Making a feature film is a collaborative process. Even if you managed to write, direct, design, animate everything, you may not be able to do sound design, or compose a piece of music. It is more fun yet more chellenging to work with other people.
The Team of “Rocks In My Pockets” (besides me) at the moment consists of Sturgis Warner (voice over director, lighting designer, set advisor), Rob Daly (sound designer), Ljova Zhurbin (music composer), Wendy Zhao (production manager, editor, compositor, art assistant), Rashidah Nasir (art assistant) and my Mysterious Boyfriend who in general is very supportive of the project and studio operations (without him there would be no laminate flooring here).
Wendy and Rashidah are young artists, just starting out. Aren’t you curious what artists of Generation Y are thinking? I am very curious, that’s why I decided to briefly interview both of them. Let’s start with Wendy.
I met Wendy in April in Boston after Battle of Sexes show. She expressed interest in animation and we kept in touch via email. Sometime in early July she came over my studio for a brief job interview. She got the job and moved to New York in September. If you wonder what exactly impressed me to give her the job, they are 3 very simple things – 1) Wendy is very talented 2) she has a good personality, she is open minded, curious, warm, and to some extent – daring (I think it was a dare for her to approach me after the show and it was a dare for her to dare me to hire her) 3) and she really made an effort to get the job (I was skeptical of her skills (she was not an animation major) so she set out to prove me wrong).
Wendy has a strong blog. A drawing every day.
An Interview: Art as Personal Space for Communication.
Q: Some people consider being gay as a failing of one’s will, as if being gay was a personal choice. I believe that people are born that way, they don’t chose to be gay or straight. With years I came to believe that also being an artist is not a choice, one is born that way, and to pursue one’s happiness one must pursue his/her art. Is there a particular moment in your life when you realized that you are an artist and you can’t change that?
I think until about July of 2011, I was still daydreaming about pursuing professions unrelated to art-making, like research, or medicine, or this or that. Then I started to do some serious job hunting, which stressed me out, but also really helped me realize what I truly would and would not enjoy doing. Especially after moving to New York in September, I no longer doubted what I’d like to devote my time and energy to. Of course, I’m still exploring and struggling with what forms of art I can and want to create, but I’m certain at this point that art-making is what satisfies me the most and what I’d love to commit to.
Q: Your drawings are erotic and sensual, but there is something sad about them, like a happy song sung in a minor key. Why is that? What in the subject matters that you chose interests you? What would you say IS the subject of your art?
These drawings are very personal, and this blog is equivalent to a diary. So, they reflect what I think about, how I think, and how I feel. There is no ONE big subject of these drawings, I don’t think. If I had to summarize, I would say that they’re quiet glimpses of personal life, which is why they may come across as a bit melancholic. I make them because I can be extremely open without being explicit. So, they are therapeutic for me and fun for my audience.
Q: When I finished my “Five Fucking Fables” and was about to premiere the film at a festival, I was quite frightened that someone will mistake what I depicted in the film (a woman’s head cut off lands on a guy’s dick, flowers suck man’s penis, a dog licks a woman’s pussy etc) for what I desire. I was worried that I’ll get unsolicited sex offers because someone assume that am I nymphomaniac. Nothing of the kind happened, to my greatest relief, festival audiences are quite open minded. Aren’t YOU afraid of showing the sensual and erotic images you create to a broader public?
I’m not so concerned because that sort of thing is inevitable for any piece of work shown to an audience. Like with other forms of communication, the way my drawings communicate with another person may go in many different directions, and I welcome that.
But of course I do care about how these drawings are perceived because by having this blog, I am inviting people to get to know me. I am also my own most important viewer, and I want my work to communicate successfully and tastefully. I want my drawings to communicate personal explorations, feelings and desires, but not explicitly and not literally.
So, I hope there is enough playfulness and ambiguity in my work that no one would say, “oh I get it, I know exactly what she’s all about.”
Q: A question I get a lot: Do you show your artwork to your parents and what they think of it? (my answer is so longwinded and complicated, it may be a book)
I would have a huge long complex answer too. But the short answer is no, I don’t show my parents these drawings. I’ve shown them other works, but not this blog. I don’t know if maybe they’ve found it somehow via some other way, but I don’t actively show it to them and they haven’t mentioned anything.
Q: A question I used to hate but by now I grew to appreciate it: What are your influences?
That is a question I always have trouble answering.
First of all, you, Signe Baumane, are a great and immediate influence for me. I have grown a lot, professionally and personally, since knowing you. Thank you, and I value our relationship immensely.
Other influences (in terms of people whose works and lives I ponder upon) include: my dad, a few professors I had in Boston University’s College of Fine Arts, a few friends and acquaintances.
Some famous individuals include: Morandi, Cezanne, Gwen John, Giacometti …
Also: Todd Solondz, Woody Allen, Igor Kolvayov (whom Signe introduced to me), and many specific pieces of work by various others.
It’s really hard to talk about influences, because there are so many, and they exist in such various forms.
Q: A lot of women study art but don’t practice it for very long. Why do you think is that?
I really am not experienced or qualified enough to answer this question. Anything I say in response would only be an assumption, and I don’t want to make any about how other women live and work.
Q: Are there any advantages on being a woman artist? Disadvantages?
The biggest disadvantage, I’d say, is being automatically considered a “woman artist” rather than an “artist”.
There may be some advantages in terms of getting funding, grants, etc. I personally am not there yet. The biggest advantage I have right now, being a woman and keeping this blog, is that from a man’s reaction to my drawings I can better determine how much I want to date him.
Q: Does being an Asian American define your work?
That is not a focus at all currently. (It used to be a focus when I was still in school).
But I’m sure certain qualities seep through here and there because there’s no denying that I am Chinese-American. For example, some of the girls I draw have Asian features. I think that is simply related to me being who I am. But being Asian American is not an “issue” or “topic” of any sort for me right now, and especially not in these drawings.
Q: What is the most difficult thing for a young artist?
I think one of the biggest challenges is finding the will to deal with various struggles. Note: not the struggles themselves – but the will to deal with them.
A young artist is rarely where he/she wants to be (circumstantially, conceptually, technically, and more), and such struggles can often be neglected or traded for something more convenient and immediately satisfying. For me, right now, I know I have to make a big effort to just keep alive the will to keep making work.