In Its Right Place: The Playful Collages of Nat Girsberger

Swiss artist Nat Girsberger is no stranger to creating visual harmony from the seeds of chaos. The artist, currently based in Brooklyn, New York City, holds a degree in visual communication from NYU and specializes in analog collaging, taking commissions in her Bedstuy studio for clients such as Universal Music Group, NYU and Magilla Entertainment. Girsberger also works as an installation artist and production designer, and is a committed student of meditation and yoga.

Gisberger notes, “applying an instinctive process, I artistically adventure into the infinity of my psyche to break the structures that externally limit my inner vastness.” Her work utilizes collaging to create new links between the subconscious mind, juxtaposing elements which do not usually go together. Girsberger’s New York City exhibitions include solo shows at the Storefront Project (2018) and at Ivy Brown Gallery (2017) and group shows at Carrie Able Gallery, and Wallplay, and her work has been covered by Bedford + Bowery and Whitehot Mag, among others.

ANTE. sat down with Nat to discuss her practice, learn more about what influences her conceptual approach and gain insight into her evolution into an ever-present emerging artist on the New York art scene.

rising stars, nat gisberger
“Not What I Expected” (2018) Nat Gisberger, analog collage (image courtesy of the artist)

ANTE. We’ve been following your works for some years now and noticed that you center your artistic practice around the medium of collage. Have you always been drawn to this process?

Nat Gisberger. I arrived at analog collage after playing with many different mediums. I went to school for photography and worked in film, behind the camera making sets and constructing installations. In 2017, I held an exhibition at Ivy Brown Gallery which integrated all of these mediums into one environmental installation. Shortly after the show, an old copy of LIFE magazine caught my eye at a local thrift shop. I have always been interested in magazines, even utilizing them for source material in the past. With the encouragement of my collaborator Kurt McVey, I began collaging found photographs and commercial images to make my work.

I really enjoyed the intuitive process of collage, and how it managed to combine diverse aspects of my previous work. Looking through that particular LIFE magazine – as well as the many more I found after that – I began to notice patterns: a visual subtext which revealed a lot about consciousness of a certain time. Much of my work prior to using collage revolved around describing a collective consciousness, so this is something that immediately inspired me. One of the first things I noticed was the sexually charged portrayal of women. I made it my quest to alter the historical narrative and drawing attention to these faults through collage.

After that initial project which centered around reclaiming the female image, I was hooked. I instinctively ventured to do the same in regards to my own inner world I started making work that expressed the transient, expansive terrain of my psyche, something which is influenced by what I consider to be ‘the collective unconscious’.

ANTE. What are some techniques you use to construct an image?

Gisberger. I fell in love with the process of analog collaging, hand-cutting found imaged and composing them into new planes, new realities. I found a parallel between the process of analog collage and how the psyche stacks and re-arranges experiences. I find it incredibly satisfying to layer my own psychology through found imagery. Through collaging, the subconscious mind finds new relationships, juxtaposing images that do not usually go together and then liberating them from the boundaries of rationalism. My collages challenge reality by encouraging the dialogue between ego and that which is unknown to it. Because I am limited by my material,  when I make my analog collages I try to apply an ‘automatic’ unconscious process. I naturally pick and choose images and then assemble, rather than having a clear plan in which the ego would interfere. By doing this, it allows for all of the imagery to ‘pour’ out of me.

 

“Intruders of the Night”, (2018), Nat Girsberger, digital collage (image courtesy of the artist)

 

ANTE. You also translate your artistic practice goes beyond visual arts and into your practice as a yogi. Can you explain the crossover between image and physical body, and how this crossover manifested in your recent solo exhibition “Close Your Eyes” at Storefront Project?

Gisberger. For me, art has a lot in common with yoga and meditation: it’s about tuning into the multiple dimensions of being to enhance our overall experience and better engage with the physical world. Both art and yoga nurture our physical, spiritual, and psychological layers to keep them all balanced. Breath is a helpful tool which helps one drop down deeper beyond those physical layers and begin to appreciate the subtleties within vastness. This concept of vastness allows me to expand beyond my inner world to connect experiences with a new level of consciousness.

The shared goal between my visual arts work and my yogic practice is to create a reality which inspires others to tap into their full potential. I structured (the exhibit) “Close Your Eyes” as a visual meditation, following the typical chronology of meditative practice. This creates an experience: something that gets a viewer into an expansive feeling by visually drawing her inward into herself. My work shows unconscious energy, freed from the structures of ‘reality’ for an ultimately fuller experience of life.

ANTE. As a Swiss artist living and working in New York City what was it like to develop your practice? Looking back on your experience what advice would you give your past self?

Gisberger. Run while you still can? – just kidding. At least, mostly kidding. The thing is: I couldn’t have. If I could wake up one day and have the desire not to be an artist, that would be a relief in a lot of ways. I find it quite painful at times to create. The words, “only pursue art if it is an absolute necessity”, from Rainer Maria Rilke in Letters to a Young Poet really resonate with me. Making art is a deep, inner work – a process that is never easy. At the same time, it is fulfilling to my whole being. Life being alive, experiencing the human condition— it’s so difficult and yet infinitely rewarding at the same time.

New York City has had an influence on me from an early age perhaps because it embodies a powerful energy: it’s pulsating nature, diversity, magnitude, and honesty fascinates me. Even though I am Swiss, I often feel like I ‘grew up’ in NYC — I moved here when I was 18, right out of high school. I feel that I learned many of my bigger life lessons here, and I feel inspired to establish a dedicated art practice here. I also view the adventures and difficulties of establishing myself in a new country as a part of my inspiration. In the end, I believe that all my mistakes benefit my wholeness and growth. I would want myself to make them all over again. I’d be that annoying person that wouldn’t give young Nat any advice if I met her.

“Road Trip”, (2018), Nat Girsberger, analog collage (image courtesy of the artist)

ANTE. Talk to us about your social media presence: you’ve managed to amass a large Instagram following (almost 12K and counting). How do you utilize social media? Do you consider it an extension of your practice or a marketing tool?

