Joseph Amodei – Chapel Hill, North Carolina

‘Skrojo Wall’ Snapchat Photos 9’x6’ 2014 video documentation: https://youtu.be/hKT2_lATi-w

‘Skrojo Wall’ Snapchat Photos 9’x6’ 2014 video documentation: https://youtu.be/hKT2_lATi-w

Briefly describe the work you do. 

I make work because I find the creative reorganization of culturally relevant ideas to be an effective way in which to reveal and interrogate the assumptions often held by myself and those around me. Under the scope of this broader agenda, my recent work has dealt with narrative, technology, and the limits of public space by undertaking seemingly banal rituals, initiating performative encounters, incorporating subversively dark humor, and creating opportunities for small moments of meaningful interaction. The last part, creating small meaningful moments of interaction, is what I think most of my work boils down to. The focus and process towards that end changes depending on my current interests – ranging from your basic Snapchat emission to searching for a meaningful existence in a precarious, late capitalist society – and tries to create jolting moments of reflection based on my perceptions while trying to maintain an understanding of my own limits, privileges and biases and how those elements affect the work I can make.

Tell us about your background and how that has had an influence on your work and on you as an artist.

While I was born in New York, I grew up and went to college in Chapel Hill, NC. I am the oldest of four siblings, whom I am very close to, and our mom, a single parent and pediatric nurse, raised us. Learning about some of the financial difficulties we faced while growing up in a fairly affluent college town where most of the other white people were from comfortable backgrounds has led to socioeconomic disparity reoccurring as a theme in my work. While this theme is not always literally a focus point, it has led me to explore and question the assumed performative and structural languages that ground members of some classes and not others – e.g. the typical narrative film language, racial and gender privileges or access to technology that is only seemingly possessed by everyone, to name a few.

‘Junket Device: Falsehood and Kindness’ Semi-narrative Film Still (15 minutes) 2013-2014 Video: https://youtu.be/8XDTcZP7JsU

‘Junket Device: Falsehood and Kindness’
Semi-narrative Film Still (15 minutes)
2013-2014
Video: https://youtu.be/8XDTcZP7JsU

The concept of the artist studio has a broad range of meanings in contemporary practice. Artists may spend much of their time in the actual studio, or they may spend very little time in it. Tell us about your individual studio practice and how it differs from or is the same as traditional notions of “being in the studio.”

For me the practice of ‘being in the studio’ is something that fluctuates; I do not always have a dedicated studio space, yet I always have a dedicated practice. When I have a studio, I tend to collect things/junk in order to store them and experiment with them as props for a video or pieces for an installation. When I do not have a physical space, my studio exists in a series of folders on my computer made up of links and readings, video files and photos, an archive of old/long-term projects and lists of things to do. While this lack of consistency does not mesh with the traditional ideas of being a studio artist, I like to take the Kaprowian concept of bringing art and life together as a studio methodology for my practice. I like to think that my body, and its everyday interactions and movements, have me in the studio almost all the time.

What roles do you find yourself playing that you may not have envisioned yourself in when you first started making art?

Well, my first creative interest was perhaps music, but my primary pursuit prior to art was theatrical lighting design. Due to this, when I first started making art, I didn’t fully acknowledge or realize that what I was doing was art. I now have a broader definition of what art can be (for myself at least) than I did when I first started, so making work from the situation of an individual, and outside of a specifically collaborative context is a role I did not imagine myself inhabiting when I first set out on a creative path.

When do you find is the best time to make art? Do you set aside a specific time everyday or do you have to work whenever time allows?

I have a pretty erratic schedule. I am a freelance projection/lighting designer and technician by trade. This means some weeks I get ‘off’ and others I am preoccupied with work that pays my bills non-stop. This lack of consistency in schedule is sometimes a dream and sometimes just plain annoying. So, while I cannot set aside time everyday, in return I occasionally get to set aside all day for my artwork. Plus, I find working in the more collaborative arts very generative for the more individualistic part of my practice, and vice versa; this means that I can be said to be ‘working’ even when I’m not making things for a dedicated project. That being said, my focus is at its best in the morning, and some of my oddest and maybe more interesting ideas reveal themselves late into sleep-deprived nights, whether at tech rehearsal or during a video editing binge.

‘What You Want, What You expect’ Video, QR code stickers that launch video (2 minutes) 2014 video: https://youtu.be/blB_wW4BbRI

‘What You Want, What You expect’
Video, QR code stickers that launch video (2 minutes)
2014
video: https://youtu.be/blB_wW4BbRI

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

Five years ago, I was pretty into trying on different hats. I thought I was solely a lighting designer, or perhaps a video artist – no wait, a performance artist… now, I am more comfortable embracing the title and practice of inter/multidisciplinary artist, which coincidently is what remains the same in the sense that I have always worked in multivalent channels. Still, the clarity and acceptance of this has strengthened my work, instead of it being an unproductive, stressful facet. I also think my work has gotten generally ‘better’, neater and a little bit more personal over the past five years, and I hope the same will be true for the next five.

How have people such as family, friends, writers, philosophers, other artists or even pop icons had an impact on the work you do?

Of course they have! I do not believe in the archaic idea of the lone genius artist one bit. I do, however, think there are passionate people who happen to have friends, and if they are lucky that expands into community. I will not spend a lot of time spewing off a large list of influences (although I am grateful to them), but I want to give a special shout out to my family and friends who support and motivate me to, well, work on my work.

