The leaves here in the South are finally starting to change color. Celebrating the transition with
As we close out March and Women's History Month, we want to give a shout out to some women artists who are still killin' it at basketry, typing, dress-making, porcelain painting, quilting, weaving, floral arranging, stitchery, pottery, etc. even though they don't have to.
Because "women's work" is always FINE ART.
A couple of weeks ago we had an amazing studio visit with mixed media sculptor Eileen Braun and were fascinated by her transition in materials - from ceramics to rattan - in the creation of her extraordinary, otherworldly vessels.
We are sharing here, her description of the work and a glimpse at what she has been working on.
"In 2016, I put my clay work on hold and sought a new media less demanding of material constraints. After a lot of experimentation, I found it in encaustic wax and rattan weed. As I make the work, the forms grow increasingly more complex. Their sizes range from 3 - 7 feet high and the deep shadows (not easily shown in images), provide a completely different personal experience. The work is deceivingly light, weighing in at a mere 2- 6 pounds.
My art mirrors natural forms with a biomorphic edge. Often the exact life cycle stage one is viewing is too complex to pin down. Is it focused on seed, mature growth, or the desiccation of this system? I leave that up to the viewer.
Movement, texture and complexity of form are integral to the work as well. My hope is that the viewer will be drawn in by the shape. While approaching, they will be intrigued by the ever-changing views because one can see both through and around the form simultaneously. The texture, shadow and line created by the materials add to the multidimensional cornucopia of delights.
Process: The sculptures are constructed from rattan reed, encaustic wax, cotton string, and glue. In some instances I have added dress-makers pattern tissue - influenced by my research of Japanese Akari lamps. The rattan reed is left natural or occasionally pre-stained; soaked, manipulated and secured at all junctions with cotton string. Additional elements to the sculpture are constructed or texturized with encaustic wax. The exoskeletons in many instances have been en-robed in wax, giving them the appearance of metalwork."
Enjoy the work and imagine the possibilities - tabletop installations, wall-hangings, ceiling installations...
Earlier this month, prior to the devastation of Hurricane Harvey, we had a great studio visit with ATL Artist Elyse Defoor. Her new space allows her to have many of her past works on display.
This piece, By The X, is from her X.U.ME series - a response to the visual symbolism of the X in the immediate aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. With our thoughts on the people of Houston, we share this poignant past project.
"It is the hour to rend thy chains, the blossom time of souls."
- Katharine Lee Bates
Lee Krasner (1908-1984), Easter Lilies, 1956
Collection of the Seattle Art Museum
Galen Cheney is a Vermont-based artist that APP has felt a strong gravitation to lately. Cheney's work is so expressive and complex, yet seems to fit within a multitude of environments. We look forward to placing her work. In the meantime, a conversation...
APP: Galen, we just love your work and have to give a nod to the abstract expressionists that came before you. We are huge fans of Clyfford Still, Betty Parsons, Helen Frankenthaler and Cy Twombly. Want to tell us about some of your favs?
GC: Yes, the Abstract Expressionists are my painting heroes, generally. Their art was their life and vice-versa. My favorites among them are Joan Mitchell and DeKooning. They had a willingness — perhaps even a compulsion — to risk everything in a painting in order to create something meaningful, something new. I admire and aspire to that degree of artistic bravery. Like you, I am also a big Twombly fan, as well as Guston and Diebenkorn. And there are so many good painters working today: Mark Bradford is at the top of my list; I relate to the physicality of his work, his manipulation of non-traditional materials in the service of sublime beauty. A few other contemporary favorites are Cecily Brown, Susan Rothenberg, Leonardo Drew, Julie Mehretu, Bill Jensen, and John Walker. There are really too many to name.
APP: Agree completely. How do you see the changes in your life reflected in your work, particularly in where you have lived? I know you were born in LA and spent time in both MD and MA before settling in Vermont. In terms of street art, and referencing layered urban mark-making, where does this come from?
GC: I have spent a lot of time in Italy, and my first visits there when I was 14 and 15 had an enormous impact on me. Yes, the art that I saw was part of it, particularly ancient frescoes in Pompeii and frescoes in Florence by Giotto and Masaccio, but just as affecting was the ancient history that suffused everything. Witnessing noisy, contemporary life, including the day’s graffiti, within that ancient context affected me deeply.