Gisberger. I finally caved when I knew I wanted my art-making, my collages, to pay my bills. In art world circles it can feel as though social media carries a negative connotation. I think this belief is rooted in nostalgia, and that notion that technology is disconnecting us from our physical reality. Although I’ve felt that in the past, I am quite interested in the invisible energy and psychology surrounding the rise of social media. I saw how empowering it could be as a tool after watching a close friend of mine, Julia Hunt, make a full-time living as a blogger. She is someone who is doing what she loves on her own terms.

I began viewing social media as a simple part of my overall marketing strategy. I felt it was really powerful sharing what I care about without it being edited by someone first. We no longer need agents to do our advertising for us. Instagram, because it is so visual, already lends itself to artists. It’s a low-stakes portfolio review, basically, that informs your audience as to who you are. My followers didn’t appear overnight, and I put in a lot of work to understand the best ways to get my works seen. I read about the subject and learned how to encourage growth on the platform – i.e. how to use hashtags and when to post: all of that stuff that makes most people cringe. Eventually, my following started growing on its own. I now make a large part of my income through Instagram – either through direct sales or commissions. In regards to my practice, it pushes me to produce work and to respond to themes I observe.

ANTE. Who are some contemporary influences on your work? What’s next for you in 2019?

Gisberger. I am a lot more inspired by life than the art world, actually. I have synesthesia, and so my senses constantly explode: I get inspired by my interactions with the world itself. Psychology, especially Jung, and philosophy and spirituality influence me. Don Miguel Ruiz and Michael E. Singer have both impacted me. To be honest, travel is probably my biggest passion next to my artistic practice. By changing environments I get to see the world in a new way which then inspires what I create. I am also really inspired by music — I love The Beatles, Queen, Pink Floyd, Patti Smith, Dylan, David Bowie and more modern bands like Beirut, Beach House and First Aid Kit – their sound gets me going. That’s why I’m very much into making album covers too, I love giving a musical piece a visual. I am currently working on a number of commissions including some album covers. I recently started a long-term project in the studio which will merge the 78 cards in Tarot card with my analog and digital collage sensibilities. If all goes well then later this year I plan to make an immersive 3-D installation which cross-pollinates my collages with a performance artist, so stay tuned. Lastly, I plan to take the “Close your Eyes” exhibit abroad.

 

The Other Art Fair LA: Five Standouts at the Fair Oct 26-28

Ah, the Art Fair: subject of intense scrutiny, disdain and even obsession in recent memory, art fairs have reached Olympian status as the enduring sign of success for participating galleries and art advisors. Exhibitors at the top fairs proudly display this status, shelling out thousands upon thousands to do so. Saatchi Art‘s The Other Art Fair (TOAF), however, is in a league all its own. A deftly curated selection of artists whose works are on view for collectors to savor, collect and gain insights (from the artists themselves!), The Other Art Fair marches to the beat of its own drummer. The fair is currently on at four different international locations: London, New York, Sydney and – most recently – Los Angeles (Barker Hangar – 3021 Airport Avenue – Santa Monica, CA 90405; hours Sat/Sun; Sat 11 am-8 pm and Sun from 11 am-6 pm).

That’s right – Los Angeles. Where better to savor genuine, talented and diverse selections of emerging art than in LA itself? A city that has truly embodied the buzz of ‘contemporary art’, LA has hit the scene and Saatchi Art is in on the secret – The Other Art Fair LA is currently on, with artworks on view through Sunday, October 28th. We took to the scene, and selected the five artists worth watching as rising stars that this current iteration of TOAF + an extra viewing experience, read all the way through to get to the fun bonus!

 

Erin Ko, Disconnected 004 – 11 x 14, Mixed Media, iPad painting + digital collage on Aluminum with Augmented Reality Layer, 2015

#1: Erin Ko (New York, NY) TOAF LA STAND #55

Erin Ko’s work reflects a masterful blend of emerging technologies and a talented traditional arts practice. Lying at the nexxus between memory and possibility, Ko creates magical, often immersive, experiences for fans of her work. Whether incorporating Oculus Rift into her practice or allowing viewers to experience Augmented Reality layers that supplement her dexterous paintings and mixed media collage, Ko never disappoints admirers of her work both old and new. Working across technology, urban art, mixed media and more, Ko’s artistic practice reflects something for everyone. Her work also incorporates strong impressions of feminism and inclusivity: often depicting strong women or growing girls reaching for their goals, Ko’s inspiring work reminds us that everything is possible if we dream.

Evincing a particularly keen eye for detail and balanced compositions that span from figuration to abstraction, Ko’s works have been exhibited both internationally in China, Europe and domestically in the United States. Ko will be part of the Akumal Arts Festival, taking place in early November in Akumal, Mexico, and she is part of the prestigious Milan-based artist group Krema Kolletiva.

 

Sammy Kimura, “Diner Girl”

#2: Sammy Kimura (Los Angeles, CA)

Based in Silver Lake, artist Sammy Kimura creates evocative artworks rooted in the human experience. Her impressionist glances of moments spanning her subjects’ lives results in vivid and otherworldly portraits. Allowing painterly gestures to delineate the space, Kimura’s soft-focus glow and warm tones invite the viewer to empathize with her subjects, encouraging the imagination and stimulating the senses.

 

 

Fei Alexeli, “Cosmic Holidays”, 2016

#3: Fei Alexeli (Thessaloniki, Greece)

Vibrant photocollages reveal a world of dreams in works by Fei Alexeli. Immediately Pop yet avoiding kitsch stereotyper, Alexeli’s fantastical compositions invite viewers along on a magical ride. Both visceral yet elusive, Alexeli’s expansive vistas enmesh viewers in enigmatic journeys worthy of Ford Prefect and Guardians of the Galaxy – with a decidedly Venice Beach twist!

 

Sanghee Ahn, “CAKED 532” 23.8 H x 28.6 W x 0.8 in, 2018

#4: Sanghee Ahn (Suwon, South Korea)

Fun Pop stylings and vivid colors permeate the works of Sanghee Ahn. Departing from the world of everyday objects into bubble-gum pink fantasies tripping down the gradient fantastic, Ahn’s works are simple, straightforward – and bright. Evoking landscapes yet focusing on Dada-esque journeys through everyday life, Ahn envelopes her objects in bursts of colorful abstraction.

