Interview: Jude Moss

Today we’re joined by Jude. Jude is a phenomenal visual artist who works with a variety of materials to create gorgeous works of art. Their work is stunning and incredibly unique, obviously made with a great deal of care. When they’re not creating visual art, Jude enjoys dancing and has done a variety of ballroom styles as well as performed in drag shows. It’s clear they’re a passionate artist who loves what they do, as you’ll soon read. My thanks to them for taking the time to participate in this interview.

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WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I’ve worked with many, many materials and prefer mixed-material pieces. I’ve also spent the better part of my life dancing, but didn’t incorporate my own choreography until I had moved away for college.

What inspires you?

I am inspired by what I see most often. That used to be nature – animals, pastel colors in the plants, fluid movement – but after moving into a huge metropolitan area for medical school I’m struggling to draw inspiration from the urban disaster that I live in. The architecture is all sharp lines and dark colors, neither of which appealed to me and yet both of which have influenced my work.

That said, when I previously lived in smaller towns I created some of my favorite pieces. This first one is a dress made wholly from dried maples leaves and tulle. The leaves were collected slowly from my school’s campus, dried over the course of a month, and pinned into place with needle-thin sewing pins. Because the leaves are attached by one pin each, their edges rustle and they move around a bit when the piece is being transported. It sounds like fall.

The second and third pieces were forays into materials that I did not have previous experience with. I was encouraged to try plaster casting, and found that it is a pain in the rear to dry the plaster (I lived in a very humid state) enough to paint and seal the form. I did enjoy the beadwork aspect. The fish was my shot at metalwork – every scale is hand-cut from copper sheeting and attached individually to the aluminum body. I had fish of one type or another for nearly 18 years, and their constant motion was hard to capture in a still object.

I started dancing when I was very young, but I found a home with ballroom. I danced the waltz, foxtrot, tango, rumba, swing, west coast swing, bolero, paso doble, cha-cha, and some others that I’ve forgotten. I keep up with waltz, foxtrot, tango, and paso doble as best I can – in college I joined a graduate student tango association – but after moving I have not found a new partner. Ballroom was so special to me because I danced for five years with one partner and the bond we created over those years has lasted even after I stopped competing and moved away.

After moving for college I ended up getting involved with my school’s drag show. At that time I was encouraged to try performing solo and choreographed a burlesque routine. At my college I felt overwhelmed at the sexual undertones of everything and being able to perform on a stage where I could step into a sexualized persona and step out of it after was gratifying. The confidence from performing gave me a way to block sexual advances off stage too. I performed in that drag show every year.

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Dress

What got you interested in your field?  Have you always wanted to be an artist?

I’ve always wanted to create. I didn’t know until I started elementary school that creating things was generally called artwork and could be executed to a more satisfying degree with the help of new materials, new inspirations, and enough space to test my ideas. My favorite media is actually white clay. It’s cheap, it’s hard to ruin (and if you do, just recycle it into slip), and you can produce art with it in so many ways: wheel throwing, hand sculpting, slip casting, the list goes on. Ironically I never thought to take photos of my clay work because I imagined that I would always have the pieces in my living space.

Do you have any kind of special or unique signature, symbol, or feature you include in your work that you’d be willing to reveal?

I used to sign my work with a fang stamp when I was in high school, but that was only because scribbling your name onto a clay pot makes the glaze run funny. I don’t usually sign my work. I like to use as much color as I possibly can on every piece to create dramatic contrast and draw the eye through my work. I got better at this while making my costumes for dancing.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

I would advise you to make art that makes you happy. If you try a new material and every time you revisit it you want to throw it away in frustration, stop using it! When making art becomes a chore you will struggle to impart meaning into your work and you will burn out.

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RaSekhmet

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I’m one of the people that ‘just knew’ they weren’t straight. I was raised in a small town with very conservative views about sexuality, so I grew up thinking you had basically two options: straight or gay. I figured that since I was absolutely not straight, I must just be gay. I kept thinking that until a good friend made a comment about my absolute lack of desire and said “I think you’re some flavor of asexual”. I had never heard that word in my life and didn’t give the label much thought until several years (and failed relationships) later, when I did some very basic research and realized that my friend was right. But I didn’t search much after that. The town I grew up in was unsafe for gays and I seriously doubted that ‘changing’ to asexual would make the hostility better; in college I just let the LGBT community assume I wasn’t interested in a relationship. Even in medical school I let people make whatever assumption they need to, and if they ask I still answer just gay. It’s hard for me to conceptualize myself as asexual and harder still for other people to understand it without a five minute Q&A that I am not prepared to give.

