan Vincent

    Locker Room (detail)
    2011
    Installation
    12' x 19'

    NATHAN VINCENT's mother taught him to crochet at the age of 10. As an adult, he has employed the historically feminized handicraft of crochet to examine cultural signifiers and accoutrements of American masculinity—tools, cigars, a lazy boy, a lawn mower, a briefcase—playfully calling into question culturally constructed notions of gender. In his newest work, Nathan explores power dynamics, surveillance and aggression, rendering tools of brute force, including dynamite and language, soft and yielding in his chosen medium of yarn. Nathan earned his BFA from Purchase College, State University of New York. He was a finalist for the West Prize in 2008 and was an artist-in-residence at Museum of Arts and Design (New York) in 2012. His upcoming solo show at Muriel Guepin Gallery in New York opens December 13, 2013, and his installation Locker Room will be on view at the Leslie-Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art from January 17 to March 16, 2014. Nathan lives and works in New York.

    OtherPeoplesPixels: Have you been crocheting ever since you were a kid?

    Nathan Vincent: After I initially nagged my mother enough to teach me to crochet, I went on to learn knitting. She didn't know how to do that, or wasn't interested in teaching me, so I purchased a knitting book for kids and taught myself. I made some granny squares, some socks, a scarf, and some mittens. After that I didn't really do anything with needlework again until I was in college. It must be like riding a bike though. I picked it up and remembered everything pretty easily. It was strange how it came about, too. My friend was crocheting herself a sweater, and I borrowed her hook for a couple hours and ended up with some random 3D shapes when I realized I could make sculptures out of this material!

    Gazelle, Lion, Bushbuck
    2009
    Crocheted yarn, taxidermy inserts

    OPP: What do you like about the process of crochet, as opposed to the result?

    NV: The process of crochet is not only soothing but also rhythmic. Once you get going, it is very difficult to stop. Until your arm starts aching, and then it's easy to put it down. HA! I think I love its versatility best. There's something wonderfully flexible about deciding spontaneously that the piece you are working out needs to expand and all you have to do is add in a few stitches. Additionally, while I try to be very precise, crochet is wonderful at hiding mistakes, and I love that.

    OPP: Because crochet is such a versatile medium with amazing formal capabilities and numerous cultural associations, there is some really fantastic, under-appreciated work out there. What other contemporary artists working in crochet are you interested in or looking at?

    NV: Gil Yefman is working with some really interesting ideas, and I love his aesthetic. Sheila Pepe, of course, is doing great work with large scale installations. And, Jo Hamilton is amazing at portraiture!

    Screw #6
    2009
    Crocheted yarn, metal hook
    27" x 9" x 5"

    OPP: Your crocheted screws (2004-2009) stand out to me. They speak vulnerably about masculinity and yet they remain playful like a lot of your other soft sculptures. They are reminiscent of flaccid male genitalia because you've embraced the natural sagging properties of the crochet instead of building an internal armature for the sculpture. What made you decide to make these sculptures different than the others? How do you think about those differences?

    NV: You hit the nail on the head. *smirk* I chose to make the screws because I was looking to soften objects that stand out as rigid, strong, obvious symbols of masculinity. As I started the pieces I realized that since they were already out of scale, I might as well exaggerate everything in order to speak to the issues around masculinity and femininity that I was so interested in. The elongation and knotting of these pieces pushes their confusion and compounds the references to genitalia.  

    I think part of what you are asking is, why haven't I let all of my pieces take on the loose, sagging, fabric like qualities of crochet? This is a conscious decision on my part. For some time, I've been making representational work, and I'm interested in that moment when you realize that the object in front of you is actually made of yarn. This recognition and the humor, discomfort or bewilderment it causes compel folks to consider the ideas I'm putting in front of them. If all of the work was limp, it wouldn't have the same effect.

    Locker Room
    2011
    Installation
    12' x 19'

    OPP: Did you know before you started Locker Room (2011) that you would crochet the entire room or did it evolve after you made a single sculpture? Did you have assistants?

    NV: I set out to make an entire locker room. Of course, the execution of this changed over time and was refined as I started to make the piece. But, there is quite a bit of pre-planning in an installation of this size. I did have some assistance on this piece. It took me over a year from start to finish, and I had one friend who spent a week with me knitting away. I couldn't have finished it without her. (Thanks Courtney!) In addition, the Bellevue Arts Museum gave me a sum of money to assist in getting the piece done, and Lion Brand yarn donated all the yarn! It takes a village sometimes.

