Jennifer Omaitz – Kent, Ohio

"Shifting Spaces, " Acrylic on Canvas, 22" x 30", 2014

“Shifting Spaces, ” Acrylic on Canvas, 22″ x 30″, 2014

Briefly describe the work you do.

My work explores states of change between order and chaos that relate to an experience or environmental shift. Painting and Installation Art are modes of communicating the sensitivity to environmental factors; these practices provide me with a cadence and context through which to communicate utopian elegance, or dystopian plight. Installation allows me to explore the constant challenge of shifting my ideas into a new physical space. The work invokes the history of abstraction, architecture, landscape, natural disaster, and a tactile response image making in some way between each type of creative approach.

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

I have always traveled and been influenced by location & experiences. Before I went to art school I was a computer technician and laser light operator for corporate events and underground parties. The experience of coming to a vacant space, enhancing the atmosphere with lights and other visuals, jolting the audience with color and sound felt akin to painting…in some ways. When I was in graduate school I was living between two houses, in two different locations. This displacement affected the way I made work, and still does. Movement is an elixir to the way I create.                                     

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

My work aligns with two opposing ways of creating: producing every element from scratch and making every component by hand and working with the found and rearranging in a new context. 

Painting, or at least the way I paint, occurs in a very traditional space. I am usually situated in a studio, white walls, good light, drawers filled with paint work from layers, fat over lean, usually without a plan or drawing. My sketchbooks are important when I am away from the studio, they allow me access to the main space of creation. And then there is Installation. The gallery/space/site becomes my studio for the duration of the build my studio is on location. I rummage though garbage; collect from odd sources, contact various sources for specific components for the installation and in some cases get to pick items from other artists studios. When I create installations/assemblages my studio is mobile. This collecting process contributes to the content of the work. I usually have to go though a ritualistic type of process which includes isolation to keep focused through the build. Installation art is very, very, physical work; climbing ladders, sometimes hanging from ceilings, pinned underneath sharp objects…fun stuff! 

My paintings have a very finished state; my installations are temporary. These two ways of thinking about when a work of art is “done” and what happens afterwards keep me engaged.

"Tectonic Limit", Mixed Media Installation built for the show "Everything All At Once" Museum of Contemporary Art, Cleveland, Ohio, 2013 . H: 110 W: 130 D: 58

“Tectonic Limit”, Mixed Media Installation built for the show “Everything All At Once” Museum of Contemporary Art, Cleveland, Ohio, 2013 . H: 110 W: 130 D: 58

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

I never thought I would be making installations or teaching. I thought I would just be a quiet painter writing poetry and making images. I remember seeing the work of Sarah Sze when I was in undergrad at the Carnegie International, thinking, she is totally free with how she is interpreting space, playing with material, guiding the viewer, playing with the limitations and inventing new ways of interacting…why can’t I do that? It took me another 6 years before I would give myself the permission needed to answer that question.

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? 

 At night! I have never been a morning person. Although If I am able to work between 9-12 am this time slot seems to have a good cadence with my day. When I paint I have to have a schedule. Painting is a fluid process for me. When I am on location making a work…I just have to have all my materials and copious amounts of coffee, no distractions and no commitments other than making the work. Sculpture/installation is immersive and allows me to focus in a different, more dynamic way. However, finding time is always a challenge.

"Thinking of Pablo", Acrylic on Canvas, 16" x 20", 2014

“Thinking of Pablo”, Acrylic on Canvas, 16″ x 20″, 2014

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

Starting to find comfort in working outside the studio. Since all my installations are created on site in a gallery or gallery like setting I have to be flexible. That was never taught in school. This idea of being flexible and willing to change and idea or placement of an item in the work creates discovery. This is now one of the most exciting components of the work.

My process within painting has changed, but the only constant is having a studio space to create some work. 

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

Artist influences: Gerhard Richter, Lebbeus Woods, Kurt Schwitters, Zaha Hadid, Sarah Sze, and Julie Mehretu. My close artist friends are really the biggest source if inspiration, my artistic community means everything to me.

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

An Architect. Architecture has the capacity to influence the way we behave, live, and create in a profound way. 