Having taken to google just now, I see that there are many identities inside of asexual. I am wildly unprepared to choose one of them and will continue to define myself as an asexual person who is interested in having an intimate relationship where the emotional connection between my partner and myself is the priority.

Have you encountered any kind of ace prejudice or ignorance in your field?  If so, how do you handle it?

I’ve encountered a great deal of ignorance, usually in the context of a joke. Lots of variations on “You are in a bad mood because you just need to get laid”. Lots of backhanded comments about how anyone who doesn’t want sex must be broken, or that asexuals just need to see this one great porn movie to realize they aren’t actually asexual. It makes me very uncomfortable. I try to respond with the assertion that jokes of this type aren’t welcome and if they are going to continue with them I will excuse myself.

What’s the most common misconception about asexuality that you’ve encountered?

Easy – it doesn’t exist. I read it when I google asexuality and I heard it frequently in college from my LGBT community. It sucks. It’s like saying a certain flower doesn’t exist just because it’s not in your garden. It is very weird to hear people deny asexuality out loud.

What advice would you give to any asexual individuals out there who might be struggling with their orientation?

I would advise you to not give into peer pressure and do things because someone else says you will like it. Specifically, if you have to get black out drunk to consider having sex with your partner, you should probably re-evaluate your situation.

I would also like to point out that doing research and reading about the difference between aseuxal identities and other LGBT identities will help you become more secure in your identity. At the end of the day it’s just a label. If it’s really important to you, great! And if it’s not, that’s fine too.

Finally, where can people find out more about your work?

I don’t know! I don’t have an online gallery or shop since I don’t sell my work. If people want to get in contact with me they can use my email – phagequeen@gmail.com

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Fish

Thank you, Jude, for participating in this interview and this project. It’s much appreciated.

Interview: McKenzie

Today we’re joined by McKenzie. McKenzie is a phenomenal visual artist who specializes in sculpture.. She got her start doing 2D art, mainly drawing and painting. She gradually shifted to working with metals, particularly steel and bronze. McKenzie is particularly fond of sculpting bugs. It’s clear she’s a very passionate artist. My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

Most of my work right now is sculpture work, with mostly metal and slowly moving into mix media projects. I used to do only 2D work, with drawing and painting. My sculpture work right now is bugs, in steel and bronze interacting with a mix media environment.

What inspires you?

My own imagination inspires my work, as well as what I have experienced in life. Talking to other artists I find myself thinking of more ways that I could create something that is visually interesting and can tell an interesting story. It’s a little bit of everything from the mundane to even something so complicated at emotions to difficult events in life.

What got you interested in your field?  Have you always wanted to be an artist?

I have always wanted to be an artist, there was never a time in my life were I serious considered another path to walk. I find that I can express myself easier in a visual manner. I always felt the need to challenge myself and am willing to take the chance of failure to find my way.

Do you have any kind of special or unique signature, symbol, or feature you include in your work that you’d be willing to reveal?

I think the only thing that I could think of is my signature which is my initials. I write out MJ with a crazy flourish in the “J.”

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Just make art. If your stuck take a break and get your hands into something you don’t have to think about. I find that if I’m stuck on a piece a nap helps, or a walk too. Its okay to want to try a wide range of things but finding the media that works the best with you is a great place to start, because learning the inside outs of that area will make your work get just that much better. I still have a lot to learn, I’m not even broken into the business side of the art world yet.

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I identify as an asexual. I used to think that I was a Demi but after thinking critically about myself I found that the title didn’t fit with me.

Have you encountered any kind of ace prejudice or ignorance in your field?  If so, how do you handle it?

I find that it can be subtle sometimes when talking with artists about their work when it’s solely focused on sex and I don’t always understand their reasoning. Most people I know and work around don’t bring up their own personal sexualities so I haven’t either.

What’s the most common misconception about asexuality that you’ve encountered?

That we asexually reproduce. Though I wish I could clone myself, because that would be more hands working on a project. Then more work could be done… but then I’d have to feed more of my selves and that would get far to complicated.

What advice would you give to any asexual individuals out there who might be struggling with their orientation?

