This week’s artist interview was particular enjoyable because I actually got to interview two artists at once who collaborated on a project called “Introspection”. Prior to actually knowing this, I went into the exhibit and was thoroughly impressed already with the linework and different techniques involved, but after the artists told me how the did a few paintings individually and a few collaboratively, I was beyond impressed. When I asked about the main theme of the exhibit as a whole, they said it was about expression, anxieties, and a look into the cramped and convoluted space of the mind.
I then asked each of them how they first got into art. Maggie started by saying she was originally going to study Marine Biology but she always had an interest in art. She was then inspired by her high school art teacher senior year to pursue art as her focus if she felt it was where her passion was. Yee said she had a similar experience with the field of BioChem. She’s loved art from a very young age and eventually realized it was where she was putting all of her free time. It was only logical then to redefine her focus so that her free time hobby became her actual focus.
I noticed that even though they started theit art careers similarly, they had different yet complementing personalities, so I then talked to them about the dynamic of their collaboration. They actually set up the exhibit so that one person’s individual work would be on one wall, the other on another wall, and then another wall for the there where their unique styles collide. Maggie’s pieces contain lots of triangles and structures made up of clustered triangles. She says that these triangle clusters and repeating line patterns represent rigidness and repetition in life and the stress created as a bi-product of this. Yee’s work can be more characterized by areas with either lots of space or a serious lack of space. One painting in particular included a perspective effect that she says is the different things a fishtank can represent such as entrapment. When their styles were combined (as in the picture above), one really sees how the exhibit is an expression of introspection. The paintings themselves are the aftermath of two fellow artists letting loose after being overwhelmed by the stressors of the mind.
One struggle of the art world nowadays is deciding how one wants to present themselves as a creator. The most common approach is to create the work and then seek to have it gain some publicity, which usually involves the creator being very active or outspoken in interviews and on the internet through various social media. Shane’s approach however, is very uncommon and even to most, offputting. I can tell as a person he is very dedicated to his work, but wants the work to be the full representation by saying few words and seeming somewhat standoffish towards interviews. To credit him though, he was still being a very good sport and taking numerous interviews after his exhibit, “Deficient” could only be half experienced by the massive ART 110 class size.
His obvious disappointment in that situation was what actually made me want to interview him because it was apparent that he had put serious work and thought into his art. Before I started the interview, I asked if the piece would be fully operational later so I could get the full effect. He let me in with the strobe clicker and I was able to be immersed in a dark room, whose contents could only be seen in the glimpse of each strobe. The quick flashes of a couch, some plants, and a dim fire inspired tension and a very pure uneasiness that was in its own way impressive.
I first asked a broad question along the lines of what makes him gravitate towards art, and he said that it bridges gaps in language and tells stories that words often can’t. He comes from a background of photography but he says his favorite medium is sculpture because of its open-endedness and characteristic of being hard to define. When I asked to elaborate more on “Deficient”, he gave me a somewhat cryptic answer but I think I’ve loosely pieced together the the ideas. He said it dealt with the way memory is mediated through perception, falsehoods in perception, and theatrics, all of which I was able to take away from the piece.
While Shane may not be the information-spewing outspokenly proud artist that we expect to interview every week, he transfers powerful ideas through his work and a key few words.
This week’s galleries have hands down been the best so far. It was really hard to choose a favorite when the options consist of exhibits like the pink furry wall, amazing glasswork sculpture, and colorful and masterfully disproportional sculptures of people. I eventually decided to interview Mitch Springer, whose work I would say seems straightforward but actually gets more complex on further inspection. Ironically, Mitch himself is the same way. He was hanging out by the table reading a book when I approached him expecting a conversation just about his work yet I ended up with topics such as science and naturally occurring phenomena.
I first asked about how he blended the colors on the above picture (which I’m a fool for not getting the name of) expecting to get back a response about a straightforward painting technique. Instead he starts to explain to me that the color actually comes from the atmosphere of the kiln, the reds stemming from the amount of carbon and the blue stemming from the amount of oxygen. My next question was about the cracked texture, which was interestingly enough done by experimenting with different materials and heat adjustment. The slab against the wall is actually two layers, the back that always stays the same size and the front which actually expands and contracts based on the different rates of temperature increasing and decreasing. The stagnant size of the back piece then forces the front to stretch and eventually crack.
We then talked about his influences and what got him into this medium. He said he’s always liked pottery which then got him into ceramics. He really likes the process of making it and then firing it in the kiln, which then translates to an appreciate for the processes that nature goes through to create stalactites and stalagmites. This ever shifting characteristic also appeals to Mitch because, using his method, he can stop the process when he wants and capture where it is in the process almost as if he was freezing time. For instance in the picture below, the liquid on the hand mold was molten but he managed to rapidly cool it so that the drips on the underside solidified in their current positions.
On a sidenote, in conversation he mentioned that his twin brother, Mike, makes compositionally expansive folk music under the name Black Kaweah. My good friend, Andy, and I looked it up, it was phenomenal, and you can find it here on this page: http://www.blackkaweahmusic.com/
This week’s galleries were finally back to the regular schedule, where around four artists that all usually go to CSULB each have a small exhibit to themselves. I’m glad these artists in particular were given the space because they all had works on the larger scale. Furthermore I was intrigued by the mind-warping work of Jesse Lubben, who I had the pleasure of interviewing.
Jesse starts by taking an aimless drive, usually in nature, until he sees something or finds a place that catches his eye. He then walks around letting his camera guide him to what will be the subject of each work, sort of. He then takes those photos, color adjusts them, rips them up, folds them, creates 3D objects with them and rephotographs the new creation. He even goes through this process multiple times sometimes, but it all makes sense in the way that it creates a truly unique and multi-dimensional array of shapes and colors.
When asked about his artistic background, he said he’d been drawing geometric designs since about high school but has studied art at CSULB for three years. When asked about his influences, he mentioned the writing of Loren Eisley, who talked about the geographic history about any one object in any given environment. He says that the Eisley’s writing helps him to think about what went into something as simple as a building being in a certain place. The materials had to all be gathered from somewhere and put together obviously, but furthermore one thinks about the rock used to build the building, and what cosmic collisions and weather shaped the original structure that the rock could have come from. This philosophy is very relevant because Jesse’s work forces you try to retrace what steps he may have taken, bit by bit, and what the original image may be.
Lastly we talked about art as a concept. I love that sometimes the perspective and angles of Jesse’s work don’t make a lot of sense and he said that most good art has some kind of contradiction. He also mentioned that humans have an engrained desire to want to solve things and so his work forces you to appreciate for long periods of time because it’s virtually unsolvable.