Nathaniel Wyrick – Boston, Massachusetts

Papaw Passing Time: In Memory, 2013, Performance Video Still, 2 hours and 3 minutes

Papaw Passing Time: In Memory, 2013, Performance Video Still, 2 hours and 3 minutes

Briefly describe the work you do:

I am a multidisciplinary artist that is currently living and working in Boston. I am working with performance, printmaking, photography, and installation. I explore concepts of the fragility and imperfection of memory as it relates to personal history and identity.

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

I think I’ve always been creative and imaginative as a child, but I don’t think art ever became something I was seeking to do as a career until college. I started getting into ceramics and photography more deeply during my undergraduate years. I went to a work college and was already working within higher education in student life positions. It wasn’t until I started both working in the ceramics studio as a studio assistant and simultaneously creating my own work that I realized this was something I could potentially do as a career; it was more wholly satisfying.

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

I have used a variety of different mediums throughout my artistic journey up to this point. I’ve worked with everything from ceramics and photography to printmaking and performance. Those experiences, both failures and successes, offer me skills and knowledge to draw from when working on ideas and creative projects. I went to a really great liberal arts college where I didn’t major in art or spend my time pouring over art history books and theory (until grad school), so I didn’t ever really feel like I had to just work all my creative process into one medium or subject. It was freeing and afforded me the opportunity to explore my ideas with whatever was and will be the most rewarding and enjoyable. 

Shelves & Canning Jars, 1982-2014, Installation Piece from Way Back on the Shelf, 6ft x 3ft

Shelves & Canning Jars, 1982-2014, Installation Piece from Way Back on the Shelf, 6ft x 3ft

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

Much of the work is concerned with the exploration of identity, masculinity, and sexuality, especially in relation to memory. Through this lens I examine the relationships I have established with people and specific locations, usually portrayed through narrative forms. I think my family history, traditions, and upbringing play a huge role in my work. It’s one thing to grow up in East Tennessee; it’s another experience being a queer man raised by a single mother. It definitely gives me a different sort of set of memories to draw from.

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?:

I believe that I’m motivated by excitement and possibility. I’m always looking for opportunities that would motivate me to create something new or put me in a situation that will let me experiment or learn something new from someone. I think when I am working I have to be open to failing. Not everything I come up with is a great idea. I also think I get a lot of motivation and encouragement from my peers. I’ve met some really amazing artists and creatives during my graduate school career. It’s great seeing them create outstanding work and/or performances that end up in galleries, exhibitions, and residencies. Continuing a dialogue of earnest critique and conversation has been helpful for me.

What artists living or non-living influence your work?:

I’m really in love with Ryan McGinley and his photographs. I think they’re gorgeous. Nan Goldin and David LaChapelle were early photographic influences, and Gregory Crewdson’s work. Cornelia Parker and Doris Salcedo are sculptural influences. I studied under Marilyn Arsem, and I think her approach to thinking and speaking about performance art has had a huge impact on the way I approach my performative work. Writing and poetry also influence my work, so I am continually re-reading just about all of Joe Brainard’s writings and also the Dream Songs by John Berryman. I am slowly, but surely, still making my way through the book Art and Queer Culture, and I highly suggest it to those who are interested in the subject.

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

I will read, sometimes for pleasure, sometimes for study. I love playing board games and I’m a pretty competitive person when it comes to that. I even made my own screen-printed card game, which unfortunately I don’t always win. I’m pretty addicted to the reality TV show Big Brother. One day you’ll see me on there. I also like traveling, especially visiting friends, so if the opportunity arises, and I have the money, then I am totally up for it!

About

performanceheadshotNathaniel received his undergraduate degree in English/Theatre, and a minor in art, from Warren Wilson College before he pursued his MFA in Studio Art from Tufts University and the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. He is currently a founding member of the Petrichor Performance Collective in Boston and a Post Graduate Teaching Fellow in screen-printing at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts. He recently received a grant through the Boston Arts Commission for a series of durational public performances that is currently taking place August through September 2014. He always wears hats, is up for playing games, and constantly wishes it were sweater weather.

Oh Death, Oh Death, April 2014, Durational Performance Photograph

Oh Death, Oh Death, April 2014, Durational Performance Photograph

www.nathanielwyrick.com

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

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Sarah Morejohn – Eugene, Oregon

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERABriefly describe the work you do.

My work focuses on making a world through an accumulations of marks. I create meditative drawings on paper that simultaneously forms and explores the place of an invented creature or landscape. I am influenced by the relationship of an individual part to the whole, patterns in nature, topophilia (the love of place), and organizational processes in biology.

The drawing process for me is like that of wandering: with each mark of ink I am lost to the path I am making. Each drawing on a piece of paper becomes a place as the marks grow and morph to form complex structures that are reminiscent of landscapes. This wandering process of drawing leads me to familiar and strange places; referential and invented; to eroticism and longing.