I’ve never been one to overthink what I am, for a long time when people asked what I was I would say a question mark. It wasn’t something that mattered to me until I was a bit order and around people that already understood themselves to such a point of having a label. When I was in high school it rather overwhelmed me when I started to do reach, and that was the same time I first found the title of Ace. I quickly forgot about it, finding that I wasn’t ready to think to much about who I was. In college, I am in a period of self-reflection so it fit. I found the title and am slowly getting used to wearing it. I love having a label now, I enjoy having a flag and a community of close friends that I can be around. I would suggest having a support net work if you can, or even one online if that’s the safest option for you.

Finally, where can people find out more about your work?

My Instagram is the best place to follow my work! I do a lot of things and would love to share it with more people: Jerofkm.

Thank you, McKenzie, for participating in this interview and this project. It is very much appreciated.

Interview: Shona Fitz-Gerald Laing

Today we’re joined by Shona Fitz-Gerald Laing. Shona is an amazingly talented mixed media sculptor who specializes in metal. She dabbles in a number of other artistic fields, but sculpture is where her heart lies. There’s a truly amazing amount of detail and texture in her work, as you’ll soon see. My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.

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WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I’m largely a mixed media sculpture artist with a focus on metal. Throughout my work I use crystal imagery as a way to discuss the anxiety of the relationship between the organic and the inorganic, and how that anxiety lends itself to a narrative of personal experiences of being caught “in-between”.

On the side I sketch, paint, and write novels and poetry that are often included in my installations through titles and accompanying works.

What inspires you?

I’ve based my recent work around the term tenalach, which is loosely used to describe ones relationship with the earth. I draw my inspiration from hiking in the Rocky Mountains, local flora and fauna, gemstones (particularly quartz), and local landscapes. I like things that don’t fit into strict categories.

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What got you interested in your field?  Have you always wanted to be an artist?

My parents were interested in giving me a well-rounded education, so art lessons were always a thing for me when I was a kid. For the longest time I thought I would be a doctor, so I didn’t decide I “wanted to be an artist” until later in high school.

Do you have any kind of special or unique signature, symbol, or feature you include in your work that you’d be willing to reveal?

I create monochromatic work as a way to subvert the understanding in art that white, whiteness, and minimalism are the purest form of artistic creation (it stems from modernism, the emergence of the “white cube gallery”, and theoretical writings such as “Ornament and Crime” by Adolf Loos – it’s SUPER problematic let me tell you). I use whiteness – traditionally coded as masculine – to explore the complexity of colour and texture, which are traditionally coded feminine.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Try everything. The artist I was in high school isn’t the artist I was in undergrad, and the artist I was in undergrad isn’t the artist I am now. Allow yourself to be flexible and brave, you don’t know you what you’re capable of making if you don’t experiment regularly.

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ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

Asexual/Aromantic

Have you encountered any kind of ace prejudice or ignorance in your field?  If so, how do you handle it?

Frequently, more so as a grad student than a professional artist. Because grad students are playing out a specific life path that traditionally includes having a partner, there are definitely expectations from colleagues and faculty to be settling down with someone. Most of my peers are in long term relationships, and it’s just not something I have any interest in. As an artist, the conversation usually comes up around the overt link between sexuality and art-making that is frequently sited in art discourse. Because my art doesn’t directly reference my sexuality, I can usually bypass most arguments with pointed rhetorical questions or my favourite phrase “that’s a nice opinion you got there”.

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What’s the most common misconception about asexuality that you’ve encountered?

That life is incomplete without a sexual partner/that sex is an integral and irreplaceable part of human experience. It’s a personal favourite. My friend, if all you need is a sexual partner, you’re the one who’s missing out.

What advice would you give to any asexual individuals out there who might be struggling with their orientation?

Being able to defend yourself (and your sexuality) takes a lot of courage and time. It’s not easy telling people you love that they’re wrong, and it takes a lot of work to be able to learn and speak about sexualities in a coherent and sensible way. I know it’s frustrating, but it’ll happen. I promise that there will come a time when you’ll be able to turn to your friend/family member/stranger and ashamedly tell them they’re being problematic.

Finally, where can people find out more about your work?

Website: shonafitzgeraldlaing.com

Tumblr: slaing-art.tumblr.com (infrequently updated)

Instagram: shona.f.laing (updated often but mostly pictures of my hikes, studio progress and cat)

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Thank you, Shona, for participating in this interview and this project. It’s very much appreciated.