Ching Ching Cheng – Altadena, California

Title: Kodak Flashfun Medium: re-purposed books and maps, acrylic mirrors, adhesive Size: 15"x9"x5" Year: 2015

Title: Kodak Flashfun
Medium: re-purposed books and maps, acrylic mirrors, adhesive
Size: 15″x9″x5″
Year: 2015

Briefly describe the work you do. 

Exploring identities and cultures in scientific, psychological conditions are my main practice with various approaches using mixed mediums and found objects through drawings, paintings, sculptures and installation.

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 Taiwan, and moved to the United States 12 years ago. Different places have different cultures, and human beings will naturally change and adapt to different environments. When people travel, they bring their culture and identity with them. Sometimes the culture and identity that they bring with them changes and adapts to that new environment. In the end, it changes to a modified new culture or a different identity. I always put myself in the situation to make the subject matter more personal to me, so my work gives an intimate and personal account of my own exper­iences while simultaneously encouraging the viewer to recall their own.

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 do a lot of thinking and planning outside of my studio, and when I go in to my studio, it is work. Having a toddler, I don’t have much time I can waste. So when I get a few hours or even one hour can be alone in the studio, I will make sure my time is well spent!

Title: Polaroid Minute Maker Medium: re-purposed books and maps, adhesive Size: 8"x10"x10" Year: 2015

Title: Polaroid Minute Maker
Medium: re-purposed books and maps, adhesive
Size: 8″x10″x10″
Year: 2015

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

It is a lot harder than I thought! I have to be very good at managing my time, and get on top of checking my emails, and reaching out to other artists, curators, and gallery directors. Also be good at talking about art and writing about art too!

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?

My studio time right now is all depends on my toddler’s nap schedule. If he naps longer, I will have longer studio time! I also have part time babysitter too, so I can have longer hours to be focus on making art.

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

It changes from time to time. It all depends on my life at the current stages and also the environments around me.

Title: Speed Graphic Medium: re-purposed books and maps, adhesive Size: 13"x11"x17" Year: 2014

Title: Speed Graphic
Medium: re-purposed books and maps, adhesive
Size: 13″x11″x17″
Year: 2014

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

Because my work is about identities, families and friends are definitely having a big impact on my work. Also being in a critique group with other artists haven been very helpful with my practice too.

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

I was a graphic designer and illustrator working on freelance projects and also working at in house advertising company. I was also teaching kids and adults in different profit and non-profit art centers. But way before I went to art school, I was majoring in Materials Engineering and Science. I like math and science since I was little!

About

bio picDifferent places have different cultures, and human beings will naturally change and adapt to different environments. When people travel, they bring their culture with them. Sometimes the culture that they bring with them changes and adapts to that new environment. In the end, the culture changes to a modified new culture. I always put myself in the situation to make the subject matter more personal to me, so my work gives an intimate and personal account of my own exper­iences, while simultaneously encouraging the viewer to recall their own. The subject matter that influences and inspires my work the most comes from my own cultural experiences. My work is mixed media and found objects from various locations. I work digitally and traditionally as well as three dimensionally, and like to experiment with different techniques and mediums.

detail

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Leora Armstrong – Falls Village, Connecticut

Grey Field April 28th 2014 Oil on Canvas 42 x 38 inches # 4017

Grey Field April 28th 2014 Oil on Canvas 42 x 38 inches # 4017

Briefly describe the work you do. 

My concepts have evolved around the issues of external light and reflection, working with edges or fields of colour, using various media.  The work depicts the energy and space  of light in the landscape,   this energy created by the meeting of two fields of colour, edges holding on and off one another,  lines crossing entwining throughout, continually allow me to search and explore. The multi layering of the colour creates unique rhythms in each work. These reductive images with minimized colour, allow the viewer to experience the work as a sensed encounter of a place.

