Tagged: artist

Dame of the Day: Julie Mehretu

Julie Mehretu

Today’s Dame of the Day is Julie Mehretu (1970-). Looking at one of Mehretu’s paintings can take hours; with her intricate, multi-layered, approach, she packs each canvas with dense imagery. Mixing pen, pencil, ink and paint with architectural drawings and maps, Mehretu’s work blends geographic boundaries into a murky no-place. In 2005, she won a MacArthur Fellowship.

Schoolin’ Life: Katriina Haikala

For today’s edition of Schoolin’ Life, we check in with one half of Finnish artist duo Tärähtäneet Ämmät, Katriina Haikala.

Katriina

Give us a quick bio: who are you, what are you into, and how do you spend your days?

37-years-old artist Katriina Haikala from Helsinki, Finland; mother of two teenage boys; loves dancing and bad jokes; spends her days thinking about reason of everything and always comes to the same conclusion: “Love is the answer”; collaborating with artist Vilma Metteri since 2007.

When you were in your 20s…

What expectations did you have for yourself over the coming decade?

When I was 12 years old, I had already decided to be an artist when I grew up. After having my children, my dreams changed for a moment – I started to strive for a steady 8 to 4 job. After 10 years, I realized that the decisions I made during those years were in total contradiction with my goal to have stability. I’m a full-time artist now and, as one might know, being an artist is anything but predictable.

In what ways did society shape your expectations of yourself?

I’m really lucky that I was raised in a family that never put any expectations on me because of my gender. My father taught me the same things as my brother and always trusted my skills. My mom is the most open-minded person I know. She has been nothing but supportive with the decisions I have made in my life. It was when I became a mother that I woke up to the expectations of society. Everybody had an opinion about “the good mother” and how mothers are expected to behave. I felt that I could not fit into the box they put me in. Actually, at that time, I met Vilma – my best friend and colleague – and she had the same notions about the society’s expectations. That’s the origin of our collaboration.

What was your first job like?

I babysat my cousins for a summer. During that summer, I learned that love is the ultimate weapon. When the two-year old had some difficulties in finishing his lunch and I told him to finish his plate, he threatened me: “Katriina I will not love you anymore if I need to eat this!”

Did you experience any big life changes?

Here’s a list:

  • becoming a mom
  • death of my father (and several others too)
  • getting divorced
  • and getting divorced again

What did you learn through your romantic relationships?

I learned that the truth lies in emotions. First comes emotion and then the reasoning follows. Love can be destructive or coherent, but it’s the only emotion that can be born as surprisingly as it can also die. I’ve been married twice and divorced twice and never regretted anything.

How do you feel society viewed you?

I feel that I’ve been viewed in many ways depending of the context. I’ve been categorized by my looks and gender both in negative and positive ways, but I think that that’s the case with everybody. For the past few years, I have been getting so much support from the audience, people around me and Vilma; others are getting inspired by us. It is really wonderful to see that our work and our methods of working are giving positive energy to people!

How do you feel you changed emotionally?

I’m really direct and sensitive at the same time – but the sensitivity is something that has come more dominant throughout the years.

How did you change intellectually?

Never underestimate the experience of life.

In what ways do you feel your identity changed?

From a cheeky young adult to cheeky middle-aged woman.

How did your worldview change over the course of the decade?

I have realized that people are really simple in their needs. All you need in order to be content is someone who loves you (in its wide meaning; I’m not talking only about the romantic way of loving), someone to whom you can give love and something to do that gives you pleasure.

What was the most embarrassing moment?

Farting while sleeping at a rush hour train and talking to a mass of people with my fly open.

What was your biggest disappointment and how did that affect you later?

Life seems to be a row of small disappointments and successes. They keep me going.

Who was your biggest influence and why?

The worst teachers at the University of Art and Design in Helsinki were the most inspiring. I will never become like them. I swear.

Do you have any regrets? Are there things you wish you’d done, hadn’t done, or done differently?

Regret doesn’t play a role in my life, but learning from my mistakes does.

Is there a story that you feel best sums up the decade?