 

 

Alex Voinea, “av_517” from Learning to Fly series, 2018

#5: Alex Voinea (Sitges, Spain)

Thoroughly contemporary, Voinea’s work seemingly leaps off the page. Abstract, bright and pulsing with rhythm, Voinea’s works make a bright yet harmonious contribution to any collection!  With international credentials spanning from exhibits in Spain, Italy, the US and beyond, Voinea’s vibrant works are making a splash, with both critical acclaim and popular opinion!

BONUS: The Other Art Fair LA, “31 Women” curated by Kate Bryan.

31 Women, a micro-exhibit at The Other Art Fair LA,  celebrates the 75th anniversary of The Exhibition by 31 Women, an iconic exhibition that took place at Peggy Guggenheim’s “The Art of This Century” gallery. Curated by Kate Bryan, Head of Collections for Soho House and Co, 31 Women is a mini salon-style show featuring 31 artists on view at the fair working across mixed media. Notes Ryan Stanier, founder of The Other Art Fair, “Women artists have been underrepresented in the art world for decades, so we are excited to be able to highlight a selection of talented, emerging women artists in this exhibition curated by Kate Bryan.” A bright, exuberant collection of some of the most compelling artists on view at the fair, 31 Women is a remarkable, one-of-a-kind experience awaiting viewers at TOAF LA.

Global Gateways: In Conversation with Contemporary Nigerian Artist Adetomiwa A. Gbadebo

Globetrotting, international philatropist, collector and artist Òmó Oba (HRH) Adetomiwa A. Gbadebo has demonstrated through his dedicated, multi-faceted career that he is one innovative artist. Unafraid to experiment with colors, textures and mediums while firmly rooted in a devoted spiritual core, Òmó Oba (HRH) Adetomiwa A. Gbadebo considers his artistic practice as a part of his wider mission to elevate African artists on the world stage. Òmó Oba (HRH) Adetomiwa A. Gbadebo frequently produces art exhibits and advocates for contemporary African artists in addition to his practice as an artist. Featured in solo and group exhibitions from Minnesota to Montenegro, New York City to Florence, Òmó Oba (HRH) Adetomiwa A. Gbadebo’s fearless approach to experimentation in his creative process is rooted in seeking harmony and balance and bringing the world to his culture on his own terms. We caught up with Òmó Oba (HRH) Adetomiwa A. Gbadebo in the days leading to his upcoming exhibit with Retro Africa at London’s 1:54 Art Fair, at London’s Somerset House from Oct 4-7, 2018.

Òmó Oba (HRH) Adetomiwa A. Gbadebo, Path of Oduduwa, 2015

ANTE. Thanks for taking time to meet with us! So far your work has been exhibited both in the US and abroad, in Italy, Nigeria, Montenegro, and soon at 1.54 in London. Can you explain how you hope different audiences perceive your work? Are there common threads across cultures that you hope your work speaks to? Is there a common universal language to your work?

OOAG. I actually don’t care about how they (others) perceive it (my work). It is none of my business how they see it, but the one thing is that they should not make up labels for it if they do not understand. They should accept their level of misunderstanding, or seek out knowledge from the artist directly, or seek out knowledge through the journey with the work or the culture from which the work stems from.

Meaning the culture of the artist, and his or her origin.

Quite honestly I don’t think I owe any other culture in the Western World any explanation of identity, or similarities.
I’m from a different realm, completely different civilization, the only thing I have in common with those outside my culture, “ Western Cultures,” is that I am a human being. Therefore it is my duty as living history of my culture and ancient history of my culture to teach others about my culture.

Accepting this difference means that one can come to a possible similarity culturally , which could help alleviate the ignorance of trying to force the notion of similarities in order to satisfy selfish desires. But if others choose to be ignorant about it (other cultures), they will fail their own cultures.

In conclusion this question does not justify my culture being significant. Therefore I say no to colonial mindsets and western perceptions of African people and its main indigenous cultures, I say no to neo-liberalism, neo-conservatism, and even socialism as a gateway to teaching my culture to those different from me. Frankly I think those concepts are poisonous to the creative world, while they also diminish the emphasis of the human being, or person.

There is no common universal language to my work. No to a common language, because my language is distinctive to my culture, and in fact an apex language that gave birth to others in terms of enriching the art and social practices of my people. There is a common sense to my work, which is the notion that what I create breeds life and sustains the spiritual creation of life. Which opens up the gateway for people to have permission to question their
previously acquired intellect.

 

ANTE. Your work across painting, sculpture and mixed media embraces both figurative and abstracted elements. Can you speak about your process and how these elements fit together? Do you incorporate the figurative and abstract to evoke different meaning, or are they integrally connected to communicate an overall message?

OOAG. My work is neither figurative nor abstract. It is an embodiment of spiritual knowledge and my purpose in this world. It does not succumb to categorization as figurative and abstract nor will I fit it into that institutional logic, in fact those things are limiting the honesty of the work.

These works, across all media, are a vessel: a catalyst for viewers to question everything around them, their ideologies, their manmade comfortability, and their logic around their preconceived notions. It is a very intellectual process and a very deep spiritual process, and it comes from within.

Òmó Oba (HRH) Adetomiwa A. Gbadebo, Untitled, 2017

ANTE. In your practice, you incorporate Yorùbá imagery within larger, complex compositions. Can you elaborate on the relationship of these individual objects and expressions to each work as a whole? Can you explain some of the specific symbolism used throughout your work?

OOAGIn the case of my creations, not all my creations, sculptures, drawings, or paintings have Yorùbá imagery. It would be very cliche and stereotypical to assume that all my works have Yorùbá imagery simply because I am from the Yorùbá kingdom. Although I am from this ethnic group, the essence of being Yorùbá is the ability to articulate ones ideas and thoughts in multiple honed ways, to better support a diverse narrative that goes within the culture,

Hence, my art reflects diverse narratives within my life, which incorporates, timeline (simply a diary of my life;
situations of my life) my culture, Yorùbá spiritual concept, and the way humanity treats itself in the positive and the negative. My work is a gateway for individuals and collectives to question their previously and recently acquired intellect. And also a testament in holding accountable the Western lens of false narrative surrounding African cultures globally. Which pushes for the relevance to the social importance and economic significance of African culture and art.

