Artist of the Week: Daniel G. Baird
Daniel G. Baird was born in 1984 in New Jersey. He is currently living and working in Chicago, IL. He received his BFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and his MFA from the University of Illinois at Chicago in 2011. He recommends everyone skydive at least once in their life.
How did your interest in art begin? My interest in art began sometime in middle school after my family got our first computer. I became fascinated by 3D modeling programs and taught myself how to use them to make things. I would model objects and render them in the modeling program’s default renderer. To take these things out of the contour lines that showed its shape, the program would place the object as if it was in a totally black room with a single spotlight above it.
When I was in high school I made paintings. I began to paint images that were of subjects in a room with a spotlight above them that faded into a black background. I only recently realized this connection between the 3D modeling program and the paintings I had made after a visit home for the holidays. I think I could say that it was in these that I began to make works that I could call my own and that were not reproductions of other masterworks. I suspect it was also this experience of making virtual objects that has led me to working in sculpture as I do now.
What materials do you use in your work and what is your process like? My process is rooted in research. I am interested in the history of objects and the tethered meanings that come by way of their use. Experimentation also plays an important role in my work. I try to work against my initial impulses for how things should look and twist it in an unexpected way.
I like to reference the idea of an object through reproducing how it is constructed. This generally consists of using direct references of scale and proportion of already existing structures and things. Physically, I like to use specific materials for the direct historical ideas and meanings that come attached to them. The use of the Vehicle Assembly Building’s structure, its scaled down nature, the clad faux-marble facade and its title after the Greek mythological character Endymion are all different materials to me. I consider the description of a “material” to be a slippery one.
3D scanners, marble dust, colored plastic, a rock from Frank Lloyd Wright’s Unity Temple, bird wings, 3D renderings, clay, broken computers, airplane parts, silica desiccant, or iridescent diffracting foil used to deter birds are some of the materials that interest me currently.
What kinds of things are influencing your work right now? The Lascaux Cave replicas, taxidermied birds, Pareidolia, touchscreens, contrails, mythology, bird feeders, future artifacts, the form of capsules, Felicity, CA, the feeling of spring approaching, disembodied airplane wings, anything broken that is produced by Apple, scaffolding, skateboarding deterrents, 3D printing, 3D scanning, Oriented Strand Board, light stands, the pantheon, sun tunnels, thrift stores, kid drawings, Acanthus plants, Yucca Mountain, hardware, the future.
What are some recent, upcoming or current projects you are working on? I am currently working on a large series of pieces that I have been referring to as “pulls.” They are plaster works that I mold then cast in a white Carrara marble dust and resin or have 3D scanned into a computer. They are created by making very simple hand gestures into a malleable material and vary in proportions from the size of a hand to the length of a body (roughly 71”). They are very surreal and almost primordial.
I have been collaborating with my good friend Haseeb Ahmed for the past couple of years on a project we initiated in Maastricht, the Netherlands at the Jan van Eyck Academie. It is called Has the World Already Been Made? and is a diverse project that culls together 1:1 molds of architecture and objects from around the world, physical fragments of historically significant works of art and simultaneous performances to produce site-specific installations. I feel that this project as a whole embodies the description, “dimensions variable.”
Any current or upcoming shows we should know about? I currently have a show up at the Institute of Jamais Vu in London and a show of a collaborative project between me and Haseeb Ahmed that recently closed at Roots and Culture here in Chicago.
Haseeb and I have quite a few shows lined up in the next year in New York, Maastricht, Leipzig, Leeds and Paris with our collaborative project.
What was the last exhibition you saw that stuck out to you? IRL - Ben Schumacher at Bortolami was one of the most compelling shows I have seen in a very long time. Other ones of note were Nick Bastisat the Hills Esthetic Center, Paul Nelson at Julius Caesar and Charles Harlan at JTT. I also just saw the Heidelberg Project in Detroit and that was absolutely otherworldly.
What do you do when you’re not working on art? I try to skateboard as much as I can. Go on adventures to seek out obscure places, camp, hang out. I internet a lot. And I try to read often.
If you hadn’t become an artist what do you think you’d be doing? I was a pretty dedicated baseball player when I was younger. If not art, I think I may have tried to pursue baseball for as far as it would have taken me.
What’s your absolute favorite place in the city/the world to be? The otherworldlyness of the gypsum deposits in the White Sands National Monument outside of Alamagordo, NM has a special place in my heart. Other places of note would be anywhere around Joshua Tree, a particular backyard in Miami, FL, and in my studio on a rainy day.
If you could go anywhere in the world where would you go and why? Astronauts speak of this feeling of understanding the wholeness of the world and the interconnectedness of everything after the experience of seeing the world as an object that could fit between your fingertips. This “overview effect” is something I would like to feel physically by way of seeing the earth as a small marble.
Artist of the Week: Justin Witte
Justin Witte was born and raised in Grand Rapids, Michigan and currently lives in Chicago. He earned his BFA from the Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design and his MFA at University of Illinois at Chicago.
What kinds of things are influencing your work right now? Having to make work in my office. My daughter. Thinking about the edges and backs of paintings. I am also always learning and stealing amazing ideas from my wife Olivia Schreiner.
What materials do you use in your work and what is your process like? Most recently I have been painting on board, linen, foam-core, cardboard, aluminum, insulation foam and unprimed luan. I usually have three or four larger pieces going on at once that I develop over several months and then at the same time I am always making smaller quick pieces that are usually finished in one sitting. The small pieces allow me to do a lot of material exploration and keep the larger works honest.