Have you ever been pulled in the direction of a pursuit other than being an artist? What are your other interests? 

I am pulled in many directions all the time. I consider my interest and experience in theater to be part of what makes me an artist, but I understand that some people see that as another direction separate from ‘being an artist.’ I also am very interested in the goings on in the news, and work as co-coordinator of an experimental audio documentary show called WXYC-reports (find our station at www.wxyc.org). So, to not avoid answering the question of another pursuit I have been pulled towards, I would say journalism – but once again, I also consider that art in many circumstances. I also enjoy biking, cooking (especially seafood), and I also play guitar in a ghost-folk band called ‘Swee-T and The HushPuppies.’

About

HeadShot_AmodeiJosephJoseph Amodei is a video/performance/installation artist and theatrical designer living and working in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. His work often explores themes of technology, ritual, public space and language – with the ever-present aim of (re)contextualizing the present in order to provoke thought about the under and overlooked. Joseph received his BFA in studio art from The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

detail shot_Skrojo Wall

jamodei.com

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

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Anna Campbell – New York, New York & Grand Rapids, Michigan

Passing baseball bat, 2 x 4, garters 2’ w x 1’ d x 8’ h 2014

Passing
baseball bat, 2 x 4, garters
2’ w x 1’ d x 8’ h
2014

Briefly describe the work you do. 

Across a range of site-specific practice that mines sites both physical and imaginary, I use installation, sculptural and found objects, and video projection to expand the possibilities of representation for queer bodies and what forms of embodiment count as “heroic” vs. “failed.”  Abstracted and altered references to domestic spaces, athletes, gay bars and building construction poach key signifiers of masculinity and heteronormativity and open them onto new attachments of possibility and desire from what might seem otherwise like static legacies.

Tell us about your background and how that has had an influence on your work and on you as an artist.

A significant focus of my time in college was structured around feminist and queer activism; the first job I got after graduation was with a public arts commission.  As a result, the themes my work addresses, the politics of its methods of production, how it acts, and who it engages have been ongoing concerns.  The criticality of the context of a work’s exhibition has also followed me as a vital concern, causing me to tack back and forth between forms that might be considered precious, and those that might be understood to be more democratically accessible.

vs. Vanitas mirrored acrylic, light bulbs, poplar, electrical cords 24″h x 72″w x 12″d 2014

vs. Vanitas
mirrored acrylic, light bulbs, poplar, electrical cords
24″h x 72″w x 12″d
2014

The concept of the artist studio has a broad range of meanings in contemporary practice. Artists may spend much of their time in the actual studio, or they may spend very little time in it. Tell us about your individual studio practice and how it differs from or is the same as traditional notions of “being in the studio.”

 The studio for me has been a mobile and malleable site – in the last few years I’ve set up shop in Grand Rapids, Brooklyn, Paris, Madison and Manhattan.  The designing, video editing work, and proposal writing that are part of my practice are not surprisingly the most flexible geographically and architecturally.  It’s been important to dedicate domestic space for art production – where I’ve also made work about the domestic space my grandmother carved out for her own creative work – but as a sculptor, it’s also been necessary to connect with institutional or co-working spaces.  Most recently, that has been with Sector 67, a hacker space the founder describes as a gym for making stuff.

What roles do you find yourself playing that you may not have envisioned yourself in when you first started making art?

I never expected to job out any aspects of my work, but given my sweet spot for ephemera-oriented projects, it’s become a critical and integral component of how I work. 

When do you find is the best time to make art? Do you set aside a specific time everyday or do you have to work whenever time allows?

On balance, I prefer working at night and in regular doses, but that’s not always practical.  The important thing seems to be balancing the ratio of studio time to studio administration time.

Runway’s Scaffold/ Tassels’ Sash latex, balsa wood, rubber, jute 12″w x 24″l x 12″h 2014

Runway’s Scaffold/ Tassels’ Sash
latex, balsa wood, rubber, jute
12″w x 24″l x 12″h
2014

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

The center of my practice for many years was creating site-specific installations in politically and historically charged institutions – a natural history museum or former convent, for example.  I used sculptural elements and video projection to deconstruct some of the hierarchies native to those kinds of sites.  What was exciting about that mode of work was also what was most challenging – working improvisationally on a tight turnaround.  Three years ago, I went on sabbatical, and I used the time to take more risks and to make work that can nimbly assimilate itself into multiple sites.  On the surface, the result is that the work is currently more object-oriented than before, but in terms of how I work, I’m able to build the arc of a body of work much more slowly and intuitively, and that has been very productive.

How have people such as family, friends, writers, philosophers, other artists or even pop icons had an impact on the work you do?

My folks made art a key part of my life growing up, and continued their support the more central that field become for me over time.  I studied in Germany for a year during high school; my focus there was on art but even more critical was my host family’s connection to the arts culture of that region, which still bore the mark of having been the stomping grounds of Joseph Beuys.  In terms of an attraction to the chaotic, utopic, world-making, authorial voice that can be expressed through an art practice, one of the most important sparks came from a childhood of Saturday mornings watching Pee-Wee’s Playhouse; a collection of model playhouses and a proto-installation were early expressions of that attraction.

Have you ever been pulled in the direction of a pursuit other than being an artist? What are your other interests? 

