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Christine Auda Biotoopia Kestin Cornwall Blaze Cyan

Katelyn Grant Molly Harrington Lee Miller Nikkita Morgan

issue 58 / April 2021

Lucy Oates Ana-Maria Panaitescu Melissa Panth Natasha Somerville


FEATURED ARTIST: KESTIN CORNWALL

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BIOTOOPIA

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CHRISTINE AUDA

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KESTIN CORNWALL

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BLAZE CYAN

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KATELYN GRANT

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MOLLY HARRINGTON

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LEE MILLER

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NIKKITA MORGAN

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LUCY OATES

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ANA-MARIA PANAITESCU

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MELISSA PANTH

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NATASHA SOMERVILLE

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KESTIN CORNWALL

FEATURED ARTIST

Photo by Gene Cuvier

My unconventional mixed-media visual work incorporates classic portraiture and classical references with new-age hybrid art image creation. I use a varied method of combining beautiful hand drawings, strong digital image-making, screen-printing and ink transfers. I bring this together with professional acrylic and aerosol painting on wood and other canvases. Kestin Cornwall More at pages: 14-19 On the cover: Kestin Cornwall, “Love Actually Coming to America”


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Biotoopia conference is searching for partnerships between arts, sciences and biosphere A flashback to spring 1995 in Berlin – the first UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has assembled, the topics mainly include procedural guidelines for the brand new panel, but the participants are quietly starting to realise that the contributions and responsibilities of different states are not always adequate with regards to the response to climate change. A couple of months later, in Tallinn, the capital of Estonia, the Soros Centre for Contemporary Arts Estonia opens an exhibition Biotoopia. Biology. Technology. Utopia., curated by Sirje Helme, Eha Komissarov and Ando Keskküla. The foreword to the exhibition catalogue says, ‘It is possible that the humanistic cultural tradition and the new circumstances and life forms of the changing environment are not equal partners within the architecture of the nascent reality’. Those two events and their concerns – the adequacy of contributions and the new circumstances of the changing environment – form the conceptual basis for the international conference Biotoopia, which takes place on 26-28 August 2021 in the Northern European republic of Estonia. Biotoopia is powered by the indoor gardener’s smart helper Click & Grow.

Photo by Kaidi Kütt

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Viinistu kunstimuuseum, photo by Ivar Hütt

Biotoopia is captivated by the mutual influence and information exchange between living creatures, as well as the manifestations of intellect within natural associations, but it is also concerned about the human beings’ feeble response to protecting biodiversity on the whole planet. During the Anthropocene centuries, humans have interfered with nature’s self-regulation and set developments in motion that may prove fatal to the entire biosphere. Now, in the beginning of the 21st century, we are trying to halt bad scenarios and formulate new kinds of relationships between humans and nature. To give these changes a push, Biotoopia is searching for fresh forms of cooperation between the arts, sciences and biosphere, to prepare the ground for the germination of new thought patterns.

Biotoopia is a hybrid conference – its physical presence event takes place in the art museum in Viinistu, a coastal village in North Estonia, but the main parts of the programme will also be accessible on our online conference environment Worksup all over the world via internet. The conference will obey all the rules and regulations of the Estonian government for organising public events and will ensure every guest’s safety and wellbeing. Preregistration for the conference can be done on Biotoopia’s home page www.biotoopia.ee, where there is also a limited number of concession tickets available for the early birds. Main sponsor of the conference is Click & Grow, sponsor is Ecosh Life, partner is Viinistu Art Harbour.

The main international speakers of Biotoopia 2021 are biologist Monica Gagliano, philosopher Timothy Morton, cultural theorist Ewa Domanska, artist Timur Si-Qin, biologist and writer Andreas Weber. In addition to talks and discussion panels, the conference also boasts an art and music programme inspired by the topics of the conference; all participants are also welcome to attend different workshops. Curator of the Biotoopia programme is famous Estonian artist Peeter Laurits.

Biotoopia is organised by the NPO Estonian Anthropocene Centre. The project has been created with a 5-year perspective. In addition to the annual conferences, it is aiming to develop a digital network of international scientists and artists to accelerate practical collaboration projects, and together with educational unions create a new cross subject art, ethics and biology course for high school students in Estonia. 5


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Christine Auda Waretown, NJ, USA

In the 1990s, I fell in love with jewelry design and for 15 years my handcrafted jewelry sold in galleries and boutiques across America. Around 2001, I discovered the wonders of digital art. My limited edition prints sold in galleries and other venues in New York, New Jersey, Omaha, Pittsburgh and Seattle. In 2013, I discovered acrylic painting and was hooked! I created brightly colored abstract and whimsical creations, ultimately selling many paintings at shows. Today, I live in Waretown, New Jersey at the beautiful Jersey Shore with my husband, a writer, and our two cats. I’m a self-taught, modern, abstract acrylic painter and digital artist. I explore the joyful and quirky parts of life, inspired by nature, animals, urban landscapes, dreams and culture. Though I often paint with bold colors and marks, I also enjoy working with a more muted palette and subtle imagery. My art often expresses positive energy, love, joy, and whimsy. As an artist, I believe experimenting and evolving is both an important and fun part of the process. When I paint, I feel invigorated and guided on a spiritual level. An energy takes over my brush or guides my pen on the computer tablet, and I’m in the flow. It feels like a conversation between my conscious and subconscious, and I’m just along for the ride. What a feeling! Who or what has a lasting influence on your art practice? First is energy. I grew up practicing yoga and meditation, even teaching it. Therefore energy has had a profound impact on my art. I’m able to channel the power of energy into artwork - especially abstract art. That’s why it’s so important that I exercise, do yoga and meditate to help me stay grounded each day. Second is color. Though it seems obvious, pigments have a profound impact on me at times alleviating anxiety or depression. I’m often drawn to multi-colored palettes, and color conveys feelings that magically end up on the canvas. It’s a mystical experience that can turn into a profound work of art. Third is nature. The environment continues to be a guiding force in my art, be it abstract or representational. I live at the beautiful Jersey Shore region of New Jersey, in America. I’m fortunate to reside near wetlands, bays, the Atlantic Ocean, The Pine Barrens and excellent birding. I can’t overstate how these natural wonders positively affect my spirit. It translates into my work and on many levels. Nature both energizes and calms me and helps me get into a creative flow. Fourth is pattern. It can be found in nature, man made or on textiles. I find them to be delightful and stimulat-

ing. Sometimes, I will incorporate pattern pieces into my art. It can be a quirky addition, but also mesmerizing. It’s exciting for me to see how other artists choose to add pattern into their art. What is the most challenging part of being an artist? I mostly enjoy creating alone, but sometimes I crave the company of other artists, if only for a short time. Fortunately, I’m not totally isolated. My husband is a copywriter and journalist, and as it happens, his office is right next door to my studio. We enjoy sharing our work and supporting each other, so I’m pretty lucky. Keeping up with technology can be daunting. Obviously this isn’t an issue when I use physical painting tools and supplies. However, I’m also a digital artist, and I use multiple software programs to create my art. So there’s quite a bit of tech involved. Add in social media, financial software, and digital marketing, and it can be overwhelming to keep up with it all. I’m fairly tech savvy and organized, but juggling many tech hats can be challenging. There are many talented artists online, so competition can seem fierce, especially during a global pandemic. That said, I’ve found artists to be quite supportive of each other. I appreciate that, and I try to encourage artists and when I can, including by purchasing art. 8


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I’d like to believe that there are enough outlets for everyone, but you have to work hard and sometimes juggle multiple gigs to create a living. For example, selling prints online, teaching in person or online and selling via galleries.

At the moment, I’m focused on the commercial art licensing market. Though that may sound generic, this area has blossomed in recent years, and I find I walk the line of making pleasing, healing and uplifting art. However, I won’t limit myself for non-licensed work.

In your opinion what does art mean in contemporary culture?

How would you describe the art scene in your area?

Art in contemporary culture has multiple meanings. It can make a political statement, it can be healing, uplifting, be the driving force of change in the environment, for social justice and more.

