Studio Visit: Asandra

Asandra is a multi-media artist residing in California. Her work can be seen in PLEAT's September 2016 exhibition as well as asandra.com. 

Please describe your work and the internal and external factors that guide your formal and conceptual choices? 
The paintings in this exhibit were created in the past six months, and are inspired by the Southern California landscape. Although my work is primarily abstract, it reflects the exploration of topography, light, and color variations found in nature.  Using mixed media on wood panel, I have invented a method of making large-scale stamps, layering my work to imply dimension and spatial configurations. The process mimics traditional printmaking disciplines (a media I also work in) blended with painting techniques. I usually work in series, as demonstrated by the images in this exhibit. This enables me to explore a visual concept, repeating basic forms in a variety of ways.

Five years ago I moved from the East Coast (New York/Miami) and relocated to California. Lifestyle and climate differences aside, the biggest variances are the terrain and diffused, golden light. The brightness of color found in the work is a reflection of my interior response to this natural beauty. It is emotion expressed through color, shape, and texture. I never plan ahead, or make studies. Each painting is accomplished through an intuitive progression that begins with laying down a background color made up of many thin layers of paint. This is applied using non-traditional tools such as sponges and squeegees. I then layer the shapes on top, adding and deleting as the image impels me.

There is an inherent freedom when one works without fixed idea or formal methodology. I allow the image to guide me, turning the wood panel around as I work. The final direction of the piece is usually determined at the very end. Even the titles come to me intuitively. One can compare it to creating from almost a dream state. It is an inner landscape; the place where we instinctually feel our deepest connections in life. 

Who are your artistic influences and what have you learned from them?
To describe my creative influences, it would be best to say it is always that ‘stopped me in my tracks’ moment. Herewith are the most significant examples: 
My first artist crush, so to speak, is Amedeo Modigliani. In hindsight I understand that it was his ability to portray the human form in a semi-abstract manner. The simplifying of his subjects through line, form, and color were a forerunner to pure abstraction. 
I refer to Henri Matisse as my “Art-God”. On my frequent visits to MOMA in New York, I would stand in front of his painting, The Piano Lesson, which was on permanent display at that time, for long periods of observation. Here was a combination of simplified form coupled with a masterful use of color and composition. 

When I first spotted Elizabeth Murray’s great painting, Painter’s Progress at MOMA in New York, I gasped. Not only was she freely using my favorite color, magenta, she had also broken the image up into a series of separate canvases that formed the shape of a painter’s palette. It was bold and innovative. I became an immediate fan of her work and followed her “painter’s progress” until she passed away right after having a retrospective at MOMA. 
Another great influence is Sonia Delaunay, who not only painted but also successfully used her colorful imagery in fashion and design. She was ahead of her time and only recently was honored with retrospectives in Paris and London that acknowledge her artistic contribution. As Sonia Delaunay, eloquently says, “Abstract art is only important if it is the endless rhythm where the very ancient and the distant future meet.” This best describes what abstraction is for me; a delving into the timeless using shape, color, symbol, and form that evokes an archetypal language we all inherently speak.

Studio Visit: Traci Fowler

Traci Fowler is an artist working in Chicago. Her work can be seen in PLEAT's August 2016 exhibition as well as tracifowler.com.

Please describe your work.
I make sculptures primarily but my work is interdisciplinary. I'm attracted to cheap materials, colorful objects and plastic and glitter but I also do a lot of intense craftwork like hand sewing and pottery. And recently I've been playing a lot with video and sound. 

What external and/or internal motivations guide your formal and conceptual choices?
Humor is extremely important to me. I think humor can have a lot of power. I think it can be radical and political. I'm fat and queer and chronically ill and so I make work about where those identities intersect, interact and contradict. I think a lot about sexuality and beauty and how little of that is allowed to people who are sick and disabled. I think about the intricacies of being a chronically ill person who happens to be fat. I'm basically trying to figure out what it looks and feels like to be cute and sexy and funny in a world where I am constantly desexualized and infantilized. 

Who are your artistic influences and what have you learned from them?
SO MANY. Okay first of all, to be honest, teens on instagram. There are so many really rad teen girls on instagram right now who make good art and are interested in social justice I'm constantly being inspired by the girl power that exists and thrives in some social media circles. I'm also just constantly inspired by the amazing work that the artists in my Chicago and online communities make. I'm constantly obsessing over Zachary Hutchinson, Ellen Nielson, Blaze Christopher, Efren Arcoiris, Allie Shyer, Christina Ko and Lorelei Christalilly's ceramics but the list could go on. I'm also really influenced by fashion. Think Somewhere X Nowhere, Lazy Oaf and Something Happening.