The Kids’ Eye: An Interview with Kid Hazo

The Kids’ Eye is where creative kids interview artists whose work they admire.

We prep — give them tips on proper interviewing etiquette, arm them with a camera, a recorder and then we let them loose.

We’re only there to observe.  The questions are theirs, the interviews haven’t been rewritten to sound like anything other than the probing journalism of a tween.

Tatianna is 14 years old – the kid behind the ‘Kids Eye’.  You might recall her inaugural interview for the series was with Philadelphia artist, Drew Leshko. This time up the hot seat belongs to Kid Hazo (pronounced has•ohh).

This go around is a tad different – Kid Hazo is a pretty mysterious figure.  The Philly based street artists’ work punctuates our daily interactions with his light-hearted – one step ahead of you – clever pieces that parody the heart of Philly culture. We contacted Kid and he arranged a Google Chat. There wasn’t going to be any identity unveiling, not even for a eager youngin’.  What you’re going to read is a cut & paste from their chat session.

Ready? Because here’s what happens when you let a tween off the leash… the creative leash that is.

Kid Hazo

photo courtesy of Kid Hazo

 

Day before the Interview

Kid Hazo: Let’s chat on Hangouts!

Tatianna: Video chat?

Kid Hazo: txt only!

Tatianna: Aww.

 

Day of Interview

T: Helloooo Kid Hazo, it is Tatianna.

KH: Why hello Tati. How are you?

T: I’m good how are you?

KH: Very good, thanks for asking!

T: Ok, are you ready for some questions?

KH: Ready when you are!

 

T: How long have you been an artist?

KH: I have been Kid Hazo since 2013, so 3 years?

 

T: Did you always know that you wanted to be a artist?

KH: I did not. I am just a big fan of street art. When I saw less being put up in Philly I decided I would step in and try to help out with new installations under this new identity.

 

Kid Hazo Insecurity Cameras

photo courtesy of Kid Hazo

 

T: Why did you pick street signs?

KH: Because I was a big fan of TrustoCorp’s work. I wanted to put my own twist on it.

T: Cool. How do you do all of your big pieces? Like the underwear

KH: Depends…sometimes I make things by hand, sometimes I buy things and alter them… Sometimes I use magic.

Kid Hazo takes out the Laundry

photo courtesy of Conrad Benner/Streets Dept

Kid Hazo White Undies

photo courtesy of Conrad Benner/Streets Dept

T: What type of magic do you use?

KH: Usually the same magic spells as Harry Potter does…that’s how I stay invisible!!

 

T: So you work alone?

KH: For the most part yes. Unless I do a collaboration with someone.

 

T: Why do you wear a mask?

KH: Because I would rather people focus on the artwork than deal with identity politics.

 

T: Where does a girl like me go to get a mask like yours?

KH: At the street art mask store…..?

 

T: Are you playing with me?

KH: Hahaha. Yes.

I have all of my secret spots. I can’t just reveal all the magic to you Tati!

T: why not :(

KH: Well I certainly can’t have Kid Hazo look alike characters running around the city ya know!!

 

T: Is being a artist your only job?

KH: No the artist job is just part time!

 

T: So what is your other job?

KH: My other job is working with computers…

 

T: So you’re smart.

KH: Hahaha, perhaps..

 

T: It is time for the fun questions!

KH: Yay!

 

T: What is your favorite TV show?

KH: Hmmm….right now Silicon Valley

T: I’ve never seen it before.

 

KH: What’s your favorite show?

T: I watch a lot of TV, so it is hard to pick just one.

KH: Haha gotcha.

 

T: What is the craziest thing you ever did?

KH: The craziest thing I ever did? HMMM….

One time I dressed up as a city street worker to install my “With Love XOXO” spoof ads and got away with it!

T: LOL. I remember those.

Kid Hazo XOXO Sign

 

T: If you had to pick a song that played every time you walked into a room what would it be?

KH: Boyz II Men – Motownphilly

 

T: Wow, now i’m listening to this and dancing right now. Thanks for that information.

KH: Hahaha no problem!

 

T: If you were a super hero who would you be?

KH: Hahaha awesome.  I like Spiderman, he seems like he has a lot of fun swinging around the city

T: Spiderman is ok.

KH: SPIDERMAN IS THE COOLEST.

T: I like Batman, he is so much cooler.

KH: Ugh….FINE.

But yea Batman is pretty cool

T: I’m always right.

Now it is time for the last question.

KH: I am actually like Bruce Wayne at art gallery shows anyway.

T: K, last question!

What would you do if some told you that you could never do art?

 

KH: I would do it anyway!!!

T: And if they stopped you?

…….?

…………..?

………………..?

KH: I would start all over under a new name!

Can’t stop, won’t stop!

 

T: This was very fun, sadly I have to go.  I hope to see you next year and good-bye.

KH: Sounds good! Thanks for interviewing me! Bye Tati!

T: You’re Welcome!

 

Amberella’s Goth Hearts

Goth Heart by Amberella. Photo - Conrad Benner/Streets Dept

Goth Heart by Amberella. Photo – Conrad Benner/Streets Dept

Amber Lynn (aka Amberella) is a Philadelphia-based mixed media and street artist who sees the world through candy-coated eyes. Most of her work is conceptual and often comments on popular culture, body image, or lady drama.  What we find intriguing is her honest draw on past and present personal life experiences and how she freely she lets it all bleed out into the street.

Her newest series, Goth Hearts is a culmination of feelings pulled from diaries, notes, sketchbooks, scribbles, memories, and every day feels.  It’s raw and vulnerable, seeking to touch on the viewer’s emotions and evoke feeling upon first glance.  Here, there are no candy-colored sappy sentiments packaged and disguised in an array of pretty lies.

