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PROCESS PROCESS MAGAZINE // CONVERSATIONS ABOUT THE CREATIVE PROCESS // ISSUE 1 // JUNE 2009 // PRCSS.COM

ANDRA KHODER

DANIEL BOCCATO

PHOEBE PUNDYK

THERESA ZEITZLINDAMOOD

LIZA LANGER

ALIYAH TAYLOR

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ANDRA KHODER

I am a curious person. I take art and

ered an epoch especially for slow readers.

school extremely seriously, but I also

She is currently admiring the sculptors

take humor pretty seriously too. Laugh-

Louise Bourgeoisie and Andy Goldswor-

I am a 2000 year old (17 year old) faerie

ing is a high priority of mine. On that

thy as well as the architects Renzo Piano,

who lives in the Sugar Plum Forest (New

same list, just below laughing, is eating

Peter Zumthor, and Herzog & de Meuron.

York). My favorite hobbies are collecting

dessert, preferably red velvet cake or

Langer’s future epoch includes radically

those little fuzzy things on branches

fresh chocolate chip cookies.

changing common social values and en-

and collecting books and folding them

couraging art to stand for its concept and

into shapes. It’s so weird talking about

form and not for a product.

THERESA ZEITZLINDAMOOD

ALIYAH TAYLOR

I’m Theresa Alba Zeitz-Lindamood,

My name is Aliyah Taylor. I am 19 years

Daniel Boccato, from a very early age

and I live and create art in Providence,

old; I was born and raised in Saint Louis

fell in love with art. Being also very in-

RI. I was born in 1990, and for the first

Missouri where I attended one school un-

terested in animation and cartooning,

five years of my life, whenever anyone

til my senior year. Through an immense

he started producing his own projects

would ask me what my drawings de-

stroke of luck, I learned of the Oxbow

and animated shorts.

picting, I would insist quite adamantly

art semester and immediately set forth

While still living in Sao Paulo,

that “It’s just a design!” I’ve moved out

upon the application. There I found an

Brazil, he has worked as a trainee in the

of that abstract phase by now, and my

environment where art and writing, my

full-length animated movie “O Garoto

inspirations today include beetles, sta-

two passions, not only flourished, but in-

Cósmico” (The Cosmic Boy), directed by

lactites and stalagmites, bizarre medi-

formed each other as well, and it remains

Alê Abreu. There he had the chance to

cal facts, designs from Islamic, Mayan,

the paradigm by which I model myself

work very closely to professional ani-

and Oceanic art, and cut-outs I find in

and my process. I am very close with my

mators at a top animation studio.

pre-1975 issues of National Geograph-

family: we enjoy our dogs, Wally and Lib-

yourself. I like to eat blueberries.

DANIEL BOCCATO

Daniel is a high school stu-

ic. A few years ago, I used to paint all

by, a shared infatuation with tourist at-

dent in Yonkers, NY, but next year he

the time – but recently I’ve become

tractions whether we’re on a road trip or

will be a student at Cooper Union in

more interested in drawing, collage,

in our own sate, and arguing—a family

New York, NY.

and bookmaking (and especially com-

sport. A family of grammar snobs, I came

bining all three). My other pastimes

by a fascination with linguistics natural-

include savoring espresso, buying vin-

ly, and lately, I have become incredibly

tage clothes and making up stories

aware of its preeminence in my work.

about imagined previous owners, and

I am going into my sophomore year at

learning how to cook.

Pratt Institute. I struggled with the first

PHOEBE PUNDYK My name is Phoebe Pundyk and I am a

year of foundation arts, but I did my best

rising sophomore at Skidmore College.

LIZA LANGER

to trust in the system. It gave me the dis-

being the giant boxes on the floor of

Liza Langer likes the word “epoch”. The

too many particular areas of interest. I

my room filled with magazine pages,

phonics just pop, and the word is her

would like to be a zoologist, a writer, an

post cards, ticket stubs, photos and

theme. She has had an epoch of ceram-

archeologist—I am easily persuaded by

shopping bags from places I like; and

ics, an epoch of Girl Scouts, and is cur-

magazine articles, gallery shows…my

the second being my collection of

rently in an epoch of strict vegetarianism

parents say I swing like a pendulum, but

ideas, inspiring people, feelings and

and an epoch of architecture as an in-

with the knowledge and experiences I

thoughts. For me, art is about the orga-

coming second year at Carnegie Mellon

have absorbed in the meantime, it’s all

nization and presentation of

University. Langer is reading Ayn Rand’s

been worth it.

these collections.

The Fountainhead, which can be consid-

My dad calls me a pack-rat, but I like to think of myself more as a collector. I have two types of collections: the first

cipline and the pride that was missing from my approach. I don’t have a particular area of interest, or rather, I have


PROCESS PROCESS MAGAZINE // CONVERSATIONS ABOUT THE CREATIVE PROCESS // ISSUE 1 // JUNE 2009 // PRCSS.COM

IDEAS

EDITOR’S NOTE

CASEY GOLLAN

Capture the “right now” as well as the

The idea for PROCESS came to me while I was in the shower. I wondered, “What are my friends

personal philosophy! Annually? Quar-

working on? “

terly? Monthly? Bi-weekly? How fast/ often and when do we change how we

Facebook makes it easy for me to stay in the loop about what my friends are up to, when

work? Talk to the same people on a re-

their birthdays are approaching, and which Jonas brother they are most like, but it makes

curring basis? New content added as it’s

it harder to talk about meaningful things. Because I know what you ate for dinner yester-

created or in line w/ print edition? Poten-

day, we no longer need to get on the phone or­—drum roll please—sit down and just talk.

tial for video/audio! I would LOVE to do

.

videos. Is print necessary? Maybe not... Is

I wanted a good reason to talk to everyone again about the things that matter and to let

print gorgeous? Definite yes. Magazine

the conversation wander into wonderfully unexpected places. So in the last week of May I

vs. Book format. Laying out a magazine

put out a call on Facebook to a bunch of different artist friends for a few images and a short

takes a pretty significant amount of

text, then began recording and transcribing conversations. All conversations happened

time, but can come out fairly regularly. If

either in person or over the phone because I have a sneaking suspicion that when using

content is published on a website, what

email or IM people think way too hard about what they’re trying to say­—or not at all.

if once a year, or quarterly, an anthology is released with everything from the

The first issue of PROCESS is based entirely around these recorded conversations. They begin

website in book form. Websites are less

and end abruptly, go off on tangents, and occasionally become incoherent. And that’s

special. Make it better. Make it cheaper.

what I love about them. In each conversation, both sides are pushing and racking their

Make it bigger. What does it mean to

brains to make sense of it all. These are the types of conversations that you wish you had

make art today? Themed issues or con-

written down. Now the thoughts are no longer fleeting.

versations? What’s next? When will it get boring? Start working with writers? In-

This first iteration of PROCESS has come together in magazine form but I didn’t just set out to

terview friends of friends? Have friends

make a magazine. My broader goal is to connect all the artists, philosophers, and creative

interview their friends? Make art using

minds I know (and soon enough the ones that I don’t yet know!), and to keep a dialogue

somebody else’s process. Start with the

going about what creativity means today. That means I need your help and participation!

same prompt. Have dinner together. Get together and make a collaborative piece

Please don’t hesitate to add to the list of ideas or tell me what works and what doesn’t by

of art! Come up with more ideas.

emailing: ideas@caseyagollan.com I’ll take every fleeting thought into consideration!

THANK YOU to all the included artists, and especially to my family, Theresa Zeitz-Lindamood, Phoebe Pundyk, Daniel Boccato, and Liza Langer for early feedback and diligent editing. Also a big thank you to everyone who has gotten excited about this project, joined our mailing list, and added us on Facebook. You rule! P.S. Throughout this project I blogged a bit about the process of putting this together, check it out here: http://tinyurl.com/processprocess

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when Einstein was in school he was considered crazy and he got kicked out. If they had given einstein ritalin, where would we be now? would he still have jumped out of his seat to go sit on an egg AND TRY to hatch it?

—ANDRA KHODER


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Andra Khoder: I was writing this applica-

ger materials or move things around a little

bouncing ideas around. Something I struggle

tion essay for Oxbow, an arts high school in

bit.” And it started me thinking about how

with is how my process is shown in or related

California, and the subject was “Write about

I work. By interacting with people and see-

to the product. And that’s where my whole

a time where you had to change your course

ing how they work I come up with my own

idea that I joke about comes from, where I

of action” and I couldn’t remember a time

projects. Whether it’s just sitting silently in a

want to stand with my piece of art when it’s

when that had happened to me.

room with them and doing our own work or

being shown and tell people about how it’s

having this conversation. This is how I get it.

made and what it means to me. Because I still

Casey Gollan: I had trouble with that too.

don’t know how to cope with the divide beCG: What would be non-obvious to me, in

tween product and process, or how process

AK: I asked Telfer, my art teacher, about it

a lot of artwork, is that behind all artwork is

translates or is shown in the product.

and she said, “Think about a project. If you’re

some sort of process. For some people there

building something and a piece falls off or a

isn’t a lot of depth, it’s just using a technique,

AK: I struggle with that too because I have

piece breaks, you have to think about stron-

but for others there’s this amazing process of

this idea and I work on it and I think “This is


to other people but to me that whole phase

and make it totally different.

of collecting ideas and images is where I get

an idea of where to start. A good word for it

put the darker colors on first and then put

is incubating.

the lighter colors on after so that they pop

In the videos, one person says to

more. But somebody else says put the lighter AK: By the time I get to my end product, I

colors on first and then do the darker colors.

can’t even remember my process because

And then another person says do the color

I’ve jumped so many times from one thing to

that covers up the most area first and then

another. Just completely stopped one thing

color in order until you get to the smallest

and did something else almost automatically

surface. I take all these different ways of do-

or subconsciously.

ing things and I mix them up into what I do.

That’s basically how I work. I love to absorb

About incubating, I saw those Bub-

ble Drawings by Charlotte X.C. Sullivan that

things.

you sent me, where she blew inky bubbles

onto the paper and got the outlines of the

dad was very ill-educated and he didn’t get

bubbles and they looked so crazy. And then

very good grades. When he was very little

I went into the darkroom at school and was

he came over on a boat from Lebanon, and

doing all this crazy stuff with photo paper

English was his third language. He didn’t go

and developer. I have the process in my head

to college, he went straight to the Marines,

of what that person would do, but what I

but he’s one of the smartest people I know

so cool, this gonna be awesome!” And then

do is completely different. Like, I then took

because he just absorbs all this information:

all of a sudden another spark happens be-

a popsicle stick and put it in developer and

what people talk about, what he reads. He’s

cause I’m having another conversation with

then put the popsicle stick on the paper.

not a great reader, he can’t read fast and he’s

someone or I notice something cool that

I’m a lot like my dad, because my

the worst speller in the world, but he knows

someone else did and I think “I can incorpo-

CG: So taking bits of other people processes

so much about everything because he just

rate that into my project!” And what I’m do-

and techniques and translating them into

absorbs.

ing turns into something completely differ-

something new. CG: One of my English teachers was telling

ent from what it was. AK: Yeah. Before I called and talked to you,

me that her dad never went to college or

CG: I wasn’t even thinking about visual ideas,

I was on YouTube watching videos of how

had a formal education. So when she came

but that’s what happens to me too. I spend a

people do their makeup. Not regular make-

back from college, where she majored in lit-

lot of time on the internet just reading and

up, but crazy makeup. So when I’m doing my

erature, she was like, “Look at all these books

looking at pictures, and it can seem frivolous

own makeup I think of that but I change it up

I’ve read!” And it turned out that he’d read all

7


those books and more because he just loved

rates human from artificial intelligence. Logic

CG: The doctor comparison is interesting

reading.

is just simple arguments. It can tell you what

because that’s a situation where it’s life and

It’s like the debate of IQ and SAT

the right answer might be, but it can’t look

death. But what’d you end up writing that

scores and what they indicate. One thing

at a tutorial for how to do makeup and then

essay on?

that standardized tests can’t indicate besides

come up with new ideas based on that. AK: Well the situation that made me have a

process, or why you know the things you know, is passion, how much you care. It’s so

AK: Right. We’re doing logic in math, which

new realization about myself was the essay

important to have a passion for learning and

I love because I never realized it before, but

itself. And because Oxbow asked me that

a willingness and ability to absorb things. It’s

I’ve always seen two sets of arguments: logi-

question, I realized how I get sparked.

tough to pay attention to all the things go-

cal and emotional. First, I always think logi-

ing on around you and you have to prioritize

cally. I’m like, “This is the easiest way to get it

CG: It’s the concept of metacognition, which

what’s really important, or fresh, or inspiring.

done,” and then my other side is like, “But we

is basically thinking about thinking. So you

But if you can absorb those things, that’s one

could do this, we could do that!” Even when

wrote your essay on writing your essay.

major place where you can synthesize ideas

someone asks me for relationship advice,

That’s something that I always do. My first

from. You could have perfect SAT scores and

I think about it logically, but even though I

approach whenever I have to do anything is

be culturally and creatively illiterate in every-

always consider the logic, I usually react irra-

thinking about the thing itself to the point

thing except test taking strategies.

tionally or emotionally because it’s a human

where it becomes my answer.

interaction. AK: Yeah, and another thing I just thought

AK: One thing I said at the end was “Thank

about, back to those makeup tutorials, is

CG: If they wanted a rational answer they

you Oxbow, because no matter what hap-

this one girl who was like “So many people

could ask a machine.

pens, this essay that I wrote for you impacted

ask me how I do my dotted blush,” and she

my life.”

was like, “It’s so easy! You just take a fishnet

AK: Exactly, and most of the time the ratio-

stocking and stretch it over your face then

nal answer is not the one you want. Take, for

CG: That’s how I felt about my college pro-

apply the blush over it. Where the holes are,

example, the character House. Everybody

cess. I mean everyone else was so pissed

the makeup will go.” And I’m thinking to my-

hates him, and it’s because he thinks so logi-

about having to write college essays but I

self, “I would never have thought of it that

cally, he takes emotion completely out of his

think I learned so much about myself. I guess

way! I would’ve just done it freehand.” Then

decision process. And because of that people

it’s not necessarily learning it like for the first

I’m thinking about, “What if I use lace? How

think he’s so rude.

time, but having to distill something person-

cool would that be? What about different

If during the diagnosis someone

al into words makes it so much more clear.

patterns?”

were to say something stupid he would shut

That’s why writing is so hard for me. I can

them down because he’s not interested in a

blabber on for hours and it just doesn’t make

creative or emotional course of action.

sense later, but to have to write an essay

CG: That ability to improvise is what sepa-


that is intended to be understood by other

this quote I love which is, “A potential trap

CG: I don’t think that you can actually create

people forces you to understand yourself on

of thinking about thinking — what we call

or destroy matter.

a whole other level. That’s why I love having

metacognition — is that you can get stuck

to write. I don’t love writing, because it’s so

in a recursive loop where you are think-

AK: But then how could something so small

stressful, but I love being forced to write be-

ing about thinking about thinking, and so

get so big?

cause that’s how I distill my thoughts.

on — until it’s like standing in a hall of mirrors. And then before you know it, half an

CG: I guess it’s just transforming. What’s the

AK: Another thing that I’ve been thinking

hour has passed at the supermarket, and you

difference between atoms and matter, be-

about like crazy, this is sort of unrelated, is

still don’t know which floss to buy.”

cause you can’t create or destroy matter.

that my physics teacher, Mr. Copolla, was

saying that everything on earth is made out

cide by Jonah Lehrer, which I haven’t read

of atoms. When you’re eating an ice cream

but really want to. The interesting thing

sundae, it’s made out of atoms. The universe

about what he’s saying, to me, is that you can

CG: I don’t really understand it and the fact

is made out of atoms, or at least this is what

go on forever in a recursive loop of thinking

that I don’t understand it makes me think

we think. But the fact that he said ice cream

about thinking, but how we decide—I mean,

that it’s not real to some extent.

sundaes are made out of atoms made me

I haven’t actually read the book—is an emo-

think, we’re made of atoms. We’re atoms in-

tional thing that doesn’t necessarily have to

gesting more atoms. What makes us want to

do with logic.

do that?