About

Omaitz_portraitJennifer Omaitz received her BFA in Painting from the Cleveland Institute of Art and her MFA in Painting from Kent State University. Omaitz has been exhibiting her work in Cleveland and Denver since 2002. Omaitz continues to blend practices of painting, drawing and sculpture in her installations. Her work confronts ideas of interior and exterior, construction and destruction, physical and psychological landscapes. Her most recent exhibition roster includes a site-specific installation commissioned for the 2010 Biennial of the Americas in Denver, Colorado, a solo show with the Sculpture Center, 2011, in Cleveland, OH and was recently was invited in 2013 to make a site specific installation for the exhibition “Everything All At Once,” at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Cleveland.

Omaitz_studio2014

Omaitz.com

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

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Mark H. Cowardin – Lawrence, Kansas

Here & There, 2013 Ebonized Walnut, Paint, Mixed Media, Wood, Silver Leaf, Flocking, & Glitter 58 in. x 23 in. x 16 in. Photo Credit: Aaron Paden

Here & There, 2013
Ebonized Walnut, Paint, Mixed Media, Wood, Silver Leaf, Flocking, & Glitter 58 in. x 23 in. x 16 in.
Photo Credit: Aaron Paden

Briefly describe the work you do.

My work begins with the observation of an absurdity relating to the intersection of humans and the natural world.  I am extraordinarily interested in the disconnect between people and the origins of the things they consume, and how that consumption alters the environment in which we live.   In addition, my current work is an exploration of my personal upbringing – where and how I was raised, and how that affects my worldview. 

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

I grew up in a conservative, rural mid-western area that had been ravaged by mining in the early part of the twentieth century.  My playgrounds were giant mounds of mining tailings, flooded mine shafts, and decaying concrete structures whose original function had long been forgotten.  In essence, my favorite childhood haunts were horrible blights on nature, but to me they were full of magic and beauty.  Much of my current works are multi-layered explorations of these themes.  Another key influence would be that one of the ways I paid for my undergraduate degree was working as a carpenter building houses.  It felt natural for me to merge the techniques I was using on the job-sites to comment on the entire process of the built environment.

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 work whenever I can manage to get time to work.  As a professor, I haul pieces/parts of sculptures back and forth from my home studio to the school studio.  A huge part of my teaching philosophy is wrapped around the idea that I’m an artist first and a teacher second.  It’s my goal to model the art of making as much as profess it.  It has taken me a long time to figure this out, but many of my in class demonstrations are performed on actual pieces that I’m working on.  It’s not unusual to find me before, between, and after classes working on my works right along side my students.  It can be a difficult practice to manage, but my schedule has forced me to become more creative with time management and has made me much more efficient with my time.

Searching For a Toehold, 2012 2x4s, Tarp, & Monofilament Dimensions Variable Photo Credit: Dustin Trey

Searching For a Toehold, 2012 2x4s, Tarp, & Monofilament Dimensions Variable
Photo Credit: Dustin Trey

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

I never set out to become a teacher.  Teaching was an opportunity given to me during graduate school, and I found it to be far more inspiring than I ever expected it to be.  I view my role as a sculpture professor as not only helping to create strong artists, but to help become active participants in arts communities.

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? 

As a father, a husband, and a full-time teacher, dedicated studio time is hard to come by.  My studio is in my backyard, and I make it a general rule to be in the studio everyday.  Some days I may only get into the studio for a few minutes, but I think those brief bits can be incredibly productive.  I’ve often been warned of the dangers associated with having a studio at home, and sometimes it is quite difficult to separate the two.  But for me the perks far outweigh the negatives.  I feel like I am able to very effectively use my time.  I can help get the kids to bed, and still have time to walk out to the studio and accomplish goals. 

I don’t have a set schedule.  Some days I will get up obnoxiously early, and put in a few hours of work before anyone in my house is out of bed.  Other times I’m in the studio until the wee hours of the morning.  More than anything else, I make sure that I’m flexible and that when I hit the studio I use my time as effectively and as efficiently as possible.