“This work speaks to my own experiences and vulnerabilities. I’m revisiting, exploring, and releasing these emotions, whether past or present, back into the universe. The streets serve as a platform to create an unexpected raw reaction for the viewer. The streets are conceptually part of my process and I’m passionate about it enough that I push myself to places that are uncomfortable at times; literally putting my heart into the streets .

Besides the therapeutic nature of the work for myself, I hope that it will trigger emotion in others. In regards to the viewer, that’s all I’m after. The viewers experience is truly dependent on that persons’own thoughts, experience, perception, personality, and a plethora of other factors. I just want to provide a moment in time for people to connect with themselves and their emotions. Feelings, -all types- are so important. It means that you are alive and present.”

Truth.

Visit Amberella on Instagram and check out her past work on Streets Dept.

Amberella at Front Street Walls. Photo by @ronzanetich

Amberella at Front Street Walls. Photo by @ronzanetich

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Photo: Amber Lynn

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Photo: Amber Lynn

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Photo: Amber Lynn

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Photo: Amber Lynn

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Photo: Amber Lynn

The Kids’ Eye: An Interview with Drew Leshko

The Kids’ Eye is our new series where creative kids interview artists whose work they admire.

We prep — give them tips on proper interviewing etiquette, arm them with a camera and a recorder and then we let them loose.

We’re only there to observe.  The questions are theirs, the interviews haven’t been rewritten to sound like anything other than the probing  journalism of a tween.

Tatianna is 13.  Last summer she stumbled across Philadelphia artist, Drew Leshko’s miniatures at a gallery exhibition.  Her first thought, “Can this really be art?” We assured her it was; she marveled at the possibilities of new mediums she could explore.  Daily Googling marathons turn into allowance fueled trips to craft stores – all efforts to see if she could create her own miniature stories.  When that stopped being enough, we called up Leshko to see if he’d be up for a studio visit.

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Tatianna: So how long does a regular piece take you to do?
Drew Leshko: Well, if we’re talking about buildings, that’s a long process. They take me anywhere from 2 weeks to 3 months, depending on the size of them. If we’re talking about other works, like the dumpsters – those are hard to quantify. They’re my relief when I’m spending two months working on a building, and it’s getting to the point where I want to rip my hair out because I can’t stand looking at them anymore. I take some time off and pull out a little sculpture because I can finish that relatively quickly.

I’ve talked to a lot of different artists and they like to do two pieces at once.
Totally, you have to.

Yeah, it just drives you insane if you don’t.
It keeps you moving at a reasonable rate if you’re trying to be productive, and I am.

Are all your sculptures like…Because I heard you do them from real places. Are they all in Philadelphia?
All the buildings are based on actual buildings in Philadelphia. I start with a photograph that I take and I work to get the main structure of the building. So I’ll get the photograph out and use it to generate all the important parts; like where the beam is, where the awning is going to plug into, where the basement entrance is. After I get the main bones of the building, I put the photograph away. I work off of memory at that point.
A lot of the work has that human element of memory. I’m only trying to make buildings that don’t have that much longer to live because once they’re gone
… They’re gone.

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Did you want to do sculptures of buildings when you first started out as an artist?
No, I made sculptures of water towers — a lot of them. I was making sculptures to become the subjects of photographs I was taking. So, in a gallery setting, there would be both photographs and sculptures.

The idea was to ask the viewer what was going on, essentially — Which came first? Is it a photograph that he’s recreating, or is it a photograph of something that he’s built?

So how did that lead you into buildings?
I moved here (Philadelphia) in 2007 and the environment really informed my work. I think many artists would say that. If you live in the Hudson Valley in Upstate New York, you might be painting trees and fall scenes with the changing leaves.

Yeah… Philadelphia is just full of art. It’s everywhere you look, from graffiti on. Street art is just everywhere.
So, a lot of it came from my environment. A lot of it came from older artwork projects that I admire. Walker Evans, I always speak about him. He was commissioned by President Theodore Roosevelt to document life in the United States after the depression. He went around photographing all these down and out families in the South. He was photographing churches and creating essentially an archive of what was. It’s something real, you and I could go to the Library of Congress now and look at the slides and see portals into life. So, I can’t take photographs, I’m no good at that. I can’t paint…

I think I’m good at a little bit of everything. I can paint really well, I can draw really well, and I can take good photos.
(What you hear now is the ego of a 12-year-old, bearing the confidence that I wish I’d had at that age. Drew is being very patient. Wait, there’s more…)

I think I was born with an artistic side.
You could make a lot of money with those skills.

I think what I was saying; was in the same way that Walker Evans was trying to really capture a feeling and a time period in his project; I’m thinking about my work in the same kind of way.
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Well, if you had to do something different than building your sculptures and your dumpster and your RVs and your water towers, what would you think your options would be?
That’s a tough one.

I am tough – I like it. I want to know everything.
I don’t know if I can answer that. The campers are relatively new for me, I’ve only been working on them for about 2 months. I still have a lot to see through with this project. I plan on having 40 of them.

40? (Astonished)
Not to all be installed at the same place, at the same time.
I’m really interested in artists that pursue serious works, not like an artist that has four paintings and that’s his series – that’s not for me. I want to go over the top until people think it’s totally nuts.

The signs that you put on your buildings, do you copy them and just cut and paste them on?
Some of them I just Google. Most of the time I photograph them on the street, resize them in Photoshop and then I print them out.

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Have you ever thought about teaming up with another artist?
I thought about it, and a lot of people have approached me.

It would be cool if you got that girl who does the Urban Geodes, you know, to put miniature geodes in the bricks of your buildings.
Oh, you mean Paige.
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So what is your favorite piece to create? Is it the buildings, the water towers, the dumpsters or the campers?
I’m really in love with the RV’s right now.

