Category Archives: Visual Arts

the LIFESTYLE Farewell

Dear Friends and Family,

After three years of facilitating the LIFESTYLE arts collective, we’ve reached a point at which we’ve decided to move on from this project in light of other endeavors. Although our website will continue to exist as a historical reference of the artists and artwork that were featured in this space from 2011-2014, we will no longer be collecting or publishing new content. However, before we officially sign off, we’d like to take some time to look back at what’s been an incredible experience connecting and building with you all.

When we launched the LIFESTYLE in August of 2011, our goal was to create a space for dialogue, expression, collaboration, and artistic exchange rooted in the active processes of Reflection and Response through the arts. We sought to create an interactive, inspiring, and open space where artists from around the world would be able to share their work and their thoughts, centered around the idea of Reflection and Response. We also wanted to maintain the LIFESTYLE as an independent operation, free of ideological constraints or financial directives.

Our various projects have included the Artist Feature Series, Events from the Collective, Talk of the Town, Snapshots from the Collective, Original Mondays, and the Porch Swing Residency. The way we see it, all of the posts in these series add up to a dialogue exploring Reflection and Response from the perspectives of different people, art forms, mediums, and locations. Each person’s contribution to the LIFESTYLE served as a showcase of individual creative expression, while also functioning as an interactive piece of a larger-scale discussion.

We structured the LIFESTYLE around the framework of Reflection and Response – a concept that we believe drives artistic expression, yet rightfully remains open to interpretation. We believe art – in all its forms – serves as a venue through which people express themselves based on their experiences, perspectives, feelings, thoughts, and desires. However, art is often cautiously viewed as a simple, trivial aesthetic activity, providing a basis for it to be marginalized in educational institutions and omitted from broad economic discussions.

The concept of Reflection and Response stands in direct opposition to these traditional views, positioning art instead as a result of an artist’s active, unique processes of reflecting on their surroundings and their experiences, and, in turn, responding through creating something new, and inherently powerful – whether that’s a painting, an installation, a performance, a poem, a song, or any other creative output. Although these processes can be consciously harnessed, they also often indirectly affect a person’s work. We think this concept of Reflection and Response helps explain the essence of creativity.

We’d like to thank all of you who participated in this project as artists and readers, and we hope this space has served and inspired you as powerfully as it has on our end. We’ll forever respect the views and artworks that were shared here, and we’ll continue to build from this foundation as we move forward with future projects. Much love!

Reflection and Response.

– V & P

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Artist Feature: Basilia Guadalupe

Basilia Guadalupe

Creo que el arte, la pintura en este caso, es una forma de entablar un diálogo no sólo con uno mismo sino también con la vida misma. Es un diálogo para mí ya que no podría afirmar que uno puede dar una respuesta cerrada haciendo arte, es más bien un diálogo eterno.

I believe that art and painting, in this case, is a way to initiate dialogue, not just within oneself but also with life itself. This is an ongoing dialogue, and I would say that one cannot really give a closed (or final) answer concerning art.

– Basilia Guadalupe

Para empezar con algunos puntos básicas, de dónde vienes? Dónde estás?

Leading off with some basics, where are you from? And where are you at?

BG: Vengo de una provincia del nordeste Argentino que se llama Corrientes. Nací ahí pero a los pocos días de nacer nos fuimos a vivir con mi familia a España. Mis primeros cinco años fueron allí y luego volví a vivir a Corrientes. Hace cinco años vivo en Buenos Aires y Ahora estoy en el Sillón de mi casa en el barrio San Isidro.

BG: I’m from a province in the northwest of Argentina called Corrientes. I was born there and shortly after I moved with my family to Spain. I spent my first 5 years of life there and then moved back to Corrientes. I returned to Buenos Aires 5 years ago where I’m currently sitting on the sofa in my house in San Isidro.

Que quieren decir “reflexión,” y “respuesta,” para ti?

What does Reflection and Response mean to you?

BG: Quiere decir dar una respuesta desde el lugar en el mundo donde uno se para y encara la vida. Una respuesta desde la visión del mundo que uno tiene.

BG: This means to give a response from the place one stops and faces the world. A response from one’s point of view of the world.

Basilia Guadalupe

Cómo se mete tu arte en esta definición?

How does your art fit into that definition?