Get a Grip, 2012 Ebonized Walnut, Maple, and Paint 49 in. x 29 in. x 20 in. Photo Credit: EG Schempf

Get a Grip, 2012
Ebonized Walnut, Maple, and Paint
49 in. x 29 in. x 20 in.
Photo Credit: EG Schempf

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

Maybe this is due to the fact that I’m a father or the fact that I’m over 40, but I feel that my work has become much more introspective.  I’m still inspired by the same topics of human interaction with the natural world, but I’m putting myself more at the center of that connection.

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

There are many influences I could cite here, but I’m only going to mention a couple.  I think I was very fortunate to have had two incredibly engaged & inspiring art teachers in high school that convinced me early on that art is a legitimate and important field to pursue.  Thanks Al and Marv!

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

Crate builder.  I find the practice of building crates for the shipping and hauling of artwork to be an incredibly meditative and relaxing process.

About

Mark H. Cowardin HeadshotMark Cowardin is a father, a husband, an artist, and an educator. His studio practice consists of an essential and delicate balance of these four jobs. Mark’s sculptural work observes the complicated, sometimes troubling, and always compelling intersection between humans and the natural world. His graceful sculptures juxtapose materials and conflicting ideas, and as a native U.S. Midwesterner, Cowardin examines the complex relationship to natural resources that the Midwest sometimes embodies. The implications of Cowardin’s narratives are sometimes alarming, complex and layered, and often ultimately tinged with yearning for a connection to the past and a hope for the future.

Mark Cowardin received an MFA in sculpture from the University of Arizona and a BFA from the University of Kansas. An Associate Professor of Art at Johnson County Community College in Overland Park, Mark currently resides with his family in Lawrence, Kansas. His work is included in numerous private and public collections including the John Michael Kohler Art Center, Kohler Corporation, the Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art, and Rockhurst University.

Detail It’s All Good, 2014 Kentucky Coffeetree, Mixed Media, Flitter, Wood, & Gold Leaf. 58 in. x 33.5 in. x 17 in. ) It’s All Good, 2014 Kentucky Coffeetree, Mixed Media, Flitter, Wood, & Gold Leaf. 

Detail
It’s All Good, 2014
Kentucky Coffeetree, Mixed Media, Flitter, Wood, & Gold Leaf.
58 in. x 33.5 in. x 17 in. )

All images copyright of the artist and used with their permission. 
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Nancy Grace Horton – Portsmouth, New Hampshire

Blast Off, 2010, Archival Pigment Print, 30x30, 17x17 editions of 10

Blast Off, 2010, Archival Pigment Print, 30×30, 17×17 editions of 10

Briefly describe the work you do.

My photographs are investigations of female gender roles as influenced by American culture and mass media. This body of work is a 21st century extension of feminist concerns regarding the media’s portrayal of women.  More specifically, I am interested in the explicit and implicit power relations that are constructed and maintained by mediatized systems of representation.

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

I started off my career in photography  working as a freelance photojournalist.   In addition, as undergraduate student I was introduced to the video, Killing Us Softly by Jean Kilbourne, which continue to feed my work.   Gender in the media and gendered roles in society, including my own profession, have driven me to take notice and speak out about my own impressions as to how our culture continues to objectify and suppress women.

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.”

The notion of the “artist studio” is foreign to me as I do my art making out in the world, outside or on location.   I do spend a fair amount of time in “my studio”.   I create my work on film and utilize contemporary methods, scanning and printing my work.  

Pinned Down, 2012, Archival Pigment Print, 30x30, 17x17 editions of 10

Pinned Down, 2012, Archival Pigment Print, 30×30, 17×17 editions of 10

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

I have had many occasion recently to be invited to lecture about my creative process.  When I first started making photographs, the prospect of lecturing was not a path I originally considered, yet I find it a most rewarding experience discussing the creative process of making my work and the intensions behind it.

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 often use models to make my work, so we are in constant communication coordinating schedules, props, locations and weather.   I consider any time myself and my models align, a good time, the varying elements of light and weather become interesting parts of the process.

Hot, 2011, Archival Pigment Print, 30x30, 17x17 editions of 10

Hot, 2011, Archival Pigment Print, 30×30, 17×17 editions of 10

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

In the last five years I have been able to use the psychology of one body of work and the asetstics of another and combine these into the work I am doing presently.   This was a challenged I posed to myself, and one that pushed me to try many different approached that lead to where I am now.

