On view through May 22nd at the NYCxDESIGN Design Pavilion in Times Square, a public art initiative stands out from the pack. Created through a partnership between students at the Strzeminski Academy of Fine Arts in Łódź, Poland and the Brooklyn-based Pratt Institute, the project – “Hurrah!” – marks a creative, innovative approach to US-Polish relations through public participation. “Hurrah!” consists of large-scale vertical tubes that form a public installation – a xylophone for visitors to interact with, that – upon visitors striking the sculpture in a percussive form – plays well-known Polish birthday and anniversary song, “Sto Lat.” The aesthetics of the public design initiative itself reference both the beauty of Polish landscape and the verticality of midtown Manhattan, where the project is situated.
Polish Cultural Institute of New York Director Anna Domanska comments on the partnership of this endeavor, “The idea of the installation arose from reflections on how we could celebrate the 100th anniversary of establishing diplomatic relations between the USA and Poland in a way that would be interesting and inspiring today. We wanted to talk about the union of Poles and Americans, not by reviving history, but by establishing a new space for people from both countries to create together. We wanted to commemorate not only the material things expressed in this installation but also newly established relationships that may result in future projects. And, of course, we wanted to give people a moment of fun and joy in experimenting with an unusual art object.” The project welcomes a spirit of public participation and celebration, with the uplifting sounds of “Sto Lat” bringing visitors together to honor the long-lasting relationship that binds together the United States and Poland. Welcoming and joyful, this project speaks to the talented, rising stars of design studying both at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn and the Strzeminski Academy.
The public art design project is on view at the Design Pavilion, NYCxDESIGN through May 22nd! The sculpture can be visited at the showcase which spans the pedestrian plazas between W 42nd-47th and bounded by Broadway and 7th Ave – “Hurrah!” is located within the Design Pavilion, and is sponsored by the Polish Cultural Institute and the Embassy of the Republic of Poland in Washington, D.C.
Artist Marjan Moghaddam is many things, but bored isn’t one of them. A multi-disciplinary artist whose viral sensations, Glitched Goddesses, are propelling the artist toward phenomenal digital art visibility, Moghaddam is that rare artist whose formal stylings and conceptual acumen are equally stunning. Stemming from an #ArtHack Instagram project which the artist initiated in 2016 to disrupt and democratize the exhibition space, her glitch aesthetic permeates the oscillating female forms depicted in her Glitched Goddesses series. Buzz around the series has reached fever pitch, with over 3 million views of her works combined across Arts in Paris and Facebook. So far, her hacks have engaged in dialogue with exhibitions and events at locations ranging from Miami Art Basel to the Guggenheim, the New Museum and Mary Boone gallery – the last three, it is worth noting, were founded by women. “When my ArtBasel Miami hack went viral on Facebook, that’s when I realized the Internet has matured enough for serious, conceptual, thoughtful digital art to go viral and find an audience, ” Moghaddam explained. She now routinely receives collector inquiries on Instagram for work from her #ArtHack collection due to the ongoing social media demand for digital artworks.
We sat down with the artist in the wake of her recent exhibitions for the Smithsonian and National Cathedral, commissioned by arts nonprofit Halcyon and digital art center Artechouse, for the 2018 #WeThePeople Festival. Moghaddam has also recently shown in high-profile exhibits with the Rowan University Art Gallery and Piramid Sanat Art Center in Istanbul. Discussing her upcoming exhibit, Re-Engineering Humanity, at 836m gallery in San Francisco this March, curated by lady Pheonix of Yes Universe, Moghaddam walked us through some of the key components of her practice, reflecting on what this sudden success means for her as an artist with decades of artistic creation behind her.