There is specific symbolism I can explain. The dots you see in my work, relate to my love of astrology and mythology and even a love for archeology since I was young. In time as I grew and was more self aware I realized that using the dots, even creating in a none present way, was a calling back to my origins, which would be Yorùbá culture with an emphasis on its spirituality and its spiritual concept, Ifá. It was a calling to focus on balance and how to be a better human in a world created by a nonhuman entity. I also often use cowry shells, which is a representation of Yorùbá spirituality and also a form of currency, and was something that was worn by the Yorùbá elites. This symbol itself represents one of the strengths of my culture.

If my works don’t have Yorùbá symbols, it does not mean that it’s not work coming from Yorùbá culture. My very being creating the work is the symbol of the Yorùbá people, with an emphasis on its contribution to collective human existence throughout time.

 

ANTE. Can you explain your journey into art-making as a career? Did you begin with painting then move to sculpture, or have you always worked in an interdisciplinary style? How has your practice evolved over time?

OOAGYes, I can. I don’t see art-making as a career. For me, it is destiny to create art to reach a higher calling. A higher calling that is predestined for me. I don’t even call myself an artist. It’s a boxed-up, contrived notion. What I am simply doing is adding to human history with positivity. But, if you would like to know, I, without any one person’s advice decided to use my art to make money. I always choose who I work with, not the other way around. I understood business and saw how business and art come together, and so, in that way it is a career, but it is not the primary concept I live my life by. I’ve been making art since I was a child, it’s a part of who I am. I didn’t really begin anywhere, I just have made what my soul tells me to, and the only place I began was my mother’s womb with the blessing of Olodumare.

Òmó Oba (HRH) Adetomiwa A. Gbadebo, Ifa Ni Oba, 2016,

ANTE. Which artists or artistic styles have impacted your work? Are there any artists whose work you admire who are working today, or artists from the past whose work you draw inspiration from?

OOAGNumber 1, I dislike Picasso. I do not have a specific style that has influenced me nor do I adhere myself to any movement. I feel that they alter the truism and purity of one’s work, and output in various social contexts. Although one could be influenced by many things and many cultures directly and indirectly, it is important to realize that we can still choose and invite those things to influence us or not. Choice allows one to be a purist in one’s craft. As an artist, and creator of art, it is disheartening, that as a African man in a global setting, that a past context is
often placed upon my present content. For example, the notion that by being African, you are influenced by Basquiat. Without anyone asking you otherwise, people assume this influence and time is spent dispelling it and breaking down the historical timeline of contemporary art that didn’t even originate with Europeans.

I don’t draw inspiration from any particular artist but definitely from the culture of my people and human existence; the turmoil, the discord, the peace, the love within humanity. I will say this, I am not influenced by, but I respect individuals like Julian Schnabel, his stance on artistic autonomy I respect. Also Fela Anikulapo Kuti, his creation and output to reach out and commonize the situation of people globally to be made aware to progress. And, also my family, the strength of my family, the strength of my grandmother, I draw part of my inspiration from them. As well as the strength of black people everywhere. Most of all my inspiration comes from Olodumare.

ANTE. What themes and concepts are central to your practice, particularly in regard to your
installation work?

OOAGMy work has no category, whether painting, installation, or drawings. To clarify: I don’t categorize my
work. It is merely a sole embodiment of my being. My history, my journeys and my origin. In terms of concepts; I ask for man to question everything, to selflessly try to produce solutions to sustain betterment other than for himself or herself. I have a conceptually strong focus on spirituality and how it’s significant for the development of our planet. And not spiritually in the Western fetishized sense where it’s more so about self indulgence and narcissism instead of selflessness and the reverence to its origins.I also the focus on the concept of iṣẹ, meaning work in Yorùbá language. iṣẹ (work) is very important to the Yorùbá people. The concept of work that is beyond the concept of work , if you get my point. Work is beyond it’s definition in Yorùbá language- its expansive to philosophy, the way you live your life. It’s expansive to how you sacrifice for your family, how you lead your people as a royal. It’s expansive to create a circle of balance.

Òmó Oba (HRH) Adetomiwa A. Gbadebo

ANTE. Supporting cultural, artistic and human rights are also important endeavors for you.
Can you share some of the initiatives, both in your home base of Minneapolis and
elsewhere, that you support that are important for you personally?

OOAGMinneapolis is not my home base. Nigeria is my home base. My country is my home base. The United States is part of my journey in my life.

I would tell you about my endeavors for the future and now. My endeavor for the present is to create paths for artistic philanthropy and build cultural bridges between the United States and Africa alongside the global art world and build infrastructure in my country (Nigeria) for people in need of infrastructural presence. For example, affordable homes for people in my country who are in need of homes or have been displaced and the push for cultural re-education to understand what it means to be African for the purpose of self-sustainability.

Part of what my philanthropy focuses on is African art, with special attention to traditional and contemporary Nigerian Art. I advocate for the preservation of African culture, specifically that of Nigerian cultures, even more specifically Yoruba culture. I support African artists economically and in a way that they are seen and respected as much as their Western counterparts. Not to say we need to prove ourselves, it’s more about educating the West to how we are relevant due to our own cultural experiences and adaptations. I collaborate with other like-minded peers who want to see the sustainable growth of Africa. This is necessary in keeping with the integrity of my vision and principles for how African art and culture is valued not only in the art world but beyond, and how it can teach and influence others beyond its cultural boundaries.

I am interested in expanding touristic outreach in the arts and cultural sectors by building a museum and galleries in my country. Focusing my energy throughout the educational, cultural, and economic sectors, all of this will be done within my philanthropic practice in collaboration with other African philanthropists and visionaries.

In terms of human rights, I advocate for cultural rights, specifically those of indigenous cultures to practice their cultures freely without Western intervention.

Seriously Playful: The Hybrid Forms of Katie Hector

With a wink to contemporary aesthetics while unabashedly pushing the envelope, interdisciplinary artist Katie Hector, who lives and works in New York City, has rooted her emerging practice in painting with a focus on two main bodies of work: large-scale paintings on canvas and three-dimensional wall sculptures. In addition to her studio practice, Hector works as an independent curator and the Co-Director of Sine Gallery. She has worked to organize and fundraise a variety of projects, including an international exhibition in 2017, multiple collaborative and environmental installations, and over two dozen group shows, screenings, pop up events, and panel discussions.

