What do you do with a cement mixing truck? If you’re Andrea Bergart, you paint it technicolor-leopard, video tape the process, and then set the documentation to the tune of DEV’s “Bass Down Low.” At the time of this writing, the video has about 600 views on YouTube, a number we’re certain will rise.
Bergart is a prolific artist, constantly posting paintings and related interests on her Tumblr. We expect to see a lot more of her—as a two-time award winner of the Puffin Foundation Grant and an artist with a robust exhibition history, any other outcome would just be wrong.
What neighborhood do you live in?
I live on the Bushwick-Ridgewood border and really love it. I used to live in South Williamsburg, and that was fun, but now I prefer living and making art outside the center of activity. There is a certain level of anonymity, which I enjoy, yet it’s still close enough to visit other artist’s studios and galleries.
What made you paint the cement truck?
I decided to paint the cement truck mural after watching the documentary Style Wars, which documents New York street culture and subway graffiti of the early 80s. There was one term in the documentary that really stayed with me: “going all city,” which meant having your art on a train travel throughout all boroughs. Seeing the painted trains crawl over the bridges and speed through the tunnels really inspired me. I loved how the paintings changed so quickly within different contexts and environments of the city. I don’t care if my mural makes it all around the city, but I do get excited seeing the cement truck in action.
I am also drawn to the actual shape of the cement truck, which reminds me of a giant bead. I have researched beading in West Africa, and I make jewelry with African and Italian beads. It is a dream to paint this shape on such a huge scale. I like how animated the truck becomes when an image rotates on top of it.
You’ve made a lot of large-scale, site-specific work. Does that require a different kind of problem-solving than, say, the smaller paintings you’ve made?
My smaller paintings involve experimentation during the entire process, while my site-specific work begins loosely with drawings and then becomes much more systematic in my execution.
Is there an artist or exhibition that’s had an especially significant impact on your development recently?
El Anatsui has an incredible show up right now at the Brooklyn Museum. A few years ago I visited him in his studio in Nigeria. I’m not sure if he has influenced me directly, but his openness and the spirit of celebration in his work has inspired me.
Is there another medium or style of work that you’d like to explore or have started to experiment with?
I have recently begun painting on silk, and I really love it! I enjoy how the silk takes well to dyes and has a sheen and luminosity to it.
How do you describe your work to your parents?
My parents see me as their daughter rather than an artist. They want me to be happy and they love me but sometimes are confused by the decisions an artist has to make. To answer your question, I tell them my work is abstract, colorful and inspired by textiles.
Swampy Scraggle, Oil on Canvas 20” x 20,”