Tag Archives: atlanta

Postcolonial Thoughts: Critique of Michael David’s “The One-Eyed Turtle and the Floating Sandalwood Log”

by Christopher Hutchinson

Michael David is widely regarded as the one of the top encaustic artists of the 21st century. He has built his career on abstraction and an intuitive need to explore the continuity of wax as a medium, which has presently developed into dense and lush pictorial landscapes. His work is included in the permanent public collections of the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Guggenheim Museum in New York,and the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles, as well as in many prominent private collections.

http://www.prweb.com/releases/2013/11/prweb11310604.htm



On November 7th 2013 Bill Lowe gallery in Atlanta exhibited “America’s Most Acclaimed Encaustic Painter, Michael David.” I was initially impressed with the scale, technique, and medium of this exhibition.  It seemed that all David’s accolades were well-deserved, but upon further investigation there are obvious questions to the validity to these claims.

Encaustic

Michael David’s encaustic paintings are certainly the best without question in comparison to what usually passes as the encaustic craft.  David is a master of the encaustic, but Postmodernism separated the labor and precision of craft from art.  The time, scale, and medium of these “masterpieces” are not to be considered as part of the rubric as to what qualifies as exemplary art.  We may no longer judge artwork based on its craftsmanship.  Only if that craftsmanship is so terrible that it interferes with the concept.  In David’s work there is an overwhelming need to compliment its technique rather than the dialogue.

MICHAEL DAVID – THE  ONE-EYED TURTLE AND THE FLOATING SANDALWOOD LOG VII – ENCAUSTIC & MIXED MEDIA ON PANEL – 44 X 51 -2013

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Maple Viewing at Takao (mid-16th century) by Kanō Hideyori (ja) is one of the earliest Japanese paintings to feature the lives of the common people.[1]
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ukiyo-e

Expressionism

“Michael David may be the most innovative master of immediate surface since the Abstract Expressionists. He has acknowledged his debt to Abstract Expressionism, but he has transformed it.”-Donald Kuspit

The conversation that has been brought up readily in the David’s work is Abstract expressionism, and this comparison for most would be acceptable, but this is not completely accurate. David’s “Navigator” has a replica war airplane that appears to have crashed in the sea of wax on the surface. What is transformative about this? “Navigator” is clearly a wax illustration. The piece is static and placed the opposite of expression. This piece was the key to David’s codex. Often three-dimensional objects are placed on the surface glued in place by the encaustic medium. The proper term for these would be arranged artifacts, an impression of expression.

Surface & Sculpture

Painters with an affinity for surface manipulation often become stuck in-between painting and their aspirations to become completely three-dimensional.  These painters never accomplish more than an additive relief.   These reliefs are unsuccessful at painting and sculpture equally.   These artworks do not have the deliberation of space to become suitable sculpture, equally also do not meet the fluidity of paint. David’s is additive praxis with no other concern but to accumulate more.  More does not equal excellent.

 A bas-relief at Banteay Srei in Cambodia depicts Ravana shaking Mount Kailasa, the Abode of Lord Siva. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Relief#Notable_reliefs


A bas-relief at Banteay Srei in Cambodia depicts Ravana shaking Mount Kailasa, the Abode of Lord Siva.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Relief#Notable_reliefs

Thornton Dial & Academia

 The best piece of the exhibition was due to David’s new muse, a Thornton Dial inspired piece called “Ophelia”.  Again here we have a second key to David’s exhibition appropriation.  A fusion of derivative influences that are not so readily apparent of which Thornton Dial is the most recent.   This exhibition had all David’s muses present, Ukiyo-e Japanese composition and color, Abstract Expressionist technique, and Southern Folk art all academically-appropriated.  David is well aware of this and has credited those influences, however should this be accepted the way Donald Kuspit intends?

David’s abstract paintings renew immediacy; they reconstitute and strengthen, even apotheosize it. They raise it to a feverishly fresh intensity with their remarkable touch, indicating they are among the very best painterly abstractions made.”-Donald Kuspit

 Or should it be placed as cleverly disguised influences remade with encaustic mastery?  Not fresh. Not New. Well crafted.

