In December 2010, three months before the displaying of my piece Mono-no-aware in the Momentum exhibition, I was interviewed by Sasha Spielman via email about the piece, myself and much more...
JP, How did you hear about Momentum?
Gosh that’s a good question... I think I can say it was through my parents, we went to the Momentum that was held at the Stage Center in down town Oklahoma City, I was about 17 and I was blow away. The first thing I saw when we walked in was a woman splashing around in a kiddy swimming pool, and then there was Chris Wallard's Wally Ball which was this big metal sphere that moved via an offset motor and destroyed kitschy mass produced ceramic stuff. It was the wildest stuff I had ever seen in Oklahoma, and I was immediately dying to be a part of it.
Why did you decide to apply?
I applied for the spotlight because I have really been putting an emphasis on pushing myself to my creative limits lately. I had a terrible block over the spring and summer of 2010. I fought to come out of it but it was a sticky one, When it finally let up in September I knew I had to take that opportunity to dive deeply into a lot of my highest aspirations, to set some immovable goals, to keep the carrot of deadlines and commitment in front of me, basically, and this will sound sort of silly in the context of this interview but, to keep my momentum going. So in that attitude when I saw the application I jumped on it because it was the perfect opportunity for me to be able to explore some ideas I have wanted to implement in my artwork since I was still in college, but haven’t had the wherewithal, means, or guts to get involved in until now. I wanted to use light-boxes made out of the glass-art I have created and fit that into my paintings, so that my figures became something between medical anatomical models, or advent calendars, except without either of those meanings, more my own little windows into the soul. Because of the honorarium I feel like I can really explore, get deep into my concepts and unexplored abilities and ideas. There’s a sort of environment created with in this that really allows you to take risks, not be so safe.
What do you think about OVAC and the program you are participating in?
I think I sort of just intuitively answered a lot of this question, but to expound further, I think OVAC is outstanding, between grant opportunities, promotion of local artists in their media, the shows they organize and the general handholding of a lot of us creatives, I think they really have made Oklahoma a better state to be an artist in. They have opened so many doors for me, simply through giving me opportunities for greater exposure of my work. It’s hard to quantify how much of a hand they’ve had in my career. I like them, a lot, in a nutshell. As I said I feel like the spotlight program really allows for a since of daring and exploration, there is always this great energy at a Momentum event, I think it has something to do with so many young artists often experiencing something they haven’t before, there’s giddiness in the air and everyone can ride that vibration, so it’s a wonderful environment to play in and yet do something really powerful in as well.
Let’s talk about your project:
How did you come up with the idea of “ahh-ness of things”?
That idea already existed within the definition of the Japanese word “Mono-no-aware”, the word is derived from mono, meaning "things" and aware, which is an expression of measured surprise similar to "ah" or "oh". It’s a wild definition for a word but the Japanese have a very nice way of putting a lot of things. I first learned that word in a Japanese art history class during college. Mono-no-aware is a term used to describe the bittersweet beauty of impermanence. And that word really was able to encapsulate all the disparate points about human experience I wanted to explore in this work. Human experience, perhaps experience not just exclusive to humans, is so often about the bittersweet beauty of impermanence.
What did you use as an inspiration for this project?
Myself. While I have just made sweeping statements about all human experience this is really about my own, and I won’t be so presumptuous as to push my mushy attitude out into universal vernacular, but I do want my dialog about the work to be inclusive. When this opportunity arose it was turning from summer into fall, and that time of year always makes me very self-reflective. When the leaves start to turn I start clinging to things, people, memories. The three primary emotions that kept surfacing were hope, passion and nostalgia. I always want to capitalize them when I’m writing, as if they were names for muses. It’s about my own internalizing and externalizing of the world, as it exists through me. I have no desire to create a piece that seems self indulgent, but I do want to explore the way I deal with life, where my short-comings and strengths are. So often when I’ve finish a piece it turns for me into a complex Rorschach test, I start seeing things in it that I had no idea where there when I was creating it, whole narratives about myself that were never intended, oh, that line through the figure, I thought that I was strictly esthetic, but it turns out I drew it right where that rib was once knocked out of place, or that knife and fork cutting into that flying bird is me dealing with the idea of being independent from my mother. The creation of the work plays both the roll of scientist and result, and I myself am the experiment in-between.
How long have you been working on it?
Since about October.
What do you expect people to get out of your show?
I hope they feel pleasure, that they find a conversation, or many conversations, and that they find something within the piece that brings them “a sense of the ahh-ness of things” if I can evoke even a general sense of the intention of the work, make people quiet for a moment within themselves, then I’ve done my job.
What is the message you want to send through your show?
That change and passion and nostalgia and hope and all those echoes of our experiences are beautiful little spaces that we carry around within ourselves, that we can choose to be weakened by our experiences or strengthened by them. To show that time passing is not an attack on how much we have left to do and how much or little we’ve already done, but a calming curing occurrence, even if it is, bittersweet, it’s still the beautiful, if impermanent. And honestly impermanence is a gift, things shouldn’t remain static, it would be very bad, very boring, there would be no growth.