In some ways, being an academic has been quite distinct from being an artist – some of my colleagues might say one is always already being pulled in different directions.  At different moments, the escape hatch of tattoo artist and graphic designer have looked incredibly seductive, but the space to determine the parameters of a practice made possible by making art in the academy continues to have a strong hold.

About

campbell_headshotUsing sculpture and site-specific installation interwoven with video projection, Anna Campbell’s work deconstructs otherwise clearly legible signifiers of masculinity and heteronormativity in the service of illustrating alternate histories of attachment and desire. Campbell maintains an active exhibition record including solo exhibits at BOSI Contemporary in New York, Tractionarts in LA, and the Window Into Houston at the Blaffer Art Museum in Houston, Texas, as well as group exhibits at Seoul National University of Science and Technology in South Korea, Queens College Art Center in New York, and the Hyde Park Art Center in Chicago, and a forthcoming group exhibit, Bound, at the Center for Book Arts, New York.. She earned a BA in Studio Art from the College of Wooster and an MFA in Sculpture from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Campbell teaches sculpture, installation and curation as Associate Professor in the Art & Design Department at Grand Valley State University in Michigan.  During the 2014-2015 academic year, she served as Visiting Associate Professor/ Artist in Residence at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, teaching courses on feminist and queer art practices, publics and projection, and curation.

Vanishing Point (detail) balsa wood, mylar helium balloon, ribbon, nylon hardware 36” l x 2” d x 8’ h  2014

Vanishing Point (detail)
balsa wood, mylar helium balloon, ribbon, nylon hardware
36” l x 2” d x 8’ h
2014

annacampbell.net

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

Posted in Feminist Art, Sculpture | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Broc Toft – Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Short Stack, Mixed Media, 12"x12"x7", 2014

Short Stack, Mixed Media, 12″x12″x7″, 2014

Briefly describe the work you do. 

My current body of work consists of seemingly simple objects that sit on walls and tables awaiting our approach. We move and are moved by the breaking down of our assumptions, which leads to a reinvestigation of the work in proximity. In Jane Bennett’s book Vibrant Matter, she describes “thing-power” as, “the strange ability of ordinary, man-made items to exceed their status as objects.” These “things” begin to reveal their personalities through their movements and affect us in unexpected ways. The materials, their gestures, and sounds speak to the active or potentially energized “stuff” that inhabits all things. They ask us to pay attention to the unnoticed, to the un-thought, to things’ liveliness and ours.

On the flip-side, the majority of the work is driven by Arduinos hidden within the objects. Some of the objects have sensors and react to our presence in different ways. Others don’t react at all. Most of the objects use just a single servo to move the outer components. Some of my other pieces use the Xbox 360 kinect along with a projector, while others are manually driven by cranks or pulleys. The work “works” best when experienced in relation to other objects and people, allowing for varied interpretations and experiences. This gives us a heightened sense of what humans and non-humans are capable of.

Breezy with (and because of) Branch, Mixed Media, Variable Dimensions, 2015

Breezy with (and because of) Branch, Mixed Media, Variable Dimensions, 2015

Tell us about your background and how that has had an influence on your work and on you as an artist.

High school art class had a very large impact on me. It allowed me a freedom and potential the other classes severely lacked. I would say I started getting a little more serious attending Minnesota State University, Mankato making ceramics back in 2008. The amazing ability of clay to become anything fascinated me, but I never really knew what to make. After I learned how to slip-cast ceramics I started making multiples. I started thinking about these multiples as pixels which allowed me to create different installations with what were essentially the same parts, but assembled differently at each showing. When I got into graduate school at University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, I began to realize that clay was too slow of a material to work with. I had always been interested in hiding the hand of the artist, trying to make each piece as seamless as possible. Wood seemed to be a much better option, as it provided me with a plethora of tools to make very precise cuts, allowing my forms to look almost machined. And yet I’m still very tied to the relationship we have with nature and the objects in the world around us.

The concept of the artist studio has a broad range of meanings in contemporary practice. Artists may spend much of their time in the actual studio, or they may spend very little time in it. Tell us about your individual studio practice and how it differs from or is the same as traditional notions of “being in the studio.”

Working primarily with wood, I am tied to using one of two wood shops available to me. I would say my current practice is in line with traditional notions of “being in the studio.” Even when I’m working with Arduinos and the mechanisms that literally drive the work, I am in my studio. It feels good to get up in the morning, make a cup of coffee and head out to my studio space. When I get home at night, I have two friendly cats waiting for me. Keeping the studio mostly separate from my home life allows me to breathe a little (at both places).

What roles do you find yourself playing that you may not have envisioned yourself in when you first started making art?

I had a fantastic opportunity to teach for one year back in Minnesota. I had always wanted to teach art, and it was a great experience for me. I quickly found out that it is difficult for me to manage a class full of students. Now that I’m in graduate school, I’m not so sure about teaching anymore. Currently I am a project assistant in the sculpture lab at UWM. At times I find myself teaching students how to use tools, and other times I’m patching walls or making butcher block tables. At this point, teaching or being a lab tech would both be wonderful opportunities for me in the future.

When do you find is the best time to make art? Do you set aside a specific time everyday or do you have to work whenever time allows?

I find that I’m the most productive if I get up early and get into the studio by 7 AM. I try to set aside large chunks of time in order to get into “the zone.” Some days of the week I don’t even try make it to the studio. Reading, writing, and thinking have become an essential part of my practice and usually take over the non-studio days.