    OPP: How do you feel about using assistants in your work?

    NV: My ideas about employing assistants have changed over the years. When I first started making art, I thought it was a huge sell-out to have any help. I wanted my own hands to make every inch of every sculpture. I still feel a connection to the art and want to be involved, however, I have come to realize that my dreams are often bigger than there is time in the day. At some point if you want to make large scale projects, you just have to have help. So, I have enlisted a few people for projects since Locker Room. I still do all the designing and make all the swatches, but I hand off very simple tasks to others when time requires. For instance, I made over 1,000 sticks of crocheted dynamite for a recent installation, DON'T MAKE ME count to three!, and I definitely had help making the tubes for the dynamite. Because I feel the need to be involved and actually touch the art, I made a ton as well and assembled everything myself. On the whole, I do my own work. But sometimes you just need that extra pair of hands!  

    As a side note, I have met some of the most interesting people by hiring assistants. I prefer to use community-based services like Craigslist to seek them out, and I have a small group of people I am now friendly with because of my artwork!

    Men's Room
    2007
    Crocheted cotton thread, framed
    14" x 19"

    OPP: In recent work, you appear to be shifting away into new territory. For example, Joystick and Play with Me (both 2011) seem more about nostalgia and the differences and similarities between playing video games and doing handicrafts. And then there are the crocheted gas masks. Are these about connections between gender, aggression and war? Or is this a break from previous subject matter?

    NV: That's a very good question. It's funny how clearly one thing leads to another within an artist's mind, but from the outside it's a completely different story! When I started working with crochet, I was very interested in ideas surrounding gender and gender permissions. I found it interesting that men were allowed to do some things and women others. Where do these ideas come from? Who decides these things? How does it affect us as individuals? What objects or symbols speak of gender and why? This is where the boy toys came from. For me, these objects are clearly cemented in masculine culture, as if to say, "This is what it means to be a man."

    I was on this kick of recreating objects that said "boy" or "man," when I realized that a lot of the work I was making dealt with aggression and violence. I began to think deeper about this and noted that strength is almost always connected with masculinity. And, what is the easiest way to express strength? Through weapons. By projecting a sense of power. This led to my interest in power relationships, and I started to use yarn as a metaphor for weakness against these strong and powerful weapons. I am still dealing with these ideas today and picking them apart.

    Be Good for Goodness Sake
    2012
    Yarn, wood, bench, astroturf, cameras, iphone
    8' x 8'
    Project Venue: Fountain Art Fair in Collaboration with Alex Emmart of Mighty Tanaka

    OPP: I actually see the crochet and the yarn as representing the strength in those pieces. Obviously, dynamite has more brute force, more physical strength than yarn, but I think of weapons as representing fear. Humans never would have developed weapons if we hadn’t feared that we weren’t naturally strong enough to defend ourselves. In life or death situations, violence and aggression are necessary to defend ourselves. But in contemporary life, most violence is a response to an imagined threat, not an actual one. That’s why the connectivity and flexibility represented by the web of the crochet—not to mention the therapeutic, meditative  benefits—seems to offer an alternative to the fight/flight response. Thoughts?

    NV: I can see your point about weapons being borne out of fear. That is definitely the case. And, I agree that most threats these days are imagined. For me the dynamite made of yarn in DON'T MAKE ME count to three! is analogous to a world of empty threats. We are often in power relationships where we follow orders or instructions—first from our parents, then our teachers and bosses and governments—because we are told to, without thinking about whether it is in our best interests. Because these threats exist—you'll get a spanking, you'll go to hell, you won't make enough money—we stick with the program, often missing the fact that the consequences are insignificant or inconsequential.

    OPP: What other pieces exploring power dynamics are you planning or working on?

    NV: I will be showing Be Good for Goodness Sake, an installation I made in collaboration with Alex Emmart, along with several other pieces related to the installation in December at the Muriel Guepin Gallery in New York City. This piece speaks directly to the power dynamics that exist in a world of constant surveillance. We've been told through the years by religion that the gods are watching us. We better not screw up or we'll suffer eternal damnation. As technology has developed we've found ways to install actual physical presences to watch over us and keep us in line. These ideas are explored through a series of security cameras, doilies, as well as broadcast footage and encourage the viewer to contemplate such issues. Is this something we are comfortable with? Does our behavior change when we are on view? And, what role do we play in this relationship?