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

I grew up on the West Coast of Scotland on the Isle of Islay, a remote place,  but with rare beauty. I know this early influence to  open space and light was imprinted in me and now comes through my work. The isolation and beauty of  raw landscape combined with the  silence  of the surrounding, makes us feel quite humbled to be in its presence. Where water meets land there is a natural etched landscape created  which has huge strength, even when calm.  The stillness one finds in deeply remote places echoes loudly in our memory. 

LA_Green Field x 12

LA_Green Field x 12

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.”

To me,  physically being in the studio working, is where I make most of my work, I aim to get there everyday. However when not in the studio I am always working and conceiving, never far from a camera or with a notebook to hand.  I live rurally and  am exposed to fantastic  light surrounding me most days, so in some ways I ‘live in my studio” as well. A keen walker   I use this contemplative practice,  as a part of my studio practice, being outside, feeling outside envelopes me to make the work. 

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

I had not thought about making my work with children but as a mother I find that seeing the world through their eyes opens up mine. They are still young but are learning to see the things I see, as well as their own vision, which  we discuss which I love sharing as a family. My children continually bring me objects to inspire me, nests, leaves and stones and their own 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?

I tend to get to the studio in the mid morning and then stay until  mid afternoon when my children come home, it does vary depending on our lives and schedules, sometimes I can only be in the studio for short periods but that time can help me be present with my work, I only paint in natural light

Drift V June 24th 2015 Acrylic on wood 16 x 20 inches # 4060

Drift V June 24th 2015 Acrylic on wood 16 x 20 inches # 4060

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

The work has primarily stayed on a similar focus but is  continually growing.  I am always trying  new experimentation of various  mediums  and surfaces working them into my own practice, the work evolves all the time but I am still drawn to less is more.  

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

My father was a quiet man who taught me to work on my own and to find my own way.  Roger Ackling was my tutor at Chelsea Art School and his teaching pushed towards where I am now. I have been inspired by  the  work and writing of Sol LeWitt, Agnes Martin, Andy Goldsworthy, Gaston Bachelard and  Colm Toibin to name a few, the list is endless and evolving. 

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

I was a chef for 6 years before I went to art school and I cooked  through my art college  to earn money.  I still love to create good locally sourced food and I am also  a keen gardener. 

Leora-Armstrong-in-her-Studio

leoraarmstrong.com

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Megan Berner – Reno, Nevada

 "Ice and Light", photograph, 2015

“Ice and Light”, photograph, 2015

Briefly describe the work you do. 

In my work, I explore the ways we interact with our environment—how we form relationships with it and how those connections influence our interpretation of the world around us—what marks we leave behind, the experiences—intangible and manifest, and the action of moving through or being in a place.

The concept of claiming space is interesting to me. All of us have different places that we can claim to be our own because of our unique experiences there. The idea of place becomes much more internalized and individual. My work is as much about fantasy and the idea that a map or photograph is merely an interpretation and representation of something, an internal experience of a place.

I am interested in liminal spaces, internal and external—spaces that are transitional and in-between, not quite here or there. Mirages and other light phenomena, states of meditation, suspended moments, and dream states all occupy this kind of territory.

Whether through reinterpreted historical photographs of explorers, vistas of sunrises, interactive installations of flag poetry, or letterpressed artist’s books, I am interested in creating spaces for daydreaming, exploration, and discovery to occur. 

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

Coming from a desert home, I have always been drawn to more desolate, inhospitable, and subtle landscapes—places that seem to only show themselves to those who spend time in them and seek out what they have to offer. For me they have always invited introspection and reflection on the complexity of human-place relationships and our own internal-external manifestations of these relationships. I am particularly interested in mirages and other light phenomena as visual representations of the liminal spaces of these relationships.

Travel and art have gone hand-in-hand for me since the beginnings of my practice. There is something about being exposed to the unfamiliarity of new places that creates a hyper-awareness of the surrounding environment. It always connects me back to myself, which is the basis for most of my work, although not often in a literal sense.    

