Interview with JONATHAN CHASE
q)Walk us through an intimate day in your life
a) I’m currently in my MFA program so that keeps
my really busy. I wake up pretty late or
early for some people around3 am and start working on things but then often I’m
in such a strong drive I don’t sleep at all., I take breaks from the news it
can get to be too much for me, I’M VERY Sensitive. I take my antidepressants
(or not) and catch up on news I’m not
much an eater in the morning maybe some yogurt and coffee while developing a
plan for my next painting. I try and
have at least an hour of social time for friends a day and some for just myself
whether it be reading something I enjoy or playing a video game. I spend at least 5-8 hours making something
every day bad or not I make it, and I always have larger projects work on over
time I make sure I keep up with. Making
things and having my fiancé here with all his love and support at the end and
beginning of each day really helps me keep things together. I struggle with consciously constantly
putting on different mask in social structures and keeping a balance as a gay
black bipolar man.
q) Where did you grow up/where do you live now and how does that
contribute to your art?
a) I’m from Philadelphia Pa,
and I’ve lived here all my life always been a city kid a city person. I’m used to large crowds of people or rather
used to them being around but I don’t always feel comfortable with that. I’m living here with my family in Philly
while taking my Mfa at PAFA. I was born
in north philly and then bounced over near the north east where I grew up in a
really mixed neighborhood I’ve always had different kinds of friends. Shit got
rough in many ways while I was a teenager and then I found myself ( my family)
moving a lot in philly mostly in to bad parts around north side. The suspicion, grittiness, and hostility is
something I expect but can never fully get used to. Some things are okay I guess there is
violence nearly everywhere in some shape
or form where I live theres lots of crime, things like drugs and someone was
shot across the street from where I live.
Lots of racial tension and homophobia in my neighborhood too, I have to
wear a mask outside of the comfort of my house. Outside of the safety of my
home. I talk a lot about what I see
every day in life from my experiences and that of which I share with my people
black or queer. My every day is shown
through my art with beauty, pain,
hiding, and struggle.
q) What is your earliest
memory that propelled you to create?
a) My mother drew lots of things for me as a
child so clique as that sounds it is the first urge I had I thank her for
nurturing that not many black parents support or want to see their children
pursue something so unstable or what they thought was something “white”. I always knew I wanted to be an artist but I
didn’t know how to do it or what kind of artist. I think as I became more confident and aware
of my sexuality I felt a stronger need to share that and explore it and learn
q) Tell us a little bit about your creative process.
a)I work from found photographs, trash, items, and paper/collage along
with paint. I like to go on a date with
the picture and then play with it, I’m not married to the information on the
photograph and I manipulate things digitally or I draw out a plan before
transforming my information to the surface I’m working on. I cut and paste and paste and cut on
different surfaces like canvas, cardboard, and different fabrics. I compile files and my fabric swatches and
color conversations to have a foundation of the idea but different things
always happen while Im working on a piece.
q) How do you wish for your art to be perceived?
a)I have a target audience and that audience is everyone though I work
with gay black identity I want to invite people from all walks of life to stay
for a while with my work. I want to
challenge ideas of black identity internally and externally as well as gender
roles/ norms. I’m working also heavily
with ideas of visibility and I really want people to “see” not just what they
think though I know it can make people uncomfortable. I think being uncomfortable sometimes is a
good thing lets us get out of ourselves and learn something new. I want my work to show honesty and the
duality of gay black identity, an identity that’s underneath and hidden brought
to the surface through beauty, love, pain, the uncanny and honesty.
q) What do your internal dialogues sound like?
a)I’m always thinking about something, I’m bipolar so my mind is never totally
at a standstill some thoughts I’m about to reach out and make sense of and others
overwhelming and I rather dismiss. I’m
very close to my subject matter so I am always thinking about myself and even
my friends family who identify closely to myself whether racially or class. I’m
always writing things down and making drawings I have to or I’m afraid I’ll
lose them in the storm of my internal conversations. I’m always turning gears, or consciously
switching mask, and thinking about fragmentation and stability through my
process of making art and my everyday life during coffee or woofing down a
q) Do you feel that there are limitations to what you want to create?
a)No. Not much else to say. The only limitation is if I don’t know about
something or how to do something but I‘m a problem solver so I figure it out
soon enough if not later.
q) Do you feel art is vital to survival and if so, why?
a)For me yes it
gives me something I can be both proud of and feel as though am doing right and
feels right. Hope is a powerful and needed
thing in life and I think it provides hope and a way of understanding or dealing with the human condition that is
so complex and daunting.
q) Describe a world without art.
a)Static. Unlearning. Not progressive. Dead. Cold. Doomed.
q) Tell us a secret, and obsession.
a)I guess sharing I like wine isn’t much of a secret haha! I hoard images I’m come to realize and I
actually am very fond of photography, figurative of course but I also like
telescopic images of the stars. I call my obsession with found images an archive which I am
continuously building every single day but I can spend 3 hours a day collecting
I’ve been secretly interested in video and music I was a drummer in middle
school but I have been developing a way for me to handle those mediums in
relation to my larger body of work.
can people see more of your work on the internet?