Can you tell me a little bit about you?
Hi! I just finished my MFA at Hunter College. I’ve been living in Brooklyn for about 6 years and moving into a new studio in Crown Heights soon. My painting changed quite a bit while at Hunter, there were a lot of highs and lows but I certainly grew a lot. The work has come to be more explicit in its references and comes from a much more personal place now, though the look of it is not what I’d immediately associate with a deeply personal artwork. Unrelated to art, I recently adopted a beautiful pup, a Chihuahua mix (whose sitting on my lap as I type this) and I’m a huge soccer fan and a decent player. Some friends and I are even on a league team that’s almost all artists.
When did you first discover art, or realize you wanted to make it yourself?
I didn’t take it seriously until my junior year of college, where I was enrolled in a BFA program but mostly just drinking and getting high. A new professor was hired, he’s come to be a mentor over time, and I realized you could take this seriously from all angles- as your livelihood, to grow your intellect, to engage the political moment. He sort of shed on light on art and being an artist in a very real well that I still attribute to my continued pursuit.
What ideas are you exploring in your practice?
Wayfinding (imagery without language), visual and literary rhyme, how language and travel thread into one another- these are the driving themes of the latest body of work, themes that I enjoy engaging with and are both conceptually and visually present in the works. I think the biggest change has been focus. The door was a little too wide open previously and I feel I’ve been able to home in on what it is I want to include in a painting, how I want to function, and from where the references in it can come.
What interested you in pursuing language and travel in your work?
I grew up around several languages and I’ve had the good fortune of living in Europe in three different stints (Spain, France, Czech Republic). I believe it’s true what is said about travel and it’s effect on openness and that language has a similar effect. Exposure to more languages reveals that a thing can be called by several different names and mean nearly the same thing (not entirely, it always shifts a little based on cultural context). I love that this functions in a linguistic sense and a cultural one, simultaneously. And in turn, a visual sense- visual by default, really. For example, we all eat- I’ll pick bread- in the US it might be sliced bread, in Spain some bread a la Catalana with tomato, a baguette in France, a chleb loaf in CR. Each of these is the same, essentially serves the same purpose, and all are and look very different from one another. I’m interested in painting’s capacity to tap into this pan-linguistic-visual idea and create cross cultural visual expression that is a confluence of experience in a single picture plane.
What is your process like?
I’ve been referring to it as on orbit. I know I want to build a painting around a particular image that embodies a particular idea, so I start with that. The image grows around that, with elements that come into play via compositional decisions that then link to concept and imagery. Though the paintings look mapped out they’re very improvisational and need them to be, for me to map them out would mean just coloring in and not searching and enjoying the course that the painting takes you. It has to be fun and challenging.
What do you do if a painting just isn’t working, or you find yourself at a creative standstill?
I often refer to an assignment from undergrad- to pare down a painting so that it has only what is absolutely essential to what you’d like to express. I don’t often do the assignment, but use it as a catalyst for though and analysis. It helps me determine what I want out of something, or not, but it gets me really thinking and breaking things down. Also, more often that not I just scrap something isn’t working and start over. Or watch some soccer and get out of the headspace of the studio entirely. Helps to refresh the thought process which often ends up being overthinking as opposed to helpful reflection and analysis.
Do you have a mentor, or a piece of advice (or both), which has influenced your practice?
My thesis advisor at Hunter really pushed me and I feel that I challenged myself a lot more as result. It’s hard to think of a specific instance working with her, but she helped the work grow and I believe it became much better as a result.
What is your studio like?
I’m in between studios right now, having just finished at Hunter but will move into a new space in a few weeks.
What do you find most daunting, challenging, or frustrating about pursuing art?
Oy. So much of it. It’s building a life on shifting shores. Finding a balance is hard and maintaining one is even harder. Issues of access and the political ethics of living in such a bubble are tough to wrestle with, too. I wouldn’t have it any other way though, of course.
What are three words you would use to describe your work?
argle bargle, abstruse, strange
What are you working on right now?
A series of small paintings of mugs and clocks- mundane objects that transcend language and are persistently aestheticized
Anything else you would like to add?
Thanks for putting all this together! I’m a fan and admirer of the project.