"Good Morning", series of Instagram sunrises made from my window, 2012-present

“Good Morning”, series of Instagram sunrises made from my window, 2012-present

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 am constantly collecting materials for my work and thinking about it–particularly when I travel but also just in everyday life. I find that all kinds of things can spark ideas and find their way into my work–something I hear on the radio while driving, a conversation. I use my cell phone camera as a sketch book. I’ve never really been a studio artist or someone who schedules time to be in the studio. I tend to work when I can and sometimes the materials I am collecting and thinking about gain their own momentum and turn into something unexpected. I do most of my work while I’m daydreaming and then make the time to put it together into a tangible form. I also love to collaborate as a part of my practice. That dynamic is exciting to me. Since my work is in multiple media, various places become my studio–the outdoors, my kitchen table, the library. It is important for me to make a space for creating no matter what is going on in my life or where I am and so I find my practice is very adaptive.

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

I’m not sure I was ever really conscious of what it meant to be an artist as I embarked on this journey. Maybe that is because there are so many different avenues to take as an artist. I have spent a lot of time teaching and being an educator recently and in some ways that surprises me. The role of the artist can be complicated. I often feel as if I am an intermediary of sorts, making connections and interpreting information then offering it to others for their own interpretation and experience. Philosopher, researcher…

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?

This really varies for me. I go through cycles with my art making. There are times when I am very productive and then times when I need to just take things in, digest, and withdraw. I don’t schedule time everyday to actively make work but I do consider the time I am thinking as equally important and productive. Sometimes that thinking time is structured and sometimes it isn’t. 

 "Desert Garden", HD video (still), 2014

“Desert Garden”, HD video (still), 2014

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

I’d like to think that my work now is a bit more subtle in conveying ideas and not as literal as it might have been in the past. Although, I go back and forth between using humor and the obvious and then drawing upon things that are intangible and hard to articulate. What is most interesting to me is that from very early on to the present, there is a common thread thematically in my work without it being purposeful in some cases, even though visually the work is very diverse. My style may be more cohesive now and more sophisticated but the basic questions I am asking are still the same. 

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

Everyone around me influences my work in some way. I reference all of these things in my work–particularly historical photographs and events in my “Explorers” series, other artists (isn’t that inevitable?), and philosophers and writers in my text and flag pieces. I think all of it shows up in subtler, subconscious ways too. 

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

I think when I first became really interested in art in high school I never saw it as something I could actually do with my life. I spent a lot of time trying to talk myself out of it in college–dual majoring for a while in environmental science. I always came back to art. Then I realized that it wasn’t a choice for me. I love to cook and bake and could probably be very happy doing that. I would love to write and maybe someday I’ll put my energy into that (that’s a lot like being an artist though). My other passions are travel and language–I find a way to incorporate that into my artistic practice as often as I can.

About

Berner_HeadshotMegan Berner is a visual artist living and working in Reno, Nevada. She earned her MA and MFA in Intermedia from University of Iowa. Megan is currently a lecturer at the University of Nevada Reno where she teaches photography and video classes. Her work is greatly influenced by the landscape of her native Nevada home as well as the vast prairies of the Midwest, being a twin, mapping and exploration, and countless hours of daydreaming. She creates site-specific installations that incorporate video and sound and constructs performative scenes that ultimately exist as photographs. Other forms her artwork takes include artist’s books, collaborative interactions, textile projects, and narrative videos. Megan’s work has been shown nationally and internationally and is represented in both private and public collections in the US and abroad.

Berner_studio

meganberner.com

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

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Elizabeth Knowles – New York, New York

5 Series, 2013, 70 x 62 inches, acrylic on 5 canvas panels

5 Series, 2013, 70 x 62 inches, acrylic on 5 canvas panels

Briefly describe the work you do. 

My work depicts patterns of growth and form in nature and examines these patterns from a variety of perceptual levels. Some of my images show biological patterns on the cellular level of organisms. Others reveal natural patterns of the earth’s landscapes. My painting, sculpture, and site-specific installations, through the media of both painting and sculpture, explore dynamic patterns connecting landscapes and life forms, physiology and physics, death and detritus, light and darkness.

