IMPRINT, on view at SomoS Art House from October 1st – October 17th, 2015 presents the work of two young collage artists, David Woodward (Canada) and SomoS Summer 2015 Artist-in-Residence Ingrid Bittar (Brazil). The exhibition traces how these artists inventive use of heritage, history, and nostalgia create very personal and intimate narratives. These international artists make subversive and imaginative use of public historic and vintage imagery to explore new dimensions and expand the medium’s possibilities and associations.
We decided to reach out to the contributing artists to discover more about their work and the personal stories behind their creative process.
David Woodward Interview
SomoS, October 2015
Interview by Jordan Davidson
-What aspects influence your art and art process? What aspects of collage do you enjoy the most?
The question of influence is hard to answer because often it’s something very subtle or unconscious, and not a deliberate choice. That said, I see myself influenced and inspired by the work of other artists and musicians that I admire, by books and news stories that I read, by the minutiae of daily life and by my own personal narrative.
The aspect of collage I enjoy the most is the process – finding an unusual book or magazine that becomes subject matter for a collage, and then fitting different cutouts together until they achieve a cohesion that feels like the end to a jigsaw puzzle.
– What is your approach to creating and realizing your collage works? For instance, do you begin with a general theme(s) or concept, or is it a case of experimentation?
Initially with collage, I would approach things in a very figurate and narrative way. Each piece of anatomy, foliage, or animal would maintain it’s original form in the new composition; I was more interested in playing with context and hierarchy than in reworking things formally. Combined with their titles, each work hints at some kind of other-worldly saga, but the themes I was reflecting on and addressing were of a very personal and human nature. The recent collages in this exhibition, which were all made this year, are less figurative, less literal. With these I’m more focused on the associations of form and image. Source materials are often completely reworked into new forms that only allude to their original representations.
– What initially inspired you to work with collage? Has it influenced other art practices which you had or currently pursue?
I began working in collage because I didn’t feel satisfied or comfortable with my own style of mark-making, which was evident in the media I predominantly worked in – painting and drawing. Collage felt cleaner, more clinical. Initially I was sort of obsessive in cutting out hundreds of pieces and sorting them before even beginning to make a composition. The cutting-out process was kind of mindless, and allowed for a lot of time for reflection and introspection. Collage has definitely influenced other media that I work in, both in aesthetic and approach. I’ve moved back into drawing and recently sculpture, and am learning how to paint again – in a way that for me, accomplishes more.
– Examples of both your collage works and installations do share some semblances, notably simple shapes and forms, muted or sombre colour, etc…can you explain the interaction between these two approaches which you work with?
At this point, the different media I work in (drawing, collage, painting, sculpture, assemblage) all influence each other – this is both a naturally occurring cycle and a decision I make. I can work anywhere from a few hours to a few weeks in one particular medium, but at some point I usually start to feel mentally clogged and frustrated, so I switch for instance form sculpture to collage, or collage to drawing. Whatever ideas or concepts I’m working with inherently end up translating medium to medium. I enjoy spotting relationships that I didn’t intentionally foster between works of different media; I like to observe that sense of unconscious continuity.
– How has your artistic practice changed, developed or grown since your graduation from Queen’s University with a BFA? Do you have future plans to continue with studies, such as a Masters degree, or do your upcoming plans not include academic pursuits?
Since graduating, my practice has changed in certain dimensions but not in others. It’s very different to maintain an artistic practice in the so-called “real world,” than in art school. Opportunities of time and space are often harder to come by, but I find that makes studio time all the more rewarding and cherished. Working outside of the structure of classes and deadlines allows projects to evolve and realize at their own pace. Apart from gaining fundamental skills and an education in the history of a discipline, I find going to school for any creative endeavor to be a somewhat strange pursuit. I’m still trying to find my own voice artistically, which is something I want to do outside of the academic world.
– In regards to your experience of censorship at the administrative level with your submission of All I Am Is What I’ve Felt in 2013, apart from the exposure this gave to you as an artist from their oversight of free submissions, has it influenced your work from then on?
Since that incident, but not because of it – my work has really changed directions in medium and content, so I don’t see any lasting influence. Typically though, someone’s usually going to be offended by one thing or anything; you can’t really take that into account if you know what you’re doing is honest and meaningful.
– This exhibition alongside SomoS Artist-in-Residence Ingrid Bittar is your first gallery show outside of Canada. How important is it, in your opinion, for young artists to establish international connections and seek out options to show and promote their work abroad?
I’m very grateful to be included in this exhibition alongside Ingrid! I’ve never been part of a show outside of Canada, so the invitation to exhibit at SomoS is quite exciting. I haven’t been to Berlin, but have only heard great things and hope to visit in the future. Exhibiting or collaborating internationally are important pursuits, definitely – but as an emerging artist, these opportunities are often not easily accessible or realistic; I think travel residencies are a great way to make this happen, and are something I would love to be more active with in the future.