Susie IRL Exhibition @HERE: In Conversation with Susie Mag Founder Olivia Huffman

IT is rare indeed to chance upon that hybrid artist/activist/community organizer: that gem of a person who not only successfully runs their own practice, developing thgeir work as a formidable artist, but also finds time to initiate and organize community meetings and projects on the side, supporting scores of other creative types on the up-and-up in the process. Olivia Huffman is a gem: one of this singular breed of dexterous creative folk.

An artist working across mixed media, performance and new media, Huffman has spearheaded efforts to increase visibility and opportunities for marginalized artists.  In this vein they have led the creation of artist community Art Folx Nation, an intersectional feminist collective engaging with non-binary / women-identifying artists. In addition, they are a co-founder of Susie Mag, presenting cutting-edge interdisciplinary artworks with an eye toward gender equality in the arts.

Susie Mag has partnered with HERE, an arts center in Lower Manhattan, for the exhibition Susie IRL featuring mixed media works created by participating artists from the Susie Mag family. The exhibition, which is free to the public, is on view Jan 25 – Mar 28 with a public opening/artist’s reception on Thursday, February 22nd from 5-7 pm.

We sat down with Huffman to discuss their process as an artist in-depth and to hear more about how their works come to fruition.

AM. Thanks for speaking with us today, Olivia. I’d like to start with themes latent throughout your practice. Your work often incorporates references to the body, though most of your practice isn’t figurative per se. Can you explain why your work incorporates what you refer to as “remains” of the body and mind vis-a-vis “found material” and how this feature is crucial to your practice as a whole?

OH. I collect debris from everyday life. These items share a story about daily rituals, preferences, and aesthetics. To me, referencing the body without figurative elements enables the viewer’s imagination, linking their memories with mine. I use found materials because everyone has a memory tied to a color, texture, or scent. These slight signals trigger subconscious imagery that can connect the viewer to my work on a more personal level. My work focuses on the mystery and varying paths of personal development and growth, not the outward appearance of a person. I have used the figure in the past, but it was always very minimal and abstract.

AM. The artwork you create has a potent sense of materiality tied specifically the lived history embedded within that material. Can you talk about how the lived histories of material are important within the context of individual artworks you create?

OH. In my current series, Domesticity, each piece represents a different facet of household duties.

“Mystic” references gardening and interior decorating. The materials used are embossed wallpaper, a plastic bag handle, and sliced bark adhered to drywall. I collected the wallpaper from my first roommate in New York and I found the bark with one of my dear friends when we went on a road trip to Mystic, Connecticut.

“Consent” references sexual duties of the household. There comes in an entitlement over a woman’s body once they are wed, it wasn’t that long ago that raping your wife was legal. The piece consists of fishnet stockings, silver tacks, and clear buttons on drywall. The buttons fill up the fishnet stockings creating sags and lumps to mimic flesh.

“Dedication” references office work and the surmounting to-do tasks in home/work life. Each post-it note consists of tasks that are coded with shorthand text that without context are nonsensical. This work includes a gratuitous amount of notes, a lock of hair, and faux wood contact paper on drywall.

“Dedication” 2016,  Mixed Media

 

AM. In this series [Domesticity], industrial objects and materials are used to create relatively small works. Can you talk about scale and size in relation to this series, and about how you approach a sense of balance when incorporating disparate elements (tree bark,fabric, fishnets, etc) juxtaposed within these works?

OH. I draw a lot from the minimal abstract movement is the 60’s— inspired greatly by Louise Bourgeois, Sol LeWitt, Eva Hesse, and Agnes Martin. All of these creatives had specific guidelines pertaining to their material uses and size. Agnes Martin worked in multiples of threes, as do I. In Domesticity I decided to work in small formats, on drywall, and only use three materials (outside of adhesive).

AM. You’ve lived and worked in New York, NY and Las Vegas, NV, where you are from originally. How have these different locations impacted your work? Has your work evolved or new concepts been introduced in your migration east?