Story of the last decade (and I hope for the decade to come): starting something from somewhere and ending somewhere that is just another starting point.

Dame of the Day: Toba Khedoori

Toba KhedooriToday’s Dame of the Day is Toba Khedoori (1964-). Khedoori left her native Australia to work and live in Los Angeles. Her artwork consists primarily of mixed media paintings created on large sheets of wax-coated paper. In addition to showing in galleries around the globe, Khedoori participated in the Whitney Biennial, the Venice Biennial, and won a MacArthur Fellowship in 2002.

Dame of the Day: Teresita Fernández

Teresita Fernández

Today’s Dame of the Day is Teresita Fernández (1968-). As a sculptor, Fernández works on a large scale; her pieces have appeared in New York’s Madison Square Park, Seattle’s Olympic Sculpture Park and the Bennessee Art site in Naoshima, Japan. Many of her works reflect natural elements like fire, clouds and water, and explore how these elements are created and perceived in nature. Her work earned her a Guggenheim Fellowship, MacArthur Fellowship and an appointment from President Obama to serve on the U.S. Commission of Fine Arts.

Schoolin’ Life: Aurora Reinhard

For today’s Schoolin’ Life, we check in with the inventive artist Aurora Reinhard.  If you haven’t seen her photographs and video, now is the time.

aurora reinhard

 

What expectations did you have for yourself over the coming decade?

I must say I don’t remember… to survive as a full-time visual artist?

 

In what ways did society shape your expectations of yourself?

I don’t remember.

 

What was your first job like?

After graduating from the Academy of Fine Arts in Helsinki, Finland, I landed a summer job as a photographer at the national women’s magazine. Without any editorial experience, it was a hard summer but I learned a lot.

 

What was your first apartment like?

I consider my first apartment the studio I bought last year. I fully renovated it according to my dreams (the affordable ones, anyway). It’s a cozy 5th floor apartment in a lively suburb; I’m a 15 minute train ride from the city center of Helsinki. It has a balcony and a bath tub, which were both musts for me. Ever since I was very young, I dreamed of buying my own place.

 

Did you experience any big life changes?

Things just seem to be slowly morphing, and suddenly you realize you’ve traveled a quite long way from that young girl who started studying in 1995. I thought that when I graduated, I would be doing my art and living off social benefits; yet it happened that I supported myself ever since graduation, which is amazing to think about. (It might be hard to understand for a U.S citizen but this is, or used to be, a social democratic society)

 

In what ways did your friendships change?

I value them more, since I realized that true friendships can not be taken for granted.

 

What did you learn through your romantic relationships?

I learned so much; another person can be a window to another reality.

 

What was your biggest disappointment and how did that affect you later?

When I understood my limitations as an artist, that was a huge disappointment. But I’ve grown to accept myself for who I am. I’m trying to take advantage of the strengths in my character and compensate for the weaknesses.

 

Who was your biggest influence and why?

I guess there were many artists that impacted my work. But in the beginning of my studies, I learned about the Finnish artist Teemu Mäki and I must say that he was a big influence. I felt really strongly when I saw his work and I realized that that’s how it should be. I realized I wanted to create works that create a strong emotion, not just a lame “nice”.

 

Is there any one experience that you feel defined the decade? Or one historical moment that changed you?

It was the moment when you realize that all you got is your bare hands and you have to settle with them, make your own life and forget about your past, childhood traumas, etc. You cannot blame anyone else for your own mistakes.

 

Do you have any regrets? Are there things you wish you’d done, hadn’t done, or done differently?

I think one cannot regret anything. If something wasn’t a triumph, I try to think what I learned from it.

Schoolin’ Life: Jessica Wohl

For today’s Schoolin’ Life, we check in with prolific artist Jessica Wohl. Editor’s note: to view more of Jessica’s work (and you should), visit her website.

Jessica Wohl

To Ed With Love, Rosie. (2012). Embroidery on found photograph. 8×10. Image courtesy of Jessica Wohl.

When you were in your 20s…

What expectations did you have for yourself over the coming decade?

