Nicki Werner – Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Chief Keef to Malcolm X, from Drift series, wood, paint, spatula, towel, Autobiography of Malcolm X book

Chief Keef to Malcolm X, from Drift series, wood, paint, spatula, towel, Autobiography of Malcolm X book

Briefly describe the work you do.

My art practice both is and is inspired by ethnographies. The work deals with symbols that reveal specific class, race, age, gender, and familial relations. I paint signs and make sculptures out of wood, found objects, fibers, all sorts of things. Sometimes I write essays and do live or recorded performances. I focus on the ways in which we construct our own identities and conversely, how identities are constructed for us, as both individuals and collectives. The personal is political. I want my art to contribute alternative ways of knowing to important political issues of our time. My art is part of conversations that are happening in investigative journalism, anthropology, media studies, and more. As such, current events and news are a big part of the work.

Tell us a little about your background and how that influences you as an artist.

Throughout my life I, like most people, have been on various sides of lines that stratify class, race, and other markers of identity in extreme ways. I will touch on a few. I grew up in St.Louis, Missouri, an extremely segregated city in regards to both race and class. I went to private school, but only because I lived in a city district with a failed public school system. I’ve worked many different types of blue and white-collar jobs. Also, being an artist sometimes puts me in a unique, both sides position in regards to “high” and “low” culture. Drawing from these experiences, my art is about validating forms of culture that are sometimes seen as less legitimate producers of knowledge.

My Mom wore her nice shoes to work and hurt her knee moving pallets, wood, yarn, rubber, sandbags, pine-sol

My Mom wore her nice shoes to work and hurt her knee moving pallets, wood, yarn, rubber, sandbags, pine-sol

The concept of the “artist studio” has a broad range of meanings, especially in contemporary practice. The idea of the artist toiling away alone in a room may not necessarily reflect what many artists do from day to day anymore. Describe your studio practice and how it differs from (or is the same as) traditional notions of “being in the studio.”

Being in the studio is important to me. Messing around, taping stuff together, even writing in a room that is full of my stuff- of my ideas materialized, makes connections happen for me in a way that I can’t seem to imitate (not without lack of trying) on the internet or in other non-studio spaces. That being said, observing and gathering from real life, both mine and other peoples’, is a big part of my process. That happens in many places, in many ways.

What unique roles do you see yourself as the artist playing that you may not have envisioned yourself in when you first started making art?

The un-hiring because of his public opinions of Steven Salaita from University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign this summer has been a kind of landmark case in a long string of rising condemnations of public intellectuals both inside and outside of academia in the last couple years. These, and other, events- the Mike Brown protests most importantly- have made me feel a particular sense of urgency about being public. I am still trying to figure out what that means, for my voice, for my art. This summer I co-taught a weeklong place-making workshop for neighborhood kids at a park in the Riverworks/Keefe area in Milwaukee. We built an inflatable structure, then drummed and danced inside. It was great. I guess I never necessarily envisioned how important organizing people around art is, and that has become a huge part of what I do.

untitled monument from “My Book to Help America” project, lamp, rubberbands, package wrapped in paper scrawled with “Trayvon Martin”, melted plastic, work pants, pedestal

untitled monument from “My Book to Help America” project, lamp, rubberbands, package wrapped in paper scrawled with “Trayvon Martin”, melted plastic, work pants, pedestal

When do you find is the best time of day to make art? Do you have time set aside every day, every week or do you just work whenever you can? 

Making art is a privilege. Having a studio is a privilege. Having access to the facilities and resources I need is a privilege. I find that at more and less privileged times in my life the answer to this question is different. Right now I have the advantage of being able to teach at a college. This, and other specific freedoms, allows me to make and think and write and be immersed in my research all time without many obstacles. I tend to be a late night studio person when I my schedule allows. From another perspective- that still involves privilege- I think that being an artist is about building the life you want to live, building it in a way that makes your art life part of your whole life, your day to day life.

How has your work changed in the last five years? How is it the same?

I think in the last five years sign-painted and using words directly has almost taken over the work. I often feel like I am fighting against it. That said, it isn’t something I see going away any time soon. Even though materials and forms shift often and in big ways in my work, understanding bigger collective struggles through individuals and materials has always been there.

Are there people such as family, friends, writers, philosophers or even pop icons that have had an impact on the work you do?

In some ways my work is entirely about influence of other people. I even have a piece titled “Top Artistic Influences”, which lists my main influences since childhood. It includes such disparate types of thinkers as Malcolm X, Nicki Minaj, Bruno Latour, Claudette Colvin, Edmonia Wildfire Lewis, Wacka Flocka, the Spice Girls, Hilary Duff, Pocahontas, Donald Judd, Odd Future, Donna Haraway, and more. It is in the specifics of these types of listings and references in my work that politics become most articulated.

To answer in a less researchy way, my grandma has always been an essential role model and cultivator for my art endeavors. She took me to my first real museum experience, “The Invisible Made Visible: Angels from the Vatican” at the St. Louis Art Museum in 1998. She was a graphic artist by profession who drew everything from women’s shoes and gloves for newspaper ads to detailed diagrams of Boeing airplane engines for instruction manuals. Outside of work she loved to paint animals, children, saints, popes, and angels. I think the sincerity of her aesthetic and content has had a huge impact, in both very direct and indirect ways.

If you had an occupation outside of being an artist, what would that be and why?

