Category Archives: Artist Profiles
words by Derrick Buisch
“Why are you watching? Someone must watch, it is said. Someone must be there.”- Franz Kafka
It is fair to assume that John Phillip Abbott’s paintings are made inside a room commonly referred to as a painting studio. The real question we may be left to wonder/ponder is simply – who chooses to do this and why? What motivates these works in particular? Are they random acts of inspiration? Is it just years of research, training and preparation, that result in these colored crafted chemical optical concoctions? What motivates Abbott to make these paintings of broken words and fragmented phrases in flashing colors with such powerful retinal intensity?
Are these paintings the result of some form of time travel? Do these works occupy the strange spaces in the gaps of some unknowable future timeline?
These new paintings by John Phillip Abbott are the visual equivalent of a brain freeze. Push play and turn it up loud; these paintings come in surround sound. Abbott’s paintings amplify the periphery. They spell out a condition of confusion in bold block letters – right/write below the surface of legibility. Speak to me in crystal clear color picture glyphs that are impossible to ignore and possibly even more difficult to understand. These works work to evoke, provoke, instigate those little brain tremors of synesthetic visual pleasure and poetic curiosity that great paintings can summon up on the best days of looking.
John Phillip Abbott’s words in his new paintings run out of space. They are broken, warped, and disjointed. These paintings celebrate their own inherent contradictions because they relish the mess we have come to expect from painting. They are loud when paintings are silent. They are fast when paintings are still. They unravel when paintings are finished. These paintings move, jump, pop, sing, shout…they move out into space and squirm about. Abbott’s paintings are ill behaved in the best way.
One thing these new works by Abbott represent – options, the ecstasy of possibilities, honest and joyous play, a powerful result of many hours of enthusiastic labor. As painters (from one painter to another) this is what we work for, this is where the hours of training, straining, all of the false starts, former loves, past disappointments, all the trials and errors – all the ingredients of a life lived so far under the umbrella of the vocation of painter, practitioner, studio rat – comes to this: A crystal clear body of works, all in harmony with each other, all buzzing in the same visual bandwidth frequency. POW. This is what we work for, this is what we strive for, this is what we live for – these moments of inspiration, of focused intensity, of visual levitation.
I have seen the future and it beckons bright with many colored signs. I remain an optimist. Thank you, John Phillip Abbott, for showing the way. I have a good feeling there will be many wonders there – I can’t wait.
Why are you painting? Someone must paint, it is said. Someone must be there.
An earlier version of this essay and some of these works appeared at PIER 1218 Madison, WI Summer 2012
When I sat down to write this artist statement I found I was using the same prefix over and over to describe my work and artistic motivation. MULTI>>> “multicultural,” “multimedia,” “multifaceted,” “multi-surfaced,” “multiple viewpoints,” “multiple perspectives,” and “a multitude of factors” were all in my initial draft.
In many ways this age is defined by the global mass of digital experiences and information we instantly access and participate in. Yet there are ancient and traditional paradigms that continue to hold sway in today’s world. My work aims at representing this confluence using the conventional two-dimensional picture-plane as a ground on which pluralism is made visual.
The vessel is one art historical trope I utilize to portray multiple viewpoints within a single surface. I am drawn to the form because it lacks a singular reference; every society, in every age, has utilized the container in one form or another making it universal and multicultural. The vessel serves as a link between the inner and outer, the old and new world. The viewer can perceive an image painted on the surface of the vase, the room where it rests, the contents therein, and the focus of the figures who are often engaged in technological interfaces.
I am also drawn to the vessel and other utilitarian forms because of their association with domesticity and femininity. My work often behaves like a Trickster– wiggling through faux techniques or alternative constructs outside traditional painting. A piece can proclaim “I am not a painting, I am a mosaic!” or “I’m not an artwork, I am a stained glass window!” My rug paintings are literally walked upon– made from narrow slats of wood glued to the canvas. The pieces can be rolled up, stood on end, or laid flat on the floor. This transformability allows the work a flexibility and utilitarianism not often associated with painting. Through this “downgrading,” away from “high” art, I seek to elevate the common place and highlight the magic of the everyday.