My images integrate simple patterns into a more complex unity on a larger scale.

The work comes out of examining and recreating interactions among different levels of life. A basic component of my process involves discovering a pattern that connects discrete elements and enables the creation of a larger unified whole. This process echoes how living cells grow and aggregate overtime with other cells to enable emergence of complex organisms.Revealing life’s rhythms, the work displays the unfolding and undulation of living energy expanding, contracting, and recycling itself through visual patterns.The images in my work also reveal transitions from chaos to order and life to death, sometimes frozen in time.

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 family intensely focused on observing the natural world of landscapes, flora, fauna, and human geography. My earliest awareness drew my attention to the rhythms and patterns of nature. My early life in the verdant suburbs of St Louis, Missouri was augmented by weekends in the country exploring the woods and farmlands overlooking the Missouri River. Early explorations outside Missouri involved hiking and skiing in the vast landscapes of the American West. My parents shared with me a deep reverence for the natural world and a fascination with naming and appreciating the mysterious patterns of human existence. As my own life unfolds, the organic patterns of the natural world continue to inspire and inform my work.

Modern Dance, Collaborative Site Specific Installation with William Thielen, wire, surveyors’ tape, 2015,

Modern Dance, Collaborative Site Specific Installation with William Thielen, wire, surveyors’ tape, 2015,

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.”

Because my work is very detailed and process oriented, it requires long durations of work in the studio. My energy is revived and sustained by going outside the studio as much as possible to walk, observe, and feel the energy of the natural environment around me. Over the years I continue to evolve a contemplative practice that helps me to sense the energy of life around me and later use this experience as a catalyst for creation of patterns of images in the studio.

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

I have come to realize that my work is beginning to dissolve the boundaries between a spiritual practice –meditation, contemplation, revelation– and artistic creation.

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 generally starting mid-morning and work into late afternoon, take a break outside and often return to the studio until darkness falls. The best time to make art is when my mind is filled with images from being outside in the natural world.

Cosmic Concourse, 2013, 48x 42 inches, acrylic on canvas

Cosmic Concourse, 2013, 48x 42 inches, acrylic on canvas

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

The biggest changes in my work have come from collaborations and conversations with friends and other artists. My old friend and fellow artist William Thielen and I collaborate to create outdoor installations that blend together our different approaches and processes. Surprisingly, although our personalities and processes are quite different, we work very well together During the three summers of 2013 through 2015, we have collaborated to make several temporary site-specific out door installations that have expanded my concept of working with nature. While the actual installations are much larger than anything I would construct working alone, the work still springs from a fascination with organic patterns on a variety of scales.

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

Both my parents influenced me profoundly through their sense of wonder, appreciation and respect for natural processes, and their delight in how the visual arts can deepen the human experience of the physical world and its underlying patterns. My father, William S. Knowles, was a Nobel Prize winning chemist for his work on the asymmetric synthesis of organic molecules. His wonderful curiosity and nurturing of my own interest in the visual arts helped affirm my identity as an artist. My mother, Lesley C. Knowles, an immensely literate and sensitive person, helped me understand the importance of experimentation and creative risk taking as both a child and an adult. In different ways, my parents both have helped me cultivate the confidence of an adventurous spirit that balances a natural inclination toward introspection with the desire to create visual images.

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

The practice of yoga, meditation, and the study of classical mythology and symbolism via Carl Jung and astrology help enable me to discover a bigger, wilder, and more vibrant place for humans in an unfolding universe. These disciplines and studies help inform my work, and most importantly, blend together to inspire a very personal approach to visual expression.

About

headshotElizabeth Knowles is a visual artist based in New York, NY and Norfolk, CT. Utilizing a variety of media, her paintings and sculpture reveal both static and dynamic patterns in nature recurring on different scales of perception. Born and raised in the river town of St Louis, MO, Elizabeth earned a BA from Pomona College, in Claremont, CA and an MFA from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, IL. She recently completed a residency at MASS MoCA in North Adams, MA as part of its “Assets for Artists” program.

