Tag Archives: Visual Art

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: Max Nelson

Max Nelson is a Bay Area based web designer and visual artist. He has worked with various aspects of design including illustration, logos, and image layout. Max discusses the interconnected nature of Reflection and Response as the feedback loop between the brain and the images we encounter. He discusses the role of Reflection and Response in his piece Talking Type, and showcases a handful of other works from his archives.

Max Nelson

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

MN: Berkeley, CA is where I was born and raised. Still basically just crushing it in the city of B-town…I need to GTF outta here.

Max Nelson - "Watercolor Fingertips"

Max Nelson – “Watercolor Fingertips”

Max Nelson - "Turquoise Gemstone"

Max Nelson – “Turquoise Gemstone”

 

What does Reflection and Response mean to you?

MN: Well a reflection is an aspect or image of a thing, cast onto another thing. A response is essentially a directed reaction. The two combined remind me of  like, a brain with an image projected onto it from like, a projector. The image is like a volcano or something.

Max Nelson - "Swept" (Click the image to check out the piece in full)

Max Nelson – “Swept” (Click the image to check out the piece in full)

How does your piece “Talking Type” fit in with that definition?

MN: I’ll choose the typographic guide ‘Talking Type’ – I did the marker version one night in college. It was probably about 3am, I’d been studying a shitload of typography, and with all that in my system (reflection), I busted that out in sharpie in like 15 min. (response). Years later I found the pages and liked them and decided to type them out in Photoshop.

Max Nelson - "Talking Type" (Click the image to check out the piece in full)

Max Nelson – “Talking Type” (Click the image to check out the typographic guide in full)

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

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Artist Feature: Ricky Gutierrez

Ricky Gutierrez is the first tattoo artist to hold it down for the LIFESTYLE! Representing Atwater, California, Ricky practices his craft at Restless Valley Ink in nearby Merced. He discusses his goals of positively impacting others who are making their way through life amidst questions pertaining to career and livelihood. A pivotal day when Ricky initially brought some of his work to a tattoo artist he admired changed his life and he has been dedicated to the craft ever since. Living a balanced life, Ricky discusses the inspiration that come from his wife and daughter and his dedication to making a name for himself in the field. Check out Ricky’s words and some dope original work below!

Ricky Gutierrez

Chase your passion relentlessly and live through your craft.

– Ricky Gutierrez

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

RG: What’s up LIFESTYLE!? I’m Ricky G. representing Atwater, Ca. I’m currently tattooing at Restless Valley Ink in Merced, CA.

Ricky Gutierrez

What does Reflection and Response mean to you?

RG: Reflection is the story your work tells for you. One day, I’m hoping that my work will touch the lives of individuals that don’t think they can make it or feel like they can’t catch a break. I was once in their shoes, bouncing from job to job, trying to find myself and choose a career to earn a decent living. I never thought my artwork was good enough to showcase, let alone be my career. The day I took my work to a local tattoo artist, whose work I deeply admired, was the day my life changed in one of the best ways possible. Through this journey, I’m still searching for a response and my expectations for my artistic career.

Ricky Gutierrez

How does your work fit in with that definition?

RG: Every day I strive to do my best and inspire others along the way. I believe it’s important to chase your passion relentlessly and live through your craft.

Ricky Gutierrez

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

RG: Lately, I’ve been working on tattooing. I’m trying to make a respectable name for myself in the industry and build my reputation. I plan on expanding my artistic abilities by exploring different mediums and continuing my education and earning a degree in art.

Ricky Gutierrez

Who or what inspires you?

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Artist Feature: Andréa Harris

Andréa Harris is a visual artist based in Seattle, Washington, who has also spent time in Washington State, Boston, Florida, and France – each of which has naturally impacted her artistic practice in different ways. Andrea describes Reflection and Response as an interaction between the artist and their work — with each entity active in the dialogue. Her work is a result of this ongoing conversation and she uses various mediums such as painting, photography, collage, digital video, and sculpture. Along with her words, Andréa presents specific pieces from her incredible collage and sculpture projects EXPERIENCING THE CENTURY and OUR EYES THAT ARE EVER MORE MY OWN. Peep the dialogue below and stay tuned for more exciting projects from her workshop!

Andréa Harris

Making work turns into a conversation between reflection and response — sometimes the artist is the one responding in the work, but other times the work talks back and makes its own demands to be heard.

– Andréa Harris

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

AH: I am from the Pacific Northwest, and grew up in several towns near Tacoma, WA.

There is something to be said of place and creative work. Everywhere I’ve lived has had a specific head-space to it. It’s been easy to make work in some places, but nearly impossible in others. Having lived in Seattle, Boston, Sarasota (Florida), and three summers in South-West France, I have experienced a variety. However, I have yet to find the place I work best with.

Right now I’m in Seattle, WA. It’s the city I consider home. I have a feeling there are some explorations ahead of me though.

Andréa Harris - Experiencing Century 12

Andréa Harris – Experiencing The Century 12

What does Reflection and Response mean to you?

