By Debora Faccion Grodzki and Sarah Arriagada
We discuss everything artists work with, from materials to thoughts, from dreams to gestures, from feelings to tools.
Artist PraxisNov 01, 2022
Debora talks with artist Tahila Mintz who works across multiple platforms to amplify the voices of Indigenous people and the natural world. She is an Indigenous Yoeme and Jewish woman who focuses on ancestral relationships, gender equilibrium, contemporary Indigenous issues, and recuperating knowledge that colonialism has unraveled. She has been photographing for more than 20 years in over 40 countries and received her MFA from the University of Texas. Tahlia is the founding executive director of OJI:SDA’ Sustainable Indigenous Futures, an organization that creates an ancestral knowledge land-based curriculum for K-12 students, runs a summer camp for Indigenous youth, provides disaster relief, as well as other models of community support.
Debora talks with Manuela Gonzalez, a Miami-based artist raised in Medellin, Colombia. She has a BFA in Painting from the Rhode Island School of Design and an MFA in Painting and Printmaking from Yale University. Through the exploration of multiple materials, techniques, and mediums, Gonzalez's studio practice has developed from closely examining the visual language of textiles as they relate to modern and contemporary abstraction.
Debora talks with artist Rachel Burgess, a printmaker whose large-scale works on paper combine her interest in landscape with her background in narrative art. Her work exhibits nationally and internationally in galleries and museums. Originally from Brookline, MA, she currently lives in New York City.
Debora talks with artist and art historian Josh T Franco, from West Texas. As an artist, Franco produces and exhibits at least one artwork annually. This practice ensures that his scholarship is constantly informed by the processes of making and showing work.
Artwork details: 'María Lugones remains,' ink on paper (risography), 2021
Debora talks with Fin Simonetti, a Canadian artist and musician who lives and works in NYC. She often works in sculpture, including stone and stained glass.
Artwork details: Gusset 5, 2022, stained glass, 28" x 20" x 13"
Jean Gray Mohs
Debora talks with artist Jean Gray Mohs, who is a narrative, abstract artist, currently running an open studio at Artspace in North Carolina. Selected exhibits include the Contemporary Art Museum in Raleigh, the North Carolina Museum of Art, and the Greenhill Gallery. Her work has been featured in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Southern Living, and Traditional Home and has been shown regionally as well as internationally.
Debora talks with artist Zachary Fabri who is an interdisciplinary artist engaged in lens-based media, language systems, and public space, often complicating the boundaries of studio research, and social practice. This context specificity often yields work that includes design, drawing, photography, video, and installation. Fabri’s work has been exhibited at Art in General, The Studio Museum in Harlem, El Museo del Barrio, The Walker Art Center, The Brooklyn Museum, The Barnes Foundation, and Performa.
Debora talks with Leeza Meksin who is an interdisciplinary artist working in painting, installation, public art and multiples. Born in the former Soviet Union she immigrated to the United States with her family in 1989. Her work investigates parallels between conventions of painting, architecture and our bodies. She has been featured in Bomb, The Brooklyn Rail, The New York Times, among other publications. In 2013 Meksin co-founded Ortega y Gasset Projects, an artist-run gallery and curatorial collective in Brooklyn that she continues to co-direct.
Debora talks with artist Helen O'Leary, who, throughout her career, has been constructing a very personal and idiomatic formal language based on simple materials and unglamorous gestures. Her artistic practice emerges from constant reassignment, dismantlement, and frugal readjustment. Rooted in the outward simplicity and inner grenade of memory, her work reckons with damage and multigenerational loss, through nurturing, caring, and—ultimately—healing.
Writing the unwritable novel, 2020-22. Constructed wood, reclaimed pigments, linen, and silverpoint ground. 6' x 5' x 6' ( including crate/ plinth).