I live about 1.5 hours from Manhattan, Brooklyn and Philadelphia. Of course, there is a thriving art scene in these cities. However, it’s a bit far for me to take part. That said, I’ve exhibited 10


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my work in New York. The coolest group exhibition I was part of was Macworld Conference and Expo in Jacob K. Javits center in New York City some years ago. My piece “Trae” was among 30 other artworks chosen. I was fortunate enough to attend the show, as many of the artists living abroad were unable to.

Long Beach Island (LBI) is an upscale Jersey shore mecca. A few years ago, I exhibited my art at M.T. Burton Gallery, a lovely gallery just a block away from New Jersey’s pristine beaches. LBI also offers several art and craft festivals during the year, usually showcasing local artists.

An hour north of me is Asbury Park, NJ. This seaside city has an edgy art scene has expanded over the past few years after the area was revitalized and unfortunately gentrified as a result. The city boasts a number of hip, contemporary galleries, but sadly, several have closed due to the pandemic.

What do you like/dislike about the art world? Though I’m mostly self-taught, some artists I know graduated art school woefully unprepared for the business side of things. Some have floundered or sadly, given up the vocation entirely. Others 11


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have enjoyed art as a hobby, which is always a valid choice. I find the pretentiousness that exists within some of the art world to be exclusionary and uncomfortable. I can’t get on board with it. Also, historically, the art world has been male-dominated. As a woman, I’m glad to see that changing, but it’s going to take time. The fact that until recently, museums almost exclusively exhibited men’s art is outrageous. Also, museums hoarding art that rarely sees the light of day is unacceptable to me. When do art collections become art hoarding? I think this is an important question. I like the flexibility of new paradigms in the art world where artists have more control. During COVID, many artists adapted by marketing and selling online, as did some galleries. I have about 250 artworks licensed with my agent Out of the Blue and icanvas.com. I began licensing my art just one year before COVID hit. Luckily, some clients are still taking my work, though it’s slowed down during the pandemic. The good news is that some galleries are adapting to the online world and using social media to gain interest and sales. I prefer progressive art ideology and mutual respect between artists and clients and artists and galleries. I have been lucky to work with some very professional and respectful galleries and direct clients over the years. I’m grateful for those experiences. Name three artists you admire. While there are many master artists I’ve admired, such as Picasso, Andy Warhol, Hilma af Klint, Wassily Kandinsky, and more. I’m choosing some current artists that have influenced me. Flora Bowley is an Oregon artist, author, and gentle guide whose soulful approach to the creative process has touched thousands of lives. I took several of her online courses and found her holistic and intuitive approach to acrylic painting fun and engaging. Plus, I love her art and her use of value, layers and color combinations.

Next is Rex Ray, an American artist best known for his innovative pop aesthetic in fine and commercial art as seen on canvas, wood panels, album covers, paper, book jackets, murals, and rock and roll posters. I discovered Rex Ray shortly after he died. I purchased his book and find his mid-century modern art engaging and beautiful. I love the way he incorporated pattern and color for a modern, upbeat and powerful aesthetic. Next, Australian artist Amanda Krantz considers her work to be organic-psychedelia. I consider it magical! I love her use of patterns found in nature. She takes her cues from the way a coral reef in northern Queensland harbors the same organic patterns as fungi in the alpine tundra in Tasmania. Her use of color, composition and layers are magnificent. I’m drawn like a magnet to her paintings. They always delight me. What are your future plans? On the art front, I enjoy exploring other media, and new subject matter. Presently, I’m taking an oil pastel course by online teacher, Kellee Wynne. I might incorporate oil pastel onto paper, canvas and mixed media. I also plan to use the skills I learn and transfer it to digital art through Procreate and Corel Painter software. I’m experimenting with collage on paper and incorporating it into my digital collage, which I’ve done in the past. Additionally, I will paint smaller and more affordable acrylic paintings. I prefer working mid to large, but I think it’s important to offer this option to clients and art lovers. I look forward to the challenge. On the business side of things, I will finally join Instagram, continue to license my digital art, possibly teach online. I will be applying to Artful Home and seeking gallery representation. I might also consider adding work to Saatchiart.com and Turningart.com It’s a big wish list, but I’ve achieved some of these goals already. I try to stay flexible to what’s working and what’s not, adjusting accordingly. I also plan on helping charitable organizations with my art, such as sending my handmade cards to hospitalized children and seniors in nursing homes, which I did during the pandemic.

christineauda.com


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Kestin Cornwall Toronto, Canada

My unconventional mixed-media visual work incorporates classic portraiture and classical references with new-age hybrid art image creation. I use a varied method of combining beautiful hand drawings, strong digital image-making, screen-printing and ink transfers. I bring this together with professional acrylic and aerosol painting on wood and other canvases. In the 21st century, everything is affected by digital media and the Internet. Most works of art created today will be seen on digital devices more times than in person. I make art to encourage interactions - physically and digitally. My work aims to ask questions regarding equality, immigration and what it means to be Black in North America. I use images to explore the notion that culture, entertainment, including film and other media, shape the mass public perception of black people and people of colour in North American culture. I create art to document this with compositions brimming with references to media, popular culture, music, and art history. The work aims to add beauty to the world while invoking the unending social responsibility to capture thought. As Black people, Indigenous people and people of colour, we are not accustomed to seeing nuanced reflections of ourselves in contemporary visual culture. I create work featuring many of these faces and issues we encounter in an attempt to be accurately represented in popular contemporary culture. I like happy mistakes in art, such as ink bleeds and artwork affected by age, sun, rain and natural elements, creating areas that are worn away or lifted. I think some mistakes, simplicity and chance are beautiful fundamentals of creating. I am truly captivated by the development process of taking a simple idea from nothing and watching it grow into a completed project that can be seen and touched, interpreted, and enjoyed by the viewer. Images allow me to share an idea or evoke an emotional response almost instantly. I channel this emotion and energy into creating, inspiring new work and exploring new ideas. 15


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

move into your late 30s, things change. But people at their core are the same. Much of my past work was based on experiences, interactions, relationships, emotional growth, maturity, political and cultural themes while asking questions about the past. I asked questions such as, how did we get to this point, how can we grow and improve as a culture, society, and country.

Family, friends, my community and the environment influence all of my work. I spent a lot of time with my mom’s sisters and brothers growing up. They would talk about relationships, history, gardening, beauty and politics. Some of my aunts and uncles have told me the most insightful and wise advice I’ve ever received. Shout out to my uncles and aunties.

History has a lasting effect on my work, the process of applying research and learning about my past and the history of colonization. With this knowledge of the past, I am developing an understanding of how society, cultures and people got to this point.

Society influences and inspires me, specifically people who I have or have had in my life. It’s interesting. As you grow and

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What is the most challenging part of being an artist?

In your opinion, what does art mean in contemporary culture?

There are many challenges, like many choices or tasks in life, such as monetizing your craft. Still, you can overcome many of them if you are genuinely excited about what you’re doing. The hardest part for an artist is the same for an engineer or a small business owner. It’s the hours of sacrifice it takes to be successful with what you’re doing. Success to me is being able to do what you love and support yourself through it. Nipsey Hussle said that. It’s the choice, the choice to do it, that’s the hardest part. You choose early on when no one is around to show up on time and do the work.

