Tommye McClure Scanlin on the relationship between her paintings and her tapestries:
I’m not trying to replicate this painting… but I’m trying to be inspired by it… or informed in some ways about the kinds of things that I saw when I made the painting. I’ve done several—I think it’s four pieces now, this is either the 4thor the 5th—where the background is essentially white, even though it’s not really white. It’s—you know—natural color and light gray and bleached white and thin threads and thick threads. But one of the things that one of my tapestry teachers pointed out is that if a weaver wants to place a shape in a field of white, the weaver has to make the field of white. You can’t—like a painter could paint a leaf on a white canvas and there would be the leaf—well I’m kind of getting a similar effect except I’m having to make the background as I’m making the positive. Read More
Jenny Fine on her photographic series “The Saddest Day”:
They had invested all of their savings in becoming farmers…They had gotten a load of, I think they call them guilts… from some farmer…One of those pigs were sick and so it introduced …dysentery into all the pigs and they had to all be slaughtered on the same day …Basically it devastated my family. And so I was really interested in that narrative of my father and my uncle as young people having to slaughter 100 pigs or whatever all in the same day.
And that they often referred to that story as the saddest day. And so, we went to the farm to really kind of reenact that and that was just sort of the narrative I wanted to reenact. I wasn’t really sure what was gonna happen because I knew that no matter what you do— this performance for the camera— no matter how much you prepare, that you’re always at the mercy of the moment.
And I was using my twin lens Mamiya camera— which you don’t look straight forward. You actually look down into the camera. And so I wasn’t actually facing this narrative —my family— straight on. We were in the landscape of the farm and I’m looking through this square viewfinder straight down. The landscape in a way became the stage. And as they were moving in and out of the frame they were coming on and off stage. And It became really this theatrical reenactment or attempt to reenact the saddest day. Read More
Courtney Sanborn on medieval art and the iconography in her work:
Sanborn: Like I said, I love Medieval art. And I love the iconography. I love that in that period of art …there’s no words to describe evil. How do you describe something that’s evil or negative? There’s no words, but there are pictures. And so, the artists of that time made their demons out of—like there are these weird conglomerations—of like pigs, bats and like weird creatures that they had like deemed evil. Right? And so that’s how they portrayed the dark side of things. There’s always happy. There’s always sad. There’s evil. There’s good. There’s temptation. There’s like peace and like wholeness… and I love that they showed that. Cause I’ve found that no matter what narrative or whatever situation I’ve found myself in there’s always good. There’s always bad. And they exist together…
So, the demons in this embroidery are acting out the wedding rituals. She’s getting her nails done. She’s getting her hair done. And down here, this is the demon wedding. So this is the culmination of their day…which is happening at the same time as my day.
Liddell: So there’s the flip—it’s like the yin-yang of weddings.
Sanborn: Yeah, yeah. So here’s this happy wedding that was happening… here’s the garden party. These are my friends. And then here’s the demon wedding that’s happening.
Liddell: Do the demons have their friends here?
Sanborn: They don’t have friends. It’s just them.. Read More
Shanequa Gay on starting her new body of work:
There was something Dr. Napoleon Wells—he is a professor/psychologist over at Columbia College in South Carolina—there was something he said. He was like in charge of facilitating my artist talk when I was in South Carolina and he said, “African-American women, black women, are the best to tell the American story.” Why? Because we are the ones who are the furthest on these fringes, on these edges. And so, It made me begin to think about… his why. We’re observers, you know, the ones who are … kind of at the edges and including our children. Right? And so, you very rarely hear our stories. You very rarely hear our information. And yet we’re the ones in spaces of service. … His understanding or his sharing of that— I was like, I’m African-American. So why am I a best story teller and why am I a good story teller? And what makes my narrative important? And why is my narrative just as American as a white male?
Our society tells us that it’s not. I’m hyphenated. I’m hyphenated in how I move here, in my space. And so, if mine is just as American with or without the African-American— what does that look like and what does that mean? Which is why I’m seeking out spirituality, because I don’t always know where my work comes from. I don’t always know where these ideas are coming from. But I do like to move on them. Read More
Hannah Tarr on how Instagram has affected her process:
I’ve deleted the app. I’ve like told myself I’m not allowed to go on it. It just makes me sad. …
I’ve found that I see other people’s works sneaking into mine and I see mine sneaking into others that follow me too much lately. And I’m wanting to kind of be more secretive and under wraps at least until I have enough that I feel like I’m ready to show, or I have the opportunity to show a bunch of work. And then it’s unleashed and it’s gonna wow everyone and be awesome…
But it’s weird. I think I look at things differently. I measure up myself differently and my own work differently. I think about the product instead of the process a lot more. Because I’m just seeing these images; I’m seeing so many images. ... And I’m like “Oh this is good” and “I like this painting”… But I don’t think about what it is that gives me the subtle joys. Why I love painting is surprising myself and making little jokes in my head and having fun with kind of what turns up. And Instead when I’m like “Oh my painting looks like this” or “it needs to be this”— I get too focused on the end result. And I think that that’s a product of looking at too much right now, but not in person…
Yvonne Studevan on how her family history relates to her artwork:
I could just feel my heart jump out of my chest. … I didn’t like speaking in front of a group when I was a kid. … I didn’t like writing reports. And I didn’t like history. You know, having to go back and study all those people. I was like who wants to remember “1492 somebody sailed the ocean blue”—you know, all those type things. It was not until I could relate the history to me that I really started developing my passion.