From 2011- 2012 I made a series of work called “Pink Swells” that explored creature-like forms and the possibility of a narrative through the variations of form and culmination of drawings. Currently my work still addresses this idea, however I am more interested in pushing the forms into landscapes.

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

That is hard to say…I think I always did, I just wasn’t too concerned what that meant.

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

Growing up in small town (Oakland, Oregon: population 800) gave me the privilege of complete quietness and boredom. My mom that kicked my brother and I outside to play no matter what kind of weather, which gave us time to be inventive with our imaginations. We would make up stories and maps of the surround areas. There were always trees, fields, and muddy creeks to jump into; there was time to watch a snail emerge from his shell or spider make its web. That was instrumental in developing my creativity.

Another main influence comes from my grandpa. He made intricate scientific illustrations. That rubbed off on me, however in a completely different way.

SarahMorejohn_02

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

My interest lies in the transformative process of becoming lost. When I take walks in a forest I become lost in the details of twigs, rocks, leaves, pine needles, etc. I feel at home with the familiarity of these things and yet see the nuance of each individual piece. The big picture concepts follow that feeling.

During my BFA I made a conscious decision to create a drawing process that followed the mark making scientific illustration technique stippling. It was partly a nostalgia for my grandpa and it also fitted what I was trying to think about. I was just introduced and very interested in Neo-minimalism and process art. Processes fully interest me…to focus intently on minuscule decisions holds the key to my understanding, or that I don’t understand; that it is far more then I could imagine.

SarahMorejohn_01We once heard Chuck Close say he did not believe in being inspired, rather in working hard everyday. What motivates you in your studio practice?

I am busy with a couple other jobs besides art: as a volunteer coordinator and a web designer. So at the end of the day it comes down to a deep need; a hand-over-the-pen-and-no-one-gets-hurt need.

I believe in inspiration and I know its important to let it branch out in different ways. Recently I have become quite interested in physics and biology. A few months ago I was invited to visit with professor at the University of Oregon who is a pioneer of zebrafish genetics. We had an informative conversation about developing bone structure in zebrafish larva and I was also able to look at some fish under a microscope. It was quite thought provoking and I could not wait to back to the studio.

Agnes Martin described art making in her writings as an adventure of the mind. I am think of my practice this way. If I thought of it as hard work I would be going about things wrong

What artists living or non-living influence your work?

Agnes Martin, Louise Despont, Terry Winters, Paul Klee, Giorgio Morandi, Nasreen Mohamedi, Sheila Makhijani, Daniel Zeller, Frances Richardson, Laura Vandenburgh, Ryan Sarah Murphy, and Victoria Haven.

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

I am an avid bicyclist, hiker, and reader. Last year my partner and I went on a 100 mile backpacking trip on the Olympic Peninsula. It was very inspiring since we walked through so many miles of forest there were certain patterns and forms that saturated my mind. Right now I’m reading Aways Coming Home by Ursula Le Guin. It is fantastic book that proposes a archaeology towards the future which imagines a world of differing human cultures living in California.

About

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASarah is inspired by her own experiences of wandering to rectify internal and external environments. She grew up in the small town of Oakland, OR and currently lives in Eugene. She earned a BFA in painting and drawing from the University of Oregon in 2011.

The Studio

In the Studio

sarahmorejohn.com

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

 

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Darrell Roberts – Chicago, Illinois

RedFort, oil on canvas, 14x11, 2013

RedFort, oil on canvas, 14×11, 2013

Briefly describe the work you do. 

I am an abstract painter. I create small scale works dealing with lots of color and texture based on my experiences of my environments.  In my studio I have five places I work at and and a spot for sitting and observing. One place is dedicated for my oil paint. I have an old window I squirt oil paint on from my tubes. Another table is for mixed media drawing. I love creating hundred of works on paper with gouache, pastel, graphite, oil pastel, watercolor, ink, color pencils, and watercolor crayons. Mark making and layering, I love it. Color too of course. :) Two other areas are used for drawing and working on multiple media projects and one place for working with plaster cast, breaking, assembling and painting them.  

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

I always created stuff.  I started taking art classes when I was in high school.  I did not think of art as a career until after I finished my BFA.  I never even knew what a gallery was when I started out. I went on the graduate school for my MFA, it taught me what I was not interested in and what I did not want to be a part of in the art communities. From then on I have stayed true to myself, listening to my inner voice and subconscious while working in the solitude of my studio.

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

I grew up in rural Iowa. I went on daily walks for hours through the fields and woods. It was there I questioned my meaning and existence in life while growing up.  This deep connection with nature and my surroundings is where I derive my inspiration from in my painting today.

ChawriBazaar(Delhi), oil on canvas, 16x12x1, 2013

ChawriBazaar(Delhi), oil on canvas, 16x12x1, 2013

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

The colors of the oil paints I use reflect the locations and seasons I work in. I am not conceptually concerned. My work is driven by my relationships of color to create beauty. I want my paintings to be beautiful. I get the most vibrant luscious colors by using oil paint.

