Artist Interview: Patty Hudak

Patty Hudak in her Tokyo studio

Patty Hudak is an American painter currently studying mokuhanga. She has recently returned to the United States after living in Asia for over a decade. She describes her work as “concerned with expressing the space between my human anxiety and the wisdom I am trying to uncover from the natural forms around me.” Find more about Patty Hudak and her response to the theme “in the details” on her bio page.

Do you have a favourite color or color palette? 
Pure, dark black—the way shadow shapes create structural skeletons across a surface.

Do you have a favourite artist?
Some of my favorite artists are in this exhibition. I love the simple, yet powerful drips in Mia O’s work. I’m inspired by Arthur Huang‘s persistence as recorded in the conviction of his line. Yuko Kamei’s expansion of her dance practice into visual symbols reminds me that connection into the visual world can come through other forms of perception.

Explain your work in up to 40 words.
My work is trying to make sense between influences from the East and West; where does calligraphy meet abstract expressionism? How do natural forms and phenomena influence structures in art? Can we create images whose pattern becomes disordered, in a way, create the beauty and power of the natural world, without directly imitating it?

Describe your studio practice? Do you have any habits or rituals when producing art?
My best studio days include 30 minutes of observational drawing, formatting the drawings, clearing my mind, then painting from a place of emptiness. 

Could you talk about your creative process for responding to the theme of In The Details? Did your idea come to you right away? Did you have to experiment a lot? After spending twelve years in 3 of Asia’s largest cities, I am now living in a small rural community in the northern USA. For the past year, I have been communicating through illogical or non intellectual means as I immerse myself in the forest around me. I try to feel and sense my reaction, without words, what my body is emoting from being in these spaces. Sometimes, I stand and feel the sensations, without trying to capture it in any way. The shapes and colors in my work are directly derived from these somatic experiences.

Sometimes inspiration strikes and everything comes together just as imagined and other times inspiration is just a starting place. How close is your finished piece to what you first imagined?
Imagination works perfectly; with art, it’s not always that way. Materials create limitations. What I create is a collaboration between my intentions and how the materials respond. This is the most exciting part of the process— the dance between my mind and the materials that I am working on. 

Artist Interview: Michelle Zacharias

Michelle is a Canadian painter and printmaker. In this interview Michelle talks about her quest to make handmade, natural pigments from dust. Be sure to read to the end where Michelle makes requests for more dust!

How long have you been working in the medium used for
your work for In The Details?

A little more than a year in my spare time while I also
work in other media, such as coloured pencil.

What do you like about this medium and what are its
challenges?

What do I like about dust? Or should I say, what do I
like about working with natural pigments? Since it is an
easily obtained natural pigment, it is free. The other
things I need to work with it are also affordable. I also
like that each sample is different. Every location has
variations in the factors that affect the colour, and that is
intriguing.

The processing and the concept are not necessarily
something I like. Why not? I started using filtered dust
as a natural pigment because of my personal
connection to it. I seem to have a sensitivity, a kind of
allergy for an easily understood comparison, to aeolian
dust from China and fine particulate matter (PM 2.5) in
our polluted air. And, yes, working with loose dust is
probably not good for my health.

Other challenges? I make something that looks like
paint, but it does not act like paint or ink. It does not
dissolve or flow like you think it should. Particles are not
always the same size, and tiny wool or acrylic fibres are
almost impossible to filter out. It clumps. Layers?
Possible but also likely to erase the underlying layers
despite extra sizing on the paper. The colour is pale
and delicate, and that frustrates my love of bold line
and colour. It is tricky. On top of that, it might be free but
getting it from other locations can be difficult. Some
people are disgusted by the idea; some are intrigued.

You never know which group a person will fall in. I have
learned that the housekeeping department at a hotel
can be an asset.

Could you talk about your creative process for responding to
the theme of In The Details? Did your idea come to you
right away? Did you have to experiment a lot?

Since I was a printmaker, I tend to do detailed work
regardless of a show’s theme. I have been working on
these studies or experiments for a while. I wanted to
show the wind flows all over the world and indicate how
the aeolian (yellow) dust from China arrives in Japan. In
some seasons, the winds that deliver the dust are much
stronger and larger, resembling a monster in shape and
in character. I have been doing lots of experiments with
medium and with design. I still am.