OH. Las Vegas is one hell of a city. There is so much going on but you can easily slip into your own bubble (similar to NYC). There are so many great and valuable artists in my hometown who inspire me daily while out here in New York. I think when I lived in Las Vegas I was driven more by my emotions, the industry when I was out there was motivated purely by sexualizing women. Many of my jobs treated me very differently than cis men (wear skirts, make-up, act bubbly). In New York people are more raw: we all know what a pain in the ass it is to get from one place to another, do grocery shopping, or wash your clothes.

I think when I moved here I started working in a way that was more coded — smarter, if you will. My commute to work was roughly an hour each way for three years of my life, which is a lot of time. I used this to analyze my materials, my thoughts about constructing a piece, and deciphered ways to communicate angst, love, or habits in a non-literal form.

I still talk about gender constructs, but I’m less angry and transparent. My connection to feminism has evolved, I came out as Non-Binary while making this series which revealed Domesticity is about deconstructing the confinement of womanhood. I use materials from the home, sometimes my cat even helps me shred fabrics. Although the topics of each piece may not be peaceful, while I am making work it’s about building stability, safety, and love within myself. In Las Vegas, my work more stemmed from anger, resentment, and confusion. There was some love, but I was a very self-destructive being in my late teens and early twenties.

“Mystic” 2017, Mixed Media

 

AM. In addition to your 2- and 3-D works you’ve also created performance works, such as Subconscious: The Weapon of Choice. In what ways do you approach performance and sound works the same as your physical artworks and what conceptual overlap do you find between these practices?

OH. Being diagnosed bipolar at 13, I have always worked with psychological elements. There are so many ideas, motives, or actions that happen within ourselves that we aren’t readily privy too. “Subconscious: The Weapon of Choice” explored the three levels of the human psyche; The Physical Self (audience/voyeurs), The Subconscious (attendees who join the performance), and The Imagined Self (performed by me). The performance ended up being a banishment of the ill will that I held against myself and others. I worked in near silence, with little movement, as a helpless confused person that was led into the light of self-acceptance. Towards the end of the performance, a participant cleaned off my nude body and held me in their arms like a newborn. There were participants that whispered encouraging sentiments and really proved to me that I am worth love in a moment in time that I had felt the most unloved in my entire life. But until that performance and those moments, I had no idea that these things were happening inside of me.

In the sound piece, Bedwomb, that I constructed with my partner’s music project, warmcanopy, we wanted to highlight the ignored sounds of the bedroom. In it you’ll hear a cat purring, change being dropped in a piggy bank, coughing, the sound of putting things away. We set aside a time to record ourselves cleaning our room, another domestic task, and submitted it to Yasmina Chavez‘s project, The Helen Keller Experience.

All of my work is cathartic and relates to personal growth and experiences.

Consent
“Consent” 2015, Mixed Media

AM. As Founder of Susie Magazine you’ve put an emphasis on creating a platform for cis women, trans, and non-binary voices. What aspects of Susie do you find particularly exciting, and what does the zine have to share with the world that other mags or outlets just aren’t providing?

OH. Our zine formed in a secret Facebook group. We wanted to curate a platform to highlight and empower voices that aren’t regularly featured in mainstream outlets and turn the focus to the everyday person. Susie strives to be inclusive in print and at events. We are very conscious of curating with a balance of people from many different socio-economic backgrounds and creeds. Our first Issue themed P O W E R, was when Hillary Clinton was running and we were high off of having a non-cis man as a presidential candidate. There is a piece by Tanika Goudeau Hochhauser titled “Today I Vote”, that we placed as the first editorial piece because it pointedly and poetically outlines our country’s history of systemic oppression.  It was interesting to see how the context of the piece changed, as we finished the layout of before the election was finalized.

Our most recent issue, B U I L D, had a very different vibe. It was post-presidential election. It’s after many of us in marginalized communities cried out, some in disbelief and some affirmed of how racist and misogynistic our country still is. This issue is all about building yourself back up. There are stories of heartache, suicide, loving your mother, learning to love yourself, loss of a grandfather, and silly moments of “What are hands for?”