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?

I believe scientist, artists, performers are born with a genetic code that drives them to submerge themselves in their work.  There is nothing else I can do. I must be in my studio working.  I am driven by the creative need in my hindbrain to make things.

TajMahal, oil on canvas, 16_x12_x1, 2013

TajMahal, oil on canvas, 16_x12_x1, 2013

What artists living or non-living influence your work?

I love Soutine and De Kooning. I rush to look at their genius us of paint and juicy paintings all the time. I think Nicolas De Stael would have been a great influence but I never go to view his paintings in person. I love the California figurative painters, David Park just knew how to paint! Also Frank Auerbach and Leon Kossoff rock my world with their thick textural paintings.

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

I go for lots of walk. I take many photos and sketch while I am by the lake and traveling throughout the city.  I love the architecture. I also drive around and walk through the countryside taking photos and sketching. I travel a lot too, I love to go to new cities, countries and experience different cultures. I am always making art as these places are where I find more creative energy. I go to art museums and galleries. Other times I watch a few films. I go out to eat and drink with friends and then rush back to my studio to make more art.

About

DarrellRobertsheadshotDarrell Roberts MFA and BFA; The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, BA Art History, The University of Northern Iowa.  Darrell has participated in the Leon Levy Archaeology Expedition in Ashkelon, Israel, and artists residencies in Johnson, Vermont, Delhi, India, and Kushtia, Bangladesh. He has been supported by the Dedalus Foundation, Sugarman Foundation, Vogelstein Foundation and Tanne Foundation. He is represented by Thomas McCormick Gallery, Chicago.

In the Studio

In the Studio

http://darrell-roberts.com/

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

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Joshua Willis – Brooklyn, New York

OBLIVION I Oil on panel 23 x 20 inches 2012

OBLIVION I
Oil on panel
23 x 20 inches
2012

Briefly describe the work you do.

My work is the result of sequenced and layered processes that begin with a set of parameters limiting materials, approaches to mark-making and content. At the outset, the parameters are functional, or they serve to define the scope and scale of the works in the series, so I will often limit the number and scale of works, materials, palette, or the amount of time spent working on each piece. At other times, the parameters might serve as a source of content in the work. For example, I decided that the Oblivion paintings would be made using alternating phases of additive and subtractive mark-making, reinforcing the dialectic of growth and decay, which is a major theme in the series. I am interested in the interdependence of intention and chance: steps and cycles are often predetermined on the one hand, but their execution in the moment is imprecise. The resulting images depend a great deal upon the way in which I respond to materials and integrate the effects of chance over time. The images I make always retain traces, residues of the ways in which they were made. As the products of a serialized chain of interactions, the images display their own micro-histories, of which my authorship is authoritative in terms of conception, and self-mechanized in terms of execution.

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

I decided to be an artist sometime in my late teens, and like most of the decisions people make at that age, mine was ill-informed. I had no idea what the life an artist was like in contemporary America. All I knew was that DaVinci was a genius and a painter, Van Gogh was a little bit crazy but still a good painter, Norman Rockwell was a good painter and a patriot, and I thought that maybe I had some combination of the attributes that made these people into artists good enough to have books on the shelves of the public library in Hamilton, Ohio. I was somewhat morose as a teenager and liked to spend lots of time drawing alone. I considered myself to be an emotional person and, like most American teens, I thought that the way I saw the world was special, somehow more intense and poignant. But I had no living role models to look up to—art was something magical that other people did in distant, shiny cities—so it would be years before I finished college, moved to the city and realized that much of what I had thought about art as a teenager was simply nonsense. It turns out though that even after most of my misconceptions have (hopefully) been stripped away, I still want to be an artist.

FOREVER OVERHEAD Oil on 25 panels 53 x 43 inches 2013

FOREVER OVERHEAD
Oil on 25 panels
53 x 43 inches
2013

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

I am originally from a part of the country that is not exactly rural, but not exactly suburban either, which means that there was lots of natural space around, but not enough that I had to worry about bears. As a child I spent most of my free time outdoors, hiking through the woods, building forts, playing sports, etc., and as an adolescent I enjoyed running and cycling through the cornfields that straddled the border of Ohio and Indiana; if I have ever had an experience of a higher power, it was in those fields. The agricultural landscape of the Midwest, and a respect for the land in general, is something that influences many of the formal and conceptual decisions I make in my work, even though I have lived in large urban areas for over a decade.

