The Interview Series continues with artist Monica Tiulescu sharing her thoughts on art, her work, and the creative process. Learn more about the artist and visit pivotartgallery to see the featured portfolio.
1. Can you describe your art-making process? How is the work created and how is it printed?
My species work is based on the concept of assembly through growth. The species are accumulated and cultivated through a procedure of aggregation. Like a swarm, complexity arises from self-similar yet differentiated entities working together to form the whole. I produce the work in animation/model building software. Micro 3 dimensional forms are grouped and manipulated both locally and parametrically.
The work has been printed on metal panels, canvas, and archival photo paper.
2. How much, would you say, does your background in architecture play into each piece? How about biology? Science in general?
Each Species confronts conditions of structure, skin/surface, and ornament. They also, establishes field conditions, a concept derived from landscape urbanism. The goal is for the species to operate at multiple scales and not be bound by context, typology, and history. They are architectonic rather than architectural. The study of architecture has taught me how to see everything in all its complexity, how to be analytical and learn how to develop methodologies of design. I am interested in the evolutionary process and systems understanding of how organisms propagate and behave. I am especially interested in performance exhibiting conditions of mutation, adaptation, and oscillations between bi-lateral symmetry and breakdowns of symmetry. I also systematically and computationally grow these species taking into account the notion of end or death as a process of regeneration or fluctuation in specific components of the overall form.
3. Do you have any overarching artistic philosophies that you incorporate into the work?
I am not a minimalist. I am attracted to complexity and non-linear thinking, especially hyper-articulation (lots of fat). System theory has been the biggest influence on my work as well as reading French philosophy when I was a student. I am interested in work that represents performative and opportunistic operations rather than representational and metaphoric concepts. The invention of new techniques gets me most excited.
4. How much of a role do computers have in your art-making practice?
I utilize the computer as a generative tool, rather than design something first and then represent it through visualization. I enjoy continuously learning new techniques to add to my rule base for growing work. What I find simplistic is when people (usually architects) ask “did you do that or did the computer do that?”
5. How important is the history of art to you personally? Does it inform your work?
I was fortunate to grow up in a family that loved the arts and to have an informal and formal art education from childhood on, where all types of arts including, painting, film, performance etc. where an essential part of life. My favorite painter is Francis Bacon and his work has had a huge impact on my thinking. I am also extremely fascinated by contemporary Chinese art.
6. Can you talk a little about the tension between organic and algorithmic aspects of your work?
I love Science Fiction because I think it is where the algorithmic and organic meet and propose all sorts of ethical dilemmas. I am interested in tension in general, especially in trying to create work that appears to be in the process of becoming and therefore ambiguous. Both organic and algorithmic processes demonstrate behavior through patterns and relationships. I think that a certain type of tension arises when one seeks clear classification.
7. What are your goals as an artist?
I am hoping to paint better and more. I would like to combine my computational work with painting. I am hoping to show my work as much as possible, receive critical feedback, and be part of conversations that will make me a better artist and teacher.
8. Do you have artistic/creative role models?
I have definitely had some amazing teachers. I have been most influenced by urban life experiences, contemporary experimental architecture, and gardening strange plants.
9. What is the best thing about making art? Do you learn through art-making?
Making art influences my teaching and I hope makes me smarter. I get really excited when I produce something new, since I don’t really know where the process will take me when I initially start. I learn through adding more rules/changing the rules and doing multiple iterations.
10. What, if anything do you want viewers to learn from your work?
I hope people will expand their thinking about what architecture thinking can produce. Trans-disciplinary work has to be viewed for more than its aesthetics and compositional value but rather for what it produces as a complex set of procedures, behaviors and formal articulation.
11. What are your favorite things to do besides making art?
I love cooking and spending time with my 3 dogs who have been with me for over 12 years. I also enjoy walking endlessly in urban settings and talking to people I don’t know.