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

There are several artists that I find especially inspiring including Martha Rosler and Mary Beth Edelson and many female artist from the 70s, specifically the work they were doing then.  I would not be able to do what I do if I did not have the support of my family and friends.  My partner Bill Paarlberg is also an artist which helps us to nurture each other and have a lot in common to enjoy and talk about.

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

My path has brought me to a career that is multidimensional.  I was recently interviewed by at TV show, Boston Chronicle, and I was able to see several women working really interesting jobs, a producer, a camera person and an editor.  I found myself very interested in what the producer what doing, all the research she did, and organizing, and had I knew such a career existed, perhaps that may have been an interesting direction to take.

About

_dsc2044-1 copy1Nancy Grace Horton is a photo-based artist who embraces both analog and digital techniques to create bold narrative fragments fed by her background in photojournalism. Her series Ms. Behavior utilizes gender roles as inspiration to stimulate a feminist discussion. Her Learning to See school and community projects bring students near and far together to use photography to explore their communities.  She holds an MFA from Lesley University College of Art and Design, and her work has been exhibited at the Danforth Museum, the Griffin Museum, the New York Photo Fest and the A.I.R. Gallery in Brooklyn, NY. Nancy Grace Horton is the recipient of numerous grants and awards including several Artist Entrepreneurial Grants from the New Hampshire State Council on the Arts.

www.nancygracehorton.com

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

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Bug Davidson – Austin, Texas

Rule of Three Installed at Howard Art Project, Boston, MA 2014  2 channel HD video

Rule of Three
Installed at Howard Art Project, Boston, MA 2014
2 channel HD video

Briefly describe the work you do.

I am a lens based maker, mostly motion images, and sometimes performer.

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

Growing up in the back yard of an oil refinery, films backlit and fired my imagination, gave me a world outside my reality. I don’t think I have ever stopped having a piece of my consciousness occupied by the cinema. It was an escape for my entire family, and I find even now that we are more likely to discuss films and issues within them than our own lives. So maybe I have always been on a quest to explain something about myself via moving image, to arrive at a voice or truth within the work. 

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.”

For my workflow, keeping a studio is much more about an editing station, a place for equipment, small camera tests, etc. I have found that adding tactile processes into my practice when possible is of great value to me, and goes back to my experimental filmmaking roots where the materials are so much a part of the process. I still love to work on and manipulate celluloid when possible. Really anything to step away from a computer screen while staying in a creative space. Shooting can be many things, but rarely is it in a “studio” atmosphere for my work. 

Nothing Like Ivanhoe HD Still from Short Film Dir & DP Bug Davidson 2013

Nothing Like Ivanhoe
HD Still from Short Film
Dir & DP Bug Davidson
2013

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

I began as a filmmaker, so the fine art world where objects inherently have a possibility of visual value was new to me. It was through knowing painters, sculptors and people who make performance work that a holistic idea of visual communication and presentation became real to me.

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? 

There is no good time to make work. It must be done, it has its own demands. I think the pervasive “do what you love” attitude toward art is absurd. Sometimes I don’t love it – I am completely at odds with production, but I do it anyway, because it is what I do. It’s not always about pleasure. I mean to say that there is an attitude out there that an artist must choose to make time to do work to be happy, to fulfill a dream, etc. I feel like that is a false sense of process for many. I must make the work because I will be crazy if I do not, I will be demonized by my own thoughts if I don’t move forward. The work does not make me happy, it allows me to exist.

Charles Burney’s Musical Tour Installed at Distler Music Hall  2 Channel HD Video for live concert 2014

Charles Burney’s Musical Tour
Installed at Distler Music Hall
2 Channel HD Video for live concert
2014

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

I am the sort to be taken by surprise by the nature of things on a fundamental level. No matter how I research, write and brainstorm new material, there are threads that seem to weave their way into new work that are pieces of the old. 

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

I would be nowhere without my often collaborator Holly M Lewis, a magnificent writer. Friends that have made strange journeys for no reason other than to see with me, and maybe take some pictures, or show some pictures, or step in the frame. Every actor that tried, really tried, especially the bad ones. 