Art is an innately human pursuit. In some way, everyone can make art, from cave drawings 1000’s years ago to digital illustration and animation. Human nature is to want to understand and the need for play. As well as the need to create and leave something behind. People create novice work, and developed artists create significantly more developed art, and that’s the actual value in it. Everyone can connect with it somehow. This creates connection and highlights the most human aspect

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to mistrust, jealousy, unneeded competition and the fear of complementing or promoting other’s work. I think that mindset is poison. Always talking negatively about others’ work or focussing too much on sales and price points is what I dislike. Some of the artists I know that are hyper-successful, very intelligent, and have no ceiling to their growth show love. They may not like everyone’s work but push others to be better and complement and inspire. Name three artists you admire. There are so many I can’t just say Three. In many ways, I admire all artists because I respect that they are creating work, adding to our society, and taking the risk to try and create something. I love that. I love people creating and working to grow and progress. That’s my vibe. So I respect some young mom at home knitting. I appreciate a 12-year-old trying to paint for the first time or some fouryear-old playing in their first art class. I like that. I admire all of those things, no matter how small or how novice.

of all, consciousness. The fact it taps into consciousness is why governments, leaders and others enjoy art and fear it. One of the first things modern soldiers do to conquer another nation is destroying or reappropriating its art. Stalin did this, and the French and British also did this at large. Art is culture to me. Art is the act of being human. A good artist adds beauty to the world while capturing thought. How would you describe the art scene in your area? Vibrant! Toronto has heat. Toronto has the ability, it’s cold as hell for half the year, so we bunker down, drink some bourbon or wine and work. We’re productive and in some ways vetted and tough because nature forces us to be. There are so many talented creatives in North America, in Canada, in Ontario, in Toronto and definitely in East Toronto. Artists like Rajni Perera, Elicser Elliott, Mango Peeler are straight-up leaders. Many others have injected a level of inspiration, raw talent and love into the underground art scene and, more

recently, more mainstream. There’s so much talent bubbling and growing. I love my city! What do you like/dislike about the art world? That’s a heavy question, lol. I like the freedom of it as well as its natural resistance to automation. I also like its genuine need to be inclusive and diverse if you look past or work around its racist, biased and out-of-touch gatekeepers. The Arts have always been a space where, if you remove the gatekeepers and money, the artist at their core is open to new ideas and challenges the state or the patriarchy to push for change or demand better. What I don’t like about the art world? At some level, I don’t believe this world exists. In some ways, I think it’s a construct. Art’s very personal, almost a private indulgence that is not intended to be shared in some ways. It is so damn unique. Thus, artists become protective, and the raw emotion boils over to how artists move and interact. It leads 18

But the notable artist I admire that stand out, Barkley L. Hendricks, Toyin Ojih Odutola, Luke Pelletier, Kerry James Marshall, Jon Todd, Jeffrey M Thompson, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Martin Wittfooth, Gary Taxali, Shepard Fairey and Andy Warhol. I respect designers like George Lois, Dori Tunstall, Angela Bains and Tinker Hatfield. I admire music artists like Jay Z, Kendrick Lamar and J Cole. What are your future plans? I have a whole lot of dreams and a lot of direction, and we’re building a team. I want to grow, keep growing, keep improving as a man, become wiser, smarter, more robust. I never want to stop learning or fall into the mistake of believing I know everything and stop asking questions. I’m always working on a new body of work. It’s interesting because it’s something that’s just at the back of your mind. You could be working out, teaching a class, having a drink with friends, cuddling with your girl, doing drywall, woodwork as you’re working out those new ideas in your head. It’s constant. It takes a lot out of you at times. Lots in the works, best to follow me on IG @kestincornwall for updates.


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Blaze Cyan London, UK

Blaze was born in Wiltshire and now lives and works in London. She graduated from the City & Guilds of London Art School in 2014 with an M.A. in Fine Art, after a previous career in the fashion industry. Blaze is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Painter-Printmakers, and member or the Arborealists. Working within the mediums of drawing, etching, woodcut and wood engraving, her subject area is British landscape and she has shown work with many of the leading art and printmaking societies. Blaze is represented by Eames Fine Art Gallery, London.


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Who or what has a lasting influence on your art practice? The natural world is the biggest influence and inspiration for my work, whether I am out walking and surrounded by it, season by season, or when I encounter similar themes in other people’s work. Sometimes this helps me understand what I see and why it appeals to me, especially when I see a familiar ‘ feeling’ that another artist has represented that I identify with. Artists both historical and contemporary help me to understand my own work, and its place within not so much a genre but a lineage of like-minded professionals. What is the most challenging of being an artist? I would also say the most challenging part of being an artist is trying to exhibit your work, to connect and find your audience. Joining like minded and pro-active groups of artists can be a distinct advantage. I was elected to the Royal Society of Painter-Printmakers based at Bankside Gallery in 2017. Being an active member of the society has given and continues to provide me with a regular opportunity to show my work there several times a year. I also joined another group of artists called the Arborealists in 2015, and the combined connections and work of the group has meant exhibitions and publications all around England and Europe in the last 5 years. I have not only met a myriad of other artists through these groups, but other opportunities have developed outside of them. On a totally practical level facilities for myself as a printmaker has been

a particular challenge, especially in my early career, it seems like such a simple thing, but when you need machinery and chemicals it can prove difficult. I’m an artist that likes to work alone, needing thinking space and in a shared studio the distractions prove difficult. The practical side of making work is not 9-5pm, I like to work late, or into the night if I’m on a roll, and for this you really need your own private machinery and space.

the same appeal or experience, it will be interesting to see how I feel about it when galleries re-open. The downside for small exhibitions in London is that they can rarely afford to be on show for very long, which means often interesting projects are here and gone before you even get to know about them let alone get to see them.

In your opinion what does art mean in contemporary culture?

I like the diversity and creativity of the art world, the ability to connect, collaborate or show with a huge range of people, personalities and styles, art as a universal language and should have no boundaries in my opinion. As for dislike… well nothings perfect.

Art has a myriad of meanings and functions today from deeply meaningful to the purely financial; art as decoration and adornment, investment, therapy, pleasure, pastime, status or an ethical, ecological or political voice. But for me personally its a simple means of self-expression, I’m expressing what I find most beautiful, interesting and compelling in the world. I hope that it brings people a renewed awareness of the importance of the natural world, but it’s up to the individual to decide what it means to them. It also shows us how different we all are… and how similar. How would you describe the art scene in your area? I live in London so naturally I am surrounded by the availability of art of all kinds on a constant basis. I go through phases of seeing lots of exhibitions or none at all, sometimes you can look too much. With Covid-19 preventing access to galleries in person in the last 12 months, it has been a breathing space, looking at work online does not have 22

What do you like/dislike about the art world?

Name three artists you admire. Selecting three artists to single out is a very difficult task, I admire so many artists, for different reasons. The one historical artist I would have to single out would be Albrecht Durer for his drawings, woodcuts and etchings. His work is both ‘of the period’ and yet feels very real today as well, the quality of his line, composition and technical skill is unique. I often look at different aspects of his work and come away with a set of new ideas for my own. The two contemporary artists (out of a shortlist of at least 100) would be fellow Arborealist’s, Tim Craven and Howard Phipps, Tim’s works are intricate paintings in muted or monochromatic tones, depicting the complexity of trees, and using the traditional medium of casein paint (a fast-drying water-soluble mixture of pigment and milk protein).


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Whilst Howard’s work is the intensely intricate work of wood engraving, creating tiny landscapes of the finest detail, engraved onto wood and printed on a handpress, a contemporary artist working in a long-established medium dating from the 1700’s. What are your future plans? The near future for me will definitely include a house move my own printmaking studio at home. This will give me the

time and space to really immerse myself in my work in a way that has not been possible before. It will allow me the opportunity to experiment without time pressure, I hope it will throw up new challenges and offer insights for greater development of my individual style and processes. I work in several printmaking mediums, and it would be interesting to see how some of these could work together and overlap, building a more interwoven relationship between the different disciplines within my practice.

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I was recently involved in a project set up by Abigail Burt and Kinstinct, called ‘lost wax for lost species’ where a group of artists all made a small sculpture in wax of an endangered animal or insect, which would then be cast in bronze and sold to raise money and awareness of endangered creatures. Projects like this introduce you to new techniques and ways of working, and this kind of ‘experience building’ project work is definitely an element I would like to add to.


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Katelyn Grant Edinburgh, Scotland, UK Katelyn is a Scottish painter who lives and works in Edinburgh and a graduate of the Edinburgh College of Art (2020). Her work has been used and seen in collaborative Biennales and performances as well as in renowned art-spaces that promote inclusivity and utilises themes which touch on important questions around ecological and socio-cultural sustainability.