AH: As an artist and general introvert, the majority of my time is spent in reflection. Reflection isn’t a place of comfort. It is a place of unstable ground and a catalyst for change. Reflection is the foundation of Response, but the creation of work contains both. Making work turns into a conversation between reflection and response — sometimes the artist is the one responding in the work, but other times the work talks back and makes its own demands to be heard.

Andréa Harris - Experiencing Century 10

Andréa Harris – Experiencing The Century 10

How does your work fit in with that definition?

AH: The overarching concept I find myself fixated on is the idea that reality is malleable, fluid, and constantly created. I explore the flexibility of reality through: the relational boundaries between the body, consciousness, psychological states, ideologies, and perceptions of the self, the other, and the transcendental. My work operates in a space of questioning experiences and concepts. It is the product of reflection and response, the push and pull between the two. I enjoy working across disciplines, letting the concepts I’m working through dictate or have influence on whether I use painting, photography, collage, digital video, sculpture, etc.

Andréa Harris - Experiencing Century 01

Andréa Harris – Experiencing The Century 01

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

 

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Feature: Caity Ballister

The LIFESTYLE Collective grows. Caity Ballister is a visual artist whose pieces vary in material, presentation, and theme. This year she finished her undergraduate degree from the University of California at Berkeley. With multiple gallery shows, she has already shown a growing output of work with a personal touch and unique style. Caity shares with us some of her perspective on Reflection and Response and the process behind one of her featured pieces, You can’t go back. We thank Caity for adding her voice to the ongoing dialogue at the LIFESTYLE!

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

CB: I was born in Altadena, CA, a little neighborhood above Los Angeles.We’re at the foot of some big mountains with a view of downtown and sometimes we can see the ocean glimmering gold. Right now I feel very fortunate to be living in Berkeley, CA in a house with friends. We call it the Cuckoo’s nest.

What does Reflection and Response mean to you?

CB: Reflection and Response is the natural reaction to stimuli- it’s what makes us human but I don’t know… cats seem to reflect and respond to things too…So maybe it’s being alive. I find it hard to turn my head off. Walking around, sitting down, eating a popsicle… I’m constantly reflecting on various aspects of the experience.. the meanings embedded in actions, words, gestures, materials. I reflect super hard when something surprises me or when I feel something—friendships, love, heartbreak, fear, hope…these are all things or emotions that motivate me to act.. I guess that’s where the response part comes in. I consider all kinds of production in order to explore feelings or concepts to be art. So even the typewritten love letter I composed in high school for a crush… that was a work of art.

How does your installation You can’t go back fit in with that definition?

CB: This installation was a response to my experience of going back home, to my parents home, on my most recent trip. I found a lot of conflict and tension there from issues left unaddressed and fermenting under the surface. Simultaneously, there seemed to be a pretty fervent effort and desire on both my mother and father’s parts to make it seem like everything was great, to try to make me happy and feel at home.

As I was drifting to sleep that first night back at home, an image floated into my head. It was a dresser covered in a hand-sewn garment, almost like a tea cozy. The fabric was covering completely, stitching close the drawers. I knew in my drowsy delirium that I had to make this piece, that it was exactly symbolic of the complicated dynamics of the home I came back to. Real issues and basic comfort made inaccessible and home life made non functional despite painstaking efforts.

In addition to the dresser, this installation includes two other objects: a gold prismacolor colored pencil and the paper wrapper from an eraser. The pencil fell while I was in my studio and I was able to pull out the lead from within. I’m fascinated with uncovering, looking beneath the surface, analyzing and seeing how things work. I like undoing, breaking down into parts. I needed to take off the wrapper in order to use more of the fresh part of the eraser so I peeled it off, undoing the glue and exposing a surprisingly long length of paper that had been used to wrap around and around the rubber. Undoing the paper had both freed the tool inside and also introduced a new piece into the world.

What else have you been working on recently?

CB: I have been really loving making videos. I like using the camera to observe little moments of wonder and surprise that I come across. I’m going to film blueberries blossoming at my fingertips.

Who or what inspires you?

CB: When I was younger I came across the blog of a man named Saleem Reshamwala. He was documenting his experiences as a Japanese-American living and teaching English in Japan. He made videos, took pictures, wrote poems…all directly relating to the community around him. He also got people to participate with him and that kind of collaboration was really exciting. He’s kind a creative genius, an idea factory. I don’t really read his blog anymore, but he is always somewhere between the back and the front of my mind, inspiring me to love, engage with, record, and make something that celebrates the ordinary things in everyday life. http://kidethnic.com/ .

More recent inspirations, or at least artists I’ve found a connection with, are David Ireland, Doris Salcedo, Jonathan Richman, Olivia Crawford.

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

CB: caityballister.virb.com

Shout out to…?

CB: I want to thank the Lifestyle for featuring me and for creating this space. Also thanks to G’Pa Z, Kyle the Immediator of Media, the Cuckoo’s Nest, all my friends and teachers and everyone I’ve ever known.

You can’t go back

-Reflection and Response

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