BG: Creo que el arte, la pintura en este caso, es una forma de entablar un diálogo no sólo con uno mismo sino también con la vida misma. Es un diálogo para mí ya que no podría afirmar que uno puede dar una respuesta cerrada haciendo arte, es más bien un diálogo eterno. Kandinsky decía “Cada cuadro encierra misteriosamente toda una vida, toda una vida de muchos sufrimientos, dudas, horas de entusiasmo y de luz”. Yo creo que el arte que verdaderamente vale la pena mirar es aquel nos muestra casi sin querer toda esa energía de vida, toda la maravillosa complejidad de ser humanos. Creo que si en algún lado se cuela en mi arte la definición de reflexión y respuesta que dí es simplemente en el hecho de entrar en ese espacio de conexión donde se genera una reflexión sobre el mundo que quizás parezca que dura unos segundos pero continúa eternamente cuadro tras cuadro mientras intento dilucidar una respuesta.

BG: I believe that art and painting, in this case, is a way to initiate dialogue, not just within oneself but also with life itself. This is an ongoing dialogue, and I would say that one cannot really give a closed (or final) answer concerning art. As Kandisky said, “In every painting a whole is mysteriously enclosed, a whole life of tortures, doubts, of hours of enthusiasm and inspiration.” I believe that art that is really worth experiencing effortlessly depicts all that energy of life, all the complexity of human beings. If people hang up my art somewhere then my Reflection and Response is simply the fact that I’ve entered into that space of connection; (a place) where reflection about the world that seems to only last a few seconds but in reality continues forever (through) painting after painting (through which) I try to elucidate a response.

Basilia Guadalupe

Que más estás haciendo actualmente? Que proyectos estás pensando trabajar próximamente?

What else have you been working on recently? What are you looking to work on next?

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Artist Feature: Alivia Schaffer

Alivia Schaffer | Photo by Cheryl Mann

Alivia Schaffer | Photo by Cheryl Mann

I actually would prefer to use these words in their verb tense- reflect and respond, because of their less passive nature. When I see these words as action, I take more responsibility for creating a response versus responding how the masses may or in a way that is expected of me. With each of my reflections or responses, I am able to create another layer of connection between my work and the work of others, or between myself and the world around me.

– Alivia Schaffer

Leading off with some basics, where are you from? And where are you at?

AS: I grew up just Northwest of Chicago in Algonquin, IL. Now, I am living in Chicago and working with DanceWorks Chicago.

What does Reflection and Response mean to you?

AS: Reflection and Response are two important parts of my everyday life. The two concepts really are what making work is all about. They are the process of taking the dry technique of an art form from mindless regurgitation, to a robust and personalized statement. The art I put out is always my reflection or response to something. I see others’ work and I shape opinions about it as my reflection, and then I notice what things I found successful or intriguing, compared with which parts I was put off by. From there I create my own work as my response, using my reflection from what I experienced. As an artist, I feel like the world has become my studio and space for constant reflection and response. I often just see everything around me as information. Yet, the information does me no good until it is responded to or reflected upon. I actually would prefer to use these words in their verb tense- reflect and respond, because of their less passive nature. When I see these words as action, I take more responsibility for creating a response versus responding how the masses may or in a way that is expected of me. With each of my reflections or responses, I am able to create another layer of connection between my work and the work of others, or between myself and the world around me. When I am genuinely utilizing reflection and response, I have no longer been simply going through the motions of life, but instead I am truly being present and listening to what’s around me and making a choice of how to propel forward from there.

Alivia Schaffer | colored pencil

Alivia Schaffer | colored pencil

Alivia Schaffer | colored pencil

Alivia Schaffer | colored pencil

  How does your work fit in with that definition?

AS: I prefer never to make work that is a narrative of my own life, but instead I aim to create work that acts as a platform or framework for dancers to find themselves in. In this method, my work asks dancers to do the reflecting and responding themselves. Thus leading them to connect with their fellow dancers, myself, their audience, and the world. My choreographic process feels much more like a conversation and constant exchange of responses between myself and the dancers, versus me as the hierarchy handing out instructions.

 What else have you been working on recently? What are you looking to work on next?

AS: I am proud to say that I just finished my first season working as a professional dancer with DanceWorks Chicago! We recently returned from performing at Spring to Dance, a dance festival in St. Louis. Next up for me will be choreographing a quartet for Dance in the Parks Chicago. This summer, I will also be teaching dance and visual arts classes at the Auditorium Theater’s Heart to Art Camp; a camp providing art outlets for children who are coping with the loss of one or both of their parents.