Elizabeth’s recent outdoor site-specific projects include installations for Studio 80 +Sculpture Grounds, Old Lyme, CT, The Kingston Biennial, Kingston, NY, “Art in Nature” at the Greenwood Gardens in Short Hills, NJ and “Contemporary Sculpture” at the Chesterwood National Trust for Historic Preservation, Stockbridge, MA. Other projects include site-specific installations for Bank of America Plaza’s Green Exhibit, Charlotte, NC, NYU’s Langone Medical Center, Corridor Gallery, Brooklyn, NY, the Housatonic Museum, Bridgeport, CT, Artspace, New Haven, CT, for the Fountain Art Fair at the 69th Regiment Armory, NY, NY, and outdoor sculpture for Governor’s Island, NY, NY. She has created several art installations for the windows at the Saks Fifth Avenue flagship store pairing her work with Donna Karan, Alexander McQueen, and Issey Miyake. Corporate commissions include site-specific paintings for the Galleon Group, NY, NY, and Enclave Capital, NY, NY. Elizabeth has received numerous awards including grants from the Puffin Foundation, Miami Beach Cultural Council, E. D. Foundation, Artist’s Space, Ludwig Vogelstein Foundation, the Millay Colony, Yaddo, and the Banff Centre. 

Landscape & Life Form Detail

elizabethknowles.com

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Jordan Acker Anderson – Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Hex Sign: Chapel Mountain 2015 Mixed media on canvas 24" x 18"

Hex Sign: Chapel Mountain
2015
Mixed media on canvas
24″ x 18″

Briefly describe the work you do. 

My artistic practice serves as a way to make sense of our current global culture. Painting becomes an act of meditation or a means to transform unruly information into beautiful states of order and interconnected compositions. My work resides in the category of symbolic abstraction. The compositions are visual records consisting of personal symbols on a single plane that are reminiscent of woven tapestries.

I call myself an image-maker who utilizes painting, drawing and printmaking to explore universal themes of service, soul, life force, breath, instinct, survival, nature, time and ritual. My interdisciplinary interests lead to academic research with science, design and peace studies faculty. I am committed to building community through artistic collaboration.

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

My identity as an artist has always been present because I was born into a family of artists. Leading a creative life was a given and I was raised attending museums, galleries, art festivals, operas, symphonies and the like. I am a Midwesterner at the core having lived in Omaha, Laramie, Iowa City and Milwaukee. I am drawn to the open landscape and changing seasons, including the cold and snow. The pattern of the seasons allows my studio practice to have similar stretches of change, studio seasons for hibernation and heavy work versus play and exploration in the world. The periods of play inform the stretches of hibernation.

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 collect observations when I travel, read, and learn, which generate the drive to create in the studio. The observations tap me and remind me to be present as I move through daily experiences. Once in the studio, I find it is important to listen to the outside world while creating, so NPR or On Being act as my studio soundtrack. Listening to the research and stories of the guests on the radio helps to distract my attention just enough so I can suspend my literal mode to allow the work to develop on its own.

Hex Sign: Infinite Duration 2015 Mixed media on canvas 24" x 18"

Hex Sign: Infinite Duration
2015
Mixed media on canvas
24″ x 18″

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

As an artist that is also a peacemaker. I am currently in contemplation and searching about the way an isolated studio practice can be an active role in peacemaking and what this pursuit means for my personal studio practice. As an academic, I am involved in the Wisconsin Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies, which is an engaging group of faculty from diverse disciplines that meet annually to explore peace education. Teaching my students through artistic collaboration, to encourage direct involvement with one another, is one way that I engage in peacemaking within an academic setting.

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?

When I am specifically inspired to participate in an exhibit or when I have stumbled upon exciting observations that I want to capture quickly in the memory of my compositions. I am one that might stay up all night to finish something before it gets way from me when the demands of the daytime return.