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Christopher HutchinsonChristopher Hutchinson is an Assistant Professor of Art at Atlanta Metropolitan State College and Archetype Art Gallery Owner in Atlanta, Ga. He received his Master of Fine Arts Degree in Painting from Savannah College of art & Design, Atlanta and his Bachelor of Arts Degree from the University of Alabama in Huntsville, Alabama. He lived in Alabama for 10 years before moving to Atlanta in 2008. His installations mostly consist of black folded paper airplanes.

Learn more about Christopher and his work at Black Flight 144.

Postcolonial thoughts: Michi Meko’s The job of the resurrectors is to wake up the dead

by Christopher Hutchinson

Michi Meko’s The job of resurrectors is to wake up the dead is the artist’s most recent triumph.  As a participant in Flux 2013, Meko used the opportunity to declare his position atop the list of contemporary American/African American artists in Atlanta.  Meko’s deliberate performance will easily be remembered as the best of 2013 with a couple months to spare.

Meko photo 1“A sound theater of Negro prison work songs will be played to wake up the souls of Negro men that were forced to lay the tracks in and around Atlanta as the re-enslavement of Black Americans increased during the Civil War up to World War II. Most of these free men were imprisoned on bogus charges enforced by Penal Labor/Servitude laws allowing the cycle of supremacy to continue. The inspiration for this sound work came from the pages of Slavery by Another Name written by Atlanta author and Pulitzer Prize-winner Douglas A. Blackmon.”

Performance

Early performance feminist artists like Carolee Schneeman and Yoko Ono employed performance to break from the European institution of the voiceless nude.  With similar stagnation the Black body has been stuck, unable to speak beyond the object/spectacle.  Schneeman merely reacted against the Tradition; she remained tied to that narrative. Meko goes beyond just speaking to create a sound performance that does not allow the Western custom to penetrate.  Meko has complete ownership of his narrative; it is not interested in protesting the West, rather revealing another tradition altogether.  Meko has revealed something that has always been present and regularly dismissed, disqualified as art-ritual.

Meko photo 2

Meko’s family. His mother is the youngest child in front on the right.

 This narrative in sound and action demands an investigation into a rich lineage of rites of passage which Meko receives directly from his bloodline.  It is a direct source, as well as a shared means of access.  Meko includes us in his lineage that allows the viewer to participate in a tangible way, not as romantic spectators.

 Meko photo 3Meko’s wailing sounds envisage a time that is past and present as a continuum.  It was a confrontation with the dead, not just the physicality of death, but also the innate that died to become more academic.  What awakened was the “Id.”

Romanticism

It would be easy to lump these chants into a familiar generalized “tribal.”  Native American chants, African drums, and the familiar “Bass,” that heavy “Bass” which divides the guitar lovers.  When Meko uses these sounds they are not bound by the already generalized “Blackness” that exists.   Viewers had to come to terms with visceral response.  The mind tried to figure out where it was. What was happening?  Why this felt so good? The body didn’t care to reason anymore, it just gave in to Meko’s provocation.  It was transcendence.

Participation

After moving through the crowd and happening on the piece, I saw a little boy doing some contemporary Hip-Hop dance. There was a circle of at least 100 people around him.  This youth captivated the viewers, and then about ten minutes later large Black Male fell on the asphalt motionless. After a while of lying there, “Bass” brought him back to life.  He was re-animated with the prison chants.  He was intense and somber corresponding with the introspective tone of the audio.  The performance had a crescendo into a celebration, where everyone participated.  It could no longer be contained in one cipher, the performance overflowed to another circle completely on its own, organically.  This ceremony went on for hours.

Christopher HutchinsonChristopher Hutchinson is an Assistant Professor of Art at Atlanta Metropolitan State College and Archetype Art Gallery Owner in Atlanta, Ga. He received his Master of Fine Arts Degree in Painting from Savannah College of art & Design, Atlanta and his Bachelor of Arts Degree from the University of Alabama in Huntsville, Alabama. He lived in Alabama for 10 years before moving to Atlanta in 2008. His installations mostly consist of black folded paper airplanes.

