Studio Visit: Derrick Quevedo

Derrick Quevedo is an artist living and working in Baltimore, Maryland. Derrick’s work can be seen in PLEAT’s September exhibition as well as derrickquevedo.weebly.com.

Please describe your work.

For the past year, I’ve been drawing predominantly friends in Baltimore’s Asian American / Pacific Islander (AAPI) community. These have been observations of absorption during casual encounters and meetings.

I have also been addressing issues about race, mental health, and feminism through self-portraits which are much more direct and confront the viewer.

What internal and external factors motivate your conceptual choices?

The personal is political. I began therapy several years ago as the cultural climate of America began paying more attention to its social and political injustice. In dealing with the components of my own depression, anxiety, and panic disorder, I accepted I was facing identity issues both internally and externally. The pain, anger, and sadness inside is something I would not want others to deal with themselves and as time went on the color abstraction I had been practicing had transformed into observations of my life. Studio time had a new purpose.

Who are your artistic influences and what have you learned from them? 

I returned to a lot of visual influence from my youth, primarily indie comics and zines. I grew up reading Giant Robot, a magazine dedicated to Asian and Asian-American pop culture. I discovered many art movements and artists in Giant Robot, Including Adrian Tomine, Jaime Hernandez, and Raymond Pettibon.

I think because the Punk/DIY approach is so connected with my ideas of AAPI representation I continue to look at sites like Redbubble and Society6 where many artists design stickers addressing social activism and social issues. I sticker bomb all my sketchbooks.

I continue to be drawn towards many NY painters of a particular generation that seemed to have a “punk” period of stripped down, mostly black & white postmodernism, like David Reed, Joyce Pensato, and Christopher Wool. 

I also love Barkley Hendricks and Amy Sherald and look to their example of nonwhite figuration. 

How has social media affected your studio practice? 

Social media has offered me the opportunity to connect with other PilipinX and POC artists across the world who share similar themes and beliefs as me. In the transition from color abstraction to these drawings the alienation of the contemporary painting audience scared me, but it needed to happen. I found many PilipinX creatives establishing visual culture outside the gallery space, which exorcised the authority of the gallery system out of me. I felt free the moment I picked a pencil up with the same fervor as I had a paint brush with the intention of creating something for the most important audience I would ever work for; myself. Had I not been inspired by the community I’ve nurtured on Instagram I might still feel trapped in a colonized mindstate.

Studio Visit: Jessica Poundstone

jessica-poundstone-in-studio.JPG

Jessica Poundstone is an artist living and working in Portland, Oregon. Her work can be seen in PLEAT's August 2018 exhibition as well as jessicapoundstone.com. Photo credit: Sophie Poundstone.

Please describe your work.
I’m making images that create what I hope are beautiful moments — spaces that invite viewers to step out of their usual routines and habits to contemplate and meditate.

I describe my aesthetic as “warm minimalism.” The warmth comes from two places. The first is color.  Color to me feels like a luxury and a gift; I want people to experience it in a new way or to a new depth. And the second comes from leaving evidence of human touch in the work — a slightly wobbly, hand-drawn line, a non-uniform texture on a field of color, etc. 

What internal and external factors motivate your conceptual choices?
I try to work as intuitively as possible, bypassing my inner analyst and staying tuned into the flow and collaboration between mind/heart/body.

I also try to be as fearless as possible. For me, working in digital makes that easier than ever: I don’t have to worry about using up expensive materials or making messes. I can take my ideas further faster because working in digital gives me more freedom to toss something out or take it in an entirely different direction. 

It is also a constant practice for me to be reductive. I’ll work on something for an hour only to realize that I liked an earlier, simpler version bettter. Working in a minimalist aesthetic sometimes requires being brave about keeping something in an elemental form, and stopping when it feels right and “whole.” I often know a picture is done when I get an emotional “ping” from it.

Who are your artistic influences and what have you learned from them? 
So many! And now more than ever my antenna is up for artists who are working in ways that resonate with me and keeping up with their work. But a brief history of the most influential artists for me...

The first was Joseph Cornell. I loved the spaces he created in his boxes — and how they radiated a certain sort of enchanted energy. I have had transcendent experiences while looking at his work in person - once at SFMOMA, and again when I got to look at one in a private gallery in New York: just me and a box at a table in a room. 

David Hockney’s also been incredibly influential — not just because I love his work, his sense of adventure and his color palettes, but because he was the first major artist (that I knew of anyway) to use and advocate for making work on touchscreens. That was incredibly liberating for me; I was experimenting with working on touchscreens at the time, and it gave me the confidence to keep exploring it. 

When I first experienced a James Turrell Skyspace, at the Henry Museum in Seattle, Washington I was completely bowled over. I didn’t know his work at all, but the experience of sitting inside an all-white, small, enclosed space looking through the circle in the ceiling at the sky was mystical, magical and unforgettable.  To know that an artist could create an immersive spiritual experience like that was incredibly powerful.

And the last one I’ll mention is minimalist painter and sculptor Anne Truitt. I stumbled upon her published journals, “Daybook” at my local library and spent nearly a year reading it — just taking in a small portion each week. I learned so much from her extremely articulate thoughts about being an artist in the world, her toughness when critics thought her work was too simple or strange, and her deep commitment to her own vision. That book helped me validate, accept and encourage myself to keep following and trusting my intuition. 

How has social media affected your studio practice? 
Two years ago, when I decided that I wanted to take a more disciplined approach to my artwork, I gave myself permission for what I did to not be very good — and to put it out there anyway. The easiest way to do that was to start an Instagram account. I have a pretty darn perfectionistic side that keeps trying to tell me that I can’t put stuff into the world until it’s fully baked. But that’s not conducive to growth. 

I cannot even say how amazing Instagram has been for me. Not just as a venue to show my work, but having a place to watch, connect with and get support from working artists I deeply admire (Kate Gibbons, Sophie Smallhorn,Graca Paz, and Deborah Manvilleto name just a few) has been incredibly encouraging — and gives me energy and excitement about continuing to grow and share. 

Instagram has also unlocked a ton of other opportunities: selling my work online, having a show at a local cafe, having a piece in a show in NYC, being part of this Pleat Gallery show: none of this would have happened (or at least it wouldn’t have happened as quickly or easily) without Instagram.