My pieces have a dense and mosaiced surface derived from collaging printed and painted material with machine and hand stitching. I am drawn to pattern and to intense color creating a fast-paced viewing experience where details and meaning arise as one’s eyes move about the canvas. This is where distraction mets contemplation. While there is a found-objectness to my work, all the material is generated by my own hand creating a feedback loop of remixed artwork. In this world that is at once fast and antique, virtual and dated this allows me to synthesize a portrait of self where the multiplicity of experience becomes whole. – Paula Wilson
Paula’s website: http://paulajwilson.com/
interview by Damon Locks photos by Arthur Mullen
This Chicago jewelry maker has been creating her wares for sale since 2009. I have admired her work for years and decided that it was high time to spread the word about this talented artist/designer.
Your designs are very sculptural, did you grow up with a background in sculpture? How did you arrive at this combination of materials for your jewelry?
I was never formally trained in either sculpture or jewelry design but consider my parents and upbringing to have had a large influence on my work; both of my parents are self-employed glassblowers. I grew up in rural Massachusetts, where my family was always outside playing in my father’s tree farm or our vegetable garden. I first remember creating sculptures inspired by these surroundings using the elements at hand such as wood, moss, and clay.
At seven my parents taught me the basics of glassblowing. The malleability of glass when heated with a flame was entrancing to me. This love of glass continued into my twenties where I found myself searching for new techniques to express myself artistically. I came across stained glass and really took to it; I liked that the properties of stained glass and soldering had many similarities to molten glass in the ways it can be manipulated. This continuous process of exploring and developing my vision for my work has recently brought me to experiment with torched copper enameling, which involves melting glass powder onto copper sheets to create striking colorful patterns. I love the transformative properties that occurs with all of these methods of manipulating glass and metal.
For me, I see your work having a futuristic, science fiction aesthetic mixed with elaborate jewelry from an imaginary ancient culture – the perfect accent to a ceremonial outfit on a far off planet. That is most likely a reflection of my own interests that I impose on your work. Knowing you a little bit, your personal style feels more organic, closer to the countryside than to interplanetary exploration. How do you envision the feel of your work? Do you have a context in mind when you are designing?
When I started experimenting with making jewelry I was initially inspired by tribal jewelry and adornments I had collected from South Asia. I loved the strength in the shapes and the feeling of empowerment they give to the wearer. I strive to create jewelry that incorporates both these bold shapes as well as more delicate and organic elements. The patterns in the copper enamel and the more intricate metalwork that I do tend to emulate things I see in nature.
Are there resources that you go to for inspiration?
Definitely a change of scenery whether to a different neighborhood in the city or a new state energizes both myself and my work. My last visit to Colorado inspired me greatly. The multi-colored lichen growths on rocks I came across influenced the patterns I now make with copper enamel. I also feel that I am influenced by the architecture and shapes that I see while living in Chicago- it definitely contributes to a more industrial look with many of my pieces.
What does your average work day consist of?
I work out of my apartment so it’s easy to get caught up in my work. I can spend hours in my studio, which is great because I really enjoy it, but I am striving towards a more balanced approach. It is something I have yet to master.
Would you ever want your business to be larger so you would have to have others involved in production and sales?
My jewelry feels like an extension of myself and at this point I feel if I had others working with me it wouldn’t feel as personal. Right now I am really enjoying the solitude and satisfaction of creating everything on my own.
You can find Etta’s work at Etta Kostick Jewelry: http://www.ettakostick.com/
Navigating New York City means existing in a constant state of flux; sidewalks shuffle horizontally, stairs/elevators thrust vertically, subways tunnel below, bridges reach towards the sky. Day to day experiences often consist of endless journeys from point A to B and back again. Opportunities for reflection concerning the spaces/places travelled though/around/in, unfortunately, tend to be rare.
My work begins with this concept in mind. I create photographs and collage compositions that highlight overlooked and banal elements within a neighborhood/area/space. The compositions are meant to show the viewer what they are missing, so that when they leave the gallery they too can spot various overlooked idiosyncratic elements that surround them everyday. Once an installation location is identified, I spend days scouring the immediate area with my camera, collecting images which I use as found objects. These images are then downloaded into the computer and various sketches are made using Photoshop. Each element is printed separately, and stuck onto the wall one piece at a time. The images in the [flo] series use a material called Photo-tex, a removable sticky back inkjet printable paper.
