“No one gets angry at a mathematician or a physicist whom he or she doesn’t understand, or at someone who speaks a foreign language, but rather at someone who tampers with your own language.” -Jacques Derrida
We are soothed by our own sense of what is real. Each of us approaches the world with a deeply rooted, predetermined set of views and perspective that shapes how we encounter every moment. When this foundation shakes, it can feel as though everything we thought we understood rests on a knife’s edge. Naturally our instinct is to reject anything that threatens our fragile sense of reality, but isn’t this the moment when true creativity takes place?
Umico Niwa spoke to us from Richmond, Virginia where she just graduated from Virginia Commonwealth University with an MFA in Sculpture and Extended Media. Despite the pandemic, Niwa says this has been a surprisingly good time for her and her partner, Peat Szilagyi, to make work in the studio. They have just completed a body of work that has just been shipped for exhibition at Holding Contemporary in Portland, Oregon. The title of the show is Solar Coochie and it explores solar punk – a genre that imagines a future where we can subsist off of solar and other forms of renewable energy and reside in biosphere dwellings. There are many intersections to the work of Niwa and Szilagyi; Niwa’s work has focused on plant life as offering a different mode of gender/identity/expression/sexuality or a different mode of existing. To hear more about this work and more from Umico Niwa, listen to the complete interview.
Reaksmey Yean spoke to us from Cambodia at the end of July 2020. He reported that Cambodia has been relatively lucky in terms of lower rates of infection and that things were slowly returning to a new normal. When we spoke, he was busy with a few personal projects including work on a novel, but his main focus has been trying to get his gallery open. The pandemic was a major setback, but Yean, undaunted, continues to move forward toward this goal. The gallery will house work by artists from around Southeast Asia. Yean works as a curator, artist, writer, researcher and art activist and was the founder of an art collective. To hear more from Reaksmey Yean about his work, his philosophy on art and other pieces of his complex career, listen to the complete interview.
A Few Words to Keep in your Pocket:
When we are forced to re-examine what we believe to be true, that is when we start to really live.
Books to Read
What are you reading? Add your titles to our reading list here. Umico Niwa is reading various studies on deep neural networks (DNN). Reaksmey Yean claims to be “a boring person” when it comes to reading – his recent reading The Truth in Painting by deconstructionist philosopher, Jacques Derrida, says otherwise.
Every year, the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation awards approximately 175 fellowships. Thousands of artists apply for this prestigious honor, but that is no reason you shouldn’t be one of them. The application process does require some very specific written documents to accompany your work, but this is one to put on your lifetime list for sure. Visit the website for more information. Deadline for this year is September 17.
Weekly Edited Grant and Residency Deadlines – review the list here.
Brainard Carey is an author, artist and educator. He is the director of Praxis Center for Aesthetics. He has written six books for artists; Making it in the Art World, New Markets for Artists, The Art World Demystified, Fund Your Dreams Like a Creative Genius, Sell Online Like a Creative Genius and Succeed with Social Media Like a Creative Genius.