Learn more about Christopher and his work at Black Flight 144.

dixie’s s-bahn

by J. Christopher Matyjasik

I’ve been working on this series for well over a year and only three works have been prepared for print production at this point. I’ve been known to get halfway through a project, throw everything I’ve done out and start over. I don’t even have a definitive title (I don’t usually title a series until I’ve finished it). But I decided to just go ahead and share what I can of this in-progress project with you. What you see here is a peek inside my studio, at what i’m doing right now. It is not complete…

These days, I work on a whole series at once. I am still a drawer, painter, and assembler at heart. I see photographs two ways…an end…and a source material. Below are twelve examples, I’ve selected to share with you, of the source material for this project…and then the first three “completed” works, fresh off the griddle.

photo 1 christopher matyjasik

photo 2 christopher matyjasik

photo 3 christopher matyjasik

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photo 5 christopher matyjasik

photo 6 christopher matyjasik

photo 7 christopher matyjasik

photo 8 christopher matyjasik

photo 9 christopher matyjasik

photo 10 christopher matyjasik

photo 11 christopher matyjasik

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photo 13 christopher matyjasik

photo 14 christopher matyjasik

photo 15 christopher matyjasik

 John Christopher MatyjasikJ. Christopher Matyjasik

picture maker, data scientist, tinkerer, man’s man, general observer, amateur ponderer, entry-level life participant, believer in the laws of karma, fortunate soul

Check out more of his work at his website eye parcel or his Facebook page.

Dispatches from Atlanta: Love and Hate in the South

By Maxwell Sebastian

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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Maxwell Sebastian
Maxwell Sebastian was born in 1979 in Atlanta GA. He spent his early years in the metro Atlanta area, but moved and spent his teens and early 20’s in Philadelphia, PA. 2002-2003 brought him back to Atlanta. He’s a self-taught artist and has been exhibiting since 2000-20001. Check out more of his work at his website.

Spotlight: An Interview with International Dancer and Choreographer Nicola Ayoub

Nicola Ayoubby Melissa D. Johnston

I first met Nicola Ayoub as the spunky pilates instructor who kicked my butt in class each week. I learned quickly, however, that her passion, talent, and determination weren’t confined to being a teacher at a pilates studio in Atlanta, GA. Nicola was a gifted dancer who had trained and performed with the Atlanta Ballet. In addition, she worked regularly with Full Radius, a modern dance company. Now she was moving to France. Where she would dance. Period. (Even if all the hows weren’t worked out—yet.)

And dance she has. In the seven years that she has lived in Paris, Nicola has become an award-winning, international dancer/choreographer. She choreographed a bilingual one-woman show dealing with self and cultural identity, “The Language,” which was awarded Paris Jeunes Talents in 2008 and first place at the Parisian choreography contest Tobina in 2009. She’s toured Milan, Berlin, New York City, and Seville as well as performed regularly in Paris. She represented the USA in UNESCO’s 2011 production “Astro-Ballet” and traveled to Banjul, The Gambia on a Fulbright grant to work with the country’s first theatre troupe. If that weren’t enough, she also began a dance company, 3 D Company, with partner Guillaume Morgan.

Nicola’s work is fascinating, creative, intelligent and powerful. Her positive attitude towards life and the pursuit of her dream continues to inspire me. I am honored to have gotten a chance to speak with her recently.

When did you first realize that dance was your passion? How did you decide to follow it and what keeps you energized in its pursuit?

I always wanted to perform. My first memories are of making up little song and dance numbers pretty much anywhere and for anyone who would watch.  I was 12 years old when I realized that dance was my passion and that was the thing I wanted to do with my life- be on stage and shine for the audience. Thus, at 12 I decided for myself that I would audition for the Atlanta Ballet’s pre-professional program. I called and planned my own audition, did it, got accepted, and then told my parents that dance would be my life. It is still the performing on stage that keeps me motivated to dance. Also, the chance to learn from other choreographers- their movement languages and ideas. I am always learning and hungry to learn more in this creative job.