I personally think it is invaluable to have all of these voices and artworks featured under one binding! You giggle, cry, and get a cute playlist to dance around in front of the mirror to. Visitors can check us out at our online shop and on our Instagram.

AM. You’re also a Founder of Art Folx Nation. Can you speak a bit about the aims of that collective as a whole and your progress so far?

OH. Art Folx Nation began in 2014 and was originally titled Lady Art NYC. The group’s focus is to bring together a bunch of non-cis men creatives in an online space so we could share events, ask art questions, and support each other. The group itself is only for cis women, trans, and non-binary people, but our events are gender-expansive. I wanted to cultivate a space free of objectification that thrived on being supportive and safe. When I moved to New York I went to a lot of events thinking I would meet like-minded people, but every time I went to these events people had a buddy or weren’t necessarily open to making a new friend. I was in the big secret feminist Facebook group and realized that we were getting to know details about each other and building really dependable long-term bonds online without having met IRL. I figured that would work just as well in an art-focused space, and it has!

Currently, we have online chapters titled by region; Art Folx NYC, Art Folx Mid West, Art Folx South West,  Art Folx Pacific North West,  Art Folx LA, and Art Folx South East. The idea is that no matter where you move you can join one of these groups and have a supportive environment, know about events happening in your region, and (hopefully) make some friends!

Triumphant LiC-A Artists Exhibition Opens at Atlantic Gallery Feb 1st

LIC-A@Atlantic Gallery

548 West 28th St., Suite 540, NY, NY 10001
Opening reception: Thursday, Feb 1, 6:00-8:30 pm
Exhibition on view Jan 30th-Feb 17th

The talented artists of Long Island City will all be together under one roof for LIC-A@Atlantic Gallery, hosted from 1/30-2/17 at 548 West 28th St #540 in Chelsea. Carol Crawford, fellow artist & president of the board at LICA, shares one of her annual curating spots with her fellow members at LICA, making this the 4th annual LiC-A@Atlantic exhibition.

LIC-A@ATLANTIC exhibition announcement

A veritable who’s who of artists who live or work in Long Island City, there will be artworks on view by Lia Ali, Diane Bassin, Mindy Bassin, J.F. Bautista, Patricia Brintle, Patricia Bouley, Nicholas Christopher, Anne Closuit Eisenheart, Carol Crawford, Fabienne Cuter, Joseph August De Leo, Kathy Ferguson, Jean Foos, Diana Freedman-Shea, Eric Friedmann, Estsud “cappy” Fungcap, Gilly Gil-Lugo, Michelle Goguen, Asano Agarie Gomez, Raul Gracia, Myrna Harrison-Changar, Erika Horwitz, Afzal Hossain, Glenn Marlowe, Nancy Macina, Thaddeaus Radell, Sarah Richardson, Carol Rickey, Mark Rossi, Theo Sahos, Min-Myng Jung Schaffner, Veronica Soto-Hlampeas, Howard Stevens, Carrie Swim, Therese Tan, Diane Teeter, Kay Towns, Preston Trombly, Marji Wollin and Siu Wong-Camac. With a total of forty exhibiting artists, the exhibition will span the remarkable breadth of artistic styles rooted in Long Island City.

 

With styles ranging from figurative to abstract, and a variety of artistic practices on offer, LIC-A@Atlantic will hold something for everyone. Come out and support working artists who comprise the artist community of Long Island City in this rare exhibition, catapulting artists who work outside of the scene of usual suspects in Manhattan and Bushwick. Home to formidable international artists Kimsooja and Mark di Suvero, Long Island City’s tribe of contemporary artists explore form and content in unique and surprising ways.