Breezy with (and because of) Branch, Mixed Media, Variable Dimensions, 2015

Breezy with (and because of) Branch, Mixed Media, Variable Dimensions, 2015

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

I feel like my work has changed drastically over the past five years. When I started making ceramic pieces I thought I wanted to be a potter. Now I’m making wooden sculptures that seem as if they’ve achieved independence from their human counterparts. Then again, my work has always been a thinking in and around man versus machine, natural versus artificial. Before using ceramic objects to allude to pixels, and now wood as a natural kind of machine-like object, at times aware of the viewer’s presence. I’d say overall the work has been progressively more refined and thought out as compared to five years ago.

How have people such as family, friends, writers, philosophers, other artists or even pop icons had an impact on the work you do?

I feel like my graduate school experience in general has impacted my current work on multiple levels. My graduate committee helps to push me in directions I wouldn’t think of going; asking the right questions, prodding me this way or that. Recent classes I’ve taken have allowed me to explore different media and processes to expand not only my knowledge of the material but also skills with particular materials.

Currently I’m deep into graduate level theory courses. This past semester I’ve been reading Brian Massumi, Richard Grusin, and Silvan Tomkins to name a few. Not too long ago I was reading Jane Bennett and Mel Chen. All of these theorist have provided interesting thoughts in relation to what my work is trying to think through.

Have you ever been pulled in the direction of a pursuit other than being an artist? What are your other interests? 

Video games are a big interest of mine, but making a career out of them would prove difficult. I really enjoy working with wood. I could see myself being a carpenter, cabinet maker, or maybe a shop tech if my art career takes a sudden turn. I very much enjoyed my coffee shop job and would like to start my own some day. Otherwise, living on a commune is an option.

About

toftb_headshotBroc Toft is currently a candidate for the MFA degree in inter-media at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Peck School of the Arts, Department of Art and Design. He received his BFA in ceramics at MNSU Mankato in 2012. Drawn to repetition, kinetic art, and vital materiality, Broc asks us to look again at our surroundings and their potentials through and with material and movement. He has exhibited at MNSU in Mankato, MN, NCECA in Seattle, WA, The Exit Gallery in Bozeman, MT, and Northern Clay Center in Minneapolis, MN.

detail_inner_of_OneOr0

broctoft.com

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

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Taylor Pilote – Tampa, Florida

slabside slide fiberglass, reproduction taillight, tire, automotive paint, LEDs  36"x60"x24" 2014

slabside slide
fiberglass, reproduction taillight, tire, automotive paint, LEDs
36″x60″x24″
2014

Briefly describe the work you do. 

Through my engagement with automotive and motorcycle culture and the use of the technical skill set inherent to them I strive to create a platform in which to explore contemporary issues and describe them visually through material. This engagement ultimately leads to the exploration of what it means to be a young, reckless male navigating through contemporary culture with high art interests and a low brow upbringing. The product, usually a three dimensional object, becomes a catalyst for thought through pointed material decisions.

Tell us about your background and how that has had an influence on your work and on you as an artist.

I am a shop rat. My father is an automotive paint and body man by trade; consequently I grew up quite literally in the shop. My first in-depth interaction with the use of material, shape, form, and volume resulted from direct contact with automobiles. Viewing life through this lens allows me to weigh the dualities of contemporary culture, utilizing the blue collar skill set I inherited as a young man in the shop. Custom car culture arose from the inequalities of blue and white collar life. Those who couldn’t afford the Cadillac took it upon themselves, through hard work, to stand out from the crowd by souping up their Chevrolets. The hard work of those trying to keep up with the jones’ created a cultural aesthetic approach that continues to enthrall me to this day. This is the type of ground up, hard working mentality that serves my studio practice on a daily basis.

the most happy fella fiberglass, reproduction headlights, chrome hood bullets, automotive paint, LEDs 84"x60"x30" 2014

the most happy fella
fiberglass, reproduction headlights, chrome hood bullets, automotive paint, LEDs
84″x60″x30″
2014

The concept of the artist studio has a broad range of meanings in contemporary practice. Artists may spend much of their time in the actual studio, or they may spend very little time in it. Tell us about your individual studio practice and how it differs from or is the same as traditional notions of “being in the studio.”

I operate in a live/work space that I renovated in a warehouse building in Tampa, FL consisting of a 1500 square foot studio space and a 500 square foot loft living space. Growing up, both of my parents were self employed and as a result, their places of work became like residencies for my brother and I. The hours spent at my fathers automotive shop as well as my mothers hair dressing salon instilled in me a work ethic that melded work with life. As a result my studio practice tows that line. Aside from my phone, I have no TV or internet service which forces me to do what I have always done, tinker with and make things in the shop. Whether that means tuning the carburetor on my motorcycle or laying fiberglass on the most recent sculpture, the art practice and my inner gear-head continually converse providing unique insight to each facet of my studio production. 

What roles do you find yourself playing that you may not have envisioned yourself in when you first started making art?

Growing up I had very little exposure to fine art. I was a good drawer and painter, but lacked any art historical knowledge until I was barraged by it during my undergraduate studies. At that point I was humbled by my deficiency and have continually worked to broaden that knowledge base as it has come to feed my studio practice conceptually. Reading is not a usual pastime growing up in the shop aside from shop manuals, magazines and parts diagrams (which also inform my work) but I have made it a priority for my personal studio practice. I guess I did not envision becoming a perpetual student and how well the conceptual research aspect of my studio practice could serve the material outcomes.