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

I would hope that if I had ever had a good answer to this question that I would have put that slipper on the foot awhile ago.

About

BugonSetBug Davidson is a motion image artist and film director. Their most recent film, Nothing Like Ivanhoe, premiered in a sponsored screening by Polari Festival’s filmmaker assistance program. Davidson received the Puffin Foundation Grant to continue ongoing lens based performance work, Rule of Three. Bug has studied at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts Boston, Tufts University, The School of Visual Arts and The Irish Film Center Dublin.

BugwCam

www.behance.net/bugdavidson

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

 

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Laura Moriarty – Rosendale, New York

Slump | 2014, Encaustic monotype, 10 x 10 x 3 inches

Slump | 2014, Encaustic monotype, 10 x 10 x 3 inches

Briefly describe the work you do.

Considering strata as historical formations, I make freestanding sculptural paintings comprised of layers of pigmented beeswax. Resonating with the geologic, these hybrid objects are created through processes such as erosion, compression, friction, and enfolding. Configured as cross-sectional architectonic blocks, the pieces function as core samples, with exposed layers containing delicate embedments, much like fossils in sediment. My aim is to render sense-able the phenomenal divergence and convergence of the earth, yet the relatively small scale of the pieces also suggests a miniaturization that relates to educational models, distilling the vast time/space continuum of geology into something containable. 

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

I was born in Beacon, New York in 1960, and knew from an early age that I would be an artist. I studied art for a brief period in college before setting out in search of real life mentors. After studying  with the painter Franklin Alexander in his Woodstock studio, I entered into training as an apprentice papermaker at Women’s Studio Workshop. The atmosphere at WSW disciplined me to see the studio as a laboratory for ideas and testing ground for methods and materials. This influence is still with me today; ideas, materials and techniques must all reinforce each other.

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.”

Though the pieces I make do not push an overtly political message, an important criteria for me has always been to work in way that is ecologically conscious and self-contained. The organization of my workspace is centered around this principle. My studio functions as a kind of eco-system where nothing is wasted or sits around gathering dust. My work is not about the precious object; it privileges the energy that goes into making it, therefore everything in the studio is constantly in play, getting used, recycled, or repurposed. 

Even aesthetic decisions are informed by this no-waste mandate. For example, I make monotypes that are a by-product of my sculptural paintings. I use a heated metal plate to shape my sculptures. When done carefully, this can produce finely detailed paint trails as the mass of striated wax slides along the hot plate. I recognized this as an opportunity to use the piece-in-process as a mark making tool and began capturing these mini-landslides on paper as another way of recording process and time.

As my work has evolved to consider geologic time, so has my activity in the studio. It’s almost like an unseen performance. Acting on a playful intention to mimic the rock cycle, I put my work through the processes of heating, melting, cooling, weathering and sliding around (sometimes all the way across the country) – building up and breaking down in a dizzying cycle that never stops. My works are little chunks of output from this mechanism that is my studio practice.

Legend | 2013, Pigmented beeswax, 26 x 4.5 x 2.25 inches

Legend | 2013, Pigmented beeswax, 26 x 4.5 x 2.25 inches

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?

Being an artist has brought out my skill as a writer, and that has been used in ways that I would not have anticipated. For example, I administered an online technical forum for encaustic painters for many years. As an artist who is very experimental, and not at all hung up on following rules, I was surprised at how well I was able to communicate technical data. I also published an artist’s book about my own work in 2012.

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? 

It depends on what I am doing. I am clear-headed first thing in the morning, so that is my best time for solving problems and strategizing. Night time is good for getting out of my head and possibly surprising myself.