It’s from a book called How We DeAK: I think atoms are made up of matter.

AK: Yeah.

Another thing that I haven’t read

CG: Like I kind of get it and it sounds re-

but I want to read—I’m so behind on read-

ally good, but what if in a hundred years

ing things, but I know about all these things

they’re like “Hahaha they were so stupid!

I want to read—is this book called Out of Our

They thought everything was made up of

AK: It drove me crazy and I started thinking,

Heads by Alva Noe, and his theory is that

atoms!!”

“How can an atom have emotion?” When

consciousness, which we think of conven-

you think of cells, those cells are created by

tionally as inside our own minds, is actually

AK: It goes back to: how could they not re-

atoms. And what makes up an atom are pro-

external. He says, “Consciousness requires

alize that the earth was round and not flat?

tons and neutrons and they get smaller and

the joint operation of the brain, the body

There’s always going to be that “Oh my God,

smaller and I just don’t understand how this

and the world.” And I like that because I don’t

they were so stupid.”

could create happiness? How can something

understand either how lots of atoms alone

made up of atoms contemplate and struggle

could think about atoms.

CG: That’s sick! It’s like cannibalism.

with the fact that it’s made up of atoms? CG: There’s the metacognition again. There’s

CG: The way I look at it is if you’re just using logic, either the line is drawn prematurely

AK: When a baby forms, aren’t those atoms

and there’s no creativity, and no new ideas

creating more atoms?

get created, or the line is never drawn and

9


you’re stuck in that hall of mirrors. The deci-

the back of her house and they never went

swim, and the ones that can’t swim die. The

sion to believe in atoms is an emotional, ir-

looking for her. There was a pack of wolves

ones that can swim and reproduce in the

rational one, I think. At some point you just

living there—I have no idea if this is real or

waterlogged environment do and then they

have to have beliefs and accept things as

not—and she was raised by these wolves

create children that can also probably do

true—even though I don’t know if there can

who took her in as one of their own. When

that, because it’s probably hereditary.

be true or false at all. You just have to accept

they found her she acted exactly like a wolf.

things to move on. Looking at it this way, ev-

She didn’t even make human noises, she

AK: Well I thought of that bathtub thing

erything is a gray area.

spoke wolf language and made the sounds

when I was really little, before I even knew

that they make. And she had strange psycho-

about evolution.

AK: Another thing I was thinking about is this:

logical characteristics of wolves. For example,

how weird is it that when somebody does

you know how most dogs won’t understand

something we like, or something we consider

when they see themselves in a mirror? This

to be a good thing, like a dance performance

girl didn’t recognize herself in a mirror. It was

AK: I’m so weird! Another thing I thought—

or a concert, we clap our hands. We take two

a nature vs. nurture thing.

back when I was little—was that we could

limbs and slap them against each other and

CG: That’s crazy. You’re a genius!

totally teach a bear to talk human. When a

make sound. And what about people waving

AK: If you think about Tarzan he’s this boy

cub is born, bring him up in a human envi-

to each other or giving high fives.

whose parents died in a boat wreck and gets

ronment so it only hears human talking.

taken in by a mother Gorilla. So he grows CG: We have such strange conventions!

up as a gorilla and when he meets Jane he’s

CG: I don’t know if they’re biologically capa-

like...what are you? He didn’t even recognize

ble of making those human noises.

AK: What if there are aliens on other plan-

the fact that they looked the same.

ets—which I totally believe. I don’t even

know what kind of bodies they would have,

I was little was that humans could totally

but say they have eyes. What if their way of

adapt to living underwater without coming

CG: But I’m seriously wondering if we know

congratulating someone, or saying hello, or

up for air. What if one woman gave birth to a

for a “fact” whether they’re capable or not of

giving applause is moving their eyes up and

baby in water and all throughout childhood

making those sounds.

down?

the baby was always in bathtubs and pools.

What I used to think about when

AK: I know! But I was little!!

And that baby grew up and had a baby that

AK: I was just right now thinking of my dog,

CG: That is really weird, I’d like to a see an

was always in water. Eventually, in however

Luka. We got him when he was three months

entire auditorium of people just wiggling

many millenniums, they might be able to

old and never really took him to the park

their eyes up and down at the end of a per-

swim like three laps in a pool without com-

when he was little because he was so small

formance.

ing up for air. They might have webbed fin-

and we were afraid of other dogs. So he

gers!

never heard a dog bark, except probably in

AK: What if the aliens had light up fluid in

the store where we got him. But I remember

their spine and it shot up and down when

CG: The evolutionary process! You remind

when we took him home and he first barked,

they wanted to applaud?

me of that guy who thought that if you

he flipped out. He was like, “What was that!?”

wanted hard enough to evolve some feature

It wasn’t even a full bark. But I’m wondering

CG: We’re back to the idea of conventions

you could just do it. People believed that for

if he learned that from those older dogs in

and just biologically speaking, why do we do

a while but it got disproved.

the store. I like to think about that.

AK: I want to evolve to lose 500 pounds!

CG: Or what if when you raised a baby you

the basic things we do? AK: If you think about it, we’re told from the

taught it the wrong colors like, “This is red,

time we’re born that when you clap it’s for

CG: Haha, but I think we actually do adapt,

this is green.” But it was actually the oppo-

something good. But what if you weren’t told

like if water were to keep rising. The thing you

site. Would they actually perceive that? How

that, what if you were told to instead cross

don’t think about is that so many people die

much of what we take for granted as what

your fingers.

in that process of adaptation. How it works

is—like red is red, it just is—how much of

isn’t that you train someone in water their

that is a belief rather than a fact. To me that’s

CG: I saw a YouTube video about a girl who

whole life and as a result they become more

a really blurry line.

was raised by animals. I guess her parents

adapted. The way it happens is that a condi-

were junkies and one day she crawled out

tion is brought up where everyone needs to

AK: Mr. Douglas, my 6th grade science


teacher, and I were talking about that and

have to do it. It makes it easy to be compla-

him out because they couldn’t handle it. He

he asked me, “what color is the sky?” I said,

cent in regards to linear work. But people are

basically had insane ADD, but because of

“it’s blue!” But he was like, “well, how do you

worried that ADD medications are making

him we advanced so much technology wise!

know?” I was like, “because it’s blue!!” But it

it easier to be productive at the expense of

If they had Adderal, or Ritalin, or Concerta

could totally not be blue, that’s just what

non-linear or spontaneous thought, which is

back then and they gave that to him where

we’re told it is.

basically what we’ve been talking about for

would we be now?

40 minutes as the source of everything good CG: And not only how do we know, but we

in life. The source of everything interesting

know for a fact—I keep saying that, even

seems to come from taking that leap beyond

though I don’t know that we know anything

the pre-defined linear pathway of logic and

AK: Would he still have jumped out of his

for a fact—that we probably don’t see the

rationality that everyone gets to, and going

seat in the classroom? Would he still have

same shade of blue, but I guess it’s close

in your own spontaneous direction.

woken up thinking, “I want to go sit on an

enough. That’s the weird thing about percep-

egg”?

tion. What we do know is that we all have dif-

medication induced state as “productive

ferent pairs of eyeballs. So how do we know

mediocrity,” and said that that term is what

CG: I know from when I was on ADD medi-

that we’re seeing the same color? It could be

is starting to define our nation. Instead of

cation that it became easier for me to just

slightly different.

producing less but thinking more, we’re now

do stuff instead of thinking or asking, “why

Another article referred to this

CG: Oh my God. That’s messed up!

super productive but our ideas are medio-

do I have to do this crap?” And the whole

AK: We may be seeing a different color but

cre. We’re getting to that wonderful point of

system is bent on rewarding those that just

we’re still told that what we’re seeing is blue.

imagination less and less as a result of our

plow through. Looking back, the medication

Have you ever read the book The Giver? In

medications and our obsession with produc-

basically shut off or dulled my metacogni-

that society they make it so that everyone is

tivity.

tion, which can sometimes mean painfully

color blind. They have the one person, The

taking the hard way out of things. I feel like

Giver, who sees red, who sees blue, who has

AK: I heard that when Einstein was in school

sometimes people think I’m being lazy be-

feelings.

he was considered crazy and he got kicked

cause I appear to be doing nothing. But I feel

out. He wondered things like, “if I sat on this

like what’s harder than just writing some BS

egg, would it hatch?” And the school kicked

is questioning, for every single thing: Why

CG: So I want to ask you a question about how that relates to your art. We’ve been having really good rambling, but this conversation is almost on the edge of my brain right now. This has gotten to the point where I’m like OH MY GOD, I want to close my eyes because colors are freaking me out. AK: Right? CG: So what’s interesting is that this is just what goes through our minds. One of my friends sent me something she was working on on vacation and she wrote “creative minds never really take vacations,” which I think is totally true, we don’t! Even when people think you’re doing nothing, this stuff is what I’m thinking about when I’m trying to fall asleep and I’m like, “please shut off, brain!”

In an article I recently read about

ADD medication they were saying that it enables you to accomplish linear tasks. For example, you can sit down and plow through boring work more easily than asking why you

11


should I do this? How can I make the best of

the same creative place it could help you get

functioning “normally”, you’re functioning

everything I do? How can I allocate my en-

through your work, but for someone who,

less like yourself. When you think about

ergy and my time and my thought into what

like you, is in this different plane of thought,

something like ADD as a gift rather than a

really matters. Is this important? No. Okay,

I think it could harm your creativity. The way

flaw you can start to ask yourself: “Why do

then I won’t do it.

my doctor equated it to me at the time was:

we fight our gifts?” ADD might be the source

of my crazy ideas or my spontaneity.

If I spread my attention across ev-

“it’s like putting on your glasses, there’s noth-

ery unimportant thing that somebody asks

ing to get addicted to, don’t worry, it won’t

me to do, everything will be mediocre, but

change your personality. You’ll just see more

AK: Today I wasn’t on it, and by now it

maybe I’ll get better grades. That to me is the

clearly what needs to be done, because

would’ve definitely worn off. But even sitting

difference and the sacrifice we have to make.

you’re not seeing the bigger picture when

on the beach, I wouldn’t have wanted to ex-

And I needed medication at the time, be-

you’re off the medication.” But when I was at

plore if I was on the medication. I’ve noticed

cause unfortunately in our education system

Oxbow I had a conversation with one of my

that when I take the medication it does alter

you have to jump through certain hoops. The

teachers about adaptations, and this was at a

my personality. Not by a lot, but I remem-

concern is that if you don’t jump through

point where I was going on and off, deciding

ber one time when we were staying after

those hoops and get good grades, you limit

whether or not I really wanted to be on this

school for Zephyr, and it was you, me, Telfer,

yourself. And I’m grateful that I spent those

medication. What I said to him was that I felt

and Alison. And someone said to me, “you’re

two years on Concerta, but now I’m like, “oh

like I was taking medication so that I could

awfully quiet!” And then later, at 6:45, when

over a year ago, before I went on medica-

be productively mediocre on tasks don’t re-

the medication wore off, I started talking at

tion—for years and years I refused to take

ally matter. So why then was I doing them in

a hundred miles per hour. 6:45 was always

medication, it just wasn’t going to happen­

the first place?

the time when I would start being creative,

—I was like, “It’s going to change who I am.” I

or start talking, or doing all my things. Before

know I’m not going to sit at my desk shaking

adaptations. Every piece of technology is

my foot, tapping my hand, and looking up at

an adaptation, whether it’s medication, or

the sky. Instead, I’m going to be sitting there

glasses, or shoes. If I didn’t wear glasses, my

with my legs crossed, hands on the desk, do-

art would be different because when I drew

ing my work. At the lunch table I’m not going

something from far away, I would draw it

AK: I don’t know, Casey. I mean I only take

to be chattering like “Wow, isn’t that a beau-

blurry. And I actually have a friend who would

my medicine a couple of days before I know

tiful butterfly?” I would just sit there. When I

draw blurry things without her glasses. I was

I’ll have to write an essay, or I have a test, so

told that to my doctor he was like, oh no, it’s

talking to Telfer the other day and she asked

I can get the information now, take the test

not going to do that, but I think it does. The

me, “why do we fight our gifts?” That is such a

and regurgitate everything, and then forget

person who thinks about all these random

powerful question. The idea of adapting is to

about it.

things, this is me.

take what makes us different and make it the

God, I would never go back!” I never again want to be in a situation where I have so much work that is so boring that I just have to plow.