Siu Camac-Wong, “City in Ruins” (2017)

Don’t miss the opening of LIC-A@Atlantic from 6-8 pm on Thursday, Feb 1, and stay tuned for meet the artist nights (6-8 pm, Thurs, Feb. 8 & Thurs, Feb. 15 and Sat, Feb. 17 2-5 pm)

Carol Crawford, “The Staircase” (2014)

-1 Below: A Look at Culture in the Outer Boros & NY Metro Area, Jan 29 to Feb 2, 2018

There are countless gallery guides exploring the cultural events happening throughout NYC, but how many can you find within walking distance or bus ride of your nest? How many events happen right down the street that you could swing by after a nice dinner with a friend? Why does every single blog profile seem to profile events happening in the art areas of Chelsea and the Lower East Side?

With these thoughts in mind, here at -1 Below we take a look at cultural events happening around New York City, minus one boro: Manhattan.

————————————————————————

Below we consider upcoming cultural highlights with five not-to-miss events from Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island and the Bronx… with some cultural events to entice guests willing to venture farther afield.

Artwork by Katherine Toukhy, PES Grab back artist-in-residence
Artwork by Katherine Toukhy, PES Grab back artist-in-residence (Project for Empty Space, Newark, NJ)
  1. “Night Regulation” Radiator Gallery, 10-61 Jackson Ave, Long Island City feat. artists Loren Britton, Maria Dimanshtein, Nicholas Fraser, JF Lynch and Andrew Prayzner – curated by Patrick Neal. An exhibition touching on the fraught and complex relationship between conceptual and formal elements present in contemporary art. Opening: Feb 2nd from 6-9 pm  
  2. “Incision: Feminist in Residence” Project for Empty Space, 2 Gateway Center, Newark, NJ  (across from Penn station skybridge) feat. artists Chaya Babu, Christen Clifford, Camille Lee and Katherine Toukhy. Profoundly feminist, this exhibition explores the personal and political presence of being a woman artist in a complex, hierarchical art world pantheon.  Opening: Jan 31st from 6-8 pm.
  3. Know Your Mushrooms: Mycology 101” Earth Arts Center, 936 Madison Street, Brooklyn, NY for artists with a taste for the wilder side of nature, this class, led by expert agriculturalist and PDC practitioner Oliver Bolotin, covers key points outlined by Paul Stamets in the tome “Mycelium Running”. This class will cover wild mushrooms as well as growing your own fungi colony at home. Event takes place Sat, Feb 3rd: doors open at 8 pm with discussion beginning at 8:30. 
  4. “Reenactment” gallery talk, BRIC (The Stoop @ BRIC Arts) 647 Fulton Street, Brooklyn, NY. Coffee + Conversation discussing current BRIC exhibition “Reenactment” with curator Jenny Gerow and exhibiting artists Maria Hupfield and Farideh Sakhaeifer on how certain histories are privileged, stifled, and/or eventually re-examined. The exhibition features artworks by Ken Gonzalez-Day, Crystal Z. Campbell, Alicia Grullon (pictured in cover image), Hupfield, Sakhaeifer, and Marisa Williamson. Feb 3rd from 12-1 pm.  
  5. “Coming to America” Free Screening @Brooklyn Bazaar, 150 Greenpoint Ave, Brooklyn, NY. A light-hearted look at America (specifically, Jamaica Queens) through the eyes of a visitor from our current administration’s so-monikered “shithole countries”, come laugh off our current xenophobia with Eddie Murphy and Arsenio Hall’s devastatingly witty performance, with turns by the commanding James Earl Jones and Madge Sinclair in the classic 1988 film directed by John Landis.  No RSVP required, seating first come first serve. Jan 31st from 8-11 pm. 
mush
“Know Your Mushrooms: Mycology 101” Earth Arts Center

In Time/Out of Place a Transcendent Exhibition for Asian Society of Arts

img_4532.jpg

At Parasol Projects through Sunday November 26th, the Asian Society of Arts presents the group exhibition “In time/Out of Place,” curated by Katya Grokhovsky.

IMG_4636

Making manifest the latent struggle existing between our temporary human existence and the longevity of place, the exhibition investigates aspects of identity and geography.