My grandfather was a mechanic. When I was young, he built his own airplane over the course of seven years and eventually flew it successfully. He passed away in a plane crash in 1990, but I still remember his workshop very clearly: each of his hand-tools had an assigned place in the space around his workbench, power-tools went on the peg board lining the walls of the shop, and large machinery was placed strategically around the perimeter. He was equipped to weld, fabricate his own metal parts, cut wood, etc., so he was able to do most the work on his airplane (and on his farm) by himself. There is something about his self-sufficiency that I admire and try to emulate in my own studio. I fabricate all of my painting supports, crates and frames, document my work photographically, update my website, mix my own paint and clean my own brushes. I know that ‘collaborative’ is a valuable artworld buzzword these days, and I agree that collaboration can be useful and productive, but following my grandfather’s example I try to be as self-sufficient as possible by doing essential studio tasks myself, respecting my tools, and maintaining a working environment that is almost totally private.

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

One of the main conceptual features of my work is that it is palimpsestic: fragmented, densely layered, artifactual. I use painting processes that allow me to preserve or recover the history of my images by building up and then sanding away layers of paint, or to create objects that reference mundane artifacts such as postcards or snapshot photos by using a four-color photomechanical transfer process (however imprecisely), or to complicate meaning by layering and superimposing imagery by cutting several images apart and physically weaving them together.

My work is replete with dualities—growth/decay, urban/rural, craft/art, intention/chance, local/global—that are difficult for me to reconcile, but nevertheless cohere in individual images, series and in my body of work as a whole. Though they make me somewhat uneasy, I embrace these dualities by working with processes that allow for multiple levels of interpretation: for example a painting can be a metaphor for the futility of all effort because it has been laboriously built up and then subsequently destroyed with a palm sander and plunge router, only to be built up and destroyed again, but it can also be a celebration of that wasted effort if the record of alternating accumulation and erosion, the finished painting itself, is beautiful.

WAVES Watercolor on paper 22 x 17 inches 2014

WAVES
Watercolor on paper
22 x 17 inches
2014

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?

I agree that hard work is important, but to forego inspiration over the long term leads to work that is a bland, brick-by-brick recapitulation of itself, kind of like building a suburb; it takes lots of labor, and everyone involved is surely working very hard, but it’s a type of labor that could be done pretty much anywhere and is responsive to nothing. So while I do think that it’s important to work hard in the studio, to put in the hours, to sweat a little bit, to build up the ole’ callouses, it’s equally important to take a step back and reflect on what I’ve done and to allow my responses to my work, along with changes in my emotions, temperament and surroundings, to inspire—for lack of a better term—new projects with concomitant shifts in scale, subject matter, process and duration.

What artists living or non-living influence your work? 

My work is influenced by series- or systems-based painters like Byron Kim, Spencer Finch and Allan McCollum (all living!). I also am inspired a great deal by Courbet, who embraced his working-class origins, refused to be part of any school, and used his own experiences as a lens through which to comment on larger artistic, political and social issues. And like many college-educated Americans my age, I am influenced by the writer David Foster Wallace. In a passage from E Unibus Pluram: Television and U.S. Fiction, which basically sums up my thoughts on artistic integrity, Wallace outlined how sincere and un-cool artists might actually be part of a shifting avant-garde,:

The next real literary ‘rebels’ in this country might well emerge as some weird bunch of anti-rebels, born oglers who dare somehow to back away from ironic watching, who have the childish gall actually to endorse single-entendre principles. Who treat of plain old untrendy human troubles and emotions in U.S. life with reverence and conviction. Who eschew self-consciousness and hip fatigue. These anti-rebels would be outdated, of course, before they even started. Dead on the page. Too sincere. Clearly repressed. Backward, quaint, naïve, anachronistic. Maybe that’ll be the point[…]The new rebels might be artists willing to risk the rolled eyes, the cool smile, the nudged ribs, the parody of gifted ironists, the “Oh, how banal.” To risk accusations of sentimentality, melodrama. Of overcredulity. Of softness.

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

I have been exercising pretty regularly since I was about 14 or 15 years old. These days, I try to keep in good physical condition by running and lifting heavy weights at the gym; there really is no better antidepressant. Every now and then I entertain the fantasy that I might someday be a troubadour in the vein of Woody Guthrie, playing songs on the guitar, speaking out against war and injustice, fighting the good fight through music. So I play my guitar and try to learn to sing, but for the life of me I simply cannot write a song. And though it makes me angry and sometimes depressed, I read a lot of anti-systemic literature by writers like Immanuel Wallerstein, Wendell Berry and Derrick Jensen.

About

willis_joshua_headshotI spent my childhood and adolescence in southwestern Ohio before moving to Atlanta and then to Brooklyn, where I have lived for almost a decade. I received a BFA in painting and printmaking from Miami University and an MFA in painting and drawing from Brooklyn College, and have been an artist-in-residence at the Misaki-Cho Arts & Crafts Village in Okayama, Japan and the Jentel Foundation in Wyoming. My work has been exhibited nationally at venues including the Carnegie Center for the Arts in Kentucky, Manifest Creative Research Gallery in Ohio, Montclair State University in New Jersey, Harper College and Bradley University in Illinois, and Eastern Michigan University. In New York, my work has been exhibited at the Painting Center, the Katonah Museum of Art and the Pelham Art Center.