I am drawn to the enduring human need for visual self-expression. Graffiti, ancient and contemporary, is a rich example of that. These days I spend a lot of time in New York, and even its walls covered in layers of torn-off posters are a turn-on for me. I often employ a similar kind of process in my own work — laying paint on, scraping it off; gluing paper or fabric on, pulling it off. It’s not a planned technique in order to achieve a particular effect, rather it is just a process of working. All those changes of direction in the making of a painting amount to rich and varied surfaces that are a record of the process.
APP: And in 2015 you were a fellow at the Da Wang Culture Highland in China. How lasting of an effect did the residency have on you? I know you took just a brush, ink and a marker, so it seems you were already open to the calligraphic and to using papers more common there. Can you give an example of something gleaned in Shenzhen that inspired a significant influence within your practice?
GC: My time in China continues to strongly inform my work. When I was there I began really focusing on collage as a method for making work. I love scavenging, and I did that, gathering cast-off papers, hand-written notes, paper trash, basically. I combined those with special Chinese papers and passages of ink brush paintings that I was working on. I was energized by the process that I began there and I am continuing to work in that way today, though with painted textiles more often than paper. I love paper, but I am sensitive to the needs of framing paper pieces and wanted to explore more durable materials.
APP: Do you sew outside of using that technique as a manipulation in your work? Can you comment on any feminist concerns you have as an artist? What your work says or ignores?
GC: No, I do not sew! I didn’t grow up in a sewing household, though I recently inherited a friend’s old sewing machine and I am determined to learn the basics. Hand-stitching is such a slow process, and though I like the look of it, the speed of it is at odds with my preferred way of working. And then there’s the feminine association that seems to inevitably arise with stitching. That said, more and more artists — both women and men — are working with thread in various ways and it feels like it is losing that strict association with the feminine or feminist. I am a feminist, though my work is not overtly about that. I just try to make strong paintings.
APP: And you succeed. When did you make your series of "War Paintings?" Are you anticipating more work in this vein given the current turmoil in our world/our own country?
GC: The War Paintings were a response to the bombing of Beirut in 2006. Sadly, since then there have been and continue to be other wars that might have inspired that work. My work is abstract, though I think it has everything to do with the world we are living in. It will never be a narrative of current events. While it embodies the complexities of contemporary life, my work, if successful will rise above the noise. This is the promise of art, to enrich us, engage us, to help us make sense of being human.
APP: You've really shown your work everywhere. Was there a particular place or group of people that you felt just "got" your work?
GC: Mostly it has been other painters that have most appreciated my work. Though now, after many years of tenacious and uncompromising painting, things are beginning to shift and my work is gaining broader recognition and appeal. I am always pushing myself to become a better painter with every painting I make. For me, that struggle, that process of discovery is the whole point. And just maybe the stars are beginning to align.
APP: What is a typical winter day for you?
GC: Coffee first, followed by hauling wood for the wood stove and filling the bird-feeder. If there is time, I’ll do a little reading (right now I am reading the Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead), painting, hiking in the back woods with my dog, Viggo, answering emails, looking online for artist opportunities. There are always chores to do, but I get into my studio (which is in my house) just about every day. I often paint at night, which comes early during winter in Vermont.
To learn more about Galen, please visit her website.
"It's a mixed up, muddled up, shook up world..."
ATL Artist Anita Arliss created this protest image because in her words: "We may never know the USA we grew up in again. Things look dangerously unstable." She has made the image available for public use via Hair on Fire. Click the flag to download if you feel so inclined.
Even though it feels as if the sky is truly falling, we must fight through this discomfort
and uncertainty and take action.
Learn more about the Artist: www.anitaarliss.com
Quote taken from "Lola" by The Kinks. Listen here.