I still want to be a serious, rigorous writer, writing about politics and art. Mostly because there are things that I wish were being said.

About

headshotNicki Werner is an artist who lives and work in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. She earned her BFA in sculpture and Art History from Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa in 2009 and her MFA from University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign in 2012. She has been exhibiting for 9 years at venues including Art Chicago at the Merchandise Mart in Chicago, the Anderson Gallery in Des Moines, Iowa, and the Arkansas Arts Center in Little Rock, Arkansas. She was a visiting assistant professor of art at Illinois State University in 2012-2013, and an artist-in-residence at Redline Milwaukee in 2013-2014. She is currently a visiting assistant professor of art at Beloit College in Wisconsin.

Detail of piece in progress

Detail of piece in progress

www.nickiwerner.net

All images copyright of the artist and used with their permission.

 

 

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Priscilla Briggs – Minneapolis, Minnesota

2.Abdi (Karmel “Somali” Mall, Minneapolis, MN), Archival Ink Print, 27” x 18”, 2013.

Abdi (Karmel “Somali” Mall, Minneapolis, MN), Archival Ink Print, 27” x 18”, 2013.

Briefly describe the work you do.

I am primarily a lens-based artist, investigating representations of capitalism and consumerism within the global market. I’m particularly interested in the role of advertising imagery as an influential backdrop in the creation and reflection of personal and collective cultural identities. Working on a project basis, I generally identify topics of interest and slowly develop a conceptual framework around the topic based on discoveries I make as I work. I love irony and infuse it into my work as much as possible.

Tell us a little about your background and how that influences you as an artist.

Growing up, my family was continually moving and morphing as my parents married, divorced, and changed jobs multiple times. Living in a continual state of flux, meeting and living with new people, adapting to new contexts and challenges all helped me recognize and appreciate the complexity of identity and perspective. I am curious about peoples’ stories and how we all fit together and contribute to defining this infinitely shifting organism that is the world. This curiosity inspires me to venture forth, to research and ask questions, to engage in dialogue, and to make observations.

The concept of the “artist studio” has a broad range of meanings, especially in contemporary practice. The idea of the artist toiling away alone in a room may not necessarily reflect what many artists do from day to day anymore. Describe your studio practice and how it differs from (or is the same as) traditional notions of “being in the studio.”

Most of my work happens either in the field or on the computer. As a result, the “studio” as a finite space is not a dominant factor in my practice. When I’m not on location, I spend my time researching, editing and processing images, writing, and experimenting with presentation in order to add conceptual depth to the work.

1.Gaze (Mall of America, Bloomington, MN), Archival Ink Print, 20” x 26”, 2006.

Gaze (Mall of America, Bloomington, MN), Archival Ink Print, 20” x 26”, 2006.

What unique roles do you see yourself as the artist playing that you may not have envisioned yourself in when you first started making art?

Cultural investigator/commentator.

When do you find is the best time of day to make art? Do you have time set aside every day, every week or do you just work whenever you can? 

Because I’m a professor with a heavy teaching load, my shooting often happens when I am off from teaching during January and summer months or weekends. My editing, writing and printing occur throughout the year as time permits.

Copies (Haicang, Xiamen), Archival Ink Print, 27” x 18”, 2013.

Copies (Haicang, Xiamen), Archival Ink Print,    27” x 18”, 2013.

How has your work changed in the last five years? How is it the same?

In general, my work has come somewhat full circle from when I first began working as an artist. I was initially drawn to portrait photography as a way of interacting with people, but became interested in constructs of identity on a larger cultural level, first on a national scale and then on an international one. Recently, I’ve returned to the portrait, but approach it from within a conceptual framework.

Are there people such as family, friends, writers, philosophers or even pop icons that have had an impact on the work you do?

I love looking at all manner of art. There are so many amazing artists and curators out there.

I am lucky to have a strong network of artist friends who have influenced my ideas and been an inspiration for me. Artists I have never met, but feel my work is somewhat in dialogue with, include Martin Parr, Walker Evans, Brian Ulrich, Cao Fei, Andy Warhol, and maybe Jeff Koons. Thinkers who have influenced me include Walter Benjamin, Jean Baudrillard, Guy Debord, Marshall McLuchan, Stephen Colbert…My work is also influenced by current events. I read a lot of news magazines and watch political/social documentaries.

If you had an occupation outside of being an artist, what would that be and why?

I’m pretty passionate about social justice issues, I love to cook and feed people, and I enjoy helping people connect with other people or resources they need. So I could see myself as a social worker of some kind, the owner of an intimate neighborhood café, or matchmaker. Right now, I work as a professor of studio art, which involves everything mentioned but the cooking. I am not the professor who bakes cookies for her students.

About

6_BriggsBorn and raised in the Mid-Atlantic region of the U.S., Priscilla Briggs is an artist currently based in Minneapolis, MN. She holds an MFA from Maryland Institute College of Art and a BA from Carnegie Mellon University. Her explorations as an artist have taken her to various areas of the world, most influentially China, where she completed residencies at Art Channel in Beijing in 2008 and the Chinese European Art Center in Xiamen in 2010 and 2013.

Priscilla has received various grants for her projects, including 2010 and 2014 MN State Arts Board Grants as well as a 2008 McKnight Artist Fellowship. Her work has been exhibited widely and is included in the Midwest Photographer’s Project at the Museum of Contemporary Photography in Chicago. She recently joined the artist collective of Piacsek Gallery based in the UK.

