INTERVIEW / GAIL GOLDSMITH

Gail Goldsmith has been creating figurative clay sculpture for more than 20 years.  Her subject matter has sources in children’s toys, portrait faces, and in memory.  Her sculptures convey a wide range of emotions. Gail Goldsmith has exhibited extensively in New York and New England.

When did you start doing art?

I was ten years old and my family was living in Los Angeles with my aunt. I was given a drawing book, which showed how to turn letters of the alphabet into faces. This fascinated me; I sat on the living room floor for hours making pencil drawings. My aunt said that she wanted to send me for art lessons. At that moment I realized I would be an artist.

What do you do? Tell us about your art.

Almost all of my work is based on the human figure. (The “Everyday Weapons” series you saw is a prominent exception!). I started out as a painter, drawing from models. Then when I was at Cranbrook Academy of Art, I began working with clay, doing small clay figure studies. After graduating I continued with pieces that are abstracted from the human figure.  I have worked in a range of sizes from six inches to six feet. I have developed many techniques for working in clay in addition to the typical techniques of modeling and slab building. I have made plaster molds into which the clay can be pressed and the resulting forms combined into sculptures and other ways of working with molds. Another technique is imprinting clay slabs with fabric or other patterns as it rolls through a slab roller. Sometimes my sculptures are constructed in sections either to make larger work or to make the finished piece (clay sculptures get quite heave) easier to handle. Starting perhaps fifteen years ago, I also make collages of paper images. When I do this, I keep a piece on my drawing table and move the papers around, often stopping while walking by.

Is it difficult as a woman in the industry? Can you give us examples/personal experiences?

It’s difficult for everyone in this industry. I think of a friend who was never  able to get a gallery to take her paintings seriously; always they said, “You’re just going to get married and have children.” She was so discouraged that she quit. At that time I remember showing slides to a director who shrugged his shoulders, “I don’t know – I just don’t like them.” I don’t know if this had anything to do with being a woman, but I suspect that it did.

How do you overcome these difficulties?

It’s always been difficult.   Anyway I am very persistent and have learned to follow up on whatever comes my way.

What’s the best thing about being a woman artist? Are there any advantages that only women have?

The best thing about being a woman artist? Friendships with other women artists. Possibly women are more intuitive and/or more willing to explore their intuitive feelings.

 001_2

Elephant, 22 x 18 x 17 in.

You mentioned that a lot of your work references children and memory, what inspires you to work with these themes? How does your work communicate these themes to the audience?

I had started working on a genealogy and had carried off a large box filled with unsorted photos, several generations of children including many of my brother and me. I used a copying machine, cut and rearranged the images. These images still speak to me. It seems to me that all of us wonder about our lives, how we got from there to here. Also I believe that every work of art that I make can speak to some person, though not necessarily to everyone, and that part of what I do is to try to find that person or persons.

Have you ever considered using a medium other than clay? Have you experimented with other sculptural media?

When I was a student traveling in Italy, I found classes for artisans that taught the basic techniques of carving in stone and in wood. From time to time I have done some carving, especially using driftwood logs from the beach. I have also done some casting in iron and in bronze. Right now I am working with cut pieces of crumpled paper.

Tell us about the process of making a new piece.

That is a difficult question because the process can vary. I might start from a toy or object that interests me and build the form with large slabs of clay (the larger sculptures must be hollow). Sometimes with small pieces I pinch and twist a piece of clay until it suggests something. There is a series of standing figures which started with large clay shoes. I didn’t know the form the figure would take until it revealed itself to me.

What is your favorite piece/project?

A favorite project is titled “Grandmother’s Apron.” It’s a series of eleven pieces which originated from a single sculpture based on my grandmother’s Russian doll. If I have to choose one single sculpture, it would be “Spiritual Warrior.” This piece, 34” tall, was created with techniques of hand-building and improvisation within the possibility of what the clay could and would do.

 grandmother's apron

Grandmother’s Apron #6, 25” x 18” x 19”

What was the proudest/most memorable moment of your career?

The opening night of my exhibition at the New York Studio School of Drawing, Painting, and Sculpture in November of 2011.   The School showcased a range of my work from early in my career to the present time. The School curated and installed the twenty pieces. When I walked in and could see what I had accomplished, I myself was astonished.

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Pandora, 38 x 11.5 x 13 in.

What are your future plans? Do you have any new project coming up?

I have started a new body of work, using pieces of cut paper and building on my lifetime relationship to the figure. I hope to find an audience for these and for my earlier work.

What is your dream project?

