Summer Rain, 2017
ALLISON ZUCKERMAN collapses the
processes of painting, collage and photography into one another in
wall-hung works and free-standing cut-out sculptures. Her imagery is a
mash-up of sources from the Western painting canon to porn to cartoons
and comics to fashion magazines. Across these realms of visual culture,
she examines gendered power dynamics and their relationship to the
imagery we consume. Allison earned her BA at the University of
Pennsylvania, Philadelphia in 2012, followed by her MFA at The School of
the Art Institute Chicago in 2015. Since then, her work has been
included in group shows in Chicago, Copenhagen, New York and Mexico
City. Her solo show Act Natural is currently on view at Kravets Wehby Gallery in New York, NY. You can check it out until June 3rd, 2017. Allison lives in New York City.
OtherPeoplesPixels: Let’s start with Act Natural, your new show at Kravets Wehby Gallery (New York City) that will be on view through June 3rd, 2017. What thread ties this body of work to older bodies of work?
Allison Zuckerman: Satire ties the current body of work to the older. The desire to critique the power dynamics between men and women, told through a personal perspective, fuels most if not all of my work.
Autumn Rhythm, 2017
OPP: And what’s new in this show (thematically, formally or materially)?
AZ: Collaging seamlessly is materially new for me. Previous to Act Natural, I would adhere my collage to canvas but for this show, I opted to imbed my images in the paintings through a process of printing directly onto canvas. I planned a large portion of each painting, but left areas open to painting and improvisation.
Bored Nude, 2016
OPP: I’m with you on the fact that visual artists have so much
visual information to respond to and that we should respond to our
surrounding culture. And I think artists should think ethically about
what to appropriate and to what end. Are there any sources that are off
limits in your mind?
AZ: Being a dog person, cats are off limits.
OPP: Have you ever had your intentions in a particular piece grossly misinterpreted because your viewer didn’t understand what sources were being mashed up?
AZ: No—I think part of the fun of these works for the viewer is that they support multiple interpretations.
OPP: So how do you go about merging all these sources in terms
of process? You mentioned that both painting and digital printing are
AZ: I create oil and acrylic
paintings and subsequently photograph them. I then integrate portions
of the photographed paintings digitally into new work. After printing
the hybridized piece, I add paint again.
Bored Apple Picker, 2017
OPP: Tell us about the wide eyes which appear collaged onto
the paintings? They work differently in each piece, sometimes creating a
look of boredom, sometimes vapidness, sometime panic to the point of
trauma. How do these eyes relate to the various representations of
female bodies you reference?
AZ: The eyes are sourced from a large scale oil painting I created of my own eyes. I will sometimes repaint them, using the original painting as the source or will directly print them onto canvas, repainting portions of them, therefore changing them in some way every time they are repurposed. They relate to female bodies from pop and high culture in that they simultaneously activate and charge the bodies with subjective anxiety. To me, the eyes are like an “on” switch. The eyes make the bodies forces to be reckoned with, rather than passive bodies intended primarily for visual consumption.
OPP: What’s the significance of that repeated graphic motif that resembles cartoon seaweed or a stylized comb?
AZ: The cartoon seaweed/stylized comb is sourced from Matisse’s artist book Jazz, which contained prints of colorful cut paper collages. I use his shapes to not only imbue my paintings with movement but also to pay homage to Matisse and art history.
from She Rocks at Kravets Wehby Gallery, 2017
OPP: Tell us about the relationship between the conventional
wall-hung paintings and the life size cardboard cut-outs. When did you
first introduce the form of the cut-out into your practice? What do the
cut-outs do that the paintings cannot?
AZ: The cut outs function as extensions of the paintings and are collage pieces that occupy the viewer’s space. If the paintings act as bricks, the cut outs are the mortar. I began using the cut outs during graduate school and because of their light weight, I was able to place them in public contexts as well and experiment with art interventions and performance. As I continued creating the sculptures, they became more intrinsic to my practice, and I began treating them like free standing paintings. Thus, I changed from creating them on cardboard and opted for aluminum. They are much more durable and archival, and reference phone and computer screens because of their one-sidedness, thickness and materiality.
In Media Res II in Extract at the GL Strand, Copenhagen, 2015
OPP: You recently curated The Staging of Vulnerability
for SPRING/BREAK Art Show in New York. Can you talk about this foray in
to curating and how it relates to your painting practice? What was your
AZ: I approached this curatorial project much in the same way I approach my installations. I wanted to create a dream-like world with these artists’ work, using color, material and content to emphasize mood and context. For example, while one artist created a rose from thread, another painted a rose as a tattoo onto his figure. In another instance, a cut out sculpture of enlarged feet was placed in close proximity to a painting of isolated feet. Repetition of motifs tied the entire show together. I wanted the space to feel surrealist and liminal. To me, curating has so much in common with collaging, and I was very excited to have the opportunity to work with these talented artists to create an installation that functioned as a singular piece.
Featured Artist Interviews are conducted by Chicago-based artist Stacia Yeapanis. When she’s not writing for OPP, Stacia explores the relationship between repetition, desire and impermanence in cross-stitch embroideries, remix video, collage and impermanent installations. She is an Adjunct Assistant Professor 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 2011-2012 Artist-in-Residence at BOLT in Chicago. Her solo exhibitions include shows at Siena Heights University (2013), Heaven Gallery (2014), the Annex Gallery at Lillstreet Art Center (2014) and Witness, an evolving, durational installation at The Stolbun Collection (Chicago 2017), that could only be viewed via a live broadcast through a Nestcam. Now that the installation is complete, you can watch it via time lapse. Her upcoming solo show Sacred Secular will open in August 2017 at Indianapolis Art Center.