Friday, September 22, 2023

Inviting Influence

Influence is everywhere. It is in the subtle movement of the seasons, or the brush strokes of a revered artist. Influence can be found in political philosophy or disaster, or within the bounds of an artistic movement. For every artist, influence is part of what shapes not only the work but also the mind. To be an artist means to throw yourself open to the endless, swirling influences from every corner of the universe. Walling off from all sensation and knowledge and expecting to emerge with meaningful work is rather like hoping to thrive without fresh water to sustain. Every artist in history has been influenced in some way, whether by a mentor or simply the times in which they lived.

Matthew Evan Taylor is a composer, performer, and improviser. At any given time he has many irons in the fire including composition commissions for clients across the country. Additionally, Taylor works on personal compositions. In the realm of improvisation, he frequently works with dancers and recently was in New York to collaborate with Yale art critic Molly Zuckerman-Hartung. Often Taylor is asked to sit in with ensembles or play with or for other solo artists and composers. In short, his schedule is packed and diverse. It is fair to say that Taylor is very much in demand. Growing up, Taylor listened to jazz greats. He has played alto saxophone since age nine but it was not until much later after years of working as a performer and recording artist that he found his way to composition. The Reaction is a piece written in the wake of the 2016 election. Taylor used the piece to process the new reality using the classic tools of journalism who, what, where, when, why. Taylor’s thoughts turned to the build-up of change that allowed the election results. Alternatively, there is Euphoria which is the first in a series of 13 commissioned pieces. The composition attempts to capture the vivid personality of the woman who commissioned it. Taylor is presently a visiting professor at Middlebury College in Vermont. To sample the works mentioned here, and others, listen to the complete interview.

Chris Trueman is currently based in California. At the moment he is involved in work on new abstract paintings on synthetic Yupo paper. Trueman strives to strip these paintings of their physicality sometimes by literally using a squeegee to remove the bulk of his marks. Because Yupo is a waterproof, synthetic material it can also be soaked without damage in order to achieve these effects. Previous work has been on canvas, a surface with a distinct texture that cannot withstand these sort of techniques. Making the change to Yupo has altered the outcome as well as Trueman’s process. The result of Trueman’s paintings on Yupo often resemble an abstract photograph. Trueman cites Abstract Expressionist painter Franz Kline as someone whose work is transparent in such a way that it becomes almost clear how he physically created his paintings. Trueman’s own work also carries this quality of process transparency. For some pieces, Trueman utilizes digital printing and silk screening. During the summer of 2017, Trueman exhibited the same show in two locations simultaneously. He worked with a gallery in Brisbane, Australia as well as one in California taking a body of work and reproducing it digitally as exactly as he could. These digital copies were mounted like his original work and hung in each space. The originals and replicas were combined in each location and the exhibits opened at the same time–in other words, a 6 o’clock opening in Australia meant a 2 o’clock a.m. opening in Los Angeles. To hear more about this experiment in simultanous exhibition, as well as Trueman’s thoughts on how social media spills into real life, listen to the complete interview.

A Few Words to Keep in your Pocket:

Open up to the influences before you and around you. A true artist must consume in order to create.

Interviews are available on iTunes as podcasts, and for Android please click here. All weekly essay pieces in a shareable format are here. The full archive of interviews here.

Additional interviews include: Breeze Smith

Books to Read

What are you reading? Add your titles to our reading list here. Matthew Evan Taylor recently finished The Origins of Creativity by Edward O. Wilson while Chris Trueman is just about to dive into Antifragile by Nassim Nicholas Taleb.

Opportunities / Open Calls

Art Works grants through the National Endowment for the Arts are available to a wide variety of disciplines. Upcoming deadlines for visual artists are February 15 for part I and February 20-27 for part II.


Weekly Edited Grant and Residency Deadlines – review the list here.



Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here