Not Random Art - Page 87

Hello Sarah and welcome to NotRandomArt. To start with, could you identify a specific artwork that has influenced your artistic practice or has impacted the way you think about your identity as a participant of the visual culture?

When I was little art was all about my personal talismans and all further art came from there. It was not something to be shared, even as I went to college. And I rarely got to see much art until I was older. I do really enjoy Charles Burchfield for all the unseen electricity that he finds in nature, and recently I discovered June Leaf. I also remember having a strong sense of weight and balance from Arthur Dove.

I didn’t consider that others would look at anything I made until my late twenties. It’s a little bit funny, or sad, depending, because my paintings were really pretty awful at the time. I just insisted on making them. As a public school teacher in Nebraska, I wasn’t really exposed to the idea of visual culture. When I moved to New York City, I had brought a lot of paintings, and people assumed you had goals of some kind. So I was invited to hang work in different places, out of some kind of reckless encouragement. You can’t help but find art and images and sounds all over the place here, but I’ve never had a very academic experience of art and so my interests in hanging up all these creatures and wrecks are more with the interest of a singular viewer than with the culture at large.

When I did have the chance to see exhibits I was drawn in by paintings that struck with me a deep sensation from across the room. I could tell you about one sculpture that I love. In the American Visionary Art Museum there is a life size, slender figure carved from wood. It’s entirely smoothed, and the hip and cheekbones come to these delicate peaks. The chest is deeply concave. Years and years ago a man in a tuberculosis sanatorium would go on walks with some of the staff and other patients, and he found a large tree stump. He asked if he could use the wood, and he made this figure with the sunken chest and far off eyes. He must have sanded and polished the figure for days and days. Shortly after he died. As far as anyone knows it was the only sculpture he ever made.

Would you like to tell us something about your artistic as well as personal background? What inspired you to reach this artistic point in your life where you are now?

I’m not sure. When I try to write I realize that part of what I enjoy about painting is that it does not leave behind a completely definable statement. So the sensations and structures within the painting allow someone to relate to it in their own experience. This creates something new.Actually when I was much younger, I think I did want people to “understand”. I hoped to send some type of telegraph, so they would KNOW what I MEANT. I think this also (combined with lack of experience) made my paintings really awful. It takes all the curiosity out of everything.

As I said before I simply keep making things. Artists living in New York City by their own means are often too pressed for time to really settle into their work, and stubbornness seems to be the only solution I have found. It’s odd to have this contrast between the hardness needed to keep up with basic expenses, and the openness of time spent painting. I often wonder what kind of work I could make if I wasn’t living in that dichotomy. I do think it makes me protective of my time painting and that can be a little isolating I suppose, and sometimes self indulgent, because there is so much to fit into so little time.

What in your opinion defines a work of art? And moreover, what could be the features that mark the contemporariness of an artwork?

I work in schools and mental health settings as a creative arts psychotherapist. Because of this I respond to art in a very immediate way. Spontaneous, disowned pieces are common, and art is made that is not entirely welcome into someone’s understanding yet. Still there is a powerful beginning in some of these. I guess I often see art this way, as the beginning of someone learning about something indescribable. I don’t exclude any mark made from the idea of visual culture, they are all part of someone’s landscape, either artist or witness.

Is there any particular way you would describe your identity as an artist but also as a human being in dynamically changing, unstable times? In particular, does your cultural substratum/identity form your aesthetics?

For a very long time I could not paint any manmade objects, not clothes, or tools, or props. Not even hair for some reason. And I wonder if it was an attempt to take identity or culture completely out of the picture, and strip down to essentials. I also grew up in a military family, so all my relatives were always far away, and I didn’t have much chance to know them and the different cultures they represented. Eighties cartoons and movies, plus a constant backdrop of the entire oeuvre of Bob Dylan, a la my father, and straight corners would have been my cultural background.

Your art seems to be a quest for “balance between abstract and realism, manipulating lines and colours to create a kaleidoscopic feel while remain a meticulous sense of order using acrylic and mixed media.” What is the role of technique in your practice? In particular are there any constraints or rules that you follow when creating?

The very beginnings of inspiration for a new painting is to look for a pose. I will often troll through images of Avant Garde fashion photography, ballet, dance, naked portraiture and/or body-scapes to find just the right one. Once I have the pose that strikes me (YES!) I take it from there, drawing up a rough sketch adding patterns and geometrical shapes which contrast the lines of the main silhouette.

From there I sketch my plan on to a blank canvas (always making changes and additions to the new layout). Once I am happy with that I start to add colour. My fine lines are all executed without masking; using a small brush, even hand, and steadfast concentration. Then I apply layer upon layer of colour until I achieve beautiful unyielding saturation and impeccable print-like quality.

How do you see the relationship between emotional and intellectual perception of your work? In particular, how much do you consider the immersive nature of the viewing experience?

