Art Reveal Magazine no. 57

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Kaitlyn Anderson Houda Bakkali Vian Borchert Jessica Ruth Freedman

Kip Harris Rita Hisar Casey McKee Jeffrey Pullen

issue 57 / February 2021

Laura Romero Cierra Rowe Cherrie Yu Dream Big


FEATURED ARTIST: HOUDA BAKKALI

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“LOVING ITALY”

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KAITLYN ANDERSON

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VIAN BORCHERT

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JESSICA RUTH FREEDMAN

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KIP HARRIS

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RITA HISAR

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CASEY MCKEE

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JEFFREY PULLEN

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LAURA ROMERO

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CIERRA ROWE

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CHERRIE YU

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DREAM BIG

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FEATURED ARTIST

Houda Bakkali, Photo by Patxi Maroto

HOUDA

BAKKALI

On the cover: “COVER NOTTE DI FANTASIA”, Houda Bakkali; 2020

More at pages: 4-7

Houda Bakkali is a visual artist based in Barcelona, Spain. She has a long professional career in art direction and visual communication and her colorful artwork, her techniques and creative process have been recognized by different international magazines and institutions such as Museum of Flowers in Sanremo (Italy), Spain Culture (New York) or Palazzo Bellevue (Italy). Her first artwork dates back 2008 when she published the series “Africa sweet and Pop”, a series based on the digital collage technique. Later she has developed numerous graphics projects, as well as audiovisuals. In 2018 the series “Beautiful African Woman” projected the artist onto the international scene, winning prestigious awards such as The New Talent Award at the International Artistes du Monde Festival in Cannes. Currently, she works mixed technique digital and acrylic, and she has also incorporated augmented reality into her creations, giving a different dimension to each artwork and making the public enjoy an immersive experience and bringing art to life. Her artwork has been exhibited worldwide and she has been honored with awards from the American Illustration (NY), the New Talent Award at the International Festival Artists of the World in Cannes, Graphis Awards (New York), London International Creative, Paris Design Award, Creative Quarterly (New York), among others distinctions. She has worked for different companies and organizations managing different projects, both visual art and communications, as well as multimedia and interactive design, audiovisual projects, editorial, etc. Houda Bakkali is a member of The Society of Illustrators of Los Angeles.


“Loving Italy” Art Reveal Magazine

by Houda Bakkali

The visual artist starts this year with a new work called “Loving Italy”. This series of 12 artworks is based on mixed media technique and augmented reality. Through “Loving Italy”, Houda shows her particular version of a dual reality. On the one hand, a contemplative conception of beauty, colour and shapes inspired by Italy and its artistic movements. On the other hand, an ironic reflection of the vicious circles of art nowadays, with its excesses and its vanities. In this interview, we meet more about this work and its motivations.

Houda Bakkali received by mayor Alberto Biancheri and president of the Consiglio Comunale Alessandro Il Grande in an official event at the Sanremo Town Hall. Photo by Patxi Maroto

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You have applied AR to the “Loving Italy” series. What is AR and how does it work?

created with deliberate balance, with symmetry that surrenders to light and nature. Forms that seek to enter into symbiosis to achieve the perfection that sets them free. A tribute to the pillars of the Renaissance. In contrast, the Baroque movement is reflected in the artwork “Passione barocca”. A superlative tribute to exuberance, worldly pleasures and artificiality. This piece seeks to represent a world of sensuality taken to the extreme.

Basically, augmented reality is the technology that allows us a symbiosis between the real world and the virtual world through technological devices and platforms. It is currently used in different fields such as medical, educational or artistic. Augmented reality is a fabulous ally for artists as it gives a new dimension to work. Art comes to life, tells stories, evolves over time, even could include new characters, scenes and make the public an active part of the scene. This is the magic of the digital age.

Augmented reality allows me to recreate the ideals of these artistic movements. Reflecting them in a dynamic and immersive way, with lights and shadows, sometimes in the more extravagant and voluptuous way and in others in a more serene and harmonious way. This is the case with the rest of the series.

What experience is a viewer supposed to have in the exhibit?

This series is based on mixed media technique, digital art, photography and acrylic. What about digital art? How is the process and which are the values?

Augmented reality allows creating more complete and complex experiences. Pieces are formed by volume, games of lights and sounds, interactivity, etc. This allows us to create a unique virtual cosmos anywhere. This experience helps artists not go unnoticed. Our work becomes a part of the audience’s memory. Why did you use it and why it’s important to understand the series.

The digital artistic process implies a technical knowledge of computer tools whose main characteristic is its constant and vertiginous updating. This is an advantage, due to the multiple possibilities it offers the artist, but also an important challenge that invites artists to constantly recycle.

I use it to create stories, to describe the artwork motivations and invite the public to enjoy a unique experience. It’s the perfect way to introduce the work. Thus, the artwork “Amore Rinascimentale” reflects the harmony and beauty

Art seeks to stimulate, alter, provoke and invade emotions. Art does not have to be beautiful or harmonious or perfect, just has to communicate, it has to discover new dimensions of reality, it has to represent the imaginable and 5


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the unimaginable, the nearby worlds and the dreamlike spaces. How important can it be that artwork is created on a canvas or through a computer screen? In my opinion, digital art is a captivating symbiosis full of possibilities. A perfect fusion between the mathematical formulation and the creativity of the artist. Why a series about Italy? Last summer I had the great honour of being received by the authorities of the emblematic city of Sanremo, by the president of the communal council Alessandro Il Grande, the mayor Alberto Biancheri and the councillor for culture Silvana Ormea. They invited me to exhibit in the city in 2021 and, in addition, the mythical Museo dei Fiori hosted the piece “The flowers of happiness”. That was the starting point in the Italian art scene. After that event, I received other proposals to exhibit this year in other cities. Although, everything depends on the evolution of the pandemic.

What are the challenges? Knowing how to select from a multitude of platforms, applications and media that promise solutions for creatives. Differentiating the business opportunities offered by the art market from scams that use the vanity or the good faith of artists. Knowing how to stand out and show our values, etc. But, the great challenge is to see art also as therapy, as a balm for the soul. Art is hope and should serve to make others happy. What is the key to success? A huge dose of discipline, motivation and continuous recycling. The key to success is working hard. Investing, especially time. Investigate, select, create and share unique experiences. Innovate, without fear of failure. Crises are opportunities. In my opinion, artists must seek originality and our own identity that makes a difference. We have to think about the audience. Without an audience, there is no show. The public deserves respect and that respect can only be offered with excellence.