And that’s the hidden benefit of

being an artist that doesn’t take vacations. Last week you were saying how you were going crazy because you didn’t have anything interesting to work on. I think our school and life can be kind of boring and tough in it’s monotony, so part of our existence is constantly giving ourselves things to think about. Biting off questions that are bigger than we can chew. AK: When I was talking to my ADD doctor

CG: Yeah, maybe for someone who isn’t in

On every level we have different

that time, I just sat there. CG: Why do we fight our gifts?

same as everyone else so that we can func-

CG: Another quote that I love is by Paul

tion like everyone else. Except when you’re

McHugh, from that same New Yorker article


about ADD, he said, “maybe it’s wrong-foot-

two fancy old sisters because his father was a

or just somewhere else entirely. But who’s to

ed trying to fit people into the world, rather

drunk and off doing stuff, so Huck lives with

say who’s right? There was a really interesting

than trying to make the world a better place

these people who try to civilize him. They

discussion online about “What, in a hundred

for people.” It’s a subtle difference, but it’s

make him dress up, and always go to church

years, will people be saying about us?” Like:

so important! An example from Kurt Von-

and school, blah, blah, blah. But as soon as

how barbaric were people to ban gay mar-

negut—again, I haven’t read Slaughterhouse

Huck left the house he would take off the

riage? How inhumane were people to keep

Five, but it’s on my list—is that they tie lead

fancy clothes and go get in a fight in a mud

domesticated animals in cages?

anchors to the feet of dancers so that nobody

pile because that’s what he loved to do, he

will be better than anyone else. And I think

was being a little boy.

mal to us and that’s what’s interesting about

that everyone who reads that would find it

Twain was writing about how

convention. It’s often so natural that we

pretty horrifying, but that’s basically what

people conform because they’re embar-

don’t even notice it enough to question it.

we’re doing, making everyone homogenous

rassed of what other people think of them.

And that’s what interesting about the drugs,

and in a state of mediocre productivity.

Just like the sisters kept trying to civilize

is that they made me worse at questioning,

Some of these things are so nor-

Huck, society as a whole tries to get people

which is maybe the most important thing

AK: Well actually, this past Tuesday, I had to

to conform. “Don’t be different, be the same!”

there is.

make up a Huck Finn in-class essay—well

Not only do people want to conform to fit in,

first of all I didn’t read the book—but one of

but they are being told that they need to to

AK: Imagine what would happen if nobody

function. I also wrote about how Huck didn’t

had ever asked questions about race.

conform to society’s view that if you help a slave you’re going to hell. He wouldn’t have

CG: Imagine if Huck Finn had been on Ad-

been able to accomplish something great

deral.

had he not rebelled against that belief which he knew was wrong.

AK: He would be the perfect little boy. There would be no story, there would be no change,

CG: Well there’s the concept of wisdom and

there would be no emotion when reading it.

emotional intelligence: knowing when to

It would be empty...nothing there.

break rules. One example is the empathetic janitor knowing when to break the rules

CG: I think we should all defy convention

of his job to be considerate of hospital pa-

and applaud by wiggling our eyes up and

tients where he works. A more well known

down. Clapping just seems so instinctive,

example would be Huck Finn empathizing

but I think you have truly found the future

with Jim the slave and realizing it’s not right

of applause. And I’m really glad that we had

to treat people that way. Breaking the rules

this conversation because I feel like so much

the quotes that I got and ended up choos-

and conventions of the time to do what he

of the time thoughts like this are fleeting.

ing was by JFK and it was: “conformity is the

felt was right.

You have an idea and then it’s gone. The nice

jailer of freedom and growth.” And we had to

thing about recording is that it catches that

relate that to the book, which I thought was

AK: And then there were libraries that

moment. But the annoying thing is going to

great because that is something I could to-

banned the book altogether.

be typing it up!

tally write about... CG: When I had to write that essay I wrote

AK: I have an idea. You can go into the future

CG: Whether or not you had read the as-

about how ridiculous it was that anyone ever

when it’s been typed up and then just copy

signed book, you could probably write your

banned Huck Finn. It reminds me of the story

and paste it back to the present.

own whole book on that quote.

about the man who goes into the future and finds that everyone is insane. Well his views

AK: So one of the things I wrote was about

were just so different from the mass opin-

how Huck Finn—have you read it?

ions of the future. We need to consider that

CG: That’s brilliant, thanks Andra! // PROCESS

someone or something that we think is inCG: Kind of.

sane might just be misunderstood. We might not be ready to understand. The understand-

AK: Okay, well Huck Finn lives in a house with

ing could be too far in the past or the future,

13


I don’t want to make it autobiographical, I know it’s based completely on my experiences, but I don’t want it to be about me.

—DANIEL BOCCATO


15


gather together to build a show. They don’t have experience with art but they have crazy ideas. We don’t have a very strong arts program, so I always thought it was important to present it well otherwise it would dissolve into a crazy mess. It doesn’t always exactly look like art so if you don’t present it right you won’t be taken seriously at all. CG: The problem with a lot of high school art shows is that most of them look so unprofessional that good pieces can look bad. Casey Gollan: Tell me about your film.

bus. I like to draw a lot, it’s a very important

DB: It’s not necessarily about whether or

thing for me. This year I haven’t rode the bus,

not they can draw and paint as much as it

Daniel Boccato: I haven’t really started

and I’m branching out now. I want to focus

is about making something that is real for

working on the film yet, I’m just thinking

on another vantage point of the teacher or

them.

about the story and the characters. At the

educator. Right now I’m writing, thinking of

moment I’m just really trying to get inspired,

specific images I want to have in the movie

CG: It’s so cool that you did this because

watching other films that I think are good.

even if I don’t know how I want them to fit

I’ve had the same idea. I was talking to a girl

I don’t know if you know this but I’m from

together yet.

at my school who said to me, “I wish I had

Brazil, I moved here in the beginning of high school. I lived in Connecticut for two years and then I moved to Yonkers. The whole high school concept is very different

something I was passionate about like you CG: Especially with an animation, you need

are passionate about your art.” But I think art

to do a lot of planning beforehand. It’s not

is just a way of exploring things, I don’t think

like you can just film stuff because all your

you need to know how to do it a certain way

from my life back in Brazil.

pieces have to be pre-made.

to be considered an artist. The worst thing ever is when people say, “I’m not talented” or

CG: How so? I don’t know any-

DB: That’s true but also because I’m

“I can’t draw” because you don’t have to be

thing about Brazil.

working by myself I have to advan-

able to do something like everyone else to

tage of working very organically. If I

share an idea.

DB: I’m mostly talking about the

do make a whole scene and decide that I don’t want to use it, it’s a big

DB: I was really surprised with the way this

waste of time. So it’s good to plan, but I

came out. The very beginning was basically

so it was very urban, much more urban

don’t necessarily need to have everything

that I wanted to make an exhibition, and I

than Connecticut or Yonkers where I

figured out before I start.

found this space in the school which was

cultures, not even so much what things look like. I lived in São Paulo

live now. The mentality behind educa-

amazing. Even before I was thinking about

tion in the US was more challenging for

CG: So this is what you’re working on right

the whole grand picture of how it would af-

me. I found myself to be closed off or unable

now, planning for this animation, but I also

fect the whole school, I really just wanted to

to express myself because of the way that

want to hear about your other ongoing proj-

take advantage of that space to show some

everything had to be “inside the box.” And

ect, which is creating a gallery space within

cool art. I never envisioned “non-artists” par-

the movie is mostly about those experienc-

your high school. How did that whole thing

ticipating as if they were artists. People that

es, not so much social or political criticism,

start?

don’t even ever visit museums and galleries

but looking at the beautiful things through

started coming up to me and saying, “hey I

the experience of looking out of the bus

DB: It started with making one art show. I

really want to do something in your gallery!”

window: birds, trees, et cetera I always did

always had the idea of presenting it very

And what they make is so passionate and

a lot of sketchbooking, drawing kids on the

nicely, with postcards and a professional

real that I don’t even know where they get

website. But presenting it in a different way

it from.

was very important so that it would distance itself from a regular school project. A lot of it

CG: I think a lot of people feel limited by

is not made by “artists,” it’s just students that

some stereotypical definition of art, they


don’t know that it can be anything. What’s

at midnight, they kick you out. Five minutes

also interesting is the idea of context, the

after you order, you get the bill.

way you present it: as a gallery with a really professional website and a beautiful space.

CG: They’re getting you in and out.

One of my Hometest pieces for Cooper, for the prompt “Activate,” was a project I called

DB: Right, the first time that happened to

“Context.” I took rocks that were just scat-

me, with my family, we almost got outraged.

tered around and made rock sculptures out

If they’re trying to make money, they should

of them. When I came back to the beach

respect you and hope that you’ll buy more

people had made more rock sculptures. You

food before you leave, rather than pushing

don’t have to be an artist or creative to do

you out. In Brazil it’s the total complete op-

that. Everyone is able to do it if they’re given

posite. It’s really hard to think of the differ-

the right context, which is awesome.

ences. It’s really so much larger than just the

DB: I saw that! I liked it.

cultural differences also. Moving here four

in Brazil, I could tell you about all of them in

years ago is something that really changed

5 seconds. The best of theirs might not beat

my life. The other aspect is not being able

the worst ones here, which is kind of sad but

CG: The animation is focusing on the bus ride

to call either place home. Brazil is where my

it’s true. But I do contemplate going back. So

as a symbol for education in America.

roots come from, I’ve been back once and I

much stuff is going to happen in the next

wish I could go more often but we just didn’t

four years of my life that I don’t even want to

DB: Kind of. That’s quite a good way to de-

have the opportunity. Maybe you can’t imag-

think beyond that.

scribe what I’ve been thinking about, but

ine, but try to imagine how weird it is not be-

what I want to deal with is not necessarily

ing able to call your home, “home.” The bus

just the bus ride. A few years ago I had to

is going from somewhere to somewhere.

idea of making the movie just of the bus ride,

Where is it taking you? Do you want to be

but now I want to expand it.

taken in that direction or not? Perhaps we

CG: Any thoughts on what’s next? DB: Cooper!

should be self-sufficient, and not need to

CG: Are you going to finish your animation

CG: What do you think the cultural differenc-

call a geographical location home. There’s all

before the summer’s over?

es between Brazil and America are? It’s not

these different things. I don’t want to make

something I know a lot about.

it autobiographical, I know it’s based com-

DB: Well the idea I have it’s probably going

pletely on my experiences, but I don’t want

to be about more than five minutes but less

it to be about me.

than ten. Have you ever done animation?

CG: More universal?

CG: I haven’t but I know how slow it is.

DB: I guess that’s why. I think the emotions

DB: It takes a very long time, especially since

that I’ve gone through are more interesting

I don’t even have a specific idea yet. And I

than my own personal story.

doubt I’ll be ready by the end of the sum-

DB: To give a very simple example, unrelated to high school, is being in a bar or a restaurant with your friends or family, and they close at midnight. In the United States,

mer but if I’m not doing else I think it would CG: So you’re going to Cooper Union, which

be a great project because it almost brings

is in the US, but did you consider going to

closure to this chapter of my life. If I needed

school in Brazil or would you consider mov-

to finish after my first year of Cooper, I might

ing back at some point?

never finish. I’ve been involved in animation for a long time and it’s always hard to settle

DB: I never really considered going to school

on one idea, especially in my teenage years

in Brazil because I got into Cooper. But one of

where I’m changing so much every day. It

the huge differences, school-wise, is money.

would be great if I finished, but maybe un-

And I think that money doesn’t necessarily

realistic.

equal a good education but there are more opportunities in the United States than in

CG: Good luck! // PROCESS

Brazil. There are one or two major art schools

17


I always wanted a really cool sketchbook that was filled with all these doodles and sketches, but that just doesn’t happen For me.

—PHOEBE PUNDYK


19


Casey Gollan: So tell me about your project.

ing and things that inspire me: rip outs from

“Well, I have all these ideas and now I’m go-

I read from your description that it was done

magazines, photographs, postcards. When

ing to make my masterpiece!” That doesn’t

as an assignment for a color class?

you needed to submit a sketchbook for Coo-

really work because when you do something

per and were like “I don’t have one!” I totally

it’s not going to come out how you imagined,

Phoebe Pundyk: Last semester I was in this

knew what you were talking about because I

or it’s going to spark a million new ideas. So

class called Color which was all about color

always wanted a really cool sketchbook that

with this project the process was to make a

theorists, and applying those concepts, as

was filled with all these doodles and like mov-

series of over ten, but you end up with ten

well as just exploring what color can do. We

ing sketches but that just doesn’t happen to

drawings of this object, which was supposed

used paints, collage, oil pastels, and stuff. And

me. My process is more that I have ideas that

to represent you in some way.

this is one of the final projects that I did. The

are easier for me to describe in writing and

reason I submitted it was because it really

by looking at other things. That’s been sort

CG: Yeah, I wanted to know why you chose

made me change how I think about making

of frustrating because then when you go

a fork.

art. My sketchbooks have mostly been writ-

to make some sort of final piece you’re like,


PP: Well it didn’t actually have to represent

it was more like I just started and kept going.

your instincts to make decisions subcon-

me in a really meaningful way. It was more

I even put a movie on while I did it because I

sciously that in the end produces cool stuff.

about the shapes. Her examples were re-

was trying hard not to over think what I was

It’s not like, “I have blue eyes so I better add

ally weird, like a solid bowl or a cake stand.

doing.

some blue in there.”

CG: How many did you do?

CG: When we think about it too hard we get

I chose a fork because A) I like to eat and B) I just thought the shape was cool and it would give me a lot to work with. She showed us

really representational.

some examples and people had done safety

PP: I ended up doing about 25 and then I

pins. She really wanted us to pull apart and

really narrowed it down into what I thought

PP: Exactly, “I’m tall so I should pick a fork be-

abstract the object so you wouldn’t even

were the best ones. I took out the really ugly

cause I’m tall and narrow so that resembles

know what it was. I thought I could do some-

ones. Some of the ones took 5 minutes and

me, and I have straight-ish hair so that’s like

thing cool with forks, and the prongs. And

others took 20 minutes and you can see that

the straightness of the prongs—I really look

this fork that I just stole from the dining hall

some used water, some were with less mix-

like a fork!” But I actually just picked an ob-

had little dotted designs on it.

ing, more sketchy. I had a lot of fun playing

ject that I liked and that was what was fun.

with what was going to happen. So that

So this wasn’t my final project, it was my sec-

afterwards I went back and looked at them

ond to last, and I thought, “I really like doing

CG: Was it plastic?