Debora talks with Jorge Lucero, an artist from Chicago, currently living and working in Urbana, Illinois. In his work, Lucero examines the emergence of education as contemporary art practice. In this episode, Lucero discusses the making of "Alongside Teacher" (2022), an artwork created as a network of exchange with other artists, educators, and practitioners. Among many things, Lucero talks about the pliability of Zoom to record conversations and the relation between books and conceptual art.
Artwork details: Alongside Teacher (2022), 38 One-Hour Conversations with Artists, transcribed, copyedited, and published (work-in-progress).
You can find more information about Lucero at: www.jorgelucero.com and www.instagram.com/conceptualartandteaching/
In this episode, Missouri-based artist and painter Matt Ballou discusses a recent drawing made of ink on paper. His Ensign For Miyoko Ito is an homage to the Japanese-American artist known for her watercolor and abstract oil paintings and prints. Matt Ballou treasures the modesty and human scale of her work and the intimacy of her hand and brush marks. Deeply connecting with her sense of color and shape, he reflects on the archetypal in their work. Being drawn to abstract, archetypal forms putting pressure on his inner sense of volume, space, and movement, he explains that he is looking for an interplay of tension and release–a visual dynamic of pressure and ease, focus and expansion. Matt’s drawing was built over several weeks with multiple sessions using both his hand and a drawing robot. In its final state, it presents itself as an event while also revealing its making process.
An Ensign For Miyoko Ito, 2018
Ink on paper
12 x 10 inches / 30,5 x 25,4 cm
In this in-depth conversation on painting and the family archive, artist Erin Raedeke shares about the act of creation as a means to record and commemorate the elusive and hidden parts of our existence. In the making of Mary Augusta, Erin dives into the deeper layers of mind and matter, creating a new surface for old memories to resurface, adding paint for layers for history to uncover, mixing colors for nuances to unfold. She strikingly uses long-lasting materials for an eternal version of a new narrative–a story of her own, empowering, genuine, and vibrantly alive.
Mary Augusta, 2021
Oil on board
10 x 8 inches / 25,4 x 20 cm
Red Bird, 2021
Oil on board
8 x 7 inches / 20,3 x 17,8 cm
In his delightful interview with Artist Praxis, New York-based artist Frank Chang offers wonderful insights into his installation work "Things We Knew." Referring to Frank's established collage practice, this newer work shows the leftover, transpierced board rather than its extracted parts. We see a composition of missing objects leaning against the wall, casting soft shadows off the plywood's clear-cut edges. What we don't see makes us wonder. What do the empty shapes represent? Will we ever be able to guess what missing parts, losses, and forgotten memories they refer to? The absence and presence of symbols in Frank's artwork, the negative and positive spaces within the piece, and its both soft and hard qualities point to the ambiguous state humanity finds itself in. We hold both knowledge and uncertainty amid a climate and humanitarian crisis in a delicate and precarious balancing act.
Things We Knew, 2021
Acrylic paint on plywood
44 x 59 inches / 111,7 x 149,8 cm
In our joyful conversation with Brooklyn-based painter Lesley Wamsley, the artist reflects on the personal and historical consciousness of place and time. The painting was made in the summer of 2020 while wildfires were raging on the West Coast. On this day, the air in NYC was thick and heavy. The pollution conditions created enough haze – almost like a veil – that she could look directly at the sun. She created a composition that focused on its color, intensity, and apocalyptic quality. As the sun was setting, she stopped. Her painting was done. Much later, Lesley noticed a striking resemblance to Monet’s revolutionary painting Impression, Sunrise
Fire Sign, 2020
Oil on panel
12 x 9 inches / 30,5 x 22,9 cm
Kahlil Robert Irving
Kahlil Robert Irving's large-scale collagraph sets the scene for fact and fiction to collide and coexist by simulating a bird's eye view on garbage brimming asphalt landscape. In Kahlil's printing process, the stage is set for human-made residues to float like jetsam on a multitude of (deeply embossed, fossil-like) layers, suggesting an ever-flow of traffic and consumption. However, the ghost-like color palette appears as dreamy as a memory, as intangible as the starry night sky, and as eluding as the mental image derived from the latest news story. The trompe l'oeil-Esque urban imagery remains an abstraction, a vague depiction of an unspecified place, universal in its densely textured vision of 'the street.' In contemplating this artwork, we are invited to meditate on the true nature of our existence and to question our meanderings in between the realities that we inhabit, touch upon, or ignore.