This series speaks about art and vanity, what is the place of vanity in our times? Vanity surrounds us and has always surrounded us. It has been a subject of art, literature, mythology…, Vanity is linked to the pleasures of life, success and the carpe diem conception. Oscar Wilde said: “I like hearing myself talk. It is one of my greatest pleasures. I often have long conversations all by myself, and I am so clever that I sometimes don’t understand a single word of what I am saying.” Currently, we live in a world of overexposure that makes this quote much more usual. “Loving Italy” shows this reflection through the image of the protagonist, always the same. Always, exuberant, perfect in any movement and with any style. Delighted to be admired by the world. In which moment of art are we… We live in a chaotic world in every way and in every discipline. In the artistic field, I think that we are in a stage of “Too many fish, too few loaves.” There is a lot of talent, few opportunities and a big business. It is important to understand the rules of the game to survive. It is a challenge, and challenges are always opportunities.

“Loving Italy” Virtual Exhibition & Official website:

https://houdabakkali.art/ 7



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Kaitlyn Anderson Savannah, USA

My name is Kaitlyn Anderson and I am a small artist from Savannah Georgia. I am currently attending Armstrong University to obtain my B.F.A. Presently I am studying ceramics and oil painting- and exploring how to combine these two mediums. My main focus currently is exploring human emotion and how humans interact and affect each other. This is a very broad topic, but I hone in on each interpersonal connection through various mediums and expressions. My art is heavily figurative, but with a deeply conceptual background. Often my paintings take on an abstract realism form, focusing on the human body and how to twist it to fit a certain narrative. My most recent series was a ceramic heavy series of sculptural busts and heads about how toxic relationships can affect you, and chip away at your identity. I also created a similar installation exploring how depression can cause one to lose pieces of themselves. My installation was based on my own experience with depression and how it often left me feeling broken. Thus I created a painting out of plates, in which the edges were impossible to connect. I hope that others can view these artworks and know that they are not alone, and also that those who have not experienced these feelings can hopefully gain insight into other people’s struggles.

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Who or what has a lasting influence on your art practice? Throughout my artistic career I have experienced a constant eb and flow of influences and inspirations, but one constant has always been my personal struggles and using them to fuel my personal pieces. No matter where I’ve been in my life, I’ve always been able to rely on my own emotions to guide my work. In my early years of creating art, I began struggling heavily with anxiety and depression. Art, for me, acted as an outlet, a sort of therapy for me to release my feelings, and meditate on them afterwards. It also fueled my art, giving me subject matter and depth, I hadn’t previously known. While this was obviously, less than ideal for life, the symbiotic relationship of myself and my artwork helped me grow as an artist, and even to this day art still acts as therapy for me. Struggling with depression and anxiety does not define me, but rather is a piece of me I’m not ashamed to tell others about through my art. What is the most challenging part of being an artist? To me, my main challenge while being an artist is the balance of art and business. Finding the time to create works is no problem, but finding the resources to share my art with others is a challenge. Especially as an early-career, young, female artist I often find myself feeling ineligible for various events. None of this is to say it will not come with time, but the art-world is fiercely competitive and the more I can get my hand into this world early on, the more I believe I can succeed long term. In your opinion what does art mean in contemporary culture? In a classical sense, art is an expression, a creative outlet to show ones emotions or ideas within a physical, tangible mechanism. However, as time has evolved, so has art. I believe in the modern day and age as long as one calls something art it is art. The only thing left up for debate is whether or not it is good art. With a plethora of influences and artistic styles to chose from there is no limitation to who can create art or in what form. In contemporary culture I do 10


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in the country. This problem cannot be solved only by adding in more female artists to museums and exhibitions, it is a deeply rooted problem that needs to be addressed, and actively worked towards to adjust. I do recognize the bounds and leaps that have been made by those before me however, and am grateful to live in a time and age where I have the privilege to create art and even be recognized in situations like this magazine. Name three artists you admire.

still believe there is a high association with art to either the high arts regarded from history, or the more modern abstract sense. I personally believe art is for everyone, if not to create then to ponder, and debate. Art should not be an exclusive form of expression, but an outlet for anyone to utilize or examine. How would you describe the art scene in your area? I am extremely privileged to live in a highly cultured and artistic area. Savannah has a rich art scene and I am constantly surrounded and influenced by other artists. This high pace artistic city does lead to higher competition, but also gives a constant stream of new inspirations and influences. The city itself is renowned for its art, and the production of artists from universities throughout the area. I feel very fortunate to have been able to move here and experience the rich culture and influence. Growing up in a smaller, farm-oriented town, it is a unique perspective to be surrounded by like-minded creatives, and be offered opportunities I may not have had where I grew up. What do you like/dislike about the art world? One thing I struggle to accept in the art-world, and for me specifically the western art world, is the lack of representation. Even in current days the art world still has a drastic gap in representation. Underrepresented artists have been put down throughout history, not-only outwardly, but through a systematic set of guidelines that classify good and bad art. In the canon of art history, the greats are often considered to be renaissance era white men. It is important to recognize these deficits, and outwardly address them, while also continuing to create work and striving to incite change. I base my work out of America, and even as I’m writing this I can read articles from less than two years ago about the gross inequity of female artists in major museums 11

Toshiko Takaezu is one artist whom I admire, not only for her art, but for her work within the art community. She was an extremely essential player in elevating ceramics from being viewed as a craft to being an art form. Her influence on this art form which I love, helped it to gain the respect it deserves, and for that she is one of my favorites, not just artists, but people to look up to. Another artist I look to, specifically in their work is Johnson Tsang. His sculptures capture the bounds and experiences of human emotions in the most spectacularly delicate way. While my work focuses on similar subjects, seeing the different ways artists approach subjects is extremely inspiring. My last artist is Augusta Savage. As a sculptural artist renowned for her bust of W.E.B Dubois, she utilized her fame and influence to address racial inequality in the art world. I admire her not only for her work, but for her much needed voice and influence. What are your future plans? I want to keep learning and growing – I’m hopeful I’ll be able to do this by pursuing a Master of Fine Arts, but I mostly I want to make sure I’m always able to hear the voices and influences of professors and other artists. I want to develop my own voice, and use my art to speak out and bring recognition to issues that are important to me I hope that I’m able to inspire others through my work and one day possibly even teach others in some way, and use my life to contribute. But really? This has been such a wild ride. Four years ago I thought I was going to go to college to study to be a vet. Art completely changed my life, and the course of my life. I just want to keep going, in whatever way I can.