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Who or what has a lasting influence on your art practice? My practice mainly responds to the ways that scheduled obsolescence is a valid part of modern-day ecological processes, i.e. the breaking-down of common objects in everyday life. I spent a long time investigating attachments and connections to personal items whose materiality is expected to degrade and become useless (or de-commissioned). This idea can be found in many current TV programmes such as Rhythm & Flow (2019) and many docu-series’ focusing on carculture, i.e. the types of people involved, status and emotional investment of personal objects: in my exploratory case, cars. Artists such as Roger Hiorns have given me the confidence to understand that “dominant objects” such as cars are never too obnoxious to work with. I’ve also been actively engaged with themes around entropy; the escalation of chaos in naturally building dis-order; how nature always prevails over clean inferences by the human aesthetic. Due to these endeavours, I highlight the commonly forgotten and present ceremonious ‘stages’ for the objects to have a new lease of life. To balance this, I have been exploring how to interact with their didactic purpose; how to deal with and represent the ecological consequence of cars. The inclusion of Audi was one of the first paths I took when my work naturally gravitated to the mechanical world. I was interested in the company as a whole; their ethos, consistency and manifesto reflecting ecological needs. After a visit to Berlin, where the history of the Auto-Union is still rife within Germany, I was able to form a coherent historical storyline that used to begin abstracting into my work (i.e.how the bold symbol of car logos often have meanings). I started creatings sculptures and paintings that responded to rising again, to finding new life and giving scrap materials a chance. Through the process of both digital and physical drawings & proposals, I have been able to imagine how large, heavy sculptures and paintings will be differently placed in the real world without needing to use the substantial labour to place them. My investigations have included the experimentation of materials; casting in plaster and painting on isolated vehicle metal with paints that create the highest, gloss shine, also adding to the more tawdry effect of glitter on metal surfaces; it adds satirical value onto the critique of graffitied high-powered (and well designed) machines. This creates the works exhibitionist value, no longer 28


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a functioning part, but a chrysalis of the museum-grade resting state. What is the most challenging part of being an artist? At the moment, certainly making money, also trying to convince the public, governmental bodies and institutions why artists deserve that money. In your opinion what does art mean in contemporary culture? I think that you can’t have one without the other. Art is a news source, but one that appeals to your emotional senses and questions you. It has long since surpassed utilitarian function and is autonomous in the world, always moving with the times. Now more than ever, the population is hopefully realising how much they need art to survive. They come hand in hand and we are lucky to be at a crossroads where art is engrained in culture and we have freedom and autonomy allowing us to create what is needed. As with social media and education, artists continue to peel back the layers of oppression from colonialist ideologies, working-class oppression and the work of LGBTQ+ artists to examine historical factors that once violently ignored others voices now nestle comfortably in new writing, artworks

and think pieces for the world to see, to divulge and educate ourselves. In many instances, it is the art world that facilitates this accessibly. The more groups of people outside traditional high-art lovers that can find a home in galleries, museums and topics of theory, the better. Visual Culture is more than a glimpse into the auction house-a world that has nothing to do with the material stapled to the wall of that room, that isn’t an artist’s world. Its telephones and name scores and dystopic numbers. That isn’t the ‘art’ world. It’s the stuff of the earth. How would you describe the art scene in your area? The Scottish contemporary art scene is strong. There is a vast index of disciplines and artists, both emerging and established to refer to or (inspire us) for our works. We have access to local, home grown artists because we don’t have a Met.Museum, MoMA or Tate for example, we are considerably more aware of other emerging artists, which makes the art more tangible and human. That being said the large institutions here have great connections to the wider world and have many associates to access fantastic International artworks. Now more than ever, exhibitions can be devoted to exploring artistic discourse in public spaces. I think many people here have a passion to instill a bit of the unfamiliar 29

into the everyday viewer, allow it to be ingested, hated, appreciated and eventually understood for what it is. Not just in the central belt, but Scotland’s contemporary art scene as a whole is so powerful and leading in its’ innovation. There’s so many successful Scotland-tied artists and educators: Karla Black, Rachel McLean, Ross Sinclair, Peter Doig… I’m certainly proud to showcase this to the rest of the world. Scottish art both in its’ legacy and contemporary institution isn’t something to be taken lightly. I think the emerging artists of Scotland are powerful, there are a lot of primary experiences available to us and extensive resources. I’ll always believe and fight for the fact the arts need more government funding. What do you like/dislike about the art world? I think that it is evolving differently now, we depend on the Internet and therefore digital means of art more than ever and certainly in light of depending on this I think that it has given important exposure to the artists and theorists whose work has been misunderstood in its’ digital dependency before 2020. We’ve become connected to people and supportive art cohorts in a most unlikely way, but I don’t think any of us are mad at that diversion, albeit melancholy at the loss


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of what could’ve been (I think I may cry when I go to a gallery next).

Following the same material theme, the work of the artist Lucy Skaer has always had a special denotation to me. Her work is very heavily influenced by the semantics around materiality, she carves them and plays with their compounds, letting them react to their environment-or despite their environment- how they adapt with time and gravity they come to life through her selections over the physicality of the material. Strength of material is no obstacle or premeditated struggle for her I feel. I can see clearly how interesting this was to her, she understands every piece she uses, no fragment is left behind or neglected.

In terms of this adaptive progress, nepotism has allowed others to succeed and glide through in times such as this, if not even more before. I’ve watched most of the BBC documentaries on economic art systems and the lack of equality grinds my gears. Art critics ‘The White Pube’ have a new billboard scheme with Jack Arts ‘ideas for a new art world’ 2020, one design reading “people across creative industries need to declare if they have rich parents who helped them get where they are today.” If you start to read the world like this, you add on questions surrounding the value of art. Collectively, it’s a really important conversation. Relating to this, I think it’s important to consult the world outside of art school when you step away from academia, as it can become a bit of an echo chamber of opinions and perspectives.Art affects everyday people, so it can enhance an individual’s practice if you take a moment to listen.

What are your future plans? I’ve certainly found this last year very difficult. The internet has been both a blessing and a curse. I’ve been trying hard to reconcile things that I lost this year, but simultaneously find peace and confidence from the things I gained, such as my own little business painting plant pots… in the past, I enjoyed painting on metal and more ‘unconventional’ surfaces, so although commercially driven, I have thoroughly enjoyed painting on ceramics. Very smooth and easy. They’re also done using acrylic paints and pens, a big difference from oil paint. So I’m trying to congratulate myself that I’m still learning about new ways to paint after four years of fighting with oil paint compounds, smells and dry hands.

Name three artists you admire. It’s impossible to pin down exactly who drives me as I have influences that I am captivated by for different aspects of my practice. A long, long time favourite of mine is Ed Ruscha, American born painter, drawer, sign-painter. He signifies many things about contemporary culture that I am in love with; despite the retrospective view on him, his paintings and drawings have a suburban cinematic quality to them that use the scale and characteristics of painting instead of relying on other media. To the viewers, it portrays the quickness that there is a lust for in contemporary art. The artist Lari Pittman in conversation with Terry R. Myers describes this as ‘not [being] about nostalgia, it’s not about projection into the future, it’s not a sentimental view of the world, it’s not overtly cynical, but it’s not overtly celebratory. It’s like...right now!’ Ed Ruscha is still right now, I still need him. There’s a quote that Scottish artist Nathan Coley used when posting about Bruce Springsteen’s album Born in the USA’s 35th Anniversary that sums up a lot of my interests here; “Whether you see Born In The U.S.A as Springsteen’s most significant achievement as an artist or just a muscular catalogue, it remains to this day one of the most potent state-

ments about the down-and-out in America ever made. Despite its rock ‘n’ roll sheen, misunderstood rallying cries, and anthems to nostalgia, Born In The U.S.A was a hopelessly bleak look at what it meant to be an American in the wake of the Vietnam War that, thirty-five years later, still resonates across generations, class and race. A monument to the ‘everyman’, it marked the end of an era for Springsteen that, despite its darkness, finally launched him into the pop stratosphere.” I discovered Emma Hart at her exhibition Banger at the Fruitmarket Gallery, Edinburgh 2018-19. Her work in this show had a lot to do with her connection to transport and how it affected her as the person in the car and comprehending her surrounding from the perspective of the vehicle. I also love her use of materials and interpretations of council produced signs, road maintenance paraphernalia and clay & metal works. It’s playful and intriguing. 30