    To see more of Nathan's work, please visit nathanvincent.com.

    Featured Artist Interviews are conducted by Chicago-based interdisciplinary artist Stacia Yeapanis. When she’s not writing for OPP, Stacia explores the emotional and spiritual significance of repetition in her cross-stitch embroideries, remix video and collage installations. She is an instructor in the Department of Fiber and Material Studies at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, where received her MFA in 2006, and was a 2012-2013 Mentor-in-Residence at BOLT in Chicago. Her solo exhibition I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For is on view at Klemm Gallery, Siena Heights University (Adrian, Michigan) until December 6, 2013, and she is currently preparing for another solo exhibition titled Everything You Need Is Already Here (Heaven Gallery, Chicago) in January 2014.

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    tag:blog.otherpeoplespixels.com,2013:Post/607637 2013-10-10T13:01:08Z 2013-11-12T16:23:56Z OtherPeoplesPixels Interviews Erin Minckley Chlaghmo

    Herniated Privilege (detail)
    2012
    Found textiles, acrylic paint, gouache, PVA
    52" x 34"

    Drawing on personal experiences of alienation, assimilation and identity construction, artist and educator ERIN MINCKLEY CHLAGHMO explores the shifting line between experiences of belonging and not belonging in her textile-based work. Her large-scale sculptures are amalgamations of found and printed fabrics, combining patterns which carry seemingly disparate cultural, racial and religious associations. Her use of textiles highlights the similarity between animal (scales and plumage) and human (armor and clothing) means of camouflage and protection. Erin received her MFA from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 2012. Recent exhibitions include the first Interfaith Biennial at Dominican University (River Forest, Illinois), Fiber Options: Material Explorations at the Maryland Federation of Art (Annapolis, Maryland and Chroma at the Urban Institute of Contemporary Arts (Grand Rapids, Michigan). Flags Mistaken for Stars, Erin's collaborative project with artist Eric Wall, is on view on the roof of Lillstreet Art Center throughout October 2013, and there is a closing reception for the group show Fiber Optics on October 11, 2013 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Erin spends half the year in Chicago and the other half in Morocco, where she and her husband run an educational tourism company.

    OtherPeoplesPixels: Could you talk generally about the interaction between the decorative and the protective in nature and in culture?

    Erin M. Chlaghmo: I began to research camouflage a few years ago. I was interested in armor structures found in nature, such as fish scales, feathers, etc. There was this interesting moment where I realized that manmade armors are replicating those found on animals, and patterns that hide military vehicles, aircraft and soldiers are mimicking the landscape of a given region. Decoration is actually a survival technique. Without it, the form would be revealed as it moves or in contrast to the scenery. So, this is an integral part of how I build a motif or pattern structure. The individual unit or figure is disguised by the background or final form through the use of repetition and accumulation. The correlation to culture is that an individual can attempt to stand out or blend in depending on who they surround themselves with. Notions of belonging and un-belonging are themes that drive the work I make.

    Manifest Destiny
    2012
    Fabric, felt, Moroccan textile, canvas, Heat 'n' Bond, hot glue, thread
    12' x 14' x 3'

    OPP: Why are textiles the perfect vehicle to explore belonging and barriers to belonging?

    EMC: Fabric has a historical relationship to the body through garments, adornment, rights of passage and nomadic dwellings. Fabrics shape our lives. We feel at once welcome and familiar with certain cloths. We make associations to our personal experiences when we see materials like acrylic felt or wool or any material. Much of the work I make aims to start a conversation. An enormous textile like Phobia creates a relationship to the viewer's body and the architectural space, alluding to the infinite. It is bigger than me and you, and it is out of control. It is both scary and seductive.

    OPP: You use both found textiles and print your own fabrics for use in your sculptures. Do you tend to print in response to what you find? Or do you seek out the textiles you need in order to execute your vision?

    EMC: Pattern has the ability to signify culture. A textile's motif is a signifier of origin or utility: like a cross, an American flag or a Southwestern diamond shape. People have an immediate reaction to imagery on fabric and make assumptions about the content when it is recognizable. This is a complicated language to speak because I'm working with a plethora of borrowed and imagined patterns. It's sometimes very difficult to speak about personal experience through images that are collectively already familiar. I'm trying to mine imagery that is not familiar so that a viewer has to make a choice about their own relationship to the meaning of the work. I'm trying to ask the question: Can images belong to a certain culture? Can I borrow and alter them? What does it mean if I do this?