The best part may not be the final product, it could be three steps before it. PP: It was a metal one. CG: But you stole it anyway.

this, maybe I’ll combine them into a big fork combo.” But that defeats everything that I just did and I’ll probably have to go through the same process to get back to where I was. A big final piece might be cool but it’s just totally different. CG: A different process to get there.

with the idea of “Self Portrait: Icon” and paired

PP: Exactly, and I liked that with most proj-

the series together. “I see Phoebe in that, or I

ects you’re like okay I’m gonna make 5

see the artist in that.” It was also really fun be-

thumbnails and then make a big sketch. But

cause one thing that’s stressful about mak-

in this one there was no big one. The big one

ing art is when you set out to make a piece

is weeding out of your 30 drawings to get

PP: Yeah. And as it turns out I didn’t end up

that’s like: “I’m going to describe the sadness

the ones that best describe you. Later going

pulling the object apart but instead I zoomed

of this rose!” It’s like this constant question,

back to the initial goal and looking through

in on certain aspects of it. I found the shapes

“Does this do that? Does this do that?” This

what you have.

and the grooves so interesting that I didn’t

was so cool because you did that afterwards

really need to abstract the shapes and the

and used your gut feeling, what you know, to

CG: Instead of working up to some big prod-

lines,. It ended up so that in some of them

create the stuff.

uct, you’re working a lot and then editing

you can’t really tell that it’s a fork unless you

down to the final thing. What that reminds of CG: That’s how I feel with a lot of stuff. I’ll

is the process of photography. I love when I

have some idea or assignment—like with

look at a photographer’s monograph and I’m

CG: And it’s also part of a series so you can

my final project they were like: “You have

like, “Wow, every photo they took was amaz-

see what’s going on.

a month, now do stuff!” And some people

ing.” But if you think about it, you might look

know, but it’s still not just random shapes.

started working the second they got it, but

at a book of someone’s entire career and it

PP: Yeah. And back to the series thing, the

I was researching for three weeks. I get im-

has a thousand photographs. But for every

project was a self portrait icon—but that

mersed in whatever I’m working on to the

one of those photos there were probably a

didn’t really have that much to do with my

point where I can make without thinking and

hundred or more that didn’t make the cut.

big revelation. We bought stacks of Canson

later I’m able to relate it to what wanted to

Back when people shot on rolls you would

paper and oil pastels and we would sit there

say. It just happens.

shoot an entire roll for one image.

these drawings. And I wasn’t really thinking

PP: Which is so cool because that’s the fun

PP: That’s what’s great about digital, you can

about the color choices or what I was doing,

of it! You know so much about it or you use

just snap, snap, snap.

in and outside of class just cranking out

21


CG: It’s more impulsive. It lets you plan less. A

art requires great waste. I have such a prob-

have people drawing your forks for you, but I

blessing and a curse with film was that every

lem buying art supplies because, in a weird

guess then it wouldn’t be you.

time you shoot a picture on film it was like,

way, it forces me to consider what the end

“There’s another 25 cents!” Between all the

result is going to be. I need to just use ev-

PP: My mom knew of this guy who had a

costs of film and chemicals.

erything I want and then decide what works

studio of people painting paintings for him,

and doesn’t. I can be super wasteful.

and he just instructed them on what to do.

PP: With this project they were quick draw-

I always thought that was just insane. Be-

ings. They’re not masterpieces. I could defi-

PP: But at the same time it’s not really waste

cause then it’s not his art, it’s just his ideas.

nitely go back and add stuff but when I was

because you have a whole story behind it

He signed every single piece, though. There’s

in the groove you just crank out whatever

that tells how you got to where you ended,

different ways of showing the world

comes to mind. Each one was planned from

and it’s totally different from where you

your ideas.

the previous one. You do one which sparks

started. CG: That’s why I was weirded out when I

another idea so you start a new drawing. CG: That’s what’s cool to me about your proj-

found out I got into art school under a bind-

CG: That’s exactly what I was talking to my

ect, is that you’re basically saying, “Here it is.

ing decision, because I have had exactly

friend Andra about. This is your first time that

My process of getting here, everything from

the same thought. I feel like there are other

this is how you work, but for her and for me,

the time I started to the time I finished, is my

things I could be. Certain projects I want to

this is how we work all the time. She was tell-

final product. So put it all on the wall!”

be very involved in the execution, like with

ing me, “I can’t even remember my process

your forks, if you had somebody else making

by the time I get to the end because every

PP: The best part may not be the final thing,

those they wouldn’t have that subconscious

time I do something I get a different spark

it could be three steps before it.

manifestation of you. At other times I just

and it changes what I’m doing.”

want to hire a master wood worker to follow CG: That’s the reasoning behind Sol Lewitt’s

my directions. Sometimes I have an idea that

PP: I don’t know why it took this long for me.

quote: “The idea is the machine that creates

I want to talk about through an object, which

I think just because I’m just very organized, I

the work.”That it doesn’t actually matter what

I just need built.

plan and go step by step, it’s my nature.

you make, so much as your concept. When I was at the Cooper End of Year Show, I was

PP: I think we’re talking about two differ-

CG: I remember you always starting projects

talking to someone who is a student there.

ent things. The craft of ideas, a philosopher

on the day they were assigned, being fin-

She seemed very meticulous and kind of like

showing the world ideas through art, versus

ished a week ahead, and then laughing at me

a Type-A personality and she was saying, “Ev-

art that you admire for its craftsmanship.

while I did mine in the last minute.

eryone else is so conceptual that they’re like, ‘I have the best idea ever, so what I make can

CG: There should be a dating site to match

PP: And I still ended up with pieces that I like,

look like shit because my idea is so good!’,”

up philosophers and talented artists that

but it seems like this is a more enjoyable pro-

But she was saying, “Not me!” And she made

have no ideas.

cess. Not that I didn’t enjoy making stuff for

this beautifully constructed model of an air-

my whole life.

plane wing out of wood. I was just thinking

PP: It can suck sometimes when you have to

that I’m one of those people who thinks my

do a project that you’re not inspired about. I

ideas are good enough!

have had to use a philosopher to spark my

CG: “I regret my whole life before this!!”

brain with crazy ideas. PP: I think this is a pivotal moment for me just

PP: For her what’s important is the craft, but

because I can still have goals and ideas—I

for other people they may not be able to

CG: A muse. It reminds of the artist David

also like to conserve, I don’t like waste. So

make things well, but they have really cool

Horvitz who is every day for a year sending

in the past I’ve done three small sketches

ideas. Or for other people it’s a combo.

out spontaneous directions by mail or on-

on three pieces of paper, and then I use one

line. He’s just doing the idea part, writing it

more for the big one. And that’s a total of four

CG: I’m waiting until the day when I either

in words, and he’s saying that you can use

things. Now I’m like, “Screw that! I’m using a

have a machine that can make the thing for

his ideas for an exhibition or whatever. But

dedicated notebook for every single project

me or I can have a hundred assistants. Almost

I’ve been following him since the beginning

these days.” It’s crazy!

none of the conceptual artists make their

of the year and I can tell when something is

own stuff. People are like, “I’m so honored

his direction. It’ll be like, “take a photo of the

to be installing this artwork!” So you could

sky and mail it to me.” Well he loves skies and

CG: I think it’s generally a truism that great


he loves mail. PP: Yeah, he loves mail!

eryone sees things differently. It’s such a cool

PP: This past semester it’s been interesting to

idea, the interpretation. Text on the wall is

talk about color because color is something

actually less limiting because when there’s

that triggers those emotions. We did all this

no real image of it every single person has a

abstract color and shape work and it was in-

CG: So I guess on every level there’s some

different interpretation. If it’s installed you’re

teresting to think about the progression of

sort of fingerprint. But I feel weird about

seeing one person’s interpretation.

drawing in charcoal and graphite, it’s black

the fact that the factory painter signs each

and white, and then you add color to it and

piece. When I work with other people, which

PP: If you think about the viewer: a person

I have—on my Final Project I built that huge

goes to a museum expecting to be stimulat-

installation and had 30 different people

ed by visual art and a person goes to a book-

CG: For me it’s a whole other thing to worry

helping me. But I’m not pretending that I did

store expecting to be stimulated by words.

about!

it myself alone in a day, taking credit for the

So I think it throws people off when they go

craft or construction is not what’s important

into a museum and are like, “Whoa, I have to

PP: But color draws people in. Let’s say

to me.

think about this through language.” It’s two

you take a picture and you have this philo-

PP: What he’s doing is sort of like art plagia-

If certain animals are what we call color blind, but they live in the wild, you would think that they need to see more colors compared to us. Maybe we’re actually color blind.

rism. CG: With Sol Lewitt they don’t list the people who install his work, right? PP: No, they have one at the Tang, the museum at school, and it just says Sol Lewitt. CG: But I guess with him, it’s common knowl-

it’s like a whole other realm.

edge. And people feel good enough that they get to be a part of it. They don’t need

different languages.

recognition, “I’m getting to do the art of someone famous!”

sophical idea that you want to send across. It makes you feel something, but the idea

CG: I read an awesome quote by a photogra-

doesn’t come across. I’m not saying what

pher named Sam Falls who was saying “I real-

I’m trying to say clearly, but getting feelings

PP: What if he wasn’t famous? It’s like, “Oh

ly dig conceptual art that requests time and

across and getting ideas across are two dif-

cool. I just scribbled on a wall for three days.

mental processing, but this usually ends up

ferent challenges.

I hope that people like it.” It reminds me of

in a sort of ‘knowing’ that doesn’t necessar-

what I was saying in the beginning, that my

ily drive me back to the artwork. The pieces

CG: That’s what I struggle with too, trying

sketchbooks are mostly written ideas that

I always return to and can look at over and

to do both because you want to have a bal-

the final intention is to visually represent. But

over in a museum’s permanent collection

ance.

I feel like if I give the idea to someone else

are works that make me feel and not think,

they would interpret it in a totally different

where there’s no pedagogy but just empa-

PP: You want to spark their brain but also

way.

thy.” I’m really conceptual, so the primary

give a certain feeling. I think it happens a lot

reason I make stuff is that I’m thinking about

with abstract art when you try to read into

CG: That’s what I like about Lawrence Wein-

a problem and I want to find a way of talking

the ideas and meaning of shapes, and lines,

er. When they installed his text pieces at

about it. Sometimes the only way I can think

and colors. But maybe you just look at it and

the Whitney, like “A GLASS OF SALT WATER

of doing that is by making something. One

you get a certain feeling, that’s the point of it.

POURED ON A RUG,” they could either put up

example that he brought up is the painting

And sometimes you don’t know what you’re

the text on the wall, or they could spill the salt

Christina’s World by Andrew Wyeth, which I

saying until its done.

water on the rug. Every time a curator puts

love. My older sister had a print of it in her

that in they’ll install it differently. My friends

room for as long as I can remember. Certain

CG: I got into an interesting conversation

were like, “Why are you giggling? What do

pieces of art are just emotional and I agree

with my friend Andra about color and she

you see in this? It’s just words!” But his work,

that those are the ones that we return to.

started talking about the book The Giver

to me, is ultimate statement about how ev-

where the entire society is color blind and

23


only one person sees red and has feelings.

ing about. Just because I call something red

PP: Maybe it had to do with survival skills and

We started talking about it biologically, but

and you call something red doesn’t mean

how we used to need to determine whether

it made me think, “How do we even know

it’s the same thing. We’re just taught to call

certain animals or plants were dangerous. It

we’re seeing the same colors?”

it the same thing. Maybe the doesn’t even

probably had something to do with survival

make sense. I was saying, “I just want to close

of the fittest.

PP: I’m taking a science class at FIT called

my eyes because I don’t want to think about

Light & Color, which is all about the physics

colors anymore!!”

behind seeing color. In art class at Skidmore,

CG: It’s like how bees see ultraviolet “landing strips” on flowers.

we didn’t really touch on that because it just

PP: Well there are really only four different

blew my teacher’s mind, all the theories and

hues, but then there’s five million “in-be-

PP: If certain animals are what we call color

stuff. It’s crazy how animals see color totally

tweeners.” We really only define and title red,

blind, but they live in the wild, you would

different than we do. And that there are color

green and blue, but we call so many things

think that they need to see more colors

blind people who don’t see black and white.

brown. Like, that first person just decided we

compared to us. Maybe we’re actually color

In some people, the cones that see red and

should call that thing brown? My teacher was

blind.

Matisse was trained as a master artist. But either HIS ideas or a desire to express more emotion took over and HE APPLIED THAT fundamental skill to making more abstract art.

CG: How do we even know what they see? We can’t even tell—I mean, I guess we can— but how can you tell what another person is actually seeing? PP: And you can’t ask a dog, like, “Yo, is this green?” The dog would be like, “woof.” I guess we just have to scientifically know. Because nothing is actually a color, it all has to do with light and wavelengths and pigments and dyes. And molecules absorbing dyes. The

green overlap a lot so those two colors be-

saying that different ancient cultures were

interaction of light and matter. That’s why in

comes interchangeable.

color blind and interpreted colors differently

the dark everything is black even though it’s

based on what colors they saw in their en-

still a “green” plant.

CG: I actually have that but I can totally tell

vironment. For example, African tribes only

the difference between red and green, even

see colors X, Y, and Z, so those are the only

CG: That’s what’s cool about photography

when they’re next to or on top of each other.

colors in their vocabulary and also their sight

too. Our eyes function really differently from

But with differences that are so subtle, like

range. If they come to our culture where we

a camera, and we lose our ability to see color

those freaking dot books, I can’t tell the dif-

see 5 million colors—I didn’t really under-

as it gets darker and cameras do too. But

ference. I can tell the difference between a

stand whether or not they actually saw the

if you take a long exposure on a camera at

red pepper and a green pepper but appar-

difference between the colors or they just

night you might not see colors, but you’ll see

ently I can’t be an airplane pilot because of

didn’t have words for them.

the light that is captured when the camera

all the little blinking lights.

keeps its lens open for a long time. CG: I would’ve thought it was just an issue of

PP: So you know which version you’re seeing,

not having different pigments. I read a weird

PP: It’s like a machine we created to mimic

which version you call red and which version

thing that the world is actually getting less

our eyes that actually does something totally

you call green?

colorful. I can understand how they would

different. I guess we failed at that.

measure old vegetables and new vegetables CG: Yeah, same as everyone else.

to determine that vegetables are getting

CG: It’s like trying to get other people to rep-

less nutritious—we’re doomed!—and I don’t

licate your art! So what were you thinking

PP: That’s what we all did too we defined dif-

understand how they determined this, but

with the colors in your project?

ferent stuff and we all just happened to de-

they did. We apparently used to be able to

fining the same things.

perceive more colors, something about “the

PP: We had a set of oil pastels, which is some-

spectrum used to be wider. “

what limiting but you can do some mixing.