Yeah, they’re neat, I really like them. Have you ever thought about making cars?
I’ve thought about doing some vehicles, but my work is mainly about the temporary relationships we have with things

Like things that aren’t going to be here in 10 or 20 years.
Right. So the buildings…It’s really obvious that they’re not going to be here after a while. For the campers’, maybe the thing that’s not going to be there is their natural environment – like the destinations that you’re traveling to. I think things are shifting in our culture, our ideas about leisure activities.

When I was growing up, my parents had a really crummy Motorhome, and my grandparents had one of these pull behind trailers. We would drive from Baltimore (where I was born) two hours away to the middle of nowhere in Maryland. And we would go to the campgrounds and spend the weekend there. It’s something that I really look back on fondly. It’s a feeling of nostalgia… I think that it’s something people aren’t doing anymore for whatever reason. There’s definitely a new resurgence of camping. There are designer camping shops popping up, but still as a culture, I think something has shifted. I don’t know if I’m right, but it’s something that I’ve been thinking about while doing this work.
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Is it hard working at home? You have a TV down here and the studio space is next to the kitchen – do you get distracted? Do you have any hobbies?
I like to ride bikes but haven’t been able to get around doing that lately.

Anything else? Like learning a new language? You should learn a new language because you’ll need it to open new doors.
You’re right. I should learn German – I’m showing a piece in Berlin soon.

I’m going to learn French. And then I’ll take a trip to Paris.

 

Leskho’s current exhibition Home Is Where Your Park It opens February 26, 2016

Opening Reception
Friday, February 26th • 5:30pm – 10:00pm

Closing Reception
Friday, March 25th • 5:30pm – 10:00pm

Exhibition Hours
Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays • 12:00pm – 6:00pm
And 7 days a week by appointment: info@paradigm-gallery.com / (267)266-0073

Location
Paradigm Gallery + Studio / 746 S. 4th Street, 1st Floor / Philadelphia, PA 19147

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NEON CRIME SCENES OF KRISTEN M. LIU

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Resides: Brooklyn, NY

Work: Contemporary & Fiber

Links: Website/Tumblr/Instagram

Still Life with Pineapple

I’ve been a fan since my first stumble into the messed up world of artist Kristen M. Liu. Liu makes you feel like you’re harboring a morbid sense of humor gone bad — her scenes are oddly funny, detailed in paint colors that I pray come in packs called ‘Highlighters gone to the Dark Side’.

Venture further into the mayhem and join us mid chat…

 

You have a wonderfully morbid sense of humor — artistically, it’s such a defining part of your signature style. It’s this cool blend of generational influences – a 70’s sort of tiki color palette with a 90’s underground comics/zines vibe. That’s what I see, but what styles or artists are you influenced by?

Thanks! I love that you see tiki-influences in my work. In terms of “style” (referring to how I draw, use pattern, etc.) I really love to look at American folk art in addition to the obvious cartoon and comic influences.

My mom was a textile major so she always brought us to craft exhibits. I grew up looking at Gee’s Bend quilts, Grandma Moses paintings, Native American pottery and weavings, the list could go on forever.

I love the graphic quality of work from artists like Alex Katz and David Hockney. More contemporary artists like Clare Rojas and Margaret Kilgallen are also HUGE inspirations. The first time I saw their work I knew I wanted to make paintings that could be even a fraction as visually impactful. And of course, a shout-out to my favorite artist in high school, Salvador Dali. Even though I’ve obviously strayed off course from his aesthetic approach, his work, along with all the other Surrealists I copied in my teenage years, will always continue to influence me conceptually.

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Talking about aesthetics, I noticed you’ve been working with the same color palette for quite some time. It catches your eye immediately and lures you in. What colors are your staples? Why those particular colors?

Well I cycle through what colors will be dominant in my works but I always tend to go for hot pinks and pale mints (even if there are just touches of it). I grew up with a lot of Polly Pocket so you can blame that.

I read somewhere that you coat your pieces with resin once they are done – first off, expensive process – but the resin gives the pieces such a effortlessly hazy effect, which I think is perfect for the imagery. It’s like waking up in a glossy dreamlike state and witnessing something that perhaps you wish you’d hadn’t seen…that’s a lie. You make those florescent murder scenes so bait worthy, I’d always want to open that door to mayhem and take another peek. How did the process of coating your paintings in resin come about? And is that ‘out of body’ – outside looking in perspective created intentionally?

I actually got the idea to coat my pieces from my professor, Kenichi Hoshine (who is an AMAZING artist btw and also one of the coolest dudes out there). I liked the way it looked so much the first time, that I’ve been using resin ever since. Since I flat paint, it smoothes everything out and gives it a really nice finished quality. It also helps the neon colors glow- if you ever see my pieces in person you’ll understand why I use resin!

And yes, I intentionally want to have a very voyeuristic feeling in my work. I watch a lot of bad crime shows and I’ve always been terrified of the idea of someone stalking me so I try to recreate that creepy sensation. Also, sometimes don’t you just feel like you’re looking at your own life and everything is happening separately from you? It’s interesting, it makes you feel completely detached and scared and as quickly as you noticed it, it’s gone and you’re just being paranoid.

Yet those aspects of voyeurism combined with the overt sexuality and non-threatening color palette really draw you into to this curious feeling of sensuousness as the scenes play out the violence in almost a casual after-the-fact way. What’s the story behind your consistent theme of chaos and mayhem?

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As I mentioned earlier, I watch a lot of crime tv. I’ve always been fascinated by violence, not only from personal experiences with it but because mankind’s potential to do great evil is so interesting to me conceptually too. We’re all capable of really great things and also really terrible things and because I’m a glass-half-empty kind of person I’m more interested in exploring that aspect of our natures. It’s just a fact that people can be really shitty at times (and I’m no exception) so even though I paint all these terrible things I always want the people to have slightly blasé reactions to all of the horror around them.

