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BSDA Artist Interview: Amy Fleming

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Amy Fleming is the latest artist to be featured on Buy Some Damn Art. Her series, Our Lady of the Salvage Yard combines religious iconography with junk yard finds. My Q/A with the artist is below:

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Tell us about the subject matter of the Our Lady of the Salvage Yard series. What are the objects that surround the figure? What are the source materials (if any)?

I was looking at traditional religious iconography, mainly Catholic and Russian Orthodox, and was fascinated at how they portrayed faces and figures encapsulated in an encrustation of gold and jewels. I wanted Our Lady of the Salvage Yard to have the same sense of beauty and authority but with items found in automotive junk and salvage operations. She has a halo of transmissions and radiator hoses, and a gold collar of nuts, bolts, radiators, disc brakes and hub caps. She is crowned with head lights. Sometimes she has a welder’s helmet, torches and gloves, other times a respirator mask or protective goggles, all tools of the salvage trade.

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To me your work feels distinctly American and appears to raise questions about some of our deeply- engrained ideas by way of appropriating iconography. Does that jibe at all with your conception of your work?

A few years ago I did a series of drawings of junk and debris filled landscapes. They grew out of a combined interest in history and archeology: in an archeological dig, finding a trash scatter or a dump site provides a motherload of information about the people who produced it. When I lived in what used to be a semi-rural part of Virginia, there were automotive junk years several acres in size. They are mostly gone now, due mainly to stricter environmental laws. It’s mind boggling the sheer amount of stuff we produce and throw away. We are in danger of drowning in our own debris.

Regarding using iconography in my work, I grew up surrounded by images of saints and other religious symbolism, so it seemed natural to fold this into the discards. The idea of the work having an American sensibility is an interesting one. The debris that ends up in my work comes from an industrialized society, with thrown-out vehicles, washing machines, refrigerators and other stuff that were once seen as representative of America’s high standard of living.

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Why print making?

Well, I just really enjoy all forms of printmaking. For one thing, it allows for a lot of options in image making. Take any one concept or image and make it into a screen print, a woodcut, etching, lithograph or what have you, and see how each process changes and expands that concept. I love that. Plus, you get multiple originals of the same image, which I used as a jumping off point for the Our Lady of the Salvage Yard series.

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Your assemblages, which are not in the show, are made of the remains left from hunting season where you live in North Florida. Do these works relate to your feelings about the sport of hunting?

They are more about telling stories about this region. Deer and turkey hunting are popular here, and the hunters I’m familiar with hunt for food as well as sport. I do generally stay out of the woods until after season is over though for safety reasons. Besides the animal remains, I frequently come across major appliances that have been dragged out and then used for target practice. Some of my assemblages and dioramas imagine the stories behind for example, a full size refrigerator found deep in the woods. Who hauled it all the way out there and why? There are all these bits and pieces of people’s lives scattered among the pine trees. I’ve found large metal desks and typewriters half buried in vines, like an office being slowly reclaimed by the outdoors. It’s strange and fascinating.

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Artist Crush Revisit: Sarah Burwash

Monday, July 13, 2015

Sarah Burwash is an artist based in Halifax, Nova Scotia whose work I’ve featured a few times over the years. In 2014 Burwash did a residency at the Banff Centre called winterjourney with fellow Canadian artist Gillian Dykeman. Now Burwash and Dykeman are exhibiting work from their time in the mountains in a show called Reunion in Feral Forest at DNA Artspace.

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BSDA Interview : Marleen Pennings

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Marleen Pennings, who also goes by the moniker Stroke a Bird, is the latest artist to show on Art Hound’s sister site Buy Some Damn Art. Marleen is based in Rotterdam, The Netherlands where she is a visual art, illustrator and stylist. Her lilliputian paintings on scrap wood depict the perfectly imperfect living space – just the right mix of old and new, static and living.

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What do you paint on and where do you source these materials?
 
I paint on canvas, paper and wood. I really like to paint on scrap wood. I source it on places where people renovate their houses. When I pass a construction site I always pause to see if there is a beautiful piece of wood lying around. It already has had a lifetime when I find it, you can see and feel that. The structure has mostly softened during time and the old paint has turned pale. I really love these old pale colors and use them in the artwork.
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Are your paintings always so small?
 