    Many years ago, I went to JoAnn's Fabric looking for recognizable patterns. I found so many prints that shocked me: Confederate flags, cowboys and Indians, Kwanza, Virgin Mary, etc. I was disappointed that the only imagery of people was so cliché and politically incorrect. I wondered, "What in the world would you make out of this fabric? Why do people buy this? Do they buy this?" I couldn't imagine a pair of curtains or a quilt or a child's dress made from these prints! I couldn't see any imagery that I related to, even though it was familiar. I had hoped to make cloth that told a story about my life. I bought them all and decided to make an artwork that expressed my frustration. I wanted to comment on the images by painting and inserting imagery into the pre-existing patterns. I painted the Mormon temple into one fabric with an idyllic scene of churches because I felt right at home in a sea of steeples. I painted a small silhouetted teepee into the distant background of a pattern with silhouettes of cowboys on horses to represent the lack of historical accuracy when depicting the Wild West. I more or less left my paintbrush behind when I finished that body of work. I began to manipulate the fabric itself instead of adding pictures on top.

    American History Caught with Its Pants Down
    2010
    Found textiles, acrylic paint, PVA, thread, zipper, ribbon
    40" x 32"

    OPP: In particular, you use a lot of Moroccan textiles. Could you tell us about your personal relationship to Morocco? Did your interest in Morocco stem from your work or did the work grow out of personal experience there?

    EMC: I lead a sort of double life. My husband is a Moroccan immigrant, whose family members all still live in Morocco. We travel back and forth to visit them, and we also run a summer tourism company there. I am a cultural translator of sorts. When I'm in Morocco, my family there calls me Hayat. I don't even go by my own name. My habits are extremely different, and I speak Arabic fluently. So, I have assimilated, I guess, into this other society, but only for part of the year. This truly has deepened my art practice because it is the research I need to enrich the work I make. Living somewhere where I am between belonging and being foreign, understanding and rejecting cultural norms, being understood and feeling helpless. . . these experiences repeat themselves in other facets of my life—and likely most people have felt this way at some juncture. Adapting and assimilating takes us back to the beginning of this conversation, where I talked about camouflage. I can't change my race, but everything else can change. I feel like a chameleon, aiming to adapt to every new experience in life as if I was meant to be there. As if I belong.

    The textiles brought home from Morocco are an incontrovertible match to ideas already present in my work. Repetition, infinity, accumulation and ascending shapes are present in zillij, Moroccan tile patterns, and other architectural designs. The fabric there is rich with color and texture and is inexpensive. So, I line plain fabrics with it to give them added detail.

    Adhan (Call to Prayer)
    2013
    13' x 40'
    Digitally printed polyester, thread

    OPP: Assimilation is often used as a bad word here in the United States where our nation was built by immigrants and where we value personal identity so strongly. There are negative associations when immigrants feel compelled or are forced to assimilate to a dominant culture, and there’s a sense that we all lose something if they lose their culture. Besides we are all immigrants, too. . . except for the indigenous Native Americans. But choosing to be a chameleon is different; there’s less fear that something important will be lost forever. Thinking about adaptability through a biological lens makes it seems less urgent that we hold so tightly to our identities. Is identity itself just a protective armor, a temporary condition? Would it be as easy to assimilate if you moved to Morocco forever and never came back to the United States?

    EMC: Identity is so much more malleable than one thinks. There are grandmas who used to be punk rockers. There are Muslims who used to be Mormons. The assumption that once you change significant identifier that you can't go back is not true. You may never practice the old religion, just like grandma is no longer going to see the Ramones in concert. But, she still retains that part of her (even if in secret). Identity is like collage. You keep adding and adding; layers are covered up and perhaps "lost forever." But they're still there underneath.