Swale | 2014, Pigmented beeswax, 8.75 x 9.5 x 4.25 inches

Swale | 2014, Pigmented beeswax, 8.75 x 9.5 x 4.25 inches

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

Prior to 2009, I was making lots of small elements that I used in grand collections and sprawling installations. For various practical reasons, I wanted to make work that was more portable and did not require assembly. That desire led me to produce a group of small works inspired by textbook diagrams of cutaways of terrain. I achieved this by making mini versions of the installations on panels, almost like maquettes. I built reservoirs around them, filling it with layers of poured wax, and then used excavational techniques to reveal what was buried. That was an important breakthrough which my work has been evolving out of ever since. I am still focused on process and time, but I am now thinking about how those ideas can be contained. My recent work has a relationship to books, and the pouring techniques I use add a linear quality that relates to charts, maps, diagrams and visual information. These are things that I get a visual kick from, so I enjoy bringing that design aspect to my work. 

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

I don’t believe anything exciting happens in isolation, so my imagination is sparked when the disciplines of art, science, history, philosophy, nature, culture, technology and design merge. I like when ideas reach out in many directions, the quirkier or more idiosyncratic, the better. I find this merging through lots of reading, (John McPhee is a favorite), following obscure blogs like Friends of the Pleistocene, or listening to podcasts like RadioLab, and even in the mainstream, (love Project Runway). 

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

I’ve been considering becoming a bee keeper for the past several years. I like tending to things that are cyclical and require care. I’ve also thought about doing Hospice work.

About

Laura_Moriarty_me in studioLaura Moriarty’s honors include two grants from the Pollock-Krasner Foundation, Strategic Opportunities Stipends from the New York Foundation for the Arts, and a Projects Grant from United States Artists. Laura has participated in many residencies, including at the Ucross Foundation in Wyoming and the Frans Masereel Center in Belgium. She is the author of ‘Table of Contents’, a limited-edition artist’s book published in 2012. Laura lives in the Hudson Valley region of New York, where she is currently working toward a solo exhibition at Conrad-Wilde Gallery in Tucson, Arizona.

Surface detail of The Clouds | 2014, pigmented beeswax, 21 x 15 x 2.5 inches

Surface detail of The Clouds | 2014, pigmented beeswax, 21 x 15 x 2.5 inches

All images copyright of the artist and used with their permission. 
 
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Jennifer Barnett Hensel – Los Angeles, California

Centered, Installation, Light Projected Image, Aluminum Wire, and Mylar, 2009

Centered, Installation, Light Projected Image, Aluminum Wire, and Mylar, 2009

Briefly describe the work you do.

My work examines notions of memory, time, and the connections we share as humans with each other and with the natural world that surrounds us. These ideas are explored through mixed media and installation.  I find inspiration from my personal experiences, collection of objects, and reflections of time spent in a place.  My artwork is heavily rooted in process- the outcome of a work is secondary to the layering and investigation of my concepts through artistic means and materials. 

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

As a young child, growing up in Cincinnati, Ohio, my family and I moved house a lot.  All of the moving encouraged a strong internal desire for exploration and change- staying still for too long never felt quite right.  The constants in my life became my family members and the general landscape found in southern Ohio.  These were the elements throughout my youth that I identify with and compose my sense of home.  Upon graduating high school, I found myself moving around on my own. I finally left Ohio in 2001 and only returned for short visits.  My artwork during this period shifted as I tried to hold onto the place and people I had left behind.  This would become a resonating theme from that point on.

The effects of moving on my person sparked my desire to understand the places I find myself living- the people, flora and fauna, and the interactions of these things in the landscape.  My need for travel and exploration has guided me from place to place.  I have lived in Ohio, Kentucky, Minnesota, Massachusetts, Tennessee, England (for a summer), and finally California.  My transient nature has often left me feeling uprooted and lost at times.  My artwork has become a way in which I explore my surroundings and in doing so, create a connectedness to the place I have come to reside. 

Resistance, Mixed Media on Paper,  30" x 22", 2011

Resistance, Mixed Media on Paper, 30″ x 22″, 2011

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

My work begins outside of the traditional studio space.  I am a gatherer and my process begins with experiences.  I collect these in various forms- photos, found objects, and sketches mostly. From these jumping points I return to the studio space to investigate my ideas and concepts in the medium that is best suited. 

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?

Over the past few years I have begun teaching children art history, foundations, and studio practices.  I found that there is a gap in arts education, especially in Los Angeles, for younger people interested in the art world. There is a real gratification seeing young people get authentically excited about something you are showing them.  I owe this love for teaching youth to my own two kids- having them opened my eyes up to the importance of passing along my knowledge to a younger generation of growing artists.