After a year of reflection, self-doubt, I’ve found that I’m finally ready to get back into big painting. I made some short films using old text I wrote when I feel I was in a stronger mindset artistically, it helped me to push through and continue making. I’ve started planning a new painting series based on explosions. My work was always about respect, planning and a quiet resonance but material death can also be loud, accidental and sublime. It has a few meanings, such as beautiful oranges, crimsons and whites to compose a bang but say a gorgeous midnight blue sky above. I want to paint the little crackles from the flames and use some gold paint, something I’ve never used on big paintings before. I did some small drawings and they feel right. Here’s After All (2021). I’m stepping forward with optimism and less caution, I think these big explosions will be positive and fun to look at. After All, I’m Still Unfurling, it’s like a leaf, after everything that’s happened I’m not quite back in my body but I’m getting there.


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Molly Harrington Pomfret Center, CT, USA My name is Molly Harrington. I’m a sculptor and undergraduate student at Massachusetts College of Art and Design, originally from Northeast Connecticut. My pieces usually focus in cast iron, ceramic, and paper. As an artist, I want to provoke thought and interest in my media and the forms I create - to tell stories and incite intrigue, specifically through fantastical creatures and forms, mostly inspired by folklore, history and culture. Drawing inspiration from my own personal experiences as well as animal and plant life, philosophy, science, and psychology, my work takes these themes and interconnects them. Through these connections, I express a sense of age as well as emotion through material history, exploring the foundation of shifting and shaping materials to create 3D media. My work at its core aims to be ancient. It holds all of my love, all of my passion; showing the value of the permanence of a moment in time. Though nothing is truly permanent, I long to portray a sense of history and the passage of millennia, for the next best thing to forever is a long time.

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Who or what has a lasting influence on your art practice? My art practice draws inspiration from several different sources, but especially my personal experiences as well as humankind’s relationship to nature, through the avenues of both science and folklore. My work at its core aims to be ancient but significant. It holds all of my love, all of my passion; showing the value of the permanence of a moment in time. Though nothing is truly permanent, I long to portray a sense of history and the passage of millenia, for the next best thing to forever is a long time. What is the most challenging of being an artist? The most challenging part of being an artist for me personally is probably fighting burnout. I often become invested in my work to the point where I forget to eat or sleep. I feel that in this early part of my career, I still have a ways to go in learning to combat this and make my practice more sustainable. In your opinion what does art mean in contemporary culture? To me, art in contemporary culture is everywhere, and is a sort of common language in which humans can communicate and discuss ideas big and small. I’ve fallen in love with the idea that a simple form or project can inspire a different range of emotions in a variety of viewers. How would you describe the art scene in your area? In my hometown, the art scene is almost nonexistent. I grew up in a very small rural town, in large contrast to the bustling city of Boston. Boston’s art scene is diverse, competitive and creative, and I’ve only scratched the surface of it through attending college here. What do you like/dislike about the art world? I love the personal connections I’ve made to the iron casting community in particular. The support of fellow artists and the amount of passion and hard work that the community has shown and continues to foster is truly inspiring to me. I dislike the lack of accessibility of the sculpture field in particular however, especially from a financial standpoint. Name three artists you admire. Beth Cavener, Shaun Tan, and my sculpture professors at Massart. (Taylor Davis, Marjee-Anne Levine, Chuck Stigliano, etc.) What are your future plans? For me, I am happy as long as I am working with my hands. After a few internships, I hope to start work in an art foundry, sculpture park, or any other sort of artistic setting while continuing to develop my practice.

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Lee Miller New York City, NY, USA

Lee Miller earned a BA in Graphic Design from Penn State University before launching his career. He climbed the ranks of the design world to become a creative director and to eventually run his own post-production company. Beyond his primary focus in the realm of motion graphics design, Lee has held a parallel passion for painting and drawing. The current pandemic and resulting lockdown have given Lee the time and space for greater creative introspection - resulting in a dynamic new series that explores the intimate nuances possible in smaller-scale works. Lee lives and works in New York City, the place he has called home for more than 25 years. A compelling idea overrides everything else. At least that’s the credo that has guided my work for the past several decades. It has become central to my practice as an artist now—in addition to my ongoing exploration of how the immense power of ideas manifest themselves in the diminutive art object. Part of the pursuit of this intersection of form and meaning is out of practicality: my hectic travel schedule in previous years has limited my materials to those which are portable, lending themselves to a traveling studio space. What these limitations have paradoxically opened up to me is a new avenue for creative exploration, in which I combine drawing and painting with endless experimentation with various materials, shapes, and textures. In other words, having a traveling studio and working on this type of art allows me to live a creative life, stay focused, and continuously come up with new ideas to explore. Some of my works are based on obsessive mark-making and the act of creating them becomes a form of daily meditation. In these works, I dive into the minutiae of the very matter of our being. In some of my art, small hatches become the grid-like striations one would expect to see through the lens of a microscope examining amoebae. In others, I create texture and patterns on painted surfaces to echo topography, whether it alludes to the sweeping landscape or to the intricate and delicate patterns found in each facet of a crystal or geode. Within these explorations, it is the idea that reigns supreme. I become a vehicle for an idea to come forth, and I follow that inspiration by channeling its monumentality into each individual mark I make. 39


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

art, however, the only individual you need to satisfy is yourself. This perspective offers ultimate freedom yet can also be stressful and intimidating. Approaching a blank white canvas is almost like looking into a mirror, because the artist must project their own vision as to what that canvas will become. This process can be liberating indeed, but when the artist is their own worst critic, the tensions can mount.

The biggest influence on my art has been my time spent in nature. Although I love tapping into the energy inherent in living in New York City, I truly value any time I can escape to a respite in the woods or on the beach. Anytime I travel, I always carry a small notebook to sketch and jot down ideas for future work. However, in light of the recent pandemic-era travel restrictions, my inspiration has also been drawn from a wide variety of fields. I’ve tapped into meditative creativity, lucid dreaming, and psychonautics, while I’ve also developed a fascination with seeking patterns. This ranges from the minute and somewhat obscured (in fields like microscopy and gemology)—to the more expansive or apparent (such as ruins or even feline coat patterns). What is the most challenging part of being an artist?

I like to start new works with a notion of what I am aiming to achieve and to set some parameters regarding materials and colors. When I am in the thick of things, though, I aim not to overthink the painting, the process, or the finished product. It is at this point that my previous notions often disappear and are replaced by incredible discovery. This is when my biggest breakthroughs happen and when I find myself being most productive and creating my best work. It is a place I am always striving to find and sustain for as long as possible.

For me, the most challenging aspect of being an artist is just getting out of my own way. Professionally, I have focused on graphic design and animation, both fields in which there is always a client to satisfy and a problem to be solved. With fine

Another challenge I’ve faced is coming to terms with the natural cycle in which I make new work. Some artists head to the studio every day and put in consistent hours to add to their body of work. I, however, can go long stretches without creating 40


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any new pieces. Sometimes it is weeks before I start a new piece; other times, it might be months. When I do dive in, however, it is often weeks or months at a time. I used to question this pattern because I believed that I always needed to create new art, but now I recognize that this is just how my process and production works. I’ve also come to acknowledge that even though my hand is not actively holding a paintbrush, I am always engaging with my next project by experiencing the world and thinking about my next series of paintings. Every aspect I take in is added to my sourcebook as potentially valuable research for my next artistic exploration.

serve as an act of catharsis, as it serves as a mode of expression that allows artists—and those who view the art—to release feelings and emotions that have been festering or unresolved from past-lived experiences. Because of this power that art holds, nurturing and promoting the arts in society is more important than ever— especially in these stressful and uncertain times. I don’t say this as a pitch to promote the sale of my own work; rather, I mention it as I feel we need to do everything in our power to ensure that students have access to arts education in schools. Not to mention, the general public deserves greater accessibility to the incredible artistic riches in galleries and museum collections across the country.