What are some recent, upcoming or current projects you are workingon? I currently have an exhibition of my work up at Moraine Valley Community College and am organizing a group painting show that will open in September at the Glass Curtain Gallery. I am really excited about that show because it will have work from painters like Magalie Guérin, Tim Nickodemus and Emiliano Cerna-Rios who are all fantastic. I am also getting ready to launch the second part of my POST project this summer.
What artists are you interested in right now? There are so many! I am really interested in Selina Trepp’s photos, she is doing something crazy wonderful that I don’t see anywhere else. I also really love Keiler Roberts Powdered Milk comics.
What was the last exhibition you saw that stuck out to you? I really enjoyed Paul Cowan’s recent show at the MCA. I actually went to the show expecting to dislike it, but the work was smart and surprisingly seductive. It helped that there was also a newly purchased Charline Von Heyl just down the stairs from his show. It was great to walk from her painting, which is just an amazing capital P painting, to his lures and urinal dividers.
What do you do when you’re not working on art? I am a dad. I teach in the Art and Design Department at Columbia College Chicago. I am an exhibition coordinator. I am in the 3rd year of a home renovation. When I am not busy I try to watch as much baseball as I can.
What are you really excited about right now? I am excited about my work, the upcoming birth of my second daughter and Spring.
If you could go anywhere in the world where would you go and why? I have a hard time thinking of a destination but I always think about types of journeys I would like to take. For instance I have always wanted to take an epically long sailing trip or ride my bike across the country. Seeing as I don’t know how to sail I probably stand a better chance of going on the bike trip.
What were you like in high school? See below
Most embarrassing moment? See above
Artist of the Week: Sabina Ott
Sabina Ott lives and works in Chicago, Illinois. She earned both her BFA and MFA from the San Francisco Art Institute. Exhibiting since 1985, Ott has participated in over 100 solo and group exhibitions.
Tell us a little bit about yourself and what you do. I grew up in Los Angeles with New York parents. I am a coastal hybrid. I have been working as an artist and educator (officially) since 1985. I have endurance. Making art and teaching are the only things I have ever done or wanted to do.
What kinds of things are influencing your work right now? Godard films – Two or Three Things I Know about Her in particular. I’ve been watching and re- watching it. Also, see the answer to “How has living in Chicago affected your art practice?”
What materials do you use in your work and what is your process like? I have been using Styrofoam, spray foam, canvas, oil, lamp fixtures, clocks and mirrors. I am working on a series of paintings that are sculptures that are furniture and that are ornamental.
How has your work developed within the past year? I have really gone full on into making sculptural object/paintings using building and craft materials. I am also working on a series of mirror paintings. It’s my way of making a two-dimensional work that is actually not flat but a deep space, functional and decorative at the same time.
What do you want a viewer to walk away with after seeing your work? Laughter? Confusion? Pleasure? Those are three responses I have to my own work.
How long have you lived in Chicago and what brought you there? I have lived in Oak Park since 2005 and moved to Chicago area to head up the Art and Design Department at Columbia College Chicago. Now I have the privilege of teaching full time and making artwork.
How has living in Chicago affected your art practice? I love Chicago. When I moved here I felt as though my history had been erased, which is liberating. Chicago encourages my impulse to be home and neighborhood centered, and I have focused on what my friend Chris Kraus calls “Radical Localism.” I have leaned into that idea by making functional domestic objects – lamps, clocks, planters, tables and mirrors – and making my home a public art site.
What was the last exhibition you saw that stuck out to you? Lots of things. Michelle Grabners show at Shane Campbells made me feel like I could die happy right then and there. Painting the Void at the MCA was memorable, as was the current exhibition at Document; Christopher Meerdo>Anthology. I love that space and what Aron Gent is doing there. The exhibition at the Elmhurst Museum that Stacie Boris curated, Open House, is a solid show. Alison Ruttan at the Hyde Park Art Center is very good work. The abstraction show at MOMA was perfect. I am making a trip to New York soon to see my most favorite influential artist Jay DeFeo at the Whitney.
What do you do when you’re not working on art? Teach, run Terrain, spend way too much time on Facebook, play with my dog Alice and my husband John. Try to read all the books written on and by Giles Deleuze; that’s a tough one, I’ve made very little progress.
What are you really excited about right now? My work in the studio and Terrain Exhibitions, the project space in my front yard. Its been running since October 2011. Terrain is producing a Biennial this coming September that will take on several sites on my block with at least five artists projects. A block party will serve as the opening event.
Any current or upcoming shows we should know about? I will be showing new work at the Riverside Cultural Center in May along with the work of artists who are important to me for various reasons in the show - Phyllis Bramson, Michelle Grabner, Dan Gunn, Anna Kunz, Michelle Wasson and Joe Jeffers. I am also working towards an exhibition in the Chicago Rooms of the Chicago Cultural Center slated for September 2014 – fingers crossed!
Can you share one of the best or worst reactions you have gotten as a result of your work? I don’t know if this is the best or the worst, but I made an installation at the Museum of Contemporary Art Cleveland and I had painted horizontal stripes circling the walls, floor to ceiling and installed a painting, some sculptures and several video monitors. A patron complemented me on fitting my work in so nicely with the decorated walls. She made a lot of assumptions I found interesting.
