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When you're painting do you think about what it's going to look like scraped and re-applied, or do you try not to?
I wanna say fifty-fifty. Sometimes I really try not to think because that makes it more interesting, but sometimes I know that if I want something to show after we scrape it I have to do certain tricks when I paint it. But I prefer not to, and to just paint what I feel like painting, and then take it to this other level. It's difficult because I love painting, but sometimes painting is so challenging because what else can you do that's new besides painting something that's your own subject matter?
How did you first start doing this process?
It started pretty much from me scraping oil paintings at school (the School of the Art Institute of Chicago
) that I didn't like. You know oil paint is extremely expensive so I didn't have money to be throwing paint out like it's nothing. So, I would just keep this mountain, which every painter does. They keep this mountain-like stack of oil paint somewhere in their studio. And then randomly one night I just grabbed part of it and put it on wet paint and thought it looked cool. Then later I did this little extra part to it: I used aluminum spray paint and when it went through that it totally looked like tin foil. And I thought that was gorgeous, because it was oil paint that looked like tin foil, which is an incredible illusion effect. And tin foil is a very cheap material, the oil is a very prestigious medium, so I thought that played perfectly. And from there I started making these pieces—instead of the abstract or figurative very expressionistic paintings that I was known for in school—with very collaged dry aluminum color and I was doing flowers, actually, it was very simple. And people thought it was me collaging tin foil, and when they knew it was oil paint the effect was very strong and beautiful.
From there things grew, and it went from me taking those pieces of oil paint to pieces of glass and scraping paint off small pieces of glass from Ikea, until I developed a way to take paint off huge pieces of glass. I'm very ambitious, I'm a workaholic. I'm here every day until late. And this is clean right now but usually I have a lot of stuff going on because some things are just thrown away or end up in some other place. And I'm just working and working, and ideas come and I just do it. I write, I draw sometimes. I write a lot actually, a lot of ideas, but the best parts happen in a very intuitive way.
Would you say you're more interested in painting or sculpture right now?
Sometimes a sculpture calls and I really wanna do it, but honestly most of my attention goes to the two-dimensional work. I just love painting. Most of the time here is put into the paintings. Sculpture is still difficult for me, to be honest, but I like challenges. I like to see where that ignorance towards something can take me. So I mess around with sculpture a lot.
It's almost a superfluous distinction since paints are your raw materials, even for your sculptures.
Yeah, the material creates so many venues for you to do stuff, it can be sculptures or paintings, but it's interesting how much you can get out of it, almost like a fabric, you can put it anywhere you want.
Do you have any interest in costume design?
I've thought of doing dresses, but then I thought it would be too obvious because it looks like fabric. I want it to be something unexpected, you know? I love fashion, I'd love to try something like that.