Sometimes inspiration strikes and everything comes
together just as imagined and other times inspiration is just
a starting place. How close is your finished piece to what
you first imagined?

Usually quite different. An idea is exactly that. It is an
idea for where I can start. After that, each piece
organically moves in its own direction. If I try too hard to
stick with my original idea, I end up forcing it and the
result will be stiff, drained of energy.

What would you like people to know about your work?
* A common, organic energy is in all my work regardless of the medium I use be it etching, coloured pencil, pastel, or powdered pigments (natural or artificial) and regardless of the genre. This should hopefully identify the work as being made by Michelle Zacharias.
* Yes, it really is dust. I filtered out the hair, fibres, popcorn, staples, and so on. I probably lose lots to the environment since I do not work in a lab but I still get quite a lot. After that, I zap it in the microwave to kill any germs and so on.
* I do not usually work on such small pieces of art!
* I am still exploring. I have ideas for both abstract and figurative work.
Yes, I accept bags of dust. I would prefer if it came with a snapshot of the donor(s) wearing surgical masks for a project I have started in which I want to do portraits of people with paint made from the dust or natural pigments from their house. No, I do not want lint from your dryer. That is not dust!
* I am hoping to do a solo show of anti-pollution work in various styles and media in the future. If anyone know the owner of Duskin, let me know. Maybe we can arrange a sponsorship. If anyone knows of someone who works in a lab where they analyze air or dirt for pollutants, please let me know.

 

Artist Interview: Yoshiyuki Horikoshi

Yoshiyuki Horikoshi is a painter based in Gunma, Japan. His work is mainly with oil paint. You can find out more about him on his bio page.

Do you have favorite color or color palette?
I like all colors. 

What music/album are you currently listening to? 
Kaho Nakamura AINOU. 

Describe your studio practice? Do you have any habits or rituals when producing art? 
Play music.

Do you pursue any themes? If so, what?
Change, transformation, distortion. Freshness for myself. I can’t do the same thing. 

What do you like about your medium and what are its challenges?
I like oil paint. I like that it’s easy to mix. I want to draw a mixed state.

What would you like people to know about your work?
I hope everyone has fun. I wish I could convey the feeling that I was struggling to convey with this piece.

Artist Interview: Deanna Gabiga

Studio Mood: Above & Beyond’s We Are All We Need

Deanna Gabiga is an interdisciplinary artist working in metals, fiber, and photography. Most recently from the amazing islands of Hawai’i, she has returned to Japan with a greatly expanded collection of textile artwork.

Explain your work in up to 40 words:
My artwork revolves around textiles; the creation of, the deconstruction of, the transformation of, and recreation of entirely new textiles. From a single line of fibers and/or metals, I create beautiful textiles while telling a story. These stories are of personal experiences or something I have witnessed in my travels. These textiles I stitch together and then examined more closely, often with macro photography which in turn provides material to create more textiles in yet another form.

What do you like about working with textiles and what are its challenges?
A single thread becomes another and another and in its infinity and multiplicity a story comes together. Combining these infinite threads creates more colors and the palette in which I explore becomes larger. Endangered Oceans is a piece in which I explore color. Blues; warm tropical blues to the deeper and darker ocean blues. I have spent my life not likeing the color blue, yet when I moved to Hawai’i, blue became a fascination for me. I felt like I saw the color blue for the first time and much of my work most recently has been around the color blue, its various facets, including what it represents.

What inspired you to create Endangered Oceans?
My life and travels as an adult have been surrounded by ocean and each place I go it is common to see ghost netting washing ashore and entangling with wildlife. It is ubiquitous. Destroying so much more than the fish it was originally meant to capture. Endangered Oceans represents the gorgeous blues I have encountered, the bright pops of corals, and the sparkling flashes of fish. You can see the ghost netting floating in the layers of ocean waters, hiding under it’s gorgeous waves.

Which artist has most inspired you?
Moving from jewelry design into wire crochet sculptural pieces has been the right path for me. Inspired by the crochet installation works of Arline Fisch I saw in a magazine article, I immediately started to learn how to crochet. Funny enough, it turns out a majority of her work is simply using a crochet hook to pull simple loops of the wire through other loops on a previous row. Yes, this is crochet but I had in my mind from the poor picture quality that the complete stitches and patterns were used as if one was making a scarf or hat. In this way I accidentally created my own style of wire crochet work. I did meet Arline a couple of times when I was living in San Diego, CA. and found her to be the consumate teacher. Peppering me with questions about my work and giving me vital advice regarding healthy long-term care of my hands & wrists to just giving me great sources for materials completely unprompted.