We kicked things off by questioning Moghaddam about the forms she uses. Why women’s figures, and why the glitch animation format digitally transforming this shiny amorphous substance into different women’s bodies? The artist points to her own evolution as an artist, watching as male artists have continually garnered the lion’s share of market value and attention in the press. She points to recent exhibits of women artists at major institutions – Sarah Lucas at the New Museum, and Hilma af Klint at the Guggenheim, as evidence that while things are changing, there is still work to be done. “I set this #ArtHack (of these women’s exhibitions) to [the sounds of] PJ Harvey and Bjork screaming out the Rolling Stones’ “No Satisfaction” as a reminder of how far women and especially rebellious and outsider women artists still have left to go, in comparison to their male counterparts,” notes Moghaddam.
The artist focuses on women as the subject matter, shifting the lens toward the female gaze by celebrating and extolling the wonders of our own bodies. Extending this concept of equality and equanimity, the artist explains that she engages with advocacy in her artwork, remarking specifically that women deserve representation regardless of their abilities, appearance, age, etc. “The #GlitchedGoddesses glitch the concept that a woman can be a singular form as they shift from heavy to slender, buff, young, old and pregnant, this is how the digital can intervene to expand the conceptual and aesthetic possibilities in art,” she explains. She notes of the #GlitchedGoddesses that although they occur in dialogue with other artists’ work, they don’t solely translate to appropriation art. “Merely hacking is just transgressive, but to do so with social and political activism and as a critical dialogue, becomes transformative,” the artist concludes.
Scholars have taken notice, as these figures were were recently presented at Colloque international Jeptav2019 conference on Art, Intelligence, and Intuition. An Iranian-born creative living and working in the United States, political and social freedom have remained a mainstay in Moghaddam’s artistic practice. Last September, the artist embedded an angry Kavanaugh talking head, in a Vagina Vedanta from Happy Happy Leaf artist Rae-Yen Song for her Frieze London 2018 #ArtHack, in what she views as a type of collectively sourced artistic imagination on social media feeds. This expanded view of collaboration and intervention re-examines methods by which artists can engage both the art world and society on the whole in reckoning with the lack of women’s art being represented at major art world fairs and market events.
Moghaddam has never been someone to stay inside the box or play by the rules; since her early days as an artist on wildly creative scene at the Pyramid Club in the 1980s, where she also exhibited her very first computer animations (she remarks that these were created on a Commodore 64). In the 1990s, Moghaddam became the featured artist for the launch of DOTCOM Gallery and International Forum for the Digital Arts – the very first commercial NY art gallery based entirely on the Internet (Archived on Rhizome.org), with GIF animations of her 3D CG avatar and fractals. As a rebel and an artist, her work has often been positioned on the fringe: a place that has served to her advantage in the viral digital space that is social media. She cites various factors that have continually worked against her since she relocated to New York, to where she currently lives and works in Brooklyn. “Being a woman, doing cutting edge and disruptive technology art, being an immigrant from Iran, and not being wealthy or having any proximity to wealth and privilege [do seem to work against me],” reflects Moghaddam. She continues, “I also think my rebellious nature is another strike against me, since that is usually celebrated in men but not women. But these barriers have also fed my practice and forced me to forge my own path.” Because of this persistence, her early virtual reality installation “The Box” went straight from Soho galleries to Internet pioneer Josh Harris’ executive office at Jupiter Communications, in what was then the heart of NYC’s 1990s Silicon Alley in the early internet era. Tech and art both find a voice in Moghaddam’s work, and her continued attention and acceptance from the tech community indicate how her work also embraces philosophies which are relevant outside of just the fine art community.
The artist may march to the beat of her own drum but her work is firmly rooted in art theory and social critique. She cites influential post-war philosophers as crucial to her development of the #ArtHacks as a body of work. “A few [philosophers] that I would list are Norbert Weiner, Baudrillard, Sloterdijk and even Foucault whose ‘art of the museum spaces’ I have cited with my #ArtHacks as part of my art of the social media space.” Embedding these concepts within the depth and breadth of her digital artistic practice has proven critical to connecting with a new generation who is eager for art that speaks to their social moment, and teaches something of value through cutting-edge technological methods.