When do you find is the best time to make art? Do you set aside a specific time everyday or do you have to work whenever time allows?

I work in bursts. My work is typically a realization of fairly detailed sketches. The sketches come first in large waves. Due to the material costs of each of my projects, I feel the need to work the ideas out on paper to flush out questions and concerns both technically and conceptually.

The point at which I decide to start one project over the other varies. I can be a completely monetary decision, an upcoming show, or simply finding the exact material or object necessary for sale on craigslist (I am an avid craigslist scanner). Once the project or projects are set in place I usually work non stop to get them realized. Due to the intense physical labor of grinding, cutting, filling, sanding and finishing the cycle repeats itself with a new wave of sketches.

they see me rollin' General Electric Dryer, 20" chrome rim, chrome trim, LEDs 30"x30"x42" 2012

they see me rollin’
General Electric Dryer, 20″ chrome rim, chrome trim, LEDs
30″x30″x42″
2012

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

Graduate school provided the change of scenery and focused research necessary to take my work to the next level. The dislocation from Canada to Florida was a great turning point in my practice. Florida is a crazy wild upside down place in which to live, let alone be a cultural producer. The weather allows for the custom car and motorcycle scene to flourish year round which suited my practice well. During my time at the University of South Florida, I was lucky to have great  professors and peers that really helped unpack a lot of hangups in my practice. It was through their collaborations that I was able to more fluidly meld the automotive side of my upbringing with my fine art interests to create a dialogue in my studio practice that has continued to propel me forward. Now almost 3 years out of grad school, the same dialogue continues to stir and surprise me. Einstein said that a hypothesis never really provides answers but instead creates exponentially more questions. I would like to think that each piece I make acts in this same way, driving me exponentially towards further pieces.

How have people such as family, friends, writers, philosophers, other artists or even pop icons had an impact on the work you do?

I have spoken a lot about my childhood and family, without that upbringing I physically could not make the type of work I am making and I am truly lucky to have such a supportive parents and family.

My wife Kara is super supportive. A former professor and someone I look up to, Iain Baxter&, told me that to keep making(artistically), you have to find someone who will put up with and even support you artistic antics, Kara does that and more.

 The artists I look at are all over the board including and not in any particular order Harley Earl, Erwin Wurm, Dali, Ken Price, Ed Keinholtz, Ed Big Daddy Roth, Kenneth Howard, Liz Cohen, Robert Williams, Maurizio Cattelan, and the list goes on.

I continue to gather influence from custom car and motorcycle magazines though literarily, Dave Hickey’s book Air Guitar would probably stand out paramount among readings that have shaped my practice, specifically the essay“The Birth of the Big Beautiful Art Market”. The explanation of how the post-war era “finned” automobile design changed the minds of the public from wanting A car to wanting THAT car is the crux of my interest in cultural aesthetics.

Have you ever been pulled in the direction of a pursuit other than being an artist? What are your other interests? 

Growing up in the shop and making good MONEY in a utilitarian trade will always try to pull you from the glamorous position of starving artist. I had the grades to go to college for mechanical engineering. Quitting that to go to art school may have been the best decision of my life! The technical and entrepreneurial skill sets I learned from both of my parents (who are extremely hard and meticulous workers) have served me better than any college degree. Those skills when put into action through fabricating for other artists, literally paid for both of my BFA and MFA degrees. 

Aside from my studio practice I play hockey a couple times a week, try to go fishing when I can and I tinker with cars and motorcycles. I’m working on a few older Harleys and my 68 chevy C-10 pickup currently.

About

taylor_pilote_headshotTaylor Pilote (b. 1985, Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada) received his BFA from the LeBeL School of visual arts at the University of Windsor, Ontario, Canada and his MFA from the University of South Florida in Tampa. His work has been featured at the Canadian Sculpture Society, Toronto, the Salvador Dali Museum, St. Petersburg, FL, and represented in ArtMRKT Hamptons in Bridgehampton, NY as well as Scope, Spectrum and Select Fairs in Miami. He was a speaker at Tedx TampaBay in 2010.The artist lives and works in Tampa, FL.

TaylorPilotestudioshot

taylorpilote.com 

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

 

 

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Rachael Banks – Dallas, Texas

Rachael Banks, Bo Jackson, 2015, Archival Pigment Print, 20"x30"

Rachael Banks, Bo Jackson, 2015, Archival Pigment Print, 20″x30″

Briefly describe the work you do.

I am a fine art photographer making work about human experience, relationships, and place. My most recent and ongoing series, Between Home and Here investigates notions of home and family in my birth city Louisville, KY. Currently, I live in Dallas, TX and recently graduated with an MFA in photography from Texas Woman’s University. I received a BA in photography and painting from Bellarmine University in Louisville, KY.

Tell us about your background and how that has had an influence on your work and on you as an artist.

I grew up in a city I wanted to get out of (like a lot of young people) and thought that going to college was the only way to do so. I had always loved school and making art but never thought that the two would work together. In undergraduate school, I met my mentor Laura Hartford, who was (and still is) not only a profoundly inspirational artist, but also an outstanding educator. Before Laura, I never thought I could be in school and still be an artist. My experience as an undergraduate art student taught me that I had the potential to go to graduate school and not only grow as an artist, but also an educator. I made the big move from Kentucky to Texas where I got my MFA in photography at Texas Woman’s University. My graduate mentor, Susan kae Grant and all of my graduate program peers helped inspire and mold how I see myself as both an artist and teacher. Being both an artist and educator are important to me because my experience in school is what gave me the confidence to pursue art. When I was a freshman in college, my dad had converted my closet into a darkroom and birthday gifts turned into film and camera gear. My little sister (Taylor) frequently let me photograph her (patiently) when I was first exploring portraiture and still supports me a great deal. I am fortunate to have started with such a strong support system.