I wanted to get my graduate degree and get a teaching job at the university level. I also wanted to continue exhibiting my work, and the goal was to have at least one solo exhibition every year.

 

In what ways did society shape your expectations of yourself?

I’ve never been someone who did things simply because you’re supposed to, or because society says you’re supposed to. I knew that I wanted to accomplish things that no one could take away from me, so I suppose this was a major driving force.

 

What was your first job like?

Though my first job was as a teenager, my first summer job in college was as a customer service representative. I worked 9-5 M-F in a cubicle, answering phones. I looked at my colleagues there and realized this was their life, not just their summer job; they had two weeks off a year and had their cubicles decorated with pictures of their children, had 30 minutes for lunch in a sterile break room, and had to be micromanaged. This was enough motivation for me to never have to have a job like this again.

 

What was your first apartment like?

It was a two-story basement apartment that I shared with two girls one block from the Kansas City Art Institute. You walked in on a balcony that overlooked the living room below, and we thought it was amazing. But within 4 months of living there, we had a flood and our next door neighbors had a fire. Our landlord was horrible and pretended not to understand English when we came to him with problems, and it was the most dramatic, horrible apartment I’ve ever lived in. But I learned a lot. Always get renter’s insurance.

 

Did you experience any big life changes?

Moving to the South for graduate school changed my life. I was 27, and moved from a faster paced part of the country to a slower one. Before I lived in the South, insignificant things seemed to matter more. I talked too much and didn’t listen to others enough. I moved too fast while everyone else moved slowly, and realized I was missing out on some of the best things in life because I had to get somewhere right on time, or needed to be worked up about something that didn’t matter.  Moving to Athens, Georgia, helped me keep things in perspective and taught me to slow down and focus on the things that truly matter.

 

In what ways did your friendships change?

I wouldn’t say they changed, but I do think new things were revealed to me. I grew to understand that the histories we have with our oldest friends can be one of the central things that keep people close, and that you can grow so much that the history is the only thing that really keeps you close; but that’s okay, because that kind of relationship can never be duplicated. And often times, it’s those friendships that have made us who we are. For the most part, newer friendships don’t have that impact on shaping our identities; they simply benefit from the people we’ve become.

 

What did you learn through your romantic relationships?

To trust my gut. I dated some wonderful people who had so many great qualities about them, but eventually the one or two things that were little red flags in my gut were ultimately the reasons they didn’t work out. I would tell myself that people are flawed and that no one is perfect, so I put up with things that I wasn’t truly comfortable with. I found that when I was happiest with myself, I didn’t want the unhealthy relationship, and chose to be alone.

 

How did your relationships with your family change?

With a lot of therapy. 🙂

 

How do you feel society viewed you?

I’m not sure really. Honestly, I don’t think my work was significant enough for society to notice when I was in my 20s.The people close to me knew me, but I don’t think I was viewed by society in a particular way. That said, I think I tend to come off as rather positive and put together, but when people see my work I think they wonder where all the darkness comes from.

 

How do you feel you changed emotionally?

I feel more secure, and am able to see insecurities I had when I was younger that guided my decision making. I am definitely happier now.

 

How did you change intellectually?

When I moved to the South, I realized that my view of the world up to that point was shaped predominately by the liberal environments I grew up in, such as the city of Minneapolis and art school. It was shocking to live in a part of the country where I couldn’t assume people were liberal. It really allowed me to think about perspectives carefully, and to look at both sides of an issue more thoroughly. I’m also a lot less tolerant now of those who never listen to someone else’s point of view.

 

In what ways do you feel your identity changed?

Becoming a professor definitely changed my identity. I wasn’t just an art student or artist anymore, but suddenly found myself as an academic doing things and caring about things that never would have crossed my mind, like how to handle myself around parents or administrators. They never really tell you when you want to teach at the college level all that it will entail bureaucratically and institutionally, but you learn very quickly.

 

How did your worldview change over the course of the decade?