If you could go anywhere in the world where would you go and why? I’ve traveled a lot, but I have never been to the Grand Canyon. I want to go to the Grand Canyon. I would also like to go back to live in Alice Springs, Australia for a while. Or Joshua Tree, CA. I am fixated on the desert for some reason lately. I would also like to spend the summer in Paris and make daily pilgrimages to the Louvre.
Favorite music? Hindu devotional chants, old school punk like the Ramones, Dead Kennedy’s and the Dils. Eric Satie and Claude Dubussy. Devendra Banhart. Bjork. Frank Sinatra. I’ve been listening to I Fink You Freaky by Die Antwoord a lot.
What were you like in high school? Sad and disassociated, like the character in Joan Didion’s Play It as It Lays. I grew up in Los Angeles and spent a lot of time on drugs, at the beach and making drawings and sculptures.
Most embarrassing moment? I refuse to feel embarrassed.
Artist of the Week: Alex Chitty
Alex Chitty was born in Miami, Florida and currently works and resides in Chicago, Il. She received her BFA from Smith College and her MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Outside of her studio practice, Chitty is an Instructor in the Printmedia Department at SAIC and an Artist Guide at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago.
How did your interest in art begin? I’ve always drawn and made things, but my interest in art, as a practice and a career, actually began in a biology laboratory in college. I was doing an internship at a coral reef research laboratory in Palau, Micronesia. I worked as an underwater photographer to help to collect and document marine invertebrate species (corals, sponges, etc.) for cancer research. I was good at the collecting and documenting aspects of the work, but my brain is structured to build metaphors and ask questions rather than establish absolutes and solidify specific answers. So, I went into art. When I look back, I realize that my jobs then and now are philosophically aligned, but the materials are very different. In that lab, my job was essentially to compare and analyze an organism’s form (it’s physical appearance or its species type) alongside the potential of its content (what chemicals it might contain and how those chemicals can be used by us). Even now, my work seems to be very much about our perception of the relationship between form and content.
What materials do you use in your work and what is your process like? I use a combination of found and made objects, materials, and images. I’m often attracted to objects or images because of the way color or light is used, or because of the references made by the form itself, or potentially because of the specific cultural histories embodied within it. Often I have other objects or images in mind, and I’m curious about the influence they will have on one another when paired. When I pull something into my studio, I don’t have a specific idea of how it will be used; that part happens later. The process is influenced a great deal by my research and by the objects or images gathered, but more often than not, I end up translating them into sculptural or photo-based objects and images.
What kinds of things are influencing your work right now? The Arts and Crafts movement.The history of nomenclature. Image search engines. Physics, particularly the study of amorphous solids. Nicolas Bourriaud’s essay, “Postproduction.” Commercial window displays and museum display techniques. Interior Design trends. Oddities and beauties from the natural world. Photoshop as an extension of the hand and mind.
What artists are you interested in right now? Isa Genskin. Elad Lassry. Charlotte Posenenske. Erin Shirreff. Martin Boyce. Lucus Blalock. Roe Ethridge. Haim Stieibach. Constantin Brancussi. Marcel Duchamp. Amanda Ross-Ho. Nathan Hylden. Wade Guyton. Carol Bove. Jason Dodge. Katharina Grosse. Rosemarie Trockel.
If you could go anywhere in the world where would you go and why? Peru. My mother has always wanted to see Machu Picchu, but I think she might have given up on the idea. I would love to take her there.
What’s your favorite thing about Chicago? My quality of life improved dramatically when I moved from New York to Chicago because here there is a fair balance of work, cost of living, time and space. But more than anything, it’s the people that make this place so good.
What are your thoughts about the art scene in Chicago? Chicago’s art scene is rich, lively, and varied and has great physical space, talent, and intellect. Yet, our scene seems marked by the weight of it’s own history and by the deficit left by what culture-makers here have imagined possible.
What do you do when you’re not working on art? Figure out how to cook things. Clean up the endless messes I’ve made. Go on adventures. Write “To Do” lists. Garden. Camp. Swim. Spend good times with good people. Teach or go to work. Listen to Podcasts. Read. Snuggle. Loose myself on the Internet.
Any current or upcoming shows we should know about? I recently had some new work in a show in the west wing of Corbett vs. Dempsey gallery. I have some pieces in a group show, It’s not me, It’s you, at Heaven Gallery as well as a group winter exhibition meant to be viewed only in the snow called No Show at the West Pilsen Sculpture Garden. In early summer I am in a two person show at Roots and Culture.
What was the last exhibition you saw that stuck out to you? The exhibits that stick with me are usually the ones I don’t completely unravel or grasp while I’m experiencing them. I saw a Katharina Grosse exhibit at Mass MoCa last year.
The space is stunning, but when I saw her exhibit, I kept thinking, “this is like going to the moon,” but I have no idea what it could actually look like on the moon. And so I thought “Why am I justifying my current reality by comparing it to a reality I’ve never experienced?” I may or may not have pocketed two little spray-painted rocks from the back corner of the room. Many of the smaller pieces in that installation could probably have gone missing and it would not have disturbed the gravity of it all, but even still, those two little fragments managed to capture the entirety of both the exhibit and her practice. I often return back to the thoughts and questions raised by my experience in that exhibit.
Artist of the Week: Dwyer Kilcollin
Dwyer Kilcollin was born in Chicago and currently lives and works in L.A. She is an MFA candidate at the USC Roski School of Fine Art, where her thesis exhibition will open April 26th.