Hmmm – – – a great many. an outdoor large elephant, based on my clay elephant. To live another fifteen years and have another retrospective. To turn my studio into an exhibition place for my artist friends.

What does art, making art, mean to you and how does it affect your life?

Being an artist is my identity; it is me, who I am. As a young girl, I felt that I had something to say. Now I feel that I have many things to say. I live in a loft/studio with my work around me. When I travel, I look for locations to feed the spirit of my work. At times that I am between bodies of work, starting something new, I can feel lost, outside my real self. Then I walk along the ocean and find the confidence to continue.

spiritual warrior

Spiritual Warrior,  35” x 16” x 12”

Learn more about Gail Goldsmith here.

Presented by the International Foundation for Women Artists.

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Interview / Aleah Chapin

Aleah Chapin

Aleah Chapin

Born in 1986, Aleah Chapin grew up on an island north of Seattle. After receiving her BFA from Cornish College of the Arts in 2009 she moved to NYC to complete her MFA. Since then, Aleah attended a residency at the Leipzig International Art Programme in Germany and in the fall of 2013 she will be a Fellow at the MacDowell Colony in New Hampshire. Aleah has been the recipient of several awards including the Posey Foundation Scholarship and the Elizabeth Greenshields Foundation Grant. Most recently she won first place in the BP Portrait Award Exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery in London. She has exhibited her work in the US, the Netherlands, Germany and the UK.

 

Though Aleah currently lives and works Brooklyn, NY, the place and people of her childhood on the west coast are the subjects of her work. It is through this personnal lens that she aims to discover stories that are beyond her own experience. 

You are still very young and already had numerous awards like the Posey foundation scholarship ,the Elizabeth Greenshields Foundation Grant ,the BP portrait award at the National Portrait Gallery in London. Is there one  that is more significant for you?

Yeah, I’ve been really lucky do receive all of these. Each of them have been incredibly important and have given me the support to take the work further. Looking back, I think the BP has had the biggest impact on my life and career. But I could not have gotten to where I am without each of them.

What was the reason behind moving to Brooklyn, while you were already successful  home, on the west coast?

I moved to NYC to go to graduate school at the New York Academy of Art. Although I had exhibited on the west coast, I wasn’t anywhere near where I wanted to be in terms of my work and career. I know now that I needed to move across the country for more reasons than just to get an MFA, and those few years in graduate school were life changing. Something happened here on the east coast that pushed me out of my comfort zone. I was forced to look at my life and my self and try to answer very hard questions about who I am, what do I want to put out into the world? The answer took me by surprise, being so heavily rooted in my home and the people there. I don’t think I ever would have found this had I not left.

Can you tell us what goes into the process of creating a painting, how do you proceed ?

It begins with gathering a group of people together, outside in the woods or field, on my home island on the west coast. We take hundreds of photos. I see this part as a collaboration. Although I guide them a bit, my aim is to capture them when they are fully themselves, and in those unexpected, in-between moments. I don’t want to dictate emotions or force poses in any way. After a long process of going through each image, I choose one or two to work from. I prepare the canvas for the specific image, and begin with paint, loosely roughing in the ‘drawing’. Usually on the larger canvases (such as 7 x 10 ft) I will paint in a 1×1 ft grid to help with basic proportions, but the rest is a lot of free hand trial and error. There’s something about this struggle and the slight inaccuracies in the final painting, that I really love and find quite important. The piece is built up through layer after layer of tiny brush strokes alternated with larger transparent washes until it weaves together and the paint sings. Although I aim for a high level of realism, I want it to be a handmade image. To me, this is where so much of the power comes from.

The Tempest

The tempest

How do you choose the subject of a painting?

From painting my mom to childhood friends, I prefer to have a personal relationship to the people I paint. In this way, I’m not only painting a person, but our relationship and our history to each other.

Do you have any desire to work with other medium? Clay? stone? Other?

Clay. I love sculpture. Perhaps I will attempt it in the future.

What are you working on theses days ?

I’m working on a series of paintings for an upcoming solo show in London at Flowers Gallery, October 2014. I’m interested in observing people and their bodies, how they change as they travel through different stages of life and the complex and beautiful relationships between generations.

Your male subject in “our minds as we lose” is quite different than the female ones. Why is it ? 

Probably because it’s a collaboration. It didn’t begin this way though. It began as a straight forward portrait of my childhood friend’s dad. It wasn’t quite working so I asked my close friend, an incredible artist Nicolas Holiber if he wanted to work on it. I loved what he did, and it transformed that painting into something exciting and different for both of us.