Alivia Schaffer | oil pastel

Alivia Schaffer | oil pastel

Alivia Schaffer | oil pastel

Alivia Schaffer | oil pastel

 Who or what inspires you?

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Artist Feature: Andrea DeFelice

Andrea DeFelice

Much of my recent work appears as a hacking together of disparate objects that weren’t built to work together in the first place. I explore interactions between the objects, reducing forms to basics, and responding to subjects of interest, such as proclaimed value/power placed on things, alienation through technology, significance, boundaries, and uselessness.

– Andrea DeFelice

Leading off with some basics, where are you from? And where are you at?

AD: I was born and raised in New York. I grew up in Smithtown, later moved to the East Village, and then bounced around between Queens, London [the English one] and Brooklyn. I’ve been in primarily in Brooklyn since 2007 and my husband and I recently bought a home there.

I’ve been working as an Assistant Professor for three years and a visual artist for I’d say a solid decade. Drawing and printmaking were my first mediums. As a younger, darker me, I remember being very drawn to literary and medical illustrations, as well as art by the Romantics and the Dadaists. Into later years I shifted into moving image, sculpture, as well as increased incorporation of new media technologies. The work’s remained multi-disciplinary for the greater bulk of the time.

What does Reflection and Response mean to you?

AD: Mirror-smashing? Reflection’s inward and subjective. It varies under the influence of someone or something [like Absinthe mixed with Tequila]. Regardless of how it’s directed, it’s examination and a human form of internal processing. It can be a healthy thinking process if not taken too far. Response is more of reflection’s counterpart. It’s outward and active. Response is reflection with… balls? Can I say ‘balls’?

defelice_06

How does your work fit in with that definition?

AD: I suppose there’s some congruency in the relationship since the work is very driven by controversy and interactions. It’s from what I’d find to be generative of questioning—particularly in overall actions and doings in the world. Not that I’m asking, ‘Why oh why..?!’ about everything, or that my work is politically driven. But there’s consistency to attempt to decipher what doesn’t make sense, or to re-decipher what does. This examining tends to come out through the subject matter and through the media. Much of my recent work appears as a hacking together of disparate objects that weren’t built to work together in the first place. I explore interactions between the objects, reducing forms to basics, and responding to subjects of interest, such as proclaimed value/power placed on things, alienation through technology, significance, boundaries, and uselessness.

defelice_04a

What else have you been working on recently? What are you looking to work on next?

AD: I’ve been working on a series of mechanical sculptures. With these I’m mixing functioning components with occasionally disparate objects, then embedding them into shaped geometric forms. These forms are composed of layered substrates and various filler materials such as dirt, clay, rock, plaster, and metals.

I occasionally do work with an artist’s collaborative, The Institute For Wishful Thinking. Forming in 2008, this collective has developed projects in the U.S. and internationally including The Austrian Cultural Forum, Momenta Art, Center for Cultural Decontamination in Belgrade, Contemporary Art Center in Thessaloniki, Pori Art Museum in Finland, and Periferic 8 Biennial for Contemporary Art in Iasi, Romania.

defelice_05a

defelice_04

I’m thrilled to be doing Bushwick Open Studios in Brooklyn with awesome visual artist Michela Buttignol. I’m also working with another great artist, Jennifer Murray, on getting an upcoming show together for Porter Contemporary Gallery in Chelsea. Lastly, I’m looking forward to an artist residency in Harfnarfjordur, Iceland coming up for 2015.

Who or what inspires you?

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Artist Feature: Allison Spence

Allison Spence

What interested me most in those frames was how the video–the digital eye–reproduced them. A machine doesn’t have the same preconceived notions of what a body looks like. It doesn’t see it the same way we do, where in a confusion of limbs we always pick out what is intelligible to us.

– Allison Spence

Leading off with some basics, where are you from? And where are you at?

AS: I grew up in South Florida, but I very recently moved to Los Angeles, via San Diego where I attended graduate school. I swung from palm tree to palm tree.

What does Reflection and Response mean to you?

AS: To me, Reflection refers to a kind of information processing; whether it is a mental reflection (memory) or the reflection on a surface of an image or group of images, say with a mirror. Either way, Reflection is affected by its medium—by the perception of that medium. One’s memory of an event, for instance, is influenced by their position (physical/emotional/political/etc.) within that event. Or, if you think of fun-house mirrors, the same applies. We laugh at the reflections in a fun-house mirror, or they disturb us, because they do not conform to the views we already hold of our own bodies. But I think all of these reflections hold a kind of truth, even if they are sometimes considered just pale imitations of what they reference. Who is to really say for sure, though?