What materials do you use in your work and what is your process like? My work isn’t grounded in a specific set of materials, although it is grounded in a materials and methods kind of mentality. Right now I’m working in pigmented plaster- I’m creating these composite structures made up of different volumes of colored plaster, all cast together into a single solid piece. Then I carve into the composite piece, revealing new forms that offer some conflict with the colored substrate. I’ve also been working on a collation of virtual relief sculptures made for the iPhone. In these works I’ve used a computer software, Maya, to create the initial forms. I have a collaborator, Andreas Kratky, and who I’ve been working with to develop the forms for iPhone.
How has your work developed within the past year? I guess my work has really pushed its way into material and color in the past year. A year ago my studio was ascetically clean.. and, totally devoid of color. Most of my works were virtual at that point in time- I’d recently completed The Reveal and 10 Forms. Since then I’ve launched into this really visceral investigation of material which is all about carving and grasping with matter in a more physical way. And the color. My studio now is filled with shards of colored plaster dust, tools.. and all of these sculptures. Which are large, heavy, and saturated.
How did your interest in art begin? I’m not sure if my interest in art began so much as it has simply always been a part of my involvement with the world. But I suppose I could cite my interest as having begun as an infant … you know the stage that all babies go through where they want to put everything in their mouths in order to understand what they are? It’s a kind of formal investigation of shape that they conduct in this really intuitive way. At this stage in development babies haven’t acquired language yet, so this sensory/material exploration is their primary mode of acquiring information.. and it seems to actually give them a greater understanding of the world at large. I imagine my interest in art might have begun like that.
What are some recent, upcoming or current projects you are working on? My thesis show at USC!
How has living in LA affected your art practice?I think living winter-free is probably the one thing that’s affected my practice the most. When I lived in colder climates this feeling of dread would inevitably enter my life in late fall.. the effect of seasons started to dictate my work. My practice was more installation based, dealing with issues of habitat, environment, and sustenance. And then, *poof!* all of that seemed to lift when I moved here. I rebuilt my practice, which, at the moment looks more at the nature of object hood, in one way or another.
What’s your favorite thing about LA? L.A. is great. It’s a fabulous place to work as an artist. It’s not as cost-prohibitive to set up a studio here as it is in other metropolitan areas. And I don’t know of any other cities where you can live a midst everything and still be on a sunny hillside, which is fantastic. Plus there are oceans, and mountains, and forests, and deserts …
If you could go anywhere in the world where would you go and why? It is funny to answer this, now that I’ve described my relationship to climate … but I’ve always wanted to cross the Bering Straight. I imagine this trip would be this profound trans-continental reverse migration… a trip to ponder limits— the boarders between continents, the boundary line of time, the northern extremity of civilization. A voyage in this place that’s only really visited in extreme circumstances. I wonder what those circumstances were that got people trudging so far north to cross over to our continent so many thousands of years ago in the first place.
Any current or upcoming shows we should know about? Yes! My thesis show at the USC Roski School of Fine Arts is up April 24th-27th, the opening reception is Friday the 26th. I also have a show of video works in January of 2014 at Providence College, RI.
Artist of the Week: Elizabeth Atterbury
Elizabeth Atterbury received an MFA from MassArt in 2011. She currently has work up at Document in Chicago and has shown at Bodega, the Tyler School of Art, the Center for Maine Contemporary Art, and the Chelsea Art Museum. She lives and works in Portland, Maine and is a Visiting Lecturer in Art at Bowdoin College.
Tell us a little bit about yourself and what you do. I was born in Florida and currently live in Portland, Maine with Joe Kievitt, also an artist and my husband, Rosco the dog, and a cat named Champ. I make photographs and teach photography at Bowdoin College.
What materials do you use in your work and what is your process like? I use film, shoot with a medium (6x7) and large format (4x5) camera, and print in the darkroom. A year ago, I began working in black and white again after a long time of only shooting color. The decision was practical at first. With color analog printing getting phased out and the discontinuing of materials (paper specifically), I knew I had two choices: switch to digital or start making silver gelatin prints. Not to say that I am anti-digital at all. I just really love the darkroom. I love the physical process of making prints in the dark. I will miss that printing color. Fortunately, I still have access to a color processor through BPiC, a darkroom just outside of Portland, so for now, all’s well.
Recently, my process involves making objects out of paper, wood, cardboard, and clay. I set up my camera and establish a surface – wall, floor, or other – and then arrange and rearrange the objects. I take a picture when things feel right. Sometimes it takes a very long time for this to happen.
How has your work developed within the past year? Very quickly towards abstraction.
How did your interest in art begin? Like so many artists, I’ve been interested in art since I was a kid, but I’m not sure I’d call this the beginning. I loved drawing and working with clay. It was a pure, uncomplicated love. In high school, I became interested in looking at art, though making it suddenly felt difficult and confusing, so I stopped and focused on writing. I studied literary journalism in college, and in my third year I decided to take a photography class. That was the beginning. I went to a very liberal college where students custom-tailor their majors and spend the final year working exclusively on a single self-directed project. The writing professor I had worked with for three years – my mentor and the reason I had decided to come to this college – was on sabbatical and this somehow set me free – lost, albeit – to do what I pleased, and I chose photography. I spent a year making a body of work that, looking back, was a shamelessly indulgent self-exploration. Nevertheless, it was during college that I discovered the thing I love doing most.