Oh, please don’t leave out the sex that is sometimes happening in the midst of murder. To which I guess is a great transition into the nudity that exist in these mini stories. I noticed that the sex isn’t always the center of the story, the nudity is sometimes just the state they’re in.

A few reasons I paint naked people a lot. First reason- it’s fun! I love to paint boobs and butts and dicks! They’re really funny and the human body is so interesting to look at that I can’t help myself. Another reason I use a lot of nudity is because it can enhance a figure’s sense of vulnerability or empowerment, depending on how they are posed. Also by making a figure nude in a situation where it is unusual for them to be naked helps add to the surreal quality of their environment.

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A lot of that happens in your sketchbook – which is pretty amazing. I really like that in addition to posting your paintings online, you often share your sketchbook drawings. Does the process start there and then move over to the paintings? Or are they separate beasts?

They’re usually pretty separate. I actually only started keeping a sketchbook after I graduated because I knew I would get obsessive about making it look “right” but since getting one, I really appreciate it as a place to just do stupid, fun drawings where I don’t have to worry about whether or not something is good enough since it’s just for me.

You’re amazing fiber artists as well – how does that fit into your shows?

Unfortunately it hasn’t factored too much into my shows :( Since I’ve graduated, I have a lot less time to experiment and since galleries primarily want paintings all my spare time is spent doing that. I have a day job so I only have time to work on art weeknights and weekends so yeah my social life can get pretty dead. I’m hoping to eventually get more time to really play around with different mediums so we’ll see!

INTERVIEW : ALEAH CHAPIN

Resides: Brooklyn, NY
Work: Contemporary, Nude, Realism Painter
Links: Website, Facebook, Instagram

“I remind myself that getting harsh criticism means that I’m making work that is worthy of a conversation.”

Some would call the works of Aleah Chapin “tough” or “repellent”, but what do they know. The talent and brilliance behind her contemporary nude paintings make some say, “is this a photograph?”. Realism at its finest. Aleah was raised outside of Seattle, where she discovered art and has since moved to New York to study and continue making one of a kind pieces. Here we discuss being comfortable in your own skin, her small hometown, and her BP Portrait Award.

Aleah, let’s get this going. You’re currently living in the amazing and incredible New York City, but you’re a West Coaster originally. What brought you over?

I came for graduate school at the New York Academy of Art. I actually didn’t really want to move here, but after a few months I realized I loved it. I’ve been here a little over four years, but I miss the West Coast quite a bit.

Do you make it back often?

Yeah. As often as possible. Its like a re-start button for me.

What’s the art scene like in your hometown?

My hometown has 1,000 people, but all are very creative so its relatively good.

Outside of Seattle, yes?

Yes, on an island north of Seattle. It was a great place to grow up in and I was surrounded by interesting, artsy people, which was not only inspiring, but as a young child I knew that I could grow up and do anything I wanted. I had a lot of good examples of what was possible.

Is that what sparked your interest?

I think so. All kids draw, I just never stopped. My mom is also an artist, so I knew that it was possible. I was really lucky that way. I think a lot of kids love to create, but parents don’t always encourage it because they feel like it won’t be a supportive career. While I admit, it is difficult, it absolutely can be a career.

There must be a span of several years in between drawing as a child to drawing realistic nudes. What attracts you to this style of painting?

(laughs)

Yeah, true. Since I was a little kid, really since I can remember, I was fascinated by “making things look real”, and I always loved drawing people. It was pretty frustrating because there’s only so much a five year old can do in terms of realism. I remember my mom showing me how to draw a face when I was probably that age. In terms of the nude thing, there’s so much that is said through the clothes that we wear, and I was never really interested in that when it came to making work. I wanted to have a sort of timelessness, and we all have bodies.

Do you still have these creations lying around somewhere?

My parents have a box in their basement. Probably quite a few boxes.

(laughs)

You make a great point. We do all have bodies. You’ve said before that “women are not supposed to show that they have lived”. Society has seemed to create this image of the perfect man and perfect woman, and that’s all we see. You’re absolutely knocking that barrier down with your work.

Thanks. I hope so. We can also hide under clothes, but we can’t hide what our bodies show, and I don’t think we should. Of course, I don’t think we should go being naked all the time. I love clothes! I just think we should be more accepting and compassionate towards our bodies.

Comfortable in your own skin.

Exactly. We hear that term a lot, I think, but its easier said than done.

Of course. On the other side, you’ve got some tough critics out there calling your work “tough” and “repellent”. What do you say to them?

Yeah. Not sure what to say to them actually. It can be hard to hear, but then I remind myself that getting harsh criticism means that I’m making work that is worthy of a conversation. I suppose its also because of those people that I continue to make the work that I make. If our culture will call a healthy (yet not unrealistically perfect) body “repellent”, then its something we as a society need to look at.

In a way you’re creating conversation, which is always great. Get people talking, thinking about ourselves as a society. Art and criticism go hand in hand.

Yeah, they do. I think art can be a mirror to how a society thinks.

Also, in a way, you’re a photographer. What is your process from start to finish?

I wouldn’t call myself a photographer, but I love photography and I do use it in my work. I have found that a camera can be an incredible way to discover complex aspects of an individual. One of the reasons I use a camera is because I can see the person as they are, and their personality can come through instead of me imposing an idea on them by way of making them stand in a certain pose for 100+ hours. The camera lets the project be a collaboration between myself and the person I am painting. So, I will often take hundreds of photos. Then, I will choose one or two to become paintings. I then draw the composition on the canvas with paint, trying to get the under painting done in one day before it dries, which can sometimes be difficult, especially with the big ones. Then, layer after layer of color until the painting breaths.

Do you set the scene for them, or are all their movements and poses their own?

I will sometimes suggest a bit, but I like to leave a lot open to the moment and the environment.

Such a natural feel to your work, almost palpable. Let’s talk about your BP Portrait Award. How did it feel receiving that?

