Alan Neider uses a huge selection of textiles such as blankets and fabric scraps to make a series of works at a time, all a combination of soft sculpture assemblage and intuitive painting, building up bright, tactile, energetic compositions. Find more at the links following the Q&A!
Can you tell me a little bit about you?
I am from Norfolk, VA, I currently live in Hamden, CT, near New Haven. I have a BA in Ceramics from Long Beach State and a MFA in Sculpture from Washington Un. in St. Louis. The most impactful educational experience was going from high school to El Camino Jr. College and taking many art courses!! I have 2 full-time jobs: I am making art full-time and I am promoting the art full-time.
When did you first discover art, or realize you wanted to make it yourself?
My fondest memory as a young child was when I was given my first number painting set. That was truly the start of my artistic career.
What do you like most about working where you do?
My wife and I bought an old grocery store and converted it into studios and living space. While this is not the biggest studio I have ever had it is quite workable. Often curious people will come in off the street to see what I am doing, which I like a lot.
What ideas are you exploring in your practice?
I have been sewing fabrics/clothing onto moving blankets then painting. I have been working this way for the past four years. I work on one series at a time, ten paintings/series. Each series seems to get me closer to the goal of making challenging art that excites me and the viewers.
What is your process like?
Each series takes about six months to completes. I am actually working on two separate groups at the same time presently. The research that I do is looking at other art especially art that ‘informs’ my work.
Is there any subject or theme you’ve been particularly interested in lately?
The basic theme I have been investigating for years is ‘Materiality’ and how it can be invested with emotion.
What is the strangest thing you’ve ever had to do for art?
Probably going to Graduate School.
Do you have a mentor, or a piece of advice (or both), which has influenced your practice?
Somewhere along the line I gain ‘Confidence’ in my art and decision making. This has saved me well since one sees many NO’s.
But with this total confidence I keep going forward….and find some good things along the way. ex. I have a soul show opening in Montclair, NJ on Sept. 29.
Is there any piece of advice you would offer to others?
Go to the best school you can and NETWORK!! so that when you get out you will have contacts.
What is your studio like?
My studio is always very messy with lots of work in process, loud music on jazz or college stations usually on.
Lots of activity.
Do you have any routines or rituals in the studio that get you into the mode or mindset to make your work?
I am in the studio generally 4-5 hours per day. This depends on what I have going on, ex. show coming up.
How significant has attending art school been on your practice?
I have an MFA in Sculpture. I am not sure how valuable that was on face value. It did give me ‘time’ to think more deeply about what I want to do with the work or what type of work I wanted to make. I became more serious about art once I got out of school.
What do you find most daunting, challenging, or frustrating about pursuing art?
The most daunting issue is: trying to break in to the art world in NYC without actually knowing others in the art world who might help.
I knock on a lot of doors since I know my work is as strong as almost anything out there.
How would you define “success” in art?
Success comes when one has achieved the recognition and traction to then point that peers are seeing, writing and dealing with the ideas and images seen. Having some degree of ‘Name’ recognition.
What is the most exciting thing you’ve done or accomplished so far, related to your work?
I received a ‘Robert Rauschenberg Change Inc. Work Grant’ when I was in my 2nd year of Grad. School. This money helped with materials to completed my thesis.
Are you involved in any collaborative or self-organized projects?
What are you working on right now?
I have just finished two site-specific dimensional paintings for the windows of the gallery in Montclair.
These two piece are 11′ long x 8′ high x 4′ wide.
Viewers will have to walk through my painting in order to enter the gallery to see my show.
Anything else you would like to add?
This is plenty!!