In your opinion what does art mean in contemporary culture? Art can have many different meanings and serve various purposes in contemporary culture. It can be an avenue for pure entertainment and indulgence; it can be a prime vehicle for raising awareness of social causes; it can also unsettle us in a call for political change. What resonates most with me is the role art plays as a type of therapy or form of mediation. Art is a healthy outlet for people to channel their energy and contribute something beautiful and meaningful to the world. It can also

How would you describe the art scene in your area? I live in New York City, one of the country’s prime artistic centers for generations. For as long as I have lived here, there has always been easy access to viewing art as well as meeting other artists, collectors, and curators. Though the arrival of Covid- 19 hushed this vibrant arts scene and presented 41


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innumerable challenges across the art world, some benefits have emerged. For example, I have been fortunate to be remarkably productive during this period. There has also been a rise in online art exchanges, and it’s been rewarding to become a participant in this virtual space. I have spent a lot more time on Instagram, discovering and connecting with other artists. The future is starting to look brighter as well: art galleries, museums, and live performance spaces are slowly starting to open in the city, and there is the hope that cheaper rents will draw younger artists back to establish their studios.

the surfaces in her landscapes. Finally, I would include Ernst Haeckel. Though the precision of his natural illustrations perhaps runs counter to the loose abstractions of someone like Mehretu, I never get tired of looking through his imagery as I become consumed by the intricate details of the flora and fauna he documented. What are your future plans? This might be too general, but my main goals for the years to come are to stay hungry and to constantly re-invent my art. I believe that an artist’s practice needs to evolve for his or her work to continue to resonate, so I seek to pursue these evolutions in my own production as new inspirations and ideas come forth. For example, in recent years I have been working with paper on a smaller scale; however, now I am starting to transport some of my central themes to larger canvases.

What do you like/dislike about the art world? What I like about the art world is that I can belong to a community comprised of diverse individuals who all share the same passion for creative exploration. I like meeting and talking with other artists, whether in person or online. There are always new artists to discover, which I find to be a great source of inspiration. I also enjoy collecting and trading art as well as supporting emerging artists. I’ve tried to acquire several new pieces per year for as long as I can remember. The result is not only that I now have a sizable collection, but these works also allow me to look back and chart my own work – what interested me, where colleagues progressed, etc. What I dislike about the art world is pretentiousness in any form. I believe that the true value of art is in its ability to have universal appeal, so I don’t have time for those who feel that art is for the elite or reserved for a certain segment of society. Name three artists you admire. Just three? Well here’s three for now (ask me in a month, and I might have a different response). The first is Neo Rausch. His influence might not be evident in my current works, but I love his use of color and his compositions that bring forth hints of the Surreal without doing so explicitly. Next would be Julie Mehretu. I am always impressed by the scale of her abstract paintings, and how she experiments with and emphasizes

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Nikkita Morgan Edinburgh, Scotland, UK Nikkita Morgan is an Irish mixed media textile artist who predominantly works in her studio using a diverse range of art, design & craft methods. Alongside her creative practice, she teaches textile & embroidery workshops for school, college and university students, vulnerable adults and community groups nationally. She received her Master’s in Textile Design in 2014 from Norwich University of the Arts and was a recipient of the Arts and Humanity Research Council Award for her course of study (AHRC). Before embarking on postgraduate study, Morgan was an undergraduate student at University of Wales: Trinity Saint David: Coleg Sir Gar studying a BA (Hons) in Textile, Art, Design & Craft (2010-13). On completion of her degree she received the Textile Student of the Year Award.

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

a key influence on my artistic practice and continues to inspire and depict my tactile response: particularly in relation to the on-going confusion, possible impacts on the economy, travel, job stabilities and borders, especially during this critical time.

The inspiration behind my practice derives from my on-going passion and interest into visually responding to historic and contemporary political, cultural and environmental issues: with a central focus on Brexit and the impacts it will have on Ireland and the UK. I was mainly inspired to respond to the unpredictability’s and uncertainties of Brexit following the results of the EU referendum (2016), where England has pushed the North of Ireland and Scotland out of the European Union who both voted to remain in the EU. This subject matter has been

What is the most challenging of being an artist? There are many challenges in pursing an artistic career. For me, as an artist who makes work to exhibit and not to sell, and who teaches in-person embroidery workshops: making enough money to support my practice makes being an artist more challeng-

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ing especially with the current restrictions.

In your opinion what does art mean in contemporary culture?

Another challenge I would consider includes the limited opportunities available to sustain your creative practice. Coming from a political textile background, I often find it more complex to find suitable opportunities. This is a key factor in maintaining my practice and it often takes up most of my time, which in turn takes away from my making process.

Art is a metaphor: a tool to highlight, retell and record histories, meanings and feelings. Therefore art in contemporary culture to me means a way of bringing communities and creatives together in sharing skills, memories, stories and experiences visually through acts of making, exhibiting and participation. How would you describe the art scene in your area? Edinburgh has an active art scene with frequently differing exhibitions citywide. It also hosts one of the largest arts festivals each year, where national and interna-

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tional artists exhibit their work in leading galleries and artist-run spaces. What do you like/dislike about the art world? There are so many likeable and dislikeable things about the art world. For me, I love waking up every day and having the opportunity to create art. I love the creative freedom to try out new ideas and test artistic boundaries. I also like how there are online resources available for artists to showcase their work especially if you work alone in your studio as this helps to engage with people all over the world thus sharing and exchanging feedback and opinions on your work-in-progress. However the lack of opportunities is a major dislike, this includes rarely receiving individual feedback on why your application was unsuccessful. I also don’t like how it can be hard to get your work shown, especially when art galleries charge artists hefty prices to use their space. Name three artists you admire. There are so many talented and inspiring artists and I find most of my inspiration on Instagram and online textile resources. However, the three artists that I currently admire are: Danielle Clough an embroiderer from South Africa, Ana Teresa Barboza a Peruvian textile artist and Daniel Kornrumpf a figurative textile artist based in the United States. I really like the way these artists work with and use embroidery, colour and texture within their works. What are your future plans? Due to the prolonged restrictions, my future plans are to pursue my postponed/cancelled artistic opportunities that I had organised for 2020. This will include undertaking an international collaborative residency that was funded by the “Arts Council of NI” and joining the “Edinburgh Printmakers” to develop and extend my practical skills within a different medium: this was supported by the “Edinburgh Craft Makers Award”. These funded projects were meant to take place last summer, but have been put on hold until the restrictions are lifted. I am also planning to re-organise another group exhibition in Edinburgh with my artistic peers: my last show was cancelled due to covid. My aim is to exhibit my new (working progress) embroidered collection that is a response to the current pandemic.