One in Four: To March Towards 2015 Mixed media on canvas 24" x 18"

One in Four: To March Towards
2015
Mixed media on canvas
24″ x 18″

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

A few years back I needed a new direction. I was bored with what I was doing and I decided to complete the same assignments I was giving to my two-dimensional design students. At the time, they were working on deconstructing and reconstructing black squares on white paper. This prompted me to start drawing with positive shape stencils and it really opened up my compositions, providing new ways of seeing into the work. When I look at my work from the last five years, I can distinctly see the evidence of that decision in the timeline of the work because there is greater transparency, layering, and mixed media present. I have always worked in a controlled, labor-intensive manner within my imagery, but this shift in drawing with stencils allows for faster speed of mark and chance interaction for color or contours.

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

People impact my work by creating the content within it. I honor the legacy of others by weaving their presence into my symbolism. For example, I have a series of works subtitled, Hex Signs, which stems from observing the hex signs on barns in the rural Wisconsin landscape. I find it endearing to have the identity of that family speak to me from across a field. The inaugural poem of Elizabeth Alexander, Praise Song for the Day, read for President Barack Obama, was an influential work that I used for awhile in personal work and collaborative work with students.

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

Only when I was following the false notion that life as an artist would be too large of a burden, so for example, I did not declare a major in college until the end of my junior year. I was avoiding the inevitable. For other career interests, if you put realistic ability, likelihood and talent aside, the two other career choices I would be interested in are goat farming or being an opera singer, though I do not sing, nor do I know much about raising goats, but I connect with both pursuits in an instinctual way.

About

JAA-Marketing Photo (1)Currently, Acker Anderson lives in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, where she serves as Associate Professor of Art and Department Chair for Art and Graphic Design at Mount Mary University. She graduated from the University of Nebraska Omaha in 2002 with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Painting. She did her graduate research at the University of Iowa in Painting and Drawing, receiving a Masters of Art in 2006 and a Masters of Fine Arts in 2007. Her award-winning work has been exhibited internationally, with recent venues including John Michael Kohler Arts Center, Museum of Wisconsin Art, Anderson Arts Center, Cedarburg Cultural Center and Walker’s Point Center for the Arts.

JAA-Teach-MMU (1)

jordanackeranderson.com

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Andrea Borsuk – Santa Cruz, California

Continuous Procession, 2015, 24x36” oil on wood panel

Continuous Procession, 2015, 24×36” oil on wood panel

Briefly describe the work you do.

I am a painter and a story teller. My current work touches upon our cultural obsessions with the various rituals and talismans that we subscribe to for protection, good luck and safety in our daily lives. In most of my paintings and drawings, I incorporate signs, symbols and reminders of the precarious nature of life and our need for all kinds of faith — be it good luck charms, daily devotional practices or tarot readings. I create paintings and installations of drawings, objects, and collages that aim to chart the reality that our lifetime is limited. Despite our constant desire and need to predict what is going to happen in the future, the only sure thing we can expect is change.

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 Los Angeles, surrounded by the natural beauty of the canyons and the ocean as well as the superficial beauty of fashion and all things Hollywood. I have lived in some of the most gorgeous cities in the world: Florence, Italy, New York City, San Francisco, Portland, Oregon, and finally here in Santa Cruz, Ca. I have been blessed by having two daughters and I have spent the last few decades making paintings about images of women, beauty, landscape and culture. The work has always had an ironic, surrealistic tone because I have always been conscious of the seduction and irony of culture, sexy people and places. My roots are in Renaissance painting and feminist art as well all things subversive. I am essentially a frustrated comedian who loves to paint.

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 see my role as a cultural sampler— I enjoy visiting the grand ‘smorgasbord of life’. I need equal time walking in nature as well as exploring vibrant cities, absorbing and tasting. Living in Northern California is paradise: Santa Cruz has the best climate for outdoor activity, so I spend a lot of time hiking and being continually inspired by the natural landscape and the shifting light throughout the day. Access to San Francisco allows me to stay in touch with all things urban but mostly art and culture. I teach in Italy every summer, so visual inspiration via travel plays into the work as well. My studio time at home is the place to download and feel the freedom to assess and respond. I have a good balance between work and play and I see how they continually influence each other.