[flo] #4 – LIC
flo]#4 – 2010 – 20’x9’ – was created specifically for a new gallery called The Homefront, in Long Island City, Queens, New York. The space previously housed a showroom for a new condos being built across the street, and retains elements of this previous use.
It is a site specific large scale photographic collage that chronicles the radical gentrification glaringly evident in the area surrounding The Homefront. It visualizes the dissonance between the neighborhood’s low rise brick industrial and residential buildings and the slew of imposing high rise glass mega buildings growing seemingly overnight all around them. A cacophony of change abounds: extensive street diversions and construction, structures rising and falling, parks and street furniture appearing, sidewalk repairs, and subway station upgrades. The streets are ripe with brightly colored freshly painted shapes and lines, a code that only construction workers can translate. Conversely, buildings display the vestiges of time: fading handmade signs warning of obsolete violations, worn metal doors to shuttered garages, house numbers scribbled in sharpie, “sidewalk closed” at nearly every turn.
[flo] #3 – 2010 – 23’x14’ – was a site specific work created for the Affordable Art Fair in May 2010. It was installed in the lobby of 7W 34 Street in midtown Manhattan. The work used imagery from the fair floor, the building itself (especially the elevators), and the view of midtown from the fair floor windows (11th). This activated the viewer’s perception of the spaces they would be traversing on the way to and during the fair.
[flo]#1 and [flo]#2 (2009) focus attention on the immediate landscape in and around the 55 Washington Street (in DUMBO, Brooklyn) elevator lobby/overall 111 Front street building. By photographing the ducts, pipes, light fixtures, office equipment, and other necessary but often hidden features of a gallery, the collage deconstructs the space, highlighting the architectural elements that make the building function, but often go unnoticed. The viewer is invited to appreciate the space in its entirety instead of imagining the artwork to be separate or unaffected by its context. The literal and imagined ductwork, electric lines, sprinkler system and other pipes lead the viewer’s eye around the space, serving as pathways to the building’s exterior and the surrounding urban geography.
collages in public
Construction barricades disrupt our sense of place by genericising stretches of sidewalk, acting as vague placeholders for “the future”, but ultimately functioning as faceless voids in an otherwise chaotic street level landscape. “Free” spaces are nocturnally filled with some form of street style “on-the-fly” mark making: movie posters are slathered onto their surfaces, paint colors are hastily applied to every nook and cranny, graffiti tags are scrawled on top of each other, all creating a system of unique symbols and signifiers. By collaborating with these pre-determined slap dash irregular canvases, my work speaks with their native elements by both becoming one with and overlapping the marks present. They add sounds to a language that seems almost familiar (fly-posting, tagging, etc.), but become a language all of their own, like alien graffiti.
interview by Damon Locks
fashion photography by The Collaborationist
Is fashion political? Is your work political? Sometimes it is, although not overtly. I reference where we are currently and the socio-political climate is definitely taken in to consideration when I am thinking about the collection, fabric references etc…
Can you name a few “all time” inspirations? Things that never cease to inspire? Art, Texture, Geometry, Nature, Film, Architecture and above all, Innovative thinking.
At different times, fashion could mark changes in cultural. In 2010, do you feel fashion has an impact culturally? Absolutely, I feel that the arts in general have impacted us greatly in 2010. The arts are exploding in the face of the depression we are in! Also, In a strange way I feel that the First lady. Mrs-O, has brought fashion to the main stream. People are looking to see what she is wearing as the new first lady, and the fact that she is supporting younger less established designers, is very relevant to the times, and the the idea of Change. Historically speaking the first lady has been dressed by more conservative, established designers. Michelle Obama takes risks along side the classics. I never thought in my lifetimeThank you Mrs-O !
What would be your dream aspiration in terms of your work? If everything went exactly as you would want, what would you want you work to do, say, be considered? My aspiration is to be respected for my work. Although the work I make is artistic, I design with real women in mind. I want people to be moved emotionally by what they see, and moved to wear it as a genuine self expression of confidence. I have come to learn that everything else is out of my control!