“COMING” ≤≥ “Going” [Movie & Murder] Imbedded Symbols + Cosmic Myths, 2019
Collagraph with found objects.
94 5/8 x 42 3/8 x 1/4 inches / 240.3 x 107.6 x .6 cm
Berlin-born and based painter Anne Schreiber reflects on the notions of a ‘precarious equilibrium’ and the ‘good struggle’ in painting. While she thoughtfully differentiates between harmony and kitsch, she further elaborates on the differences between a painting (Gemälde) and an image (Bild). She explains that a painting invites the viewer in and keeps their attention unpretentiously, while an image kicks them out before too long. In our interview, Anne Schreiber reflects on the artist’s innate presumptuousness as they are handling inherently complete material and the necessity to make art despite the perfection of all things. She speaks about the studio as a safe place where she can experience chaos, overwhelm, and malaise, all while being in touch with her deeper, truer self in a sublime state of awareness.
Oil, alkyd, and spray on cotton
70.8 x 66.9 inches / 180 x 170 cm
Oscillating between alluring closeness and deceiving distance, the tightly knit weave of Graham Lister’s painting raises the question of what we are actually looking at… or through.
As we perceive the equal, rhythmic interactions of positive and negative space, fore and background, we realize that the artwork uses the visible architecture of the medium and the non-visible structures in and around it to come into being. The object acts as a stage set or a prop to signify beyond the image and towards the reality it exists in.
Blue and Silver, 2020-1
Oil on board
8” x 12” / 20,3 x 30,5 cm
Simone Osthoff returns to the creative process of a drawing that she made more than twenty years ago to reflect on the importance of drawing in her art practice. An artist in the expanded field, Simone has dedicated her creative practice in the last years to writing, gardening, and cooking, as well as institution-building, teaching, and academic research. In her ever-curious and dialogical thinking, Simone compares the experiences and contributions between her many creative endeavors and plots her return to art-making in the studio, where she hopes to find new sustainable and pleasurable directions.
Coffins with Drawers for Classical Virtues, 1998
Mixed media on paper
30 x 44 inches/ 76 x 111 cm
In a non-human-centered version of time, Madelaine Corbin notices, investigates, writes, and then collects, forages, builds, glazes, dyes, and weaves materials into scented and beautifully crafted artworks. She honors transformation and loss as natural aspects of our abundant world by reorienting her body and mind to processes that cycle beyond her lifespan. Sun Breathing invites us to attune to the subtle changes resulting from continuous exposure to light and dust and encourages us to embrace grief to enable healing.
Sun Breathing, 2020
Naturally dyed wool, linen yard, cobalt-glazed ceramic, walnut wood, medicinal plant-infused wood finish
8 x 2 x 4 feet
Looking back at a painting done two years ago, Pallavi Sen speaks about how her work stays fresh in her memory, as it marks specific moments of her life. In a painting that helped her imagine new artworks, plan teaching syllabus, think about the value of art, and deal with the intangible, we see how images go beyond symbolism in the artist’s experience. After years of bringing artmaking into all of her activities, Pallavi talks about separating her artmaking from other activities in life and the restfulness she experiences while doing that.
Teaching and Thinking about Color Theory, with Rubber Snake and Mobile, 2019
Watercolor on paper
14 X 10 inches / 35,5 x 25,4 cm
Looking back at a 50 years-long career, Rudy Vavra sets on to creating a new, large-scale, and multi-paneled installation that nostalgically links to his first artistic explorations as a 19-year old. For this yet-to-be-completed masterpiece, he collects materials from the grounds of his 30-acres property and ties them to supplies he first experimented with as a teen.
