Overwhelmed Collection, 2016. Ink and Pen on Panel. 24" x 30"
Counting, a primary method of assessing and feeling mastery over the surrounding world, is foundational to HADLEY RADT’s drawing practice. The relationship between control and anxiety is present in her repetitive process,
as she seeks to create order from disorder. The resulting abstract
compositions of intertwining and overlapping lines evoke visualizations
of neural networks, the rhizomatic structure of the internet and angular
arrangements of planks in space. Hadley earned her BFA with
Distinction in 2014 from Sonoma State University and is currently a MFA
candidate in Painting at California College of the Arts (San Francisco).
In 2016, she was a recipient of the Murphy & Cadogan Contemporary Art Award and recently completed a wall drawing for the related exhibition at SOMArts in San Francisco. Her work has been included in group shows at Sanchez Art Center (2016) in Pacifica, California, Southern Exposure (2015) in San Francisco and GearBox Gallery (2015) in Oakland. Hadley lives in Sonoma, California.
OtherPeoplesPixels: What does repetition mean to you outside of your drawing practice?
Hadley Radt: I have a pretty obsessive personality and a compulsive need to create order in my life. I approach repetition outside of my drawing practice with a similar logic as I do within my drawing practice. I come up with systems that allow me to find order within disorder. I often count, making up rules around numbers and putting order to things throughout my day. In my drawing practice, I am able to count the marks I make. Outside of my drawing practice, I find myself counting everyday objects and tasks. By creating these routines, I feel a sense of control.
Anxious Will, 2014. Acrylic and Pen on Panel, 40" x 30"
OPP: What’s your process? Do you start with a single mark and
then replicate it, not knowing what will emerge? Or do you seek to
render an image that you envision in your mind?
HR: In my more architectural line paintings, I start with an idea for the overall structure of the piece. I have a sense of what it will look like as a whole. As I zoom into the detail, I begin to create a logic and method to the patterning and repetition. I construct systems within my mark-making, counting each individual mark.
Currently, I am exploring a less controlled process. I start with a mark and continue to repeat it and let it grow and develop connections organically. I continue to create layers upon layers, allowing the nets to overlap and intertwine. This newer way of mark-making grew out of a lot of experimentation and failure. I allowed myself to let go of the rigid control. This was really difficult at first, but it was important for me to make this shift mentally. Although I am no longer creating strict numeric systems, the process of using repetition still allows me to get into the flow of creating and calms my racing mind.
Deconstructed Repetition, 2016. Pen on Panel. 36" x 48"
OPP: How often do viewers compliment you on your patience? Is it patience or something else?
The first thing people often ask is how much time a piece took. My work
is time intensive and does take patience, however, that is not the only
aspect that drives my practice. My process is meditative for me. I find
myself losing track of time while creating, focusing solely on the
marks I am making. I want the viewer to get lost in the obsessiveness of
the piece as well, feeling both anxiety and calmness.
OPP: I think that how a viewer interprets or physically responds to an extreme accumulation of marks has way more to do with that person’s nervous system than with the work itself. For example, I find overall compositions made of thousand of tiny marks tremendously calming, but I know others feel overwhelmed. Thoughts?
HR: I haven’t thought about the viewer’s response in this way before. My process helps me refocus my own anxieties and feel a sense of calmness, as a result, I see those qualities within my work. However, I agree that a person experiencing the piece may feel overwhelmed or calm because their nervous system causes them to have a specific physical response to the accumulation of marks.
Emergence, 2016. Ink and Pen on Panel. 24" x 18"
OPP: Many of your 2016 drawings—Abnormalities, Consumed, and Emergence,
to name a few—are rhizomatic structures that evoke simulated images of
neural networks and the internet. Are these nets abstract accidents or
intentional references? What led to the shift from more architectural
accumulations of line, as in Framework (2014) to these more organic accumulations?
HR: In my recent 2016 pieces, I am exploring terrains of connections; physical, psychological, emotional, neurological. I am interested in the depiction of these connections and tracking layers of information. I am looking at repetition and geometry in both the natural and built environment. I’m inspired by maps, aerial views, architecture, fractals in nature, particle formations and magnetic fields. Our environment is full of repetition and pattern, I am intrigued by this order and it influences the structures I create in my work.
This shift in my work started when I began to experiment with new tools and materials. In previous work, I was using micron pens and house paint. In my newer works, I am using a squirt bottle tool with a needle tip to create a repeated pattern. I am intrigued by this way of mark-making. I draw with it like a pen, yet, the ink pools up and “mistakes” occur that I cannot control, adding a human quality and interrupting the systems I create.
The Annual Murphy & Cadogan Contemporary Art Awards Exhibition, 2016. Paint Marker on Wall. 16' x 13'
OPP: Can you talk about the tension between contemplation and anxiety?
HR: The tension between these two states is something I often feel. My process is a way for me to refocus my compulsions and feel a sense of calmness. I hope the viewer experiences and connects with my work in this way as well. This is an idea that I am trying to push further. I most recently did a 16’ x 13’ wall drawing for the Murphy & Cadogan Contemporary Art Award exhibition, using a similar repeated pattern as in my paintings. When the piece is larger than the viewer, they become consumed by it. The tension between contemplation and anxiety becomes even more prominent. I am excited to continue to make large wall drawings, and create environments of controlled chaos.
OPP: You are in your 2nd year of grad school right now at California College of Arts, expected to graduate in 2017. Have any practical advice for young artist thinking about applying to grad school or in their first years?
HR: Allow yourself to experiment and explore. Don’t be afraid of failure. Be honest and vulnerable. The connections you make are invaluable, so take advantage of being surrounded by amazing like-minded people!
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 I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For (2013) at Klemm Gallery, Siena Heights University (Adrian, Michigan), Everything You Need is Already Here (2014) at Heaven Gallery (Chicago) and When Things Fall Apart, in the Annex Gallery at Lillstreet Art Center (Chicago). Stacia created site-responsive installations for two-person show Form Unbound (2015) at Dominican University's O’Connor Art Gallery (River Forest, IL) and SENTIENCE (2016) at The Ukrainian Institute of Modern Art. Her work was recently included in SHOWROOM, curated by Edra Soto, at the Chicago Artists’ Coalition. Stacia is currently preparing for a two-person show with Brent Fogt at Riverside Art Center (Riverside, Illinois) and a solo show at Indianapolis Arts Center in Indiana.