What kinds of things are influencing your work right now? My friend Paula’s house, painting, Bauhaus staging and set design, Paul Outerbridge’s still lifes.
What are some recent, upcoming or current projects you are working on? I’m beginning a group of new photographs, a continuation of sorts from the work in Photography Indoors, and some larger sculptures that will involve shaping big pieces of wood and pushing mortar around on flat surfaces with a trowel. I’m also in the early stages of a book project with Bodega Press.
What artists are you interested in right now? Mono-Ha artists, Diane Itter, Eileen Quinlan, Moholy-Nagy, Tomma Abts.
What was the last exhibition you saw that stuck out to you? Lucio Fontana at Gagosian, Jedediah Caesar at D’Amelio, Requiem for the Sun: The Art of Mono-Ha at Blum & Poe.
What do you do when you’re not working on art? Look at things, home repairs, cook, play tennis, clean, work, apply to jobs, eat, drink, return phone calls, fall asleep on the couch, pester my husband, pester the cat, think about the next step.
Any current or upcoming shows we should know about? I have work up at Document now through December 8. The show, Photography Indoors, includes 12 small photographs of temporary constructions and 2 dimensional compositions I made and shot in the studio.
Artist of the Week: Ian Swanson
Ian Swanson is an artist living and working in Brooklyn, NY. He received his BFA from Wayne State University in Detroit, MI and is currently pursuing his MFA at Pratt Institute.
Tell us a little bit about yourself and what you do. I’m 29 years old. I was born in Detroit and grew up in the suburbs east of the city. I moved into the city when I was getting my BFA from Wayne State University. I hung around that scene for awhile, and helped found and run a couple of project spaces, ORG and the Northend Studios. I’m represented regionally in the Detroit Metro area by Re:View gallery in Midtown. Last year I moved to Brooklyn to work on my MFA at Pratt Institute. I primarily make abstract paintings, I suppose you could say in the provisional model, or post-provisional. I prefer the term post-authentic. I also do net-based digital projects and compose ready-made based sculptures I’ve been calling aggregates.
How has living in Brooklyn affected your art practice? I feel like any time you change environments or studios the work tends to shift. I’ve found myself concentrating a bit more specifically on painting in the last year, maybe as a result of smaller studio space. The paintings have also become increasingly economical due to practical reasons concerning the cost of living in NY as opposed to Detroit.
What are some recent, upcoming or current projects you are working on? I just opened my first solo show with Re:View in Detroit last month, called /recent works. It’s still up until October 27th. I was also recently in the group show Aggro Crag, curated by Jason Stopa, at Bosi Contemporary in the LES with a crew of great painters. I also put together a site specific installation of work for the Peekskill Project V in upstate NY with my friend Jonathan Stanish. That was put together by the Hudson Valley Center for Contemporary Art. The work will be up through December, and there are bi-weekly special events and talks. I’ll be doing an audio performance November 11th with my friend Stefan Frederick Walz from the band Thickly Painted Walls too. Should be rad.
What is one of the bigger challenges you and/or other artists are struggling with these days and how do you see it developing? I think the main challenges are financial. The issues surrounding artist fees for projects have been of interest to me lately. Artists deserve to be paid for our labor, as charitable as we can often be. I also feel like I’ve recently learned a lesson concerning the traditional reliance on large format work that doesn’t seem to make much sense anymore in a national or global art economy for emerging artists. The ends never satisfy the means and underrepresented markets can be unsupportive, or downright unappreciative, of the efforts put forth on the artist and gallery end. The traditional commercial gallery model seems to me to be failing at an unprecedented rate in most U.S markets that aren’t NYC whom chose to work with non-local artists. I could be wrong but it’s been a cumulative observation.
If you had to explain your work to a stranger, what would you say? I’d probably just say I’m a painter. An abstract one. Practically classical. haha.
What kinds of things are influencing your work right now? Internet culture, photoshop, sigils, systems and mechanisms of display, buffed graffiti, marketing, advertising and design, the dominant mythologies and gender associations of paintings history from to the renaissance to ab ex to minimalism to whatever till now. It varies.
What materials do you use in your work and what is your process like? The paintings are almost always acrylic on canvas or linen. I title them according to abritrary word associations I make when I name the files after documentation. Usually a string of characters. I sort of see it as a way of subverting their authority by making them less conveniently google-able. Lately I’ve been incorporating a little collage and digital printing. I’ve also been working on banner paintings on digitally printed vinyl and nylon. The sculptures emerge more organically and are usually a result of the particular energy and history of a specific object, process, or fabrication technique.
What are you really excited about right now? I’m pretty excited about this new loop pedal I bought. Also the banner paintings and some new sculptures. I’ve also been working on putting together a sort of journal or zine called Neuse. I plan on putting together bi-monthy downloadable PDFs or E-Books and a small xeroxed edition every 4 months. I’m accepting all types of content from folks right now. It’s on the internet through tumblr. Art wise I’ve mostly been excited by web-based artists lately. I don’t look at that much painting.
Top 3 favorite or most visited websites and why? Rhizome and e-flux for reading and looking and facebook for banality/networking.
Artist of the Week: Emre Kocagil
Originally from Istanbul, Turkey, Emre Kocagil is an artist living and working in Chicago. He is currently pursuing his MFA at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and attended Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture this past summer.