Amazing, and really surreal, and thank you! I was just hoping to get into that show. Getting shortlisted was insane, then being there and finding out that my painting, a naked painting of this woman I’ve known all my life (literally, she was in the room when I was born), had won. I still can’t believe it sometimes.

Thats amazing. Was she there?

No. She almost came, but decided not to. She was really supportive of the whole thing. It was a lot for both of us to handle at times, in very different ways of course. Neither of us knew how big of a deal it would be though.

What a surreal feeling. So you have a show in London coming to an end soon. How has it been?

Yeah, it ends on the 8th. It’s been amazing. Having a solo show there is a bit of a dream come true. Everyone at Flowers Gallery are such wonderful people that its been a great experience.

What are your top 3 “dream-come-trues”?

Well, besides everything that’s happened with my work already, which is more than I could have dreamed of 10 years ago, build my own house (or renovate one), have a family, and continue to make the work I want to make and have opportunities to put it out in the world.

Keep doing what you’re doing, Aleah. Any last words for readers to know?

Maybe just a sincere thank you to everyone who has supported what I’m doing. It means so much to know that my work is bigger than just me in my studio trying to make beautiful things. It helps me continue when I have doubts and when it gets difficult. So, thank you, thank you!

All work Copyright (c) Aleah Chapin. You can check out more from Aleah on her website and Facebook.

Thank you for reading, tell your friends, your family, and everyone else you know to join The Kind Artist Facebook page! 

Copyright (c) The Kind Artist. 2014.

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Kids Eye: Tatianna

We’re reintroducing our series ‘Kids Eye’, where we spend time hanging out with an Art-tastic kid. Here’s a look back at our very first art kid interview…

A while ago I came up with an idea to spend time observing an art-tastic kid in their environment.  Can I experience art again through the eyes of a child?  In the process, can I introduce them to something new?  I’ll talk to them about their interests, and maybe even convince them to take a field trip with me. The goal is to learn from one another.  

All I had to do is borrow someone’s kid, not as easy as it seems – but I got one.

Tatianna lives in Pittsburgh, PA and started second grade this past September.  Due to the short attention span of the little one, I broke my visit up into two days. This is our mini story.

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Day One:

Tatianna invites me into a small studio space that she shares with her grandmother. Her side of the space is filled with colorful paper lanterns, tiny chairs, and an easel.  Various ceramic pots lace makeshift shelving, filled with paints, brushes, scraps of paper, ribbon, pipe cleaners, and other found objects. Paint splattered tutu’s and shirts hang from pegs above her easel.

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Thank you for letting me come watch you paint.

You’re welcome; I like company when I paint.

Tatianna, how old are you?

I’m Seven.

And have you thought about what you want to be when you grow up?

Art Teacher.

That’s cool. When I was in school I always looked forward to art class. Do you have a favorite artist?

Yup, the Illustrator from the Pinkalicious books, Victoria Khan.

I’m impressed that you know illustrator’s name.

My grandmother always tells me the name of the writer and illustrator before she reads.

I see. I notice you have the radio on. Do you always paint to music?

Sometimes…I wanted to paint today because I saw that movie Frida Halo. It inspired me.

Oh, you mean Frida Kahlo.

That’s what I said.

Sorry. So how does it make you feel when you paint?

I feel great, it gives me a chance to enjoy myself and let myself go. I can make whatever I feel, I mean the feeling is so good. Though some days I get upset when I feel my art isn’t coming out very good.

Do you have any other hobbies?

I’m learning to skateboard. It’s a mini one, but when I get older I’ll get a big kid one.

I was wondering if you’d like to go to a museum with me tomorrow.

Dinosaurs…?

Art.

That would be alright.

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Day Two

Tatianna and I hop a train bound for New York City. We’re going to visit the Museum of Modern Art.  I finally had a kid with me; a pretty good excuse to check out the museums kids space – The Shape Lab.

Tell me, what do you enjoy about museums?

It’s exciting to be around things that are created by other people. I really like children’s museums because you can touch stuff.

Once we arrived at MOMA I got excited; she got excited.  As it turns out, there were very different reasons for our glee – Tatianna had never been through a revolving door before. Five revolutions later and we were ready to take on the Shape Lab.  She immediately makes a beeline toward the 3D shape magnetic wall.  The wall is broken down into four different stations where kids can explore how shapes are used in art. There are activity cards hanging next to each station, so I challenge her to finish all the activities listed.

 

After the Lab we go to some of the recommended kid spots:

This painting is titled One.  It was done by an artist named, Jackson Pollack.

Hey, he copied my style.

What do you think about this one, it’s called Broadway Boogie Woogie by Piet Mondrian? 

It’s making my eyes bleed together.

That’s about the time that Tatianna suggested that we walk through the permanent collection and rename pieces.  So we did, along with several guards.  

After about thirty mintues of renaming we were tired and hungry, so we decided to call it a day. But not before Tatianna recorded a message for the lovely MoMA employee, Kristen who’d been friendly to her during her stay at the Shape Lab.

You can see that and other video clips from our weekend with this link to our Vimeo account.

Eliza Bennett – A WOMAN’S WORK IS NEVER DONE

They are self-inflicted, the lines of thread embroidered into Bennett’s palm. You might gawk, or be repulsed – but it is a narrative for artist Eliza Bennett. Embroidery is commonly associated with stereotypical, old-fashioned femininity. Her stitched palm – with colored lines, create a distortion of bruises and battering that reflects the perception of a lived experience. It showcases the effects of labor intensive work, challenging the pre-conceived notion that a ‘woman’s work’ is light and easy.

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HM: As a child I remember using my grandmother’s thread and needle to stitch over my skin as well. For what reason I don’t recall – but, I was clearly fascinated by it. When I stumbled across your work, I had a very violent yet nostalgic reaction to it.

