Interview with Joell Baxter and Stella Ebner on the occasion of their exhibition CUT LIGHT / OPEN LATE at Field Projects
by Karl Erickson
What are the physical or tactile qualities of light you are striving to capture with ink and paper?
I am interested the idea that light is always moving around, over, and through us. Although I am fixing color on paper, the nature of the weave and the cutting causes the color to constantly shift, so there is still a sense of flux, as with light moving over a landscape. The weave and the gaps left from the cutting also reference pixelation, so there is another kind of shift from analog light to digital light.
I’m curious that you mentioned pixels as a reference point. Cut Light seems so far removed from the digital. Are the gaps in the pieces analogs (!) for missing information or low resolution?
The work stands in contrast to the digital in terms of its making, which is slow, and physical, and dependent on touch. But the structure of the weave is actually a screen, literally, and the perceptual effect of the color is very similar to building color with pixels—one color sits next to another and mixes and changes within your perception. And, as you point out, the cuts in every other square can be read as a kind of lossy-ness . In future projects I want to play with this more. I like the idea of seeing several of these weaves together in different “resolutions”, depending on the tightness of the weave, width of the strips, and number of cuts.
I was aiming to capture the movement, and the man-madeness, of lights flickering to create recognizable words and patterns. That’s what sparked my idea - that something, so recognizable as street-vendor signs, is made up only of small flickering lights. But together, all of these lights work to create both recognizable words and abstract patterns. That was my greatest challenge: making these LED lights come alive and to illuminate the page when they’re turned on. But when they flicker off, they still retain some reflective quality. I was also interested in the difference between illuminated lights (in lived reality) and creating the illusion of lights on paper with pigments.
Both of your works has a sense of absence to it. Stella, yours because of the movement to abstraction calls attention to missing the interstitial moments that happen in the narrative between the prints. Joell, because there are literally gaps in the image, the weaving is full of holes and the weavings describe a greater shape that isn’t there. What is the reason for this insistence on absence, does it have to do with ephemeral qualities of light?
For this piece in particular I wanted to talk about the periphery. The Field Projects space is so small, you can grasp the whole room when you first enter, but then you are immediately surrounded on all sides. I wanted, within this small room, to create a radiant space that you could experience as a whole, but then when you enter it the whole disappears and you are left with these peripheral fragments that you can only put back together in your mind. The work itself pushes to the literal edges, leaving the center empty until it is filled by the viewer. I think this relates to an idea Stella works with narratively, focusing on the moments that typically would be outside of the center or the frame.
The absence stems from my interest in that pause, that in-between moment and the weight that moment holds. The quality of light that I sought to make helps create that feeling of pause and anticipation. But what I’m really interested in, is what lies outside of the frame – how the viewer’s own perception changes the message of the work. This shift in perception is reinforced by not re-creating a streaming LED sign. Instead, I have isolated frames from that sign which fragments the message. This is meant to engage the viewer, to grapple with these deconstructed images, and then to re-construct the message.
So, is Open Late mean to be a representation of time presented all at once? That is, can Open Late be thought of as a way for the viewer being in multiple places and times at once?
Yes, Open Late could be the representation of time presented all at once. But only time in one place and not multiple places. I have always be inspired by Medieval and Early Renaissance works of art that depict a narrative or the passage of time within one picture plane.
How much of consideration of the role of physical time should be taken with your work? Both of your works have this lightness in the final images, but the printing and weaving take considerable effort, I would imagine.
Piecing the works together becomes a kind of measurement and meditation on the space, and this happens rhythmically, over time. The labor remains very readable to the viewer, I think, because of the repetition and the familiarity of the gesture. Most people can understand the over and under and probably have even made a weave of some sort themselves, so you can understand in a very fundamental way that this took time to make. But I also want the labor to fall away once you are in the space with the work, so that is it more about the perception of this space at this time.
It’s more of a personal challenge for myself to see how far I can push what I can do with prints. Using printmaking, which is so labor based and undertaking a project that appears completely not feasible.
Lauren Britton's interviews with artists + curators.
Click on the artist's name to read the interview!
This interview takes place at Storefront Ten Eyck in Bushwick, Brooklyn. Deborah and I discuss the many facets of her art making practice. From curating shows, to organizing non profits, managing a gallery and keeping her own work simmering Deborah is one busy lady. Deborah and I discuss her experience curating the Field Project's Open Call and the overwhelming amount of really good work she saw during that process. The excitement that Deborah exudes in participating in many facets of the art world is clear, as is her interest about the art culture that has appeared around Bushwick.
From my interview with Heather:
I think small paintings can be immersive if they’re both magnetic and hard to look at, like physically difficult to see—I like the idea of a Seurat that you can’t back away from, where the bits can’t resolve into bonnets and dogs.
Legacy Russell’s Dirty Talk|Clean Food, is the artist's first gallery solo exhibition was recently presented by Field Projects in Chelsea, NY. In this interview Legacy and I email to discuss the tensions between: private and public, food and language, sterility and filth, and cleanliness and dirt. We also discuss her studio practice, education, views on feminist art, and her coined 'glitch feminism'.
September 2013 & June 2014
Andrea Belag, has shown her paintings nationally and internationally. A professor at SVA, Belag’s work is characterized by its lush use of paint, vibrant color, and gestural use of mark making. In this interview, Andrea discusses her love of working in daylight and the reference to the window in her paintings. An interview in 2 parts, I first got in touch with Andrea in September of 2013, and have spoken with her again this past month, June 2014, in light of her current exhibition at DCKT Contemporary in the Lower East Side, on view through July 18th, 2014.
Doron Langberg's paintings offer an emotive queer experience. Through his deception of men, often in sexual situations, the entry into his work is through the beauty of paint application and the lighting of the situation. In this interview in his Bushwick studio, Doron and I discuss the process of his paintings and the political notions embedded in the content of his work.
Caroline Wells Chandler’s latest exhibition, Homunculus, is on view at Field Projects Gallery in Chelsea. Working with and against kitsch, his works employ the selfie, craft store tchotchkes, and little kids' food like Lucky Charms or Swedish Fish. Through the discussion of inside and outside of the frame of Chandler’s older works; this interview, conducted at in Chandler’s studio, offers a look into the formal and personal impetus for his work. Pulling from formal decisions based on personal experiences, Chandler references being a kid pining for stuff from Michaels, and going out for pizza with his partner as an impetus for the work. In this interview Caroline and I discuss his expansive process in arriving at an object or image.
Melissa Meyer was born in the Bronx and grew up in Queens, daughter of two New York City natives she has lived in the city, nearly, her whole life. She studied at New York University and has been the recipient of many grants and awards throughout her extensive career. In this interview Melissa discusses her love of jazz, and how dancing around the studio can provide for interesting mark making. Her residency experience, including the first residency she attended at Yaddo and her hard fought love of watercolor.
Sarah Faux, presently a student in the Yale MFA program, had her studio in Bushwick, Brooklyn when this interview was conducted. A painter interested in out of body experience, estrangement and dis-association Faux discusses her process of working into, and on top of the surface of the canvas. Working from small thumbnail sketches, and drawing all the time Faux maps her progression of her ideas about making, as a return to what she has always been interested in.