Q)So, can you tell me a little about yourself? Full name, age, some background info, etc?
A)My name is Sergio Sericolo. I am 40 years old and live in Albany NY. I have two children and just recently got remarried.
Q)How did you get started making art?
A)When I was young I would draw all the time. My mom noticed this interest and signed me up for art lessons. Every Saturday I would go to this big barn that was converted into an artist’s studio and I would sit around with other kids and learn to paint. You could pick from different books such as landscapes, seascapes, still life etc. and the teacher would walk around the room and help the students copy the painting from the book they chose. The paintings were awful, but the experience was great.
Q)How would you describe your art?
A)I would call it natural abstraction.
Q)Where do you get the inspiration for your art?
A)I find inspiration in found images such as old books, nature, textures and abstractions of paint. These images become a catalyst for my working process.
Q)What are you working on now?
A)I have a pretty big painting in my studio and always find myself simultaneously working on smaller drawings. Currently I am working on drawing into a book of printed engravings based on artists’ paintings from the 18th and 19th centuries. I find these pieces interesting because they started out as an original painting by one artist, then were transferred by another artist into an engraving only to then be printed and ultimately turned back into an original by me.
Q) How do you approach the creation of a new piece... how does everything come together?
A)For painting, the work at first comes from a very chaotic process – I lay the canvas on the floor and proceed to splatter paint and turpentine on it and move the canvas around until I see some interesting textures and shapes. I enjoy making marks that don’t necessarily look like I had my hand in the process. When I feel that there is enough interesting marks I slowly begin to see images in the paint and start to build layers of paint and form more organic images that relate to nature and anatomy.
For drawing, the process starts with seeing an image in a book and drawing into it or taking pieces of the drawing away and then find other images from that point.
Q)What's your favorite medium to work in, and why?
A)Oil for paintings and graphite for drawings. In the pages of the antique books the graphite and ink blend really well together - sometimes blurring the line between what I created and what was there to begin with.
Q)Do you collect anything?
A)I try to trade my work with artist friends when I can – my goal is to have my house filled with other artist’s work. I don’t like to have all of my work staring back at me.
However, it is a great way to store work; I often find that because I am so productive, I have a severe lack of storage space.
Q)Is your work all hand done? Or do you use any computer tools to help out?
A)My paintings and drawings are all hand done. I have made digital prints in the past but always found that I needed to get my hand in the work. I would always draw something then scan it and then add to the digital file.
Q)What, in your opinion, are the best and worst places to exhibit artwork?
A)I would never hang my work in a coffee house. I feel it makes the work look like a decoration and people can’t see the importance of the work because the work becomes reduced to a mere decor. I feel if you are fine artist, you should think of yourself that way and have respect for your work and not just show it anywhere because you can or because some one asks you to.
Q)What are your artistic influences?
A)I remember going to Italy when I was about 13 and just being overwhelmed by the art from the Renaissance - it had a huge impact on the formation of my aesthetic sensibility. The richness and craftsmanship from this time period is something I strive for in my work. Other influences would be - Kiki Smith, Anselm Kiefer, Fred Tomaselli, Gerhard Richter among others.
Q)How are the reactions on your work in general?
A)I think they have been very good. I actually received a NYFA Fellowship this year which is very competitive and I was in shock. There are so many great painters living in New York and some guy (me) from upstate got one of these prestigious grants. I could not believe it. It gave me great confidence to continue what I was doing. It is nice to know that there are people out there who understand what you are trying to do and show support when they can.
Q)What are you doing when you are not creating art?
A)I am an Art Director and photographer at Siena College (a liberal arts college near Albany NY)
I am also an adjunct drawing professor there as well.
Q)What are some of the greatest challenges that you think artists face today?
A)I find that the biggest challenge is to just keep making art. There so many other realistic obstacles to face. Most artists can not support themselves solely by making art so you need to have a full time job so you can have health benefits and money for art supplies, studio space, food, mortgage and to supplement the rest of your life. There is also the aspect of time- if you have a family then you have even less time, energy and money to make art.
And finally you have to market yourself. I find I do a lot of emailing, trying to go to galleries, sending out packets etc. which takes away from actually making art. I have found, however, that if it is important to you then you make it happen- It is a pretty tough to balance sometimes. I think the one thing that a real artist has, ultimately, comes down to a compulsion to create -sometimes at the risk of neglecting other areas of his/her life.
Q) What is freedom to you as an artist?
A)Freedom is being able to make my work the way I want and solely focus on my vision and voice.
The term artist is synonymous with freedom- you have total autonomy. All of the choices, good or bad, are yours and your work stands as a documentation of those choices. Out of this freedom you hope to be able to make something lasting and personal that others can relate to as well.
Q)Are there any particular works you've done that stand out as your favourites?
A)I guess I would have to say ”The Ballad of Saint Jerome”. It is in a very prominent spot in my house so I see it everyday. I still enjoy it after seeing it for quite sometime. It is a very quintessential piece of mine. The organic form in the piece exemplifies this idea of referencing nature in a way that you might have seen before but can not quite figure out. You may see the main form as a tree, a mushroom, or a vagina but it still has this abstraction and ambiguity about it.
Q) What it the coolest thing you have seen recently while wandering the streets?
A)I grew up in a small city where there were not a lot of trees. I had one tree in my yard and for some reason we chopped it down. Now, the older I get I really am in awe of the beauty of trees, the sky and other natural forms. I am not a great outdoorsman nor do I hike, however, regardless of how overused nature is in art or as a decorative motif I still feel it will always remain as an inspiration to artists.
Q) Do you carry a notebook? Do you draw in public?
A)Yes- I carry a backpack filled with various supplies and usually one of these old heavy books inside. I bring it to work everyday and sneak in some drawing when I able to.
I also find myself drawing on long airplane trips. I try not draw in public, I think that making art is a very intimate thing for me and I don’t like to bring attention to myself in that way. It is ironic because the work will usually end in a public forum at some point but the process is very personal.
Q) Who are your favourite artists & Your favourite galleries?
A)Pierogi 2000, The Whitney Museum, The Metropolitan Museum of Art in NY, The Uffizi Gallery and The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. I recently went to the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts and they exhibited a nice selection of contemporary Canadian artists as well.
Q) Do you get emotionally attached to your work and do you miss your work when it is sold?
A)I feel that making art is a process. The moment I feel that I have made my masterpiece I think my work would stop growing and changing. I feel as an artist that you have to have respect for your work because it ultimately represents you. I think of my work as self portrait in a sense. Because it is self portrait, I do have a certain emotional attachment, however, I want my work to be out in the world and enjoyed by other people.