Ironically enough, my parent’s actually forced me to study art. I was a super creative and artistic child and won all kinds of awards for my art citywide and even some pieces went statewide as early as 5 years old. But during my adolescent years I was pretty rebellious and ended up dropping out of high school. My parent’s were convinced that had I had an artistic outlet, I wouldn’t have acted out as much. So when I decided I wanted to go to college, they said they would only pay for my applications if I applied as an art major. So I did. The agreement was that I only had to try it for the first year and could then change to any major I wanted. But of course I fell head over heals in love with art within the first few months, and haven’t fallen out of love since.
2. What do you learn through your work?
As time goes on I find that my art really is just an extension of myself, so it’s hard to separate between what is me and what is my art. What I learn in life is reflected in my work and what I learn in my work is reflected in my life. They are really just one in the same.
3. What is most satisfying to you about the creative process?
Being able to be and do anything. I love that in art there are no rules, and even if there were you could break them. I can act on all my impulses and be whoever I want without having to worry about how that translates to acceptability in society. It’s extrodinarily satisfying to know that you can truly create something from nothing, and I honestly don’t know how people live their lives without some form of art.
4. If you have artistic/creative role models, who are they and how do you relate to them?
I’ve actually found that most of my artistic role models are non visual artists. I have friends and collegues that I really admire and who inspire me. These are poets, actors, musicians, directers, and writers, yet few painters. I think my inspiration comes more from the way people think, feel and how they view the world, rather than which art form they use to express their creativity.The creative process and artistic mind are similar regardless of medium. I will say that my brother is a huge role model, and I really can’t imagine being where I am without him. He is an actor and director and I couldn’t feel more proud or lucky to be his little sister.
5. Can you describe your technical processes? How do you make the images, what materials do you use, etc…?
It really depends. I don’t have one way of working, and I like that. Sometimes I work from life and do sketches that then turn into paintings, sometimes I take photos and paint directly from those withtout sketching at all, sometimes I sketch from my imagination or from photos and then paint, sometimes I make collages and paint from the collage using that as a sketch, and then sometimes I just paint, with no plan or image ahead of time. In regards to medium, I’m in love with oil paint. In Brazil and some months prior, I was forced to paint in acrylics which initially was frustrating but actually turned out for the best. I experimented with more geometric styles and linear forms that I might not have otherwise. And now I actually do a lot of my paintings with an acrylic undercoat and paint with oils on top, which I am loving.
6. You have traveled quite a bit. How does this influence your work?
Greatly! My environment influences my work regardless of where I am, traveling or not. If I am present and in the moment, then where I am, who I am with and what I am doing in my life are always going to be reflected in my work. So traveling has of course changed my work significantly. Adjusting to a different culture, language, lifestyle and country has had a huge impact on who I am, how I view the world, and therefore my art as well. I think one of the contributing factors to my “Brasil Series” being so stylistically different than my other series’ was that literally the style and way of my life was so different when living there.
7. Where do you see yourself and your art practice in say 10 years?
Honestly, I just hope I’m still painting. However that happens, whether I’m successful as an artist or not, I just hope that regardless of what job I have, family or not, that I am at least painting…even if no one sees it. That’s what matters most to me. But of course it doesn’t hurt to have some recognition along the way.
8. How do you feel about contemporary art and your contribution to it?
Gosh, “contemporary” art… I suppose I could ramble on about what that even really means, but all in all I have mixed feelings about most of what I see in regards to “contemporary” art. Not always, but at times I feel that a lot of art today is becoming overly conceptualized. I don’t think there is a better or worse between conceptual art and emotive art, but I find more and more artists becoming highly concerned with the ideas behind their works which for me often times falls flat and doesn’t move me. Something primarily conceptual can certainly cause you to feel and something primarily emotive can certainly cause you to think, and in my eyes both are equally important. I’m contributing by allowing the emotive aspect to take form and the thinking and relecting to happen afterward, by myself and my viewers. This is the most organic and honest way I have found to approaching my art.
