Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Interview with Artist Veronica Szalus

Q: What is your background in art?

A: I have a degree in jewelry design and industrial design.

Q: What led you to industrial design?

A: It was a natural progression from jewelry design. I wanted to expand on the size and scale of my work.

Q: What led to begin your work in installation pieces?

A: Working in three dimensions has always fascinated me. To expand upon my experience in jewelry design, I went to school to study industrial design, and gravitated toward space design. I began to explore working with interiors and architectural elements absorbing the idea of space and volume and what happens once you’re in it. Thus I began studying and experimenting with exhibit design.

Q: Describe your most recent work.

A: I have focused on Installations – the pieces I have created in the most recent past are pieces that take up a fair amount of space-- 20 by 40 feet depending on how much space I have to work with. They tend to be very vertical or horizontal, and made up of multiples.

Q: On the piece entitled Newsprint in Transition, what was your process?

A: For Newsprint Transition the process included taking full-size spread newspaper, mostly from the Post or the Wall Street Journal, coating it with dry compound and hanging it so would take on the look of fabric. I then stacked anywhere from 50 to 100 papers on top of each other. Because they had been shaped, there was volume, and they ended up being about six feet tall. I then repeated that process to make 2-5 such towers to complete the installation. It was then installed both inside and outdoors.

Q: How would you describe the general inspirational concepts behind your work?

A: I explore elements of transition-- transition in time particularly for the newsprint piece. The installation began with a very fresh and ridged presence , 6 weeks later elements of the installation started to bow and change shape, it started to conform to gravity. The shape of paper began to change and the paper itself began to move down a central spine so there was movement in more than one way.

Q: That is very interesting philosophically. How would you describe the conceptual ideas behind the piece?

A: The conditions of life. Taking a step back. We often get wrapped up in what’s happening immediately. And that can and does change daily. In general, over a four-year period, a lot of stuff can happen over the short term. But over the long term, as well, the world is continuing to evolve, mountains are eroding, the sun is expanding and will eventually consume the earth, and all these things are just getting closer. We’re facing transition all the time, on many levels. From daily activities to the fact that stuff is happening in your neighborhood, in your nation, worldwide, there are storms brewing somewhere etc. There’s this constant change. The world is four billion years old, and nothing is permanent. Even the earth itself is not permanent. One day the universe as we know it will not be the same.

Q: This reminds me of the constant theme of microcosm versus macrocosm in your work.

Q: Yes, the way I document the work, kind of emulates that. Also, the process of making it can be tied into the theme of microcosm versus macrocosm. For example, each sheet of newsprint is its own microcosm. And the singular element of the piece has a completely different feel from when it is transformed into one installation.

Q: Where do you see your projects heading?

A: I’m not exactly sure. I see them continuing with the focus on transition, and I might be adding more natural materials. I would like to use both decomposing and stable materials. The pieces are designed to react with the environment. For example, in my most recent work, a series of cylinders were originally intended to be placed outside because they are very porous, and leaves would collect in it. And over time, the leaves would decompose, and finally snow would cover it, etc.

Q: Where do you find the inspiration for your work?

A: Anything can be inspirational to me. It could be a color, an event, a work of art that leaves me transfixed. Most recently, an exhibition at MAD in New York had this effect on me. It was called Slash: Paper Under the Knife - it was a series of paper sculptures and installations. I thought many of the works there were just incredible, particularly because they were using paper in an unusual and massive manner.

Interview by Jennifer Segal

Studio Gallery intern


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