What additional activities will you be providing during In The Details?
On, Tuesday, Jan 30, from 1:00 – 3:00PM, I will be providing a small fiber demonstration/workshop on the technique I used to create Endangered Oceans. Please sign up in advance at studio deanna (at) me (dot) com. There are only a total of (4) spots available. The workshop will be ¥3,000/person and will include all materials necessary to create a small work of art.


studiodeanna.com

Artist Interview: Mia O

Mia O is a Korean mokuhanga artist and painter based in Tokyo. You can read more about her on her bio page.

Is there a book or a film that influenced you?
Two books that have recently impacted me are Guns, Germs, and Steel by Jared Diamond and Sapiens by Yuval Harari. These books have expanded my vision, inspiring my growing interest in history, philosophy, and anthropology.

Do you have a favourite artist? I have many favourite artists, which are constantly changing, according to what I am working on. The artists who are always at the top of my list are Jakuchu, Ufan Lee, Cy Twombly, Andy Goldsworthy and James Turrell. 

Do you have any habits or rituals when producing art?
When I arrive at my studio, I write a note detailing the very least that I should do on that day. Most of time, when I am finished in the studio, I complete what I have written.

Where is your favorite place to do work? Do you have a dedicated workspace.
I used to work at home, which was sometimes distracting for me. Last year, I found a small space in my neighborhood. Since then, even if I spend only a small amount of time there, I am able to focus my mind entirely on my work.

How long have you been working in the medium used for your work for In The Details?
For In The Details, I am exhibiting my acrylic paintings on paper. Although many people know me for my work in Mokuhanga, I have been painting in acrylics for over 20 years, and acrylic painting has been the inspiration for my work in Mokuhanga. 
Currently, I am adding a lot of water to the acrylic paint, so that it acts more like watercolor. I want to capture of drooling of the paint on the smooth paper surface. 

Could you talk about your creative process for responding to the theme of In The Details? Did your idea come to you right away? Did you have to experiment a lot?
When I work, I usually don’t think about a theme. For over 10 years, my practice has been driven by concepts of landscape, so my work naturally fit the theme of this exhibition. As with most artists, I constantly seek new imagery. These paintings represent approximately 8-9 months of physically expressing my conceptual ideas. I never know how long a painting will take me to finish.

Sometimes inspiration strikes and everything comes together just as imagined and other times inspiration is just a starting place. How close is your finished piece to what you first imagined?
For me, making art is like an experience where you don’t know what will come out at the end. If you know the results ahead of time, the experience is not as exciting. Sometimes, even what may seem like mistakes are driven to nice directions; the painting becomes a journey. I’m very satisfied with my paintings in this exhibition.

 

Artist Interview: Kit Pancoast Nagamura

Kit Pancoast Nagamura is a professional photographer and award winning haiku poet. You can find out more about Kit on her bio page. In this interview Kit talks about her photography practice and the challenges of being a photographer in the social media age.

Do you have a favorite color or color palette?
Until recently, I’ve never thought about a photographic palette, because that seemed a contrived World-of-Instagram kind of thought, where it’s common to wash over images with one shade or another so that they all play nicely together like designer furniture. To me, things are the color that they are, and if I’m shooting a subject, the real color is the color I favor.  I find that certain dirty pinks and some sun-faded dance hall greens appeal. Deep moonlit blues, and golds send me, too.  But, really? It’s red that is the ultimate challenge, the siren call, and when I find it, I’m a slave to it.  

Do you have a favorite artist?
There are hundreds of artists that I love, and they have all had an impact on how and what I see in the world. But, if I’m allowed to limit the list to photographers, these are the ones I go back to again and again to study:

Eugène Atget, Man Ray, Henri Cartier Bresson, and Edward Weston are ones no longer with us, and living influences include Sebastião Salgado, Hiroshi Sugimoto, Rinko Kawauchi, and Sally Mann.