I think Response fits snugly into Reflection in that it is born out of a similar type of processing. But Response comes from the sum of a number of reflections, or experiences. In other words, there’s math involved. But because of all the different variables, it is easier to think of Response as a closer measure of the subject than Reflection. Like this interview versus the picture of me it starts out with.

Allison Spence - mass 6

Allison Spence – mass 6

How does your work fit in with that definition?

AS: Well, a lot of the work that is pictured here is from a recent series of paintings, which used as its subject split-second frames from highly compressed Youtube videos. They’re bodies, groups of bodies. The specifics of who they are or what they are doing don’t really matter in the long run. What interested me most in those frames was how the video–the digital eye–reproduced them. A machine doesn’t have the same preconceived notions of what a body looks like. It doesn’t see it the same way we do, where in a confusion of limbs we always pick out what is intelligible to us. We will always see the arms, the legs. Machines don’t always do this, and instead they’ll reproduce the limited information that they are given, like colors, values…there’s less separation, the boundaries blur, become masses. I like to think that maybe the machine sees something that we cannot, that this kind of collapse happens sometimes. The idea fascinates me.

Allison Spence - Big Mass

Allison Spence – Big Mass

Then, of course, I reproduce these moments in paint, and I bring with it all of my own baggage, all of those painterly considerations, color theory, all that junk. It becomes twice removed from its source. I’m responding to a reflection, in a sense.

Allison Spence - mass 4

Allison Spence – mass 4

What else have you been working on recently? What are you looking to work on next?

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Artist Feature: Sydwox

Sydwox

Like “Indra’s Net” or a spider’s web full of dew drops, each dew drop contains the reflection of all the other dew drops, in a game of infinite reflection, we are all connected. Response is the act that we’ve chosen, (whether physical, mental, or verbal) to communicate with one another.

– Sydwox

Leading off with some basics, where are you from? And where are you at?

S: I go by my undocumented moniker Sydwox, but most of my artist friends call me Wox. I was raised on the central coast of California in a small surfer beach town called Los Osos. I currently reside in San Francisco, and have been in love with the Bay Area ever since I moved here in 2004. After studying visual effects for film at Gnomon (a Hollywood based private school), I turned my back on the digital world to pursue my true passion of painting surrealism and graffiti. Although I am constantly influenced by my technical background, there’s nothing better than getting your hands dirty and the fresh smell of tiny aerosol paint molecules colliding with the wall without permission. 🙂

Sydwox - Over Creation

Sydwox – Over Creation

What does Reflection and Response mean to you?

S: Reflection for me means looking within oneself to find that we are all just one reflection of each other, beneath the surface differences, one organism revolving through space on this craft called Earth. Like “Indra’s Net” or a spider’s web full of dew drops, each dew drop contains the reflection of all the other dew drops, in a game of infinite reflection, we are all connected. Response for me is the act that we’ve chosen, (whether physical, mental, or verbal) to communicate with one another. Using all our senses we perceive what exists outside ourselves and depending on how a particular vibration resonates within us we choose a way to answer to our perceptions.

Sydwox - DaVine Apprehension

Sydwox – DaVine Apprehension

How does your piece “DaVine Apprehension” fit in with that definition?

S: In “Davine Apprehension” a vandal barely escapes injury or arrest when his artistic depiction of nature comes alive and constrains the institutional enforcer trying to stop him. This piece for me was a fun way to reflect on several experiences I had dealing with the authorities for the way I chose to respond to social issues through public self expression or “street art.” The creation of this painting helped me release a lot of anger while making light of the age old game of cat & mouse.

What else have you been working on recently? What are you looking to work on next?

S: I just started working on my first canvas after a two year break where I focused entirely on murals and wheat pasting. I didn’t plan on taking this long of a break from my paint brush but I’m very excited to see what results from two years of built-up inspiration and life experience. Looking ahead, I’m working on a series painted entirely on rusted found objects and I am in the process of lining up several live-painting sessions at various venues in SF as well as a few music festivals in 2015.

Sydwox - SF Hands

Sydwox – SF Hands

Who or what inspires you?