Originally published JUNE 9, 2016 // BY JAIME DESIMONE
The paintings of Australian-born Fran O'Neill rely upon a construction/deconstruction equation, where she uses her physical body to produce, alter, destroy, and recreate oversized gestures. Layer upon layer, O'Neill applies paint only to swipe, smear, and remove it with her body or another material. Her paintings are as much as an additive process as a subtractive one, where at times she reinvents imagery on the same canvas. In preparation for Confronting the Canvas: Women of Abstraction, O'Neill answered a few questions about her process and the ideas behind her work.
Describe your approach to painting.
Having grown up in Australia and currently living in the city of New York, the mixing of past experiences of my life become and feed my painting. The ability to manipulate oil paint and watercolor is core to my practice; abstraction, color, movement of the paint, and shifting scale all come into play on the canvas/paper. I crave space, and how “space” can be open, compressed, complex, grand, intimate, and sometimes, all within the same image, intrigues me.
I look for moments in life that have a special or unexpected quality about them. Perhaps it is the way that light hits a surface, or the juxtaposition of shapes, textures or a tiny happening, a memory or a fragment of a dream or reality. There are times when I glimpse something, and I have no idea what I am looking at, or when the strangeness of real life seems dreamlike or indescribable for a split second, then materializes into focus. Sometimes it's that fleeting moment that catches my eye and plays in my imagination. I don't necessarily seek to recreate what I have seen but more the experience of how it felt and how I perceived it. I entwine those experiences with others, and as I begin to paint, and with that, the direct application of paint in the moment can add its own dynamic to the image-making process.
The act of creating becomes “all important” in my process, exploring the fluid movement of the paint as I apply it. How to recreate the tension or emotive quality without needing to name, locate, or describe a narrative or an exact experience/memory. Broad movements, simplified palettes versus intricate and sometimes cluttered space(s). Seeing the process take place on the canvas-drips, glimpses of under layers, forms take shape and/or break down on the surface, the rotation of the canvas, all coalesce to make a whole. My process is organic, intuitive, and improvisational.
I seek to always surprise myself, and with that, I am intent on researching beyond my “go-to mediums,” as I believe it is always necessary for an artist to continually reinvent one's imagery and not to be afraid of where that journey takes me. Striving for newness and to be open to change is a necessary part of my practice.
How did you develop this unusual approach to abstraction?
I never planned on being an abstract painter. It was a natural and curious progression that began with working from perception. I began as a figure painter and moved to landscape painting. After a conversation with a friend who knew that I have sewn some of my own clothes, wondered if I'd ever considered using "patterns in my work," and I began to use patterned material from various locations as backdrops, teamed with a Balinese doll. Slowly, the doll began to exit the work, and the patterning took precedent. The use of pattern from highly repetitious work began to be more sporadic, and I discovered that it was “mark-making and movement” of the paint that really excited me. This has kept me occupied for sometime now.
What ideas do you explore in your work?
Movement, scale, light, and color. I'm always seeking to surprise myself.
Describe your color palette.
My color palette changes with each painting. I've been known to buy a color that I find ugly or just can't imagine using. Sometimes I use it straight away, other times it sits on my studio table for months, until the moment calls for it. I am after creating light with color and any means necessary to achieve this. No color is out of the question.
Describe your titles. What meaning do they convey?
I deliberately title work in “lowercase,” as I consider the title to be secondary to the painting and more of a way of identifying one from another, not necessarily the “meaning” of the work. I seek simple one- or two-word phrases that don't give too much of a narrative, to allow viewers to have their own experience, not to be swayed by my thinking. Sometimes I use lines from song titles. I've been known to re-title work, until a word or phrase sticks to the image.
What does “abstraction” mean to you?
Now that's a big question. Today, for me it has to do with sensuality and sensibility, in terms of surface. To me there is abstraction in figuration and landscape. It could be the simplification an idea to obtain its essence? Or does that sound just like some “art talk” …
Who, if any, abstract painters have influenced your work?
I've looked at the Abstract Expressionists and others including but not limited to Philip Guston, Joan Mitchell, Lee Bontecou, Helen Frankenthaler, Terry Winters, Elizabeth Murray, Joanne Greenbaum, Amy Sillman, Bill Jensen, Margrit Lewzcuk, and recently Daniel Hesidence. Variations on why they've held my interest include mystery in the making or imagery, a sense of spirit and purpose, along with surprise in the making, and this has allowed me a glimpse into how I see their approach to their vision. This has given me the ability to seek my own voice via paint.