Hector, who holds a BFA from the Mason Gross School of the Arts at Rutgers University in 2014, has lectured at Mason Gross on professional development in the arts all while gaining recognition through scholarships, residencies, and awards including the 2017 Picture Berlin International Residency, the 2016 Merit-Based Scholarship from Urban Glass, the 2014 Scott Cagenello Memorial-Prize, and the 2013 Ruth Crockett Award. We sat down with Hector to get an update on her current artistic endeavors, scope out her upcoming projects and learn about whose work inspires her own experimental practice.

Hector-Katie-8
“Tumblr Grl 2″, Katie Hector (22″ x 18”, acrylic an spray paint on shaped boards, 2017). Image courtesy the artist.

ANTE. Your practice examines, conceptually, parameters of virtual engagement across social media and the implications of modern technology on society. Can you talk us through your two series, FOMO and Interface, and how each examines these phenomena through a particular lens?

KH. I believe both series attempt to describe how new technologies and interfaces, specifically smartphones and social media have created shifts within communication and the contemporary psyche. Through large-scale painting the FOMO Series seeks to address social anxieties and how they relate to internet culture through utilizing abstract mask-like imagery. Repeating ovoid forms allude to a floating face with large staring eyes that take up most of the picture plane. For me, these mask-like forms reference selfie culture, emojis, and online personas while also signifying ancient desires to capture one’s likeness or establish a legacy.

The Interface Series meditates on the fetish object itself, that being smartphones and personal devices. To determine the scale for this series of work I utilize the dimensions of various tablets and monitors as a template. These pieces are comprised of two to three layers of geometric forms cut from various materials and collaged onto each other. I typically slather the base shape in a high gloss industrial enamel, which in effect mimics the sleek reflectiveness of a black screen. Additional layers are then affixed to this base surface and are three dimensional casting real shadows. I think of these subsequent layers as computer tabs, each containing their own set of painterly information and surface qualities. Palette as well as content unite these parallel bodies of work. Hyper-saturated prefabricated colors are sourced from commercial advertisements, anime, clickbait, and memes to create visual lures.


ANTE. You consider pop culture and the presence of the internet in society today through your work, specifying that you “anthropologically observe and document.” Can you walk us through this process and what drew you to this subject matter?

KH. I am acutely aware of the time and place I am a part of. I am a twenty something, a proper millennial, who was taught in grade school how to write a postal address and use the Dewey Decimal System in one class followed with how to type and proofread an email the next. I am a female, mixed-race American: born and raised in a capitalist democratic society. These are my personal truths and they all come into play at various points in the work, sometimes they’re subtle, but it’s all there.

There was a time I felt insecure about my subject matter, that speaking about social media was too Pop-ish and wouldn’t have any lasting impact, but time and time again I couldn’t help coming back to it. Looking back at my experience growing up it was radical to come of age during a time in which sending a handwritten letters became novelty and infinite spans of information seemingly became ubiquitously available. I am particularly fascinated with how we as a society are dealing with this incredible access to information. We essentially have free education where all of human history, the known world, any workshop, or book is downloadable, Google-able. We are living in an age where no one has to wonder anymore it’s all right there, at your fingertips, and one click away. However most people tend to use the internet for pleasure, entertainment, and communication. In American society we have subconsciously ascribed a hierarchical moral value system to how we utilize our internet time, one that is tied to puritan and capitalistic ideologies. Anything that falls outside of the parameters of smut-less, dutiful, goal-oriented work makes us feel kind‘ve undefinably bad: guilty, weird, gluttonous and indulgent. I take note of these patterns of behavior both in myself, and broadly speaking and focus my work on describing this failure to cast off the physicality of our humanity, namely our insecurities, even during our cognitive assertion into a virtual realm.

 

Hector-Katie-2
“FOMO Green and Purple”, Katie Hector (22″x 22″, acrylic, latex, and spray paint on panel, 2018) Image courtesy the artist.

 

ANTE. Works from your FOMO series were recently on view in Brooklyn’s culture neighborhood of DUMBO, sponsored by DUMBO BID, as part of an arts + culture event. How were you hoping that visitors would interact with your works and did this transpire?

KH. The space was truly unusual and fun to navigate. Noted as, “likely the tiniest, most inconsequential gallery in NYC, maybe on the face of the Earth”, it was a 32-square foot pop up cubicle erected within the archway of the Manhattan Bridge in DUMBO. The This Friday or Next Friday Space Station is a pure product of NYC, and the limited spaces available to artists. It’s a testament to the fact that anything is possible anywhere and that lack of space is not a roadblock, but rather an invitation for innovation. When I was first invited to show in this space I immediately envisioned an installation; however, in the weeks leading up to the show I was particularly obsessed with making large-scale paintings on drop cloth as the latest extension of the FOMO series. I choose five of these paintings to show and installed them on the interior of the gallery making an effort to completely cover any white wall space. I covered up the cobblestone ground as well with a colorfully speckled soft insulation material that transformed the space into a hyper saturated cubicle. Considering the tiny confines of the gallery itself set within a high traffic public space the level of public engagement with the work was any artist’s dream. It was pure joy watching kids stomping and rolling around on the carpeted ground, people taking selfies in the space, and passersby coming back to peek into the space three or four times like moths drawn to a rainbow flame.

 

ANTE. Can you walk through how your work has evolved? How did your education in the art field evolve and what mediums do you work within?

KH. In a way I am making the same paintings I always have. I was fairly skilled at rendering faces during high school, and I guess the FOMO paintings can be interpreted as a portrait of a mental state. In that regard the largest shift in the work has been one towards abstraction over the years. Instead of describing an individual the work now comments more broadly on the human condition, the psyche, and asks whether humans are bad or whether they are simply creatures of folly.