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kaitlynandersonart.godaddysites.com

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Vian Borchert Washington DC, USA

I am an expressionist artist, I consider all my work to be visual poems. For me nature is very important and plays a very essential role in my life. Thus, I am a nature lover mother nature is my sanctuary and my ultimate solace. I am an avid nature observer, and contemplating upon nature helps me reach inner peace and attain moments of zen. My artwork albeit abstract in nature offers symbolism referencing the status of a mysterious future and how life is such a precious commodity. My artwork also showcases a sense of identity of who I am as an artist: my hopes, my aspiration, and my dreams. Consequently, the work becomes a bridge of reflection and connection to the past, present along with a sense of wonder to what the future holds. Vian Shamounki Borchert is an award-winning contemporary expressionist artist. V. Borchert has exhibited in many group and solo exhibitions nationally within the US and internationally. The National Gallery of Art in Amman, Jordan has her artwork in their permanent collection. Vian is a graduate and “Notable Alumni” from the Corcoran College of Art and Design George Washington University, Washington, DC. Vian considers her expressionistic and abstracted art as visual poems. Vian Borchert’s art has been on exhibit in prestigious places such as the United Nations General Assembly’s Public Lobby Gallery, NYC, and in “Art Basel Miami Beach” Spectrum Miami, 1stdibs Design Center in Chelsea, NYC. Borchert is represented by galleries in major world cities such as NYC, LA, and the DMV area. Borchert’s art has been featured in many press such as The Washington Post, Metro Weekly magazine, Elan magazine, Artist Portfolio Magazine, D’art International Magazine, ART PLUGGED, The Miami Art Scene, Culture Capital, Northern Virginia magazine, The Town Courier, The Huffington Post, DC Modern Luxury magazine, NPR’s Art Beat, Bluebee magazine and others. V. Borchert is also an art educator teaching fine art classes in Maryland, USA. Vian Borchert exhibits in noted galleries such as Lichtundfire in NYC and bG Gallery in LA, and major world cities such as DC, Amman, London. 14


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Who or what has a lasting influence on your art practice? The most lasting influence on my art practice is nature. For me mother nature is the most influential for it is a continuous source of inspiration for me as an artist with its change of seasons, varying elements and terrains such as water, mountains along with the abundant amount of textures and colors from its brilliant sunsets to the mysterious moonlights’ hues. What is the most challenging of being an artist? The most challenging aspect of being an artist is the art business’s ups and downs. Currently the art world is being hit hard by closures due to COVID-19 which not only affects galleries and art fairs but affects artists as well. Unfortunately, such matters do create a rippling domino effect. Yet, with all these current changes, I try to stay positive and adaptive despite these challenging times. I do feel one of the strengths of my long career is my open mindedness to evolve and grow throughout my art journey regardless of what destiny throws in my path.

Washington DC has come a long way these past couple of years thanks to artists like me who have shaped the art scene by offering our expertise and our vision within the community along opening people’s eyes and minds to the arts within the DMV area. My latest exhibitions though have been centered on NYC and specifically Manhattan which is a city that I love tremendously. The art scene within the gallery that I exhibit at in the Lower East Side (Lichtundfire) is spectacular. NYC is full of people like me → artists, intellectuals, poets, art lovers, writers, musicians. Thus, the connections one develops are very rewarding. What do you like/dislike about the art world? What I like about the art world is that it can be a very dreamy place, and I especially like that since I am a dreamer and I love to use my imagination. I don’t have much that I dislike about the art world. I try to keep a positive mindset even if I am met with the occasional negative people or situations. Name three artists you admire.

In your opinion what does art mean in contemporary culture?

Three artists I admire are: Louise Bourgeois, Claude Monet and Anselm Kiefer.

Art I feel in contemporary culture is not only a pretty picture to look at or an enjoyable trip to the museum. There is more to art than what the eyes can see – there is an abundant amount of depth within the arts. Art enriches our contemporary culture by offering refuge, preservation and reflection on the current contemporary events that our global village faces in its present time. I feel that art enhances our contemporary culture and builds our sense of identity and legacy not only for our present days but for generations to come. To illustrate, the way I work and the art that I present offers not only my reflection on the world surrounding me but also a contemplation on the times we live in. Thus, the work become a bridge connecting my vision and message vis-à-vis to the events within our world.

What are your future plans?

How would you describe the art scene in your area? I live in the Washington DC area. Yet, I exhibit greatly in the NYC, Manhattan area. I’ve shown in DC for many years and as much as I love the DC area, I know that NYC is the beating heart of the art world. 17

My future plans are: for February, I have been invited for a one month solo exhibition at “NYC Phoenix Art” Gallery. The exhibit will be online so anyone in any part of the world can see it. I will also be in a number of group art exhibitions with bG Gallery in LA such as the upcoming February exhibition titled “Gray Scale” in Santa Monica, CA both at the gallery and online starting from Feb. 20. Moreover, I will be exhibiting with the “London Paint Club”, the online group exhibition is from Feb. 4 – March 4, 2021. Furthermore, I am an art educator. So, I will teach fine art classes to adults in painting and drawing. The Winter semester will start on Jan. 25 and ends March 8. 2021. The classes are online via Zoom due to COVID-19. Since the classes are currently conducted online rather than on location this opens up the classes to anyone in the world to join and enroll in. The classes are via Glen Echo Park’s Yellow Barn Studio which is located in the greater Washington DC metropolitan area. I will also be teaching for the upcoming Spring semester as well.



vianborchert.com


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Jessica Ruth Freedman Sooke, Canada I paint because it connects me to who am I and to what I value. I am change, I am chaos, I am peacefulness. I am warm. I am thoughtful. I am adventurous. I am an artist who believes in creating work that is warm, peaceful, and adventurous. I paint lush botanicals alongside spontaneous abstract architectural elements, generating an intuitive space where elements can play with each other as they layer and interact. I try to elicit the sensory delights of travel, culture and discovery within my work. I hope my paintings carry the transformative power of self-reflection, contemplation, and joy. Jessica Ruth Freedman lives and creates on the traditional lands of the Lkwungen peoples on the Westcoast of Canada. Jessica’s artwork explores the relationship between the urban and the verdure. Inspired by the midcentury modern movements in architecture and jewellery, her work juxtaposes controlled man-made forms with the flourishes of the natural world. Her work is included in private and public collections worldwide. 20


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Who or what has a lasting influence on your art practice?

What is the most challenging of being an artist?

I am deeply influenced by my upbringing in a semi-socialist environment on a Kibbutz in Israel. The idea of everyone working together to make sure we all rise, has had lasting effect on the values behind my work. I don’t just want to make pretty art – I want to make art that move people, and encourages them to rise to a higher place within themselves. There is a concept within Jewish thought called ‘Tikkun Olam’, which means to care for the world with every thought or deed. This concept follows through my art practice from the sentiment behind the work, to how I interact with collectors and galleries.

Since I work from a studio connected to my home in a rural area on an island, I’d say that definitely the isolation is a challenge for me. My style as an artist is also not typical of what one expects from a Westcoast Canadian artist. I do not paint orcas or foggy beaches, so it has also been a challenge to reach the right market for my work. I have found that my colourful positive work sells best in the Southern United States.

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In your opinion what does art mean in contemporary culture?

Name three artists you admire.

Truly I believe that art in contemporary culture is accessible to all. The recent effects of the pandemic has forced the art world – artists and collectors – to up their online game. I see art as an influence that can bridge traditions and cultures, and connect as all, especially through the digital platforms.

The artists I admire tend to be fearless in the technical application of their work and also are not influenced by the ‘popular’ art of the day.