Additionally, her signature style and aesthetic innovation, a practice that she has termed Chronometric Sculpture, blends the ideals of sculpture with the aesthetics of animation. Social media has continually uplifted her work to viral status: as of 2019, her work is even shared by various digeratis and Futurists on Linkedin as a starting point on discussions about the future of art.
Previously her Baisser at Mary Boone in Glassish and Waxish had garnered over 2 million views on a single Instagram post, and another 1.7 million views on a Facebook post.
With a multi-disciplinary practice spanning digital art, animation, painting, sculpture, and augmented and virtual reality among other disparate creative pursuits, Moghaddam is an unstoppable force in contemporary art, adapting to new formats and carving new paths ahead at the advent of cutting-edge technologies. In addition to “Re-engineering Humanity,” on view through Spring/Summer of 2019 at 836m gallery in San Francisco, the artist also has new animations available now on the Noow.art digital art collection platform, and an upcoming exhibition at Art Jed gallery. Future projects include another commissioned, site-specific public Augmented Reality art project with City Unseen projects, so stay tuned – knowing Marjan Moghaddam there is plenty more where that came from!
A camouflage-wrapped La-Z-Boy chair languishes on a fishing pier in Virginia. Rows of milk cartons line the refrigerated shelves in a Wisconsin grocery store. Views from across America feature in the photography which forms the basis of the migratory “Treat America Project”, a group exhibit curated by Jon Feinstein of Humble Arts Foundation and Jamie Martinez of The Border project space that features a single artist from each state across America. Featured on the @treatamericaproject Instagram page over the course of 2018, artists will have a chance to see their work shine in person at two spaces in New York City in 2019.
Celebrating the diversity of the United States under a unified banner of creative artistic license, even during an era of stark political division, this wide range of artists – juried by Feinstein and Martinez – have translated their vision of their home states via compelling imagery featured on both the project’s Instagram page,Facebook page and website. The project makes good on its aim to bring art to the service of the greater good: each artist was invited to select a charitable organization, with a portion of proceeds of art print sales going to each cause. An exercise in contemporary art and goodwill, the Treat America project allows a window into this urgent hour of dialogue, exchange and creativity.
The Treat America Project will be on view in New York City in two iterations: first at Foley Gallery, 59 Orchard Street NYC (Jan 9-13th, 2019) followed by an exhibit at OSNY Project Space, 417 W. 57th Street NYC (Feb 8-17th). The project is sponsored by Treat Gallery, an online exhibition initiative benefiting a wide array of emerging artists, businesses, communities and charitable organizations since its founding in 2016.
Slightly north of the beating heart of Miami Art Week, Pulse Art Fair – anchored at Indian Beach Park, as always – continues to keep art week feeling fresh! ANTE. toured Pulse to pick out the top presentations not-to-be-missed at the 2018 iteration of the fair, open through Dec 9.
NY FEM FACTORYA Tree Grows at Pulse
What happens when a booth is really a tree? NY Fem Factory observed this alternative to a white cube space as an invitation for giving visitors a moment of rest and reflection along with a healthy dose of feminism with their project Pink Privacy. Neon signs created by artist Dana Caputo depict the venus symbol and hang like strange fruit from a sea grape tree. sprouting whimsically from the fair floor. The signs are visually striking and attract attention from across the South Tent, imploring viewers to come a little closer with enticingly soft pink light. Landline phones positioned on glass coffee tables at the base of the tree play pre-recorded voices reciting each individual’s experiences as women. When asked which came first, the tree or the installation, NY FEM FACTORY elaborated on the project. “Originally, we planned on receiving a space with walls where we could create an immersive installation,” observed NY FEM FACTORY artist Jessica Yatrofsky. Pink Privacy represents a cohesive collaboration featuring female-identifying artists who have created a safe space to connect, relate stories, and express creative impulses together as a community.