Rachael Banks, Haley, 2015, Archival Pigment Print, 30"x40"

Rachael Banks, Haley, 2015, Archival Pigment Print, 30″x40″

The concept of the artist studio has a broad range of meanings in contemporary practice. Artists may spend much of their time in the actual studio, or they may spend very little time in it. Tell us about your individual studio practice and how it differs from or is the same as traditional notions of “being in the studio.”

My actual studio is very minimalistic and is a space for printing, retouching, and sequencing. I spend time in my studio every day because it is a designated space that allows me to work and even if I am doodling shot ideas or editing an image, it is an environment that prompts me to be productive. I also keep my book and record collection in my studio which on occasion inspires ideas for new work but also allows for my studio to be a therapeutic space.

What roles do you find yourself playing that you may not have envisioned yourself in when you first started making art?

I never thought about how important being an educator would become for me. My decision to go to graduate school was for the opportunity to learn and grow more as an artist but also to be able to teach. Before, I had always identified as being an artist first and foremost. Now, I consider myself to be equal artist and educator but it can be difficult to balance the two. Sometimes I spend more time acting as one and other times the other. One of the most empowering things about being an educator is that I am surrounded by other creatives and am always learning from my students.

When do you find is the best time to make art? Do you set aside a specific time everyday or do you have to work whenever time allows?

Time management is a very important aspect of my work right now. Currently, I am based out of Dallas, TX and my ongoing work is based out of Louisville, KY. I specifically schedule times for traveling, shooting, editing, and printing. Sometimes, I only have a three day turn around between shooting and 30 hours of driving. Strict scheduling and working habits have helped to alleviate most of the stress from this working methodology. When I am not working on Between Home and Here, I spend my free time on printmaking and alternative photo process work. I try to do something every day, even if it’s something I end up not using.

Rachael Banks, Taylor, 2015, Archival Pigment Print, 30"x40"

Rachael Banks, Taylor, 2015, Archival Pigment Print, 30″x40″

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

In a lot of ways and not in a lot of ways. Up until a couple years ago, I only photographed myself and now I do the opposite. I am still interested in self-portraiture, but am more interested in the people I am surrounded by. My style of shooting has always been partially intuitive and directed. Early on, I used to work very intuitively and during unconventional hours, but lately it is has been beneficial for me to maintain a more disciplined schedule. I find it interesting that my recent work revisits a place that I wanted to escape in my early work.

How have people such as family, friends, writers, philosophers, other artists or even pop icons had an impact on the work you do?

My biggest influences are my friends and family. There are not many baby photographs of my mother and I because she was constantly documenting my childhood. I was introduced to the camera at a very early age. The work I make is about my own life and loved ones so they are a great impact on who I am as an artist. I also greatly inspired by a number of contemporary photographers such as Lydia Panas, Laura Hartford, Ashley Kauschinger, Aaron Blum, Jennifer McClure, and Kelli Connell, to name a few..If I could go on, the list would be pages long. I photographed my little brother (Michael) for the first time last summer and he has turned into one of my most poignant muses. I find that I am especially fortunate to be surrounded by so many loved ones who happen to be talented artists as well.

Have you ever been pulled in the direction of a pursuit other than being an artist? What are your other interests?

If I wasn’t an artist I would have pursued medicine. I’m fascinated by science and the human body. Being able to help people and give back to a community as a doctor would have been an added bonus to being able to work in a field that is so intriguing to me. I am also very interested in literature, specifically creative writing and poetry. Writing is still very important to me and I try to write as much as I can in my spare time.

About

BanksRachael_HeadshotRachael Banks is a Louisville, KY native and Dallas, TX resident. She received her MFA in photography from Texas Woman’s University and Bachelor of Arts degree in photography and painting at Bellarmine University in Louisville, KY.

Rachael Banks’ work deals heavily with personal human experience and explores notions of identity, place, and relationships. Her work has been shown nationally, regionally, and internationally and has been featured in Prism Magazine, Posi+Tive Magazine, Supersition Review, Feature Shoot, Lensculture, and have shown in exhibitions at PhotoPlace Gallery, Darkroom Gallery, The Center for Fine Art Photography, the Kinsey Institute, and online with Professional Women Photographers.

Currently, Rachael Banks is a working artist and adjunct photography professor in the DFW area of Texas.

BanksRachael_Studio

rachaelbanksphoto.com

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

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Jonpaul Smith – Cincinnati, Ohio

Covered Box open with Three Warriors, mixed-media, varied dimensions, 2014

Covered Box open with Three Warriors, mixed-media, varied dimensions, 2014

Briefly describe the work you do. 