IMG_4632

The Asian Society of the Arts, which advocates for and provides opportunities to artists from overseas relocating to the United States, here features works by artists Munjer Hashim, Jian Yi, Maiko Kikuchi, Harshad Marathe, Kohei Urakami, Jerri WeiXiaoye Xing, and curator Grokhovsky who hails from Australia.

JianYiLooped2016

Utilizing video, animation, prints, digital art, illustrations and architectural stylings, “In time/Out of Place” takes new media and contemporary topics to new levels in an urgent and coherent exhibition.

DSC04943-3

Programming includes a lecture on Saturday, 11/25 at 4 pm and a closing event on Sunday, 11/26 from 6-8 pm. Exhibition hours last from 12-6 pm until the closing party on Sunday, 11/26. Saturday’s lecture focuses on the Digital Age of the Art Market and will be led by Ms. Yixin Wang, and the closing celebration features a violin performance by Anna Tsukervanik and live action by Katya Grokhovsky (7 pm).

Welcome to the Paradigm Shift.

We’re out here – from an insider’s look at up-and-coming contemporary artists, to intimate studio visits, to behind the scenes sneak peeks at exhibitions around the world, we are sharing the Next Thing in art with you.

From contemporary galleries to street art festivals, ANTE. takes you to where the action is.

Creative fields are integrated in the arts, and vice versa, so we take time to check on our cousins. What emerging fashion designers are slaying at Paris Fashion week and why have runways shifted outside to the Bois de Boulogne? We dive into infographics for the contemporary reader, touch base with boundary-pushing musicians and check out the best in multidisciplinary music festivals (all eyes on you, Panorama.)

We are ANTE. Join us and find out what the hype is about.

The Ambivalent Promise of Tomorrow: Delano Dunn in Conversation at Long Gallery

With his measured words and assured demeanor, Delano Dunn’s calm presence stands in contrast with his fiercely vibrant artworks currently on display at Long Gallery. No One Can Be This Tomorrow, Dunn’s current exhibit with the gallery, displays the hope of empowerment embodied by Dunn’s portraits of black women, men, and family depicted upon layers of technicolor mixed media. Recently the artist took time to walk through his exhibit and discuss this series along with influences that have shaped Dunn’s artistic practice.

DD_01.jpg
Sunday Shoes (2016) Delano Dunn. Mixed Media and Resin on Board. 

ANTE. Thanks Delano for meeting to discuss your work today. Can you start by giving us an overview on how your career as an artist has developed until now?

Delano Dunn. I’m originally from South Central LA, and lived there through the (Rodney King) riots in the early ‘90s. I came to Pratt in Brooklyn in 1997, studying to become an illustrator. Originally I was influenced by comic books (I started making comic book art when I was young) and went to Pratt with this in mind as a career. Freshman year at Pratt I switched focus to illustration, looking to make a career in editorial illustrations. I began to focus primarily on making art on a regular basis in 2007, working on new works in between other responsibilities. I recently completed my MFA from the School of Visual Arts*, making the switch to becoming a full-time artist. (*Dunn is modest: he completed his MFA with the honor of receiving two awards from SVA, the Edward Zutrau Memorial Award and the Alumni Society Thesis Award. – AP)

ANTE. So attending SVA was a point of entry into the art world full-time?

DD. Actually, I was working at the Whitney Museum of American Art prior to SVA. Working with the museum and becoming familiar with the various materials used throughout the building influenced my practice. That, and seeing my grandfather work.

ANTE.  What did he do?

DD. He’s a jackof-all trades. He always had old tools and equipment lying around, so I got to play with spare parts and electronics.

ANTE. Definitely sounds like a source of inspiration – I had a similar experience with my family having a shop of old equipment, where my folks would weld.

DD. It just opens up a whole new world of possibilities.

ANTE. Can you walk through this series and your recent body of work, In Our Time? What has shifted as you moved into working on No One Can Be This Tomorrow?