The rhythmic back-and-forth of the weaving process echoes interlaced moments of daydreaming and moments of heightened awareness where the past and present inter-are. The artist’s current and earlier selves are intertwined in this time-imbued piece that marks a significant milestone on the artist’s path.
Baling twine, sisal, native grasses, cotton, horsehair, crochet fabric, camel hair, jute
108” x 80” / 274,3 x 203,2 cm
Ashlynn Browning’s paintings undergo phases of completion and phases of renewal as the artist moves through life and reflects on the accuracy of what she has brought to life in her work. In her paintings, remnants of partly removed color grids and freshly applied nets of paint overlap and form hybrid shapes of organic and abstract-geometric appearance. Placed in front of a subdued or monochromatic background, these singular figures act as portraits of momentary states of mind and representations of an ever-changing sense of self.
A Light Shines in the Dark
Oil on panel
34” x 30” / 86,3 x 76,2 cm
Susanne Ring’s large vessel-like female figure shows traces of serpent-shaped clay rings. In a similarly linear and cumulative way, the straps of a discarded cardigan meander through the pierced and hollow object. Our eyes spiral up and down the surface, following the many fragmented threads that invite and disrupt our course. Perforations enable breakthroughs, or so we think, as all we find is a gaping void.
BRAUT (BRIDE), 2021
Ceramic and textile
31.5” x 15.7” / 80 cm x 40 cm
Naive Melody is a woven paper and ink image in the size of a petate, a woven mat Fidencio Fifield-Perez used to sleep on as a child in Oaxaca, Mexico. The early memory of the mat’s imprint on the artist’s bare skin fueled a quiet and laborious process some 25 years later. Chasing the unforgettable, Fidencio Fifield-Perez manifests his visions through the obsessive and therapeutic handling of materials in the sacred and safe space of his studio. In the here and now emerges an object that is nuanced and multifaceted, grounded in matter and ambiguity, and signifying beyond the easily digestible.
Naive Melody, 2021
Paper and ink
43” x 36” / 109,2 x 91,4 cm
When Mary Herbert started shifting her focus from observational to imaginative drawing, she noticed that the early morning hours allowed for an enhanced intuitive approach to artmaking. Starting with a roughly abstract color composition made of flaked pastel dust on paper, she created a nocturnal dream-like coastal landscape, dotted with lush, glowing vegetation and ghost-like, ethereal figures. She let her image emerge over a couple of weeks, carefully allowing it to rest and breathe. Rather than looking, she appreciates the act of listening to the image, inviting it to hold space for enigmatic content derived from dreams, memories, and the silently witnessed.
The Body Remembers, 2021
soft pastel on paper
19.3” x 11” / 49 cm x 28 cm
Angela Renee Shaffer
Angela Renee Shaffer discusses her ongoing photographic series “Good Mother” by focusing on two selected images that she places side by side in a diptych format. “Embrace” and “Safety” act as a reflection on her relationship with her 8-year old son and the concerns that come with motherhood. In a semester-long collaborative effort, they stage moments of tenderness and despair and learn to assert and respect each other’s boundaries on the way. As their entangled but distinct identities grow in autonomy and maturity, this project offers a vehicle for self-expression, dialogue, and connection.
"Embrace" and “Safety,” 2021
Digital archival prints
María Vargas Aguilar
In an almost Herculean effort, María Vargas Aguilar takes on the important struggles of our times, such as genocide, climate crisis, and intergenerational trauma, and creates a painting that appears strikingly serene and beautiful. Despite the uplifting color washes, the frame-like plaster, plastic, and wood structures seem to act as a damper or a silencer of some sort. Questions of durability are posed, bringing up issues of pollution, survival, and legacy. María’s family history and the Guatemalan Dirty War linger in this painting, sometimes in the most unexpected ways.