Where would you like to see your work going from now on ?

I want to continue to push each painting to be the very best it can be. I always want to paint the body and in a way that speaks to the persons history and life just as much as their physical appearance. I want to explore different types of people and their relationships with others and themselves. Beyond this, I want to leave things open to happen as they happen.

Any upcoming exhibition, or private commission you can tell us about ?

Thanks!

The show in London that I mentioned before at Flowers Gallery in October. It will be my 2nd solo exhibition and first in the UK. They are a wonderful gallery and I’m very excited about it! http://www.flowersgallery.com

Step

Step

Mully

Mully

To know more about Aleah Chapin, visit Aleah Chapin’s website 

Presented by International Foundation for Women Artists 

Interview / Nancy Cohen

“For many years my work was very body related – thinking somewhat abstractly about what it felt like to be a woman and to negotiate the world.”

-Nancy Cohen

What We Both of Us Touch , 2012, Metal, glass, resin, handmade paper, monofilament

What We Both of Us Touch , 2012, Metal, glass, resin, handmade paper, monofilament

This week we’d love to present Nancy Cohen. Nancy Cohen has been living in Jersey City, NJ for 25 years and making abstract sculpture, site-specific installation and work on paper in mixed materials referencing the figure, our fragile environment.

We adore her artwork so much! We can’t wait to introduce Nancy Cohen and her artwork!

Tell us about yourself.

I am 54. I make sculpture, drawings and installations – right now I am making a piece that combines all three. I was raised in Queens, NY and the suburbs of NYC. I have lived in upstate NY, Montana, Israel and China but for the past 25 years have been based in Jersey City, NJ and have had a fairly steady life – married 30 years, teaching most of that time and with a 20 year old son. My life is focused on my studio, teaching and relationships with family and friends.

I have been making things for as long as I can remember and serious about studying and looking at art since high school. My mother and grandmother were always making things – knitting, quilting, painting and were both serious gardeners so using my hands and bringing visual things to fruition was an obvious way to spend time but choosing to study art in college and make it my life’s work was something I did need to think about. That said, the shift from ‘making things’ to considering myself an artist was a big one and took time.

I started out in ceramics and spent my senior year in high school assisting a ceramic artist. Seeing her negotiate studio time, family responsibilities and finances made the decision to become an artist a fairly realistic one – I saw early on what pieces went into the mix, that they were complicated but that I didn’t need to choose one life over another and it could all be integrated.

Where does most of your inspiration come from?

My inspiration is varied. Often it comes from the work I made before – seeing the unrealized possibilities in one piece pushed to the next. An overarching and continuing theme has been juxtaposing the dualities of fragility and strength. That has been evident over varying bodies of work and in many materials.

For many years my work was very body related – thinking somewhat abstractly about what it felt like to be a woman and to negotiate the world. It moved from being more formally related to bodily organs and issues of sexuality to thoughts of how people negotiate their outside physical world.

My grandparents lived on the ocean until I was 8 and I spent much of my summers there. I think that time on the beach – the sand, the water, the sounds — were an inspiration that I didn’t realize until many years later. In recent years I have been making work directly related to water, both my personal experience of it and reflecting on the environmental issues our waterways now confront. I have done two large scale installations based on the Mullica River in the Pine Barrens of NJ and another series of pieces based on the Hudson River. Now I am working on an installation in direct response to a part of the Hackensack River very close to my home. I go back and forth between drawing, sculpture and installation. Ideas and approaches to materials reverberate with each other.

Cascade, 2007, Glass, resin, handmade paper, wax, metal, 14 x 12 x 12 inches

Cascade, 2007, Glass, resin, handmade paper, wax, metal, 14 x 12 x 12 inches

Duct, 2008, Paper pulp and handmade paper, 39 x 31 inches

Duct, 2008, Paper pulp and handmade paper, 39 x 31 inches

Do you have a favorite piece?

No, but I have made some work that has been transformative for me. From my vantage point now I would point to four projects from over the years that stand out in a variety of ways.

The first was “A Community of Shelter” from 1992. It was a temporary outdoor piece made for a park in lower Manhattan in response to the increasing numbers of homeless people sleeping in NYC parks. I would walk by this park and it was a very strange place – kind of forlorn, isolated trees on unattended to grass with solitary but frequent cardboard boxes, often with a person sleeping in them and at times tied to trees to keep them from blowing away. I thought about the lack of shelter the city was providing, the birds in the park creating their own nests and how the park was providing no inviting point of entry to the neighborhood. In response, I created 6 human sized shelter forms (the size that a person might be without a place to enter) five of which were based on shelters in nature (shells, pods, etc.) and the sixth which was based on the proportion of a cardboard shelter. Each sculptural form had a specific relationship to a tree in the park and most were situated with the idea that they might draw passers by in from the sidewalk.