CG: Well that’s what Andra and I were talk-

Some of them are in the same color range,


which was just because we only had 10 or 12

CG: I think getting into that process of get-

to art. When a kid draws a stick figure or a

original colors, but I wasn’t actually paying

ting so consumed by what you’re working on

doodle it’s not something that would fit in a

too much attention to the colors. I can’t really

that you just create it is important because

museum but maybe it captures something

remember because it was sort of thought-

that disconnect between my mind and the

that a masterful rendering wouldn’t because

less. It wasn’t random, like, I’m closing my

real world is what frustrates me a lot when I

as you get older and build up technique—I

eyes and picking a color.

draw. I feel like if I could represent the thing

don’t know how it happens—but you lose

in a sketch I would, but a sketch won’t do any

whatever you have in the beginning. So

CG: Yeah, that probably wouldn’t go over

good until I’m ready to make the thing exist

there are good aspects of being an amateur,

well in a critique of an assignment for color

physically. I have to get to know it on some

not having that ability to render what you

class.

other level first.

have in your had. It forces you to think about your concept more.

PP: Right, there definitely was some thought

PP: It’s weird for me because I always thought

behind it but not really intention. It was just

it’s just that I can’t draw.

about making a cohesive drawing.

PP: You have a different set of skills and language you’re using to express what you’re

CG: YES! CG: So this is also something that’s not old,

trying to say. It won’t necessarily be beautiful.

but it’s not your latest work. What have you

PP: It’s so bizarre to me because I can draw,

done since this?

I do have that ability, but maybe it’s not—I

CG: Well what Seth Godin said that was so

don’t know. It’s just so weird. I can do it but

cool was, “Be an amateur because you want

PP: Well I sent this because it was what

it’s just not how I intend. The work that I’ve

to, not because you have to.” Then you can

sparked my change of thought, and I was

done for my color class, I like a lot. But I feel

decide whether or not you really want to ab-

really excited because it was such a crazy

like I changed as an artist even though the

stract.

experience for me. I guess the next and final

work doesn’t seem as good. It’s more on a

thing I did was basically the same project but

deeper level than an ability level.

with different lumps of creased fabric, so it

PP: It’s so crazy. There are so many ways to go and so much to figure out. It’s mind blow-

was more about texture and shape. I did a

CG: I just read an article about Pixar, who I

series that ended up being 10 or 12 similar

would say is a group of people that have a

sized drawings, but I wasn’t trying to abstract

grasp on making things that are technically

it because the fabric was already abstract.

well drawn but capture feelings. Especially because computer animation has the po-

ing. CG: I agree. I lose sleep over it. PP: So that’s where I’m at.

CG: Something I have to watch, is that I have

tential to look so lifeless. But they’re know

a hyperactive imagination. So I will usually

for their lively animations. They were saying

have a picture of what a project will end up

that they go to locations from their movies

looking like in my head before I even begin.

to research how it feels, not just what it looks

PP: I have a lot of ideas. I don’t really know

like. And I think that shows the difference be-

where I’m going as far as creating stuff. I

tween rendering something accurately and

spent the past semester working, and ever

capturing the feeling.

since I’ve been home from school I’ve been

PP: That’s exactly what happens to me. CG: It’s not a picture you can make. Like the

CG: And where are you going?

spending a lot of time just looking.

difference between the camera and the eye.

PP: It’s just weird to think about that. If you

Not necessarily a picture of how it looks, but

look up a lot of famous artists, they’re more

of how it feels.

famous for their abstract stuff, but Matisse

CG: Incubating!!

has incredible skill and was trained as a mas-

PP: My brain is just full of, “Whoa, that’s awe-

PP: That’s why I prefer to use writing to de-

ter artist. But either their ideas or a desire to

some!” But I don’t know where it’s going yet.

scribe projects in my sketchbooks. If I use

express more emotion took over and they

At school I don’t really have time to create

sketches or drawings they’re either very

used that fundamental skill but applied it to

things outside of art assignments but now I

loose or more like diagrams. If I have an idea

making more abstract art.

have time to think and do whatever I want.

of what the final thing is going to look like

Actually, my brother has been making a lot

it becomes unbelievably frustrating because

CG: It reminds me of another thing I read by

of movies and films so I asked him yesterday

it’s not turning out how I want it to be. Either

Seth Godin, who’s an entrepreneur. So he’s

if he wants to make a movie with me this

I don’t have the skill or—I don’t even know...

talking about business but it totally applies

summer and he said yes.

25


CG: Awwwwwww. So cute! PP: That would be more of just a comedy than artistic route. A mockumentary or something. We just wanna make fun of stuff. CG: When I was like, 11, I took my first art class outside of school, which was video. And everyone was making these art films and me and a couple friends in the program just made a comedy. So at the end there was this pretentious 11 year old art film festival and then our 10 minute comedy. We were like, “that’s awesome!” I’m still weird about video art. PP: For me, the fun of film is storytelling. There were so many times during the year where I was like, “This would make such a great movie!” or “I wish I had a video camera!” I saw a couple of documentaries recently, and documentaries fascinate me because they go back to the whole process thing. You just film like 300 hours of stuff and then extract stories from that. CG: Kinda like what I’m gonna do with this conversation! PP: I went to the Angelika and saw this documentary on Valentino and coincidentally the director was having a Q&A. And his inside scoop on making the film totally fascinated me. CG: There was that awesome quote by Gary Hustwit, who directed Objectified, “A documentary shouldn’t answer questions. It should provoke more questions from the viewer, and not think for them.” That’s also what a lot of art I like is about. PP: Movies are just really fun because it’s an-

money and beauty and Italian lusciousness.

directed by Marshall Curry, and it’s about

other fantasy world or showing a really spe-

And he doesn’t know what is going on out-

pre-teen go kart racers who are basically try-

cific obscure part of the world that nobody

side of the fashion world. And nobody would

ing to qualify for Nascar. If you want to be in

knows about, and that open up this big can

know that unless that guy had made a movie

Nascar you have to zoom around the track at

of worms for the rest of the world. With the

about it.

90 miles per hour when you’re 11. It seems so

Valentino film, he has been around in the

crazy to the rest of us but that is their entire

fashion industry for 50 years, but it’s like he

CG: A very specialized documentary I saw re-

world. It seems scary and funny to us but this

lives on another planet. This planet full of

cently was called Racing Dreams which was

is like their standardized test of racing. It ac-


tually won best documentary at the Tribeca

though is that every single article from the

disconnected from the entire world. Just like

Film Festival.

past 50 years has been about how he is this

the Nascar stuff it’s so funny to the rest of the

incredible legend with his haute couture

world that they’re so serious about it.

PP: The director of the Valentino movie is a

fashion and nobody could ever replace him,

journalist for Vanity Fair and he had an as-

but there’s a whole other side of him. Things

CG: I know exactly what you mean, thanks so

signment to write about Valentino, so he

that are dead serious in Valentino’s world,

much for talking to me!

did all this research even though he wasn’t

we just laugh at. He’s this hilarious guy who,

interested in him at all. What he realized

in his own mind, is not hilarious but he’s so

// PROCESS

27


My art is not as conceptually advanced as some other peoples. Or maybe it is in a different way. There’s a lot I have to learn about the process.

—THERESA

ZEITZ-LINDAMOOD


29


Casey Gollan: Tell me about your project.

and draws at all but you have these very

changed and revolutionized itself over the

detailed plans in your sketchbook. What sur-

course of a project but I tend to have my

Theresa Zeitz-Lindamood: The project

prises me is that at this stage they’re already

idea, make it, and then build off it in the next

that I emailed you is the one that I’m excited

very nice looking. I’ve been talking to other

project.

about right now, and it’s been a little while

people about how if I could draw what I

since I’ve been excited about a new proj-

wanted to when I had my ideas, I would do it.

CG: That’s interesting because it’s so differ-

ect. It’s taking these South Seas designs and

But it takes me, like, a month of getting into

ent from almost everyone else I’ve talked to.

carvings, which I really like and have lots of

the project’s specific mode of thought to be

books about, and applying them to modern

able to make stuff. What’s your take on that?

design objects. Not really high end, “designy”

TZL: I read some of the excerpts of your other interviews and I was like, “hmmm...this

things but toilets and Coke liter bottles. It’s

TZL: That’s interesting. When I do my proj-

the intersection of those things. I find it very

ects, the vast majority of the time I’ll go back

amusing to work on.

and look at my original sketch or plan for it. It

CG: I’ve seen your portfolio and you’ve done

isn’t what I do!”

has a lot to do with my final product. I don’t

a lot of painting of insects. What sets them

CG: The first thing I noticed is how beautiful

usually write anything down about a project

apart from other things is that they’re really

your sketchbook page is. I don’t know what

until I’m sure where I want it to go, or what

well executed. But you also have a concept,

the different circles of art students are, but I

the composition will be like, or I’ve gotten

like this project combining an old aesthetic

guess I identify most with these people from

the general feel of it. I don’t really take notes

with new designs. Where do you get that old

Oxbow who are like, “We’re so conceptual,

before that point, so it does give my sketch-

aesthetic? I feel like I’m really part of my own

we don’t even have to make art because we

book a more finished feel. I sort of wish I was

time so for me to do a tribal carving feels in-

have ideas!” I’m not a person that sketches

one of those people where my idea totally

authentic.


TZL: I don’t know. I guess it mostly relates to what interests me. If I’m looking at these things and for some reason I can’t get them out of my head, I just find them so fascinating, then that’s valid and meaningful. I like to explore them. CG: Awesome. So a lot of what you do has to do with looking through books? TZL: My mom is a librarian so I get to go through the collection and if there are any art history books published before 1940 I get to find them and keep them, which is excellent. CG: Oh my God! So you have a ton of art books? TZL: Yeah, it’s also where I get most of my collage materials from. I have lots of Biology books. I don’t have that many, but I have a fair amount. The stack keeps getting bigger and bigger. It’s what got me into collage. Last fall I really started collaging a lot and I

have one idea when I make a piece, it’s more

to draw and paint well. I definitely struggled

love it now. I feel like it’s helping my art be-

of a collection of ideas that I’ve been working

with it, I wasn’t always just very comfort-

come a lot more free, less about the process

on and thinking about which come together.

able with a paintbrush or with drawing, but

of just painting or drawing. Sometimes it

Sometimes there is directly a statement of,

I always really liked it. There was definitely a

gets very—not slow, I actually work pretty

“This is the point I’m making in this piece”

time where I wished I was able to represent

quickly—but with collage it’s even quicker

and I would hope that it comes through.

something well and couldn’t. It was frustrat-

and more spontaneous.

ing but now I feel like I’m at a point where CG: So the conceptual way of working is to

if I want to represent something I can, more

CG: Maybe I only associate with these con-

come up with a concept which you can use

or less.

ceptual people, but I’m very interested in

to generate the art, but your approach is

your execution which seems like a rare thing

more about planning your composition.

today. What are the roots of your painting and drawing?

CG: I’m so far from that point!! One of my friends who’s very into concept was say-

TZL: That’s an excellent way of putting it.

ing how she was really considering liberal arts, which is the same as I was. But she said

TZL: I’ve definitely noticed that too. I don’t

CG: Have you always been able to paint and

that she felt like she needed to have her ass

know if it’s all artists, or just people in art

draw like you do? When I talked to someone

kicked in art—like, “I can think, but I don’t

school, or the people going into our class at

in a portfolio review they were like, “You

know if I can draw.”

Cooper Union, or the people I’ve met at pre-

should really try to paint and draw because

college programs. I don’t know why that’s

you don’t have any painting and drawing,

TZL: Maybe because I’ve spent so much time

survived and thrived in me despite all the

even though the skills might not happen

on the technical side I’m more behind on

other influences. I would definitely identify

overnight.” Is it a thing you’ve always had?

the conceptual side, which is a valid point

more with the materials and process of paint-

to make. My art is not as conceptually ad-

ing and drawing more than just thinking of

TZL: Not always. There was a long time,

vanced as some other people’s. Or maybe it

ideas. I mean, ideas are important to me but

through middle school and freshman year of

is in a different way. There’s definitely a lot I

I feel like they’re more obscure. I don’t really

high school where I really wanted to be able

have to learn about thinking about art and

31


spiel about them! CG: So that became the concentration for your whole series of Hometest projects? TZL: Yeah, it did. I like working around a concentration like that. It was a really interesting one because there’s so much potential with the idea that anything can grow out of anything. I remember you said something about my Hometest seeming very “cohesive” to you, and I like that the cohesiveness comes across when I do a series. I spend a lot of time thinking about that. CG: That’s interesting because I’m so the opposite. I spend time thinking about the concept to the point where I go crazy and then

I like projects with complicated Designs because it allows me more time to sit in my studio and work, And that’s the part that I enjoy most. to seclude myself and work oN stuff IS SOMETHING I find very fun.

what I make can be totally not cohesive.

thinking about the process, and I’m look-

tice, but then afterward I kept thinking about

when I was taking an art history course in my

ing forward to learning about it at Cooper

them and how they looked. Some things just

school so I was really being exposed to the

Union. And then there’s people like you who

stick in my thoughts. For example, I read this

old artwork, which was fun. But I wouldn’t

are looking forward to learning more of the

very very short article about teratomas and I

say that the majority of my influences are

technical things. I think that’s cool!

just started tell everyone I met about them.

Old Masters or anything, there are some I

But the fact that it all came out of that one idea lets me argue that it’s cohesive in some sense.

This is so random, but I’ve seen the

Facebook Graffiti that you’ve done for people, which is really accurate reproductions of famous paintings. A lot of the artwork that I connect with is contemporary and conceptual but are your influences older or different? TZL: I did most of those Graffiti drawings

like. I’m reading a lot more about contempoCG: I know your Hometest had to do a lot

CG: What’s your 30 second run down of tera-

rary art, especially thanks to your blog and

with teratomas. It seems like you find these

tomas?

other blogs.

that interest you, where does that come

TZL: Hmm, let’s see. A teratoma is basically

CG: Hahaha.

from?

a tumor that grows from stem cells, most of

really strange biological or natural things

the time in the ovaries. Because they’re stem

TZL: It’s really interesting to me. I don’t really

TZL: I really like the biological things and the

cells they can grow any body part in them,

have a single painter or group of artists that

teratomas. The things that stick in my mind

things like brains, eyeballs, hair, and a full

inspired me the most. I feel like my inspira-

are what I tend to create art about. I spent

size set of teeth. Teratoma is Greek for “little

tion is more from outside the art world. I like

a lot of time at the RISD Nature Lab doing

monster” and it’s got a Greek name because

to read a lot of research things, like the tera-

observational drawing, because they just

they would find them in people since An-

tomas.

let anyone in, and I did all these drawings of

cient Greek times. They’re surprisingly com-

beetles there. Mostly just as drawing prac-

mon too. I used to be better at giving a little

CG: So this series is what you’re working on


now, but what’s next?