On location in Yiwu, China.

On location in Yiwu, China.

www.priscillabriggs.com

All images copyright of the artist and used with their permission.

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Luke Amram Knox – Fayetteville, Arkansas

A Stag and Unicorn In the Forest Go  installation approx. 15' X 7' X 6'4” 2013 wood, preserved deer leg, tree trunk, charred tree branch, antlers, axe,  bailing string, bailing wire, coyote ravaged deer skeleton, polyurethane foam,  polystyrene foam, polyurethane adhesive, latex paint, latex acrylic, steel hardware,  chicken wire, concrete, plaster, aluminum fencing wire, horse hair, human hair, goose feathers, gymnasium rope,  tar, machine enamel, spray enamel, oil paint, fabric,  raw hide

A Stag and Unicorn In the Forest Go
installation approx. 15′ X 7′ X 6’4”
2013
wood, preserved deer leg, tree trunk, charred tree branch, antlers, axe,, bailing string, bailing wire, coyote ravaged deer skeleton, polyurethane foam,
polystyrene foam, polyurethane adhesive, latex paint, latex acrylic, steel hardware,
chicken wire, concrete, plaster, aluminum fencing wire, horse hair, human hair, goose feathers, gymnasium rope,tar, machine enamel, spray enamel, oil paint, fabric, raw hide

Briefly describe the work you do.

My work responds to mythological and iconographic traditions from antiquity. Inspired by the works of Carl Jung and the art historian Aby Warburg, my artistic practice explores concepts of the collective unconscious and cultural afterlife. Through sculpture making I examine how remnants of archaic thought and extinct cultures survive to influence contemporary frameworks. Using appropriated objects and conventional building mediums, I make representational forms that are inspired by ancient and contemporary motifs, highlighting relationships between them that enlighten contemporary cultural identities.

At what point I your life did you want to become an artist?

It wasn’t until later in my life that I took art seriously. From my childhood to high school I drew cartoons inspired by anything from Disney to classical mythology. After quitting college a third time, realizing that I was not the classical scholar I had always wanted to be, I began making art centered around themes that I had unknowingly already been fascinated with.

Tell us a little about your background and how that influences you as an artist.

I grew up on a farm, so animals have always held an important place in my creative and practical life. That, along with my lifelong conversations with my grandfather, an armchair theologian, really gave me the conceptual fodder for what I do now. However, my focus on global myth comes from my experiences traveling through Asia and Europe, finding parallels and exchanges between ancient cultures that, for all I know, wouldn’t have had any communication with one another.

Hierophany  installation approx. 17'X 8'10”X21' 2013  cotton horse foaling blanket, unfired clay, concrete casts of dead deer,  boar tusks, acrylic latex, leather, machine enamel, spray enamel, mannequin hands, goose feathers, oak lumber, untreated pine, steel hardware, plaster, polyurethane, polyurethane adhesive, oil paint, poly-cotton rope, polystyrene foam, polyurethane foam, polymer clay, bailing wire, tar, artificial flora, rhinestone, liquid asphalt, concrete sealant, epoxy

Hierophany
installation approx. 17’X 8’10”X21′
2013
cotton horse foaling blanket, unfired clay, concrete casts of dead deer,
boar tusks, acrylic latex, leather, machine enamel, spray enamel, mannequin hands,
goose feathers, oak lumber, untreated pine, steel hardware, plaster, polyurethane, polyurethane adhesive, oil paint, poly-cotton rope, polystyrene foam, polyurethane foam, polymer clay, bailing wire, tar, artificial flora, rhinestone, liquid asphalt, concrete sealant, epoxy

What types of conceptual concerns are present in your work? How do those relate to the specific process(es) or media you use?

Comparative mythology and art history are the foundation of my concept. I realized that I couldn’t really find any satisfaction in traditional scholarship, so I thought of using them in the creation of art. Yet, the crux of my work isn’t so much the examination of these things as it is the relationships between them and the current world in which we live. There is a reason why we have the mores we do, why we believe what we believe and why we still fundamentally search for the same thing that the ancients did. That is what I want to look at.

Ysengrimus, Orthus, and Sick Stag  5'9” X 4'7 X 3'5” 2013 tree trunk fragment, neatsfoot oil, oil paint, spray enamel, polymer clay, artificial flora, polystyrene foam, polyurethane foam, bailing wire steel hardware, deer hide (roadkill), polyurethane adhesive, fiberglass arrows, wood, acrylic latex, machine enamel,  broken deer bones, plaster, epoxy, spar urethane

Ysengrimus, Orthus, and Sick Stag
5’9” X 4’7 X 3’5”
2013
tree trunk fragment, neatsfoot oil, oil paint, spray enamel, polymer clay,
artificial flora, polystyrene foam, polyurethane foam, bailing wire
steel hardware, deer hide (roadkill), polyurethane adhesive,
fiberglass arrows, wood, acrylic latex, machine enamel, broken deer bones, plaster, epoxy, spar urethane

We once heard Chuck Close say he did not believe in being inspired, rather in working hard everyday. What motivates you in your studio practice?

There can’t really be any work unless there is inspiration to work I think. Be it inspiration from this world or something that you are looking at from a meta like stance. But personally I feel like my practice is driven by my desire to make things. It is about having fun with a plethora of mediums – exploring their conceptual and physical potential. The concept is something that reigns it all in and keeps it going in a solid direction.