I consider my process to be one of gathering and disseminating information, rooted in the paper scraps and ephemera of our consumer culture.  As I create and gather this material/information I begin combining this seemingly unrelated material into an almost assemblage like form.  Once one of these assemblages is created I begin another in response to the first.  I try to create a conversation between the two assemblages; whether this is through imagery or solely based in aesthetic color choices.  After the two assemblages exist, I hand cut them with a razor blade and straightedge into strips.  These strips are kept organized and then the two separate images/collages are woven together creating the final work.  A complex, tapestry-like construct, made up of hundreds of interwoven strips of discarded consumer packaging, original traditional and non-traditional prints, gouache paintings, smoke transfers and other paper ephemera.   Which similarly make use of (and, in a sense, refine) pop culture imagery.

Family Ties, paper construct, 30x42in, 2014

Family Ties, paper construct, 30x42in, 2014

Tell us about your background and how that has had an influence on your work and on you as an artist.

Growing up in a small town in north central Indiana where craft is appreciated has given me an innate interest in art versus craft, and the dialog inherent to that discussion.  As a child I always admired and watched my mother create beautiful things.  The blending of traditional craftsmanship with modern technology surrounded me.  My family also owned a liquor store and I was inundated by the resulting consumer packaging at an early age.  I found the process intriguing of how my father would display the products to the masses in organized rows and detailed color grid patterns; consequently making me acutely aware of peoples’ brand loyalty.  My fascination with the system of creating product for consumer consumption is also continually fueled by my wife who currently works in packaging design. 

The concept of the artist studio has a broad range of meanings in contemporary practice. Artists may spend much of their time in the actual studio, or they may spend very little time in it. Tell us about your individual studio practice and how it differs from or is the same as traditional notions of “being in the studio.”

The gathering of materials, ideas, inspiration and etc., happens anytime-anywhere.  Allowing oneself to be open to inspiration from the innate and mundane of this man-made and natural world is a huge draw for me.  When it comes to the creation of my work – the true tactile creation part of my art production – my studio practice then follows along the lines of what is considered the traditional. 

What roles do you find yourself playing that you may not have envisioned yourself in when you first started making art?

The older I become the more I realize life is a series of ever changing roles that we step in and out of.  In relation to my art it would be the role of entrepreneur.  Besides the actually creation of the work as my main focus the logistics of the “business of art”; crating and shipping work for shows and keeping up with communication.  Learning from and being open to these new roles as they pass through my life has only had an overall positive impact on my work and professional development. 

When do you find is the best time to make art? Do you set aside a specific time everyday or do you have to work whenever time allows?   

I like to keep business hours in my studio, a true 9-6 work day in relation to the production of my work.  This schedule changes with the ebb and flow of daily life but for the most part it is what I maintain when possible.  However the many steps of gathering information, inspiration, sketch booking and other such avenues of my creative process have no set hours.  Much like the time required with each work/show is different. 

A Few Favorites, paper construct, 30x42in, 2014

A Few Favorites, paper construct, 30x42in, 2014

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

It is more of a refinement in the expression of my conceptual intent within my work that has mostly changed over the last five years.  My work always seems to circle around similar topics and chooses to express itself through varied mediums at different times.  However there is always a thread of continuum throughout my work but the change and evolution of my work over time is a natural part of artistic expansion. 

How have people such as family, friends, writers, philosophers, other artists or even pop icons had an impact on the work you do?­­­ 

Much of my inspiration are these disjointed, unaligned interests that wax and wane over time.  There have been instructors in my past which made a great impact.  Setting a tone of professionalism in the approach of my work I still carry with me.  My Mother and her creation of beautiful objects which always filled me with awe and inspired me to create;  disliking  most of what our consumer driven world creates but being astonished by the breadth of human creativity;  “Pop” culture of yesterday and today, and the natural world and its unending complexity of form and variety.  Really the list is long and ever expanding. 

Have you ever been pulled in the direction of a pursuit other than being an artist? What are your other interests? 

Yes, definitely.  However being an artist in my life is a solid unbroken line.  I feel myself like many artists out of either academic pursuits or pure survival have been pulled in a multitude of directions.  I have been a landscaper, bartender, tinsmith, retail employee, prepator, teacher, and on & on… but always still an artist.  Allowing me to drift from that solid unbroken line is what allows me to explore other pursuits of life.    

About

headshotSmith received his M.F.A. and Graduate Certificate in Museum Studies from the University of Cincinnati. His B.A. is from Hanover College in Indiana and he also studied fine arts at the University of Wollongong in Australia. Smith frequently conducts visiting artist seminars, has received numerous grant awards and scholarships, and completed a residency and exhibition in Budapest, Hungary and Paducah, Kentucky. He has been featured in many prominent solo exhibitions, private and public collections and has been selected twice for “New American Paintings Juried Exhibition-in-Print.” Smith is currently the Working Artist in Residence at Tiger Lily Press in Cincinnati, OH.

Working on First Twenty-Five

jonpaulcsmith.com

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

 

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Ashley Cummock-Rose – Boston, Massachusetts

 “Finding Bigfoot,” oil on canvas, 3 ft. x 4 ft., 2015

“Finding Bigfoot,” oil on canvas, 3 ft. x 4 ft., 2015

Briefly describe the work you do. 

My work explores personal narratives that revolve around the choices we make at key life junctures. Currently, my artwork represents a means for me to explore my alternate selves who did not chose to be become an artist. I present these narratives in soft oil painting glazes which lighten the overall mood of the paintings and elicit feelings of joy from the viewer; thus, creating a juxtaposition of my own fears and doubts with their enjoyment of the work. While I consider myself primarily a painter, I have branched out to sculpture, installation, woodworking, and graphic design. For instance, to construct narratives, I use Photoshop as a tool to alter images and create a digital composition before the painting process.