I find myself constantly chasing the work, pursuing anything this body of paintings requires. For example I needed to scale up the image to see how gestures would translate at 10’ which was not possible in my first studio, “well I guess I have to move studios and get a bigger wall then.” Each time I take that leap of faith to follow the work and make a big change I become significantly more sure of myself and my ability to make the right decision when it needs to be made. In school I used to think that I wasn’t a serious painter because I didn’t toil over layering and sanding down primed canvases, practice drafting my compositions, or fuss over mixing my paints. I learned each lesson of course, but secretly didn’t care too deeply about those particular processes. Eventually over time all those things fell to the wayside and I realized that they were someone else’s methodology and although it’s cool, and works, it had no place in my practice, so I was able to let them go. I am quite grounded in my content at this point and feel satisfied that it is focused yet will leave enough meat on the bone to sustain my curiosity later down the road. I’ve come to a wonderful point where I am confident about my process, the materials I use, and the speed at which I work. So it’s more or less full steam ahead for now.

ANTE. Work from your Interface series is on view in Burlington, Vermont as part of the “Optimist Prime” group exhibit at New City Gallery. Which works are included in this show and how do they fit the theme?

KH. “Clickbait”, “Double Tapping Moon Vibes”, and “Tumblr Grl 2”, are the three works which are included in the “Optimist Prime” exhibition. Curated by Michael Shoudt, a long time friend and talented painter, the show focuses on gesture and surface in a way that walks the line between painting and object. I’m certain that Michael would dig his heels in the ground and declare that this was  purely a painting show, but to me there is a playful testing of those boundaries and a “who says this isn’t a painting” spirit to the collection of work.

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In the studio, FOMO paintings, 2018. Image courtesy the artist.

 

ANTE. What other exhibits are your works a part of currently and what do you have upcoming?

KH. I currently have four works (“Golden Toupee” (2015), “Filter Bubble” (2017), “Untitled” (2017), and “Versace Versace” (2018)) all from the Interface series included in an exhibition entitled “Small Paintings(ish)” at BS Projects in Houston, TX. I’m tickled that my work made it to Houston before I did.

Along with being a painter I am also an independent curator, and Co-Director of Sine Gallery. We recently teamed up with Light Year and the DUMBO bid to curate a massive public screening of six interdisciplinary artists: Damien Davis, Patricia Brace, Yali Romagoza, Dominique Duroseau, Jesus Benavente, and Joiri Minaya. The videos will be cast onto the side of the Manhattan Bridge Aug 2nd, 8-10 PM in DUMBO, with the best vantage point being from 155 Water Street. I am extremely passionate about this collection of artists and am so please to represent their work in DUMBO, a community which has time and time again embraced my alternative white cube curatorial slant. Huge thanks to 68 Jay Street and Ardele Lister and Steve West for being eternally supportive.

I am also a Curatorial Assistant for Art in Odd Places 2018: BODY and will be helping to organize various aspects of this year’s performance art festival under the vision of Katya Grokhovsky and Ed Woodham. BODY marks the first exclusively female, non-binary, and trans line-up in the festival’s 14 year history and will include the work from 45 artists from all over the world in a four day performance art festival along 14th Street Manhattan October 11th – 14th. In conjunction with the festival there will be an exhibition and public programming held at Westbeth Gallery throughout the month of October.

As far as upcoming shows go, I have a few projects in the works for the studio this Fall, stay tuned.


ANTE. Can you walk us through some of your contemporary influences? What artists are you looking to as you develop your own practice?

KH. I love Joyce Pensato, I love her imagery, process, her use of gesture. Katherine Bernhardt is another contemporary favorite. I look to her as a example of how an artist can glean new sensibilities from travel and blend them into an ongoing work. Poly Apfelbaum is a classic and I frequently look to her installation-based work, her color, and use of commermerically sourced materials. I have profound respect for the trailblazing forms of Susan Murphy, and what she introduced to painting, and can’t help but gush over the sleek graphic refinement of Tauba Auerbach. Along with these giants I have the deepest respect for the work of my peers: Amie Cunat, Denise Treizman, Katie Bell, Leah Guadagnoli, the list goes on.

 

Onel Naar’s Evocative Works Sustain Morir Soñando at Knockdown Center

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Traversing the trenchant territory between identity, hybridity and ambuity, Morir Soñando marks a cutting-edge look at mixed media in the post-colonial era. Opening Friday, June 22nd from 6-9 pm, the group exhibit features artists Penn Eastburn, Valery Jung EstabrookHein KohJoiri Minaya, Kristianne Molina, Onel Naar, Esther RuizCristina Tufiño, and Woolpunk and is curated by Alex Santana. Referencing the popular yet tricky to create Dominican beverage of the same name, made by meticulously combining milk with orange juice, the exhibit untangles the delicate intricacies binding together artists of mixed heritage working in mixed media. With international roots spanning the Global South and beyond, these artists reclaim the interstitial space between power and vulnerability, belonging and exclusion.

A sneak peek at works on view, such as Onel Naar’s Colgão Diptych (2017) prove the exhibit to allow materials room to breathe and to assume new identities. Deceptively simple organic matter becomes the frame and the image: separated by space yet linked by form. This gentle conceptual investigation of our expectations of fine art with particular attention to the diptych: questioning what constitutes the art object and the auxiliary objects supporting its display. In the artist’s own words, he investigates the concept of diptych in contemporary art to interrogate “the physical and conceptual dualities present.” This duality permeates the crux of the exhibition concept, which probes the notion of seeking strength and liberation through vulnerability.

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On view from June 22-August 19th at the Knockdown Center, Morir Soñando provides space for a wider consideration of the existing cultural framework that contemporary art undermines, supports and even propagates. Where there is space for new materials to infiltrate and expand concepts of contemporary art, there is an expansion of our definition of from where – and for whom – art is created.

Ylenia Mino: A World-Renowned Artist Shares Her Perspective

In our weekly interview with a ground-breaking international artist, this week we chat with Italian artist Ylenia Mino. Benefiting from her multilateral perspective, we are thrilled to learn more about her nuanced artistic practice, international career and how her varied, eclectic artistic training impacts her work today. The artist has a prevalent career abroad, especially in the United States, with an upcoming exhibit from June 2nd at Gallery Sitka (MA), work in the Artist’s Style in Art group exhibition in June (Los Angeles, CA) and a solo show at Hellada Gallery (Long Beach, CA) in July. The artist has recently collaborated with Aquarium of the Pacific this May in Long Beach, California and exhibited at the Red Dot Auction at Chuck Jones Center in Costa Mesa, CA.


