By Katherine Sweetman
Interview with artists Rachel Eva and Shawn Michael:
K.S. Tell me about this new collection of work– your “Sculptural Lighting” collection. What brought the both of you, who are artists in many different mediums, to focus your energy toward this very specific kind of work?
R.E. I think we both have always been fascinated by light. It always changes, and by introducing light into a piece of art, we have the ability to explore different dimensions, exposures, and textures, especially when a piece is placed in different environments. Shawn and I are the kind of people that can sit for an hour and watch a can of unmixed paint swirl into different textures, or be fascinated when half & half is poured into an iced coffee. Light intrigues us because it offers that nuance and complexity, in addition to traditional mediums.
S.M. Early on in our time together as artists, painting on a flat surface wasn’t enough for us. Things moved quickly from mixed media to building structures that hold the canvases, lighting them internally and eventually right to large scale sculpture. I tend to want to think Big, so working on a smaller (not 20 feet) platform has been a good challenge. It is a voice that speaks from our desire to build these shapes that DO Something. Functionality adds a dimension to each piece that is honest and organic (I kinda hate that word [organic] now. (Is that bad?)
K.S. So, this morning I heard that in 2012 Kickstarter is expected to raise more money for users’ projects than the NEA’s (National Endowment of the Arts) entire budget. What do you think about this platform? Have you used it before?
S.M. This is our first rodeo with Kickstarter. We have however watched our friends’ creative projects be fully funded and have supported others. This new phrase “Community Funding” isn’t going anywhere. I like to think that it’s our cultures way of saying,”Screw You” to the “Man” regarding all things Mega-Corporate. Small businesses are thriving, and banks are sad. I’m not losing any sleep. I think it’s Brilliant that people can go shopping on sites like Kickstarter for products that haven’t been made from people who are unknown with Real Money.
R.E. I think it’s great that a platform like Kickstarter has emerged as another opportunity for funding. I’ve attempted a few times to apply for grants from different arts organizations, but the process is exhausting, there always seems to be competition that’s “more appropriate” than me, and I’m always thinking about someone else’s criteria. Shawn and I just launched our first Kickstarter campaign, and I love it. We work hard, and we’re willing to put the time in that’s needed for a successful project. But we get to do it the way we want, and we get to tell our story, and make art while trying to raise money for art. One of the best things about Kickstarter is that it not only provides a way to fund creative projects, but we get to share our work with the world, not a panel of critics (no offense).
K.S. Haha. Well, I am a backer of your project, so some critics like it.
I suppose Mission Federal Artwalk is one way to get your work out there… But I hope you go on to show it at venues that let the observer contemplate the work a little more. I am sad that Device Gallery is no longer in San Diego, as that would be excellent place for this. Are there other gallery type-venues that you imagine seeing/ or have plans to/ or have shown any of this particular work?
R.E. I saw that! Thanks for backing our project! I’m sure that there are critics and art professionals and panels of evaluators that will like our work, but for clarity, I just like the exposure in general from Kickstarter – applying for a grant only really accomplishes that if you get it!
I would love to show our work in a gallery space – I think that’s most appropriate, and more rewarding for guests. I’ll admit I haven’t been a big fan of ArtWalk in the past (too many palm trees and dolphins), but we decided this year that it would be a good exercise, and a good deadline for producing a body of work. Our intention is to pursue gallery venues after April, but we haven’t figured out what that looks like yet, or which galleries would be most appropriate.
K.S. Well I do love dolphins… but:
And everyone, check out their kickstarter campaign (and spectacular Kickstarter video done by Drew Renaud): http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/workofmyhands/electricity-in-art-sculptural-lighting
All images courtesy of the artists © 2012