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Artist Feature: Michela Buttignol

Michela Buttignol is a visual artist that we met up with through Maryanne Ventrice. Born and raised in Sacile, Italy, Michela has been based in New York City since 2009. She now focuses on her craft as a freelance illustrator, often switching between client projects and media work. She highlights an interesting version of Reflection as legacy, in that all reflections come from ideas that have previously existed, and Response is the unique style in which an artist creates work. Throughout the interview she discusses her experience growing as an artist working for the New York Times Op-Ed Page, an exciting upcoming show at the Bushwick Open Studio alongside dope artist Andrea DeFelice, and the journey curating visual components of her husband’s band Libel. Her unique style shines through the prints presented next to the dialogue below. Peep the talk below!

Michela Buttignol

Working with boundaries, if well defined, helps me move out of my comfort zone and find new solutions for better results.

– Michela Buttignol

Leading off with some basics, where are you from? And where are you at?

MB: I am originally from Italy, born and raised in Sacile, a super small town in the northeast, not too far from Venice. I moved to the United States almost three years ago because of love. Back in 2009 while in New York, I met a guy who’s now my husband and makes me very very happy.

Since I’ve moved here I’ve been working solo as a freelance illustrator but art, drawing and creativity have always been central in my life. I decided to embrace a hard but beautiful career in the arts when I was very young; leafing through children’s books, I fell in love with the magic world of illustrations. Through the years, my passion has shifted from children’s books to editorial illustrations, which became later my profession.

Today I switch between media work and client-driven projects. I always try to find new inspirations, experimenting and pushing myself forward to improve and grow as a designer.

What does Reflection and Response mean to you?

MB: Reflection is to recreate. Deliver a new point of view on something that already existed but appears differently every time someone builds or creates a new identity with it. I love to recreate what I see; for example, when I draw people, I tell a new story about them, attaching a new vision and a new identity. The response is in the style, in the world that you create with your art and how the audience recognizes and captures it, understanding the process behind the artwork.

How does your work fit in with that definition?

MB: I love to work on commission. That’s why I don’t recognize myself as an “artist” but as a designer. I like the pressure of the deadline and the exchange with the commitment. During this past year I’ve had the opportunity to work for The New York Times Op-Ed page, and the experience made me understand how important a challenging topic is, as well as the urge to give it a new meaning with your design. Working with boundaries, if well defined, helps me move out of my comfort zone and find new solutions for better results.

Michela Buttignol - The Tonic of Wildness

Michela Buttignol – The Tonic of Wildness

Michela Buttignol - NYT

Michela Buttignol - NYT

What else have you been working on recently? What are you looking to work on next?

MB: Today I am working on my next exhibition for Bushwick Open Studio. I will open my apartment and my studio during the festival weekend and share my space with friend and extraordinary artist Andrea DeFelice.

Michela Buttignol - Jump

Michela Buttignol – Jump

Also, I am very happy and proud to curate the visual identity and everything related to my husband’s band Libel. Creating posters, album covers and animated videos for this band is a joyful ongoing project that constantly gets more challenging. Since I started (almost three years ago), with Gavin’s direction and the inspiration from the music, I’ve created a large collection of gig posters that is going to grow in the future along with other video projects I am going to jump on soon for the band.

Michela Buttignol - Gig Poster

Michela Buttignol - Gig Poster

Michela Buttignol - Gig Poster

Michela Buttignol - Gig Poster

Michela Buttignol - Gig Poster

Who or what inspires you?

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Artist Feature: Nichole Speciale

We connected with San Diego-based visual artist Nichole Speciale through our friend Andrea Harris. Nicole goes in on Reflection and Response, detailing the graphic representation of these processes in her piece Repeat After Me, focusing on the interaction of various surfaces and mediums. Additionally, she delves into her fabric work, On Gravity, which provides two different viewing options that each inform the other to provide a complete understanding of the piece for the viewer. This is a visual artist that practices ill artistic and multimedia expression and we’re juiced to have her words and pieces represented as part of the LIFESTYLE Collective below!

Nichole Speciale

I’ve had this ongoing project called Repeat After Me, which is about considering the plane of the canvas or the paper as a closed system, and as soon as a mark or shape is made in an art material another reflection or translation of that shape is made in thread.

– Nichole Speciale

Leading off with some basics, where are you from? And where are you at?

NS: I am originally from Boston, MA and about 3 years ago, I moved to San Diego to go to graduate school, which I am currently finishing up.

What does Reflection and Response mean to you?

NS: I would have to say that my practice is largely based on this concept. I’ve had this ongoing project called Repeat After Me, which is about considering the plane of the canvas or the paper as a closed system, and as soon as a mark or shape is made in an art material another reflection or translation of that shape is made in thread, which becomes a more difficult task because to make a shape composed of straight lines you have to move back and forth through the plane of the paper or canvas.