Did you have any apprehensions to sharing this project with others? I’m imagining that the initial reactions would be that this is a form of self-mutilation disguising itself as art.

EB: A fellow former skin stitcher!

Interesting first question; particularly as I am not sure whether you are male or female. I rather like it that way, there’s no danger of me focusing my responses with that in mind. I am aware that often my intention for the piece is overlooked, that of applying a ‘feminine’ technique to create a work worn unsettling piece, and it appears to have been received by some as a form of egocentric self-harm. This troubles me, as much as it makes me laugh. Re: self-harm.

I wonder why when we modify ourselves to fit an idea of accepted beauty it is ok, but such strong reactions abound when a modification that is outside of accepted norms occurs. Why do people feel the need to validate their reactions by making assumptions, rather than questioning why they are reacting that way? I was pretty dogmatic about certain things when I was younger. At some point I began to listen to opinions that didn’t only validate my own.

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HM: Someone pointed out in the comments of your last interview that most of the male responses to your work were negative and female responses are positive. I thought that was interesting because while it’s easier for women to relate with other woman, I typically find that women are more critical of their own sex. Why do think the men had a more volatile reaction?

EB: I am uncomfortable making gender based generalizations, and have personally received mixed responses from both sexes. So I’m not convinced that that’s necessarily a correct observation. I think the responses are less gender specific and more personal to the individual. Some viewers mistake the piece for a feminist protest, but I don’t think of it like that. It’s about human value. After all, there are many men employed in caring, catering, cleaning etc. all jobs traditionally considered to be women’s work. Such work is invisible in the larger society, with ‘A woman’s work…’ I aim to represent it.

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This Is Midge

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This Is Midge

PORTSMOUTH, UK  – Instagram has been a driving force in spreading Portsmouth based street artist, Midge’s work. Use the hashtag #thisismidge and it will serve up a plethora of beautiful hand painted black & white furry wide-eyed creatures lounging around on backdrops of vintage newsprint and aged sheet music.

Recently Midge and fellow Portsmouth artist, My Dog Sighs, caused quite a stir around London when they plastered prominent hot-spots like Shoreditch and Brick Lane with their collaborative series of paste ups.

Because I’m unduly curious about the affairs of others and I got tired of stalking Midge via her Instagram – I rang her up to chat.

HM: Your latest collaboration with, MyDogSighs was Instagram gold. I loved following the project and seeing what pieces people had found. We received so many emails during that time from your fans telling us we should cover it.

Midge: It was my first time in London doing something like this – feeling like a kid again trying to quickly scrawl something up on the wall and then running away. I found it a bit scary and then a bit of a rush, and now I just want to go back and do it again. I’ll be a bit more subtle about it next time and not have those shifty eyes. I probably looked really suspicious.

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This Is Midge

HM:  It’s not often that you see hand painted originals being pasted up. I’m really drawn in by the vintage papers you use – it adds another dimension to the work. I don’t know if it’s a stretch, but I often get the feeling you choose the paper based on its wording. I find that so incredible, the amount of time you put into something so tangible and temporary when it could be taken down within minutes – with street art that’s the nature of the beast.

Midge: There something a bit more special about leaving an original, it’s never going be replicated – once it’s gone its gone.

And I love using vintage paper. I do prefer to use sheet music because of the lyrics. I try to pick sheets that have nice lyrics, then I can create something on it to reflect that and relate it to the song. The collaboration with My Dog Sighs was done on old Portsmouth newspaper, I thought it was more relevant considering that’s where we’re both from.

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This is Midge

HM: The one thing we got asked repeatedly was if we knew how many pieces you guys collaborated on. People love knowing whether or not they’ve seen them all.

Midge: I think we’ve done 6 or 7 pieces together. We both pasted up our own pieces as well during that time.

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Midge x My Dog Sighs

HM: I noticed on your Instagram that you leave artwork out on the streets for some lucky bastard to find as part of Portsmouth’s ‘Free Art Friday’.

Midge: Yeah, every Friday artists leave free art out for the community. It’s so exciting because you don’t know how someone’s going feel about your art. I still haven’t gotten used to the ‘letting go’ part of it, but whenever we get an emotional response it makes me feel so good. Someone being emotionally affected by finding something you created, it’s a really lovely feeling – we’re building on this community.

HM: So what’s next?

Midge: I’m working on more pieces. Liking a piece is one thing but falling in love with a piece of artwork is something you connect with – that’s really important. I really want to build on that message. You have to make an impact while you have a chance.

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This Is Midge

photo credit: Susan Mackey

Andrea Heimer’s Suburban Mythology

As if the suburbs didn’t have a bad enough rap, Andrea Heimer goes and takes a delightfully sardonic jab at the lives of its residents with her upcoming solo show: Suburban Mythology.

Her cheery small scale paintings are humorously dark while undressing the facade of normal white-picket fence wholesomeness in a perverse and yet strangely appealing way. With long painting titles that read like the opening lines of a David Sedaris essay it’s not hard to believe that her therapist checks her website for new work before sessions. Or that her story-boarded strange tales that deal in adult topics  –  told in childlike tones is attracting collectors like Paul Simon.

 

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“The Sunshine Cult Used The Patterson’s Den For A Meeting Room And Spent A Lot Of Time Redecorating Because Its 31 Members Had A Hard Time Agreeing On Anything”

HM: It’s so crazy that you got in touch with us to cover your solo show because during the Juried Show at Parlor Gallery this past November I was checking out your work. There are so many fun elements in the details of your paintings. I was saying to a friend of mine,“Couldn’t you see these paintings hanging in one of the rooms on that show GIRLS?”

AH: You are the second person to say that.

HM: They would be so perfect! Knowing the personality of those characters – I think they would be drawn to work that carried a sarcastic response to where someone grew up.

