Can you tell me a little bit about you?
I’m originally from Canton, Ohio but I currently am based in Brooklyn. I received my BFA in Painting from the Maryland Institute College of Art in 2017 and my MFA in Painting from Cranbrook Academy of Art this spring.
When did you first discover art, or realize you wanted to make it yourself?
In the 1st grade my class had weekly spelling assignments and we could choose to either write a story with the assigned words or draw a picture defining them. I always chose to draw and never really stopped. Art has always naturally found a place in my life, even when I was growing up in an area that placed little to no value in the arts.
What do you like most about working where you do?
I love being constantly reinvigorated by all of the art that is taking place around me. I feel lucky to be in close proximity to pretty much any art or artist I would like to see. I also feel very connected to my wonderful friends, peers, and mentors in the city that are super generous and incredible artists.
What ideas are you exploring in your practice?
I’m very interested in exploring the ultra-feminine as a repellent. The surrealist non-spaces in my paintings highlight a dialogue between the internal and external body. Feminine agency is scary and can even be threatening. The sensibility of bodily adornment in my paintings- nail art, belly shirts, and body hair, for example, send a feminist “fuck you” to those threatened by feminine bodily autonomy. My work is transgressive and takes people to task on these themes. This sense of the unruly body manifests in my work as the figure being in a state of transformation, abstraction, mutation, or fragmentation.
What is your process like?
My starting off point is almost always dissecting a personal anecdote or something that’s happened around me. I’ll write lists of things that I need to incorporate into the painting’s “world,” and research them if I need to understand their symbology or content more. Then I make a small colored pencil drawing of that world and start painting from there. Each painting requires a different set of visual effects so i’ll often prep things to use in advance like cast acrylic paint mermaids or a set of stencils.
Is there any subject or theme you’ve been particularly interested in lately?
My paintings use the constructed still life to re-interpret surrealism through a contemporary feminist lens.
The work features dazzling forms that are ultimately containing or trapping a central figure. These figures are claiming a sense of bodily autonomy while being forced into becoming. Methods of feminine body art or adornment, such as nail art, are the catalyst of this autonomy. I draw from art historical adornment tropes to examine the figure and sexuality. These “high,” references are countered with the cannibalization of the “low,” for example, cherries or body jewelry. This ultra-feminine adornment is used as a repellent ––conjuring magic to transcend binaries or polarities. This sense of magic manifests in the presence of protective objects or spells in the work, highlighting themes of fear, trepidation and feminine preparedness in sexual situations.
Is there any piece of advice you would offer to others?
Do exactly what you want to do in the studio and create from internal validation.
What is your studio like?
I’m currently a resident at Trestle Art Space in Brooklyn so I have my studio there. I have a great big window that lets in lots of gorgeous sunlight and i’m surrounded by a bunch of other artists doing their thing so it’s a lively, positive environment. It’s a really beautiful space that makes working easy. There’s about a million scraps of cut paper from stencils on the floor and my favorite ones get set up on my windowsill.
Do you have any routines or rituals in the studio that get you into the mode or mindset to make your work?
I’ve been waking up at 5AM and heading straight to the studio. I feel like I have the most clarity and energy in the morning. I always listen to music when i’m working and i’ll definitely dance a little bit while i’m setting things up (and let’s be real, when i’m working) to get amped up. I also always make sure to have lots of snacks/drinks ready so I don’t have to worry about leaving the studio when i’m in the middle of painting.
What do you find most daunting, challenging, or frustrating about pursuing art?
Having to constantly wear your heart on your sleeve when you’re making your work while being strong enough to handle scrutiny, rejection, and just “putting yourself out there,” often.
How would you define “success” in art?
Being able to make your work and being excited to get to the studio (whatever/wherever that is for you). I feel grateful to be able to paint what I want without compromise so I try to focus on that.