I have also been doing an ongoing project with a flutist where we have a continuous feedback loop where I’ll reflect on the music she has played and respond through the making of an object and then she will reflect on my work and respond musically. So, to define the terms for myself – I would say that Reflection is a process of seeing/hearing and then internalizing only to turn back to the original occurrence and present your own version, much like holding up a mirror to the original act. Response is something delivered that does not have to emulate the original, but can carry a thread of the original with it in the returned action.

Repeat After Me (in Response to Rachel Beetz, flutist)

Repeat After Me (in Response to Rachel Beetz, flutist)

How does your work fit in with that definition?

NS: I’ve included a drawing from the Repeat After Me series, which I touched on in the my last answer, and have included my piece On Gravity, which is a two-sided work on stretched fabric made with sewing pins and nails. I feel this work fits in with this definition in that you can only take in one side at a time, while knowing that both images exist at once. And in viewing each side you have to consider the other to make sense of the whole piece.  The front of the canvas creates one impression with subtle color changes and soft textures and in response, or maybe an inverted reflection, the back side with the colored heads of the pins is like a bejeweled surface, and is surprising, but can only be surprising because of the reverse side.

On Gravity (front)

On Gravity (front)

On Gravity (back)

On Gravity (back)

What else have you been working on recently? What are you looking to work on next?

NS: I have been collaborating with a different musician than the one I mentioned earlier and we have been making ‘sound paintings’ where we embed speakers in stretched fabric or canvas to extend the surface of the painting via sound. The one I am currently working on is about 5.5’ x 3.5’ stretched canvas and I have been sewing 2 large coils of speaker wire onto the surface. We’ve got magnets that turn those coils into speakers. So we are working on figuring out what sound should be coming from that piece… very exciting.

Pie from Scratch - In progress (speaker wire and thread on canvas)

Pie from Scratch – In progress (speaker wire and thread on canvas)

Who or what inspires you?

NS: I am very inspired by investigation of the universe. So I will often read things by Carl Sagan or Neil deGrasse Tyson or Brian Greene. I also love watching NASA TV or poking around on their website. I also get really excited by 80s and 90s art that looks like it was the product of AV club, like Gretchen Bender or Nam June Paik.

Is there anything else you would like the Collective to know?

NS: Hmmm… Well, I recently learned that wasps basically make their nests from paper maché… how cool is that! They started it!

Shout out to…?

NS: Andrea Harris for suggesting me to the collective!

And my music collaborators: Curt Miller and Rachel Beetz!

Redshift Blueshift (ball point pins on speakers)

Redshift Blueshift (ball point pins on speakers)

Check out more of Nichole’s artwork on her website: http://nicholelizspeciale.com/home.html

Reflection and Response.

 

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Artist Feature: Valerie Wilson

Valerie Wilson is a visual artist and educator based in San Francisco. We first met when she was working with students at Alchemia, an arts program for adults with developmental disabilities. In our dialogue, she comments on the conscious and subconscious nature of Reflection, and the unique uses of these Reflections that each person chooses as their Response. Valerie chooses to reflect through art as a “healing interpretation,” of her world, as she describes with her print, The Royal Rooster, dealing with mixed emotions of a past relationship. Check out Valerie’s ideas in more detail below and snapshots from her printmaking process!

Valerie Wilson

Either consciously or subconsciously, people are processing their surroundings, their past, present, & future every single moment of the day. What one does with their reflection(s) is completely subjective, but unanimously response is a direct reaction to reflection (and visa versa).

– Valerie Wilson

Leading off with some basics, where are you from? And where are you at?

VW: I’m originally from Sebastopol, a small town in Northern California infused with wine, liberals, and art.  In 2005 I moved to San Francisco, and have set up a semi-permanent fort there.

What does Reflection and Response mean to you?

VW: Either consciously or subconsciously, people are processing their surroundings, their past, present, & future every single moment of the day. What one does with their reflection(s) is completely subjective, but unanimously response is a direct reaction to reflection (and visa versa). Reflection and response are symbiotic with each other, for every action there is a reaction, creation is what happens when these two work together (which is all the time).

Valerie Wilson - The Royal Rooster

Valerie Wilson – The Royal Rooster

How does The Royal Rooster fit in with that definition?