I worked about a year on the forms – they were the largest and most technically challenging work I had done. I needed permission from the parks department and the local community board to install the work. I needed insurance in case anyone got hurt. I was taking on non-studio issues I hadn’t encountered before and had no idea what would happen once the work got to the park. I was worried about vandalism and the work being stolen. “A Community of Shelter” was in the park for 6 months and worked really well – no graffiti (although there were various kinds of human interactions with the work: people hung earrings from one, stored clothing in another and even created an alter with a sacrificed pigeon in front of another, kids played on them and people napped on them) and it did what I hoped – brought people into the center of the park, and raised conversations about the homeless as well.

A Community of Shelter, 1992, Thomas Paine Park, New York, NY Installed in Thomas Paine Park in lower Manhattan from June-November 1992, now in the collection of the Hillwood Art Museum, on the grounds of C.W. Post College, Long Island, NY

A Community of Shelter, 1992, Thomas Paine Park, New York, NY
Installed in Thomas Paine Park in lower Manhattan from June-November 1992, now in the collection of the Hillwood Art Museum, on the grounds of C.W. Post College, Long Island, NY

A Community of Shelter, 1992, Thomas Paine Park, New York, NY

A Community of Shelter, 1992, Thomas Paine Park, New York, NY

A Community of Shelter, 1992, Thomas Paine Park, New York, NY

In 1998 I made “Chariot”, directly inspired by the Chariot sculptures of both Giacometti and David Smith. It launched a new and important direction in my work. It was the first in a series that I think of as conveyances for the body – they are human-scaled sculptures, that the viewer can imagine in some way interacting with, but in the end they don’t supply the support they are otherwise speaking about. The implied but absent figure is constant as is the inherent dysfunction of the work. “Chariot” led to “Wheel Chair”, “Bed”, “Gurney” and “Itinerant Couple” (movable chaise lounges for the homeless). I am still involved with this and hope to have an exhibition of the ongoing series in the next few years.

Chariot, 1998, Glass, steel, paper, cement, 96 x 28 x 9 inches

Chariot, 1998, Glass, steel, paper, cement, 96 x 28 x 9 inches

Gurney, 2002, Glass, rubber, sand, cement, lace, 28 x 60 x 16 inches

Gurney, 2002, Glass, rubber, sand, cement, lace, 28 x 60 x 16 inches

The next significant project for me was in 2006 when I collaborated with Shirley Tilghman, molecular biologist and president of Princeton University on “Sensation: Interior View” as part of a series of collaborations between scientists, artists and landscape architects for Quark Park in Princeton, NJ. Our piece was based on research about how mice perceive smell and our idea was to create an environment that evoked a scientific occurrence rather than illustrating one (as an exhibit in a science museum might do). In the end our collaboration grew to include Jim Sturm, Professor of electrical engineering, a group of his graduate students and A.R. Wiley, a garden designer.

The sculpture incorporated electroluminescent wires designed to appear to move through the piece as neurons might move when sending a message back to the brain. The area was landscaped with fragrant herbs underfoot and fragrant flowers that opened at dusk as the electroluminescent lights first began to be evident. It was a visually, conceptual and sensual environment.

It was a thrilling collaboration where all of us were stretched in new ways. I was stimulated by attempting to understand and integrate a scientific concept into visual form, to work with technology and a wider range of people than I was accustomed and to communicate on a variety of levels – both to a core group of people with whom I had regular contact and to a larger community that would be experiencing my work without me.

Sensation: Interior View,2006, Quark Park Sculpture Garden, Princeton, NJ Sensation: Interior View by Nancy Cohen, Jim Sturm, Shirley Tilghman, A.R. Willey Sculpture: 12 x 11 x 5 feet. Steel, Resin, Wire and Electroluminescent Wires.

Sensation: Interior View, 2006, Quark Park Sculpture Garden, Princeton, NJ
Sensation: Interior View by Nancy Cohen, Jim Sturm, Shirley Tilghman, A.R. Willey Sculpture: 12 x 11 x 5 feet. Steel, Resin, Wire and Electroluminescent Wires.