How would you describe the art scene in your area? I live on the traditional lands of the Lekungwen Nation on the edge of the Pacific Ocean on the Westcoast of Canada. Coast Salish Indigenous Art is prevalent here, and many fine examples of traditional and contemporary 2D and 3D art can be found. Non-native artists in my area tend to focus on the westcoast landscape, and collectors here are a touch more traditional. What do you like/dislike about the art world? I seek out experiences with artists, galleries, art fairs that are inherently positive and supportive in nature. I know there is a lot of fraud and traditional barriers such as the lack of inclusion of women and BIPOC artists, and as a supporter of all art forms I work to to make sure art is inclusive. I have steered away from the pretentiousness and scarcity based models of art, and so my experiences have been nothing but encouraging. The support and sharing that exists through social media between artists and galleries is a phenomenal step forward. 23

A living artist I most admire is Wyanne. She is a contemporary abstract artist living and working in Atlanta GA. She passionately approaches the canvas as a dance with the paint, often working directly onto raw canvas. She is also a fearless and brave human, having overcome a cancer that eventually took her tongue and her ability to eat and speak. It may not be obvious in my work but my long time art crush is Rene Magritte. His first exhibition in Brussels was met with heaps of abuse, but he persevered in his artistic pursuits, eventually signing the surrealist manifesto and creating work that was illusionist and had a dream like quality. The third artist I admire is another painter and sculptor from Belgian, Arne Quinze. His work is a dialogue on the balance of ecosystems and on making our cities more human and green.


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Kip Harris Indian Harbour, Canada



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Who or what has a lasting influence on your art practice?

What is the most challenging of being an artist?

The most important influence on my seascapes has been my dogs. We moved to a small lobster fishing village in Nova Scotia in 2004. Our house, a post and beam cottage built in 1823, overlooks the St. Margarets Bay on the Atlantic Coast. Almost every day since moving here, I have walked my sequential dogs in the morning and afternoon along the edge of this shoreline. These walks happen regardless if there is a blizzard, an ice storm, or a hurricane. You can’t just open the door and tell your female Border Collie to take herself out. They are incredibly active dogs who want to be working outside whether you do or not. They actually like big weather and will break through ice to cool off in the water below.

Getting people to see and value what I see. My seascapes are intentionally minimal. I try to capture the underlying essence of that particular moment in that particular place. I am drawn to monochromatic tones. Once at an exhibition, a neighbour suggested that she knew of places along the shoreline where I could photograph some colour. I’m not trying to record the most flamboyant of sunsets nor the hard work of fishermen as they draw up their lobster traps. After looking at my work at an exhibition, a person asked me what I was trying to do. My reply was “to capture the light.” He thought I was brave to exhibit images that might appear to be about nothing. My response was “exactly.” I have written about this before:

I am by inclination a street photographer and did not think that I would be interested in landscapes. I didn’t find that postcard portrayals of where I live (near Peggy’s Cove, the most photographed site in Canada) could express the power and majesty that I found in the ocean, the horizon, and the sky. One morning when the air temperature was well below the water temperature, a wispy fog or sea smoke, as it is called here, hung low on the horizon and was touched by the first rosy rays of sunlight. That stunned me and I was hooked.

“When you live at the edge of a continent, the elemental powers of weather, wind, and wave strip away your sentimentality for nature. Here you feel the force of the ocean at night as it grinds the granite boulders into sand. After storms, whole chucks of shore will have disappeared. Hurricanes rip away wharves and deposit sofas on the beach. There is a special quality of light here. It sinks into your soul and becomes part of how you view the world. I roam this shore as a flâneur of light marking the protean edge of the horizon.”

Since then on my walks, I have always carried a camera bag with me containing a camera, a leash, a Frisbee, a ball, poop bags, and dog treats. One of my cameras was ruined by water as a result of trying to capture big waves in the midst of a major storm. I stopped using cell phone cameras because they would stop functioning when the air temperature fell too low. I prefer storm days when civilization begins to unwind when faced with the benign indifference of the natural world.

In your opinion what does art mean in contemporary culture? What it has always meant. Art is subversive. It forces you to look at the world in a way that is new and most likely uncomfortable. It makes you focus where you would rather not. It makes you question your view of the world and your under28


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lying beliefs. It makes you more awake and that is always risky for the society in which it is produced. It allows you to think of and dream about what does not yet exist or exists but has not been clearly seen.

know how you did it. How did you get the rabbit in the hat? Most artists are very practical people who are more concerned about how than they are about why. Name three artists you admire.

How would you describe the art scene in your area?

This is a different question from being asked which artists have influenced your work. I think I most admire those artists who continued doing what they do because they had to do it. Wallace Stevens, the great poetic ponderer about reality, had a day job as an executive in an insurance company. He wrote in his spare time and on vacations. James Joyce spent 15 years writing Finnegan’s Wake. Once asked about how difficult it was to read this book, he replied that since it had taken him 15 years to write it, the reader should expect to spend at least the same amount of time reading it. He also aptly commented that the only valid criticism of a work of art is another work of art. Robert Frank invented a style of photography that changed how people viewed the world. He believed in the value of his work. He put together hand made books of his photographs which he used to market himself to publishers. He knew he had something to say. I’m going to add a fourth: Vivian Maier whose touching street work was unknown until after her death.

Active. Within an hour’s drive, there are four universities, a famous art school, many good galleries, and a great small museum (soon to be greatly expanded into a new bespoke building). Of course, things have been much quieter during the Covid pandemic but hopefully the same vigour will soon return. I live in a remote coastal village. There are perhaps 30 houses along my street. Living in these houses are two exhibiting painters, one internationally known rug hooker, two published photographers, and until recently, a famous Canadian painter and teacher along with a couple of lobstermen. Nova Scotia is like this. People come for a visit and find a way to stay. What do you like / dislike about the art world? I dislike the selling of oneself. There is a story about a famous architect who was asked what his day was like. He responded that he spent 8 hours doing the work and 8 hours being the person who had done the work. It takes more effort to get your works seen as it does to do them in the first place. It means that you have to make yourself and your work into something which is both recognizable and new. The artist has always enjoyed being an artisan but he has been forced to become a salesman.

What are your future plans? As soon as possible, I want to start traveling again. You can only visit your archive so many times before it gets dull. I miss being on the streets of a new, strange city, seeing worlds I didn’t know existed.

I like the generosity of other artists. I like that they want to

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Rita Hisar Toronto, Canada

I am an Italian/Czech Contemporary Artist based in Toronto. I grew up on a farm, which means I had a lot of time to admire nature and to spend time drawing at a very, very young age. I can not remember a time when I didn’t draw. I was blessed to have the opportunity to study and work in law and teaching but I never stopped my art. Although I am largely self-taught I decided to study art at OCAD (Ontario College of Art and Design) and Toronto School of Art more recently. You. Can. Not. Escape. Your. Destiny. I use acrylic paint and a knife to create paintings that explode with color and texture. Although I draw from the Expressionist/Pop Art Style, l like to use bright pastel colors that reflect a spirit of hope and optimism. Painting for me is a spontaneous, improvisational process. I play with colors, juxtaposing them together to create an emotion. When I paint a portrait for example, I paint layers and layers of color that reflect the person’s energy and complexity. I am interested in exploring the concept of “Beauty” in all of it’s forms: the Beauty and energy in a smile or in a pair of Flip Flops. It’s there if you look. I am also inspired by the bold colors of the Caribbean, the raw honesty of graffiti art and the passion of Pop Culture figures in movies, music, fashion and sports. Beauty is all around us in this incredible world God created,: I want to celebrate it on canvas.