Tell us a little bit about yourself and what you do. Painter and indoors musician. I find inspiration from nature in itself and human communications at large. Make work about symbols, accesibility, sharing, rules, ritual, celebration.
What kinds of things are influencing your work right now? Sincerity, libraries, prison, humor, poetry, summer babes, beer decisions.
What do you want a viewer to walk away with after seeing your work? Optimism and a strong impression of color.
How has your work developed within the past year? It has zoomed in to the interior workings of coming up with a painting. Also the interconnectivity between multiple paintings manifest themselves in more direct ways now.
How did your interest in art begin? Played musical instruments since I was little but around early college the fetish of being in a band and on a stage made way to the desire of making paintings and hiding inside them. So I have been painting since I was 20.
Can you share one of the best or worst reactions you have gotten as a result of your work? Best: “your work makes me love you more.” Worst: “it’s beautiful but what does it say?”
What are some recent, upcoming or current projects you are working on? A show in the winter and few other projects are in the making. I’m also making music at a slower pace, 1st project is turning Frank O’hara poems into songs/singalongs, 2nd: making tiny albums.
What is one of the bigger challenges you and other artists are struggling with these days, and how do you see it developing? For those coming out of school, student loans are massive pain in the ass and makes thinking about the future less fun at times. However, great young minds will hopefully continue to see the fuller half of the glass and keep believing in what they do.
What was the last exhibition you saw that stuck out to you? Maurizio Cattelan’s show at the Guggenheim last year was a massive inspiration. The ability to put together works from distinctly separate projects into one spectacle as such, nod nod.
What do you do when you’re not working on art? Think about food ideas, inventive small business ideas, escape plans. I follow up with european soccer news pretty addictively also.
If you had one wish what would it be? Have a 3 piece band and tour the world.
If you could go anywhere in the world where would you go and why? Probably some beach off of brazil. Listen to waves, eat shrimp and bake on the beach.
What are you really excited about right now? Really excited about my new studio for the upcoming year, and having some fall get togethers with friends from out of town.
Favorite music? Contemporary: Twin Sister (in love with their singer), Cass Mccombs, Frank Ocean. All time: Miles Davis, Roy Orbison, Ella Fitzgerald, Fleetwood Mac-Rumors.
What are your plans for the next year? Shooting a film, some midwest camping, maybe getting a haircut, becoming an American citizen, making my parents proud, making work that will continue to surprise me.
Artist of the Week: Matt Nichols
Matt Nichols lives and works in Los Angeles. He holds a BA in Art Practice from U.C. Berkeley and an MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Matt’s work is currently being exhibited in the exhibition Young Curators New Ideas IV at Meulensteen Gallery in New York.
Tell us a little bit about yourself and what you do. My name is mAtT Nichols. I make things. Frequently the things I make are bi-products of an ongoing investigation into critical cultural theory.
If you had to explain your work to a stranger, what would you say? The first thing I would do is try to misdirect the conversation away from my work. If that didn’t work I would say I’m a plein aire painter focusing on rural landscapes of the Pacific North West. If that didn’t work I would try to explain that I build things that exist in space that serve as a surrogate for the physical manifestation of theoretical ideals. If they asked me if I’m a sculptor, I’d say ‘kinda.’ Then if they asked me what I meant I would explain that I make objects, but that when I think of sculpture I picture Rodin or Maillol and that that is definitely not what I do. Then I would feel guilty and just say that I’m a sculptor.
What materials do you use in your work and what is your process like? I use a lot of materials that you would find in commercial fabrication and furniture building, like formica, wood veneer, lacquer, wood stain, carveable foam, casters, mdf, and various hardwoods. I also use a lot of aerosol paint, oil paint, and acrylic based mediums, delving into digital and analog modes of production depending on what makes more sense for each specific project. For the most part my practice is rooted in observing my surroundings, reading both critical essays and classic fiction, and constantly writing words or descriptions of things that I respond to in a sketchbook that I carry with me everywhere. Over the course of a few months (or the time leading to the end of the sketchbook) I edit the words and look for patterns or recurring trends within my descriptions. If a trend emerges I begin to question why it interests me and subsequently devise a plan of investigation through a project or piece of work.
What kinds of things are influencing your work right now? Language and reactionary impulses are a huge influence on my work at the moment.
How did your interest in art begin? This is a tough question to answer. I guess technically my interest in art started my Sophomore year at Berkeley. Or that’s at least the first time I had any formal art instruction. However, my interest in language, iconography, and semiotics began when I was a kid. The things that inform my practice have long been the focus of my life, but I didn’t understand how to frame them until halfway through my undergraduate experience.
How has living in Los Angeles affected your art practice? I am currently alive and call Los Angeles my home, although lately I’ve been frequenting New York and Chicago. The pace of life in LA has allowed me the opportunity to spend a lot more time digging into critical texts and fleshing out the ideologies behind my work. In a way it’s a bit ironic because Los Angeles is seemingly and arguably known as an aesthetically driven (art) culture when placed in context to the criticality offered by New York. Nonetheless, I really enjoy LA and find it fascinating. It’s a city comprised by a multitude of subcultures, with each one presenting it’s own specific lexicon for communication and involvement. Los Angeles as a whole is an example of the social structures that I’m interested in unraveling so I couldn’t imagine a better place to be for the time being. Additionally, I’m a huge fan of Larry Bell, David Turrell, Robert Irwin, Christopher Burden, Ed Ruscha, and John Baldessari. Ha ha, that kinda rhymed.