No, I also paint on big canvases or big pieces of paper and wood, it depends on my mood and ideas in my head. But I do like to paint small, it sometimes feels like you can bond better with the painting, because it’s so small.
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How did your career evolve from a degree in Fashion Design and Styling to illustration and fine art? Why did you take up painting?

After I graduated I worked in Fashion Design for a while, but it didn’t really fit me. So I concentrated more and more on my illustration and one day I just started to paint, because I was curious. The next step was that I quit my job in fashion and concentrated fully on developing my painting skills, because I liked it so much. 

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You describe your work as a “subtle translation of a mix of city and nature.” Tell us about that idea. ‘Subtle’ mostly because of my use of colours, I rarely use very bright colours. The colours I use are mostly a bit pale and powdered, I like that. The wood I paint on is a natural material used to build houses in the city. And most houses and buildings have plants for decoration. The indoor landscapes in this series are like a snapshot of daily life where nature and city are combined and mixed up.
 
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The interior scenes you paint are beautiful. Are they inspired by your home city of Rotterdam?

 
The scenes are a translation of what I see around me and what inspires me, a coloured wall in a waiting room, a kitchen chair and a beautiful fern I saw someplace else. I collect them in one scene and try to capture the feeling of the three together when painting them.
Rotterdam is a great city for inspiration, but I would like to have a little more nature around me sometimes. So I paint them both.

 

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BSDA Artist Interview: Rachel Stuart-Haas

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Rachel Stuart-Haas is an artist based in Louisiana who paints enigmatic portraits of women that I’d describe as both playful and soulful. There is unabashed femininity and playful sensuality in Rachel’s portraits, but beyond that there is also sadness, mystery and longing. Six of her paintings are now featured on Buy Some Damn Art. Check out Rachel’s show and read the Q/A below.

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How long have you been painting portraits of women? ​

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Since my senior year at art school (Kansas City Art Institute). For my thesis I created three large images around The Black Plague and they all featured these long, lanky women with smudged eye makeup. I’ve just sort of kept up with that theme ever since. Maybe one day I’ll branch out, but honestly men just don’t really do it for me artistically! Plus I kinda suck at painting them.

 

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There is nudity and vampy playfulness in some of your paintings. Does sexuality play a role in your work?

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Absolutely! It’s one of the best parts of being a woman. I just love the whole burlesque and pin-up theatrics of it all, without being too obvious and blunt.

 

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The women in your paintings look very young with their huge doe eyes. Why that particular look?

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Truly there is no real conscious reason for that, but I wonder if they’ll start looking older as I age too. A little crow’s feet here, some varicose veins there… A lot of people ask if the girls are self portraits, but they’re not. At least not intentionally anyway. But the eyes are the MOST important to me. I LOVE big eyes. Unfortunately, I do not possess these.

 

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What kind of people respond to your artwork?

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Really all kinds. You would think it would be mostly women, but I don’t always find that to be the case. Honestly, I’m thrilled with anybody who responds to it!

 

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How does symbolism play into your work?

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There’s actually quite a lot of symbolism that I throw in, but it’s usually not very overt. Or I hope it isn’t. I get bored if I don’t try and incorporate some layers in here and there. And they usually happen during the progression of each piece. I just try and let that evolve as I work.

 

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Artist Crush: Georgina Corrie

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Georgina Corrie is a ceramicist in London. Her work is very simple and appears quasi-decorative. Corrie uses the loveliest colors.

“Clay is a wonderful material that has the most amazing ability to be manipulated to create a myriad of textures and surfaces even before any glaze is applied, so it is somewhat ironic that I have chosen to use it as a series of flat planes and build forms using a set square and ruler. Likewise decoration has a long history with ceramics and whilst my work frequently uses pattern and decoration on the surface it has, over time, become more pared down, now using mainly simple blocks of coloured glaze to emphasise the geometric forms. Glaze alone is such a varied and awesome material, the joy of watching two types meet and react is sometimes enough, however subtle that reaction might be.”

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