Briefly describe the work you do.
Much of my work is concerned with social inequality along both national and global fronts. My imagery explores the historical context for violence against humanity, in its many forms, with special attention to the plight of women and children. Through research, I engage with the past and use my art to give a public and present voice to those whose voices have been silenced. Although I am well known for my collage-based work, I implement a wide variety of media to manifest my work. My work is rarely conceived as a single piece, but is instead imagined as an entire body of work around a central theme, such as the 32 pieces in my latest produced show Hooded Truths (2014), which also includes installation and performance. My practice is very socially engaged, personally, in my interaction and collaboration with other artists, and politically, in my activism through my work.
Tell us a little about your background and how that influences you as an artist.
Daughter of a mathematical genius and a fifth grade teacher, my parents created a safe haven in which I could grow and create. We traveled throughout Europe, most of the United States and parts of Northern Africa before I was ten. Knowing the Louvre at eight and the great cathedrals of Italy left an indelible impression of beauty and doing.
The concept of the “artist studio” has a broad range of meanings, especially in contemporary practice. The idea of the artist toiling away alone in a room may not necessarily reflect what many artists do from day to day anymore. Describe your studio practice and how it differs from (or is the same as) traditional notions of “being in the studio.”
My studio for the past eighteen months has been solely that. It is also the epicenter of my social life – often I post open hours for friends/collectors/guests to spend time with me and whatever new project I might be working on. My day in the studio typically starts before eight a.m so that I can take full use of the natural daylight and usually work through two or three in the afternoon.
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 resisted the title, ‘activist” for many years, but have finally started to claim that title as well as visual artist because it is what I do.
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?
My day in the studio typically starts before eight a.m so that I can take full use of the natural daylight and usually work through two or three in the afternoon.I work four to six days a week.
How has your work changed in the last five years? How is it the same?
I am a collagist, but it is in how I treat that medium to create the statements I make that changes.
Are there people such as family, friends, writers, philosophers or even pop icons that have had an impact on the work you do?
My grandfather who was a groundbreaking politician, my mother who was afraid of being an artist, the last Emperor of Ethiopia – Haile Selassie, and folk singer Vance Gilbert.
If you had an occupation outside of being an artist, what would that be and why?
Candace Hunter, a native of Chicago, studied the plastic arts and performance arts at Barat and Mudelein Colleges in the Chicago area. Her early work was what she coined, “non-traditional batik”. Always affronted by the Euro-male created lines of the validity of “art” and understanding that batik was considered either a “folk” or “craft”, Hunter took it to another level that matched the parameters of the Western idea while leaning on the technique and creative force of the African perspective.
A child of formally educated parents – a mother with wanderlust, a COBOL speaking father, Candace traveled throughout Europe and northern Africa before the age of ten. Seeing the wee small girl in the corner of the enormous “Watchman” at the Louvre, the foot of the pyramids and the ceiling of the Basilica in Rome at such an early age, cemented the idea of beauty, grandeur and of service.
Hunter, in her work, has most often creates worlds in which she honors family, sacred text, justice and, water scarcity. She often works in series. “Ethi-Oh-My!”, spoke to her love of Ethiopia and Selassie, “Prayer Circles: Sacred Text and Abstract Thought” invited disparate communities to examine art together, “Dust in Their Veins” continues to enlighten audiences on water scarcity and its dire effects on women and children globally, “Hooded Truths” places the ubiquitous modern hoodie on many unspoken American truths and lately, “Loss/Scape” – which attempts to create a visual understanding of loss.
All images copyright of the artist and used with their permission.