What artists living or non-living influence your work? 

Ed Keinholtz, David Altmedj, Huma Bhaba, Paolo Ucello, Robert Rauschenberg, Banks Violette

When you are not making art what types of activities and interests do you engage in?

I have five cats and a dog so I spend a lot of time picking fleas off of them. Professionally I like to piecemeal a lifestyle, from scrapping copper to scrap carpentry to being a coffee barista. Landscaping is another hobby of mine and I do hope to get back into archery.

About

headshot_2Luke Knox was born in Iowa City, IA in 1987 and relocated to Northwest Arkansas as a child. Since then, he has spent the majority of his time exploring the

Ozark Mountains and working on his mother’s horse and cattle ranch. His upbringing around natural landscapes and on the farm formed his fascination with animals, ecology and the pastoral. These experiences influence his paintings and sculpture, which focus on the relationship between society and nature by examining parallels and reoccurring motifs in mythology, ritual and cultural iconography.

In 2012 he graduated with a BFA in Drawing from the University of Arkansas’ Fulbright College of the Arts and Sciences. He lives and works in Fayetteville, Ar. and there he maintains his personal practice while collaborating with other artists to convert his barn into a communal artistic workspace.

studio_image

lukeknox.com

All images copyright of the artist and used with their permission.

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Enda O’Donoghue – Berlin, Germany

The Wet Collections (2013) Oil and Acrylic on Canvas, 200 x 200 cm

The Wet Collections (2013) Oil and Acrylic on Canvas, 200 x 200 cm

Briefly describe the work you do.

First and foremost I would describe myself as a painter even though I have worked, and still work, with many other mediums on quite a regular basis, for example video and photography, but I see painting as the backbone of my practice and that informs everything I do.

The bulk of my work over the past few years has been using found images and photographs mostly sourced from the internet which are treated to very systematic translations into paintings. An ongoing interest for me has been in exploring the digital aesthetic, complete with pixelation, errors and glitches. This comes partly out of an interest in the hidden structure underlying digital images and partly from a love of the purely abstract qualities of this visual noise.

I tend to always gravitate towards images which at first glance seem inconsequential, maybe even coming from amateur sources, images which otherwise would be lost and easily forgotten in the perpetually growing stream of online media. Up until recently most of the images that I have been using have been very much from the present day, pictures of contemporary life, but currently I am looking to images, videos and photos that are dating back to the early 1970s.

Tell us a little about your background and how that influences you as an artist.

My background is in computer programming, which I studied for a few years before art and, although I tried to avoid it, the mathematics and structured logic from that world eventually began to invade the way I approached painting and making art. Over the years I worked professionally teaching multimedia applications and as a video editor, a web designer, and programmer, so I think there is no way for me to avoid dealing with the digital world and the technology in a very direct way. Added to that I have always been fascinated by watching the evolution of digital technology and the internet. In particular by how our relationship with photography, video and images has changed so drastically in such a short period of time.

The concept of the “artist studio” has a broad range of meanings, especially in contemporary practice. The idea of the artist toiling away alone in a room may not necessarily reflect what many artists do from day to day anymore. Describe your studio practice and how it differs from (or is the same as) traditional notions of “being in the studio.”

My day in the studio usually it starts out slowly by tidying up the remnants from the previous day’s work and I also spending a lot of time just looking and thinking and assessing the success or failure of what I have been working on. Often I’ll spend some time writing, just notes really or rambling reflections on what I am working at the time or more often what direction I would like to go with the work, trying to figure out all the dilemmas and understand or define my own place or position in it all.

I often think about that movie, from the 80’s I think, called New York Stories, it was in 3 or 4 different parts, each one by a different director, like Scorsese and Woody Allen. Well there was one segment in the film which had Nick Nolte playing an artist. I don’t remember who directed that bit and I can’t even remember the story very well but there is a scene from it that that has stuck with me, the scene of the artist in his studio painting. It had loud dramatic music, he was drinking whiskey, smoking cigarettes, caught up in the moment, in a vast studio, making wild expressionistic gestures, the whole thing was full of gravitas, angst and that horribly misunderstood and over used word “inspiration”. Well my day in the studio is nothing like that. But for a long time, while growing up, that is the picture I had of the romantic idea of the artist working and maybe for some people that is how it is. I do have the music on and I try to keep the music suitably dramatic and loud, and I do get lost in the moment, in the flow, while working, but actually my time in the studio is generally quite structured and planned out and my working process goes through different stages from research to experimentation, planning on to preparation, then to the actual painting and a lot of time spent quietly looking.

A friend of mine back when we were in art college used to have days that he would set aside that he would devote to spontaneous unplanned experimentation in the studio, his spontaneous days as he used to call them. Well I do sometimes following his example take a few days every now and again for my own spontaneous days or I guess I could call them my Nick Nolte days.

Reno (2011) Oil on Canvas, 180 x 240 cm

Reno (2011) Oil on Canvas, 180 x 240 cm

What unique roles do you see yourself as the artist playing that you may not have envisioned yourself in when you first started making art?