What are some recent, upcoming or current projects you are working on? I have a lot of potential things in the works, but not too much set in stone at the time being. I’m currently doing a few private commission pieces and working through two new bodies of work. If everything comes together the way it could, I would be very busy, happy, and working incessantly through the end of the year and well into 2013.
If you hadn’t become an artist what do you think you’d be doing? If I wasn’t an artist I think I would have become an attorney, finding ways to bend language in the legal system. Sometimes I fantasize about becoming a writer of fictional novels.
If you had one wish what would it be? I’d wish for more wishes. Then I’d wish for the wisdom to know exactly what to wish for.
What’s your absolute favorite place to be? Too many good places, I could never choose one. Under the blankets with the air conditioner cranked to polar bear is a good start though.
Artist of the Week: Allison Wade
Allison Wade lives and works in Chicago. She received her MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago this past May. Allison will be exhibiting in our upcoming exhibition Wobbly Misconduct this August.
How did your interest in art begin? I’m a bit of a latecomer to art, or at least to seriously practicing it. I studied English literature in college and worked a series of corporate jobs afterwards, but always took continuing education classes in visual arts. I was taking this acrylic painting class at night and realized I was pretty good at it. The satisfaction I got from problem-solving a painting far exceeded anything I experienced at work. I rented a studio and slowly devoted more and more time to art, eventually going back to school.
What kinds of things are influencing your work right now? Playgrounds. I’m obsessed with the forms—the construction, the mix of wood and metal and plastic, how things fit together. The spaces seem simultaneously visible and invisible. Because of the bright colors, you would assume they would attract more attention, but I think they blend in because of their functional role, ubiquitous nature, and context.
How has your work developed within the past year? For me, graduate school has been a lot about working with new materials and gaining skills since I came in with fairly limited technical knowledge. I picked up ceramics about a year ago, which shifted the work in a direction I really like. For the last six months, I’ve been learning to weave on a floor loom. It is such a nice contrast to my normal process, which is fairly intuitive and unplanned. I’m anxious to see how it gets integrated into the work.
What do you want a viewer to walk away with after seeing your work? A feeling of lightness. Curiosity. That the objects are what they are; they are not trying to hide anything. I want people to think I would never have put those things together, that way, but somehow it makes total sense.
Can you share one of the best or worst reactions you have gotten as a result of your work? I ran into a woman who had seen my show last fall at SAIC’s Parallax Gallery, and she told me that she was glad I made those particular sculptures, that she was happy they existed.
If you could go anywhere in the world where would you go and why? Back to Finland. I went there last summer for a residency six hours north of Helsinki, in the middle of nowhere. To get there, I took a train, then a bus, then I got picked up in a car. It was the quietest and most magical place I have ever been. I also spent some time in Helsinki. There’s an unassuming confidence and an elegant simplicity in the architecture and design there. The harmonious balance between natural and manufactured materials really interested me.
What’s your favorite thing about Chicago? The lake, the architecture, summers, wild bunnies, above ground trains, the approachable scene for emerging artists, the fact that the city is urban but manageable, my friends.
What were you like in high school? I went to a high school in Dallas, Texas that was half Friday Night Lights and half John Hughes film. I was a cheerleader. I am still recovering.
Top 3 favorite or most visited websites and why? 1) An ambitious project collapsing - An adviser turned me on to this blog a few years ago, and I’ve been hooked ever since. I love the curated mix of art, textiles, designed objects, graphics, archival photos, and much more. 2) Notcot – An aggregate of images/links to cool design and art stuff. I spend way too much time going through the posts. 3) Hulu – I am a sucker for sitcoms.
What are your plans for the next year? Any upcoming shows we should know about? My grandmother asked me this question last week, and I managed to successfully change the subject. I’m in this exciting but nerve-wracking transition between grad school and the “real” world. The next year is a bit blurry, so I’m approaching it on a day-by-day basis. I do know a few things. I’m moving into a new studio this week with some friends, and I have some shows coming up that I’m really excited about: my August show at LVL3 with Amy Feldman and Rachel de Joode, a show at ACRE projects with Lee Delegard opening June 17, a September group show at Carthage College curated by Daniel Orendorff, and a December show at devening projects + editions.
Artist of the Week: Bea Fremderman
Bea Fremderman lives and works in Chicago. She received her BFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago this spring. Bea’s work has been exhibited in Mexico and Canada, and throughout the United States and Europe.
Tell us a little bit about yourself and what you do. I’m Bea Fremderman, I make artwork and run a curated art space in Pilsen called Kunsthalle New.
What are some recent, upcoming or current projects you are working on? Recently I finished Kafka Office, which is roughly a two minute video loop consisting of a 3D rendered office scene devoid of any workers. The architectural layout of the office space was designed to resemble a maze in which dead ends, formerly of the labyrinth transform into individual cubicles that contain deserted office furniture. I’ve always been interested in Franz Kafka’s parables because they function by destroying reality to then scramble the fragments back together again. “Kafka Office” functions similarly, combining parts and segments of a Capitalist reality as a reflection of daily life that has slipped away from society’s consciousness.
Cross Section and From Bauhaus to My Haus are two assemblages related to Kafka Office. Both can be understood as registers of information, composed of outmoded materials archetypal to American corporate office design: commercial carpeting, ceiling tiles and corkboard to name a few. The recuperation of such standard materials subverts use value in a form of resistance. These fragments are culminated together, and much like the bureaucratic condition of office environments, the valid structural organization of things remains enigmatic and unknown. The reassemblage of artifacts constitutes a monumentalized ruin as materials sink into formal shapes and create a new sublime. Currently I am working on more assemblages like these.