In the Studio

In the Studio

www.jwillisstudio.com

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

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Jessica Borusky – Kansas City, Missouri

Briefly describe the work you do.

I am a cultural producer. My aim is to generate thoughtful, creative work and generate a space for discovery utilizing performance, video, curation, writing, and conversation. I am interested in uncovering cultural and personal trauma/stigma through the advent of humorous, topical personae, which reflects social and political conditioning within language.

Punching Pillar, 2012, performance and video

Punching Pillar, 2012, performance and video

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

I am heavily influenced by both the personal and theoretical. Personally, I am influenced by my upbringing, as well as queer and sexual survival strategies.  I am influenced by the brave and incredible people in my life who have also learned to be survivors, I rely heavily on the stories and conversations of my found families in order to help locate and percolate my interests, drives, and methods. Theoretically, I am influenced by cultural criticism, performance theory, and Western queer feminist theory. I am influenced by theories of stigma, non-linear time development as a way to generate narrative, the possibilities and terror of language manipulation. And, lately, I am learning that I am also interested in how corporate language can function as an entry point into an exploration of personal affect and traumatic memory.

Posture Grid, 2013, performance and video

Posture Grid, 2013, performance and video

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.”

3: The idea of the “artist studio” feels dated to me. I have a space where I store things, make my videos, work on the computer, and write on the wall, yet I would not consider myself to relate to this space in any kind of romantically “artistic” way.  For that matter, a static definition of artist is one that ought to be challenged. My studio is my whenever I am reading, thinking, talking about my projects; which, is all the time. Driving to work, socializing, making notes- I am always thinking about what I am curating, who I need to write to, images for videos and performances, theory I am reading, and why I feel it to be relevant to my highly emotional and deeply personal work.  Furthermore, I do not wish to entertain a dichotomy which would suggest that there is a “traditional” notion of being in the studio, for there are myriad avenues by which to produce work, millions of brains and hands by which to make those ideas, and therefore, an incredible amount of paths by which to consider one’s “studio” space. This space may be physical, it may be the computer, a playground, an office cubicle, a notebook, a camera, under a bed, or in the woods.

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?

As mentioned in my ideas about the “studio”, I think there are multiple ways to be a creative individual. Currently, I am learning how to contemplate curation as an extension of one’s art practice. I am always investigating the role of academic writing as it relates to artistic production, how these roles can function within an artistic continuum. I am realizing how, through making space for people whose practices are similar to mine, advocating for thoughtful and intelligent artwork, I can expand my personal artistic practice into realms that carry potential and significance. I cannot claim a time where in which I “started” making art, for I have always been curious about ways in which to extrapolate my life experiences into a form and gesture that both abstracts and exemplifies those experiences. However, I can say that there is a lot of potential in being able to position and configure oneself as a cultural producer and linchpin between artistic spaces and those designated as “non-artistic” ones.

Let's Do This, 2013/14, performance for video

Let’s Do This, 2013/14, performance for video

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 think the best time of day for getting cognitive work done is in the morning, while drinking coffee, eating breakfast, and listening to the news. The best time of day to shoot my videos, where in which I am opening up various emotional portals, is in the evening, when I have spent a day going over my “points” (I improvise everything, and shoot my work in one take) and entering a somber head space.

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

What has changed in my work is a growing ability to locate my intuitive moments within greater theoretical and cultural discourses, while at the same time, becoming more and more in touch with, and embracing, my past trauma, my healing, and my catharsis. I still have a vested interest in using language, repetition, and duration as a way to unpack seemingly minimal structures into complex webs of content and affect. Significantly, what has changed is speaking in my work. Five years ago, I would manipulate sound away from the videos so that the viewer could not digest the entire product. At the time, this choice was defended through Kaja Silverman’s text  The Acoustic Mirror, yet now I can understand this choice was motivated by a discomfort in addressing the full spectacle of my performance. And, well, now, I am on a path of connected voice, body, gesture, and content all within the same temporal space- at the discomfort of both my audience and myself.

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

As mentioned, I am extremely influenced by past and my current found family. The intimate relationships of my present and the ghosts of my past profoundly impact my work. I also look toward strong, dynamic female and queer leaders within my community in Kansas City, MO as well as those leaders who have allowed my work within the art community to be possible. My current partner and artistic collaborator, Tim Amundson, plays a tremendous role in my artistic output, and engenders space for me to contemplate all aspects of my work- from inception to installation.  I look toward comedy and the poetics of humor as a device for surviving and healing; and am incredibly impacted by narratives of female, queer and non-traditional relationships. Depending on the project, I may be impacted by a particular history or narrative. Currently, I am reading about the myth of the West, Cowgirls, and how to start an LLC.