MINDY SOLOMON GALLERY Florida Vibes
Step into Gallerist Mindy Solomon’s bubbly and colorful world presentation (Booth N-102), which boasts a healthy collection of ceramics and paintings highlighting an innovative array of perspectives. Established in 2009, Mindy Solomon Gallery is palpably integrated into the fabric of the Florida art scene. Where some showings by NY-based galleries cram booths with gaudy saturated palettes, pop imagery, and shiny finishes, Solomon seems right at home on her own turf. As a practicing artist, educator, advocate and collector, Solomon views her gallery as an incubator for dynamic artists who are in the process of establishing their voices. Solomon’s genuine, trained eye seamlessly integrates male and female, national and international, emerging and even established artists all within one cohesive environment. Solomon deftly utilizes color as a unitifing factor as the great equalizer, incorporating a variety of perspectives and striking a balance between artwork, race, and gender. In a gallery world held increasingly more accountable for inclusion, striking a balance between artwork, race, and gender can be a contrived quota – not so at Solomon, who offers what I can only describe as pop sincerity and vibrant, celebratory diversity exuded through a balance of color and form.
Pulse Play Project For Empty Space The Beauty of Violence
The Project for Empty Space (PES) activates their booth with Pulse Play, screening of video-based work showcasing the perspective five artists from various parts of the world who address the theme, “A Violence”. By relying upon an open call system, Project for Empty Space founders Jasmine Wahi and Rebecca Jampol democratize an artist’s chance at showing work during one of the highest profile art events of the year: Pulse Art Fair. By boldly representing video-based work within an art fair dominated by objects, PES upholds their mission to produce instances of social engagement, education, and dialogue through art in order to encourage systemic change and cultural tolerance.
This collection of videos include striking surreal images along with audio cues that reveal how universal the impact of violence is. “So much beauty is born from so much devastating pain. What was particularly important for us in this project was to exemplify a span of subjects that ranged from the personal to the public; it was significant to choose voices that engage in nuanced and complicated understandings of systemic violence and the fallout that comes with it,” noted PES co-directors Wahi and Jampol. Pulse Play offers viewers a moment of philosophical reflection through the storytelling of video and serves as an unexpected humanitarian respite from the fair frenzy.
ANN LEWIS One in Five
From afar, Ann Lewis’s booth looks like a minimalist contemplation of space and light immediately conjuring references to the lineage artists such as Eva Hesse and Ruth Asawa. Get a little closer and the hanging garments reveal themselves to be underwear: twenty pieces of underwear, in total. A sharp pang of revulsion floods the body as one can’t help but notice a considerable number of the undergarments are soiled, stained, and ripped. This visceral reaction, a moment of disgust, is something Lewis employs in her work as a means of addressing the topic of rape culture in America. “I created this work during the Brock Turner hearings back in 2016,” Lewis explains. She goes on to explain that the title One in Five directly references a statistic published by the CDC that one in five women will experience sexual abuse in their lifetime. “I base many of my works on accessible data as to give the viewer unencumbered access to the facts of these issues through visual representations.” As a multi-disciplinary artist and activist, Lewis focuses on creating work in public spaces in order to address American identity, power structures, and social justice. Lewis’s work is visually and emotionally striking, yet pensive and refined standing as a powerful statement within the fast paced commercially driven environment.
Knot Expected: Elevating the Every Day The Odd Couple
The pairing of artist Windy Chien and Sunbrella, an outdoor textile manufacturer, seems like a relatively unlikely duo to find at Pulse. However this unexpected collaboration offered something that most highbrow commercial booths overlook: the importance of the human touch. For Chien, this is just the latest in a series of collaborative outlets that allow her to express her creative impulses. After stepping away from an executive position at Apple, Chien submerged herself in the ancient, nautical craft of knot making – learning a different knot each day for one year. Her intense level of intrigue and dedication to a medium which is often only valued for its functionality caught the PR eye of Sunbrella. Large canvas bags containing small bundles of cords in neutral earth tones were positioned in the middle of the booth amidst an installation of various knot types the artist had created. “Would you like to tie a knot?” a Sunbrella representative asked, coaxing my curiosity with an invitation to touch. Within the setting of the art fair, a place that commercially epitomizes the artistic hand the intimacy of touch and the ability to encounter a material is a rare and meaningful experience. Chien’s desire to elevate the mundane knot and share the joy of textiles allowed for a less conceptual and more intimate moment of interaction and storytelling to take place in the most unlikeliest of settings.