AH: Especially the Montana stuff, right? They are extra weird.

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“We Found The Boy Drinking Mr. Patterson’s Pool Water. The Boy Was Covered In Hair And Howled Like A Wolf So We Think He Came Down From The Mountains. We Never Caught Him.”

Heimer is referring to the paintings that depict memories of her childhood spent in Great Falls, Montana. A time she recalls being “mostly unhappy”, “disconnected from family and feeling like an alien resident in my own community.” She spent most of her time riding her bike around the neighborhood observing others and collecting stories that she would later use as inspiration for this series.

HM: Your paintings have long, matter-of-a fact titles; are these based on experiences that you’ve had living in the burbs?

AH: I’m inspired by real things that happened, something a friend told me or things I went through. In my neighborhood, there were people having affairs, people who believed in UFO’s. It’s a little bit real, a little bit hyperbole, a little bit my own neurosis. Sometimes it’s a little memory of something weird my family said or did. I have to see the picture very clearly in my head before I begin to paint.

I’ve had people come up to me and say “I know that street” or “I know those people.” So suburbia must be weird universally.

HM: Is this the style that you think defines you?

AH: I think this is it. Before I started painting I was messing around with screen printing – pop arty things. But I never felt like they were mine or what I was trying to say. A lot of the paintings do deal with dark themes, so I try to find something humorous about the situation then mesh them together. I love that people forgive me for not being able to paint perspective, animals, and a straight line…”

HM: Perfection would be wrong for paintings about stories that are so gratifyingly imperfect. I’d love to know the backstory of the painting where you depict a guy running over a half-naked woman.

AH: That one is called, “Otto Johnson’s Car Was A Chick Magnet”.  She’s not being run over, she’s making out with the car – if you look on the ground there is a little tiny condom next to her and her panties are off.

HM: She’s really going for it.

AH: Yeah. When I felt really trapped in my environment I could not wait to get a driver’s license. Since then I’ve been really into cars and the guys driving them…it’s about freedom. I love that painting, it was the first time I got to paint a tiny vagina. I got really excited about how it turned out.

 

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“In The Summer Of 1989 Mr. McManus Cut Down A Rosebush That Was Growing Directly On The Border Between The McManus’s Back Yard And The Black’s Back Yard. The Resulting Donnybrook Was The Most Brutal Thing Us Kids Had Ever Seen In Real Life. Years Later I Figured Out The Fight Wasn’t Really About Roses.”

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“Winter Séance With Two Ghosts”

HM: Were you sitting by your paintings during the Juried show?

AH: Yes. Wait…why? Did you just ignore me?

HM: Ignore is such an awful word. I thought it might have been you, but then embarrassment took over. There was no adult way to introduce myself after I’d stood there for so long laughing with a friend while pointing at those tiny vagina’s.

AH: Aw, you should have. No need to be embarrassed, I still get excited about painting little penis’s – because they’re sooo tiny.

HM: That being said – who do you imagine is buying your paintings?

AH: People with really good taste.

*Suburban Mythology opens at Parlor Gallery on February 1st until March 8th, 2014

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“The Space Man Would Not Let Her Come With Him, Nor Would He Stay”

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“The Fire: Good Riddance on Maple Street”

 

 

The Mystical Realm of Hannah Yata

I stumbled onto New York based Artist, Hannah Yata‘s work at Asbury Park’s Parlor Gallery – I knew immediately I didn’t want to sum up her work with my words. I needed to reach out to her, I needed to know what thoughts could conceivably be swimming around in her head. What lurks in the mind of someone creating worlds where women lay about with heads of fish.

HM: My first encounter with your work was at the juried show at Parlor Gallery. I stood there so amazingly and majestically disturbed and elated by your work.

I’m not quite sure what to say about my artwork. If you were coming to see a show of mine I would tell you to approach it with a sense of humor. I suppose it’s quite tongue in cheek… many times with the paintings and the titles playing off one another. However, I build my ideas and work on serious concepts a things that matter a lot to me: environmentalism, feminism, psychology…. so there’s a lot of juxtapositions going on. I find that each piece has its own personality so I tend to leave a lot of interpretation open to the viewer. Trying to explain all of them tends to sand down the corners and close them down… they are each laden with their own explanations both from universal and personal points of view.

Maybe I should explain a specific piece to kind of let you know what I mean:

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“Throwing Up the Children.”

I get a lot of questions about the painting “Throwing Up the Children.”  This one is pretty heavy for me. Sure, we could talk about it in terms of abortion, and women’s rights over their own bodies. I could talk about in terms of my very alienated relationship with my mother and family and their choices to no longer be apart of my life.  I thought about it first and foremost in terms of nature, Mother Earth, whatever you want to call it- and her right to “throw up” her children- in this case, us. On one hand, one must reproduce and go on, but when that reproduction is counter intuitive to survival at what point do you draw the line? … and what of those children and their rights? Our world is incredibly overpopulated and we keep gorging ourselves on the last remaining resources.. at what point will Earth stop supporting human life? I think maybe I’m posing more questions than really putting answers out there. I’m on a search for a lot of things so I’m sorry if I’m not very clear.

I’ve got a new painting you can throw in… it’s the first one in a long time without a fish head for a protagonist.

HM: The new work you sent me – very primal. What made you use a new protagonist in the pieces…why the stray away from fish heads?

Yes. I suppose it could be a gamble straying away from the fish heads as a protagonist… But as an artist I’m constantly trying to set new challenges for myself. When I start to feel that something is getting over played or I’m backing myself into a corner I have to mix it up. The fish will never be gone entirely I’m sure- I’m attached to them on a very deep level. However, I don’t want to over use them to the point where they become kitsch and predictable. Lately, I’ve become fascinated with these hairless cats (or “Sphinx”) I found their odd beauty strange, unnatural, off-putting and beguiling. I think finding new things and what they mean to me and seeing how others react to them helps me grow. I find excitement in learning and exploring. I think my journey in finding a vision and voice in my artwork would be woefully cut short if I chose a lone protagonist for the rest of my life’s work. I think the fish-heads were one personality. However, I want to explore more- I want to add more dimensions and characters… I think that is when the beauty in your artwork transforms from a solo to a symphony.

