The eXTra finGer

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Friday, July 21, 2006

Interview with Marci Washington

1) First of all, can you present yourself..?
1)My name is Marci Washington. I’m 26 and I live in Oakland, California where I graduated from the California College for the Arts in 2002.

2) Do you think of yourself as an artist, or what?
2)I usually say painter.

3) What is creativity?
3)I think creativity is this weird thing in people that makes them see things differently and then insists that this strange view is made tangible. Creativity is a way of thinking, art is a way to share it with others.

4) Does your environment influence your art, either in style/format or interference?
4)Environment is a huge force for me. I would say that it’s one of the biggest factors influencing my work. Whenever I move, it takes me a while to settle into what’s around me. In Los Angeles everything is so grey and stark- all of the color left my paintings, and my backgrounds went flat black. In Oakland, the plants and colors around me start to creep in. You can’t ignore the overgrown gardens, the way people here let nature run a little wild. In LA, all of the yards were so controlled and manicured- it really made me think of plants differently. They lost some of their power. I moved back to Oakland in February, and I’m still trying to adjust and come back to color a bit.

5) What are some of your influences and inspirations?
5)My number one influence is fiction and history- the power of a story to shape the way you think of yourself and the world around you. I want my paintings to be small pieces of a narrative that I hope can say something about the human experience in the world and the effects of the fictionalization of that experience. Stylistically, the things that have influenced me are asian and Indian painting, as well as my experiences in print making. I’ve just recently noticed that I spend a lot of time trying to make paintings that look like prints.

6) What’s your favourite mediums (pen, charcoal, paint, canvas, etc…) to work in/on?
6)Right now I’m really into drawing- a sharp pencil and some nice paper. I used to paint in oils, but now I’m totally in love with gouache and watercolor on thick print making paper. Flat black gouache is sexy stuff.

7) Who are some of your favourite painters/artists?
7)Elizabeth Peyton totally changed the way I thought about painting. Marcel Dzama and Edward Gorey I love for their wonderful narratives and sense of humor, and Laura Owens for her space and color. I’m also really lucky to know and work with a lot of other people my age who are making really great work right now.

8) How long does it normally take you to complete a piece of your artwork?
8)I spend a lot of time on the drawings. The paintings happen pretty quickly, but half of them are no good, so it ends up that I work pretty slowly. Maybe two or three paintings a month end up as something I’d let other people look at.

9) What else are you interested in besides visual arts?
9)I really want to make a movie or a film project of some kind. Me and my sister are trying to think of something good to work on together. I really like movies. I’m also a big reader, so I’m into books and try to keep up with new stuff and find more good old ones that I haven’t read yet. I like the library, botanical gardens, and the zoo. I like animals and riding my bike. I make jewelry too.

10) Got any new projects planned?
10)I start graduate school in September, so I’m getting ready for that- working a lot and saving up money. I’m really excited to have a studio and maybe do some larger work. I’m in a group show at Receiver in San Francisco in August that should be really good, so I’m getting ready for that too. I’m also working on some pirate jewelry- all bone and coral and pearls- so exciting!

11) How would you describe your art to someone who could not see it?
11)Small bits of stories from midnight gardens and darkened drawing rooms, people with ulterior motives and secret desires, and plants and animals with their own secret world.

12) What other talent would most like to have?
12)I wish I could sing like Dolly Parton or Patsy Cline. I’d really love to be able to belt out a good country tune with that kind of deep growl and light as air sweetness. They make me ache. I try to do it, but only when I’m home alone or in my car.

13) What are your most beloved items?
13)A pirate head made from a coconut that I got from Disneyland when I was a kid, a book of poems and stories that my grandparents gave me when I was seven, a copy of the Besler Florilegium, my favorite sweater, and my car.

14) Favourite books?
14)The Magic Toyshop, and The Bloody Chamber by Angela Carter, Middlesex, and The Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides, Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte, and Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte.

15) Do you remember the first drawing you made?
15)I’m not sure if it was my very first, but it’s the first that I remember being really proud of- a portrait of Greta Garbo that I copied from my grandmother’s old Vanity Fair book while I was there visiting. My grandmother still has it framed in her bedroom.

16) What kind of music do you like and do you listen…And is the music important for your art…?
16)I really like music, and usually listen to it while I’m working. I like slow kinda dirgy stuff for while I’m doing line or detail, and then faster poppier stuff for just laying down paint. Right now I’m listening to Band of Horses, Clap Your Hands and Say Yeah, Tilly and the Wall, and The New Pornographers. Morrissey is always mixed in there too. Music is pretty important- it helps me stay focused and sitting in one place for hours.

17) Any advice do you have for artists?
17)This sounds kinda cheesy, but I think it’s really important to stay true to yourself and what you have to say, based on your own experience. To never worry about trends or fitting in with any particular style, and to just keep doing it no matter what other people say. Let the irrelevant criticism roll off you, and take the relevant as a very personal thing and vow to show that person wrong. Always try to be better.

18) Your contacts…E-mail….Links…


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