During my graduate studies I have maintained a blog that focuses on sharing art tips, and introducing artists to a wider audience, my mission statement: “my artwork, helpful art tips, and inspiring artists” (www.AshleyCummock.com).

“Allegory of War,” oil on canvas, 3 ft. x 5 ft., 2015

“Allegory of War,” oil on canvas, 3 ft. x 5 ft., 2015

Tell us about your background and how that has had an influence on your work and on you as an artist.

My paintings have been inspired by my own past experiences and relationships. In college I was on a path studying science before deciding to pursue a life as an artist. Like many people, I struggled with that decision then and now, always harboring a seed of doubt about the choice I made. Recently, I have used my artwork as a means for me to explore my alternate selves who did not chose to become an artist. Through my paintings I humorously present childhood dreams that depict me becoming a doctor, living amongst the animals, or going on great adventures. 

I also rely on my liberal arts education to address topics that I found interesting during my studies, particularly of Greek mythology. I have made several works where I reimagine ancient myths with myself and/or contemporary celebrities (e.g., Martha Stewart and Donald Trump). Obscuring Greek myths or historical works of art with relatable figures allows my works to speak to viewers whether or not they have an art history background, which is something I find very important

The concept of the artist studio has a broad range of meanings in contemporary practice. Artists may spend much of their time in the actual studio, or they may spend very little time in it. Tell us about your individual studio practice and how it differs from or is the same as traditional notions of “being in the studio.”

Currently my apartment doubles as my studio, enabling me to spend as much time as possible during the day working on my paintings. Being at home also gives me access to the tools (e.g., Photoshop) I use to create digital compositions that guide my paintings. Being within steps of my computer, printer, and canvas allows me to seamlessly update and change my work. Additionally, I try to work on different aspects of 3 to 4 paintings at a time, as I feel variety keeps my works fresh, and working in my apartment enables me to work on a piece at any given moment when inspiration strikes.

What roles do you find yourself playing that you may not have envisioned yourself in when you first started making art?

I never thought that would be exposing my own ambitions, both realized and not, so openly to the public. My early work abstracted the meanings behind my works offering me a layer of protection, but now I am prominently displayed in my work – exposing my own personal doubts and fears about my chosen career. I hope that my artwork can help others look within themselves and remember the dreams they had as children. I keep these dreams as part of me through my paintings, perhaps I can inspire others to keep their dreams alive as well in their chosen path of life.

When do you find is the best time to make art? Do you set aside a specific time everyday or do you have to work whenever time allows?

I find that inspiration to work a particular piece can come at any given time, so I don’t limit the time of day in which I paint. Because my apartment doubles as my studio, I find that being close to my work enables me to complete my visions before they fade.

“Me Pretending to be Jane Goodall,” oil on canvas, 3 ft. x 2 ft., 2015

“Me Pretending to be Jane Goodall,” oil on canvas, 3 ft. x 2 ft., 2015

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

My work has evolved tremendously over the past five years, in both the style and subject manner. My older work focused on landscapes and sitting portraits, the composition of these works was simple and the brush strokes were heavy. When I moved from the San Francisco bay area to Madison, WI I began to create complex surrealist paintings that were in the style of Neo Rauch. I am very proud of the subject manner and narratives of these paintings, but my lines were still heavy and my characters were flat.

In graduate school I found my stride by simplifying narratives and painting in much softer oil glazes, giving the characters a sense of depth and not detracting from the composition. Throughout the years I believe the concepts behind the works have been consistently strong; in fact, I am constantly tempted to re-create many of my previous works with a more streamlined composition and consistent style. Nonetheless, I find that I am continuing to grow as an artists and each new work helps me to refine my practice.

How have people such as family, friends, writers, philosophers, other artists or even pop icons had an impact on the work you do?

As a painter interested in science, my earliest muse was Leonardo Da Vinci. More recently, I have been greatly influenced by Neo Rauch, specifically his surrealist composition and style. I find myself constantly studying his work and finding inspiration in the tiniest details. I have also been impacted by the current rise of reality TV and its impact on educational programming. A current work “Finding Bigfoot” deals with the reality that a searching for and failing to find a mythological creature may somehow be a desirable career choice. Lastly, I find inspiration in pop icons, such as Donald Trump and Martha Stewart, because they embody many complexities and contradictions. Using their likenesses in my work helps to relate to the viewer and causes the viewer to ask themselves, do those icons deserve the status they have obtained?

Have you ever been pulled in the direction of a pursuit other than being an artist? What are your other interests? 

As discussed above, I grappled with the decision between art and science in college but ultimately choose art as my life path. This decision has fueled much of the work I am creating today. Besides art, I really enjoy science, particularly medical sciences. I enjoy keeping up with the latest medical trends and breakthroughs and perhaps will apply these concepts into my future works.

About

headshotAshley Cummock-Rose holds a B.A. in Studio Art from Santa Clara University, Santa Clara, California, and is a candidate for a Masters of Fine Arts degree from the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston/Tufts University. She also founded the website AshleyCummock.com “my artwork, helpful art tips, and inspiring artists”.

Bubble From Me Pretending To Be Jane Goodall

Bubble From Me Pretending To Be Jane Goodall (detail)

AshleyCummock.com

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

 

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