Acrylic, oil, and plaster on canvas with plastic and wood frame
36" x 36" / 91,4 cm x 91,4 cm
In a performance that brings together years of academic research, family, and personal histories, Berlin-based Luiza Prado creates a detailed setting to make two different kinds of lace. In the making of the performance, the artist observes the materiality and the colors of the threads to make lace typical from Denmark and Brazil, the soil surrounding the gallery that hosts her exhibition, and the exposure of her own body as an immigrant living in Europe. Luiza's intricate creative process reveals the connections between past and present, seeking a decolonial perspective to knowledge and finding answers in the use of medicinal plants.
Captivated by the utmost beauty of a remembered landscape, Sean Noonan returns to his sublime vision in cyclical studio sessions, repeatedly adding layers of paint to the horizontally-oriented and intimately-sized picture plane. He works and reworks the sticky soil of the waxy surface while cultivating its raw and receptive quality. With gestural marks both eloquent and inquisitive, he wanders through the painting’s layers in playful exploration. The parallel processes of the painting’s journey and the recollection of the painter’s travel evoke a synergy of matter and thought. Retracing his memory through locally sourced and salvaged materials, he creates an object both fleshly sensual and suggestively abstract.
Where I wanted, 2021
Oil and wax on found wood
11" x 15" / 27,9 cm x 38,1 cm
Roaming through the land of her immediate surroundings with her daughter, Anna Adler spent the past year scavenging for the detritus of human existence. In her desire to reabsorb what has been abandoned or washed ashore on the Hudson River, she assembled fake nails and glass shards onto the plaster cast of her hand. The beloved object is cherished for its clumsiness, silliness, and absurdity. Her series “False Archeology” ponders on questions of identity and place while taking a humorous stance in which the inevitability of life and death are encountered with a smile.
Trash Hand aka Pandemic Mani, 2021
Pedi, plaster, vinyl glove, found 'nails'
9 x 4 x 3 inches / 22,9 x 10,2 x 7,6 cm
Bringing the unknown and the familiar into collision, Yasemin Kackar-Demirel grows paintings rich in chance elements and personal history. Time, from which emanates both longing and change, plays an important role in her process of assembling old cloth, traced shapes and recognizable architectural elements with freshly applied paint that responds in unpredictable ways and sinks in over days. Surrendering to the intense pleasure of getting acquainted with new materials and connections, she engages in a dynamic of give and take, negotiating risk and control to the benefit of discovery and transformation.
Something in our minds will always stay, 2021
Acrylic and oil stains, acrylic paint markers, acrylic, fabric dye, flashe, stitching, graphite on felt
20” x 16” / 50,8 cm x 40,7 cm
Using her camera in a moment of heightened tension and anxiety, Mika Sperling captures herself in vulnerability and tenderness as she is about to announce her engagement to her in-laws. In respectful reverence, she dresses in her mother-in-law's sweater and prepares for the event by peeling oranges as an offering to her new family. The intense gaze directed towards her partner, hiding behind the camera and following her directions, holds this meaningful and ephemeral moment of transition as a binding and tangible milestone.
Wearing her Clothes, 2017
27.5” x 35.4” / 70 x 90 cm
Olivia von Pock
In this first episode in the German language, Olivia von Pock describes how she defied the loss of structure during lockdown by creating casts of her feet molded in soap. In an experimental process of mixing, liquifying, and hardening this sanitary product, she found herself playing with the indomitable, defiant, and free in her unusually still and quiet home. By attaching her ephemeral, scented casts to her beloved dance shoes, Olivia grounded them and herself in a collective moment frozen in time. The sudden preciousness of the material mirrors her ability to maintain a healthy sense of self-worth in a year short in interpersonal intimacy.