How much do these influences or other inspirations guide your painting process?
We live in such a visual fast-moving word. It is hard to say what doesn't influence my work. In terms of painting and/or painters, I try to see a variety of work, and hoping that on both a conscious and sub-conscious level I am soaking in all that is good, mashing it around and that it comes out in an interesting way on my surfaces.
Do you see yourself as an action painter or one who is continuing the tradition of Abstraction Expressionism?
I don't consider myself an action painter. Though I do recognize and see the link to Abstract Expressionism in my work.
Does being a woman change artistic output?
I don't think it does for me. I just work.
At times, paintings are discussed as masculine; at others, feminine. Are your works gendered?
I've had my work described as “masculine and muscular,” terms that I believe are coined to my work due to the scale and contrast of the mark-making. The connotations associated with gender and any stereotypical ideas are ones that I am not interested in. Either term can be good or bad.
What, if any, is the role of women painters in contemporary art?
I think it is the same as any other gender. To be true to oneself and to seek and go after the journey.
Why do we need this all-female show?
Hmm. Women are still making strides. I do believe that only I can make my work, and this is the same with any other gender. I do think that society does instill ideas regarding gender and that this occurs on a continued and not so subtle way. I struggle with this question. And think back to that quote by Joan Mitchell who was asked to be in a female painting show, to which she declined and said “ask me to be in a painting show” (or something akin to this), and I'm there. There is the chance that someone will not necessarily give it the same credence that they would if it was a male who painted it. I like to think this perception is changing and will continue to change. Like the gun laws, or lack of. Always debatable depending on who is at the table. (An abstract answer?)
Did the feminist movement impact your career?
I've been aware of the feminist movement from undergrad. I use to say that it didn't really affect me as a painter or my career, however, the further I get into my career, that more grateful I am for those women who fought for the right to make work that they wanted and to show the significance of being female. Unfortunately, sexism is still alive. When I teach, I really encourage my female students to find other female artists, present and historical, to enable them to see that anything is possible.
Where do you find inspiration?
Anywhere and everywhere.
What's your workspace like? When and where do you like to create your art?
I have a studio in Long Island City with great natural light. When the weather is good, I ride my bike and aim to arrive to my studio early in the morning and work to late afternoon. Additionally, I have a very small room at my house that allows me to make work at home at anytime. Riding my bike gives me good thinking and looking time along the way.
What's your next project?
Always ongoing. To date, I would say that I don't have a start or finish of a project, though looking back, I can see moments when the work changed. And in that process, I step forwards and backwards constantly.
How will exhibiting your work at MOCA Jacksonville affect your career?
Exhibiting at MOCA Jacksonville is a tremendous step for my work and for my career. I see it as confirmation that I am on the right track. Exhibiting along side the other artists is a gift and a significant moment for me, and I am excited to see how the works might talk to each other. Ultimately, I hope the exhibition will allow the audience to see the impact and relevance of abstraction today.
Original post on MOCA Jacksonville site can be accessed here.
March is Women’s History Month and APP would like to pay tribute to photographer Vivian Maier (1926 - 2009). Maier was a true testament to the fact that a person can live multiple lives and that our creative efforts are never in vain.
When a handful of collectors discovered her negatives in 2007 during a forced auction of her Chicago storage space, the world was introduced to a previously unrecognized master of photography who documented the streets of Chicago, NYC and LA for decades. This unselfish documentation of the everyday is now such a valuable glimpse at history through the eyes of a woman who experienced life primarily as a nanny whom a long-time client described as a real-life “Mary Poppins.”
She was the champion of bathroom selfies, of the window-shopping snapshot. The medium format film she used at the time probably only afforded her a dozen shots per roll, yet her oeuvre has been quantified to include over 100,000 negatives (very few ever actually printed by Maier).
Happy Women’s History Month. What passion are you exploring in your spare time?
© Vivian Maier/Maloof Collection, Courtesy Howard Greenberg Gallery, New York