Tag Archives: Artist Interview

Meet the Artist in Residence: Hunter Zelner

Hunter Zelner is one of our current artists in residence at Main Street Arts. During the month of August, 2017, she will be exploring the notion of place and memory through small landscape paintings while also continuing a series of figure-based works. We asked Hunter a few questions about her artwork and studio practice. 

Hunter Zelner

Hunter Zelner

Q: Tell us about your background.
I am Arizona born and raised and have spent my life there save for a brief stint in Oregon. I don’t remember a time when I wasn’t tinkering, making, and more specifically painting. I was fortunate to have an arts high school in the area so I went there. Once I hit college I scrambled through just about every major known to man and in the end received my degree in Art History at ASU. I joke but in all seriousness I was the queen of overrides and managed to take mostly studio classes and still ended up with an Art History degree.

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Wolf Skin, oil on canvas, 28in x 56in

Q: How would you describe your work?
Depicting the dichotomy of visceral meat, a still unmoving form surrounding humanity within has been the primary interest of my work.

Early on in my artistic career a teacher asked the students “Have you ever seen a dead body?” That question stuck with me. She went on to explain that as a figurative painter the trick is to put a person behind the eyes. I want to paint a shell with a person behind the eyes. For this reason I primarily paint people I know. I have worked in metal sculpture, oil painting, acrylic painting, and most recently taxidermy. I always go back to oil paint.

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Sister Ursuline, oil on canvas, 18in x 36in

Q: What is your process for creating a work of art?
I am a very structured painter…sometimes to my chagrin. I typically come up with a concept, research until I can’t see straight, put the basics together in Photoshop to work out the kinks, grid my surface, underpaint, and then finally get to actually laying on the final image.

Q: What are your goals for the residency?
Like most people coming to the residency I want time and space to work. Life is wonderful but also full of so many distractions. I am looking forward to building better and more consistent work habits.

Currently I am working on a departure from my otherwise figurative work. It’s a series about place and memory but in short paintings of parking lots, alley, stairs, empty pool, etc. at night. I am curious about taking time to document otherwise transitionary places that I might forget. Beyond that, I am planning two larger figurative pieces, and some portraits for the time I am at the residency.

Landscape

Landscape, oil on canvas, 5in x 7in

Q: Do you collect anything?
Yes, I have always been a collector. I like a bit of clutter when I paint and in my life as a whole. I collect a lot of random things but some of my larger collections include mounted insects, antique and vintage ephemera, and wall art. At this point I am actually running out of wall space at home.

Tucker, oil on panel, 12in x 48in

Tucker, oil on panel, 12in x 48in

Q: What advice would you give to other artists?
Lean into your mistakes. As a representational artist I have spent a lot of time fighting the standard of being a human photocopier. There are people with the innate ability to duplicate exactly what they see or those who have spent years learning old masters’ methods. Some of my favorite artists work that way, nothing against it but you are the only one who can “make” exactly like you and the mistakes you make are yours. Fight the urge to start over or cover them and try making them part of your work.

Hunter Zelner in her studio at Main Street Arts

Hunter Zelner in her studio at Main Street Arts

Q: What’s next for you?
After the residency I will be applying for a MFA in Painting. I am glad I took time between Undergraduate and Graduate School but am ready to be immersed again… hense my applying to the residency.

Q: Where else can we find you?https://www.instagram.com/hunterzelner/
http://www.hunterzelner.com/


Hunter is teaching a workshop on painting hands (something many painters struggle with!) on Saturday, August 19 from 12 to 3 p.m. at Main Street Arts. Sign up on our website to reserve your spot!

Meet the Artist in Residence: Emily Long

Emily Long is one of our current artists in residence at Main Street Arts. During the month of August, 2017, she will be exploring new mediums and working on a series that explores the idea that everything is fluid and connected—finding commonalities and relationships between ourselves and our surrounding that inevitably confirm our greater humanity. We asked Emily a few questions about her artwork and studio practice. 

Emily Long

Emily Long

Q: Tell us a little bit about your background.
I was born and raised in Staten Island, New York. At an early age I was enrolled in multiple art programs at my local cultural center, Snug Harbor and was constantly creating things at home thanks to the support of my parents. I was fortunate enough to be accepted into an art focused high school in New York City and continued my interest in visual arts and museum studies in undergrad at Fashion Institute of Technology. Beyond creating my own art, I am passionate about art education and currently work for the New York Historical Society (NYHS) and Smithsonian Cooper Hewitt Design Museum.

Q: How would you describe your work?
My art is fluid. I am interested in exploring the relationship between one’s self and their surroundings. A majority of these works are illustrated with watercolor but I am always excited to add a new medium into my work.

Work by Emily Long, water color and ink

“Raw Synergy Recognize Symmetry”, Emily Long

Q: What is your process for creating a work of art?
For every piece my process is a little different depending on how much time I am able to give myself to create. Some days I will jump right into a watercolor illustration. Other days I will spend hours researching symbols and their significance; taking notes on how they can be added into a work.

Q: What is the most useful tool in your studio?
My primary medium is watercolor, naturally my paintbrushes are my most used and useful tool in my studio.