"What I thought I knew" (duo with Asha Thomas)

“What I thought I knew” (duo with Asha Thomas)

In many of the dances you’ve choreographed and performed, you deal explicitly and implicitly with identities that are hybrid, “in-between,” straddling the borders of culture, language, and nations. “The Language,” a bilingual performance in which you use words, music, and dance to share the joys and confusions of an American living in Paris, was first inspired by your Lebanese heritage. In “What I Thought I Knew,” a duo with Asha Thomas, you both draw from your personal narratives to explore the internal realizations and revelations formed in living away from one’s home. Has the creation of dances and their performance brought a new understanding of self- or cultural- identity for you? Has it changed the way you think of the concept of “identity” itself?

Yes and yes. Self and cultural identity inspires all my work. Living far from home made me reconsider my values, my past, and who I am now. The story for “The Language” was my autobiographical experience as a foreigner in Paris and a lot of the clichés that go along with being the overly smiley American here. In France, I felt and still feel very American, but when I go back home I feel a little out of place, like something is missing. I’ve lived in France long enough that it will always be part of me too, an added layer to my identity. It is true that the original idea for “The Language” stemmed from my own identity questions about being both Lebanese and American. Until my first trip to Lebanon I was always proud to say how Lebanese I was. Then finally visiting my paternal country I realized just how very American I was/am. I think more than blood, where you grow up, what language you speak, your education, your travels, and experiences shape the person you become, in short, your identity. Through the creation of dances I’m finding how identity is also something malleable, time and experience change parts of you.

Nicola Ayoub

In “The Language,” you say, “My language is a system of symbols so that I can communicate to you my yearning, my yearning to understand and be understood.  Words alone cannot convey to you how I feel.  The body tells much more.  Les mots parfois sont inutiles. And words about the body are never as illustrative as body language by itself!” How do you think words and body language function differently in their symbolization? Do they tap into different symbol systems? I realize this question may best be answered by seeing you dance and perhaps also by we, the readers, becoming more aware of our own bodies, but perhaps words can catch a faint glimpse of the difference.

Body language tells the truth; it has weight and substance. Words can be strong too, but they mean nothing if the body language with it is false. For example, I could say “I am so happy you are here. I welcome you to my home.” Sounds nice, but imagine me saying that with my arms firmly crossed, shoulders up and tense, jaw locked, and legs squeezing together and you would definitely know that my words probably meant the opposite.

Dance is a universal language. In my opinion, open arms, a twirl, a hip sway- all that is much more inviting than the word “welcome.” For Atlanta readers, the perfect example of such a warm welcome is my Uncle Nick in his restaurant Nicola’s.  You see generosity come to life through movement and music.  Incidentally, my uncle is also my biggest dancing hero.

I totally agree about your Uncle Nick! I’ve had the honor of experiencing that generosity–and of taking part in the wonderful dancing there as well.

You’ve performed in “Astro Ballet” with a multi-national cast at UNESCO in an effort to promote the peaceful use of space through dance. You’ve also spent two weeks in Banjul, The Gambia, working at the Ebunjan Theatre with their troupe to help create and perform “Mystical Strings” and give the first modern dance show in that country. Could you say a bit more about these experiences? Do you think dance can really have a role in helping people from radically different backgrounds and experiences understand and relate to each other?

Yes! As I said before dance is the universal language. In the “Astro Ballet” the other dancers were Russian and spoke very little English, however, they all used classical ballet vocabulary (which is French and used by all ballet students worldwide) so I knew exactly what they were talking about with phrases like “arabesque, glissade, grand jeté.” Technically, the piece was very ballet based and we all shared the same vocabulary for these moves so I had no problem learning the steps called out or working with the other dancers. For the project in Banjul, the students had no formal dance training, no terminology so Asha and I had to be clear with our own movements and ask them to copy us. They learned some in this manner, but the first two days we thought they would never catch on to certain basic modern dance steps. Then we asked them to improvise to live drum music and WOW we saw some amazing natural dancers. Once we saw what their strengths were we could incorporate these moves into the choreography too so that they felt comfortable and then add new steps on top of it without frightening them.