CG: Maybe it’s just for me and this other

TZL: I don’t know. I’m looking forward to

group of people, but a lot of what I’m im-

learning more about thinking about art

TZL: I have this project I’ve been working

mersed in is asking questions about mak-

and the conceptual side of things at Cooper

on for a while, I call it my “Special Book.” It’s a

ing the things themselves. For example, my

Union next year.

series of drawings which are sort of abstract.

answer to a question would be asking why

It’s a lot of cells and geometric designs. I’ve

I have to answer the question in the first

been working on it since February.

place. It’s this crazy kinda of metacognition

CG: I think I’ve heard about it.

CG: It’s definitely on that side of the scale.

and that means that I’m always changing the

TZL: I think it’ll be interesting to see how it

way I work and deal with things. But since

mixes with my approach, not that my ap-

you’ve been painting and drawing it’s been

proach is opposed to it or anything. I’m

TZL: Yeah, I was really excited about it when

that same process of sitting on the floor and

excited for next year. Today I was in the car

I started, but I’ve just been working on it on

just doing it?

with my dad, and I was like, “I’m imagining

and off. They’re loose drawings and I was go-

right now that we’re driving to New York and

ing to spiral bind them together. I would like

TZL: Yes, but I just really enjoy the process

I have all my stuff for Cooper Union in the

to work on it more. I want to make the book

of it. Far and away I am happiest when I’m

back of the car!”

an experience where you’re just sort of over-

starting a project, or in the middle of a proj-

whelmed by the volume of these drawings

ect and just busily working away. That’s why

CG: For me it’s going to be pretty anticlimac-

of cells and shapes turning into one another.

I like more complex or involved projects with

tic when I go there, or go home for a break

I’m hoping to get a lot of art done this sum-

complicated designs because it allows me

because it’s like a 30 minute train ride, which

mer.

more time to sit in my studio and work. And

I do all the time. I want my family to move to

that’s the part of it that I enjoy most, to se-

California so that I can have an actual break

CG: For me, I’ll be sitting in class or some-

clude myself and work of stuff, I find it very

when I get home!! Thanks so much for talking

where boring and I can be thinking or day-

fun.

to me and I will let you know how it goes!

CG: Any last thoughts? Final words?

// PROCESS

dreaming. A lot of my process is getting out and reading or doing other things. But when you work it’s kind of like sitting in a room and actually doing the crafting of the piece. TZL: Yeah, I would say that most of the time I get the ideas for my artwork out of the context of the studio. I’ll be in class, like you said, or walking down the street or in the shower. CG: I think you’re, like, the third person to bring up getting ideas in the shower! TZL: I had some good ideas for Cooper Union things when I was in the shower but not really other things that I can remember. When I’m actually doing the working, I have a little room in my house that’s my studio. I’m an only child so there’s a lot of empty rooms. CG: That’s helpful! TZL: Yeah, it is. I sit in here and I’ve got a little desk but I usually sit on the floor if I’m doing something bigger. I don’t usually like to sit in a chair or at an easel, I find it uncomfortable.

33


Studying architecture is like being in the gray of the Venn Diagram. it’s the in-between spot between art AND science—it’s just where I want to be.

—LIZA LANGER


35


Casey Gollan: Talk to me about your project

Looking at it now it kind of looks like an

ing a courtyard, and the one after that is a

atrium or some part of a Baroque cathedral.

big open space. That could be a sweet build-

Liza Langer: Well, I’ve been thinking a lot

I don’t think it’s that far off from being what

ing.

about vegetables and fruits lately and how

we consider standards of architecture to be. I

they relate to architecture. I’ve always want-

especially like the portion of the print all the

something that is offered in most high

ed to just cut open a pepper, dip it in ink, and

way to the left. It shows the tip of the pep-

schools, it’s really passed over entirely. I don’t

put it on paper. And I was thinking about

per with its little bumps. It’s the tip of the

remember you being crazy about architec-

using it for architectural models too, having

iceberg.

ture so what made you jump from the work

a model and just cutting it. Making section

you did in ceramics, making a series of tea-

cuts, dipping it in ink, putting it on paper.

CG: It’s interesting that you’re going through

That way it can be replicated over and over

the pepper like this, it looks like the floors of

again instead of slaving over a drawing.

a building. What it reminds me of is when they scan someone’s brain and create a vid-

CG: But you would only get the shape of the

eo of the cross sections. Cross sections are an

pepper.

interesting way to look at things rather than the exterior form.

LL: Right. LL: Architecture doesn’t necessarily have to CG: So you would essentially be obligated to

be building. Architecture is just spatial artic-

say, “I didn’t design this building, it is a slice

ulation. If you look at any kind of landscape

of a pepper.”

architecture—it’s not a building but you can sense when you’re in a threshold between

LL: I was really just looking at the spatial def-

one place and another. You don’t necessarily

inition of a pepper, how the space is being

think about it but I’m being trained to speak

articulated. Plus, if you look at this interior

about architecture and know about archi-

shot [next page] I just love the texture, the

tecture. But there’s a sense of being in two

modularity, and how it’s all these little cells

places at once when you’re in a threshold,

glowing with the hard light behind it. I also

and then being in a different space. So if you

like those two photos because they show the

were at the top level of this pepper and go-

ink bleeding through on the pepper.

ing from one bump to the next there would definitely be an awareness of going from one

CG: What kind of room would a pepper

I know that architecture is not

space to the next.

make? CG: Looking at the print as a kind of floor LL: If you look at Baroque architecture from

plan, on the top level there isn’t a wall but

the 1600’s, especially with the cathedrals,

there are two distinct rooms, and then the

they articulate it in an undulating manner.

next level looks like there’s a hall surround-

pots and other sculptures, into architecture?


LL: Well I think that in my junior year I was

tecture is like being in the gray of the Venn

museum as art object. It’s totally iconic. It’s

taking Art History, Physics, and Calculus and

Diagram, it’s the in-between spot between

a symbol for art, right now SVA is running

going in knowing that I was going to be

art and science—it’s just where I want to be.

an ad campaign with the Guggenheim on

learning about those three topics just made

But I never really wanted to do skyscrapers. I

it, all over the subways. I always have weird

my day so much better. That’s why I decided

was never really into Mies van der Rohe. He

experiences with the Guggenheim, maybe

that I wanted to apply to architecture schools.

has very valid things that he’s saying but his

just because I haven’t liked their shows in a

I could see that even if I didn’t end up want-

style just wasn’t for me. I was confused about

while, but also because the architecture gets

ing to pursue architecture, what you learn

what architecture really was and what I was

in the way of the art there. It’s a very specific

is really valid for other fields such as sculp-

getting myself into. And not to say that Frank

experience that the shows need to conform

ture, engineering, et cetera. Studying archi-

Gehry is the best architect, but he made me

to. Because of the structural needs they have

realize that architecture could be whatever

beams coming out of the walls as you curve

I wanted it to be—sculptural. Some of his

around and around which creates these little

buildings aren’t built the greatest, they leak,

viewing spaces. So there’s no continuity un-

they’re expensive, they displace people. But

less you go off the ramp into a side gallery

at the same time his art is architecture and

and that’s a whole other thing. I just get very

he allowed me to see the different uses and

distracted by the architecture there.

forms of architecture. LL: One of the things that Mies van der Rohe CG: I was just talking to my older sister about

said was that “form follows function.” The

the Guggenheim by Frank Lloyd Wright ver-

slang that we use in school is box architec-

sus other museums. I read a quote by Julie

ture vs. blob architecture. Frank Gehry is defi-

Lasky on the blog Design Observer and she

nitely blob architecture.

said, “We have grown accustomed to locating museum architecture along a spectrum.

CG: More organic.

At one end are buildings that are sculpture in their own right; at the other, boxes that

LL: Right, the more formal terms are geo-

decline to compete with their contents.”

metric and free-form. While Frank Lloyd

She was complimenting Renzo Piano’s new

Wright had great ideas about articulating

Modern Wing at the Art Institute of Chicago,

form, especially with the Guggenheim, it

which is on the box end of that spectrum.

doesn’t seem to allow for the art to stand on

Also “boxy” are the New Museum and the

its own. Quite literally sometimes because

Whitney. We ended up talking about how

of the curve. Curved buildings are always a

much we love the Whitney. If you look at

problem. You have to figure out how things

the space, it has really nice details, like the

that are rectangular fit inside. It’s an ongoing

stairwells and the windows, but it’s really just

issue. Focusing on the curved exterior and

kind of boxy. I consider that a good thing for

not allowing the interior to be functional is

a museum, though. The Guggenheim is a

another problem. At the same time he made

37


some really big statements.

the form right or the function right, you can’t

by its own language and “in-ness”. As an

have a complete object. When you have

outsider, it seems very focused on who’s big

CG: What’s cool with your peppers though

the balance, that’s perfect. Balance is some-

right now and what the trends are. It’s not as

is that you’re not looking at the outside so

thing that most it seems like people forget

freewheeling as art because you absolutely

much as the inside. What I read and liked

to think about. I was joking with you before

need clients and firms when everything is a

about form and function that I liked isn’t the

about how I feel like architecture school has

big expensive production.

truism that “form follows function” but that

its own different language, “Articulating the

“form and function are a balance.” One is not

form!” or “What’s the program?” I think archi-

LL: One of the things we’ve learned about is

greater than the other, and if you don’t have

tecture is so important but it feels burdened

that when there’s a period in time where ev-


have nothing to show. So what they’re doing

ed in textbooks, there’s so much in this little

is experimenting with making study models

world that is set in stone so where is there

and trying to figure out what their style is. It’s

room for new stuff?

a tough time, but it’s also a time of freedom from clients and the ability to define or rede-

LL: I think that the only conventions we’re

fine what they represent.

really pushed to adhere to are drafting, making models, and North is always up on plans.

CG: One of my favorite quotes from The

You just follow those three ways of describ-

Fountainhead is Howard Roark saying, “I

ing what you mean and for the most part the

don’t build in order to have clients, I have cli-

professors will understand what you mean.

ents in order to build.” This is almost the same

As long as your model is documented in

situation, except you just don’t have clients

your drafts you’re fine. They may push you

period. You can just dream.

one way or another so that you can explore other ways of articulating but for the most

LL: I’m about a third of the way through The

part they’re not forcing conventions. First

Fountainhead right now.

semester we did cubes. It sucked, but it was

when there’s a period in time where everything is stopping, like with the economy right now, something called Paper Architecture comes up, and that’s the development of theory. CG: What are your thoughts?

learning about expectations in terms of producing what you mean.

LL: It’s at the part where you can start to tell that everyone knows everyone else and

CG: How do you explain that last idea?

they’re all referencing someone else. Right now he’s about to start working on a project.

LL: Basically, your model should match your

It’s really tense, I can’t wait to read more.

drawings exactly.

CG: I love how Ayn Rand never really shows

CG: One of the major differences with art

you Roark’s architecture, but you just know

and architecture is that in art you don’t need

that he is truly the best architect in the world.

millions of dollars to make art for yourself. If

erything is stopping, like with the economy

It’s interesting that I don’t even need a pic-

you’re a young architecture studio, you can

right now, something called Paper Architec-

ture to tell me. It’s all in her theory. But he’s

make some really realistic renderings and

ture comes up, and that’s the development

someone that is totally uncompromising

models, but what do you think about the

of theory. Making things that speak to archi-

and basically spends his life starving in the

fact that architecture basically exists as a ser-

tects, to build up thoughts and ideas but also

name of architectural integrity. So, I guess

vice to other people? The way I look at it, the

a portfolio. If there’s a firm right now that’s

my question about the in-world of architec-

amount of innovation that you can provide is

just starting they’re not going to get any

ture is: do you feel like architecture school

based on how much other people with mon-

work because nobody knows who they are

is teaching conventions? Like, the language

ey want to let you innovate. That to me is

and even if somebody does find them they

already exists and the styles are document-

such a detractor from entering architecture,

39


as much as I love it. A rich client who wants “something classic” would make me cringe. LL: What Ayn Rand is describing in The Fountainhead about how Roark waits for a client who will let him do exactly what he wants and nothing else, that’s a bit extreme. Obviously some compromises end up happening in real life but sometimes you have to bend the rules of the game... CG: Ughhhhh LL: ...which is horrible, but if you can do that you can eventually change the game. What’s wrong with that? Is your priority to make sure that every single client you ever have does exactly what you wish to build or is it better for you to reach a point where you can make something where people say, “Yes, that

so much celebrity in architecture.

would be totally fine.”

to buy something new that looks like what you’ve done before. And where’s the fun in

LL: That’s what we call “starchitecture”: Rem

that? Unless you’re a “starchitect” or a famous

CG: Even in advertising they’re saying the

Koolhas, Renzo Piano, Frank Gehry. They can

artist you can’t just change the rules. It’s hard

point of buying ads isn’t directly to generate

do whatever they want.

to me from both perspectives. As a creative

sales. Who clicks on banner ads anymore? But

person I don’t want to do what I’ve already

when you see a name you become comfort-

CG: Because people are so familiar with

done. As a person hiring an architect it’s kind

able with it. It pops up on your radar, and the

them.

of uncomfortable that if I hire someone I like,

fact that you know about it makes you more

they will totally switch it up. I guess you find

comfortable with it. It’s reputable. The allow-

LL: Well there are examples of architecture

your own style, but being known for some-

ance to innovate or be creative just seems so

based on merit instead of fame. At MoMA

thing can be limiting.

incremental with architecture.

P.S. 1 they run a competition for young ar-

LL: You don’t have to make big projects all

chitects to spatially articulate their courtyard

LL: If you look at any band, if one of their fans

with water, shade, and seating.

doesn’t like what they’re doing now they say,

the time. But if that’s what you’re looking

“that band is such a sellout!” But they’re goCG: It’s always so cool!

ing through the same issue.

can’t even design something they want until

LL: It’s really helpful to get your name out.

CG: As consumers, we don’t let people

they’re thirty or forty.