Sensation: Interior View, 2006, Quark Park Sculpture Garden, Princeton, NJ

Sensation: Interior View, 2006, Quark Park Sculpture Garden, Princeton, NJ

Sensation: Interior View, 2006, Quark Park Sculpture Garden, Princeton, NJ

Sensation: Interior View, 2006, Quark Park Sculpture Garden, Princeton, NJ

Sensation: Interior View, 2006, Quark Park Sculpture Garden, Princeton, NJ

The following year, I was invited by the Noyes Museum of Art to make a site specific piece for their galleries. “Estuary: Means & Modes” (2007) followed a long study of the ecosystem and waterways of the Pine Barrens of southern NJ, where the museum is located. With the help and company of Dorrie Papademetriou, the curator of the museum we met with marine biologists, the head of Forsyth national wildlife refuge and scientists from the local EPA who were involved in oyster re-population projects. As part of the investigation we took a boat ride in the marshes, harvested sea grasses that I made into paper and collected water samples examining color changes from the start of the Mullica River until it reached the Atlantic Ocean.

My resulting project ran 30 feet on the wall and another 30 on the floor. It was made out of handmade paper with flecks of local grasses, it followed the path of satellite photographs of the river and was colored to reflect the rivers changing palette from tea colored to rich blue.

My work grows when I take leaps and chances and that happened here – a larger scale, a broader color palette and taking head on a subject (water) that had been in my work for years but never addressed directly before. I was able to translate the ideas of fragility and strength (in my work since the beginning but always connected directly to the body) to an environment or ecosystem – where the human is a part but not the major player.

Estuary: Moods and Modes, 2007, Noyes  Museum, Oceanville, NJ 53 x 11 x 18 feet, Handmade Paper and Wire, 2007 Commissioned by the Noyes Museum of Art

Estuary: Moods and Modes , 2007, Noyes
Museum, Oceanville, NJ
53 x 11 x 18 feet, Handmade Paper and Wire, 2007 Commissioned by the Noyes Museum of Art

Estuary Moods and Modes

Estuary: Moods and Modes , 2007, Noyes
Museum, Oceanville, NJ

Mullica River

map of Mullica River

What do you want to say through your work?

It changes with each piece but there is always an overriding idea that I hope the work speaks about conceptually, emotionally and through the specific use of materials.

What is your favorite material?

My materials are constantly in flux though in my current installation (in progress) I am working primarily with handmade paper and glass. I am always looking for new materials to challenge me and to open up my vocabulary. A friend and studio neighbor describes my studio process as being somewhat like a mad scientist – because I am always mixing something new up and trying to see how I can get materials to speak.

What is the most difficult part of being a female artist?

For me the challenge, especially when I was younger, was figuring out how to juggle everything. This is hard for all artists, especially young ones but in a particular way for women artists who also want to have children. My twenties were about figuring out how to support myself as an artist, how to maintain my studio and how to begin to get my work seen. The addition of a child in my 30’s made it much more difficult as all the previous issues remain relevant as well. I have been fortunate to have supportive people around me, especially my husband and parents. My husband is a very involved dad and so child raising and household work was shared and my mom pitched in for years, in the studio when I had a deadline and helping with our son when we were both working.

I have two older women artists friends (the one I assisted when I was in high school and another who was my teacher at Skowhegan), who had children, a job and a very active studio practice that were very much role models for me when I wasn’t sure it was possible to keep it all going.

I have also had great help in the studio from younger artists assisting me when I have large projects and have felt in over my head. I think carefully about those relationships and make an effort to mentor them in ways that were either useful for me or that I might have wanted.

I think it is hard for all artists and women artists have had extra struggles and still do. I am also fortunate to have a large group of women artist friends to share all of this with and it has made a huge and positive difference for me.

Now in my 50’s I am heading into the issues more relevant to ‘older women artists” and know that there are more and unanticipated challenges ahead.

Did you ever feel like giving up? What’s the best advice you’ve been given at that time? 

I never felt like giving up but I have certainly felt overwhelmed. As a young artist finding a job that was satisfying and stimulating was a huge thing. I waitressed and did secretarial work that were both very dispiriting for me. It was during a residency at McDowell that another woman artist helped me get my first teaching job and then taught me how to do it. It was a joy to find paid work that I loved and that felt useful. I have been teaching almost continually since then.

I have also had my share of disappointing career situations – no worse than anyone else I know but hard nonetheless: a gallery that closed owing me money, another that disappeared with my work, appointments for studio visits that were no shows, exhibitions planned that didn’t happen – these things happen all the time. For me being in the studio is centering and nourishing and keeps me grounded.

What advice do you have for aspiring artists?