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

I have many occupations, Artist is simply one of them. Or all of them. I’m unsure at the moment. However, if I were to dedicate my creative energy and resources toward something in a singular way that resided outside of my current tapestry of daily activity, I would want to work within artistic programming and/or direction for a company/non-profit that had a vested interest in artist’s needs, or found a dedicated space to showcase performative and alternative artistic practices within a mid-sized city. In many ways, I feel as though my creative trajectory is leading me to work in this way alongside my personal artistic practice.

About

headshot_JessicaBorusky1Jessica Borusky is a artist/educator/curator currently living and working in Kansas City, MO. Drawing from theatrical absurdist tragicomedy, stigmatization theory, performance and queer theory, linguistics and U.S. history, Jessica creates personas through performative actions which showcase these topics, while uncovering cathartic personal narrative and trauma. She received her B.A. from New College of Florida and her M.F.A from Tufts/School of the Museum of Fine Arts. She is currently a resident at the Charlotte St. Foundation in Kansas City. 

In the Studio

In the Studio

www.jessicaborusky.com

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

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Ericka Walker – Halifax, NS, Canada

Nuts Lithography 30" x 40" 2014

Nuts
Lithography
30″ x 40″
2014

Briefly describe the work you do.

!The majority of my visual artwork revolves around drawing and printmaking. I am especially interested in the vernacular history of printmaking and printed ephemera, and the sociopolitical uses of visual propaganda throughout modernity. I am also an arts educator. I teach studio courses and mentor graduate students in the visual arts at an independent arts University, and work to enlarge the arts community with workshops, public exhibitions and collaborative projects that bring together studio art practice and the study of visual culture and art history.

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

I grew up with a lot of visual stimulation, mostly in the form of imagination- intensive, self-directed play time. My childhood home was surrounded by farm fields. The land spanned orchards, vegetable gardens, forests, and streams, and with strict parental rules governing my television time and an older sister who didn’t always want to play, the abandoned farm equipment in the fields provided plenty of solo adventures and daydreaming.

My upbringing was as American, whitebread, and middle class as it gets. I am the daughter of two public school educators, both born and raised in Illinois. My mother was the daughter of a Serbian-American steel mill worker and WWII veteran, and my father grew up on a farm in Norman Rockwell’s America, in North Central Illinois. Family members on both sides are veterans, home-makers, law enforcement officers, and educators. I spent a lot of time traveling across my country in the family car, and later in my own vehicle in an attempt to recreate some of the magic of those American road-trips that I experienced as a child.

Back then and today the highlights of those journeys are a cross section of National Parks and National Historic Sites, Civil War battlefields, monuments to massacres, and monuments to great men. These sites and these experiences originally instilled in me a proud and sometimes confused reverence for my origins and the history of the continent I inhabit. Today, when I watch a historic reenactment or enjoy a National Park, I enjoy a slurry of nostalgia, grief for the stories not presented, and awe at the violent confluences of forces that have shaped our nation and our national identity.

There Lithography 25" x 36" 2014

There
Lithography
25″ x 36″
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.”

I see the work I do in my studio as sharing equal footing with the investigative work I do before a visual artwork emerges. This can be anything from talking to a fellow American about about regional barbecue hierarchies, to visiting museum archives, reading scholarly books and articles, or watching documentaries while I sketch ideas in a notebook. Sometimes I hit a block and I need to exercise, spend time alone on a hike, build a stone wall or get out the chainsaw. Of course, the time I spend in the studio actually drawing is certainly a primary ingredient in the recipe, but even more crucial is learning to pay attention to all of my experiences, especially those where I have an opportunity to be challenged by anything from an unknown history to a difficult idea to simply being quiet in the world. Wherever I am open and humble I can allow both the visual and the emotional to enter, and then find out what resonates with me. With diligence and luck, I can capture some of that in my artistic output.

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?

My role as a mentor has been the most notable shift in what once were my preconceived notions about how my creative life was going to play out. My own experience has proven to me that success takes many forms, and is attributable to far more than my own work ethic. It will always include those who took the time to help me define what I wanted success to look like, and those who helped me to see what was superficial and what had value. I had patient teachers and guides who helped me unpack my reasons for choosing to pursue art, and to articulate what it was I wanted to do with that privilege.

One of the most important roles I play, however, is fulfilling an obligation to strengthen and rebuild sisterhood with the women I encounter through my work. Whether or not their age or walk of life resembles mine, I can recognize when I am in a situation to give, and when I am faced with an opportunity to ask for guidance. I still need mentors, too, and I can thank my own teachers for the willingness to reach out and find them, and for my enthusiasm to be there for 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?

I work best at night, though I’ve tried many times to change that cycle. I think it is biological. At this point I’ve accepted and embraced it, and it feels like a good slice of freedom to give up a fight that proved to be a lot less critical than I thought it was. I grew up presuming normal, successful people get up early, work during the day, come home in the evening, eat three square meals, shower constantly, act polite, floss and brush, etc. In addition to finding fabric softener and hair conditioner somewhat pointless, I love discovering that other social mores might be useless for me, too, and that it often pays off when I privilege my studio practice above what would appear to be other more responsible behaviors. I know there is a ceiling to this attitude, but I have yet to hit it very hard or too often.