My friend Mike and I have decided that we’re

change.

to do and no one’s ever seen your work before, it might be a problem. Most architects

entering a competition. We’re not getting CG: That’s another thing that irks me. My

our hopes up about winning, that’s not the

LL: Maybe it’s not so much about selling out

understanding is that in architecture, your

point. The point is to build a portfolio and

as much as it’s about making crappy work, in

fame equals how much people like you

get our name out. The people who are suc-

the eyes of that group of fans. That doesn’t

equals how much cool stuff you get to do.

cessful trying to get jobs right after graduat-

mean that a band should stop doing what

In the art world someone can rise to the top

ing are those who have entered lots of com-

they’re doing. Everyone is always exploring

very quickly. And they may or may not be

petitions.

and changing. It should be their own call.

architects that I know of are famous because

CG: I guess this applies to any creative per-

CG: If you’re an artist you can produce a lot

they’re good but I feel like you have to get to

son, but the bad thing about having a port-

of work on your own and then after you die

that point before you can have creative con-

folio is that when you’re approached for

it can become famous. I’m not really aware

trol. It seems like a strange paradox. There’s

commissions or projects people are looking

of architects that get built after they die. That

good, it’s kind of a crapshoot. Most famous


who’s an architecture student will tune in to flaws others might not recognize. As someone who appreciates architecture but has no formal education in it, I think I approach it differently. How much of what’s important in architecture is what you learn and how much is what you’ve always had? I want to design a building without knowing what it takes to design it. I just want to have the idea. I don’t want to deal with isometric diagrams or whatever, that’s crap I want to hand off to a brilliant engineer. How does being trained to have that whole package including the technical skills affect you? LL: I think those skills challenge you to ask yourself if you really know what you’re building. makes me think that architecture is very re-

ple can’t see art so they understand art and

CG: As humans we live in buildings. Some

flective of current trends.

the world in a completely different way. They

might be less sensitive to their surroundings

think differently than someone who is very

than others, or some just don’t care as long

LL: Trends are strange because someone

visual and takes into account color and form

as it’s a roof, we should all be happy to have

starts something, then someone likes it and

and light. So I’m going to work with her this

any kind of house. But as someone that lives

it just keeps going. It may or may not be

summer to make study models and get her

inside architecture, where everything was

something good. It may just be keeping up

help answering what people process when

designed by someone, couldn’t an average

with the Joneses.

they touch different things. Another idea

person be just as effective?

is having a gradient of materials that affect

CG: So recently you made the peppers, this

acoustics. A space might be very “ping-y” at

where he says, “I couldn’t have learned how

There’s a quote by Rauschenberg

summer you’re a graphic/exhibition design

one end and covered in felt at the other, to

to be an artist, because knowing more only

intern at The Met, and what’s next?

completely absorb the sound.

encourages your limitations.” What amateurs

LL: My friend Michael Jeffers and I are en-

CG: What will your building taste like?

can bring to tasks they approach is sometering this student competition to design an architecture school in northern Ontario.

thing I’ve been thinking a lot about recently. I think I could design a building based on

LL: We haven’t gotten to taste yet.

The big question is: what can architecture

my firsthand knowledge of living inside them. Things like knowing how to make the

be? We’re talking about how architecture is

CG: Sweet foods can gradient into the sa-

diagrams and all the technical details could

an evolution. One one the words we liked

vory.

be a distraction from the real issue: how do

in the visual world that is a synonym to evo-

people interface with this space?

lution in history and science is “gradient.”

LL: The peppers are something I’ve just been

So we’re looking for all sorts of gradients

thinking of doing for a while, whereas the

LL: I think my education in architecture

that inspire students in all 5 senses. For ex-

competition is something that’s asking for a

didn’t start in architecture school. I consider

ample, you might have a wall that starts off

more complete concept. Our goal is to really

myself to be a sculptor-to-soon-be-architect.

really rough and bumpy but ends up really

allow the students to consider both function

I’ve found that my classmates that have nev-

smooth, and you get all the textures in be-

and form at the same time.

er done sculpture have a completely differ-

tween. There’s this one woman at The Met,

ent approach from me. There is a burden of

Rebecca McGuiness, who works with the

CG: It’s scary to design an architecture

technicality but at the same time, I never let

visually impaired and runs blind tours at the

school. In the same way that someone who’s

go of sculpture, it’s still the first thing I think

museum. They can go to The Met and touch

an audiophile will hear subtle differences

about.

a specific collection of sculptures. Blind peo-

in the position of two speakers, someone

41


Before I start a sculpture I always consider my concept. The concept is primary and the sculpture and technicalities are secondary. I can’t do anything before I have an idea about it. CG: If you approach by way of sculpture,

LL: My concepts start off really broad and I

that OXO potato peeler designed with a

what is their approach?

experiment within the concept. There are pa-

grip for the arthritis weak and the iron man

rameters around my experimentation which

strong. If they can use it, everyone else will

LL: I’ve always been a conceptualist. Before

defines the form. For example, I explore us-

be able to as well. The most sustainable de-

I start a sculpture I always consider my con-

ing X, Y, and Z as my restrictions.

signs consider how someone will use it. How

cept. The concept is primary and the sculpture and technicalities are secondary. I can’t

it will be timeless. CG: What kind of restrictions? CG: That’s the other thing about architecture

do anything before I have an idea about it. I don’t know anyone that can do anything be-

LL: One of my projects had to examine the

that you almost have to worry about, that

fore they have an idea about it.

space that is made by a knot. Everyone just

doesn’t necessarily apply to art. A lot of art

put a skin over their knot, but I said, “what if

exists permanently in museums, but not in

CG: I think about that a lot because a lot of

the knot was squeezing around goo? What

the same way as the museums themselves.

things I feel proud of are the result of starting

would it look like?” I did all these different

Architecture is utilitarian. You don’t buy a

with a concept and expressing it. It’s a very

models around the idea of squeezing.

building for 10 years, you buy a building for-

conceptual way of doing things. But there’s also the way of just doing things. LL: Experimenting.

ever. CG: So the squeeze would be a limitation. It could be less of a limitation and more a cir-

LL: As we saw with the subprime mortgage

cumstance. What do you work with if you

bubble burst, that wasn’t the case. With this

don’t have limits?

economy, everything going down, things

CG: Right. We’ve talked before about the

I’ve been hitting at this point over

that aren’t timeless will just be thrown away.

book Art & Fear, where a ceramics class is

and over and over but I feel like there can

When people are buying crap just to sell it

divided into “quality” and “quantity” work-

be a lot of room for BS in architecture with

again, it goes nowhere. Sustainable is time-

ing groups. In the end the people with bet-

all the terms (“articulate the program!”) and

less. But how do you make something that’s

ter products are not the “quality” students

concepts. What’s interesting to me about

timeless? The Greeks didn’t just have a stan-

but the “quantity” ones because they had so

architecture is that it’s such a human thing.

dard that they had to go by, they had to de-

much practice with the act of making. When

To me the best test, aside from “does it stand

velop their classical Greek architecture. What

you’re only working with big concepts your

up?” is how people interact with the space.

makes a standard?

projects are more thoughtful but you do

You don’t design a building for no one to use.

less of them. I’m totally conceptual, so I’m

My thought is that above all, architecture

CG: The New York Times just reviewed the

just playing devil’s advocate here, but can’t

should be centered around the experience.

new Cooper academic building by Thom

concept can get in the way of the essential

Mayne of Morphosis, and the article said that

concern of architecture: the connection be-

LL: In Objectified by Gary Hustwit, everyone

when people look back on the buildings of

tween person and space?

was talking about ergonomics. There was

this point in time, they will feel proud of this


one. This is something interesting to come

even in model form, just loose sketches.

couldn’t do it without referencing Greek ar-

out of our time. The thing with architecture

CG: You can design and plan for contingen-

chitecture. It’s a decorated box with colored

is that it wouldn’t be strange to create a clas-

cies, but you can’t necessarily anticipate the

glass. Very tacky.

sical Greek building today, it would just ap-

fact that a railing you added will be great for

pear to be fancy. Those things are so timeless

skateboarding, or that surface is really recep-

CG: It might be tacky, but isn’t a box very ver-

that they’re still around, but do you see any

tive to graffiti. I guess this is more of an obser-

satile?

point in building them again and again?

vation than a question, but you can theorize

LL: I want to say no. I’m going to say no, but

forever and still not understand how people

LL: Sure, but in terms of exterior facades it’s

will act until it’s in use.

something that makes me want to puke. I

if that’s what somebody wants and nobody

haven’t really focused on architectural his-

imposes something brand new upon them,

LL: It depends on the program, but it’s true

they won’t just throw it away because they

that architecture needs to be versatile and

will love it.

allow for flexibility because we can’t antici-

CG: I want to know more about art history

tory too much yet.

pate everything. If you make something that

because on one hand you make great dis-

CG: Would you agree that architecture basi-

allows different things to happen then that

coveries by standing on the shoulders of

cally comes down to being paid to give peo-

space will be more fruitful because the peo-

giants, what came before you. On the other

ple what they want?

ple are experimenting with it.

hand ignorance is bliss.

LL: Well, people don’t necessarily know what

CG: It’s back to the concept of the museum

LL: They always tell us to bring your own

they want.

that has a specific idea of how you should

experiences into the situation, so you don’t

look at art versus the museum that is a re-

need to have formal teaching to be able to

configurable open box. What building would

think about a building but you do need for-

you knock down? What is the worst architec-

mal education in order to make the build-

ture you’ve ever seen and why?

ing.

LL: 1980’s architecture, where they’re go-

CG: But there is validity in learning it? It’s not

ing back to Neoclassical but using glass to

just a hoop you have to jump through?

CG: I guess that’s why they hire an architect. LL: It’s always that first building where they say, “Look at how this is being used!” And that will convince people. CG: What’s your first building going to be?

evoke columns. All that they wanted to do

LL: It’s still in our brains right now, it’s not

was make a rectangular building but they

LL: There’s a lot of validity to it because we don’t just look at architecture. They require us to eventually take eight classes outside the school of architecture. The National Architecture Accreditation Board has changed the standards in saying that students getting a Bachelor’s Degree in Architecture need to learn other things. For example, I’m hoping to get into a welding class and an abnormal psychology class. CG: Awesome. Thanks for answering all my questions! // PROCESS

43


I think there has to be something magnetic about it, BUT Artwork that you do for yourself can’t be anything but what it is. If it doesn’t turn out to be the most attractive thing that doesn’t make it any less valuable.

—ALIYAH TAYLOR


45


Casey Gollan: So we talked a few days ago

my comfort zone generally lies in reading

okay with is when they try to pass it off as

and then audio file went away or never ex-

and writing—all that liberal stuff. The deci-

something more.

isted, which was weird, but maybe good be-

sion to go to art school was a way to get a

cause I think we can have the same conversa-

kick in the area that I’m not as comfortable

AT: Whether or not you put an intense con-

tion or maybe a different one except better

with and need a little kick in.

cept on top of it, art is articulation. I’m not

or more concise! Aliyah Taylor: Concise is good! CG: Tell me about your project...again.

a planner. Most of the thought comes to me CG: From your project, which deals with spe-

in the process of doing it. You learn things

cifically with poetry, and the very academic

through your hands and you don’t necessar-

looking essay you sent me along with your

ily predicate what you’re about to do next.

pictures, it seems like you’re getting those

Some people are doing the talking, they’re

liberal arts on your own.

just doing it visually. There are different ways

AT: I took this poem from Tender Buttons by Gertrude Stein and I printed a book with in-

AT: I’m really interested in critical studies and

taglio illustrations and movable type for the

art history but I think it’s really important to

words. It’s been an interesting experiment.

know about the creative process firsthand. You have to supplement yourself but you’re

CG: I know your first year at art school, Pratt,

getting a comprehensive understanding of

was kind of a weird experience. Can you

the art process. You have to take the initiative

elaborate on that?

to do the thinking that goes into your work, because they’re not going to ask you for it

AT: My first year was nothing if not hell be-

at a vocational school like Pratt but they’re

cause of all the foundation requirements. I

certainly not going to fight it either. If you’re

learned a lot technique wise but as far as the

constantly thinking, then you’re constantly

classes went I was not too thrilled and was

coming up with ideas and constantly making

strongly considering transferring. Towards

your work more authentic and meaningful,

the end I realized that it could only get better

whether or not you have a lot to show for it

and despite the fact that I went through a lot

in the end.

the first year, Pratt is probably where I want to be. I felt pretty limited in terms of creativ-

CG: Do you think that if you do more research

ity, but it widened my perspective in a lot of

or put more thought into your work it makes

other ways. I wasn’t too conscious of it but I

it more authentic? I don’t think that that’s

think if you open yourself up to the founda-

what makes work authentic but a lot of peo-

tion process and let go of your inhibitions,

ple try to pass off bullshit about their work.

your work will improve. It’s the people who

If you don’t put thought into something and

to be an artist. I find myself constantly look-

are flexible that make the most progress. I

then try to talk about how it represents the

ing at my life critically, not just my art. But

talked a lot of shit at the time but I have no

sadness of your heart, that’s where it gets

I’m less self conscious doing art than I am

regrets.

annoying. I was asked for my Cooper supple-

making life decisions because I think about

ment: why do you think it’s important for

my life from an aerial perspective. It’s like I’m

CG: And now that you are open to it you

artists to speak and write about their work?

constantly writing my own eulogy—not to

don’t have to do it again, hahaha.

Part of my answer is that it is important be-

be fatalistic—but the fact that we’re going

cause when you speak and write about your

to die and we only have so much time to say

AT: Well I now have to go through a fine arts

work because you articulate your thoughts

what we want to say makes me think: am I

foundation so technically I am doing another

in a concrete way. But I also said that some

making the right decisions? How is this go-

foundation year.

people probably shouldn’t speak and write

ing to influence my future? Rather than just

about their work if they can’t do it honestly.

saying: how am I going to enjoy the present?

CG: Did you apply to liberal arts and art

I feel like galleries and collectors and mu-

That’s why I decided to stay at Pratt. The thing

schools?

seums want to know all about the concept

is that I was enjoying it. Despite the fact that

when sometimes there is none. I think I’m re-

I hated the foundation, I loved doing the art.

AT: Yeah, I applied everywhere and I didn’t

ally okay with someone that just does some-

If I can get over what I should be doing, if I

think I would end up at an art school because

thing because it looks beautiful. What I’m not

can kick that out of my mind, then I can enjoy


what I love doing and live in the present and

Life and that’s one of them.

stop looking at my life from high above and

My little sister got the most intense fortune cookie once that said something like, “The

AT: I’ve definitely seen that book both on

key to life is to be needed by one other hu-

your blog and Strand bookstore. It’s an amaz-

man being.” And I was like, “Damn, that is a

ing book.

heavy fortune cookie!”

my childhood. Like, “I remember that day viv-

CG: Another quote I love is, “If I have a little

AT: I’m thinking about it. It’s important to

idly when I had a phone conversation with

money I buy books, then I buy food.” But

be fearless and not go out with the objec-

my friend Aliyah...”

anyway, I think that quote is so interest-

tive of intimidating people but I think you’re

ing because it’s a statement about living in

going to find your own people just by being

the present moment. Not necessarily liter-

yourself. I’m dealing in cliches. I can’t add too

ally looking good, but being concerned with

much to what you said because I agree with

how what you think, say, and do makes you

it all. As a girl, image is a lot. My friends will

look in the eyes of others. It can limit you. A

insult my clothes openly but I feel better and

lot of my mental energy is spent being aware

better in them whether they like it or not. I’m

of: “Why am I thinking this?” “Why am I doing

still concerned with appearance, but how I

this?”

appear to myself.