Miami Art Week is nothing if not overwhelming: a comprehensive survey of the contemporary art market on an international scale, there is something to distract and enthrall even the most casual visitor. For fans of fashion, fine art and sustainability, however, one exhibit is paramount: RE-THINK, theArcadia Earth-curated project taking place at Istituto Marangon Miami (IMM). Featuring thrilling installations and immersive art experiences, RE-THINK is a fearless, vibrantly contemporary showcase of artists whose works demonstrate aspects of re-using, re-purposing and upcycling materials.
After a VIP opening December 3rd, the exhibit kicks off Dec 4th and will remain on view through December 16th at 3700 – 3740 NE 2nd Avenue in Miami, Florida. An exhaustive survey of artists including Tamara Kostianovsky, Cindy Roe, Samuelle Green, Etty Yaniv, and more work across recycling and conservation in partnership with Arcadia Earth, Oceanic Global and IMM. These organizations have joined powers in support of these artists to produce sweeping vistas of recycled paper in cave-like rooms and vibrant banquet tableaus crafted with upcycled objects.
Etty Yaniv‘s installation, “SIRENS”, recreates an ocean wave out of plastics and fragments of artworks that deeply impact visitors to RE-THINK as to the overwhelming sense of the scale pollution plays in our planet’s oceans. Directly in conversation with nature while simultaneously referencing the power and impact of Hokusai’s graphic woodblock print, The Great Wave off Kanagawa, Yaniv produces a powerful composition simultaneously evoking the power of nature and the increasing amount of plastics and other trash and debris comprising the oceans. Created mainly of plastic remnants, for SIRENS at Arcadia Project in Miami Yaniv accentuates the push-and-pull drama extant between nature and man-made artifice, a complex co-existence which has resulted in unprecedented pollution of our oceans and rising sea levels. Balancing the organic and the artificial, Yaniv’s “SIRENS” provides a subtle yet impactful elegy to the power of the Earth’s oceans and our role in creating a new a natural environment, whether for better or for worse. In addition to “SIRENS”, nearby “Manifestation of the Paper Cave 2” by Samuelle Green and “Alchemy” Tamara Kostianovsky align with the exhibition themes of sustainability and environmental protection. Tamara Kostianovsky’s site-specific work draws attention to the need to up-cycle everyday objects, and eyeing new means of regeneration and sustainability while Samuelle Green’s “cave” creates a visual dialogue with art forms present in the natural world. Overall, these environmentally friendly installations work as a cohesive whole, and are supplemented by mindful panels related to sustainability efforts which take place in the center of these massive art environments.
Visit RE-THINK soon – before December 16, 2018 at 3700 – 3740 NE 2nd Avenue in Miami – to experience this limited time immersive exhibit thoughtfully highlighting environmental issues and the simple daily solutions available to create a more sustainable planet through augmented reality, experiential installations and curated educational talks and panels.
Artist Marion Grant is a lifelong creative innovator, with a career spanning fine arts, graphic art and textile design. Her work strongly aligns itself with spiritual growth, and her strong use of color and lyrical compositions follow the precedent of other spiritual artists such as Wassily Kandinsky and Anselm Kiefer. For Grant, however, spiritual development and transcendence serve as key attributes in her art-making. Her focus as a fine artist distinctly embraces self-empowerment. Combining a decades-long artistic practice keenly melding color field theory and harmoniously blending distinct visual elements, Grant’s work continues to speak on a personal level to her collectors, peers and all who encounter her works.