We’ll see what the future holds, though.

 

Begins Lithography 25" x 36" 2014

Begins
Lithography
25″ x 36″
2014

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

The content of my work has changed the most. Five years ago (2009) I finished my first large lithographs, in response to some turn of the century propaganda posters I had come into contact with. This really opened up a lot of avenues of inquiry for me, in terms of looking at marginalized histories and the broader relationships between our politics and economies of industry, culture, and social power.

My work is the same, though, in terms of its artifice. I have a deep bond with drawing, and the work of my hands. I utilize digital tools often, especially when it comes to iterative design processes and quick layout possibilities, but I return almost exclusively to mylar sheets, stones, crayons, hand-cut stencils and inks to realize final works.

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

Running into the writings of French philosopher/Christian anarchist Jacques Ellul has certainly provided some verbal articulation around why propaganda interests me, though I would not necessarily consider his work an inspiration. More of an explanation, perhaps? At any rate, he had a lot to say on a lot of subjects, some of which include the role of different types of propaganda in society and politics.

Colleagues in critical studies and art history also fuel a lot of my investigations into socially engaged art practices, and have served as connections and inspiration to investigate decentralized and collaborative practices making art somewhat outside of the mainstream; for example, the Justseeds Artists’ Cooperative.

The musical soundtrack of my youth, which included System of a Down, Pink Floyd, Rage Against the Machine, and even Andrew Lloyd Weber’s Evita — among others — exhibited a convergence of artistic expression and the relatively dry/rigid systems of what appeared to constitute the grown-up world: national politics, banking, WASPs, casual Christianity, things like that.

I really enjoy author Rebecca Solnit’s ability to weave together very specific stories that reveal larger pictures of the human condition, especially when it comes to self-mythologizing narratives of American history and gender relations in Western society.

Also, I adore Lady Gaga.

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

Before making the decision to continue my studies as a graduate student, I was going to move out West to train as a smoke jumper and fight forest fires. That was a pretty good idea.

Probably, though, I’d join the operators union and work for a contractor somewhere in the midwest of the United States. Then, I’d take up a serious semi- professional career as a noodler.

About

headshot_polaroidEricka Walker was born in Hartford, Wisconsin, USA. She received a BA from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and an MFA from the University of Tennessee-Knoxville. She currently teaches studio coursework in printmaking as an assistant professor in the Fine Arts Division at the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design. Walker’s creative practice draws on the graphic media of late 19th and early 20th century, including propaganda, advertising, and printed ephemera. Her work has been included in numerous domestic and international exhibitions and biennials, as well as teaching and private collections in Canada, the United States, Europe, and Asia.

walker_graining_stone

www.erickawalker.com

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

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Monica Lacey – Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, Canada

"Tangled, Mallorca"  digital photograph, 2014

“Tangled, Mallorca” digital photograph, 2014

Briefly describe the work that you do.

In my work I focus mainly on drawing out the beauty of that which is broken, overlooked, or discarded – it is important to me to look closely at life, to notice the tiny details. My practice consists of conceptual and material exploration in the areas of photography, painting, and installation-based art. Currently I am working on encaustic mixed media paintings, underwater photography, a textile-based installation and an interactive outdoor installation. I’m really interested in creating immersive installed environments using photo, video, and built structures.

At what point in your life did you decide to become an artist?

I think I was always an artist, growing up I was always creating, making things, taking photos, drawing, and also looking at things in a creative way…I was always encouraged in that, my mother took me to be mentored by local artists and things like that, but I only gave myself permission/figured out that I wanted to do it full-time professionally when I was 27.  That’s when I went to art school and got serious about it.  I graduated in 2011 and have been working professionally ever since.

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

I grew up in the country and my sister and I were homeschooled by my mother until around grade 7.  We spent most of our time outside playing in the woods, and that connection with the natural world is a strong presence in my work today.  My father worked as a filmmaker for many years, and gave me my first camera when I was 8 years old, he is a big influence and taught me about composition and how to train your eye.  My family on his side is in Italy, so we travelled often to Europe to see them and we always went to all the museums and galleries, so I had wonderful exposure to the arts from a young age.  As part of homeschooling we watched the opera, we memorized poetry, we learned piano, we painted, we danced, it was really a good childhood and it made the arts a regular part of life rather than a luxury or something separate.  Though we were wealthy in so many ways, we didn’t actually have much money and so I also learned about the world of secondhand objects/materials and doing interesting things with what was available.  I was always encouraged to create and experiment.