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Who or what has a lasting influence on your art practice?

In your opinion what does art mean in contemporary culture?

One of the first and greatest influences on my art practice is Nature. I grew up on a farm, and I spent much of my early childhood outdoors, by myself, reflecting and absorbing Nature: the trees, the animals, the flowers, the weather-everything had a temporal quality to it-I wanted to capture that moment on paper, like an impressionistic painting-before it disappeared. As a child, every free moment I had, I spent drawing. My secondary school art teacher, Ms. Camposilvan was another early influence in my art practice. She saw something in me that I did not even see, and she was extremely disappointed when I did not go to Art School right after high school. Nevertheless, I promised her I would not give up creating art-and I didn’t (and I eventually went to Art School). Given my rural upbringing, I think it is ironic that my art is also very heavily influenced by the Graffiti Art or Urban Art style. Specifically, I love its raw honesty and unfiltered nature. It also has a temporal quality to it. Pop Culture definitely inspired me: I was always listening to popular music, watching films, sports, reading magazines and trying to capture that in my art, especially the emotion and passion of the performers. Finally, Travel is another big influence in my art, especially the bright colours of the Caribbean. It is very different from the stark Canadian landscape I grew up with. I often go to the Turks and Caicos Islands where I am inspired to create bright, bold paintings of the animals and plants I see. I am represented there by the Art Provo Gallery.

Art has many roles in contemporary culture: it reflects the struggles of our society, it can express our values, it can act as a catalyst for “social” or “political” change; but I think that perhaps its greatest role in society is simply to inspire us with Beauty and Wonder.

What is the most challenging of being an artist?

On a deeper level, Beauty and Wonder are also tied into our eternal search or quest for spiritual awakening: We are not alone on this earth, which is filled with reminders of a Higher Power- I think Artists remind us of that search.

Artists can sometimes see what others can’t: People are busy: their everyday lives are complicated, filled with deadlines, commitments and obligations-when do they have time to stop and really look at how beautiful a seashell is or even an ice cream cone? They forget to look, because they are often in “survival” mode (especially during this COVID Pandemic Period). An Artist can remind us all that our lives are actually filled with beauty. When I paint a picture, I want the viewer to feel what I feel and see what I see– the inherent beauty and joy of the subject-whether it is a portrait, an animal or a popsicle- it doesn’t matter- everything has inherent beauty to it if you look carefully. And I think we need to look carefully: We are constantly bombarded with so much negative, toxicity in our day to day life -we forget to celebrate life. I am reminded of what iconic painter Georgia O’Keefe said about her paintings: “When you take a flower in your hand and really look at it, it’s your world for the moment. I want to give that world to someone else. Most people in the city rush around so, they have no time to look at a flower. I want them to see it whether they want to or not.”

I think being an Artist is one of the most challenging and rewarding things I have ever done. Making art has its own challenges, but I think its rewards far outweigh its challenges: I love the whole process of making art: thinking of ideas, researching, planning, sketching and finally painting. I usually paint with a palette knife, which I learned to use on my own, creating bold texture and lines which I could never do with a paintbrush.

How would you describe the art scene in your area?

The real challenge for me, and I think for most Artists, is selling art. It is very competitive, and when the economy is not going well, it is even more competitive. I love painting-I would do it even if no one saw my paintings and I received no recognitionbut as an Artist, I think it is natural that we want to share our ideas with others, we want some recognition.

There is the multi level AGO (Art Gallery of Ontario) which has amazing exhibits and permanent collections. I often spend an entire day there absorbing the art. There are also number of smaller, thriving galleries in the city.

I live in Toronto which is the largest city in Canada, with over 6 million people. It definitely has a “multi cultural diversity” feel to it, and for the Visual Arts, this is also seen in annual Art Festivals like Nuit Blanche or Luminato.

I enjoy the Artist comradery in the city; I am fortunate that I belong to an Artist Group, The Art Tour Collective, which is an eclectic group of talented, supportive artists. I have also met many supportive Artists while studying art at OCADU (Ontario College of Art and Design) and the Toronto School of Art.

The challenge for every Artist is not just to create inspiring art, but to share their art and become a successful entrepreneur – that includes advertising, marketing, networking, negotiating etc.,

What do you like/dislike about the art world?

I am coming to Art from a different perspective than most: I worked as a lawyer for a number of years before working as a professional Artist. In the legal field, if you study, work hard, and have some entrepreneurial skills-you will likely succeed. In Art that is not always the case. I have seen many amazing artists who never receive the exposure or recognition they deserved. There is no clear roadmap on how to succeed as an Artist -and that makes it difficult.

I like how the Art World is able to adapt and stay relevant, in spite of the many challenges it faces. A perfect example is the present situation with COVID, the Art World did not disappear when lockdowns happened all over the world: Art Fairs and Galleries have shown creativity and resilience and have gone online. The Art World has also expanded into social media

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more than ever, dominating platforms like Instagram and creating new ones. I think what I don’t like about the Art World is how intimidating and exclusive it can appear to many people who are not in the Art World. I think it would benefit the Art World tremendously if it was more accessible, more transparent and more inclusive. No one should feel intimidated to walk into a gallery: yet, so many people do. Name three artists you admire. To me great art is a combination of two things: amazing technical skill and an innovative idea, and I think these three Artists used both components in their art: Henri Matisse, Georgia O’ Keefe and Pablo Picasso. Henri Matisse was a genius with color, line and form, making the complex look so simple. His Fauvist Movement was short lived, but I think it has had a huge impact on Expressionism and the way many painters continue to use color today, including me. Georgia O’Keefe was an incredible Artist, but also an inspiring female role model to many female Artists, with her independent spirit and courage during a time when there were so few well known female artists in the United States, and even in the world. Picasso was a Painter, Sculptor, Designer and perhaps the most important Artist of the 20th century, taking risks and revolutionizing the way we see Modern Art today. I admire his courage to experiment and break boundaries. What are your future plans? I hope to keep painting, exploring new ideas and techniques, as I have done throughout the COVID pandemic. I am currently involved in online group shows with Karyn Mannix Contemporary in East Hampton, New York and Gerard Art Space in Toronto. I continue to be represented in New York by Mahlstedt Gallery and I hope to obtain more Gallery Representation, in particular in Florida. I will be participating as a “Rising Artist” in Miami’s Spectrum Art Fair in 2021. Finally, I would also love to do collaborations with commercial brands.