What is one of the bigger challenges you and/or other artists are struggling with these days, and how do you see it developing? Something I think a lot of emerging artists are struggling with is general funding for projects. Since the majority of art is now funded by the private sector, it becomes difficult to reasonably pursue a serious artistic practice if you aren’t already established. It’s turned art into a business where in order to get recognition you must brand yourself as “unique” first and then output art at a continuous rate like a machine. A lot of people would say “so what, that’s everything now a days” but I feel that this ultimately hurts what’s most essential to artwork…and that’s the work itself. To be honest, I don’t see this changing anytime soon given our current economic situation and albeit the circumstances I think it’s an interesting time to make artwork.
What are you really excited about right now? Going on vacation!
Top 3 favorite or most visited websites and why? Google, Twitter and Facebook for the obvious reasons :D
What are your plans for the next year? Well, now that I’ve graduated I am planning to stick around Chicago. I’ve arranged to sit in on some classes during the fall semester at SAIC. I want to find a decent paying job. Preferably doing something mindless like retouching photographs so I can come home and have enough creative energy to continue making artwork.
Any current or upcoming shows we should know about? Nothing special but I want to have a solo show in Chicago soon, just don’t know where yet. So if you’re a gallerist that’s interested in exhibiting my first Chicago solo show, you can reach me at my place of business: firstname.lastname@example.org ;D
If you hadn’t become an artist, what do you think you’d be doing? I honestly can’t imagine doing anything else with myself.
What’s your absolute favorite place to be? Anywhere as long as I’m around good company or old friends I haven’t seen in a while.
What were you like in high school? I was awarded “most likely to stick it to the man”…
Artist of the Week: Ryan Travis Christian
Artist of the Week: Daniel Hojnacki
Daniel Hojnacki recently received his BA in photography from Columbia College. He lives and works in Chicago, Illinois. His work is currently on view in the group show Limits of Photography at the Museum of Contemporary Photography until March 25th.
If you had to explain your work to a stranger what would you say? Mixed-media photography-based work that incorporates a lot of painterly elements, and “I print on a lot of tape.”
What materials do you use in your work and what is your process like? I use an obscene amount of tape that is digitally printed upon with the photographic process. With the masking tape I can use the image as a giant sticker pasting it to any surface. I can rework the ink while it sits on the plastic surface, using polyurethane and other spray mediums to print the image multiple times in variations of tonal ranges on multiple layers of scotch tape. Then being able to peel away the layers again to reveal what happens underneath. It becomes a very tedious process that has a lot of exciting elements to it that I’m still developing control of while relying a lot on chance and wishful pondering to push the work further.
What kinds of things are influencing your work right now? I’ve been reading about and looking at a lot of abstract painting, sublime, monochrome works of Robert Ryman and Kazamiri Malevich, almost an opposite or distraction from photography. Right now the aspects of time are really influencing things right now. How things natural/unnatural decay, grow and can subtlety un-noticeably change. The nature of illusion in art through materials, I’m most drawn to work that has a magic trick-like process to it. Also a recent obsession with clouds and the movement of light.
How did your interest in art begin? Maybe a photography class in high school, and the books of Dan Eldon and David Hockney, but I can’t be all too sure where the interests began. Seems more like it came in many different forms through poetry, painting and music.
How has your work developed within the past year? It’s been a frustrating and exciting year figuring out my materials and why I find them so fascinating. My workflow is carried by one accident or happening which leads to another and another. Things that I want to try and control and it’s been that way for the last year or so. Taking it one step at a time in efforts to continue the development of some kind of body of work.
What do you want a viewer to walk away with after seeing your work? Probably the most satisfying thing is “How the hell is he doing that?” I love creating the illusion of what is physical and what is not. Also to give the viewer a sense of temporality in my work through the materials I choose to use. That the photographic process doesn’t need to be so permanent or fixed, and how that responds to my choice of imagery.
What are some recent, upcoming or current projects you are working on? I am currently exploring a variety of new ways to work with my materials through experiments with the digital printing process of photography and painting. My latest works in progress are tending to maneuver away from the actual photographic image, into abstraction and formal studies of my materials. Also, continuing a project never posted on my website or anywhere outside of a botany class in college, I will be working with the Cumberland Gap National Historic Park in Tennessee this June to continue a documentary project on invasive plants and species I started in 2010.
What artists are you interested in right now? I’m always looking at Spencer Finch, and Anselm Kiefer, Gerhard Richter, the new work of Laura Letinsky, along with a recent interest in the beautiful work of Nazafarin Lotfi, who currently is exhibiting at Tony Wight Gallery here in Chicago.
What was the last exhibition you saw that stuck out to you? First thing that comes to mind was a large exhibition held for still life painter Giorgio Morandi I saw in Italy visiting my brother in February. He has a legacy in Italy, and I’d never saw his work before. It was an enormous collection of beautiful pieces, and it just made me realize how much I’ve yet to see and learn.
What’s your favorite thing about Chicago? My favorite thing about Chicago is the possibilities for artists here, and the large number of such eclectic arts organizations, big and small, that are willing to and want to promote, teach, and exhibit in the arts community at any level of their career.