ANTE. You work in a very multi-disciplinary style, from digital art to fabric to mixed media. What originally encouraged you to develop your talents as an artist across different mediums? How has your practice evolved?
MG. I feel like all my life experiences coalesce into how I approach art-making. After studying Fine Arts at the California College of the Arts in Oakland, I got my dream job working for the artist Frances Butler who was a huge idol of mine. Working with her, I was responsible for silk-screening fine art textiles. Butler was truly an influential artist for me.
Eventually I returned to New York to pursue a career in the textile industry which was headquartered there. I attended classes at Parsons to learn some specific skills for the industry, eventually going on to work professionally in the textile industry for the following twenty years.
While I worked in the textile industry full time, I continued developing my career as a fine artist. During this time I was creating large scale multi-media paintings which involved silk-screening, chemical patinas, assemblage and painting. I sold artwork to corporations such as Pfizer and Signet Bank. And I was also silk-screening on fabric, making award-winning, one-of-a-kind tableware.
I see my process evolving, with every stage leading forward to something new. In this way, my process acts like an open continuum. I don’t see myself as the type of artist who works exclusively in one medium: in fact, after working in the textile industry I transitioned to work as a graphic designer using contemporary technologies to create digital designs for marketing materials in the dance world. Through this evolution, I realized I’m the kind of artist who likes to explore and discover new things. I like applying an interdisciplinary approach to art-making, uniting the corporeal, metaphysical and psychological. I tend to experiment with unique elements and alternative processes, particularly if it’s something that hasn’t been done before. Once I innovate, I’m then ready to go on and explore what’s waiting to be uncovered. I just don’t like to repeat things because my impetus is to explore the unknown. My work exists at the boundaries of past tradition and new technology.
ANTE. Your work draws from a deep, richly nuanced understanding of color combinations and color theory. How do you balance colors in your work? How do you see color as a key factor in how your artwork is experienced?
MG. When I attended art school, color theory was rooted in a scientific approach. I recall choosing not to enroll in color theory classes because my approach to color is purely intuitive. I studied enough to understand complementary colors and the color wheel, and from there I was able to instinctively grasp color combinations.
After working in the fine arts industry, I transitioned to become a designer in the garment industry. There I developed my skill set and realized I excelled at selecting colors for fabrics. Eventually I transitioned to working in home furnishings as a colorist. I was in charge of painting several different color combinations in gouache paint to define different fabric “looks”, then going to the textile mills to oversee the printing of the selected color combinations. This was a very specific job which required a keen understanding in learning how to balance color. The colors that live with you in your home set a mood and reflect your taste, making color a key element affecting sales in this field.
Great color combinations speak to people. They want to live with furnishings because the colors they’ve selected make them feel good and reflect their personality. I feel like color is experienced on a visceral level and can evoke certain emotions. I wonder in some sense if color evokes emotions similar to how music does, maybe on a subconscious level? It’s my hope that throughout my career in home furnishings that I helped set a tone of comfort and joy in a home.
Through my spiritual development, I have learned how colors have profound spiritual implications and can greatly effect our vibrations and how others perceive us. Each chakra is represented by a color, and it’s helpful to have some understanding of energies and the colors representing them. For example, blue indigo is affiliated with an increase in peace, tranquility, and devotion. It is symbolic of the inner mind, intuition and the vast cosmic consciousness. It is also the color of the third eye chakra. To increase clarity of thought and intuition, it helps to meditate with indigo. Interestingly enough, I see my artwork innately incorporates some of these color meanings. One example is my fine art print “Primordial Space”, which is about meditating in a vast cosmic consciousness – an investigation of both inner and outer space.
ANTE. Can you walk us through how you approached your acrylic “skins” series found on your website under “Alternative Media”? When did this process enter your artistic practice, and how is it evolving over time?