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Casey McKee

Osternienburger Land, Germany/ Phoenix, USA Casey McKee is a photographer and a painter. Most of his works are a combination of the two mediums which involve creating the photograph, printing it onto a canvas, wood or paper substrate and working into the image with oil paint to bring out the desired results. His themes vary but the overarching subjects tend to be critiques on power structures and systems. He often uses humour or absurdity as an entry point into the themes that he is working with. McKee has spent most of his professional career in Berlin, Germany, but has relocated to a little village in the German countryside. His works have been exhibited and collected throughout the world.


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Who or what has had a lasting influence on your art practice?

and use costumes and sets or locations to communicate my ideas. Sometimes the theatrical aspect of the idea arrives first and I have to determine afterward what the works are about.

My work is influenced by observing culture and systems of power. I am curious about learning how systems work, so I read a lot, both fiction and nonfiction. I am especially interested in reading about economics, politics and sociology and try to look at larger historical or geopolitical patterns. I admire people who are able to show things that are so ubiquitous as to be nearly invisible, such as money or bureaucracy. David Graeber, the late anthropologist and anarchist activist was one such person who influenced my work and his book Debt: The first 5000 Years had a large impact on me. Noam Chomsky is another such person.

Because my work is visual art, I try to make paintings that can communicate first and foremost visually. What is the most challenging aspect of being an artist? Deciding where to devote my time and energy. I have more ideas for new works than I have time. Often, my projects take several years from the conceptual idea to the physical works, so choosing which ideas to work on is a significant commitment and means that other ideas will never be made.

Moving abroad had the most significant impact on my artwork. I moved from the US to Berlin, Germany in 2003 when I was 26 and the experience of plunging into a totally new country where I needed to learn a new language and adjust to a new culture had an enormous impact on my work. I also lived in Shanghai for a year and I have travelled extensively.

In your opinion, what does art mean in contemporary culture? We are inundated with imagery in contemporary culture that is primarily meant to lure us into buying things that we don’t need, propagandise us to support war or manufacture consent to uphold current structures that are not very good for us or the planet. Art, however, exists purely to be experienced. It therefore

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has a stronger role in society as a catharsis from the insidiousness of propaganda and advertising. In 2020, as the implications of the global pandemic began to be felt, it seemed that artists and art institutions would be hit especially hard. While certainly many were, it was also very pleasantly surprising to see that lots of people began buying and making art for their home spaces during quarantines. People seemed to realise the value of artwork in their homes as a relief from the stresses of COVID-19. How would you describe the art scene in your area? One year ago, after living in Berlin for seventeen years, I moved out to the German countryside where my wife and I are now renovating an old industrial building into a house and studio. The art scene in the area consists of farmers on their tractors and the serenading of our neighbour’s

sheep and chickens. In many ways, it is superior to the Berlin art scene that I left behind. I have never been very interested in being part of an art scene, regardless of where I lived. I’m thankful that I can have my studio anywhere that I want, and send my work to galleries who are part of art scenes. Personally, I prefer to have fewer distractions so that I can focus on making my work. I came to a point in my life where I found that cities were too full of advertising, trash and tourists to be enjoyable anymore. What do you like/dislike about the art world? I like that the art world has a lot of people who are very passionate about art, from artists to gallerists, collectors and curators. But, I really dislike the snobbery that is also very prevalent in the ‘scene’. I don’t like people policing what is or is not art or who is or isn’t an artist. I don’t like the pretentiousness that leaves people thinking that art is inaccessible to them because

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they are not qualified to have an opinion. I also don’t like the upper echelon of the art world where works of art are only bought as investment or as a status symbol and then put away into vaults until their value has reached a certain level. I’m not very interested in who’s who or what’s what. It seems like a lot of chitter-chatter and moogly-googly gossip that doesn’t have a lot to do with actual art. Name three artists you admire. Hilary Harkness, Paco Pomet, and Aron Wiesenfeld (and as a bonus I’ll throw in a little Gustav Klimt) What are your future plans? I will be busy trying to balance my time between painting and renovating my house/studio. I am also in the middle of recording an album with my band MaMa HuHu and hope to finish that soon. I would love to be able to travel again as well, once it becomes possible to do so.


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Jeffrey Pullen Richmond Hill, New York, USA

This new series of abstract paintings, which began in mid 2017, evolved over time and were not only influenced by, but were a radical departure from my long-time painting on construction series, a reality/illusion dynamic addressing the shifting of the Picture Plane, painting my imagery on constructions of wood, plexi-glass, louver doors, car-hoods, etc., forming a pictorial/sculptural continuum. A return to my early roots in abstraction these new works are compositions of form, color and movement based both in nature as well as inspired by man-made cultural influences including neon, reflections, faded walls and billboards, shadows and light on walls. Jeff Pullen was born in New York City 1948 and is where he has spent his entire career living and working. Studying for his BFA and MFA in Painting at Pratt Institute Pullen was fortunate to work under artists Ernest Briggs, Edward Dugmore and George McNeil. He began exhibiting almost immediately after graduation, signing his first gallery contract in 1977 with the Neill Gallery in Soho, where he spent four years. In the succeeding forty years Pullen worked with many galleries throughout the country and abroad highlighted by a 20+ year representation with Adamar Fine Arts, in Miami. Pullen has enjoyed over fifty solo exhibits and numerous group shows, his work represented internationally in many private collections, as well as several public institutions. 45


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Who or what has a lasting influence on your art practice. Ernest Briggs, my painting professor and mentor as a student and young artist had a profound influence on my life as an artist. Highly regarded at Pratt Institute Briggs studied under Clyfford Still and attained notoriety early in his career. To the young artist his forewarnings often sounded cryptic. Briggs would warn us if we choose this life we do so for a passion for the work. He’d encourage us to pursue painting purely for the love of expression, and to be prepared with a stockpile of work if and when the opportunity presented itself. Briggs would often quip if it was fame or money we desired we should pursue a different career. More than fifty years later I still hear his words in my head and smile, for I am grateful for his preparation, early guidance and nurturing the potential he saw in me. What is the most challenging of being an artist. Time is the biggest obstacle in the life of an artist. Being able to carve out blocks of time to work on your art becomes challenging in the face of daily life. The need to work a job, often to support your art and family responsibilities all present dilemmas. Compromises and sacrifices must be made in order to realize the time necessary for your artwork. In your opinion what does art mean in contemporary culture. Many believe art is a reflection of contemporary society. However throughout history artists were ahead of their times and not accepted. The French Academy denounced the work of Cezanne, who was destined to be known as the father of modernism. Early in their careers Manet was favored over Monet. Pollock and Dekooning revolutionized the art world in the 1950”s. Many artists do not wish to be a Mannerist in their time, just repeating the accepted style of the era. How would you describe the art scene in your area. New York City arguably has been the center of the art world for the last seventy-five years. With its hundreds of galleries and some of the top museums in the world there is a constant exposure to new contemporary work being done as well as historical exhibits. While the art centers have shifted locations