VW: I’m incredibly detailed oriented and love symmetry, but besides that, my artistic process is very lackadaisical erring on the side of intuitiveness. My most complex pieces have surfaced during equally complex life events. Without a doubt I’d say that my work is a creative and healing interpretation of my world & existential well-being. My art is interchangeable between Reflection and Response, and is definitely fueled by both concepts. The Royal Rooster is the romanticization of a past partner. In the spring of 2011 I started carving and designing this bird after a breakup with someone I truly respected but equally despised. He (the rooster) is so tall and proud and beautiful while simultaneously reiterating his haughtiness and unattainability. Of course, I come to realize this only retrospectively, but see this piece as an obvious phoenix rising from the ashes of a failed (but cherished) relationship.

Valerie Wilson - The Royal Rooster (Process)

Valerie Wilson – The Royal Rooster (Process)

Valerie Wilson - The Royal Rooster (Process)

Valerie Wilson – The Royal Rooster (Process)

What else have you been working on recently? What are you looking to work on next?

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Artist Feature: Alicia Martínez Díaz

Conocí a Alicia Martínez Díaz por primera vez en un concierto de artistas locales en Madrid en 2012. Era compañera de piso de Amber Stiles, miembro del Colectivo the LIFESTYLE, y en el concierto hablamos de su interesante arte visual ecléctico, que incluye medios tan diversos cómo el mundo musical hasta la publicidad. Dos años después de conocernos seguimos en contacto y estamos alegres de que haya aceptado la oferta de hacer una entrevista con nosotros. En nuestro diálogo, Alicia nos cuenta su proceso creativo, la naturaleza pensativa de la reflexión y la acción de la respuesta. Además describe su proyecto llamado “La Vida de los Otros,” que busca explorar la idea del “desconocido” tras una mezcla de medios diferentes. Abajo disfruta las palabras y unas selecciones de una artista visionaria!

I first met Alicia Martínez Díaz in Madrid in 2012 at a concert where several dope local artists were performing. She was friends with LIFESTYLE Collective member Amber Stiles, and at the concert we spoke about her eclectic visual art projects, ranging from working with musicians to advertising. Two years later, we remained in contact and we’re delighted that she accepted an interview spot for an Artist Feature. Throughout our dialogue, Alicia delves into her creative process, the pensive nature of reflection, and the active nature of response. She also describes her exciting project “The Lives of Others,” that seeks to explore the idea of the “stranger” through a milieu of different mediums. Enjoy the words and selected pieces from this visionary artist below!

Alicia Martínez Díaz

Mi proyecto fotográfico denominado “La vida de los otros”…recoge y muestra mi mirada, mis pensamientos y conclusiones, sobre personas que no conozco y que veo pasar; las personas que pasan por mi vida directa o indirectamente, las que están y las que no están, y todas las historias que imagino al verlas, las historias que me sugieren los enigmas que parecen rodearlas.

My photo project “The Lives of Others”…gathers and showcases my vision, thoughts, and conclusions concerning strangers that I see but don’t know; those that pass through my life directly or indirectly, those that are here and those that aren’t, and all the stories that I imagine upon seeing them, stories that suggest the oddities that seem to revolve around people.

– Alicia Martínez Díaz

Para empezar con algunos puntos básicas, de dónde vienes? Dónde estás?

Leading off with some basics, where are you from? And where are you at?

AMD: Soy Alicia, de algún lugar de la Mancha, y resido en Madrid (España) desde hace más de 15 años, ciudad que conozco por tanto muy bien y que cumple a la perfección el dicho: “de Madrid al cielo”. Y debe de ser verdad, porque aunque siempre estoy ávida por conocer lugares nuevos, siempre estoy ávida también por regresar después. Estudié un símil de Bellas Artes en un lugar tan peculiar como la Casa de la Moneda, en otras palabras, el lugar donde se fabrica el dinero en España. Mientras de día aprendía con una mano a grabar, dibujar y diseñar becada y mimada durante 4 años; con la otra, de noche, y de manera eventual para conseguir algo de dinero extra, destruía con una troqueladora millones de euros empaquetados en fajos de billetes… irónico, y un acto que, aunque no tuviera nada que ver con el aspecto artístico, tenía su evidente carga simbólica y sirve de ayuda para relativizar la importancia a lo material y concentrarse en el lado más espiritual de la vida. Desde hace más de diez años soy cofundadora de mi propio estudio de diseño (91Nueveuno), pequeño y con ganas de ayudar a aquellos que nos llaman a descubrir lo que necesitan y todavía no saben, haciendo de medium entre lo utilitario y lo artístico. Pero mi pasión real son los libros, la música y, sobre todo, fotografiar.