It’s like, when I watched movies about the Alamo as a child, I never knew that any people who were African Americans served in the Texas Revolution until I was contacted by somebody from Texas to say that, you know your ancestor was killed by Santa Anna and inherited 2040 acres of land and we need you to verify this. And I was like verify this?! I don’t know anything about this! And so, I started reading through all the wills—because Richard Allen had a will, and all of his children had wills. And I had copies of them. So, I read through my great-great-great grandmother’s will, and she said the property in Texas is to be sold for the education of my grandchildren. That was the thing that they needed. The stories are out there, and nobody knows about them. And I’m just like, well, I can tell the story orally and I can draw the pictures and let people know. I guess that’s my new passion in life. Read More
Wanda Raimundi-Ortiz on the legacy of body and effort in her performance art:
So here I am at Skowhegan—all of a sudden—you can use your body to tell a story!? But I thought artists only drew on pad and paper? You’re not an artist if you’re not using, you know, canvas or paper. Wait a minute, you can do that? Awww shit! Here we go! And it felt like an avenue opened up… I was able to use my body to make other work.
When I was there I had a strange interaction with a woman—who ended up being, you know, I would consider her a friend—but this interaction around hand washing underwear and then hanging them in the shower. That’s something my mother taught us to do and then it ended up being like this weird class thing. And so then I started thinking. I started drawing connections— between the idea of washing your clothes by hand in the shower as a way to sort of always maintain kind of clean underwear because you don’t have much—to this connection to my mother. To her growing up without literacy. To her. To the stories that she told me about having to wash clothes in the river and having to go to the creek and gathering firewood. And cooking on stones... she grew up post-Depression Puerto Rico. Illiterate, in the hills, no money, poor. …All of a sudden, I was like ok-there’s a reason. The hand washing is bigger than just keeping a clean pair of panties. There’s a legacy. There’s a legacy of body and effort. … In some strange way, I’m trying to connect to this history, to this legacy. Read More
Karen Tauches on our relationship to our environment:
We’re no longer land-based people. We are spiritual. Like, we are virtual-based, now. We’re not making our culture based on where we live and the specific environment. We have a fantasy of what the nice environments are and all we have to do is project that on to where we live. We make images—that’s where windows come in, we have screens—and it doesn’t really matter what the environment’s really like. And that’s why development in the future would be so great for us. Because go to the moon— there’s absolutely no environment there. You build a white box, and you have projectors, and you just project whatever landscape you would like to live in. And you can see, we’re already kind of doing that inside our homes. Read More
Zipporah Camille Thompson on collecting source imagery:
I’m not to the place yet where I’m actually going to take my own photographs of landscapes—that’s something that I want to start doing. But what I do, is I start to kind of collect these found images—be it Google images or other sources on the internet—of different landscapes, different surfaces of the moon and then those become sources…points by which I can then abstract. …
So some of these (idea boards) then get a title and then they’re reference points for shows. Some of them do not have titles, and they just exist as boards...idea boards. And the beauty of it not being online…when you make them physical, it’s like this small, kind of curated, specifically for this thing‑ that I can then reference every day without having to find my laptop. …
One image then might inform, like one texture with another texture. And because I use so many different textures and layers, I think that that’s especially important— for me to see the connections. Read More
Amelia Briggs on Connecting with Viewers without Using Narrative:
These are simply very formal paintings. I have finally gotten to a point where I've just been able to own that in interviews or in conversations about my work. I used to try to like hide that or I would make up things that weren't necessarily true (laughs) because I would feel defensive about it. But I was finally just like, I need to be honest about that. Like these to me in a lot of ways are very formal; I'm not thinking about heavy issues necessarily when I'm making these. However, I will say then when you brought up narrative... I do think about that in my work. What am I trying to achieve with these paintings?
