Like her Gobstoppers, the pieces that stole our hearts and introduced us to her work. Check them out below and enjoy our convo. We hope you get inspired.
Tell us about yourself:
I was born and raised in Silicon Valley, surrounded by apple orchards and the spirit of innovation. As a kid, I was always up to something. Whether it was concocting hair dye out of pebbles in the backyard or fashioning high heels from cork board and recycled polyester, I had no trouble entertaining myself with whatever was within my reach. Though I’ve since upgraded my materials and moved to New York, a lot has stayed the same! I explored a couple of tangents before pursuing art, first consulting for the biotech and pharmaceutical industries and then directing an early music community choir. I enrolled in a traditional furniture painting course a few years ago and was introduced to historical decorative finishes such as gilding, lacquer, faux bois, and marble. After my first class, I was hooked. Since 2020, I have been incorporating these ancient techniques into modern sculptures and installations. My mission is to provide a contemporary stage for this age-old and often overlooked art form.
What kind of physical/mental space are you in when you create?
My creativity operates on two separate gears. One is highly organized, measured, and planned. With historical techniques, there are no shortcuts to surface preparation, timing, layers, and execution. The last thing I want is to realize I made a mistake halfway through the project, so in this mode, I tread lightly. My other side is spontaneous, free, and guided purely by intuition. When things start to feel too cerebral in the studio, I challenge myself to an improvisation. I set a timer and commit to completing a project from start to finish in less than 30 minutes.
Is there a defining moment in your life that speaks to who you are as an artist today?
While not tied to a singular moment, eliminating the notion of “good” or “bad” in my practice completely liberated me. There is a ton of art out there, and a collector for just about anything. We must remember that what falls flat in one space may bring another to life. What one person hates may be exactly what someone else loves. Instead of trying to chase a moving target of what is “supposed” to be, my philosophy is to make what you want. I have also learned to resist the compulsion to produce for the sake of output. Good work takes time. I remind myself that I am here to create the best work I can and am in no rush. Our processes are sacred and inhabit magic on their unique timelines.
Tell us about your Gobstoppers series. How did this series come to be?
My Gobstoppers were born out of a desire to make sense of time during the rinse and repeat of lockdown life in 2020. That was a period in which we were collectively unmoored from society, and I personally lost track of the days of the week. The Gobstoppers represent an attempt at tracking time in the absence of an external reference. They are abstractions of calendars, but clearly inaccurate ones. The series is meant to be funny as each piece boils down to a blaring mistake. I hope that conveys an underlying sense of optimism and reminds us not to take ourselves too seriously.
What kind of materials do you use in your work?
There’s a thread of sustainability in everything I do, and for me, that means creating archival works. I select materials based on how they will stand the test of time and generally avoid acrylics and plastics. My pieces typically start with a tight grain hardwood that I prepare with shellac and oil paint.
However, I am gravitating more towards water-based historical techniques. My current focus is traditional water gilding. This ancient method of preparing wood uses true gesso (a mix of calcium carbonate and rabbit skin glue), clay bole, and genuine gold leaf. Once I get the hang of it, I will try adorning the surface with natural materials such as eggshells and bone. Vintage glass is a recent addition to the studio. For the past year, I’ve been foraging for exquisite components, incorporating verre églomisé (glass gilding using gelatin), and repurposing them into original installations. So much material already exists on this planet, and I love the idea of giving new life to beautiful things forgotten.
How does color impact your work?
Color is a puzzle to me. I mix my colors from scratch to create truly bespoke pieces for my collectors’ homes. Clients often provide furniture and textile swatches, and we work together to develop a custom finish. On a recent project, I was asked to create a finish that mimicked Chinese red lacquer. I went down a rabbit hole of researching before deciding on an orangey-red base that I toned with a bluish-red glaze to introduce depth and dimension
What is exciting you right now in the art world?
On a recent trip to Paris, I visited Fondation Giacometti to see the works of contemporary artist Rebecca Warren’s works in relation to modern art master Alberto Giacometti. Another show at MoMA currently follows the same model, pairing the sculptures of Barbara Chase-Riboud with Giacometti’s. I’ve always been fascinated by context and association and its power to entirely shift the way we consider a body of work. I’d like to see more matchmaking like this in both the art and design worlds.
Is there anything upcoming you want to talk about?
After years in the making, I’ll be introducing Gobstoppers in genuine marble for the first time. A new piece created with 1970s vintage glass will be debuting at Demuro Das in NYC in the Fall. A made-to-order series of cast bronze tabletop collectibles is also in the works! Finally, I am a huge believer in manifesting, so I’m visualizing my next large site-specific installation. On the mood board: a concept hotel with a triple-height lobby and glass from floor to ceiling, possibly capturing light fluctuations from moving water nearby.
Favorite art book: The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron
Favorite piece of art you own: An original painting by Spanish contemporary artist Ramon Enrich. The minimalistic architectural forms in a desolate landscape read as surreal, transporting me to a place where time stops and I can be alone with my thoughts.
What is something small that means the world to you: When my tween boys still reach out to hold my hand before crossing the street!
Who is an emerging artist worthy of everyone’s attention: Fernanda Pompermayer
What makes you feel like a million bucks? Scoring a thrift shop find for pennies only to find the same thing on 1st Dibs for thousands of dollars.
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