over the years from Madison Ave., 57th Street, to Soho and Chelsea there has always been a vibrant art center in New York. What do you like/dislike about the art world. The art centers of large cities, particularly New York continually with their success, price themselves out of existence. In New York this has occurred time and again in areas like Soho and Chelsea. The areas become so popular people wish to live in those locales. Builders come, condos are built and the rents soar to the point some galleries cannot afford to stay in business. Those that do remain in business can no longer risk a month long exhibition with a new artist, unknown or young artist and the steady stream of new ideas comes to a halt. Blue-chip galleries who represent older well-known artists and artist estates still remain but their exhibits become more museum quality and somewhat historical. Some cities have begun to designate areas for the arts with corresponding rent stabilization, but this is rare especially in cities where real-estate is premium. Three artists you admire. Frank Stella for the control he has exerted over his career. Sometimes every four to five years he seemingly reinvents himself, the work changing sometimes radically. Jackson Pollock for revolutionizing the art scene of his era. Despite taunts from magazines, early dismissal of his seminal works by critics and historians his mapping his expression with pure abstraction opened the art world for years to come. Edward Hopper for the atmosphere his imagery created. What are your future plans. This new series of abstract paintings, which began in mid-2017 was a surprising outgrowth and subsequent radical departure from my long-time painting on construction series, a pictorial/sculptural continuum in which I painted my imagery onto constructions of wood, plexi-glass, brick, louver doors, etc. I began to notice small segments of the imagery could stand on its own and they eventually morphed into my new pieces as I returned to my early roots in abstraction. These new works led to experiments with collage. Looking forward I am curious where these will take me. 48


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Laura Romero Madrid, Spain Laura Romero, Madrid (Spain) 1976. Bachelor in Fine Arts. Laura is a multidisciplinary artist who works in painting, photography, digital art, installation, and sculpture. Her international participation has been outstanding, appearing in art fairs from Hamburg to Istanbul and Paris. Both her individual and her collective work have been exhibited around the world. I consider my work to be quite intimate. Under the scope of my own experiences, I elaborate a story about everyday life, I expose situations we all face day to day. My intention is to bait the audience into taking a second, closer, look; it is an invitation to reflect on everything that goes by in our journey unnoticed:

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Who or what has a lasting influence on your art practice? I am Spanish but I have been leaving in Mexico the last 6 years. I began to work with the city as a self portrait since I arrive from an urban environment to a more rural one and I began to search for my self here, with a view to the unknown and the new, to find my self in what was in front. These last years through art I have been questioning the territory I live, building a new identity, my identity. This cities with which I work represent the mirror as an image of the reflection on one´s own identity. This duality between Narciso and the Vampire of which Fontcuberta speaks about in his book “The Kiss of Judas: photography and truth” “someone pursues the reflection of the one he lacks”. We are in a constant paradox searching for ourselves. The horizon of the utopia is the one being. An none horizon. We are intervals. The counterpoint between what we think we are and what we should be. There is no up or down. Symmetry breaks, colors invade one and other. In these collages there is an attempt to reframe and recompose our thousand facades. What is the most challenging of being an artist? Probably to create any feeling, they can be positive or negative, to the spectator. The lack of interest is what can more have an affect as an artist, because you have expressed something through your art and you have not achieved any feeling. I consider my work to be quite intimate. Under the scope of my own experiences, I elaborate a story about everyday life, I expose situations we all face day to day. My intention is to bait the audience into taking a second, closer, look; it is an invitation to reflect on everything that goes by in our journey unnoticed. In your opinion what does art mean in contemporary culture? Contemporary art is the reflection of the todays society as it has been throughout all the stages of history. To understand contemporary art is to understand conflicts, realities and current society. The media, new technologies and internet produce a massive diffusion of new cultural currents. In addition to the new documentalism that focus art as social and political criticism. 52


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How would you describe the art scene in your area? Right know I live in Queretaro (Mexico), it has a great cultural scene with great artists even thought I think that the artistic scene has a bigger growth in Mexico City. What do you like/dislike about the art world? I believe that are is essential for any society. The art enhances the cognitive capacity of the human beings at different levels, emotional and intellectual. As Picasso said, “Art is the lie that allows understand the truth” Art also makes us reflect on live. Personally, it allows me to transmit my emotions and is a way of expressing what I want to tell. And I don’t that there is anything that I dislike about art. There are simply different forms of artistic manifestations with which I don’t feel identified but there is no reason why they should good for that. Name three artists you admire. It is very difficult for me to name only three, but the first to come to my mind are Leonardo Da Vinci, Velazquez and Turner. I love the Impressionism too. What are your future plans? I have several projects in mind to work on, not only photography but I want to include engraving and painting. Also, in February I have an exhibition in Madrid and in May I start an artistic residency in Oaxaca, Mexico.

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Cierra Rowe Cave City, Southern Kentucky, USA

Born in rural Kentucky, I have been painting since my mid-teens and have always enjoyed the benefits of self expression. Art is a luminous jack-o’-lantern on Halloween. It is the fresh and cool air that kisses your face when you step out of your disguise. Like a sparkling night of stars, art gives me perspective and shows us that we are never truly alone. My paintings are speckled with echoes of passion, spirit, and nature. Through my art, I enthusiastically communicate the essence of the present and mystery of the past. Art is still therapeutic for me, a lighthouse through the fog. Over the years it has encouraged me to embrace my history, identity and experiences, while allowing me to articulate the splendor of the many forms that surround and elude me. I have a preference for painting with acrylics and using semi-heavy mediums over stretched canvas to carry the emotion and strokes from my brushes and palette knives. Painting excites me. In this breathing fresco of life and dreams, how can one not feel the impulse to share what is inside and to capture and release time onto a canvas?

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Who or what has a lasting influence on your art practice? I think that my surroundings have been a rather constant component of my creativity. My influences tend to be personal experiences, growth and my adoration of nature. What is the most challenging part of being an artist? The most challenging part of being an artist is painting something that has not yet been seen by the right set of eyes. Creating is half of the joy of painting and sharing is the other half. I feel that there is a person, out there, for every painting but in this stirring fresco of life, some art will undoubtedly go unnoticed. In your opinion what does art mean in contemporary culture? I think that it means what it has always meant: everything. Art, like time, is constant and it commands that its usage and meaning remain open and unchained. How would you describe the art scene in your area? I would honestly describe it as nonexistent. There is no art scene here.

What do you like/dislike about the art world? I like that people from all walks of life have an opportunity to share what they create and be appreciated for their efforts. I enjoy connecting with buyers who take interest in what I paint, getting to know them and understanding what they see within my paintings. With regard to my dislikes, I do not like comparing artists to each other. This seems to be a fairly common theme. Every artist should be appreciated individually, not compared. One should remember that artists are human and that each artwork is almost certainly a peek behind their life or mind. Name three artists you admire. I admire my husband, Ade, who, at one point, created beautiful paintings. He gave up painting years ago, due to lack of patience but has effortlessly taken up collaging as his preferred medium. I also admire artists who do not cater to the tastes of others. Being yourself, as an artist, is both important and somewhat rare. What are your future plans? I will probably go into the kitchen and rewarm my coffee. Uncertain times call for humility. Beyond that, I intend to continue expressing myself through my impasto paintings.