AMD: My name is Alicia, I’m from a place in la Mancha, and I’ve been living in Madrid for over 15 years – so it’s a city that I know really well and it fulfills the saying “de Madrid al cielo” (“from Madrid to Heaven”). And it must be true, because although I’m always eager to get to know new places, I’m also always eager to return [to Madrid] afterwards. I studied Fine Arts in a place as strange as la Casa de la Moneda (the Royal Mint), in other words, the place where they print money in Spain. Meanwhile, during the day I studied film, drawing, and design on a 4-year scholarship; on the other hand, at night, in a sporadic way in order to earn a little extra money, I used a machine press to turn thousands of packaged euros into bundles of bills… ironic, and an act that, although it had nothing to do with the arts, had it’s own apparent symbolic responsibility, and served to help me diminish the importance of material [things] and concentrate on the more spiritual side of life. For over ten years I’ve been the cofounder of my own design studio (91Nuevueno), a small project with the desire to help those who ask us to discover what they need but don’t already know, operating in between utilitarian and artistic aspects. But my real passions are books, music, and more than anything, photography.

Alicia Martínez Díaz - Barcelona

Alicia Martínez Díaz – Barcelona

Alicia Martínez Díaz - Berlin

Alicia Martínez Díaz – Berlin

Que quiere decir “reflexión,” y “respuesta,” para ti?

What does Reflection and Response mean to you?

AMD: Para mí, reflexión es pararse a pensar. La respuesta, casi siempre, actuar. Reflexionar es hacer un repaso de nuestro “histórico” personal, emocional, intelectual (y, en mi caso, especialmente importante también, el visual) y, en base a nuestro objetivo previo, decidir qué deseamos hacer. Con todo ello en mi cabeza y sin que la reflexión sea eterna para no caer en la “parálisis por análisis”, me dispongo “a pasar a limpio” lo dibujado y escrito en mi mente, ya sea diseñando o fotografiando. Pasando a una dimensión real esos planos de mi pensamiento. De todos modos lo que realmente lo inunda todo, tanto en lo personal como en lo profesional, es el factor X de la intuición. Ese intangible mágico y decisorio que se encuentra entre la reflexión y la respuesta. Para mí es lo realmente determinante. Y que en el caso del artista es lo realmente fundamental. Yo diría que ahí es donde reside el verdadero talento.

AMD: For me, reflection means to stop and think. Response, almost always, is to act. Reflection involves taking another look at our personal, emotional, intellectual (and, especially important in my case, visual) “histories,” and based on our individual objectives, deciding what we’d like to do. With all this in my mind, however, I run the risk of falling into the trap of reflection leading to “paralysis via over-analysis,” and I often start over from scratch both in design and photography.

Alicia Martínez Díaz - Madrid

Alicia Martínez Díaz – Madrid

Alicia Martínez Díaz - Madrid

Alicia Martínez Díaz – Madrid

Alicia Martínez Díaz - Madrid

Alicia Martínez Díaz – Madrid

Cómo se mete tu arte en esta definición?

How does your work fit in with that definition?

AMD: Es diferente, aunque no radicalmente, si se trata por tanto de un proyecto personal o de un encargo por parte de un cliente. Cuando se trata de un encargo en el desarrollo de la reflexión serán claves también las premisas del briefing del proyecto y, aunque el resto de pasos del proceso sean los mismos, será necesario sumar un análisis más condicionado y un timing más estricto, eso seguro, pero también debe satisfacerme a mí además de al cliente. Jugar como decía entre lo utilitario y lo artístico. En el proyecto personal los límites los pongo yo. Es más experimental: lo emocional y lo intuitivo lo llenan todo…

AMD: This is different, though not radically, depending on whether I’m working on a project for a client or a personal project. For orders, the premise of the client’s instructions are instrumental for reflection, and though the [creative] process is the same [as a personal project], working for a client is more conditional and requires strict timing; however client orders should be satisfying for both the customer and myself. [This process] involves working between pragmaticism and artistry. [Alternatively,] I set the limits on personal projects. These are more experimental: these are projects filled with emotion and intuition.

Que más estás haciendo actualmente? Que proyectos estás pensando trabajar próximamente?

What else have you been working on recently? What are you looking to work on next?

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