ANTE: Thanks for sitting down with us, Ylenia! Many of your artworks seem inspired by your travels. Can you talk about your exhibitions abroad and what motivates you to travel as an artist?

YM: I love traveling and take inspiration from the energy, different cultures, and beautiful places that I see during my travels. I recently took a cross-country road trip from NYC to LA and it was simply wonderful to see the southern part of the United States. So many states and such a big variety of landscapes and wonders.  I think my favorite and the most inspiring to me was exploring a Petrified Forest, a magical and ancient site. What I love to do is to take lots of photos with my camera and in my mind; then, I put these memories on canvas.

YleniaMino Installation in Signal Hill
Mino with her installation in Signal Hill

ANTE: Your works showcase a broad, international influence. Can you explain how pop culture – and American culture specifically – have influenced your practice?

YM: I spent many years in NYC and I definitely absorbed “the melting pot” culture of the Big Apple. You may notice much in my traditional art and landscapes, but it’s evident in the strong energy and vibes you get from my paintings. American culture has impacted both my art and my experiences, but I still consider myself a carrier of European culture and vibes.

ANTE: You are an artist internationally recognized for your artwork, particularly your landscape paintings. Can you talk a bit about painting competitions you’ve won and international exhibitions you’ve participated in?

YM: I’ve taken part in many competitions. Over the years, I had the honor to be included in international exhibitions in London, England; Austria; and also, the Caribbean as well. The last competition I won was in NYC, called “Design is Everything” at Dorma in Bryant Park. My painting, “Journey”, was very successful, and thoroughly appreciated by the jury and the public!

Ylenia Mino standing next to one of her paintings
Ylenia Mino displaying her painting

ANTE: Would you explain your background as an artist? Is your education in fine art or art history? Are you self-taught? How has your education impacted your artistic practice?

YM: I started painting when I was a little girl. Every spare moment away from school, I was drawing and getting immersed into my creative and imaginary world. My parents noticed my natural inclination and around the age of 7 they brought me to a private school run by an amazing Egyptian painter, Mohsen. I studied on and off for about 10 years with this Egyptian master.  I then got a diploma degree in classical studies and languages (Latin, Ancient Greek, History of Art, Philosophy, etc). Learning from Mohsen really impacted my art; it was so inspiring to have the opportunity to learn like the old tradition and the greatest artists did, with a student-master relationship. Also, learning History of Arts and Ancient Greek and Latin increased and deepened my passion for culture and the arts.

ANTE: Can you explain how you connect your artistic practice to your support of charities and philanthropic causes worldwide?

YM: I started supporting charities and causes about 7 years ago by donating part of the proceeds from the sales of my paintings. Now, I regularly receive invitations to auctions, galas, benefit dinners, and celebrity events to be a fine artist sponsor at the event.

I believe in helping, encouraging and supporting people, so I support different charities, fundraisers, and causes. I hope my support will help to improve life conditions, give people a chance to develop their full potential and to reach their destiny in their society.

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Mino, Ylenia. “Tropical Paradise”(2017), Oil on Canvas, Triptych

ANTE: You’ve shown internationally in exhibitions and art fairs. What are your most interesting or favorite experiences exhibiting internationally and how have they helped to expand your artistic practice?

YM: I have had so many art shows and exhibitions that it is is hard to decide. They are all in some way my favorite and have contributed unique memories affecting my career as a fine artist, but I can definitely recall the one that marked the beginning of a new chapter in my career and life: International Artexpo New York 2011. It was my first international solo experience, and it opened my mind to a new world. A significant meeting I had during Artexpo was with Craig Kausen, the grandson of the amazing cartoonist and animation director, Chuck Jones, who is famous for creating Bugs Bunny, Wile E. Coyote, etc. At the time I was not fluent in English well, but Craig and I had a great conversation about art and my paintings. He inspired me and loved my works. He became fascinated by my passion and the love that I have for doing what I do – a passion that I attribute to my Italian heritage!

Raise Your Voice: In Praise of Artist Shoshanna Weinberger

“If you deny people their own voice, you’ll have no idea who they were.” Alice Walker

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“Excluded Included” 2017-2018 Mixed Media on Panel (Shoshanna Weinberger)

“invisible fruit: stories of camouflage from the periphery”, Shoshanna Weinberger’s solo exhibition at Project for Empty Space in Newark, NJ, employs repetition to dizzying effect. Perhaps not dizzying: mesmerizing.

Women’s bodies are both seen and unseen, presented and contorted into unidentifiable abstractions. Feminine visages, their outlines incorporating distinctly African and Afro-Carribbean hairstyles, are obscured by abstracted nothingness: their identities crushed beneath the weight of visual white noise. Similar to the background choir figures throughout Childish Gambino’s visceral and poignant music video for “This is America”, the multi-dimensional figures presented throughout Weinberger’s exhibition literally outline the trenchant visual narrative of hiding in plain sight. Even in the era of the #metoo movement, women are often excluded: their voices negated in everything from polite conversation to exorbitant wait times for major retrospectives. However, women of color fight an uphill battle not only against patriarchal discrimination but sometimes, even, from their own female allies. Weinberger’s presentations of the female body, ethnic even in their abstracted and distilled outline, elevates the Afro-Carribbean experience even while commenting on the objectification keenly experienced by women of color, in the arts as well as in everyday life.

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“A Grove of Invisible Fruit”, Shoshanna Weinberger, 2018 Two Sided Mirrored Acrylic.

Weinberger’s installation “A Grove of Invisible Fruit”, situated at the front of the gallery space, provides a hyper-dimensional yet fragmented entry point firmly rooting the artist’s overall exhibition. The “grove” can be viewed as a reflective and dizzying moment of pause – a blinding distraction, yet an inviting and meditative moment of respite anchoring the multiple viewpoints orienting visitors throughout the exhibition. The figures interspersed through “A Grove of Invisible Fruit” are hybrid beings: neither distinctly human nor wholly “other”, creole-ized and hypersexualized figures in high heels supporting a mirrored superstructure. The dual presence and absence of these figures, the lack of distinctive identity, could conceivably be contrasted with the experiences of women migrating to America. How dizzying is the burden of bearing others’ prejudice and preconceived notions? Much like the entrenched stereotypes hearkening back to the age of Chiquita Banana, these conceptions have neither disappeared nor evaded us as we continue to evolve as a society. Weinberger adoitly places these figures within a networked construct: joined together yet alienated, the figures reflect back only what we cast at them. They present to us Plato’s shadows on the walls of the cave.