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

I work whenever I can.  As a parent, my schedule is not my own.  I am fortunate to have a studio space at my home, so when there is a free moment, I can simply walk outside and into my creative place.  I get a few mornings every week to focus solely on my artwork.  I try to schedule time in the studio or for doing research- I am very deadline and goal driven and it helps to be on a regimented schedule.  When I don’t put myself on a schedule I find that my focus drifts and will remain in a state of creative neglect until I put structure back in place.

Lasting Conversation, mixed media on panel, 8" x 8", 2009

Lasting Conversation, mixed media on panel, 8″ x 8″, 2009

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

The biggest change over the past five years has been a reemergence of narrative elements in my work.  Birds, bees, found objects, and plant elements have been incorporated in my mostly abstracted scenes.  My concepts and interests have remained constant but my way of presenting them has definitely evolved. 

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

People that I am close with have always impacted my work and often become a focus for my subject matter.  I find that concentrating on personal relationships helps one to better understand the workings of broader relationships in the world.  I often return to the written works of John Muir, Lucy Lippard (The Lure of the Local), Susan Stewart (On Longing), and Kandinsky. 

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

A farmer.  I love the idea of living, growing, and working on a piece of land.  One’s life cycles, the changing of seasons, and the passing of time become more obvious and in tune with that kind of work and lifestyle.

About

JBH_HeadshotJennifer Barnett Hensel is a freelance artist working in Los Angeles, California.  She received her MFA in studio arts from the Memphis College of Art in 2009 and her BFA from the University of Minnesota in 2005. She has exhibited her artwork in galleries and museums across North America with inclusion into over 50 group and solo shows since 2002. 

JBH_StudioWall

jenniferbarnetthensel.com

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

 

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Rafael Salas – Ripon, Wisconsin

...snow and sky and pine #2 2014, digital photograph variable dimensions

…snow and sky and pine #2
2014, digital photograph
variable dimensions

Briefly describe the work you do.

I work around themes of landscape, religious iconography and country music to create poetic reflections on midwestern traditions and notions of place. 

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

I am originally from a farm community in Wisconsin, am of mixed race descent, and attended the New York Academy of Art for my graduate work in painting. I am influenced by my identity, by the wealth of artists I have encountered over the years and by trying to trust my instincts. 

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

Being trained in painting, my studio reflects the traditional concepts of making work in relative isolation. 

The Garden 2013, mixed media on paper 36 x 60 inches

The Garden
2013, mixed media on paper
36 x 60 inches

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?

Teaching and writing. I enjoy my work as a professor of art at Ripon College, and also write reviews for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. It has been a wonderful experience to reflect on art in these different ways. 

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 as often as I can. It’s hard. 

...snow and sky and pine #1 2014, digital photograph variable dimensions

…snow and sky and pine #1
2014, digital photograph
variable dimensions

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

I am currently working three dimensionally, and this has given me lots of ways to reflect on texture and surface that I am excited to apply to painting when I return to it. If that happens. 

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

Elvis Presley, Hank Williams, Bob Dylan, Waylon Jennings, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Alice Munro, Juan Rulfo. I am only stopping here to be brief. The list continues. 

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

I aspire to be a washed up country star someday. I may have to skip the getting famous part entirely, though. 

About

unnamed-4Rafael Francisco Salas is a Wisconsin based painter.   The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel has described him as “one of the best painters working in Wisconsin today”. (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Oct. 7, 2009)

Using landscape along with narrative and symbolic elements, Salas creates artwork that investigates the Midwestern landscape, portraiture, architecture, abstraction, the legacy of Byzantine iconography and country music. His work has been exhibited in New York City, San Diego, Boston, as well as many venues in the Midwest including The Neville Public Museum, The Museum of Wisconsin Art, The John Kohler Arts Center, Dean Jensen gallery, Circa Gallery, Frank Juarez Gallery and Portrait Society Gallery.   Salas is also a contributing writer at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. He is an Associate Professor or Art at Ripon College in Ripon, WI.

sketchbook

sketchbook

rafaelsalas.com

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

 

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