How do you know if an idea needs is working, needs revision or needs to be abandoned?
There’s a dance around this, usually.  At times I can be absolutely certain, even as the shutter releases, that a shot will need no adjustment.  Other times a really good shot surprises me, leaping out of the dross, from hundreds of “frames of frustration.” My rule of thumb is to not quit until I get what I came for, unless it starts to rain hard or go pitch black. There are times I go home disappointed, in the dark.  Other days the shot is right in front of me, at eye level, and I’m done. When I review work, I’ll usually find a couple of shots (usually) that are solid; a great shot, though, comes along a few times a year. Occasionally I’ll try to fix or jigger a slightly off shot, but 99% of the time, this a risky, because overworking a photograph with filters and adjustments is all too easy to do, and people can see and sense it.  I’ll abandon any photo which I cannot use for reporting, memory assist, experimentation, or which doesn’t make me say “Wow!”  

Describe your studio practice? Do you have any habits or rituals when producing art?
My habit is to shoot every single day.  I read up on techniques, keep up on technical advances in equipment, study gallery shows, and pray at Shinto shrines, but the real lynchpin in my practice is just that: practice. Every day.  

How long have you been working in the medium used for your work for In The Details?
I’ve been shooting professionally for about 20 years. First ten years were all film, and the more recent ten have been digital.

What do you like about this medium and what are its challenges?
Photography in Japan, where nearly everyone over the age of three has a camera, is a genuine challenge.  I love challenges, and I love the world of photographers here. People say photography is easy, and there’s nothing creative about it, but put 50 trained photographers in a room with one subject and they will find 50 different approaches and produce images that are expressive of their style.  That fascinates me. But with so many wielding smart phones, pocket cameras, and massive top-of-the-line DSLRs, to stake out a signature visual hallmark that resonates with viewers requires that one dig deep, and work very hard. I’m game.  

Could you talk about your creative process for responding to the theme of In The Details? Did your idea come to you right away? Did you have to experiment a lot?
“In the Details” is actually a theme that I and a group of female photographers were tossing around when considering a group show two years ago. So the thematic idea came naturally to me; I’ve spent about a decade focusing on details, which is one of the jobs and joys of a photographer. I was thrilled to know that painters, fabric artists, and sculptors could run with the concept. For most artists, the devil is in the details, but heaven is there too.

What would you like people to know about your work?
In much of my work, my hope is that people will initially suck in a deep breath and think, “Hey, that’s gorgeous, but what is it?” But then, as they look more closely, I hope to lead the gaze into a realm of dialogue.  What is going on there, exactly?  Is there a writing form that plants use to appeal to our senses?  Do tendrils reach out to one another in order to strengthen their position or to offer up something in trade for our gaze? Are the structures we build amazing or mazes from which we cannot escape? In some cases, capturing the natural world in a moment of transcendence is enough for me to want to show work. In others, I feel it’s useful to examine the human element in structures, patterns. and shadows, of our world. We learn from what disturbs or intrigues us.

Artist Interview: Nick West

Nick West is a British artist based in Tokyo. You can find out more about Nick in his bio.

In this interview, Nick talks about colour, recurring themes, and realising an idea.

Do you have a favourite color or color palette? 
I do have a favourite colour, but I have never used it in an artwork. My choice of colours is incidental to the objects I work with. When I used a subway map, the painting I produced was multi-coloured. When I used matches, the book I made was red and beige.

Do you have a favourite artist? 
There are so many artists that interest me that narrowing it down to a single one would mean that my choice would have to be revised, almost immediately. Recently, I’ve become interested in the conceptual artist Martin Creed again, but tomorrow it will be someone else

Explain your work in up to 40 words. 
The work I have made for this show uses post-war British military medals as its basis. These vertical stripes are presented chronologically, from left to right, condensing vast, unimaginable experiences into short, abstract strips of colour.

Do you explore any particular themes? If so, what? 
The themes that recur in my work are language and abstraction, but I like to think that each work explores these themes in different ways. This artwork is the first time that I have worked with specific social histories, and in many ways, this is about how we, as a culture, codify experience.

Sometimes inspiration strikes and everything comes together just as imagined and other times inspiration is just a starting place. How close is your finished piece to what you first imagined? 
If I could imagine my ideas clearly, there would be no need for me to make them. I can never quite imagine how something will look until I realise it. The fun part is seeing what I thought of and how different it is from my initial idea.

What would you like people to know about your work?  
It’s an abstract anthology based on a particular set of rules, namely, post-war British military medals. It seems extraordinary to me that such life-changing events become abbreviated into a few simple bands of colour.