The emotional and intellectual relationship of my work always begin as two very seperate things. At first glance, my art may seem frivolously aesthetic .The colours are vibrant, and deliciously arresting. But then you look a little closer, even through the simplicity of the block colour and basic lines of geometry and pattern, there is always a story within… and that is when the emotional and intellectual perception of my art merge and the true beauty is discovered.

olted by the Thought of Known Places… Sweeney Astray” by Joan Jonas was one of the first performance installations that really made a huge impact on me. I was living in Paris during this time, in the early 90s, with a lot of influences from different cultures. It became the starting point of my own work. Joan Jonas practice has explored ways of seeing, the rhythms of ritual, and the authority of objects and gestures. Jonas continues to find new layers of meanings in themes and questions of gender and identity that have fueled her art for over thirty years. She is a great inspiration still today.

It is impossible to avoid the topic of body consciousness, embodied emotions and the image of body and personal identity that we see in your practice. What is the function of the identity appearing in your artworks – is it a canvas used to present your ideas or rather the subject of the art? What inspired you to use this as a theme in your practice?

I have been developing my visual imagery since I began studying art and film - from conceptual thinking, composition, using light and colour in different ways, through all the different techniques I've utilised over the years in my work and in my collaborations with stage artists such as dancers, musicians and actors. My approach is always developing through exploring these things. Visual imagery in essence is your way of experiencing what you see and transforming it. This is my world that I want to share and express through my art. The body consciousness, embodied emotions and the image of body and personal identity is part of this visual imagery, the emotional essence in my practice. Always present and always developing in different themes and projects.

Marina Abramovic stated: You see, what is my purpose of performance artist is to stage certain difficulties and stage the fear the primordial fear of pain, of dying, all of

which we have in our lives, and then stage them in front of audience and go through them and tell the audience, 'I'm your mirror; if I can do this in my life, you can do it in yours.'Can you relate anyhow to these words?

de-identify myself, by losing my roots, my culture, I would be very happy. Unfortunately the human being does'nt choose the place where he is born. He grows up in a society that automatically identifies, through education, culture, family... More than ever I think it's more important to go on a way of self-knowledge with the aim to meet “the other”.. This other without which we can not exist. It's the same for the artist. It is more important for me to be focused on my practice than to try to define it according to esthetic criteria of identification. It's probably the reason i like to remember the painter Matisse who said or wrote that an artist must never be prisoner of himself, prisoner of a style, prisoner of a reputation.

Would you like to tell us something about your background? Could you talk a little about experiences that has influence the way you currently relate yourself to your artworks?

All my way is influenced by encounterings.

It began by the meeting with my professor of literature at school. More than giving French or Literature classes, she brought us to discover texts, movies, plays, visual artworks and to think about on what we saw or read.. Thanks to her that I met Pierre Vincke, a theatredirector who was worjink in the tradition of Grotowski ... Both of them have led me to go to theater school. In this school I had meetings. Meetings with artists but also and especially human beings that made me discover. I always need o discover rather than to master a practice. It's probably the reason my encounter with Monica Klingler and Boris Nieslony was decisive for me and led me on the path of Performance Art which is a form still difficult to define. Each performance artist has a different definition of what it is...

Could you identify a specific artwork that has influenced your artistic practice or has impacted the way you think about race and ethnic identity in visual culture?

No I don't have a specific artwork that has influenced my artistic practise but many.

I'm influenced by some philsophers as well as poets or musicians or dancers or visual artists but also by some places or landscapes or atmospheres ... For some years, I was used for example to go to India where I was used to follow some traditionnal muscians or to learn bharatanatyam and practice vipassana meditation... Of course this experience has impacted my art work.... This brought me to think and work differently... My experience in India brought me to discover traditionnal strong art and paradoxally to the way of Performance Art. But there I see one common point: to make no separation between art and life and to be here and now, without projection on the future.

It's difficult for me to speak about race and ethnic identity. But I can say that today we miss more and more this notion of “to be here and now” which is more present in some cultures ... By practising Performance Art, it's my way to be connected to this way of thinking. And even in this field actually it's more and more difficult. The society and the art world brings us more and more to plan in advance, to define our work, more than to do. Just to do. To do what we deeply need.

And of course, my encountering with Black Market International and later the notion of Open Source or Open session via PAErsche have also a big impact on my work. When we go on that, each of us perform by sharing time and space but without trying to convince each other on some common way. This is for me a wonderfull way how we can meet each other, regardless of our origin, our race or our “identity”...

Many of your works carry an autobiographical message. Since you transform your experiences into your artwork, we are curious, what is the role of memory in your artistic productions? We are particularly interested if you try to achieve a faithful translation of your previous experiences or if you rather use memory as starting point to create.

My memory is clearly a starting point to create. I don't have any autobiographical message. I use my personnal experience ( what I feel , what I see, what I learn, what I ear...) to work. It's a motor or a material. I'm not able to paint, so I can't do something with red or white or yellow or black colors. All I have is life, a body alive. And I need to do something with that...

My sensation about life sometimes is too intense then I need to transform this intensity in some action. Some artistic action... If people can take something from this action this is great... but I don't want to give them “a specific message” or to control the translation of my experience.