A Life Span 2015, 24x36” , oil on wood panel

A Life Span 2015, 24×36” , oil on wood panel

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

I never had any expectations about role playing or being an artist. I have stayed true to my spirit which affords me the opportunity to engage equally with work and play. I know that being an artist takes fortitude and blind faith. I am a pleasure seeker and I have discovered the secret is finding the sweet balance between the two. I have been teaching art to adults for the past 30 years and this too seems like play to me. I enjoy spreading “the gospel’ about how satisfying and necessary it is to make art– it gives meaning to our life. I always knew I was good at teaching and I knew that I had to paint. What I didn’t know how inextricably linked they would become. For me, making art and teaching are like breathing— I get energized and inspired. I love the people’s stories. I also love the quiet time to reflect on what all the stories about living mean.

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?

My studio has always been in my home for as long as I have had children (20 years). I have been quite dedicated to being in the studio when I am not teaching or being fully present for my children. Days in the studio are luxurious and I adore the notion that I can just peek at my work at all hours of the day and night. I work when I can and I am very efficient whenI have studio time.

Leap of Faith , 2015, Mixed Media Installation, Riverside Museum of Art, 10’x 26’, all paintings oil on wood panel, collage, gouache on rice paper, found objects

Leap of Faith , 2015, Mixed Media Installation, Riverside Museum of Art, 10’x 26’, all paintings oil on wood panel, collage, gouache on rice paper, found objects

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

My work is in a new phase right now because my children have grown up. They are the ultimate barometers of time. For the past 20 years, my work was about feminine beauty and destiny. I think the theme of women was a direct response to having girls and questioning cultural ideals of representation and beauty. Now that I see them moving on and I am (painfully) aware of my own mortality and how notions of luck and change complicate and determine the course of our lives. My recent work explores different stages in life…the significant and the banal. Using symbols such as barometers, tornados, Lucky 8 balls and rabbit’s feet, I am revealing how little control we have, despite wishes and prayers. I guess this is what middle age is all about.

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

My family, my daughters in particular, have incited and inspired the work I do. I feel that I have been a strong role model for them by questioning cultural stereotypes and using my work as commentary. I read the NY Times daily and much of my imagery and storytelling comes from those pages as well. Artists who continue to inspire me are painters who use notions of politics as well as interesting formatting devices to tell stories. Some artists who I respond to are Nancy Spero, Ida Applebroog, Marlene Dumas as well as William Kentridge and Shazia Sikkander… many of whom who are exploring notions of installation and fusing drawing with film and animation.

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

I feel so lucky to be able to live this life. If I weren’t a teacher, I would be a therapist. I love people’s stories and I think I am a pretty good listener. I also love to give advice and make people laugh. As an artist though, I fantasize about some aspect of filmmaking— either documentary or fiction. The problem is, I have a nasty habit of painting and I love being home.

About

IMG_8754Andrea Borsuk is a painter whose work explores notions of climate, time and destiny She holds an MFA from Columbia University and a BA from UC Santa Cruz. She is an Art Instructor at Cabrillo College and a Visiting Lecturer at The Oregon College of Art and Craft in Portland, Oregon. She is the 2010/2011 recipient of the Rydell Visual Arts Fellowship. Her solo and group exhibitions include: The Riverside Museum of Art, The Nevada Museum of Art, Santa Cruz Museum of Art and History, Monterey Peninsula Community College Art Gallery, and the San Jose Institute for Contemporary Art. Her work is in numerous private collections.

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andreaborsuk.com

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Xiao Wang – San Francisco, California

Title: Untitled Medium: oil on canvas Size: 72"x50" Year: 2015

Title: Untitled
Medium: oil on canvas
Size: 72″x50″
Year: 2015

Briefly describe the work you do.