“The colonized is elevated above his jungle status in proportion to [his] adoption of the adoption of the mother country’s cultural standards.” Frantz Fanon’s words in Black Skin, White Masks permeate the pores, the very follicles present in Weinberger’s works. In the artist’s series, “Invisible Invisibility”, she presents monochrome women who are identified by their cosmetics or sexualized poses, often obscured by the backgrounds which seem to “fill” them. Weinberger is presenting women difficult to categorize by societal “norms”: their very outlines prevent them ascending to the reified realm of acceptable “cultural standards.”

Fanon’s words echo throughout the exhibit, where literal “masks” create an entry point for viewers to both engage with these portraits and be denied access to the personal qualities typically found in portraiture. Voices are silenced and features hidden, marking both the uniformity of lived experiences of women of color and a refusal to be sequestered into stereotyped ethnic categories. The artist, herself American, Jewish and Jamaican by heritage, has both denied and overcome identity from “the other” in her figurative works. The portraits themselves seem to emerge from an obfuscation they willingly present to the viewer: by placing a barrier between themselves and the casual observer Weinberger’s creations upend expectations and deny the ubiquitous male gaze.

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L–>R, “Rhiannon”, 2017-2018 Mixed Media on Panel and “Emerging from the Periphery Like Mona Lisa”, 2018 Mixed Media on Panel, both by Shoshanna Weinberger

Weinberger’s exhibition as a whole mines the loaded metrics of repetition and representation. Presenting different variations on repeated themes allows the viewer multiple angles of entry into the series of artworks on view. The series of images in grids, according to Weinberger, represents yearbook photos – indicating variations on the artist’s own American, Jewish and Jamaican identity. The artist is presenting these autobiographical two-dimensional works on paper, presented alongside more sculptural works, literally examine themes present in the artist’s work from multiple angles. The visceral yet limited color scheme creates heightened awareness of the forms in the artist’s compositions. The artworks are tightly framed, implicating the viewer in almost claustrophobic nearness to the figures in the works they encounter. This irony of silenced narratives is reinforced by the presence of one single feature on the faces of the women in the artist’s portrait series: their mouths. Eyes, ears, and noses are left absent: women are expected to observe in real life; here, they are liberated and confined. They can only speak. Evoking the powerful moment of applying lipstick, a visible acceptance of womanhood, these lips are not only ready and able to speak but they are empowered to do so with grace and beauty.

Weinberger tumbles and leaps through a perceptive circus ring of contradictions in “invisible fruit: stories of camouflage from the periphery”. She produces one of the best nuanced exhibitions of Pop-infused, graphic style imagery in recent memory. While Pop art can be inherently subversive, Weinberger has managed to tease out intricacies of race, ethnicity and identity that are so often overlooked in contemporary art. Her dedicated exploration of individuality and marginalization has shown its splendor in this solo show at Project for Empty Space.

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L–>R: “The Queen of Fruit Walks Hi-Heeled in the Concrete Jungle: Invisible to Some and Obvious to Others”, 2018, Ink on Paper; “Some Fruit Have Legs”, 2018, Ink on paper (far wall); “The Camouflage Gang: Girls, Sisters and Otherness Passing” 2017-2018 (grid) works from the series “Invisible Invisibility” by Shoshanna Weinberger

In a space in the rear of the gallery, the artist points to a sculpture bust, indicating that it is a self-portrait created through the process of 3-D printing. Curled tendrils of hair hug the figures’s face, a cluster of evocative lips the only evident feature. The porcelain-colored whiteness of the bust shimmered in the direct light, giving the visage a sensual luster. Weinberger deftly re-imagines her identity as a literal fabrication, not just of social norms, but of the replicating process inherent to 3-D printing. Her vision of the portrait serves not as an admission, but instead can be perceived as a denial. This playful figuration is a credit to her finely tuned artistic sensibility and a deeper revelation of the ever-evolving social constructs of gender and ethnic identity.

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“A Rapid Prototype of My Doppelgänger”, 2018 3D Print Polymer, Paint, Wood; Shoshanna Weinberger

 

“invisible fruit: stories of camouflage from the periphery” is currently on view at Project for Empty Space, 2 Gateway Center in Newark, NJ, through May 18th. Shoshanna Weinberger is a currently resident at Project for Empty Space.

Dorit Chrysler & Her Theremins Take Over at Reece School

The Reece School in Upper Manhattan (courtesy Reece School)
The Reece School in Upper Manhattan (courtesy Reece School)

Internationally renowned musical artist Dorit Chrysler is no stranger to making a theremin sing. Theremins, the odd yet aptly tech-friendly device that can be manipulated by movements carefully choreographed around the device (see here a basic guide to handling the theremin), may have existed for ninety years already but that is relatively young in terms of the musical instrument invention timeline (for reference, both the guitar and piano had been in existence for hundreds years before the theremin was patented in 1928 by Leon Theremin.) This relative “youth” and the innovation which inspires players to interact with it allow ample breadth for consistently new discoveries. Austrian-born Chrysler is doing just that, pioneering contemporary theremin playing styles alongside a string of appearances with the likes of The Strokes, Dinosaur Jr., Blonde Redhead, and others. On Thursday, March 26th, Chrysler is staging a private performance alongside her newest international performing troupe: students at the Reece School. 

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Moog Theremini – courtesy Moog Music

Hosted at the educational facility’s Black Box theater, the invite-only event features a series of songs that the students have been trained to perform, along with Chrysler. Generous support by Moog music has allowed this performance, the first in a series of such performances, to take place at the school. The group is styled as Kid Cool Theremin School, and promises to shake things up through this guided, interactive music experience for the school’s students. Reece school’s students, who attend at no cost as the institution is a nonprofit special needs school, are thrilled to take part in the first US-based theremin school for kids. Led by Chrysler, and spearheaded by Reece School music director William Tucci, the Kid Cool Theremin School is only just getting started and will have a lot to offer thanks to its innovative vision and direction.

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.

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“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!