I find myself doing a lot logistical planning, mostly organising transportation for exhibitions. It is something that I have had to learn about the hard way by just doing it and I don’t think I ever envisioned the amount of applications, proposals and submissions that an artist has to make these days. It is definitely one of the things which strips away any of the romantic clichés normally associated with being an artist. A necessary evil maybe but it can be like playing the lottery at times. I think I have managed over the years to get a good balance to it and the make sure that it doesn’t take too much time away from the actual art making or that the art making depends on the outcome in anyway for funding or support.

Something that has been very rewarding to me is any time that I have spend teaching in art colleges. It is not something that I do on a very regular basis at the moment, just intermittently as visiting artist but it has always been very fruitful experience. Also over the past few years I have organised and curated a number of group exhibitions which has likewise been hugely rewarding and a great learning experience while at the same time allowing me to work with and get to know some great artists.

When do you find is the best time of day to make art? Do you have time set aside every day, every week or do you just work whenever you can?

I mostly work in the studio on weekdays and my typical day begins around 9 or 10 in the morning and runs to about 5 or 6 in the evening. So in that way, time-wise, my artistic practice is almost like a regular 9 to 5 job. I have three children so my work revolves around the regular school hours. The number of days I get to the studio varies depending on other work that I have going on but I try to get there as many days as possible each week. I often work late into the night at home on research or if I need to do any preparatory work on computer. Of course when I have a deadline for a show coming up my time and days in the studio tends to run a lot longer but for me the regular structure and discipline of going to the studio for such regular hours has been really helpful in maintaining a certain amount of sanity in my life and as a result sustaining a career over time. I am not one for sitting around waiting for ideas or inspiration to come, instead I for me ideas come very readily as a result of the process of working and often actually from the little things, the seemingly meaningless but necessary tasks that go on around the work.

Fuzzy Memory ( 2012 ) Oil on Canvas , 70 x 95 cm

Fuzzy Memory ( 2012 ) Oil on Canvas , 70 x 95 cm

 How has your work changed in the last five years? How is it the same?

The scale of my work has increased over the past five years and I have been exploring different materials and techniques but I think one of the main developments in my work has been that I have made a conscious effort to expand the focus of my work, in other words allowing myself to follow different tangents or different parallel strands of interest at the same time rather than trying, as I had done previously, to restrict myself to a more singular path in an attempt to establish a distinct style. This has been a very liberating development for me and one which I hope to push further over the next few years.

I would say is one of the greatest ongoing challenges in my practice is with the selection of source material. It is a question I find myself returning to again and again in attempt to find a strategy that could act as a guide or at the very least a framework to my choices. I imagine that it is a challenge that most artists must face when presented with all the possible images, themes and subjects that are on offer from the internet, when you can choose from everything it is hard to choose anything and every choice is valid but then also invalid. Navigating and selecting from these possibilities is never easy and my own approach is continually evolving. When I first began using the internet as a source the selections were semi-random or quite arbitrary in nature. Most recently I have begun working on a project that is looking at media and subject matter guided and directed by research into and around newspaper stories about UFO sightings.

Are there people such as family, friends, writers, philosophers or even pop icons that have had an impact on the work you do?

I’ve had a studio for the past 8 or 9 years in a former piano factory which is home to almost 35 artists and the daily interaction with the other artists in the studio house has been a very valuable thing for me and it continues to be a rich source of support. I have been very lucky over the years to have had quite a number of close friends who are also artists that have been great companions to discuss, debate, argue and pontificate at great length about art and I think this has been a huge influence on my work and my approach.

Living in Berlin means that I have easy access to a vast number of galleries and museums and I spend a lot of time visiting galleries and looking at art and I could make a vary long list of artists who’s work has influenced me in some way or other both directly or indirectly. Some of the main artist that have always been on my radar would be Richard Hamilton, Malcolm Morley, Gerhard Richter, Sigmar Polke, Shirin Neshat, Eberhard Havekost and Xie Nanxing to name but a few.

Music, film and books have always had a very great influence on my work and my taste in all of these areas tends to be very varied and eclectic but a list of those names would be very long. Recently I have been listening to a lot of the weird and wonderful Moondog, watching the movie Holy Motors a couple of times and reading a strangely fantastic book called Wittenstein’s Mistress by David Markson.

If you had an occupation outside of being an artist, what would that be and why?

I think I would be a baker, baking bread just seems like a very useful thing to do.

About

Photo by Conor Clarke

Photo by Conor Clarke

Enda O’Donoghue’s work presents a forensic interest into the construction, the language and the mediated world of digital images together with an ongoing dialogue with the medium and process of painting. Hovering between the realms of abstraction and representation, between the mathematical encoded and the organic, O’Donoghue’s paintings are the result of a process which is highly analytical and methodical and yet inviting of errors, misalignments and glitches. The imagery comes almost exclusively from found photographs sourced from the Internet, where he plays with random throw-away moments of everyday life, merging them together in various interconnected themes. In O’Donoghue’s work, the painterliness of his technique works with the disposable nature of his subjects to make the work sometimes poignant and melancholic, or alternatively brittle and harsh. His work is deeply influenced by the digital high speed reality we now live in and he transports these seemingly meaningless sound-bite images from a place of apparent futility to one that questions and searches for meaning through the transformative act of painting.

Enda O’Donoghue was born in Ireland in 1973 and has been living and working in Berlin since 2002. He completed a degree in painting at the Limerick School of Art and Design followed by a Masters in Interactive Media at the University of Limerick.