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Lucy Oates London/Bristol, UK Lucy Oates is a multi-disciplinary artist working in, print, and mixed media textiles. A graduate from the Royal College of Art, where she gained an MA in Mixed Media Textiles. Lucy relies on the use of everyday materials and found objects, shaping them using self-devised print making techniques to create mixed media prints and collages out of recycled cans and plastic packaging. Her work often contains and resembles elements from her surrounding urban and industrial environments. Lucy teaches her makeshift printmaking processes in virtual workshops. 51


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Who or what has a lasting influence on your art practice? I’m definitely influenced by my surroundings and upbringing. I have a strong desire to revive and restore found objects and materials, which I inherited from my dad who would regularly return with jumbles of antiques and furniture to restore and sell. Growing up in London I’ve been surrounded by the ever-changing built environment that’s rich in textures and well, dirt and waste. I have Always been fascinated by the textures and colours I experience in the city, which is why I have a growing catalogue of photos these moments I encounter, the photos help form a point of reference when I am designing my prints. What is the most challenging of being an artist? Having enough confidence in yourself to pursue your ideas. I think it’s important to accept and acknowledge that there will be days where the creative flow just isn’t happening and that, that’s ok! At the end of the day you have to put the time in to your practice, be patient, and also spend some time away. You have to Stay focussed! In your opinion what does art mean in contemporary culture? Art has always been a special tool, allowing artists to express their beliefs and opinions, visual experiences, and document moments of history to their audience. Now with the internet art has become accessible to more people, which is great. Anyone and everyone can attend virtual galleries/workshops/seminars from their homes, I hope that it is becoming a more inclusive art world because of it! How would you describe the art scene in your area? Bristol’s covered in art. I love it! The streets are decorated with colour, graffiti, murals, music. Houses fill their windows up with art. The town has a real creative buzz and nice community going on. I only recently moved here so can’t wait for the full bloom of creativity to come once restrictions lift! 52


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I like how the internet has allowed artists to connect to each other and a wider audience. You can exhibit your work online without breaking the bank of hiring a gallery, and anyone from anywhere can view it! I dislike how exclusive the artworld can still be…art courses and university fees are continuing to go up, this is excluding so many people, and putting so much pressure on those who are fortunate enough to attend. Thus, draining and sucking the creativity out!

productive as him when I hit 90. El Anatsui is another artist I admire. I discovered him when I was studying at Bath Spa, I went to the October Gallery in London and was obsessed with every piece of work in there he had made. I had myself just started printing on to cans and was so happy to see an established artist’s work made of waste materials on that scale. It made me feel not so mad myself for working with rubbish cans! Helen Frankenthaler is someone I have actually only recently come across. I just love her use of colours, and composition. I can’t wait to experience her work in real life, I think it’s really something quite special.

Name three artists you admire.

What are your future plans?

This is so difficult because my list is constantly expanding dependent on what part of my practice I’m focusing on. My grandad Andrew Restall is definitely always number one. He amazes me! At 90 still painting incredible oil paintings. And exhibiting these works (online this year due to the pandemic). I really do look up to him and hope I’ll be as consistent and

I tend not to think too far into the future, especially at the moment… so I guess have a coffee get in the studio and see what I can make with all these cans I’ve been collecting. Oh, I would like to have a solo exhibition at some point when all the galleries open up again, and I’m quite keen to get my hands on some clay!

What do you like/dislike about the art world?

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Ana-Maria Panaitescu Bucharest, Romania

My intention is to use just a few elements and see how much I can transmit to people who are watching, in assamblage and in painting. A kind of “less is more.” Most of my work is about using traditional materials (like wood, canvas, paper, cardboard, metal, oil colors) and finding a way to combine it with new stuff, like silicon, acrylics, polystyrene, different types of strong glue, etc. It is my way of being traditional and living in our days at the same time, a way of respect for our ancestors and going forward, adding a contemporary sign. In assemblages, I use different objects; one example is my collection of earth collected in different places around the world, which people brought me from their travels. This represents the travels that I only got to make in my imagination. I found a poem by e.e. cummings, titled “somewhere I have never traveled, gladly beyond,” and I liked it a lot; I used this name for some of my artwork. Much of my work has this theme, of travels never made. All of my recent works are a geometrical and serialist research, it is about the complex variation of horizontal and vertical lines composition. These days, the ideas of “contactless” and “isolation” has become powerful for all of us. In trying to represent this, I found that the serialism is helping me a lot. Finding some elements that I repeat, is very interesting to me. For a long time now, I have admired Andy Warhol’s work, in the same measure that I value and draw upon my native Byzantine roots. Usually my works are stages of a theme that I study for many years. And I don’t like the “story” when it is about fine arts. The stories are wonderful, but I don’t like to find a story in an image. I like to keep the things only about composition, color, line, dot, light, shadow, etc. and to offer emotions in this register, using these elements. Is not easy, because it is another “language”. So, the cleanest way to give names to my works is to admit that I have these stages of a theme. This is why numbers came often after the name, like My Earth Collection 1, 2, 3, or even Serialism 1, 2, 3, etc.

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Who or what has a lasting influence on your art practice? The biographies books about other artists (specially what Henri Perruchot wrote about impressionist painters, because I was little when I read all of it and the influence was huge!); all my teachers; the artists I met. I try to be equilibrate between my native roots and being contemporary. I am religious, so the orthodox christianism, the relation with God is important for me in everything I do, including art. I hope this is the most important influence that can happen to me. What is the most challenging of being an artist? The fact that you have a chance to know you! More than in other situations. Is challenging because you discover things that you did not guess; I think this is one of the most important senses of being alive, so I am grateful for this. In your opinion what does art mean in contemporary culture? I think that art needs time. Not only to make it, but also to look at it. And people are in a hurry, now. Usually, people don’t have time to stay in peace and quiet and just look at an artwork. On the other hand, very often, the artworks in exhibitions are superficial. Something interesting: I read about big art sales that happened during these pandemic times we live. So, maybe art has something great to do: when we analyse what it is important and what not, maybe art comes in front, very close to other spiritual things? How would you describe the art scene in your area? I think the south-east of Europe has this caracteristique: we like to look at west european countries with the art that is produced there, we admire it and at the same time we love our own artistic past, which is more or less, byzantine. So, the contemporaneity here, it is a kind of equilibrium between these two worlds: traditional and new. What do you like/dislike about the art world? I think I don’t like the fact that we lost the mastery. When I see an artwork, I like to see things that I can’t make, things made with artistry, with dedication, things that fascinate, not only concepts, not only interesting ideas. And I see it very rarely. What I like, it is the liberty that we have in our expression, the new materials that we have and we can use, materials that allow us to try new directions. I like the experiment that we can make, I dislike the superficiality that often comes, too. Name three artists you admire. Andrei Rubliov, Andy Warhol, Sidival Fila What are your future plans? To “steal” all the time I can and use it for my work.

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instagram.com/ana_maria_panaitescu

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Melissa Panth

Ontario, Canada


Art Reveal Magazine

Who or what has a lasting influence on your art practice? I believe that I have many influences on my art practice. Everything that I experience has influenced me in some way, Some that are most relevant are my feelings, my dreams and the books that I read. Growing up on a hobby farm was a wonderful experience and I know that having relationships with nature and many animals at an early age influenced me immensely and helped shape who I am as a person. For the entirety of my life I have struggled with mental illness and I know that this greatly effects my perspective and my work. Creating art is my main coping mechanism since childhood. Humour is also a major influence and is in most of my pieces, though it can be hard to spot as I have been told that my humour is dry, dark and literal, and it definitely doesn’t translate through text very well. What is the most challenging of being an artist? For me the hardest part of being an artist is showing my work, selling it, and letting it go. I am a very personal person and it can be very difficult at times to share my creations with others outside of my close friends and family. It can feel very exposing. I also get attached, especially to sculptures, and it can feel like losing a friend when they sell, and then of course the moral conundrum of selling an inanimate friend. Overall I am usually happy that I did and it seems to get easier as time goes by, and I am aware that they are not actual real living creatures. In your opinion what does art mean in contemporary culture? Every society and time period is reflected in artwork. No matter how random or abstracted it may seem, it is all relevant, reflective and in my opinion art is the real journal of humanity. Art is necessary for any civilization and I believe that living artists, whatever medium and skill level, should be respected more in western culture. I think now, with this global pandemic art is very important. Not only does it document the feelings of the time, it is also needed to bring joy and escapism to people during harder times. How would you describe the art scene in your area? The area of Ontario that I live in has a very colourful group of creative minds. I am fortunate to know many interesting and talented people. There is a huge amount of talent in Canada and most are very kind and open minded. What do you like/dislike about the art world? I very much dislike the business aspect of the art world. It is definitely a challenge not to hoard my artwork and live off scraps. Sometimes I imagine that I would rather dig a hole and bury myself than deal with the financial element, but then I laugh at myself and continue doing responsible and mandatory adult things. Name three artists you admire. Three artists that pop into my mind often are Hieronymus Bosch, Beatrix Potter and George Grosz. Potter influenced me as a child. When I was very young there was some kind of promotion where small hardcover Beatrix Potter books were $1 or something when you purchased gas, and my parents were kind enough to always get me a new one. The pages were so glossy and the watercolours so soft I would examine the paintings for long periods of time and I treasured those little books, even though I found the actual stories strange and lacking. George Grosz was a great influence to me in my teens. His ability to communicate his ideas and opinions through imagery always impressed me. Hieronymus Bosch represents to me the importance of keeping your individuality. The fact that Bosch was able to paint his own unique creations while staying in religious context, in a time when much was censored and commissioned by the church, shows ingenuity. He maintained his originality and integrity in my eyes. What are your future plans? My future plans are to continue to grow and learn as much as I am able. I have begun oil painting again after a long hiatus, currently I am painting intuitive 1-3 hour paintings for the horror channel Darker Stories which has been so fun and we plan to show those at some point. Oil painting is my first love, but I could never stop sculpting. I am also working now on a heavily illustrated book that I am excited about. The book won’t be released for at least two years if all goes well, so I imagine lots of creatures will be born between now and then, I seem to always have lots of different projects on the go. I think that life is very short and I have a big to do list, inspiration is everywhere. 64