DD. Sure – for this series, I started focusing on research at New York Public Libraries, particularly the Schomburg Center, last Summer with production beginning in the Fall. The images included in this series span from drawings from the abolition period on to photographs from the 20th century, including portraits and caricatures. A large focus for this series was making women and girls visible in the work. This is probably a reaction to having a daughter now; that, and I feel I’ve focused substantially on the black male experience in previous work. In the work (need name of superhero work/Genesis) the androgynous figure is a female Tron, subverting expectations placed on the superhero genre.

ANTE. Your works seem to have shifted from the previous series that emphasize autobiographical elements, such as Everyone Digs Delano Dunn, to research-based methods. Was this a conscious shift as a result of your MFA studies, perhaps?

DD. There is some overlap (of these two themes) through my work over time, and in many ways, my older work is in dialogue with autobiographical themes, like growing up in LA and not being black enough, liquor store ads in the community, etc. There has always been research in my work, however; this is something I was already doing when I started pursuing my MFA. These studies allowed me to further broaden this part of my practice, making me willing to go headfirst into the research with renewed vigor.

DD_13 (1).jpg
We Ain’t Even Been To The Ocean (2017) Delano Dunn. Mixed Media and Resin on Board.

ANTE. Speaking of influences from your earlier years, you mentioned comic book art. Do you have any notable influences from this genre along with contemporary artists that have informed your practice?

DD. I definitely draw from both worlds. On the comic book side two icons are Greg Capulo, the artist for the Spawn and Batman comics, was an early influence along with Rick Leonardi of Spiderman 2099. Contemporary artists – there are so many it’s hard to name them all… Mickalene Thomas, Theaster Gates, Glenn Ligon, Robert Rauschenberg and Richard Diebenkorn, to name a few. Also writers are a major influence on my practice, especially Toni Morrison and James Baldwin.

ANTE. Writers, interesting! That speaks to the profound sense of humanism emanating from your work.

DD. Thanks, as much as I enjoy abstract work I feel compelled to be able to relate to the work itself, and feel compassion. This arises in the form of human interaction. Writing has a lot to do with that…I really do want to communicate that to people. Some of that illustration practice still lingers, I guess.

DD_12
Jubilee! (2016) Delano Dunn. Mixed Media and Resin on Board.

ANTE. The content of your works makes an impact, and the textures and tones of the materials are equally fascinating. Can you talk about the source of your materials for this series of work, how you select them and their significance?

DD. There’s a real layering of histories and eras inherent to these works. For the wallpaper included in these pieces, this is sourced from a church that historically welcomed refugees in Grand Rapids, MI. This material thus has a loaded history that responds directly to the election. The colors included in many of these works span the rainbow, which is intentional: when you examine a rainbow, it’s meant to stand for acceptance, for hope and diversity, and yet the rainbow itself is an optical illusion. You can’t touch a rainbow. This election, so much positivity, hope for a diverse presidential legacy – potentially going from the first black president in the white house to
the first female president – was stifled. I see this as a real blow to women. We now have an oppressor who’s wiping out the identities and importance of female figureheads, and by depicting these women throughout this series of works I’m hoping to reclaim these identities in a sense.

ANTE. This idea of legacy is interesting to me – do you feel like through history, things haven’t really changed or progressed as much as we believe they have?

DD. I think things haven’t changed, but they have been re-branded, from emancipation through Jim Crow and the Civil Rights Era…it’s always seemed like things have changed, but they really haven’t. There’s not any less of a problem, just different problems. It’s sad in a way; there’s a feeling that in this time period when we could’ve had real advancement we really haven’t. It’s ridiculously that there hasn’t been a female president. When you look at the space program the USSR helmed they included women and black astronauts before the US did – we don’t live in a post-black or post-gender era, not in the slightest. -ANTE. 
Delano Dunn will be in conversation with Khalil Gibran Muhammad at Long Gallery from 6:30 pm – 8:30 pm on Monday, March 27th produced by Sanaa Contemporary. To attend, please RSVP to: rsvp@sanaa-contemporary.com