Briefly describe the work you do.
I make mixed media paintings and site specific installations which explore the theory that we remember environments as compilations of elements with which we develop emotional connections. I extract details (such as pattern, color, form and texture) from the urban environment and utilize them to trigger recognition of place. The results are layered, fragmented representations which convey the way we frame, archive, and recall our physical surroundings.
My subject matter is chosen as a means to ground myself in a tangible environment in which an understanding of the whole is made up of an experience of the parts.
Tell us about your background and how that has had an influence on your work and on you as an artist.
There are a few things that transpired to lead me down this path. Most notably, I’m from a long-standing Los Angeles family. One side settled the Hollywood area as farm land and the other lived and worked for generations between mid-Wilshire and downtown Los Angeles. My interest in older neighborhoods and architecture is my way of tapping into my social and familial history. In addition, I come from a family of creatives, craftsmen and engineers. While the creative side is apparent, the engineering side is obvious when pointed out. My father is a mechanical engineer and from him I inherited the inclination to take things apart and put them back together. That practice is the abstract part of my process. It allows me to break the strident rules of architecture and create paintings and installations which are ambiguous in their representations.
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 might spend too much time in my studio. Ha! The materials I use require studio types of access – water, electricity, walls, tools, therefore plein-air is not a functional sport for my process. That said, I have a patio where I create when I’m using certain materials or techniques. My studio system also requires an investment in maintaining the business. I think a lot of contemporary artists are experiencing an enhanced ability and/or requirement to be on top of their business game. It’s what keeps the wheels greased, so the time investment must be made. Combine those two sides of my studio time and it’s a wonder I ever leave.
My inspiration, of course, comes from being out in the world and exploring nooks of the city. I work from reference photos that I take while on expeditions, and those experiences keep my pretty well in tune with the evolving city.
What roles do you find yourself playing that you may not have envisioned yourself in when you first started making art?
Two things: One, I had zero expectation of mentoring, teaching and lecturing. Academia was something I thought I left behind at graduation, but low and behold, I am regularly asked to contribute to learning environments through presentations and workshops. It has been a wonderful experience. Secondly, I had no idea how much time I would spend learning technology. From web site building to social media to photo editing: I was in denial of how important those skills would become.
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’m not sure I ever stop working. I keep saying I need to find balance, but, ultimately, I’m so focused on my passion that my work ethic is the balance. I make bodies of work and the creation process usually transpires in waves of production, followed by periods of writing, documenting, exhibiting and socializing. I work by natural light and my studio creation hours are built around that, but my brain cranks until late into the evening and I find concept and contemplation come easiest at the end of a long day making work.
How has your work changed in the past five years? How is it the same?
It’s an interesting thing when you have produced enough work to be able to look back and see a clear trajectory. Five years ago, I was doubling down my effort to master a specific combination of materials on linen. My color palette was limited and the natural linen color was dominant. These parameters forced me to focus on composition and form without being able to hide behind color. Over the last few years, my scale has been dramatized (larger and smaller), a punchy color palette has emerged and my materials have shifted. I thought at one point that I had made a dramatic departure from my previous work, but seeing pieces from different bodies of work hung together reveals a strong and cohesive voice despite shifting presentations.
How have people such as family, friends, writers, philosophers, other artists or even pop icons had an impact on the work you do?
Gaston Bachelard wrote a book entitled “The Poetics of Space.” In it, he discusses his philosophy of how we are psychologically tied to physical places. The most profound passage for me, speaks of our memories of the qualities of the door knob to our childhood home. That image is clear as day to me and it turn out it is vivid for most of us. This awareness pushed me further down the road of knowing that mere parts of things possess the power to prompt recollection of entire chapters of our lives.
Have you ever been pulled in the direction of a pursuit other than being an artist? What are your other interests?
Not really. Stage design and interior design have always been a part of my big picture, and they are so intertwined with the subject of place and structure that in my mind, they are indistinguishable from my paintings or installations. I’m also a die-hard nester and place making is the stuff of my dreams. To me, art is more than placing brush to canvas, it’s an all-consuming experience of life.
Teale Hatheway is a Los Angeles-based artist exploring the intersection of observation, recollection and architecture. Her mixed media paintings explore the theory that environments are remembered as compilations of elements with which we develop emotional or intellectual connections. She extracts details (such as pattern, color, form and texture) from the urban environment and utilizes them to trigger recognition of place. The results are layered, fragmented representations which convey the way we frame, archive, and recall our physical surroundings.
Hatheway is self-taught in the practice of architectonic drawing, as well as in many of the techniques and materials she employs in her mixed-media paintings. She has worked as an artist, muralist, sculptor and scenic painter, as well as a stage, lighting, production and interior designer. Her commercial work has provided Hatheway the room to play with a great scale of dimensions as well as afforded her the opportunity to study the translation of three dimensional spaces into two dimensional ideas and vice versa.
InTentCity, Hatheway’s installation commission for the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival, is a collection of 53 hand painted tipis. For the artist, the development of two dimensional patterns into three dimensional forms to create an immersive environment, was a rewarding inversion of her painting practice. The collection of tipis reflects the artist’s interest in multi-cultural and interdisciplinary design and architecture, and resulted in a cohesive yet diverse installation.
Hatheway approaches the practice of art in an investigative, experimental and research-minded way. A fourth generation Angeleno and an advocate of historic preservation, she finds Los Angeles to be an ideal source of subject matter for her paintings. Its history often being dismissed for its future, Hatheway hopes to bring attention to Los Angeles architecture by demonstrating to viewers their often unrealized, but always personal experiences of a city on the cusp of understanding its historical significance.
Teale Hatheway is an internationally exhibited and collected artist. She earned her BA from Scripps College in Claremont, California, where, along with an education in contemporary art practice, she developed a love of western sociology and history. Hatheway studied figurative painting at the Slade School of Fine Arts, University College London. While abroad, she began her personal studies of architecture and urban planning. Upon graduation, Hatheway was awarded for her extensive library featuring readings on spatial theory, architecture, stage design, photography, art, urban planning and the philosophy of the effect of structures on the human condition. She acquired additional knowledge through studies of photography and architecture at Art Center College of Design, Pasadena.
All images copyright of the artist and used with their permission.