Painter Kara Cox artist in residence during the month of April 2017, is working in one of our two studio spaces for the month . We asked her a few questions about her work, life, and more:
Q: To start this off, tell us about your background.
I am from Rochester, New York, but currently live in Yonkers. This move was accompanied by my studies at SUNY Purchase for my BFA in Painting and Drawing. I have been keeping track of my studio hours, and guesstimate I’m around 3091 hours at this point. (I’ve been keeping strict track of my studio hours starting at the rough estimate of 3000).
I sort of have a day job… I wear many hats. Currently I am a Listings Editor for Artcritical, and have published writing with them as well. I’m also a studio assistant to various artists, and I will often freelance odd jobs. This is the only way I could support my nomadic studio life style and still have a place to live in New York City!
Q: How would you describe your work?
My preferred medium is acrylic (painting). I also draw realistic portraits of people and dogs, but I don’t consider it part of my practice. As of late I think the paintings operate in the liminal space between abstraction and realism. They are rooted in their abstract formal elements, but are contingent on the structure inherent to photography (and physical objects/subjects of the reference photographs).
I’m really interested in how perception influences each of our individual experiences. The paintings have addressed this in their formal properties, such as hyper-gloss, or slightly differing colors. These formal decisions require the viewer to physically walk around the painting, as it is never fixated in a single moment.
Q: What is your process for creating a work of art?
First my paintings start with my environment. My recent body of work originated from my attention to objects and surfaces that were easily dismissed or quite often devoid of monetary value. These quotidian objects felt deeply important to me; such as dirt piles, cracks in the sidewalks, or scuffs in the wall. I would then extract a pattern using Adobe Illustrator- either re drawing sections or using the program’s algorithms for selecting an element of the photograph and create a multitude of black stencils to project onto the surface of the painting. I think about the projection as if it were a grid…something to build off of and mold the image.
Still using this process I now think of my paintings as an exploration in perception, between subconsciously choosing what is brought to the foreground of my attention in an environment, and the way this information is translated through a digital lens.
Q: What are your goals for this residency?
I would like to utilize my time at this residency to produce a few new paintings, but also attempt to create a few short animations. I’ve been interested in making work about our perception of the immediate/physical world and how it is changed by our relationship to the digital/non-physical. I think exploring moments of quietness through extensive labor and the tedium of drawing them out frame by frame will allow me to respond in reverence to these dwindling moments of subtlety and stillness. I’m also interested in how a video might possess an unsalable quality, or have a veil of egalitarianism in its accessible/sharable aspects.
I’ve learned it is better to set very mild goals on a residency. This allows room for exploring new routes and ideas that may be unique to the experience, instead of shrouding new developments with an aggressive or unforgiving goal, mislabeled as productivity. I think some of the quietest, unsuspecting moments in our lives are the ones that fuel progress the most, and it is important to remain open to them.
Q: What is the most useful tool in your studio?
Hands down it would be my projector. Runner up is my computer. I’ve developed a real attachment to working this way, and these devices have really shaped my visual language.
Q: Who is your favorite artist and why?
I would say Trevor Paglen with his investigation into data collection and mass surveillance, and Hope Gangloff with her incredible color relationships are equally tied in first place for me. Runner-ups might be Sarah Sze, Agnes Martin, Donald Judd, and Dan Flavin.
Q: What type of music do you listen to? How does music affect your artwork?
I listen to so many kinds of music, but I find that I listen infrequently. I think listening to music while working discourages mindfulness, so very rarely will I listen while I’m painting. I think it is important to be fully present in activities (which is probably encouraged by my interest in our relationship to the digital).
Q: What’s next for you?
I’m going to head back to New York, and try to wear fewer hats. I’d like to stop freelancing, and find a consistent part time or full time job. I’ve already found a very small studio to rent for a few months, so I plan on slowing down on the nomadic residency life style for now. Other than that, as long as I can keep making and seeing artwork… I’m a happy camper.