I’m aware of my privilege in ways I never was before, though honestly, that didn’t happen until my 30s. In my 20s, I truly don’t know if it changed more than the average person. I was 21 on Sept. 11th, and that, of course, was pretty earth shattering in terms of the world view. I do think it’s fair to say I lost a lot of hope in the government during the Bush Administration, and I’m not sure I’ve quite regained it.

 

What was the most embarrassing moment?

Oh I’m not sure…I was teaching a figure drawing class once, and we were listening to a Mark Mothersbaugh album on my iPad. The next song, alphabetically, was “Moves Like Jagger” by Maroon 5, and suddenly in the middle of a pose that whistling riff came on and startled everyone. It was loud, and my students teased me for my music choice. That’s maybe it- not too bad.

 

What was your biggest disappointment and how did that affect you later?

I’m not sure if it was my biggest disappointment, but the one that comes to mind was getting rejected from so many graduate schools. I applied to maybe six of them one year and didn’t get into any. This is a pretty trivial disappointment- nothing major, but it did hurt. I just tried to rationalize it and applied the next year. Luckily, I didn’t have that problem two years in a row.

 

Who was your biggest influence and why?

I’m going to keep it anonymous, but someone special in my life spent so many years doing something that they hated, just to keep their head above water. I admired their tenacity, but never wanted to end up like them, and this was probably my biggest driving factor. Because of their experiences, I vowed not to get married or start a family until I had my career set.

 

Is there any one experience that you feel defined the decade? Or one historical moment that changed you?

I was pretty moved by President Obama’s election. I felt so optimistic and so hopeful. My professors in graduate school cancelled classes for his inauguration, and we all went to a bar and watched it on TV. So many people, including my professors and peers, were in tears. It was so moving to see the world come together like that, at least, the world that surrounded me.

 

Do you have any regrets? Are there things you wish you’d done, hadn’t done, or done differently?

Only one thing. When I got to undergraduate school, I was the kid who was too shy to do something I wasn’t sure I’d be good at. I only took classes that I knew I’d succeed at, because I was afraid to fail. My work was sterile and soul-less. I wish I would have taken courses in areas I was more uncomfortable in- I would have learned more and could have ended up going down a vastly different path, but I stuck to what I know and I think my options were greatly limited because of it.

Dame of the Day: Etel Adnan

Etel AdnanToday’s Dame of the Day is Etel Adnan (February 25-1925-). Adnan grew up in Lebanon but earned degrees at the Sorbonne in Paris and studied at UC-Berkeley and Harvard. After receiving her diplomas, she returned to Lebanon and became cultural editor of Al-Safa, a French language newspaper. During her tenure, she vastly expanded the cultural section, contributed critical editorials even penned comics. In her spare time, she composed a slew of novels and several books of poetry reflecting her lesbian identity. Adnan is considered one of the world’s most accomplished Arab-American artists.

Dame of the Day: Emily Jacir

Emily Jacir

Today’s Dame of the Day is Emily Jacir (1970-). Born in Bethlehem and raised as a world traveler, this Palestinian artist splits her time between Rome and Ramallah. In addition to creating her own photography, videos, and performance art, she spearheaded Ramallah’s first International Video Festival in 2002.

Dame of the Day: Shigeyuki Kihara

Shigeyuki Kihara

Today’s Dame of the Day is Shigeyuki Kihara (1975-). Born and raised in Samoa, Kihara immigrated to New Zealand when she was sixteen. Kihara is best known for her photographic collections of self-portraits portraying both male and female subjects. Her artwork reflects her identification as fa’afafine, the third gender of Samoa. She is the first New Zealander to ever display artwork at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Dame of the Day: Kara Walker

Kara Walker

Today’s Dame of the Day is Kara Walker (November 26, 1969-). Walker arranges black cut-paper silhouettes against a white background to create complicated murals. Much of her subject matter draws on the Antebellum South and critiques the race and gender politics that rose from slavery. At 28 years old, she became the second youngest person to ever win a MacArthur Fellowship. Most recently, Brooklyn’s Domino Sugar Factory presented “A Subtlety, or the Marvelous Sugar Baby,” a sphinx-like sculpture crafted from 30 tons of sugar.