My practice focuses on realism painting. By taking advantage of oil paint’s great capability of rendering alternative realities, I use mellow colors and thin glaze to create realistic figure, object and space that evoke a sense of sinister. While I am interested in creating cinematic drama and tension, I want the imageries to stay incomprehensible.

The uncanny plays a significant part in my practice. In my paintings, the uncanny-ness is usually presented as an in between: the frozen moment in between one second and the next, the locations between the known and the unknown, the objects that are lifeless yet seem human, the fetishized interiors that are realistic yet feel alien. The in between turns familiarity into something that is unsettling and unfamiliar.

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

I was born and raised in Beijing, China. Through out my early art study I received traditional academic education, from which I developed an interest in realism work, the trainings has also provided me the technical foundation for my later work. In 2009 I moved to Glasgow, Scotland to pursue a BFA degree in painting, the experience in UK opened my eyes to the larger contemporary art world. I started thinking critically towards my previous practice of figurative painting, I learnt to take a more contemporary approach to my subject while embrace the technique that I had built up. My practice of painting continued after I move to San Francisco, CA in 2012 to study for a MFA degree, where my vision of painting as well as technique was refined.

The life as a traveler and learner has complicated my view on identity. I see me self as a cultural outsider, and I cannot define my own identity simply with my ethnic and nationality backgrounds. As a result, my work has become more about creating a quality and vision instead of sending messages and making statements.

Title: Survivor Medium: oil on canvas Size: 48"x37" Year: 2015

Title: Survivor
Medium: oil on canvas
Size: 48″x37″
Year: 2015

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 use my studio both as a working space and a thinking space. While I do spend long hours in studio making work, I also spend almost equal amount of time sitting, looking and thinking. I like having all my work around me so I can read them and see how they have been developed.

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

Teaching. I didn’t consider becoming a teacher until 2 years ago when I started working as a teaching assistant.

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 consider my studio as a second home, so I try to be there as much as possible. On a working day I usually come in at noon and work till evening, sometimes late at night. Although I find the best time for me to work is morning.

Title: Interior Medium: oil on canvas Size: 42"x42" Year: 2014

Title: Interior
Medium: oil on canvas
Size: 42″x42″
Year: 2014

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

My work has changed radically in the past 5 years, in fact if you look at my portfolio back in 2010 you would not believe it is done by the same person, this is mainly due to the fact that I was still a student. But overall I have been shifting my attention from “how to paint” to “what to paint”, over the years my technique has actually become more “conservative”.

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

An artist’s work changes when him/herself changes, therefore everyone who has been part of my life has had their impact on my work.

Besides that, Gerhard Richter has been one of my biggest influence within the past 4 years, so has Freud and Bacon(but I’m more interested in listening to Bacon talk about painting). One of the quotes by Freud has been on my studio wall for two and half years, and I still read it when I’m stuck.

Recently I’ve been going back to the old masters such as Vermeer, Caravaggio and Goya, at the same time I’m taking influence from cinema, especially David Lynch’s films

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

I have always enjoyed cooking, if I can’t paint anymore maybe I’ll open a restaurant. It’s interesting how much cooking and painting share in common.

About

SONY DSCXiao Wang is a Chinese painter who lives and works in the US. He studied at Glasgow School of Art in Scotland where he received the BFA degree, he continued his study at San Francisco Art Institute and earned his MFA degree in painting. Wang currently lives and works in San Francisco, CA.

Wang’s work has been exhibited in Glasgow, London and California at spaces such as Candid Art Trust, Studio 41, Fort Mason Center, Diego Rivera Gallery, Arc Gallery, Chico Art Center and SOMArts Cultural Center. In 2014 He received Murphy and Cadogan Contemporary Art Award from San Francisco Foundation. Recently he was awarded with 1st place for Anne Bremer Memorial Prize, 1st place for “Mind, Spirit & Emotion II” at Art-Competition, and silver award for Art Forward Contests. 

SONY DSC

SONY DSC

xiaowang.co.uk

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

 

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