I think music plays a huge role in this process as a guide, support, and inspiration to the dancers.

Banjul students after "Mystical Strings"

Banjul students after “Mystical Strings”

What are your current projects? What are some of the projects you’d like to pursue in the future?

This spring I am performing with the company Karma Dance Project (works by choreographers Alexandra Bansch and Gigi Caciuleanu) in France and Italy. Also collaborating with Greek choreographer Taxiarchis Vasilakos for his new creation “All is One.”

Specifically for next season, I want to expand the duo Asha Thomas and I started last year “What I thought I knew” and get it programmed in a Parisian theatre. Generally, I would like more choreography outreach projects abroad like I did in The Gambia. I’m hoping my dancing future will give me the chance to travel even more, meet new people, learn new dance styles, and share my own experiences.

You’ve been very successful in living your dream. If you had one thing to say to artists struggling to follow their dreams, what would you say?

It takes so much longer  “to make it” than you think and that is hard (the repeated rejection, the waiting, the lack of money I know it all well). But if you really want to be an artist, if you are starving to perform then persevere. Yes, perseverance will be your best friend.

***A wonderful update: In July 2013 Nicola and her partner Asha Thomas will be participating in another dance outreach program in Contonou, Benin, sponsored by African Regional Service (US Embassy).***

“The Language/femme fatale solo”:

UNESCO interview for Astro Ballet:

Accismus

by Myke Johns

Accismus by Hilary Kelly

 

The crow took flight, not knowing where it was going.

 
The girl had left home in a similar manner. She had shouted that she was off for a walk, the punctuating door slam throwing up a roadblock between her and home. She realized that she had no plan beyond leaving. So she left.

Eight blocks away was the park, a sprawling green space that eddied and dawdled like a summer afternoon. The trees and grass invited her in and she followed, hoping to lose an hour.

 

Above, a call and black wings shook the high pines around the east end of the park. The crow pecked at some sap, bored. She walked down the path below and circled the tree, running her hand along the trunk. Her hand strayed behind her and she shouldered the pine, spreading both arms around the rough pillar. She sat down, and as she looked up and scanned the branches, the crow leapt from its perch and spiraled down towards her.

She gasped and nearly lost her balance, her arms giving way behind her back at this sudden break in the still sky. Eyes shaded and narrow, she admired the bird–watching its slow descent. Its wings were spread wide for resistance–a black blade against the green and blue above. It landed at her knees, shook its wings and cawed.

“Hey bird. Hey bird.” she said. It cocked its head back and forth, examining her with both eyes, then looked at her dead-on. “Where have you been today?” The crow ruffled its feathers and rasped and barked. “That sounds exciting.”

A door slammed somewhere–a car on a nearby street. She whipped her head in its direction. She was back at her house–where the yelling was–deep there, in the womb of her beddings and headphones and quiet music. The yelling was usually outside of her room, between the other two. She’d learned to lie low. But every time she heard her name, muffled by all the layers between her and them, she felt like a catalyst. She wanted to explode.

“I’ve been cooped up in a house all day with people who don’t like me much,” she said to the bird. The crow sat still. “They just…” She thought of their faces but could not see them. Their voices rang wordlessly through her, as incomprehensible as the call of the crow. She let it swirl around, quiet, then ease from her nostrils like bitter smoke as she exhaled. “There’s nowhere else for me to go. I’m…” she looked down at the bird. It was staring intently. “I’m talking to a bird. This is the best conversation I’ve had all week.”

The crow stretched its wings to half-span and hopped awkwardly toward her. A flurry of wings and a surprised shudder and it was perched on her arm. “Hey! Hey bird!” It fought to keep balanced on her forearm and looked into her face. The animal’s round black eyes betrayed nothing–she could read nothing in the ancient architecture of feathers and pebbled skin. The crow bent down and pecked at her arm. “Ow! Fuck!” She shook, but the bird gripped tighter, its talons digging in, drawing blood. It pecked again, this time loosing a beakful of skin. She screamed and grabbed at the bird’s neck, but the bundle of muscle and will power drew its head up, pulling a thin strand of flesh.

