OtherPeoplesPixels Interviews Maker Grant Runner-Up David Leggett

OtherPeoplesPixels would like to congratulate the winners of the inaugural 2013 Maker Grant: Mary Patten, the winner of 2013's Maker Grant, and David Leggett, the Maker Grant Runner-Up. The Maker Grant is a partnership between OPP and Chicago Artists' Coalition to bring an unrestricted funding opportunity to contemporary Chicago-based artists. We'd like to thank our hundreds of applicants and specially congratulate our 25 finalists. The strength of your applications made the jury's decision very difficult, and we look forward to seeing many of you apply again next year.

The Winners were chosen by our outstanding jury:
Candida Alvarez, artist and professor, School of the Art Institute of Chicago
Michael Darling, James W. Alsdorf Chief Curator at the Museum of Contemporary Art
Claire Pentecost, artist and participant in dOCUMENTA (13), professor, School of the Art Institute of Chicago

In case you missed the full announcement, you can read more here.
Since David also happens to be an OPP artist, we wanted to follow up on our interview in April 2012 in order to see what he's been working on in the studio lately...

White Guilt
Collage and acrylic on paper mounted on canvas

OtherPeoplesPixels: Congratulations on winning the Maker Grant runner-up prize! How will you use the money?

David Leggett: I will be using part of the money for an airbrush kit and art supplies. I've always wanted to try air brushing since I was a kid. I just never got around to it until now. I’m not sure how that will affect my work.

OPP: Has anything changed in your practice since our interview last year?

DL: I like to think I’m always changing with my work. As I get older, I pick up new techniques and approaches and drop the ones that no longer work. That’s not to say I never go back to old ideas and techniques from time to time. Lately, I have been using more collage elements like clay and found images. It’s a challenge to make them work in a composition, and these things have a history to them before I apply them in my work. I’ve had some images for years and have only recently found places for them to go. I have also been using spray paint and a paint marker a lot lately. I like the aesthetic look of them both. I know it is very popular to use these materials now, but they are new to me.

Let that boy cook
Collage and acrylic on panel

OPP: Any favorite pieces from 2013?

DL: Let that boy cook and Chiraq are two pieces that I really enjoyed making. Both of these paintings include found images that I’ve had in my studio for years.

OPP: You recently exhibited work in a group show called (I'm Your) Hoochie Coochie Man at Tracey Williams, LTD in New York. Your work was viewed alongside that of three other Chicago-based artists: Trew Schriefer, Tim Nickodemus, and Rachel Niffenegger. According to the press release for the show, "The influence of Chicago is most evident in work by David Leggett, who reflects the city's popular culture while registering the influence of the Chicago Imagists." How do you think of the designation of being a "Chicago artist?" Would your work be different if you lived somewhere else?

DL: I’ve never really thought of myself as a “Chicago artist,” but I admire a lot of the Chicago Imagists. They have been a great influence on me, but so have many other artists, writers, comedians . . . the list goes on. My work reflects the environment that I’m in. I’m sure if I lived in a small, rural town my work would be influenced by that. I might be a great landscape artist and not know it.

But I always have a strategy for shows. When I learned the title and the other artists that would be in the show, I knew what approach I wanted to take. I wanted to display more of my Chicago roots for that show. I stuck with themes and subjects that reflected both good and bad aspects of Chicago that I often think about. I wanted to poke fun at what cities like New York may think about Chicago. This is in contrast to a group show called Squirts that I was in a week later at Regina Rex in New York. The work for that show was more focused on humor and popular culture outside of Chicago.

from Coco River Fudge Street
Blog drawing

OPP: When I interviewed you last year, you said you probably wouldn't keep up your daily drawing blog, Coco River Fudge Street, after the related exhibition at Hyde Park Art Center. But I see drawing through the end of March 2013. Are you still making a daily drawing? Why did you decide to keep going after all? Have the drawings since the exhibition changed in any substantial way?

DL: I stopped for a time. But I was compelled to start up again in July until the end of August 2012 after a bizarre review of my blog drawings was brought to my attention. I went back to Coco River Street with more focus than I had when the project officially ended months before. The new drawings were a response to that review, but I also missed the daily activity of drawing. I use a lot of pop cultural references in the blog drawings, and since I had stopped, a lot had happened in the news and a lot of things were on my mind. I started it up for another two months while I was working on the New York shows earlier this year. It helped with the nervous energy I feel when I make paintings, and I included drawings from the blog in both shows. I know I’ll never do another full year of daily drawings, but it is fun to come back from time to time.

To see more of David's work, please visit davidleggettart.com.