O’Donoghue has taken part in numerous international group exhibitions, including shows at Liebkranz Galerie, Berlin (2012), Meter Room, Coventry (2012), The Moscow Museum of Modern Art (2011), Expo in Shanghai (2010), Universal Cube, Leipzig (2008), Four Gallery, Dublin (2006), Overgaden, Institute for Contemporary Art, Copenhagen (2006) and a number of solo shows in Berlin, Ireland and in 2009 a solo exhibition in New York. In 2012 his work was presented in a major solo exhibition at the Limerick City Gallery of Art, Ireland and he has recently been awarded a residency at the Golden Art Foundation in New York state. He has also curated a number of group exhibitions, most recently an exhibition presenting a selection of Berlin based Irish artists at Grimmmuseum in Berlin which toured to the Galway Arts Centre, Ireland in 2013.

The Studio

The Studio

endaodonoghue.com

All images copyright of the artist and used with their permission.

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Joe Bussell – Rosedale, Kansas

photo-79Briefly describe the work you do.

I have MFAs in Painting and Ceramics and currently work in in 2D and 3D.

At what point I your life did you want to become an artist?

My parents pushed music at an early age but when I was finally allowed to go to an art camp I knew art is what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. My mother and father were horrified.

Tell us a little about your background and how that influences you as an artist.

I had to fight to go to art school and I that fight stayed with me. Making art always comes first. It’s probably why I wasn’t a very good teacher.

What types of conceptual concerns are present in your work? How do those relate to the specific process(es) or media you use?

When I was a younger artist the concept or content of the work played a pivotal role. Now it’s all about the process. Ironically, my work has more content now than it did when I worried about it all the time.

photo-78

We once heard Chuck Close say he did not believe in being inspired, rather in working hard everyday. What motivates you in your studio practice?

Chuck Close hmmm… I agree going to the studio every day and working hard is crucial, but inspiration lives in that space too. If something is uninspired most likely it’s not very interesting to look at. Making art is what I live for. That’s really all the motivation I need.

What artists living or non-living influence your work? 

Joan Mitchell, Howard Hodgkin and Mark Rothko are the artists I always look at.I saw a retrospective of Joan Mitchell’s work in New York and a retrospective of Rothko’s work in Paris. The memory of those shows and how they made me feel stay with me to this day.

When you are not making art what types of activities and interests do you engage in?

I read, not as much anymore, but I make up for it by going to plays and the opera. My partner, Fred and I go to every exhibition we can. Hate openings but love to see what other artists are doing.

About

photo-780Hippie, gay activist, AIDS advocate, gypsy, art educator and ex pat have described Joe Bussell over the years, but artist defines him.

In 1979 Joe received a BFA in painting from Kansas University. By 1994 he received two MFA degrees from Washington University in St Louis. From 1993 to 1998 Joe worked as a faculty member in the School of Art at Wash U.

Over the years his work has been exhibited through out the US and in Europe. The work was reviewed in various newspapers,journals and magazines, including the US News and World Report, New Art Examiner and The New York Native. Bussell’s work has been represented by the the TAI Gallery in New York City, Urbi et Orbi, Gallery Karl Oskar and Marji Gallery in Santa Fe.

Joe lives in Rosedale, Kansas, a rural/urban nether world setting in the crossroads of Kansas City, Kansas and Kansas City, Missouri. This idyllic setting provides him the time to make his work, commune with nature and yet be close enough to an airport to be anywhere in the world within a few hours.

DSC_8572

joebussell.com

All images copyright of the artist and used with their permission.

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Julia Betts – Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Withdraw Digital photograph  2013

Withdraw
Digital photograph
2013

Briefly describe the work you do.

I investigate the idea of transience and self through choices in material and process as part of an interdisciplinary art practice. Impermanent materials such as masking tape, scotch tape, ground digital images act as surrogate for the body. The materials go through stages of accretion, removal and regeneration through both physical intervention and natural degradation. For example, in “Debris,” layered, rolled, then sawed images of the body create stone-like debris. Through these actions, I relate myself to geological processes of erosion and sedimentation. In a related piece, “Detritus,” shredded self-images of the body accumulate into layers of dust. Through grinding images of myself with a grater, the essence of the images is explored and the “body” grows. In both “Debris” and “Detritus”, the colors are incidental to the photographs I use as source material. In these pieces, I am contemplating the daily loss and growth of the body.
Tell us a little about your background and how that influences you as an artist.
As a child, art wasnʼt especially interesting to me. Renaissance and academic art were my only references as to defining art. But, going into college, for the first time, I was exposed to contemporary art. Contemporary art excited me. In contemporary art, I saw limitless possibilities because anything is permissible (if grounded in conceptual or aesthetic reasoning). Parts of my personality that werenʼt being utilized finally found an outlet. My introspectiveness became my interest in self-portraiture. My need for independence became my love for inventing and initiating my own unique processes.
The concept of the “artist studio” has a broad range of meanings, especially in contemporary practice. The idea of the artist toiling away alone in a room may not necessarily reflect what many artists do from day to day anymore. Describe your studio practice and how it differs from (or is the same as) traditional notions of “being in the studio.”
Due to the expense of buying a studio space, I converted a bay of the garage of my home into my studio space. Although I often work there, I can work anywhere because my work doesn’t require heavy, expensive machinery. I carry bits and pieces of my art around with me and I start working whenever I feel the impulse. I love to work anywhere… a park bench, the library, the kitchen, in the grass at a park. Working in public places generates a lot of useful public feedback.
Detritus Ground self-images  2014