She pulled at the bird harder, this time yanking it from her bloody arm. It dropped her skin, but managed to snatch it in one claw and hold fast. “What the fuck is wrong with you?” she yelled, and the crow took flight, not knowing where it was going.

The tangle of sinew became wound around the bird’s claw and knotted there. At the other end, she stared in horror as the slender thread pulled from her arm as yarn from a sweater. She found herself focusing on the sensation. The tugging, the pulling away–it felt like a continuous ripping, an old scab being peeled off. The crow flapped against this anchor and pulled more. She gripped the sinew and held fast and raced for a way to free this animal from her body. A sharp yank and a screech of frustration from above and she pulled back defiantly, sank her teeth into her own lost skin and bit hard. It was less painful than she thought, like the flaking end of a hangnail, but the skin stayed firm. The crow pulled harder now as it caught an updraft and soared into the sky. Circling above her, she felt herself unravelling as the bird stole away more and more. The line of tissue travelled up her arm, around her shoulders, and down her back, pulling so fast it nearly lifted her off the ground.

As the tissue tore away from her back and she felt it spiraling away, the pain bore a new sensation. She felt a pressure between her shoulders–pounding from her spine, it felt. Her skin unraveled and thinned and the pounding inside drank in the cool air. Like mountain wind billowing into the mouth of a cave. She inhaled sharply.

As quickly as the strap of flesh had peeled away from its purchase, her skin drew taut–from the slender thread wrapped at the crow’s foot, through the naked air and down down down to the center of her back. An unpleasant twang reverberated through her chest, in sympathy with her reluctant and airborne twin. The thin line of tissue stopped, anchored right between her shoulders.

The bird was surprisingly strong as it strained at her skin. She danced in each direction it pulled as it circled in the air and it in turn flapped and bobbed at this awkward ballast. As the tether strained, she was pulled to her toes. The air involved itself with a gust of wind, pulling hair across her face and as she spat and brushed, the crow followed the breeze. There was stumbling sideways like a newborn fawn, but then her legs were carrying her after the crow. It felt as if she was being lifted off of her feet, her weight reduced, gravity losing grasp. Her strides grew longer as she ran, until she was bounding over hills with barely an effort. Was the bird leading her, she wondered, or were they moving in synchronicity? Leaping from footfall to footfall, she spread her arms, fingers wide and palms flat. The wind moved through her, swept under her and the strain on her back tugged like an invitation.

At the crest of a hill, she jumped and the sky received her. She felt only lift, only equilibrium between land and sky. The crow carried them and she looked at it and it cawed down at her. She reached up and grasped at the tether between them and began to climb, looping her ankles under her, straining to pull up and up and higher still. As she climbed, the crow took to the clouds. They cleared the treetops and the town below. The rush of cool air filled her ears. It stung tears from her eyes and higher she climbed. When she got to the crow’s feet, she held onto them. The bird looked down and opened its beak; its maw yawned wide and engulfed her. The crow struggled to fly with a girl in its belly, but inside, her hollow chest and strong arms found new homes. When she opened her eyes, she saw straight ahead, the blue of the world reaching farther than she’d ever been able to see. Testing her arms, she flapped once and her new wings beat against the wind. She laughed, and a brand new call echoed against the earth.

Myke JohnsMyke Johns is a radio producer at WABE, Consigliere of WRITE CLUB Atlanta, and the man in charge of screaming in the band Mice in Cars. He also writes things down at The Occasional Triumphant.

Spotlight: An Interview with Nerdkween

Monica Arrington

by Melissa D. Johnston

I remember the first time I saw Atlanta-based Monica Arrington, who performs under the name nerdkween, play. Two of the friends accompanying me, both musicians who had seen her before, were already giddy and starstruck. They had good right to be. Monica is a rarity. She is a classically-trained singer/songwriter/composer who freely experiments in both songwriting and performance, blending multiple styles effortlessly and elegantly into a spare and stunning lo-fi sound. Nerdkween released her debut full-length recording, Synergy, in 2008 with Stickfigure Records, which puts out recordings of acts such as Snowden, Deerhunter and Xiu Xiu.  She released a second CD called Profitandloss in November 2010 with Fieldhouse Recordings , a branch of Stickfigure. I got an opportunity recently to ask her a few questions about music and life as an artist.