I really like to think of these objects that I'm making as something similar to like, you know, when you're shopping in a vintage store or something and you come across an old toy, or like baby blanket or something—maybe stained, it's like a beautiful object, it's just like kind of worn, it has all this history behind it—and this weird feeling of this connection to it, because maybe you recognize something about it from your own childhood. Or the color. Or it sparks this kind of nostalgia. But you don't know what that history is, and there's nothing clearly spelled out there. You know, there's not like a story with it...
I like to think of these as sparking some kind of recognition in the viewer.
Kelly Kristin Jones on her current series of “counter-memorials”:
I became really determined to find a way to make really beautiful, pastoral even, sorts of portraits—meditations of both persons and place, persons in place. . . . I think ultimately, it’s this interest in kind of flipping the script on urban landscape.
And this newer work takes into account a kind of cultural landscape, and memory and history. . . . For this show, all of the works—all of these “counter-memorials” is kind of what I call them—are at the site of Civil War historical markers that are all over the city. . . . The historical markers in Atlanta, in Georgia, absolutely talk about the Union soldiers, and there are some accountings of histories of federal troops, but Primarily it’s all from this Southern, Confederate perspective. And that’s what I find so interesting. Read More
Flora Rosefsky on teaching:
I think education is key. And I love teaching. It’s coming up with the right lesson. Once you come up with the right art lesson, the teacher should not be interfering with that student. In fact, I usually work on my own piece.
I don’t look at their work until the end. The worse thing a teacher can do is put their hand on that person’s hand and say "Oh no no no no, put it that way..." Hummm. And they’re all different... Or "Oh no, this is the way you have to draw the circle." Oh, really? Or "No, the face has to be a certain color." Really?
No. Read More
Veronica Kessenich on writing:
It’s a little magical to me. I am very shy; I don’t share it at all. Very few people have read my writing. So, I don’t know. I think it’s just you know like, you have to be very courageous I think as an artist, and generous as an artist to say “This is my internal musings and this is what I think about the world. And here, people! Consume!" … And you hope that your audience is generous with you, and accepting, and challenging… Read More
Chakura Kineard on her inspirations:
I remember I was in elementary, like in my little kindergarten class, maybe first grade—and we decided to have a carnival. Like ‘Okay, we’re going to have a special presentation! What is it? It’s a carnival!’ And then the kids got to take little cardboard boxes and decorate them with paint and glitter and did a little dance like they were in a parade. … I think those type of memories definitely fuel my art. Read More
Tori Tinsley on her background in art therapy:
It was really helpful to know from a personal standpoint, how best to care for my mom. Because I was working with people with severe psychiatric challenges, and then my mom all of the sudden had something where she was losing her mind… and so it helped me figure out a care plan and how to best interact with her so she wasn’t as scared. And finding, you know, the right fit for her as she needed to transition to different living facilities and that kind of stuff. So I’m very thankful to have that history, and that experience.
Candice Greathouse on her photography:
I turned the lens on myself and started documenting my like, lived experiences. And thinking about family archives and sentimentality and nostalgia and domesticity— and how those are so intertwined with like the female experience either as a positive or problematic depending on who’s saying it and how they’re describing it... Read More
Betsy Greer on handmade crafts as activist tools:
First you kind of wonder, like, what is it? Someone made this? You can talk about the act of making and then segue into more difficult things if you want, and then if it's getting bad you can tiptoe right back out and then talk about the craft. So it's a gentler way of talking about hard issues. Read More
Felicia Garcia On The Black Women's Happiness Project:
I wanted it to get people to really think about the subject, and really kind of think like whether or not you fall under this demographic that I’m targeting— it’s like, am I really going after what makes me happy? Am I really doing what I’m supposed to be doing? It doesn’t have to be chasing this one-off dream, it can just be like, you know, do you have day-to-day self care? A lot of people don’t even think about that, and as women we’re expected to give so much in our lives… where are we gonna pull from if we’re not replenishing that resource? Read More
Melissa Lee on the existentialism behind her paintings:
I starting reading that (Nietzsche) in grad school because I was having to read some philosophy for an aesthetics class... I think what I like about existentialism is that you sort of own your own destiny in it, and at least how I read it, it doesn't seem to depend on other people and other things. ... Religion has always been so fascinating to me and how people can really dive into that. They seem to make it a reason for everything. And, so existentialism to me is just an anti-religion of some sort... Read More
Tatiana Veneruso on how she became a curator:
The end of 2011 was the Occupy movement. And at the time I was working for this like corporate advertising agency and hating it so much... so I was definitely feeling the sentiment of that movement, and I thought, well how can I help? ... And so I thought, oh, I'll do an art show...but I'd never curated a show before, so I didn't know really how to go about that. Read More