Share with me some of the private experiences that you are drawing from for the show- if you don’t mind?
I’m pulling from everything, my childhood, my experience being home-schooled, college, all my romances, my relationship with my family, lost loved ones… now I’m realizing that what I’m saying is a bit all encompassing, so I guess that is telling in that the specific private experiences that I am pointedly pulling from are not for public consumption. The work is a meditation on these things and while I’m happy to show the outcome of my personal reflections with everyone, those actual experiences are mine, and some of them I wouldn’t share with my best friend.
In your proposal you talk about mounting a parachute- sounds very technical- is that something you usually incorporate for all your work or did you choose to go in a different direction this time---Please tell me in more details.
This is very different for me. I am pretty exclusively a 2D artist, however I worked with porcelain and glass during college when I had access to kilns and the people who knew how to use them. I am currently trying to find a grant that will help me set up a kiln at my studio, because I want to continue exploring the sculptural elements I am using in this project. Creating 3D environments within my 2D panels has been something I’ve wanted to explore for about 3 years. When looking at this piece and this show it seemed appropriate to really create an environment, a surrounding mood for the reliquary, hence the parachute the lights, and so on. This is probably the most ambitious piece I’ve done, if ambition is measured in the amount of elements one has to get to work together, it’s going to be challenging.
Now lets’ talk about you-the person and the artist:
When did you decide to become an artist? And why?
Like any child I loved to draw, all children draw, and pain ad sculpt. I think if we designated art as something as natural as cutting your hair, no one would stop, it would be an outlet for everyone. My story though, is that when I was eleven my parents took me with them on a trip to Santa Fe, New Mexico to look through the galleries, and I feel in love with it. I knew that was the world I wanted to be in. I had already been exposed to it growing up, my grandmother is an artist, my father is a woodworker, and my mother is a healer, so observing the world and it inhabitants is already in my blood. However it was after that trip that I really began to focus on art as my life. I think thanks to that early focus I managed to land my first solo show when I was sixteen.
Where did you study and what?
I studied out of lots of art instruction books at home. I traced the faces out of books to understand the way the lines worked and felt; and since my grandmother was an artist she included me on many workshops she took, and suggested things to me, when I visit her we draw and paint together, she’s very brave about exploring mediums she’s never tried and I think that is one reason I use so many different mediums today. I got my BFA at the Kansas City Arts Institute, which was both an education in creativity, bravado, bullshitting, writing, pushing yourself, making excuses not to push yourself, and a whole lot of growing up.
Which artists do you admire and why?
Gustav Klimt, for his ability to blend realism and pattern, Egon Schiele, for his unbelievably confident and provocative line work, Andrew Wyeth for his mood and delicate detail, Charles Rennie Mackintosh for his esthetic talent in so many mediums, Ed Ruscha for his ability to make words into art. For currently working artists I’d say, Arthur Ganson, for his gift for creating emotion within machines, Julie Heffernan for being able to so outstandingly execute her imagination, I’m jealous, and Cai Guo-Qiang for the power of his work, and Phil Hale, Sam Weber, and Eric Fortune for their ability with the human form.
Describe yourself in three words?
Sanguine, indulgent, diplomatic.
Describe your art in three words?
Serene, beguiling, technical! … Now I wish I could use those three to describe myself!
Where do you like to work, (studio; outside; etc.) and why that/these place(s)?
I like to work out of my home; I live in my studio essentially, and I don’t mind that, I do occasionally have to hide pieces of art from myself to keep from destroying them, but I enjoy the fact that I can’t get away from my work, it’s right there, and if I see something on my way to making breakfast I can fix it and then go on about breakfast. I also really enjoy drawing in my sketchbook at coffee shops or bookstores, I like having that buzz surround me, of people studying, reading and being philosophical and/or flirting with one another.
In your statement you say quote: “I will be honest, and you will have to take my art away from me because I will never be able to be so honest with myself, I cannot see it,” what do you mean by that?
I recently rewrote that last sentence of my statement to read, “I will be honest, and you will have to take my art away from me because I will never be able to be so honest with myself. It is for you. My love.” That whole piece of writing I never actually intended to become my official Statement; I originally wrote it to motivate myself into a new body of work. I wrote it all at once very fast. One day I realized it was about the most honest and straightforward statement I’d ever written. I like selling my work, and I hate when a piece hangs around for too long, if a piece is round over three years I start to have very deviant feelings about it involving matches and saws, I guess the reasoning is that I move on from that idea, and seeing a completed piece too often pulls me backward into its ethos, not forward into the next experience with the new work which is where I need my focus to be. It’s not that I begin to dislike my work, but that I have had my experience with it, and it’s time for it to have a new experience with someone else… sounds sort of like a break-up doesn’t it?
Thanks for taking the time to answer my questions. Please feel free to add more information if you think I missed something.
Thanks for asking, please feel free to follow anything here up, and I realize maybe I’ve given you a lot here, maybe too much!