Find a way to make money that you like and that you can keep doing as you get older. Have artist friends and be open with them. Establish your own community of artists. Expect to have to find your own opportunities – very few will come looking for you. Be open to new experiences. Be flexible. Go places. I have done many residencies over the years – they have all been good for my work and for professional contacts and artist friendships.

A few months ago, you had an installation, “Between Seeing and Knowing”, inspired by Thangka. Tell us about it.

I have a close friend, Anna Boothe, a glass artist who I met 15 years ago when she fabricated a piece for me. Although our personal work is very different we communicate well and had the sense that we could make something significant together. We were both interested in Tibetan Buddhist painting and thought that could be an exciting point of contact to launch a project. Because of her experience teaching glass Anna was able to apply for a special residency at the Studio of the Corning Museum of Glass where artists can collaborate. We applied together to make a piece in some way relevant to Thangka paintings and were fortunate to be selected.

The most exciting part of the residency was we would get to work in a broad range of glass processes and techniques – to get help when we needed it – to have full use of Corning’s extraordinary facilities and to work together day and night for that period of time.

The residency had a huge impact on both of us. We worked 6 months in advance of the residency on ideas and preparatory work (wax forms to cast in glass and clay forms to slump over, etc.) and after the residency we worked for a year finishing the forms and creating an installation in my studio. Anna and I pushed each other in directions neither of us would have gone on our own. For myself, I took on more narrative content, more recognizable imagery and way more color. For Anna her sense of finished form loosened up, as did her level of experimentation and her willingness to let forms connect in more open ended ways. It was an extraordinary collaboration for both of us – where almost every decision was shared and most elements were touched in one way or another by both of us.

We were fortunate to show the installation in the fall of 2013 at Accola Griefen Gallery in Chelsea and are looking for other venues for the future. It was my first experience working directly from an art historical source, my first experience collaborating that extensively with another visual artist and my longest ongoing collaboration. We had to be willing to let go of some ideas about what our work was and to let ones that might have otherwise been uncomfortable in. This caused us both to think deeply about who we are as artists, what our work means to us and what we think art should be. Anna and I hope to work together more in the future and have some proposals out for potential future work.

Between Seeing & Knowing

Between Seeing and Knowing, 2013, Collaboration with Anna Boothe, Glass, 11 x 20 x 1.5 feet, Accola Griefen Gallery, New York, NY

Between Seeing and Knowing, 2013 Collaboration with Anna Boothe, Glass   11 x 20 x 1.5 feet  Accola Griefen Gallery, New York, NY

Between Seeing and Knowing, 2013, Collaboration with Anna Boothe, Glass, 11 x 20 x 1.5 feet, Accola Griefen Gallery, New York, NY

BSK detail b

Between Seeing and Knowing, 2013, Collaboration with Anna Boothe, Glass, 11 x 20 x 1.5 feet, Accola Griefen Gallery, New York, NY

BSK detail a

Between Seeing and Knowing, 2013, Collaboration with Anna Boothe, Glass, 11 x 20 x 1.5 feet, Accola Griefen Gallery, New York, NY

BSK b

Between Seeing and Knowing, 2013, Collaboration with Anna Boothe, Glass, 11 x 20 x 1.5 feet, Accola Griefen Gallery, New York, NY

BSK a

Between Seeing and Knowing, 2013, Collaboration with Anna Boothe, Glass, 11 x 20 x 1.5 feet, Accola Griefen Gallery, New York, NY

What is your dream project?

I don’t have that in mind. But I am very interested in continuing to collaborate with other scientists and those with expertise in other fields. I am also interested in making work for public spaces and in working more with landscape architects – on creating environments for artwork where the two are integrally linked.

What is up and coming for you, as projects?

In the studio I am working on a new installation, inspired by a very unusual site on the Hackensack River in Secaucus, NJ. I am trying to capture some of the emptiness and mystery of a very particular marshy landscape by incorporating drawing and sculpture in a way I haven’t done before. At the moment the piece doesn’t have a venue but I expect that will come in time.

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Nancy Cohen has completed large-scale, site-specific projects for Thomas Paine Park in lower Manhattan; the Staten Island Botanical Garden at Snug Harbor; the Ross Woodward School in New Haven, Conneticut; the Noyes Museum of Art in Oceanville, New Jersey; and the Katonah Museum of Art in Katonah, New York. She has collaborated with scientists and poets, including Shirley Tilghman And Jim Strurm of Princeton University and performance poet Edwin Torres of New York City. Her work has been widely exhibited throughout the United States and is represented in important collections, such as the Montclair Museum, the Newark Public Library, the Weatherspoon Art Gallery, Yale University Art Gallery, and the Zimmerli Museum.