For many years I focused on writing and dancing and I still work out ideas verbally rather than through sketches and movement when I get stuck. I trained for over 2 years as a Kundalini Yoga Teacher, and have had a daily yoga practice since 2004. The depth of awareness I cultivated through that process influences my entire life, including my studio practice. I’m interested in finding a deeper emotional response and trying to invoke a kind of meditative quiet through my work, both in myself and the viewer.

I did Interdisciplinary Studies in Textiles and Photography at college and as a mature student with prior experience, I got permission to do things outside the boundaries of the programs offered, such as Independent Study and exploring media that wasn’t actually formally offered at my school, such as encaustic and photo-etching. I went to a Craft and Design college but many of my instructors have or were pursuing MFA degrees so it was a perfect mix of technical skill and conceptual rigor. It prepared me well for turning my work into a full-time job and taught me about treating my studio practice as a business.

The Body Cage (Your Body Holds You Back) - Installation at UNB Art Centre 2012: Digital photograph, mixed media, and video with original choreography by Julie Scriver and original score by Devon Ross Cages: cotton, plywood, steel, 2011-2012

The Body Cage (Your Body Holds You Back) – Installation at UNB Art Centre 2012: Digital photograph, mixed media, and video with original choreography by Julie Scriver and original score by Devon Ross
Cages: cotton, plywood, steel, 2011-2012

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

Altered memory, nostalgia, quiet, darkness, nature, ideas of house and home, abandonment, various agents of comfort and survival(such as daily household rituals), social environments – all of these are ongoing themes in my practice.

I’ve been working with abandoned houses as a subject matter for almost a decade and they are endlessly rich and mysterious to me. The idea and structure of a house and all that it encompasses, the energy that it can hold, how it is a metaphor for the human body, these containers we’re in all the time, is so interesting to me. I believe that things and places have their own lives and intimate
feelings and I want to tell those stories. I started by approaching it with photography, from the outside, then I started to go inside, and now I’m working with video, installation, putting people in the houses, using them as a set. I think for years I’ve been trying to tell these houses that they are still loved…in fact I made an outdoor installation that was a ‘love letter to abandoned houses’ where I constructed an abandoned house in the woods using furniture, windows and doors.

I’m continually examining the balance of tenderness and power contained in my relationship with the natural world, and plants in particular. I work with watercolour and ink when dealing with plants and flowers – mostly I use found windfall leaves, flowers, seed pods, branches etc. – I love to study them so closely and then render them as faithfully and slowly as I can, sort of a way of paying homage and deeply appreciating their beauty.

I recently got an underwater camera and I’m completely addicted right now to working underwater, it’s a whole other world, and a great opportunity to explore light and silence. It’s a combination of so many things I love.

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?

Materials, process, curiosity…I often start working with a material and then the concepts emerge later, so that can be a fascinating process as it’s sometimes a surprise.  I get inspired by other artists, musicians, writers, dancers…also I’m very motivated by deadlines – I actually thrive on that pressure!   If/when I get stuck I’ll do a photo-a-day project, using set themes each day, and that always helps me break through any blocks.

"Last Gladiolus"  watercolour and graphite on paper, 22"x30", 2013

“Last Gladiolus” watercolour and graphite on paper, 22″x30″, 2013

What artists living or non-living influence your work?

It changes often depending on new work that I see, but right now I’m looking at Ken Rosenthal, Brooks Shane Salzwedel, Dominique T Skoltz, Jane Hambleton, Mike Nelson, David Hoffos.  I watch a lot of films, and they influence how I see things – I am a big fan of Jan Svankmajer, Wim Wenders, Wes Anderson, Miranda July, Spike Jonze, Charlie Kaufman….I’m also very inspired by Judy Pfaff, Louise Bourgeois, Marie Chouinard’s dance creations and Reines d’un Jour by Pascal Magnin.  Two people who made me want to make art in the first place are my aunt Cristina Lisi, who is a sculptor and architect in Florence, and my late grandfather Giordano Lisi who was a wonderful painter.

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

In the summer, I spend a lot of my free time in the ocean…I also write, play the piano, run, lay in my hammock, play with my cat…I love to garden, travel, I teach workshops, and I sit on juries and boards of different arts organizations, and of course there is always a substantial amount of admin work to do for my business as well.

Monica LaceyAbout

Monica Lacey is a multi-disciplinary artist whose work focuses on the beauty of the broken, overlooked, or discarded. Monica spent many years traveling, working in the film industry, and developing her skills as a writer, dancer, and yoga teacher before returning to interdisciplinary studies in Textiles and Photography at the New Brunswick College of Craft and Design. She has received several awards and grants for excellence in her work and service to her community, including the Nel Oudemans Award for Excellence in Visual Arts  in 2012 and the City of Charlottetown Emerging Artist Award in 2014. She is represented by Gallery 78 in Fredericton, New Brunswick, and her art can be found in private collections across North America. She lives and works in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, Canada.
 

www.monicalacey.com

Studio

Studio

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

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