Olivia von Pock schafft Fußabgüsse aus Seife, um im Schwebezustand für Bodenständigkeit zu sorgen. Wenn tägliche Strukturen abhanden kommen und nur noch die Nacht den Anschein der Normalität hat, wird die Kunst zum Anker. In ihrem sowohl robusten als auch vergänglichen Objekt “Untief” spiegelt sich die Verletzlichkeit des menschlichen Körpers und seine Ressourcenfähigkeit wieder. Von Pock schafft es auf anschauliche Weise, sich im Prozess des Nachspürens ihrer Körperglieder der eigenen Existenz zu vergewissern und sich in Corona- Zeiten durch den begehrten Hygieneartikel ein gesundes Selbstwertgefühl zu erhalten.
Untief (Shallow and very deep), 2020-2021
Soap and synthetic leather
12 x 12 inches / 30,5 x 30,5 cm
Deeply rooted in his local community, Phnom Penh-based artist Vuth Lyno makes his network of peers, colleagues, and friends the foundation of his practice. With their mutual support and ever-changing collaborations, he brings immersive artworks to life that surpass his individual abilities and draw from collective knowledge. His newest fluorescent light installation reflects on public spaces of generosity and hospitality and their accessibility in our modern times.
Sala Samnak, 2020
Neon light installation
118.1” x 78.7” x 88.6” / 300 x 200 x 225 cm
Grappling with the role of art in our society and the current notions of essential work, London-based artist Markus Vater investigates the importance and power of painting in times of crisis. How can an artist lead an independent, free-spirited existence and simultaneously serve others or a cause? In collaboration with an ICU head nurse, a project commemorating healthcare workers' traumatic experiences materializes into an image both puzzling and breathtaking.
Covid 19, 2021
Acrylic on canvas
55.1 x 66.9 inches / 140 x 170 cm
Barbara Campbell Thomas
After a painting hiatus of several months, Barbara Campbell Thomas embarked on an image-making journey that combined found, patchworked orphan blocks sent to her by her mother, pieces of fabric and spray-painted canvas from her studio, and white quilting thread on unprimed canvas. Working in an intensely explorative, open-ended way, she stitched and sewed in the early morning hours while meditating on the ongoing pandemic, her sons’ well-being, and glorious memories from the past. In this activity of immense absorption, circles, arches, and rays emerged and with them the remembrance of a specific place and time: the Basilica of San Miniato in Florence, seven years ago. “Siderum,” a title and artwork that refers to “all the stars, all the galaxies, all and infinite possibilities,” evokes a sense of mystery grounded in symmetry, rhythm, cycles, and bound in togetherness.
Fabric and thread
22 x 23.5 inches / 55,9 x 59,7 cm
Debora Faccion Grodzki
In this interview, Debora Faccion Grodzki makes meaning of a recent “Seed Painting” that she created during the winter and spring months both in and outside of her home in upstate NY. Her interest in allowing her natural surroundings to co-create her images is embedded in her understanding of the interconnectedness of everything. Debora explains how Ana Mendieta’s and Lygia Clark’s work have informed her way of thinking about images and why she started calling her paintings “transpositions.” Debora discusses how being a Latin American woman and mother influences her pictorial language, her choice of materials, and her process and what freedom means to her and her work.
Seed Painting, 2021
Acrylic, beeswax crayon, and sheepskin on canvas
11 x 8 inches / 28 x 20 cm
In this episode, Sarah Arriagada discusses a recent painting, reflecting on abstraction and the narratives derived from even the most basic shapes and marks, such as ovals and lines. Fragments of coarse canvas that she imported from London to Missouri represent the foundation of her exploration of color, composition, memory, and identity. Over the course of many months, she applied layers of oil paint, working her way from the edges and corners into the center of the painting to arrive at a point of unity that encompasses both tension and harmony.
Oil on sewn canvas
12 x 8 inches / 30,5 x 20,3 cm
The Artist Praxis podcast is created by Debora Faccion Grodzki and Sarah Arriagada. Original music, mixing, and editing by Andre Ravi.
We will launch on June 15, 2021! Stay tuned!
If you are an artist and would like to be interviewed, or if you would like more information about the podcast, please visit artistpraxis.com.