HM: I know you made mention of posing more questions than really putting answers out there – which makes me think that you are creating quandaries and questions for yourself that you try to resolve within the painting.  Can you explore what questions pop into your head as you’re painting? What do you think the viewer walks away pondering after seeing your work?

I think more so with the hairless cats I began to question “is this offensive?… And if its offensive is it a “good” offensive?” I think sometimes it’s hard to strike that balance of making someone uncomfortable with revealing and unfortunate truth and just being rude. I try not to be rude… but I definitely work for a strong statement.

I think a big part of my work is trying to speak to people and hoping something resonates with them somewhere. I try not to “preach” one specific idea too much, I have personally experienced how annoying that can be even if you agree with the idea. It is my hope to tap into a deeper level on consciousness- in my own surreal language i hope the work could some how spark a jolt of awareness in lives filled with distractions and many times superficial concerns.

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SUMMAIYA JILLANI: FROM PAKISTAN TO PHILADELPHIA

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During the month of December, Pakistani Artist, Summayya Jillani collaborated with HAHAxParadigm to bring her works, rich in color and culture, outside of a gallery setting for the first time. Jillani’s work often carries a whimsical Eastern retelling of the influence of western pop culture. Like her famous painting of Marilyn dressed in classic Pakistani attire (Baar baar dekho, hazaar baar dekho).

HAHA sat down with Visual Artist, Summayya Jillani to discuss her views on community art and to figure out how street art is received in Pakistan.

HM: We’re excited that you’re going to participate in some street art with us before you fly back home. Being that street art is basically an umbrella term for most visual art displayed in public locations, what type of reaction does it receive back home in Karachi? Are there any major differences than the affects you see it have here in the U.S.?

SJ: I think there might be quite a big difference between the reactions we get from people here in the US and what we would get as a reaction on serious street-art back in Pakistan. I’ve been here for more than a month now and I have wandered about in many different neighborhoods of different cities here, which include some very arty areas with a lot of devised street art. People from Karachi would definitely admire it more than any American citizen because they’re not used to seeing such kind of strenuously executed works on the walls of their own city. What I mean is, it is an everyday thing here, while it is still a very big deal, a rarity in Pakistan to see public art. We too have a lot of things happening on our walls but it’s mostly highly provocative stuff like political or religious slogans and people don’t consider it arty.

HM: What would you like to take away from this project or convey to U.S. viewers with it?

SJ: Coming from a country like Pakistan, which we all know doesn’t have a very nice impression on the rest of the world due to its helter-skelter status quo; I have always tried to make a point that nothing in this world is completely bad or good. It’s always in the hands of someone or the other to bring out either a true or an exaggerated image of a place or just anything. I know my country is going through its worst phases but there is always some good in everything. Same is the case with Pakistan, it’s youth despite all the difficulties it has to face every other day, is vibrant, positive and very constructive. They’re hard to demotivate. They like to listen to/make good music, go to cinema, hang out with friends, do all the young things that people their age do in other prosperous countries without much fear. They have dreams and ambitions. They like to make friends across the borders, they’re not hostile in nature at all and they’re always trying very hard to steer up the image of their nation. Through any work that I have done in past or will be doing in future, my intension remains the same, that is to make people see beyond the extreme political or religious sturm and drang going on in Pakistan most of the time. There is a lot of taste, liveliness and love for fun in people’s hearts over there. There is a lot of good co-existing with the bad, but sadly it goes undetected most of the time.

HM: Lastly, what are your thoughts on community art/public art/street art?

SJ: I personally love public art more than any other type of art. My reasons are simple because that way it doesn’t remain exclusive, which I believe is not the actual purpose of art or any other mode of expression. It is meant to be seen and spread as much as it may. Another reason is that I have always enjoyed being surrounded by immense in size imageries. It makes my every-day life experiences a bit more interesting I feel.

Keep an eye out for Jillani’s addition to the vibrancy of Philadelphia’s streets this month. If you’re in Philly, you can check her ‘Pakistani Marilyn’ out at 2nd Street in Old City. HAHA x PARADIGM’s first collaboration was with LA-based artist, Paige Smith (aka a Common Name) who bought her Urban Geodes project to Philly this past October

Ashley Oubré – Visual Trickery

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  1. “Brenda”, 11 x 14, graphite pencil on paper
  2. “Ivy League”, 11 x 14, graphite pencil on paper
  3. “Prestige”, 11 x 14, graphite pencil on paper
  4. “Swimfan”, 11 x 14, graphite pencil on paper

The images above, while indistinguishable from photographs  were drawn by Ashley Oubré,  27, a self-taught artist from Washington  D.C. Oubré’s portraits exist in a realm far beyond mere pencil drawings in what can only be defined as “hyperrealism.” Oubré’s pieces, each executed with immaculate detail and precision, vary in degrees of abstraction, a refreshing rarity for this genre of art.  Her subjects are often composed in a world of vacancy (sometimes figuratively; either “floating” on the page; rendered in a distant corner; or with literal bodily extraction), mirroring the artist’s own struggles of isolation and loneliness.  To view Oubré’s work is to be invited into an “Alice in Wonderland”-like world; the viewer is first enchanted by the beauty of her craftsmanship, only to find himself trapped in a world both undefined and surreal.

Ashley Oubré Visual Trickery

To learn more about Ashley, and to see her portfolio, visit www.ashleyoubre.com or e-mail her at info@ashleyoubre.com.