Can you tell me a little bit about you?
My name is Violet Luczak. I am a Chicago native who recently moved to Bloomfield Hills, Michigan to pursue my Master of Fine Arts at Cranbrook Academy of Art where I will be graduating this May. My Bachelor of Arts was in traditional graphic design and my Master of Fine Arts concentration is in 2D (Two-Dimensional Design) and Painting. A fun fact is that I recently got a puppy named Poppy! She is the best studio mate a girl could ask for.
When did you first discover art, or realize you wanted to make it yourself?
I have always loved art. In high school I was very active in the art department and spent most of my free time painting. When I went to college, I originally was going to double major in Art and Business. This required that I took an introduction to graphic design course and I fell in love with the subject and switched majors. After graduating I knew that I wanted to continue to pursue fine arts and decided Cranbrook Academy of Art would be the ideal place for me to spend my next two years. It was there that I reconnected with my passion for painting and was able to create a practice that combined both my desires to paint and my traditional design skills.
What do you like most about working where you do?
Currently my studio is located on the Cranbrook Academy of Art campus in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan. It’s the perfect environment for me. The campus is secluded so I don’t get too many distractions and I work in close quarters with other peers with whom I actively collaborate with. Having other creatives around creates a wonderfully diverse community where critical conversations and inspiring ideas are constantly emerging.
What ideas are you exploring in your practice?
I am currently fascinated with ideas and work surrounding capitalism and surrealism as I critique the dairy industry through a feminist lens. My current series, “Your Ass Sucks Buttermilk. I Herd It Through The Bovine. Feat. Monsanto and Nestlé” is a culmination of the research I have conducted surrounding these issues.
My goal is to explore how surrealism and pop art contribute to the awareness of commercialism and its effects on subconscious spaces. I investigate the tactics of surrealist painters, specifically that of the Chicago Imagists and The Hairy Who, who would use their work as a way to comment on the social issues of their times. Through interviews and discussions with one of the original members, Suellen Rocca, as well as my research on the Pop Art Movement, I have identified tactics these artists used to subliminally influence their audience’s thoughts, such as subtly critiquing the booming commercial industries of the 1960s.
By researching the surrealist movement and its relevance to popular culture and advertising, my work attempts to use surrealism’s ability to reveal the unconscious mind to understand the psyche of contemporary consumers, exploring mass influence on our minds, behaviors, thoughts and actions. My research explores how one can use surrealism to understand how advertising and commercialism pervade our subconscious spaces.
What is your process like?
I focus on exploring the intersection of graphic design and fine arts through a mixed media approach. By understanding the history and application of these disciplines, as well as their influences on one another, I am provided a platform to experiment with new concepts.
I work within both digital and physical spaces, ideating through vectorized sketches then transforming them into highly detailed, hand-drawn paintings. As each painting manifests on panel, I continuously return to and edit the original sketches until they most accurately represent my vision. This back and forth process, from screen to wooden panel, allows for new conceptual and formal designs that would not otherwise exist.
How do you spend your time when you’re not making work?
Lately I have spent a lot of time with my seven month old puppy named Poppy! She has a lot of energy and we love to go on long walks and explore Michigan!
How has your work evolved over the last few years?
My work has shifted from purely graphic design to a mixed-media practice where I combine traditional design and painting.
Do you have a mentor, or a piece of advice (or both), which has influenced your practice?
I had a few mentors that have changed the way I perceive my practice. My earliest mentor Suellen Rocca, a member of the Hairy Who, encouraged me to look past the boundaries of art and design as separate categories and helped me realize that I could combine my passions into one cohesive practice. She was truly the first person to believe in my painting abilities and I will forever be thankful for all the support and encouragement she has given me. My most recent and current mentor, Elliott Earls, head of the 2D Department at Cranbrook Academy of Art, has opened my eyes to the possibilities surrounding experimental design and typography. It was through his mentorship that I learned how to create type as a sculptural form- advice that has followed me throughout nearly all of my paintings.
How significant has attending art school been in terms of your practice?
It has been huge! I would not be where I am today without the mentorship I received at both Elmhurst College and Cranbrook Academy of Art. Participating in the 2D Department changed the entire way I view graphic design as I learned how design could become a form of fine arts, instead of purely commercial-based. I also had the incredible opportunity to spend a semester with the Cranbrook Academy of Art Painting Department. Under the Artist-In-Residents Martha Mysko and Willie Wayne Smith, I was able to explore the history of painting and the politics surrounding the medium.
What are you working on right now?
Although my research began with an emphasis on the United States’ dairy and meat industries, it has revealed meaningful connections to additional confining systems. The work has evolved to adapt visuals found in the dairy industry as a metaphor for feminism and feminist histories. Furthering my research, I hope to shift away from traditional Marxist feminist theories and begin considering how intersectional feminism and issues of race and colonization–specifically in the western art world–have been shaped by the dogmatic shortcomings of an idealistically absolute capitalist society.