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Cherrie Yu Chicago, USA

Cherrie Yu is a 25 year old artist born in Xi’an, China. She currently lives and works from Chicago, IL. She makes videos, films and performances. She has shown work at Chicago Cultural Center, the Museum of Contemporary Photography, Links Hall and Mana Contemporary. She has been a resident artist at Contemporary Calgary Museum, Emory University, Monson Arts, and ACRE.

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I was interested in archive, translation and the study of movement. In my short videos, 15 seconds of a wrestling match were re-performed in the middle of traffic in downtown Chicago; a routine from the ballet Swan Lake was transcribed onto four pairs of corndogs. Through translation, reenactment and juxtaposition, my work shows that the mundane and the spectacular often disguise as each other. In recent bodies of works I started involving other people more actively in my work, from famous choreographers who now only exist in archival footages, to ordinary people I encounter on the street of Chicago. My practice wants to be utilitarian. I make things that can be used by any body, and I strive to make art that can be practiced, and understood by anybody. A large part of my practice now happens on the train, walking down the street, talking to people I do not know. That was actually how I met Matthew Lemus, a janitor working at a condominium building next to my school. He ended up performing with me in 2019. The labor of art, for me, is the desire to communicate, and the act of reaching out.

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Who or what has a lasting influence on your art practice?

tion and collaboration, I am content with staying in the same place for a long time, because I am constantly moving in the creative process. However I always have a hard time keeping touch with the people that I collaborate with after the project is finished. Sometimes I feel like I carry these past experiences of collaborations with me everywhere I go, and it becomes really heavy, because they only exist in archival forms. I think it also speaks to the fact that the people I collaborate with live in very different worlds, which makes the collaboration interesting, but also unsustainable in the long run. For example, for my most recent film “Trio A Translation Project,” I worked on constructing a solo with Ignacio Morales, a custodian worker I met quite randomly right before the pandemic. We worked on it from May through the end of July, and it was quite extraordinary. I loved the way he communicated with me and the way he practiced movement. But we are not in touch anymore now.

Someone that I constantly learn from is the American choreographer Trisha Brown. I first learned about Brown’s work through a teacher, who introduced me to Brown’s “Roof Piece.” I went on to learn a little bit of her choreography from “Watermotor” from watching the documentation, which is wild to think about now, since I didn’t understand her work conceptually back then, and wasn’t dancing as much as I am now, and that was one of her most difficult pieces to learn. But at the same time, I can’t really think of a better way to get to know her, other than this almost blind and bold intuition to try it out on my own body. Her work influenced me in so many different aspects, not only in thinking about different ways movements can transfer from one body to another, but also in understanding movements as existing in devised systems, and understanding choreography as devising new systems of writing. I also just love learning her movement materials. They are fun to practice. I think that is another great thing I learned from her — art can be about really serious things, but fun is always an important part for me.

In your opinion what does art mean in contemporary culture? I cannot wrap my head around the fact that art at the end of the day is a luxury object. Artists go to art school and learn to talk about their art practices through different lenses, such as social engagement, experiments with perception, poetry, activism, or exploration of their cultural heritage. The list goes on. However I find it quite muddy when these good intentions land in real-world situations. It costs money to make most art. Sometimes it gets expensive. There is labor on all levels of artistic productions. The artworks become objects for exchange, collection, and exhibition. I think the best art acknowledges its complicity in capital exchange, and projects some sort of hope or alternative at the same time.

What is the most challenging of being an artist? For me the most challenging thing is to strike a balance between constant moving and settling down. I have always had a hard time staying in one place for a long time. I am an extrovert in that I get my energy from other people. So that when I am moving around, it becomes really exciting because I am constantly experiencing stimulation. My work very often involves collaboration with other people, and it often requires being in the same room together with my collaborator for weeks or months. When I am in an intense relationship of explora-

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How would you describe the art scene in your area?

What do you like/dislike about the art world?

I currently live in Chicago. I engage with both the visual art and also performance. I think the art scene is quite vibrant while extremely flat at the same time, quite similar to the landscape. I moved here in 2017 to work with performance artists and writers from the performance group Goat Island whose works I admire since college, and since then I met so many wonderful people from different parts of the world. My best artist friends are from abroad such as Korea, Iran or Canada. The art scene feels flat at the same time possibly from the Art Institute being a dominant presence, so everywhere you go, you run into people affiliated with the institution, which is a horrible feeling. The art institution becomes this giant looming presence, and for a while I stopped going to see visual art for that reason. I do love making friends with filmmakers. I worked with my friend Julian Flavin, who is a musician and filmmaker from Montreal, to film my performance in 2019. And the same year I worked with Armin Hayrapetian from Iran to make a film with my parents. Filmmakers are the best audience for my work and they have the sensibility of understanding what I do as somewhere between live action and a documentation. I am not super involved with the dance scene in Chicago, and I don’t feel particularly excited about the works coming out that are strictly labeled “dance”. I think my work sort of straddles uncomfortably between visual art, film, and dance. And in each field there is a small group of people who seem to understand it, whereas for others maybe it feels inadequate or ambiguous. I also sometimes feel that it matters to me more whether people from the non art world understand my practice.

I like the art world to the extent that I like people in general as individuals, and through making art I get to engage with people I would never meet otherwise. I am talking about the process of making art, where I get to collaborate with other people, and being in conversation with other artists, as well as working with art writers and independent curators. I don’t think my practice works well on a more commercial level, which seems to be what people mean when they say “the art world” a lot of the time. Most of the artists I know do not make their living from making art. I wish more artists would have the time and space to focus on their practice, instead we sort of normalize that artistic concentration is a luxury. I am also seeing a huge disconnect between people in the arts who have money (donors, collectors, foundations etc.) and people who do not. Name three artists you admire. Recently I am revisiting the films of Charlie Chaplin. I learn so much from watching him as a performer, and also as a storyteller. Another film I recently watched that I found inspiring was “I Never Climbed the Provincia” by the Chilean director Ignacio Agüero. The other artist would be Ellie Ga. I saw her film installation “Gyres 1-3” at the Whitney Biennial in 2019 and it left a huge impression on me. What are your future plans? I plan to spend February and March working on a short film with my friend and film editor Tamer Hassan. I plan to spend the summer in China and work on a new project with my mother. She is someone that I collaborate with often in my past works. In October 2021 I will return to the US and start a residency at the Kala Art Institute in Berkeley.

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It’s out of this world! DreamBIG launches stellar line-up for family program

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Infinite Monster - DreamBIG

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