She does have several upcoming group exhibitions in the Spring of 2014.

1. Art Faculty exhibition at the Godwin-Ternbach Museum at Queens College (where she teaches). 2/13 – 3/29, 2014

2. A group exhibition”Jersey Women Artists Now: Contemporary Visions” in the George Segal Gallery at Montclair State College 3/6-4/19, 2014 and I will be speaking as part of a panel discussion on 4/2/14.

3. “Paper Cuts” 5/3 – 6/1/2014, a show of 5 artists working in handmade paper at Gaia Gallery (79 Hudson Avenue in the Vinegar Hill Section of Brooklyn).

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You can see more in Women Artist of the World and in Nancy’s website. ;)

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International Foundation for Women Artists

Interview / Natalia Schonowski

Fiber Portraits Maria Reverse

This week, we’d like to present Natalia Schonowski. Natalia is a multidisciplinary artist currently based in New York. She has lived in many different places around the world, including Germany, Colombia, Ecuador, Nigeria, Dominican Republic, China, and United States. Natalia obtained her Bachelor of Fine Arts in Mixed Media from Florida International University and a Master of Fine Arts in Media Art and Design from Bauhaus University Weimar in Germany and a Master of Literature in Art Theory from Tongji University Shanghai, China. One of the major theme in her artworks is identity. She makes us think about our identity built in a society around us as well as one we establish by ourselves.

Are you ready to meet Natalia Schonowski? ;)

nataliapic72

Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I was born in Bogota, Colombia. My mother is Colombian and my father is German. I grew up in both cultures, but I also moved around a lot. I think that’s how I got interested in traveling and exploring. As far as art is concerned, my mom has always been interested in art, I think I have that interest from her. She used to carry colored pencils and paper to keep me busy. That progressed to art lessons, drawing, figure drawing and painting. I was also interested in craft like techniques such as embroidery and crocheting. It wasn’t until my third year at university that I began exploring fiber art techniques.

Fiber Diary Cottonpicking

Where do you gather most of the inspiration for your works?

From my travels but also from everyday live. I like observing. I’m also very interested in science, so I’ve had a few pieces that have been inspired by molecular biology. If I hadn’t studied art I would have gone into biology or something like that.

Which of your artwork pieces is your favorite? 

I don’t have a favorite piece. I guess I’m very critical with myself and my work. I get excited about an idea and then as I’m working on it, I probably will not like the piece. Then at the end I might like it. I guess I have started enjoying the pieces that I making at this time, Fiber Diary. I think it’s because when I look at them I know what I was thinking and feeling when I got the idea for the piece. I have tried to write journals in the past but haven’t stuck with them for longer periods of time. I always feel very phony writing them and I tend to be a very private person, so I wouldn’t like someone else to find them and read them. I like this visual diary. It takes me back to a specific place and time, I can show it to people and they can interpret it in their own way. I’m sharing something but it’s still somehow private.

Fiber Diary Hangwoman

Fiber Diary Hangwoman

Detail shot of Fiber Diary Hangwoman

Detail shot of Fiber Diary Hangwoman

How do you look at your previous pieces?

Each piece is a learning opportunity. I wouldn’t be doing what I’m going now without my previous pieces. I can definitely tell that I’m growing as a person and as an artist. I can also tell that my interests have changed.

How does your cultural background affect/inspire your work?

Some of my earlier pieces were directly influenced by my dual citizenship. They were inspired by US immigration policy and what it meant to hold one passport versus another.

I really liked your previous installation works, one is Safety Blanket and the other is Aegis. Could you tell us more about your two works?

“Safety Blanket” was my thesis work for my BFA. A passport is like a security blanket, having it by you will ensure some type of protection, it holds precious information that enables individuals to move from one place to another, it becomes a marker of who you are; by losing it, you become non-existent, you lose your identity. It can become a tool by which others judge the exterior, based solely by what they read on a piece of laminated paper. The dolls (babies) are basically born generic, they haven’t been given an official identity. These passports (the blankets) are what determine these babies identities. For immigrants, a passport holds tremendous value because they understand that that gives them an identity which enables them to cross a border or to be left behind, it can essentially lock them up. For others, their passport gives them freedom to travel, to make a new live in a different place.