Detritus
Ground self-images
2014

What unique roles do you see yourself as the artist playing that you may not have envisioned yourself in when you first started making art?
When I first began to exhibit and do residencies, I didn’t realize the potential impact that artists have in the economic rejuvenation of areas. This is because of the energy and activity that arts bring. I’ve realized that artists often lead the vanguard in rejuvenating communities. Artists take advantage of areas with cheaper rent– galleries that are set up in these areas often helps turn the area around. Recently, I did an artist residency at Second Sight Studios in Columbus, Ohio in an area called Franklinton. I felt like I helped in a small way by just making and showing work and engaging the community in that way. Another burgeoning area that I am showing in is Braddock, Pennsylvania at Unsmoke Systems on September 13th. The goal of Unsmoke Systems is to revitalize the area through the arts. To learn more about my show at Unsmoke Systems, click here: https://www.facebook.com/events/1517910988438951/
When do you find is the best time of day to make art? Do you have time set aside every day, every week or do you just work whenever you can?
I work on art late at night in long spans of time. When i donʼt have time to make art I focus on the business side of art (researching exhibition opportunities, applying to shows). The best time to come up with ideas is in between sleeping and waking. During this time, your mind is flexible and able to make connections easily and quickly.
Accretion  Masking tape  2014

Accretion
Masking tape
2014

How has your work changed in the last five years? How is it the same?

Unavoidably, self-portraiture and introspection continue to be at the core of my work. I donʼt intentionally go after these concepts, but they form the core of my body of work. Talking to my professor about this, she said, “You canʼt be anyone else but yourself”. The concepts within my body of work are so deeply ingrained in my personality that I couldnʼt possibly avoid them. Also, more and more, digital seeps into my work. Digital is technically difficult for me, but I try to go towards things that make me uncomfortable.
Are there people such as family, friends, writers, philosophers or even pop icons that have had an impact on the work you do?
Other than Janine Antoni and Eva Hesse, the philosophical ideas of “ontology” and “essence” impact me. Ontological questions the meaning of being, existence, and reality. Searching for the “essence” of materials is also important in my work. Essence is the fundamental characteristics that make an entity what it is.
If you had an occupation outside of being an artist, what would that be and why?I am interested in being an art professor after I get my MFA. Being a professor at a university would give me an automatic community of dedicated, talented peers.
About
IMAGE 1Julia Betts was born in 1991 in Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania. In April 2014, Betts graduated from the University of Pittsburgh with a Bachelor of Arts leaving with six awards recognizing potential, leadership, and excellence within the Studio Arts department. Also, she received two Undergraduate Research Grants from the Office of Undergraduate Research. Since graduating, she has shown her work in exhibitions within and outside of Pittsburgh. Betts has exhibited in solo shows at Second Sight Studio in Columbus, Ohio and Unsmoke Systems in Pittsburgh, PA. Her numerous group exhibitions include “Identity Material” in Pittsburgh, “8 Hour Projects: Loss” in Meadville, PA, and “Construct” at Pittsburgh Center for the Arts. This year, she completed an artist-in-residence program at Second Sight Studio and will soon have her next residency at Bunker Projects.
My studio ritual of cutting out pieces of paper prior to grinding images.

My studio ritual of cutting out pieces of paper prior to grinding images.

All images copyright of the artist and used with their permission.
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Christina Gregor – St. Louis, Missouri

it’s been so long since we last spoke acrylic and graphite on paper 10”x8.25” 	2013

it’s been so long since we last spoke
acrylic and graphite on paper
10”x8.25”
2013

Briefly describe the work you do.

I’m primarily a pleasure artist, though perhaps a pensive one. In all of the whimsy, the meaning is wholehearted. So even that which is in jest is also genuine. The bodies of work vary in process and form, but there are common aesthetic and conceptual threads. The media ranges from drawing and mixed media on paper to sculpture and installation often utilizing manipulated everyday and upcycled materials.  

The recent drawings are mainly narratives. Both sweet and sad, they focus on the search for identity and belonging. Addressing the security and vulnerability of connection, they straddle the moment when aloneness is broken. The characters are caught in sometimes tragic scenarios in which their desire and hope trumps the fear or anticipation of pain.

The installation work also spawns from the concepts of identity and belonging, but through nesting, domesticity, and home. It stems from how we might identify ourselves through collection, ritual, and routine. Highlighting the importance of place as a definitive component of self.

Tell us a little about your background and how that influences you as an artist.

I was raised to value exploration, curiosity, and innovation. I was also not a stranger to change. Adaptation has been a helpful tool for survival and forward motion. I’m not too inconvenienced by a change in plans. I improvise often.

I was an introverted kid. Though outgoing, I’m still fairly introverted now. I value my solitude and insular forms of entertainment. Those pastimes have included drawing and other forms of crafting in a fairly prominent way for a long time. Going to school for art was a natural trajectory. My emphasis in studio art was printmaking, which I employed most heavily in undergrad. I was drawn to the novelty of process. I still cherish process, but it now manifests itself in an interdisciplinary way.

