About the Artist
with Joe Brommel, August 2018
So I wanted to start with an interesting part of your pre-interview questionnaire. You mentioned “composite beings” and “what it means to be human within horizontal eco-structures.” Can you say a little bit more about that?
My works touch on a sense of viscerality — I’m considering them as corporal or relating to a felt sensation. And so in constructing them I'm thinking of how physics works in the world — of a new shift of perspective towards “composite beings,” towards a more horizontal expansion of humanness. I’m considering all of those other elements like light or sound or microbial elements that make up who we are — patterns and coloration and things that we conventionally think of as outside of ourselves. We're not necessarily human as isolated, discrete entities.
Those ideas generate a lot of the forms I'm constructing in my work because there’s not necessarily an aesthetic of skin or an organ, but more interpreted.
So I want to make sure I get this right — you’re talking about reorienting our conceptions of ourselves towards the range of things that are influencing us, rather than just saying “I am human,” full stop?
Definitely, yeah. And that's really prominent in my mark-making. It has a hand-imprinted touch, but the repetitions reflect on a mechanized production. And I'm interested in how those things butt up against each other — not only in natural ways, but how our bodies are shifting towards these technologies that we encounter.
And what have you been working on in particular in your time here?
In these studies behind me, I’m considering scale, texture, and surface — figuring out what works best for the image-making.
I also was doing a lot of color studies outside to generate a new palette. Once I brought those inside I was reflecting on unconventional palette choices that weren't just split complementary, which is something I'm accustomed to working with. But I ended up mixing my palette and it looked a lot more like the architecture and the sickly foam stuff in the mill ceiling than what was outside. So I thought that that was an interesting subconscious element that made its way into my work.
Do you usually take inspiration, whether conscious or unconscious, from the place you're in?
I definitely consider observational rendering to construct my more or less abstracted forms. That's something I'm used to doing and consider a good way to keep expanding my practice. Because there's so much that's ungraspable in the world.
I’m considering how light and color divide based on distance. Having hues that are complimentary or very apart from each other — whether in temperature, or where they land on a color wheel — and then slowly getting closer and closer to each other to generate these curved formations. My paintings, even though they're very abstract, are very much inspired by how we see and what's around us — reinterpreted into a formation that doesn't necessarily exist in this world.
You talked about how the mill as a place has influenced your practice, but has the residency setting in general had an influence?
There’s an ongoing dialogue between artists, and surprising recurrences and thematic concepts of the work that end up generating very different pieces aesthetically or formally. Three other residents are also loosely considering ideas of the expanded view of the human body and physicality within the contemporary world based on technologies or theories in biology.
And there’s this book I passed around called The Arts of Living on a Damaged Planet. It’s an anthology that has a collection of essays, and one in particular is about Donna Haraway’s idea of the “Cthuluscene,” which is deconstructing the idea of the Anthropocene — an expanded view of a human component. And then there's a reading by Karen Barad, who's more centered in physics and quantum field studies. She applies them in a similar vein to Haraway, but it gets a little more into the technical kind of ideas of how atoms interact with each other. Another essay talks about the “shimmer” of life, related to how Aboriginal cultures considered vitalism — this generating force within a visual element, the way the world snaps in and out of shape around us and the lack of linear temporal state.
Some ideas are more complex than others, but they’re really generative to aesthetic practices. All those things are sensations that are felt and that we're experiencing, so as an artist or practitioner it's interesting to take that and apply it to my own work.
Photos by Verónica González Mayoral