AT: I personally am concerned with appear-

CG: I think it translates to artwork too. To ac-

ances, I know it. Especially as a girl I try to

cept that my artwork was a lot about process

look good, but that almost makes me less

I had to give up my dreams about product.

self-conscious that I do it for myself. When

The way I put it to another friend is, “I have

I think about it and take the vanity out of

these dreams of things which I can’t make

it, not just literally how I look, like what I’m

real.” And that’s a product-oriented way of

wearing—that’s never gonna change, I’ll al-

thinking. I feel like I rediscovered the original

ways be concerned with what I’m dressed

way I worked as a kid, which is just playing.

in. But how I look to people? That concerns

I start with the idea or some restraints and I

me less and less as I get older. It’s important

just make it. I work with my hands. I leave the

not to be so self-conscious and to have con-

analyzing to later.

just let it happen. CG: I do that too, it’s really bizarre. I imagine events as if I’m 40 and writing a memoir of

AT: Hahaha

viction in everything that you say and do as long as you’re being true to yourself, as cli-

AT: It’s very frustrating to imagine some-

ché as it sounds.

thing because it never looks the way you want it to look. I’ve found that, for an artist,

CG: It sounds really cliché. CG: Like, I don’t know what is going on in my mind that I think that but I’m just so hyperac-

I have surprisingly very little imagination. I have my internal voices that tell me what to

AT: Hahaha.

tive in my brain.

do and where I should be going. I look at certain artwork and think, “I wish I had come up

CG: I’m glad I don’t have a womanly fig-

with that.” I’ll never be an illustrator because

AT: Yeah, I need to shut off the internal mono-

ure to maintain, but I think you have to be

I don’t possess that sort of imagination. A lot

logue a lot of the time. I think about it not

some degree of crazy to not care at all what

of the artwork I’m attracted to isn’t some-

necessarily as me writing my memoirs, but

other people think of you. It can be scary to

thing I could make.

what my friends and family are going to say

be around someone who doesn’t care at all

about me at forty. You’re probably a little bet-

what you think of them. Those people are

CG: It seems like a backwards thing to think.

ter off then I am, because I’m so concerned

intimidating. But that wanting people to like

I sat down to write a story for a creative writ-

with how I appear that I don’t concern myself

or think of me in a certain way can be a limit-

ing class and what I ended up writing, after

with what I’m enjoying in the moment.

ing factor not only in my life but in my art.

an hour of staring at the screen, was, “For an

Maybe those intimidating people have got it

artist, I am terrible at making things up.” But

CG: This designer that I love, Stefan Sagmeis-

right, but if it makes it hard to be with other

what’s interesting is that when I’m making

ter, says “Trying to look good limits my life.”

people...to me, dealing with other people

conceptual art I’m not dealing with imagina-

He has a book called Things I’ve Learned in My

is so important and essential to what I do.

tion as much as I’m dealing with truth. I’m try-

47


ing to ask questions and understand things.

but you have to embrace everything that

densed version of what I want to say. I tend

I’m very philosophical. I’m not telling a story,

you come up with. There’s no direct way to

to get lost in words, they’re such a necessary

I’m not painting a picture, and I’m not here to

get where you want to go.

evil.

research, finding or not finding answers, and

CG: And if you take a direct way you miss ev-

CG: With an art project you have a token of

coming up with more questions. Nowhere in

ery possibility ever.

learning that’s inside you. The product itself

make things up. I’m posing questions, doing

that process is there making stuff up.

means nothing to me except that it exists AT:

It’s like what Stephen Thomas says,

as a nice thing that shows where I’ve got-

AT: Right, trying to understand the reality

“There’s no worth in shortcuts!” Well, I feel

ten to. A product starts looking old but the

that you already know and trying to articu-

like he would say that, he didn’t actually say

ideas that I’ve gained don’t start looking old.

late it better.

that. But that’s what I learned from him, is

I build on them and I re-evaluate them with

that shortcuts aren’t going to make you hap-

a new perspective. When I look back at old

py in the end.

artwork, I’m like, “How did I like that?”

manic in some way. How else could you cre-

CG: I think this whole thing of questioning

AT: There are a few post-modern authors, in-

ate a whole world full of little characters and

and being conceptual is not only refusing

cluding David Foster Wallace, who want their

imagine their entire lives? None of it is real.

to take a shortcut, but it’s taking the longer

work to be penetrable. They don’t want to

You need to be some sort of insane to make

than regular way. If you’re lazy, you take a

answer any questions for you, they want to

that happen. David Foster Wallace, who

shortcut. If you’re normal, you go the normal

leave you with more questions.

wrote Infinite Jest, which I’m reading now,

way. And if you’re crazy, you go the meta-

has this great quote, “Fiction is about how to

physical way, which is crazy and makes your

CG: He ended one of his books mid-sen-

be a fucking human being.” I love that. Fic-

brain explode.

tence! I think he does want to leave you with

CG: Exactly. I was thinking about fiction and how people who write fiction have to be

tion would seem to not be about real life, but

questions.

really it’s about showing something about

AT: Art isn’t painless! Certain people are re-

the real world that you can’t necessarily say

ally well rounded and put a lot of painstak-

AT: There’s no correct way to read it. You

through writing about real events.

ing thought into what they’re doing. There’s

can enter at any point. That, to me, is more

so much anguish that goes into it.

meaningful than Anna Karenina, no offense.

AT: It’s like having a matrix. You’re still ex-

I’ve read Paul Auster and I’ve fallen in love

ploring the same experiences that you had

CG: But I think it’s a good kind. I have a pol-

with his book City of Glass because it makes

as a human being, but you’re taking these

icy to never stress about anything. The only

no sense. It leaves you with so many ques-

pawns in your imagination and playing them

time where I let myself feel anguish is when

tions. We were talking about how the differ-

out through the process that you’ve known

I’m making art. But that’s not what the art is

ence between a readerly and a writerly text

your entire life.

about, it’s just a part of the process. I don’t

is what really causes you to draw your own

make art about the darkness of my soul. It’s

interpretations out of it. You can’t take some-

CG: I think the problem with some of my

just a stressful process. You can be a happy

thing linear out of it. You can’t draw a pic-

artwork is that it might be inaccessible be-

person and go through that. I remember

ture from it. It’s interesting because he had

cause it’s so much more pedagogical than

crying at least once over an art project at

a graphic novel made out of his book, and

emotional. It teaches rather than tells a story

Oxbow.

that’s a medium that I’ve become really fasci-

or conveys and emotion. That doesn’t neces-

nated with: creating a cartoon where things

sarily attract people to an artwork. It turns

AT: My parents always wanted me to study

happen in real time. To make it more com-

people off.

writing, it’s what they felt I was naturally most

plex, with so many layers. Instead of freezing

gifted in, but I never wanted to. For as much

a moment, you’re creating a way to read time

AT: I think there has to be something mag-

pain as I put into my writing it just wasn’t

that isn’t linear.

netic about it. Artwork that you do for your-

worth it. I feel so much more validated at

self can’t be anything but what it is. If it

the end of an art project. Even if my project

CG: I had something I wanted to say but I just

doesn’t turn out to be the most attractive

wasn’t as impressive to my parents, even if

forgot. I’m really losing my trains of thoughts

thing that doesn’t make it any less valuable. I

they didn’t get it, I felt like I could really stand

today! When I was working on that story,

may not be attracted to what I create but I’m

behind it and was so much happier for hav-

I had this image where I was losing all my

still glad I made it. Maybe one day I’ll get to

ing had it in my life. What I had to show was

trains of thoughts and I just had this image of

where I want to be in terms of technical skills

just an imprint of the whole process. A con-

all these trains going off cliffs. Like, five trains


Creativity is so cruel it’s not an easy thing to capture. going off of cliffs in slow motion and I was

to find a pen and a piece of paper. It’s defi-

like, “OH MY GOD!! My trains of thoughts!!!”

nitely a worthy sacrifice, I think, to getting

best seller out of nowhere.

more sleep.

AT: Of course it did!

sleep and right after you wake up are the

CG: Then again, if you don’t write a thought

CG: So she was saying, “I wrote this interna-

most creative times for the brain. But I think

down and you don’t remember it, how im-

tional best seller thing, and everyone started

they’re also the most groggy times.

portant was it? Obviously I think it’s impor-

looking at me like I was doomed! How do

AT: I’ve heard that right before you go to

tant because I know that my memory is not

you follow the biggest act of your life? Do

CG: You have to make the sacrifice: am I go-

that good and so I keep all these things that

you just write another best seller? What if

ing to wake up and write this down or am I

I collect like crazy in an online searchable

your book flops?” What she said is that be-

going to sleep?

web, because I need to have to those frag-

fore the Renaissance, a person wasn’t a ge-

ments. But I think there’s value in not writing

nius, they had a genius, which was separate

stuff down.

from themselves. If they didn’t do so well on

AT: Don’t you hate that feeling that if you don’t write it down you’ll just completely

something or their book flopped, they felt

lose it? I was reading the letter that I wrote

AT: Creativity is so cruel because it’s not an

bad, but it was also their genius’s fault. Even

to myself from Oxbow and I remember that

easy thing to capture. It curls up on your lap

though nothing has actually changed—

my biggest problem at Oxbow was having

like a little cat. AT: You can sort of outsource your guilt.

too many thoughts and not enough time to write them down. It was always like, “dammit

CG: Hahaha. There’s an interesting TED Talk

I was just about to go to sleep, why does this

by Elizabeth Gilbert, who wrote the book

CG: Exactly, she said that this is what’s been

have to happen now??” And then I would

Eat, Pray, Love. I haven’t read it but Oprah se-

killing off our writers and thinkers and artists

get out of bed and have to fumble around

lected it as one of her books, and it became a

since the Renaissance, the pressure of mak-

49


If it’s not what I want to show for myself, that’s fine. Eventually it will come. The magnum opus is really the fact you were here, you showed up, and you had the ability to do it.

ing the next greatest work ever. She said that she has learned to externalize it. She’s very structured, which reminds me of you. She sits down and she just writes for X amount of hours. Later she looks at it and if she wasn’t channeling something awesome she can say that at least she did her part and showed up for work. Where was her genius?? AT: Hahaha. You have to really look at your work from the glass half-full perspective and just say that shame and regret are not pro-


ductive things to feel. I can’t feel that right

state of euphoric productivity. You’re just

now! I just have to be happy that I have the

getting done what you want to do.

right? AT: Yeah, it’s non-fiction so you can read a

ability and the discipline to do this anyway. If it’s not what I want to show for myself, that’s

AT: It’s very rare but it happens from time

chapter here and a chapter there and some

fine. Eventually it will come. The magnum

to time. It’s so rewarding, but you can’t get

of them are really fascinating.

opus is really the fact you were here, you

there just by wanting it, you have to get there

showed up, and you had the ability to do it.

by discipline. Or at least, from my experience,

CG: That sounds amazing. What else is on

I have to get there by discipline.

your mind?

look good limits my life.” It’s this mode that

CG: You were talking about the time before

AT: Well, just that I would love to journal a

you have to get into, I’ve read a little bit

you fall asleep and after you wake up as the

few thoughts right now, but I’m driving and

about the concept of flow, which is just this

most creative times and it reminded me of

talking.

CG: Again it’s back to that idea of “trying to

something. I heard that Dalí used to have a huge lunch and then take a nap. But he

CG: Well don’t talk, drive, and journal!!

would put a metal bowl on his lap and hold a metal spoon in his hand. This was every sin-

AT: I won’t, I won’t! I put a limit on two things

gle day. And when he started to fall asleep

at once.

the spoon would fall into the bowl, ring, and wake him up. So he would pick the spoon up

CG: If you were in New York you wouldn’t

and go back to sleep. Doing this over and

even be able to talk and drive, you would be

over, he would rapidly keep falling asleep

arrested right now! So this has been an hour-

and waking up until he was in a sustained

and-a-half, and I don’t even know how in the

state between asleep and awake.

world I will transcribe it because it is pretty incoherent. We had to push harder than last

AT: Have you read Richard Feynman? It’s

time.

funny—well, it’s not funny—but I have insomnia. I’ll go to sleep for 15 minutes at a

AT: Yeah, I was just blathering empty meta-

time and then wake up and have a million

phors the entire time, but I’m glad that we

thoughts and then try to sleep for 15 more

went through this, as painful as it was.

minutes, and that just repeats until I fall asleep. But Richard Feynman talks about

CG: I know! There’s soooo much anguish in

how he harnessed his insomnia. I don’t know

our lives!

how he did it. Do you know who he is? AT: Hahaha. Let’s make some really dark artCG: No, I have no idea.

work okay?? I’m about to go dye my hair and pierce my eyebrows.

AT: He’s a scientist who worked on the Manhattan Project. He got interested in

CG: Okay, well send me a pic. I’ll talk to you

consciousness and he tried to stay awake

soon!

through each level of sleep—which doesn’t sound like it makes any sense—but he tried

// PROCESS

to describe the feeling that he felt in the first stages and the second stages. He almost got to REM, but never got that far. Right before that he could describe what it was like to be asleep. I don’t remember how he did it but if you can, look up his book. It’s definitely worth a few chapters. CG: Definitely worth getting the gist of,

51


THANK YOU FOR READING PROCESS MAGAZINE! I HOPE YOU HAVE IDEAS, ART, AND QUESTIONS TO SHARE! SEND AN EMAIL TO IDEAS@CASEYAGOLLAN.COM AND WE WILL BE IN TOUCH!

PROCESS MAGAZINE // CONVERSATIONS ABOUT THE CREATIVE PROCESS // ISSUE 1 // JUNE 2009 // PRCSS.COM PROCESS PROJECTS IS AN IDEA BY CASEY A. GOLLAN

Process Magazine // Issue 1 // June 2009  

Conversations About the Creative Process. Process Magazine is just one branch of a larger idea called Process Projects created to connect a...

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