Safety Blanket

Safety Blanket

Safety Blanket

Aurora Molina and I created “Aegis” as a response to societal pressures. The work evolved as we were making it. At first we thought children use their mothers as a shield. Mothers protect their young. But then we realized that the children also served as a shield for these women. At times, women have children just because society tells them that it’s their time to procreate and take care of someone. And at times, this is what some women do, they need this child to justify their existence. We are not claiming that either option for having children is right or wrong, but we do realize that in some cases children are used as a shield against society. It’s basically an observation.

What do you think is the artist in society?

Artist are there to make others think. Be it about a given situation in politics or about identity. I think it’s important to make people think. But I also think artist provide an escape to another world, into someone else’s world and ideas.

Fiber Diary Salarymen

Fiber Diary Salarymen

What’s the best thing about being a woman artist?

Just for an artist in general, to create. Also to create something that touches people.

What is the most difficult part of being a female artist?

That we are not considered “real” artist. That people think that this is just a hobby we are pursuing until we have a family or that it’s something to keep us busy.

How do you manage in such a situation?

Just ignore those people. They are obviously ignorant. Makes you also want to work harder.

Fiber Diary Mass

Fiber Diary Mass

Did you ever feel like giving up? What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given at that time? 

There have been many times where I have thought that I should give up. Probably it was the money aspect, the pressure of finding a stable job. At some point it was because I didn’t like the art world scene. It seemed very insincere. But I think after taking a break and having worked in another field I feel that this (art) is what fulfills me. I wasn’t given any specific advice, I just talked to other friends who were artist and they cheer you on. We help each other and I think that is very important. The best advice that I can give is to surround yourself with other artist or people that believe in you and that will support you and cheer you on when you feel like you want to quit.

What is your dream project?

I have been wanting to do this big installation with sewing machines and motion sensors. I need the space and the funds to be able to make it happen. I have been doing smaller work in the past few years because I have been moving quite a bit. I would like to concentrate on something that is bigger and that occupies a big space.

Fiber Diary New Sewers

Fiber Diary Sewers

What is up and coming for you, as projects?

I’m currently working a project called “Clothing with a Message” with my friend and fellow artist Aurora Molina. I just came back from Oaxaca, Mexico. Over there we met many artisans who work with textile techniques like hand embroidery and loom weaving. At the moment we are creating a story that is embroidered on the back of a coat. We want to merge the functionality of a garment with the message of a work of art. We had been raising money to be able to start the project and we reached out funding goal on Kickstarter. We are so excited that we had such great support from our friends and family.

What do you want to do next?

I’m still working on that project Clothing with a Message. It’s a long term project, we want to create around 50 pieces. Also, I will be having an exhibit with Axcess Art in September 2014.

I will be working on some new pieces for the Axcess Art show. I will give you more details once I have them.

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You can get to know more about her artworks on Natalia’s website and also our Women Artists of the World website.

The Polydora Ensemble @the German Consulate General / January 16, 2014

Polydora Ensemble

New York’s Polydora Ensemble specializes in the chamber repertoire for vocal quartet and piano, and modulates into smaller and larger formations as well. With a focus on the German repertoire of the 19th century, the ensemble also includes Italian, French, English, and American works in their programming, spanning from the Renaissance to the present day.

This concert will feature Brahms’ popular Liebeslieder-Waltzes in a recent edition by the eminent musicologist and Brahms scholar Michael Musgrave, paired with duets by Brahms and Schumann, and will conclude selections from P.D.Q. Bach’s Liebeslieder-Polkas for S.A.T.B with piano, five hands, which are humorously inspired by the Brahms works, featuring a number of musical surprises. The Liebeslieder-Walzerand Neue Liebeslieder-Walzer (Opp. 52 and 65, respectively) rank among the most popular vocal chamber works of the 19th century. The unusual scoring for vocal quartet and two pianists, as opposed to the more conventional piano solo instrumentation that had been used in the classical and early romantic period, opened up new possibilities with regard to texture and tone color. The composition of these two sets, among other works, provided Brahms with increased publicity and the security of a royalty-based income within the rising market for music to be played in homes and at social gatherings, though the works have maintained their position within the formal concert repertoire ever since.

The Polydora Ensemble are Sarah Brailey, soprano; Kate Maroney, mezzo-soprano; Nils Neubert, tenor; Jesse Blumberg, baritone; Yuri Kim, piano and David Oei, piano.

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German Consulate General
871 United Nations Plaza (First Ave between 48th and 49th Street), New York, NY

Thursday, January 16, 2014 at 6:00 p.m.

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Admission US $5.00.

Tickets are only available via Eventbrite at polydora.eventbrite.com

Please note that all ticket sales are final and no refunds will be available.

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You can check Sarah Brailey’s profile here ;)