(detail)  i’ll be rooting fur you cut plastic bags, fused plastic, cardboard, mannequin 2014

(detail)
i’ll be rooting fur you
cut plastic bags, fused plastic, cardboard, mannequin
2014

The concept of the “artist studio” has a broad range of meanings, especially in contemporary practice. The idea of the artist toiling away alone in a room may not necessarily reflect what many artists do from day to day anymore. Describe your studio practice and how it differs from (or is the same as) traditional notions of “being in the studio.”

My studio practices transition in tandem with a fluctuating lifestyle. I try to adjust the work to reflect where I am at any given time. I can’t say any of my rituals are particularly traditional nor particularly curious. Likely they fall somewhere in between. Studio time is typically split between stretches of quiet incubation and marathons of execution. A good deal of energy goes into idea development. Making can feel simple in comparison to refining a foundation for the next new thing. I try to keep a sketchbook on hand always. Like having one foot in the studio. When I have my hands in the thing that will be a finished product it is a little different. If I’m installing, I do as much as I can at the space. It differs with each venue. But if conditions allow, I immerse myself entirely in the install during those stretches of time. If I’m working on a drawing or portable work of any kind and I know where I am going with it, I tend to want to work through to completion as quickly as possible.

What unique roles do you see yourself as the artist playing that you may not have envisioned yourself in when you first started making art?

I’m not sure anymore what it was I first had envisioned when I set about on this escapade. Nor do I recall if I had foreseen what kind of artist I might be. I do make an effort to surprise and reinvent myself though. It’s a self-directed metamorphosis from which various roles have emerged. Storyteller. Collector. Nester. And all roles have been honest in life and art. Being an artist is a convenient excuse to explore eccentricities you might otherwise keep contained.

In the beginning, it is also unlikely I had thought thoroughly about the non studio aspects of being an artist. The business side of things is a challenging venture. Marketing and promotion is tough. I have moxy, but I never saw myself as having enough for that. I’ve learned to embrace a certain level of shamelessness. Because the things I do are made to be shared. To be seen. To be enjoyed by others.

When do you find is the best time of day to make art? Do you have time set aside every day, every week or do you just work whenever you can?

In general, the evening hours are my preference and my most fruitful. It’s quiet and private with fewer interruptions and distractions. And I get surges of late night energy. But it depends a great deal on what my schedule allows. Overall, I take what I can get. And those windows of time vary. It also depends on what stage the work is in. If I am working toward a predetermined product, then the time matters less. If I am still working out the process or the concept, I need more peace.

when i was lost and looking down acrylic and graphite on paper  18”x27” 	2013

when i was lost and looking down
acrylic and graphite on paper
18”x27”
2013

How has your work changed in the last five years? How is it the same?

Storytelling has become a focus. I’m using more representational imagery. I’m less apprehensive to make work that might at first glance appear too precious, sweet, or sentimental. Titles and text have become more vital components. It is an opportunity to give the viewer extra insight or shift the context. In the case of the narratives they are usually a prologue or epilogue to the story. Overall, there is a level of expressiveness, intense energy, and awkward play that have been present in almost everything for a long time. But the nuances are constantly shifting. I change media, format, and process fairly often.

Are there people such as family, friends, writers, philosophers or even pop icons that have had an impact on the work you do?

As far as friends and family, where their influence starts and stops would be a hard line to draw. But I know I owe a great deal to all those past and present players. I am constantly seeking their insight. It is important to have extra eyes. And getting feedback from people who know me is invaluable. It helps with self awareness and forces a certain amount of objectivity.

I have my pool of favorite artists. Lygia Clark. Jessica Stockholder. Erwin Wurm. Sophie Calle. There are many others, but those sit high on my list. So many influences not necessarily author specific, but objects or images that resonate. Children’s books. Old cartoons. Kitschy animal portraiture. Mid century dinnerware patterns. I also love film. Noir to contemporary cerebral; Billy Wilder to Spike Jonze. I also binge watch tv series. So undoubtedly that stuff seeps in.

If you had an occupation outside of being an artist, what would that be and why?

I also teach art in higher education. I suppose that isn’t a hypothetical, but I love it. It has been a huge influence on me as an artist. I’m given the opportunity to share my passion with a group of people who are often similarly passionate. It’s fabulously enriching in a multitude of ways. And it is one scenario in which my potent opinions and brutal honesty are called for. I wouldn’t want to give it up any more than I would want to give up being an artist. Teaching has taught me a ton. I’ve also intermittently worked as a caretaker and companion to the elderly and disabled. While taxing, it satisfied a need to nurture. Both in caretaking and the classroom, it is about putting the needs of someone else first. And I enjoy that role.

Being involved in animal rescue would be great. Art therapy is something I have also considered. Or some other branch of social psychology. Academic writing would be fun. Probably centering on art theory and education. Or perhaps freelance lover letter writing.

About

headshotMade in the midwest, Christina Gregor was born in Park Ridge, IL in 1982. In 2004, she received her Bachelor of Fine Arts in studio art with an emphasis in printmaking from Webster University in Webster Groves, MO. Gregor went on to complete her Master of Fine Arts in studio art from Northern Illinois University (Dekalb, IL) in 2007. She has since continued making things, exhibiting nationally, and teaching studio arts at the college level. She currently lives and works in St. Louis, MO.

your whispers tickle  installation detail with melted plastic bottles  2011

your whispers tickle
installation detail with melted plastic bottles
2011

www.chrisgregor.com

All images copyright of the artist and used with their permission.

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