Despite its criticism, nostalgia and kitsch has a place with Sara Cwynar. The Brooklyn-based artist, photographer and designer is a hoarder with a heart, with installations at Cooper Cole Gallery, Printed Matter, and self produced Simulated Landscapes and Kitsch Encyclopedia. Through ‘accidental archives,’ she collages digital and found photographs and assembles monochromatic collections of her own items, serving as miniature museums for the past-obsessed present. This archived photo of NY Summer filled with light leak, made us hopeful about the next few months.
Where can we see your work this next year?
I will be in a group exhibition at the Camera Club of New York that opens May 30th.
And I’m preparing for a solo show at my gallery in Canada, Cooper Cole Gallery for September.
What neighborhood do you live in?
How do you start a new project?
I am a massive hoarder so I usually start by going through my personal archive. Often I will begin from a source image that I’ve saved, and re-examine it or rework it somehow. Right now I’m really interested in old stock food photography, camera manuals, and vanitas paintings.
Do you have a studio routine?
I only recently left my day job so I’m still working that one out. Usually I try to start fresh and read something relevant or make work for at least three hours at the start of the day until everything else starts getting in the way. It is pretty random though, often I will make a piece in massive full day marathons when I feel ready to go and then be less productive for a while.
Is there an artist or exhibition that’s had an especially significant impact on your development recently?
I really loved Letha Wilson’s recent exhibition at Art in General.
Do you have any advice for other young artists?
I think it’s important to not think too much about what other people are doing in relation to your own work, to pull influences from places other than the contemporary art world. It is easy to fall into doing stuff because it looks a certain way when it doesn’t mean anything to you. And it can be hard to avoid this when you’re struggling. Also I think half of it is just convincing yourself it isn’t bullshit all the time and embracing that as a real, constant part is important.
Is there another medium or style of work that you’d like to explore or have started to experiment with?
I have been doing a lot of installation work lately and I’m pretty excited about it. I had a wall built to install on for my last show and it looked like a shrine to found images and everyday objects. To me it was really beautiful. I think there is a lot of potential in the everyday and in discarded materials to break out of the sleek imagery that surrounds us all the time in our lives.
How do you describe your work to your parents?
Reworkings of photographic tropes as new still life pictures or installations. My parents are very supportive though they possibly think I’m a bit insane!