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Natasha Somerville

Greer, SC, USA

My work deals with duality; the real vs. the imagined, presence vs. absence, authenticity vs falsified. I other these different themes in my work. Photos I find on social media provide inspiration. Social media platforms have changed the way we live, interact and share experiences with one another. The photos I use as reference were primarily taken by other individuals. I investigate duality, the persona we present online vs. the persona we present in person. Figures are positioned in visually textured and layered surfaces to explore these dualities. From a formal stand point, my paintings investigate the combination of representational imagery, abstracted positive and negative space, texture and color. Outside of clothing, there is no real connection to time in my work; place becomes an abstracted construct. What intrigues me is the illusion of time and the unspoken communication, personality and character that is exuded in a single captured moment. Natasha Somerville is a South Carolina based painter and educator originally from Kentucky. In 2007 she earned a B.F.A. in Painting from Savannah College of Art & Design where she graduated with honors. She completed her M.F.A. in Studio Art at the University of Kentucky in 2011. For 4 years she taught at the University of Kentucky, followed by 2 years at Georgia Gwinnett College. She currently teaches at The South Carolina School of the Arts at Anderson University and Wofford College. Natasha has exhibited in over 23 group and solo shows across 14 states; some of with include New York, Chicago, South Carolina and California.


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Who or what has a lasting influence on your art practice? There are two people that have created a lasting influence on my practice. One is a professor I had in graduate school named Joel Feldman. Joel was great. He was one of the people I could really talk to anytime I was having a creative block. One thing he said has always stuck with me. He would often tell me to make my work and never apologize for it. Whenever I’m caught in my head, I remember this advice. It helps me move past any fear or apprehension. Artist Ebony Patterson was another biginfluence on my practice. I also got to work, with her in graduate school. She’s one of the hardest working artists I’ve ever met. She challenged me to work harder, to push myself in the studio and really develop a strong artist practice. I remember speaking with her once talking about the abundance of students in college getting their Masters degree. She told me you can tell a lot by who is still practicing and making art 5,10 years after they leave school. When the rubber meets the road it can be easy to give up and pick up a different path. Ebony challenged me to develop a strong artist practice early  so I would have a strong foundation when life got hectic. I am forever grateful for this lesson. What is the most challenging of being an artist?  Right now the biggest challenges are time management and balance. I’m a wife, an artist, a professor, and recently, a new mom. My son will be 3 months in a couple weeks. All of a sudden, life is hectic, sleep feels elusive, and every second of time is precious. It’s really easy to feel like there’s not enough time in the day to get everything done. I haven’t come close to figuring it all out, but I’m taking it one day at a time. Planning out my days has become necessary. If I’m being honest, this is not always my strong suit, but remembering to be gracious with myself helps me keep going. At this season in my life, there’s less time for making art. I spend more time thinking about my work - my artist practice, how my work is changing, where I want it to go, things I want to explore, fears I have in trying new things, and so on. My goal now is to carve out a few hours, one day a week to dedicate to my artist practice. In the days leading up to this time, I’m trying to spend time thinking about the things I need/want to get done so my studio time is productive. If I can squeeze in more time during the week, I go for it. If my time gets cut short because of an emergency, most of which now involve my son, I’m working on being flexible and trying for another time.  In your opinion what does art mean in contemporary culture? Art is so relevant and transcendent in contemporary culture. I feel like there is a deeper connection between art and the individual right now. Performance, new media and installation have all risen to the forefront as artists and activists lobby for change on a variety of societal issues. People aren’t just observing with their eyes, they’re


Art Reveal Magazine

involving their mind, and their body. People are engaging with art, interacting with it in ways they might not have 20/30 years when the gallery and museum were at the top. Art is something numerous people turned to during lockdowns. For some it was out of boredom, others for enjoyment or developing a new skill, and for some, mental health and self care.

ing the scene here, but there’s a lot of vibrancy and support for the arts. There are some great art collectives in the area. Before Covid, it was always exciting to swarms of people going to open studio events in downtown Greenville. Artbomb studios was instrumental in developing a vibrant art community in our area years ago. One of my favorite events in the area is called Artisphere. It’s an art festival that is hosted every spring in downtown Greenville. Visitors can walk down Main Street and explore art from creators around the U.S. There’s music and demonstrations from artists. One of my favorite events from last year was watching a group of glass blowers create pieces

How would you describe the art scene in your area? My husband and I live in America and recently moved to Greenville in South Carolina. I’m still delving into and explor71


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while kids looked on with amazement and excitement. All the surrounding stores have there doors open and it’s just a great time. There’s also an awesome Indie Craft fair that was created by some local artists. When it’s up an running, there are lines of people trying to get in. It’s really beautiful. What do you like/dislike about the art world? I love how accessible the art world has become. The internet has had an interesting effect on the market. The recent lockdowns due to Covid reinforced this idea for me. I loved seeing people recreate their favorite works of art with mundane objects around the house and then posting them online. After Tussen Kunst & Quarantaine, got the ball rolling, even the Getty Meuseum started to encourage the trend. Unknown artists are able to market themselves and develop a following. In graduate school I remember having endless conversations questioning whether we were just making art for the elite, for other artists or everyday people. No matter where you stand in that debate, artist, galleries, museums and other institutions are able to reach the public like never before. The British Museum in London, the Guggenheim Museum in New York, and others, all began offering online tours or posted art works online for people to view during lockdown. I love the willingness to engage with individuals that might not have connected with their artistic side in ages. Name three artists you admire. First and foremost is Caravaggio. I had been in love with his work since I was about 18. Hands down one of my favorite painters. I love the richness of his color, bold darks, contrast, and knowledge of the figure. When I finally had the opportunity to experience his work in person in my 20’s I felt like I had died and gone to heaven.  Kehinde Wiley is another artist I admire. I know a guy that modeled for Wiley a couple years ago and I was so jealous that we got to meet him. He blends contemporary figures (known and unknown) into art historical contexts in such a clever way. The way he mixes figures, flora, and pattern is breathtaking.  Last, but not least, is Jenny Saville. She has created some beautiful and striking pieces; amazing monumental paintings. I would love to watch her work in person. What are your future plans? I primarily work with oil based media, and I stopped painting with oil when I became pregnant. I found myself getting back into printmaking during my pregnancy. The next thing I knew, digital work was something I was exploring as well. I’m not entirelt sure where it’s going, but I’m enjoying the exploration of printmaking, digital, and one day soon, painting. I’m also working on a collaboration with a friend that’s a photographer. We’re still flushing out details and developing our ideas so I can’t get too in depth, but I’m excited about the project. 

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Profile for Art Reveal Magazine

Art Reveal Magazine no. 58  

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