Even before I heard your music, I was already in love with the name nerdkween. Is there a story behind the name? 

It goes back to high school for me. In school I associated with the smart kids and I guess secretly to myself, I imagined myself the “queen”.  As I started in college, I wanted to start my own label and I was going to call it  Nerd Queen Records.  The lettering has evolved over the years  into the official  (nerdkween)* .

Your music pulls from multiple influences and musical styles. Among your influences you’ve mentioned P.J. Harvey, Sonic Youth, Lisa Germano, The Sundays, Mazzy Star, Low, Cranes, and the early Liz Phair among others. Which were your earliest influences? In general, which do you think have proven or will be proven to be the most enduring in their effect on your writing and performing?

I love noise.  I think I will always find inspiration in it. I love vibrations and it recharges me.  I feel as though the music is born out of that haziness as in from chaos comes order and understanding. I also find the light airy and smothering  voices of Hope Sandoval and Lisa Germano to be  feminine yet strong all at once. My voice is similar and I also find the lyrics from them resonate with me. They celebrate their pensive and uncertain natures which I can also relate to.  It inspires me to dig deeper and not to be so afraid to express myself.

You’ve called your music postmodern pop. One of the interesting characteristics of postmodern music to me is that it can challenge barriers between “low” and “high” styles of music as well as “elitist” and “populist” values. You are a classically trained vocalist with a degree in musical composition. Do you see yourself as purposely playing with the cultural boundaries of pop and classical training either in attitude and/or in the actual creation of music?

Oh yes, my interests in music crosses over to many genres and it continues to grow. I think any creator or performer does themselves a disservice by not exploring  all there is in the world.  And with technology our world is becoming smaller and we can reach out to anyone anywhere. The cultural exchange is amazing for personal growth for anyone.  Yet, people would be surprised how much and often pop music “borrows” from  classical music.

What musical project or projects are you working on now? What most excites you about it? How does it relate to the work you’ve done in the past, particularly that in your last album Profitandloss?

Right now I’m in writing mode, I want to see what I can create just for the sake of writing. I would like to release another recording but I want to make certain I have good material and the best resources  to release under. I am listening to more world music and roots music and I want to find ways to incorporate it into my sound.  Simply songwriting can be very exciting if you are struck with inspiration.  So I’m kind of just enjoying the process without a clear agenda  or goal.  The last album I recorded and released something  within the year and it was a  great growth lesson for me.  At the time I needed to do it. Now, I want to take a bit more time and better myself.

You’ve been very candid about your struggle to live the dream of being an artist. Recently you’ve been putting your gifts and training to “practical” use by teaching music and voice lessons. About that you’ve said, “I have been fearful that finding a practical outlet for my craft equals failure of childhood fantasies” but also “Now, as an adult, I am working on helping my dream to also grow up.” Could you say a bit more about this journey? 

I think I actually surprised myself once I started teaching and coaching.  I am reminded that we as artist ARE teachers  even if we don’t have students. I love  being involved with music so that is what I have come to understand , not just the pursue of  being a so called recognized artist.

The craft of singing is something very dear to me so I don’t mind sharing what I know and experienced over the years.  In fact, I’m very excited when a have a student who displays a yearning to learn as much as possible about music and singing.

Recently you wrote, “I think it’s the ultimate role of an artist: to guide oneself and others through the process of living, to make connections with our ideals and the real world, and to find beauty and peace in conflict.” Do you have some hard-won advice to give to other artists aspiring (but also struggling) to live this role? 

It’s important to listen to your heart., and realize there are many avenues to take your dreams.  Life can get into the way but you can use it to challenge yourself and learn more about who you really are.  Just know that there are other people going through similar struggles in life, your art can help them cope.  Don’t stop creating, you never know who is paying attention. You never know you will need your art.

Thank you, Monica! 

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