MG.I began work on the acrylic skin series about six years ago. When I left the textile industry, I returned to Parsons in 1999 to take classes in new computer programs specific to design in order to build a wider skill set. Through these experiences, I began making art on the computer. My style of digital art involved combining portions of my previous artistic processes. This included painting, silk-screening and various chemical processes and patinas. After working and developing my digital art, I wanted to switch gears and to experience working with my hands again. I wanted more than just a flat surface in my artwork.
Around six years ago when this series began, I discovered two things simultaneously: first, was the book Digital Art Studio which was published in 2004 outlining how three artists combined digital art with traditional art materials. Secondly, I encountered the work of Catherine Steinmann on view at the Tibet House in New York. I saw her show “Vanishing Tibet” with artist Danny Conant. They were combining digital and traditional processes in photography to create mixed media artworks. I was very inspired when I encountered these works, which were printed on traditional handcrafted paper. I was so excited because I realized this was exactly what I wanted to do, and the spirituality present in the work also spoke to me.
I subsequently discovered Mary Taylor’s work. Taylor was an assistant to a co-author of Digital Art Studio. I took Taylor’s class on working with digital and traditional materials and this launched me into experimenting with digital art and combining it with analog processes. This mainly resulted in using acrylic materials as I don’t like to use anything with chemicals or solvents if it can be avoided. I also happened to meet Catherine Steinmann in this class. We struck up a friendship, and I’m happy to have a peer to share this experimental approach to unusual processes and techniques with.
I started to develop my own process as a combination of digital art and handmade surface details. The process is labor-intensive, and many things can go wrong along the way, but it is exciting in its unpredictability. As a result, this process is continually changing and evolving. Putting the handmade surfaces through a printer is intimidating, as the sticky quality of the acrylic surface can ruin the extremely expensive printer I have to use in this process. These skins also possess a raw quality that in a sense makes them feel alive. They don’t have a stiffness to them, or feel overly polished: instead, they feel organic. This process is aided by layering iridescent paints and hand-embellishments with digital designs in between the different layers.
ANTE. Admirers of your work often appreciate its spiritual and soothing effect. What subject matter and concepts are you investigating in your work? Is it meant to be spiritual, and if so, how do you see this affecting your audience?
MG.My art is intrinsically connected to my spiritual identity. I’ve devoted my life to spirituality, creativity and transformation. Making art is my life’s purpose and serves as a visual meditation for me. I mindfully strive to create works that are uplifting, transformative and healing for the viewer. My work introduces harmony and a sense of compassion to a wider audience, and my artistic practice reflects my spiritual development and vice versa.
I’ve been drawn to and inspired by Buddhist and Hindu imagery because it is so beautiful and soothing. That has been a big source of inspiration, especially for the prints on display in the “Fine Art Prints” Section of my website. I have met those who encountered statues of the Buddha, or viewed representations of supernatural deities, who reported feeling a strong, energetic presence. Through the years many people have recounted these transcendental experiences to me. I’ve been lucky enough to be a part of this phenomenon: once, I met a viewer of my work who described a powerful experience they had while viewing my fine art print at a Buddhist retreat. I felt overjoyed and humbled to be a part of this transformation in some small way.
The series I’m currently working on is centered around the dragonfly, which serves as my spirit guide. I serendipitously discovered a dragonfly on the door outside of my building in Manhattan in May. This was a very unusual circumstance as Spring is not dragonfly season, and dragonflies are also not commonly found in urban spaces. The dragonfly is revered as a symbol for transformation and empowerment. It embodies creativity and light: reflecting the sun and bringing us out of illusion. Dragonflies encourage us to apply creativity and imagination to transform our lives and discover ourselves in new ways. The dragonfly appeared at a significant time in my life, and I appreciate its meaning and message for me. I hope that others can connect to uplifting messages that the dragonfly brings as well.
While I don’t feel that people have to connect spiritually to my work, I do hope that my work positively impacts the viewer regardless of their own philosophy. I hope it enriches and uplifts others in their life’s journey.
ANTE. You often incorporate nature and fabric patterns into your work. Do you see these motifs as contrasting or complementing one another? How do you create an interaction between the two throughout your practice?