Emily working in her studio at Main Street Arts

Emily working in her studio at Main Street Arts

Q: Who is your favorite artist and why?
Choosing a favorite artist feels like telling one’s children who the favorite is. With that said, I love Margaret Macdonald Mackintosh for her fearless use of multiple mediums and line use, Gustav Klimt for his use of gold, and Georgia O’Keeffe for her composition and abstraction. My favorite local artist was my childhood neighbor, Andrea Phillips.

Q: What advice would you give other artists?
Just keep working. Don’t be afraid to “waste” your materials or become upset if you create something you do not like. You have to get the “bad” art out before the masterpiece.

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Work by Emily Long: NY Time Dime (left), and Majority Too Big to Ignore (right)

Q: What are your goals for this residency?
I have had a recent interest in working with gesso and printmaking. I am excited to experiment with new mediums and making my work more sculptural while at Main Street Arts Residency. Recent projects have been inspired by folklore and myths. I plan to explore these themes with the exploration of new mediums.  

Q: What’s next for you?
In the fall, I will return to work at the museum. As for my art, I will be turning an old office space into my studio, where I hope to spend most of my free time.

Q: Where else can we find you?
On my website: emilysarahlong.com and on Instagram.


Emily is teaching a crocheted cacti gardens amigurumi workshop on Saturday, August 12 from 12 to 3 p.m. at Main Street Arts. Amigurumi is the Japanese art of crocheting small stuffed creatures/objects. Sign up on our website to reserve your spot!

Meet The Artist in Residence: Noah Estrella

Noah Estrella is one of our current artists in residence at Main Street Arts. He is working on studio photography and portraiture during the month of July, 2017. We asked him a few questions about his artwork and studio practice.

Noah Estrella, self portrait

Noah Estrella, self portrait

Q: Tell us a little bit about your background.
I was born and raised in the Finger Lakes. I developed an early interest in visual art from my parents and grandmother. I was actively creative through my adolescence, for a source of play and experimentation. I still look at creativity in that way, but I began taking it more seriously in my 20s. I enrolled at Finger Lakes Community College at the age of 21 to understand more about art. It is still a learning process to me, and very experimental, but studying it verified my desire to pursue it as a lifestyle.

Q: How would you describe your work?
My primary medium is through digital photography. I still play around a lot with drawing, and I do have a love for the written word, but photography is the most pleasurable for me. I am very fascinated with how visual art can reflect humanity, and as a result the majority of my work is portraiture. I think the human form, and the face, can provide us with a huge amount of information and emotion. A look on someones face, the environment, the lighting, etc. this could strongly reveal what is going on in our world.

Photo of Noah capturing a self portrait   Self Portrait

Photo of Noah capturing a self portrait                        Self Portrait

Q: What is your process for creating a work of art?
I’d like to say that I plan, and occasionally I do. But it’s usually intuitive and experimental, maybe focusing in on one idea/theme. I tend to contact friends to schedule shoots, keeping in mind the location and their outfit. Sometimes it is informal, just spending time with them and taking photographs, other times it is planning a specific idea. From there I spend a lot of time using editing software, and my goal is to always produce the strongest pieces from photoshoots, and see how they can relate to other photographs, or stand alone.

Photograph by Noah Estrella

Photograph by Noah Estrella

Q: Do you collect anything?
I have a lot of keepsake objects that were gifted to me by friends. Usually things that connect to a memory, person, or event. I think there is something special in how objects can be symbols, not just the historical context of the symbolism of an object, but what they personally mean to you. They can also be great props in photoshoots.

Q: Who is your favorite artist and why? Who are your favorite local artists?
I’ve noticed that I find the most inspiration in a lot of female artists. Frida Kahlo was a huge inspiration to me from a very young age, her work is personal and emotional, speaking to identity and society. And the entire body of work by the artist Ana Mendieta was a huge eye opener to me; her works are intense and almost threatening/dangerous to the patriarchal interpretation of fine art.
Locally, I’m very intrigued by the immersive artist Colleen Buzzard, I was surprised and glad to find a thinker like that in Rochester. I’m also hugely inspired by Lacey McKinney, my former professor, the elusive aspects of style in her portrait work are personally profound to my interest in human identity.

Photos in the studio

Photos in the studio

Q: What are your goals for this residency? Tell us about your current projects.
I always feel I’m getting pulled in quite a few different directions. I intend on using this time to further experiment (with style and contextual meaning), play with lighting (ie. How is it effective/ineffective), and continue to grow. I’m really interested in using portraiture to further understand the dynamic aspect of identity in society (both internal and external, self and other).

Work from Noah's residency

Work from Noah’s residency

Q: Where else can we find you?
I recently made an Instagram @noah_estrella. You can also e-mail me at noahmestrella@gmail.com

Interview From The Studio with Karen Sardisco

Karen Sardisco

Tell us a little bit about yourself. You are a professor at MCC, an exhibiting artist, guest curator of various exhibitions, how do all of these things relate?