9. What is the most important thing you want viewers to come away from your work with?
Anything a viewer takes from my work is important, whether it’s a feeling or idea, bad or good. The worst thing someone can say about my art is that they don’t remember it.
The 11 Question Interview Series continues with artist Leslie Supnet sharing her thoughts on drawing and animation. Learn more about the artist and visit pivotartgallery to see the featured portfolio.
1. When did you first begin to draw seriously? Or rather…take your drawings seriously enough to consider sharing them?
It was after meeting my partner, Clint Enns, that I decided to share my work and have an exhibition at local gallery in 2007 – Semai Gallery, owned and operated by Winnipeg based artist Takashi Iwasaki. Clint was very supportive, and encouraged me to think about actually having an art practice. In return, I did the same for him, pushing him to make films.
2. How did drawing translate into animation? Was there a sharp learning curve?
As my arts practice started to emerge, I became interested in artist-run centers and creative communities in Winnipeg. I signed up for a circuit-bending workshop at Video Pool Media Arts Centre, and after that started voraciously taking workshops there and at the Winnipeg Film Group – animation, filmmaking, Super 8 and 16mm experiments and editing. Definitely the animation process became easier over time.
3. Can you describe your technical process a bit. Do you sketch out ideas? How do you turn your drawings into animations?
I usually think of an experience, or emotion I would like to concentrate a drawing or animation on, then think of a good title that conveys that experience. Humor has always been a healthy way of coping with grief or tragedy for me, so I try to infuse that in my titles which then carries over into the animated narrative. This is how some of my drawings turn into animations — there’s always a back story in my drawings.
4. If you have artistic/creative role models, who are they and how do you relate to them?
Margaret Kilgallen is someone I look up too. She was a San Francisco visual artist, street artist and musician who passed away, loosing a battle with cancer in 2001. The way she drew from folk art, hand painted signs in her neighborhood, and the beauty of every day life, and created art that was sincere which didn’t need art-speak to justify its existence was really inspiring.
5. What is most satisfying to you about the creative process?
Figuring out a way to communicate an experience or feeling with colour, movement and light. And intuitively knowing you’ve hit on something, that usually I can feel in the gut area. I really really really enjoy that! It’s like that moment you get a joke. Pure joy.
6. Your work seems to have ‘characters’ that are pulled from various sources. How do you define these roles for your ‘cast’?
The characters in my drawings and animations started off to be fairly generic, with the intention to be as universal as possible, rather than be specific. Hence the lack of hair colour, and ambiguous ethnicity in my early characters. But when someone thought I was only drawing Caucasian blondes, I knew I had to address that with specificity. So with my animation Gains + Losses, I decided to draw upon characters in my own life and experience, the central character in that work my cousin who committed suicide in March of 2010. Since then I’ve drawn upon people around me, and also base a lot of the characters on myself.
7. You have also studied mathematics. How does that influence your work?
I graduated with a BSc in Statistics. I’m not sure if that education influences my work at all, on a conscious level anyway.
8. How autobiographical is your work?
Most if not all my work draws on personal experience. Though personal, I focus on experiences most of us go through – loss, grief, longing, loneliness, awkwardness and love.
9. How do you feel about contemporary art and your contribution to it?
Since I started animating, I’ve been focusing more on the black box than the white box. I really do enjoy experimental film – making it, watching it (other people’s work!) – over anything else at the moment. I really like the nature and experience of experimental moving images – accessible, ephemeral, hard to monetize. I find it more freeing than making art objects that often gets a value attached to it to be sold to whoever can afford it.
10. What, if anything, do you want viewers to learn from your work?
What I hope people take from my work is a sense of empathy and connection.
11. What can you add that would help us understand you and/or your work better?
I’m an introvert, and spend a lot of time looking inward for answers. I trust my intuition and feel that when I listen to myself, it’s the most honest thing I can do.