MG. Contrast is a key element in my work. As long as I can remember, I’ve always combined geometric patterns with organic ones. This balance of subject matter persists throughout my practice, from painting to collage and throughout my digital work. I see both contrasting and complementary elements at play in my compositions. For example, in my work “Blue Dragonfly“ the architectural draftsmanship in the background of the work juxtaposes with the delicate anatomy of a dragonfly’s wing.
In the series Illuminated Miniatures on my website, the contrast lies between the organic, hand-painted watercolors and the textile patterns which are then overlaid in Photoshop. That series elicits a sense of being worn away: of layers being pulled apart and deteriorating as these contrasting elements are combined. In some of my works, iridescent paints between each layer unites the different overlapping layers of natural and man-made patterns. I often incorporate minimal elements, such as flat gray lines, that then create a sense of geometric contrast with the organic elements in the composition. Dorothy Krause, co-author of Digital Art Studio, unwittingly described my work when she wrote that the best digital art “combines the humblest of materials… with the latest in technology to evoke the past and herald the future.” It is this union of opposites, ranging from old to new, from geometric to organic, that creates transformation.
ANTE. You often layer objects and concepts in your work, both physically and metaphorically. What importance do you ascribe to layering in your practice as a whole? Do you see this as crucial to your creative process, why or why not?
MG. Layering is the most crucial element in my artistic practice. It acts as a key factor in my artistic expression, whether using computer programs to make artwork or creating work traditionally by hand. Layering allows me to combine different elements which may otherwise be disjointed, but when separated and re-arranged, allow a sense of complexity and depth. When finished hopefully this combination of imagery coalesces into a harmonious whole giving the work a new meaning. This is the essence of my work.
It’s exciting to work in layers because you can’t really plan it. As a result, you’re never really sure what the end result will be. This method is perfect as it helps me discover new aspects of my process. I might plan a concept in advance, but then let the layering process lead me, allowing it to take over and guide me to unexpected results.
I am now seeing a similar pattern in my spiritual development, made evident by peeling away layers of personal development to reveal more truths underneath. Only after one layer is peeled away can the next layer underneath be worked on. It cannot be rushed. I never thought about this before, but I think it’s interesting to see how this compares to my process of making artwork.
The word “palimpsest” has been used to describe my practice, alluding to my practice of scraping and masking certain elements in an artwork in order to reveal others. By revealing traces of what is left behind, my work shows a worn quality, evoking a sense of history and alluding to mysteries of the past.
ANTE. What new challenges are you looking forward to in your work? What new mediums are you anticipating working with and how would you like your practice to develop in new ways?
MG. Currently I have acrylic skins that I’ve made in a larger format than I’ve previously worked with. I want to print images onto them but I haven’t tried it yet. Printing onto large acrylic skins is challenging on my printer and can be risky. This is one reason why I’ve been working in a smaller scale until this point, but now I want to take on the challenge in this next phase of figuring out how to scale up.
My work has also been developing toward working with multi-dimensional surfaces. I like the extra dimension as it brings out the reflective quality of the paints I use. As well as utilizing transparent and translucent surfaces, multiple layers in a work results in the image changing depending on how light hits the surface. This imbues the work with a sense of movement and helps to keep it from feeling static. It takes thought and experimentation to recognize how to best display my artwork, particularly when it comes to framing. The process is very different with each artwork. It can take time to find the best position and angle for artworks to hang onto the wall in order to truly capture the depth and shadows present in an artwork. It’s not the same as working with an opaque or rigid surface, because each work requires a different approach in order to enhance the work.
With my artwork, the types of energy incorporated into each layer can change as the artwork builds. More layers mean a combination of energies can be present in each work, adding a feeling of depth and complexity. This can almost be considered a type of alchemy in which an artwork transforms as layers are added. My hope is that this will lead me to explore new aspects of my practice I haven’t considered yet.