My teaching and my work as a practicing artist have always been intertwined. I am a full time faculty at Monroe Community College in the Visual and Performing Arts Department. I teach Painting, Drawing and Design. The work that I do in the studio/classroom is an extension of the explorations in my own studio. It is a symbiotic relationship… I pass on what I have learned as an artist to my students and my students inspire me with their interest and enthusiasm. Being in the studio/classroom everyday feels like home… the ongoing desire to communicate and create is infectious, and it is wonderful to see it in the students. As a teaching artist I get to be involved with art at all levels and my work as a curator feeds into that. Conceptualizing and organizing exhibitions is a way to continue the dialog as an artist. I am able to see other artist’s work and have the opportunity to put artists together in a way that allows for interesting interactions between the works. It is a different kind of creative effort that is equally as satisfying. The exhibitions that are a result shed new light on artist’s work, and I am able to be a part of that artistic process.

Karen Sardisco's paintings on paper

Karen Sardisco’s paintings on paper

Give us a little formal information on your paintings. What media do you use? Why have you preferred paper over canvas?

I began working on paper when finding time to work became a challenge. I was teaching, had a small child and was working very consistently in the studio. I began using acrylic paint when I was pregnant with my son because I didn’t want to deal with some of the toxic materials that were part of the oil painting process. I discovered then that my natural approach to technique was very spontaneous and the fast drying time of acrylics just seemed to work for me. The more rigid surface of the paper that was tacked up to a board had just the right give for me. I could develop layers and work very quickly. I began to manage the transparency of the paint and also worked with an interaction of forms within the layers that created the spatial effect that is typical in my work.

Karen Sardisco's studio

Karen Sardisco’s studio

You mentioned before that you were thinking of making a move back to working on canvas, what prompted that?

Well, I do miss the character of oil paint… the surfaces that have a more tactile quality. The feel of the paint on the brush and the way the paint engages with the canvas is an aspect of the process that is very seductive. It takes much more time, but it may be workable again. I am also finding that the scale and the difficulty of moving my works on paper around is getting to be an issue… not to mention the cost of framing such large-scale work.

One of Karen Sardisco's framed paintings

One of Karen Sardisco’s framed paintings

Tell me about the prints you have been making. How do you see them in regards to your paintings?

When my husband passed away suddenly, I stopped making work for a while. I knew that I needed to try to find a way to get back into the studio and had been thinking about the monoprinting process. I found a technique that was very direct using water-based inks, and that was that. I spent a whole winter making prints without the thought of showing them… I really just wanted to explore and work through some of the emotions that I was experiencing without thinking about how what I was doing related to my other work. I realize now that they had a very direct relationship, and the paintings that I am doing now come partly from the place that I got to making those prints. I can see myself devoting more time to that process, but when I began painting again the decision always is…what do I do first, and it comes back down to getting the paints out and jumping in.

Karen Sardisco, "Shadow", detail

Karen Sardisco, “Shadow”, detail

Can you talk a bit about the symbolism in your work? What themes seem to materialize? Do you notice a trend in your work over the years?

For me, the ambiguous space of the imagery eliminates a specific place or time. Forms like knots and branches, or anatomical references for example, are pulled from a visual lexicon of forms that speak to me. They suggest something… they allude to aspects of my experience and become a shorthand that encapsulates thoughts and feelings, and arranges them together in ways that I may not have envisioned. I feel as if I am tapping into a collective database that, when shaken up a bit, sheds new light on my personal experiences. It may also relate to the experiences of others, and I rely on that connection to draw viewers into my work.

Karen's reference materials. Many aspects of her paintings and prints are drawn from natural elements.

Karen’s reference materials. Many aspects of her paintings and prints are drawn from natural elements.

Nature is typically a source for me because I can use forms that seem familiar, something that one might see in the natural world. When those forms are paired with invented forms, or maybe more man-made forms, the relationships are questioned, and, as I mention in my artist statement, those new configurations challenge preconceived notions of function and meaning.

Karen Sardisco's reference materials

Karen Sardisco’s reference materials

If there is a thread that works its way through my work I would have to say that I do rely on forced relationships between forms, and tend to create an ambiguous spatial field for them to exist in. It is not a representational environment in any sense, because I feel that moving out of a comfort zone allows one to experience the way being open and aware can lead to new realizations about themselves, the world… the human potential for discovery. Since I never have a plan for what will happen when I approach a new work I have to trust my instincts and accept what comes. When I am totally immersed in my work, and, on a good day, I can experience a connection to the world that is totally satisfying. I hope that happens for my viewers.

Karen's reference materials

Karen’s reference materials

What will you be working on next?

That is a good question. I never make plans in regard to my work, at least not specifically. I may work on canvas again. I will probably make more monoprints. I will continue my process until I discover that there may be another approach that serves me just as well.

Karen Sardisco, "Game", detail

Karen Sardisco, “Game”, detail

You can see more of Karen’s work on her website: www.karensardisco.com

Four of Karen’s paintings are on display in Main Street Arts’ current group show, The Opposite of Concrete: An Exhibition of Abstract Painting and Photography. Stop by this Saturday (September 6th) from 4-7pm for the opening reception!

Check out our previous Inside the Artist’s Studio post, by painter Sarah Sutton.