Briefly describe the work you do.
My art work explores the relationship between chance, randomness, probability and the natural human impulse to seek visual structure. With influences as diverse as Piet Mondrian, Vilmos Huszár, and Bart van der Leck of the Dutch neoplasticism (Nieuwe Beelding in Dutch) movement of the early 20th century and contemporary artist Damien Hirst, my goal is to explore these connections through digital art, marrying aesthetic principles with data visualizations generated using statistical computing software and pseudo-random number generation.
Tell us about your background and how that has had an influence on your work and on you as an artist.
While pursuing my Ph.D. in statistics, I became fascinated by the endless random variability inherent in our world and the instinctual order that is sought by our brains. While my work concentrates on randomness, there is always a contextual structure at play. The appearance of chaos vs. order depends heavily on the scope of the viewer. I’m interested in the juxtaposition of apparent chaos resulting from limited perspective with structure that fundamentally exists only when something is viewed as a collective whole.
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 work is entirely digital, so anywhere with a plug is my studio. I suppose this is different than the traditional idea of an artist being “in the studio”. (Fun fact: I do all of my art using an integrated development environment called R Studio.)
What roles do you find yourself playing that you may not have envisioned yourself in when you first started making art?
I’ve had moderate success selling my work on sites such as Etsy, and I find myself performing a lot of customer service roles to keep the buyers happy. I did not envision this.
Another role I did not envision myself in is organizer. This summer I will be organizing an art show on June 26-27 at Morpho Gallery in Chicago with my wife, Sarah Concannon, and artist friend, Drew Finkel. When I started making art a few years ago, the logistics of organizing a show were something I never thought about, but are now important as the show nears.
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?
As a new assistant professor on the tenure track, there isn’t much free time, so I work when time allows. I get most of my work done in the summers and over winter break.
How has your work changed in the past five years? How is it the same?
I have only been making art for about 2 years, but I feel like I have grown quite a bit in this time. I think my major area of growth is in my usage of color. When I began, I was much more concerned about the code and composition of the work and color took a back seat. Recently, I’ve read some books by major artists about color, notable Josef Albers work “Interaction of Color”.
The major theme of my work, randomness and chance, has not changed in the time that I have been making art.
How have people such as family, friends, writers, philosophers, other artists or even pop icons had an impact on the work you do?
The biggest influence on my art is my wife. She is a classically trained artist who focuses mainly on figure painting (she recently completed a big project (http://www.springfieldmuseums.org/the_museums/springfield_history/exhibits/view/277-the_people_in_your_neighborhood)), and her knowledge and insight has had a major positive impact on my work. Her constructive criticism is invaluable to me as an artist.
Artists that inspire me include Piet Mondrian, Josef Albers, Blinky Palermo, Gerhard Richter, Ellsworth Kelly, Sol Lewitt, and Damien Hirst.
Have you ever been pulled in the direction of a pursuit other than being an artist? What are your other interests?
I’m lucky that many of my interests overlap, in this case mathematics and art. Professionally, my research interests include statistical privacy issues, genetics, and the statistical analysis of sports (http://www.nytimes.com/2015/03/22/opinion/sunday/making-march-madness-easy.html). Art is a more recent addition to the many mathematical and statistical applications that I spend my time doing.
My name is Greg. I was born in Massachusetts and lived in New England my whole life until last fall when I moved to Chicago for a job as an assistant professor of statistics at Loyola University Chicago.
All images copyright of the artist and used with their permission.