    Also, people don't chose their family of origin or their race, but everything else can be changed. I grew up in a semi-Catholic, middle-class American family in Utah, and I converted to Islam and speak Arabic. Does the changed identity imply that I am less authentic? I propose that I am my best self, the person I was meant to be, when speaking in Arabic and fasting during Ramadan. I am a very flexible and adaptable person at my core. I like to accommodate others and see from their point of view. I am empathetic. I can blend in and communicate better in a foreign environment if I "do as the Romans do." That applies to every situation in life, not just living abroad. There's a fine line here between impostor and chameleon. I'm not pretending I'm Moroccan. I am fully aware of my whiteness and my origin, and so is everyone else. But, I am just trying to survive. The real me is inside. She is constantly donning different "armor,” not readying for battle, but adapting to my environment.

    Many people live their life refusing to adapt. They never enter situations or environments that make them uncomfortable. They never associate with people that are not like them. This is the scary dilemma because, the longer you live your life afraid to adapt or refusing to relate to another who is physically or culturally unlike you, the more likely you are to build fear or hatred for the other. The "other" becomes a mystified person, assumptions are made, stereotypes are cast and barriers are built between you, but this border line is not real or tangible. This is the purpose of my life's work, both as an artist and as an educator. How do we break down these borders?

    I also want to respond to the point you made about the word assimilation having a negative connotation. In the late 1800s, the first "Indian" boarding schools in America forced Native students to shave their heads, change their names, speak English and practice Catholicism. There is a heavy feeling when considering that assimilation could be forced upon a set of people towards a second group's aims. And although terribly atrocities were suffered by these children, they surely retained their identities. Their children are the ones who suffered loss of "authentic culture" and tradition. By the 1970s, 60,000 students attended these schools. The societies were considered "civilized," and the government abandoned the effort to educate Native Americans separately. Generations later, there is a huge push to educate youth about the Native languages and art forms. Now, many are uninterested and would rather play video games or get lunch with their friends at McDonald's. So. . . I'll need to ponder for a while about assimilation's reverse effects along a timeline of a few generations. I doubt that my children's children will regret not growing up the way I did. I'm hoping they appreciate living a life straddling two extremely different cultures.

    Samurai
    2012
    Hand dyed and screen printed fabric, foil, discharge print, Heat 'n' Bond, thread, hot glue, felt
    24" x 48" x 6"

    OPP: You mentioned scales, which are are evoked in abstract pieces like Phobia (2013) and Exterior Perceptions (2013). They are used as armor in pieces like Choose the Right (CTR) (2012). They are decorative in your painted scale studies and mesmerizing in your latex wall painting Infinite Repetition (2012). Could you talk about this recurring visual motif in your work?

    EMC: From small to large, overlapping and infinite, the scale or shingle pattern first appeared in a painting I made of a peacock. It was a labored process to create that artwork, and ultimately it didn't work to have spent so much time on the details of each feather. The thing I found that I liked the most about the bird was the layer pattern in her feather structure. This has been present in almost every work I've made since. The felt layers overlap (which hides the origin of each loop from sight) and get larger towards the bottom, and my paintings start at a central flower shape or tear drop and emanate outwards. The suits of armor all have this structure, too. Scales have for some reason kept my interest and flawlessly connect many bodies of work that are disparate in medium. Ultimately, it is a form that is abstract enough to be many things and nothing at once.

    It is also a perfect way to illustrate the unit—the individual or unique original—repeated into an implied infinity. It becomes less about the singular and more about the plural or the gestalt. The human mind has the tendency to see the forest and not the tree. Another reference to camouflage and assimilation, the theories of gestalt name our brain's need to group things together by likeness, proximity, continuity and common fate and perhaps the human desire to belong. I guess, it's another metaphor for society. One worshipper is lost amongst a church full or worshippers; one prayer is lost amongst a lifetime of prayers. The scale is a physical representation of homogeneity and diversity amongst the whole.

    To see more of Erin's work, please visit erinchlaghmo.com.

    Featured Artist Interviews are conducted by Chicago-based interdisciplinary artist Stacia Yeapanis. When she’s not writing for OPP, Stacia explores the emotional and spiritual significance of repetition in her cross-stitch embroideries, remix video and collage installations. She is an instructor in the Department of Fiber and Material Studies at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, where received her MFA in 2006, and was a 2012-2013 Mentor-in-Residence at BOLT in Chicago. Her work is on view through September 2013 in Abstracting the Seam (Hyde Park Art Center, Chicago), and she has two upcoming solo exhibitions: I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For (Klemm Gallery, Adrian, Michigan) in November 2013 and Everything You Need Is Already Here (Heaven Gallery, Chicago) in January 2014.


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