What I really love about Colorado-based artist Mario Zoot's collage work is that it often transcends "simple" collage through his experimentations with painting and other sculptural materials. I particularly love some of his recent works which incorporate collage elements and a smeared, smudged technique with other media around the images, giving them a good hit of contemporary flavor while remaining anchored in the nostalgia and occasional kitsch of the source images he finds. More info and images at his website after the interview!
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Can you tell me a bit about what first got you interested in collage? Has it led you to explore other creative avenues?
I became interested in collage about 10 years ago. I was drawn to how direct and straightforward collage and appropriation is, remove or add something and change an entire photograph in mere moments. My studio process is about making the familiar, unfamiliar. I do this by cutting, tearing and deconstructing found images. Once I realized you can collage anything, I started experimenting with sound, video and language. Copy, Transform and Combine.
Describe a day in the studio; what is your process like? How do you get started on a new piece? How long does a piece normally take to complete?
When I start to make works in the studio it begins with time spent looking, touching and digging through my archive of found and/or discarded magazines, books and photographs. This archive i’ve amassed over the years is hundreds of pounds and over a garage full of materials. I have a problem with keeping everything.
Where do you get your imagery from; is there a theme or a style you find particularly significant?
I find material in second hand shops, yard sales, next to dumpsters, on ebay and through google image searches. I look to the past mostly, old family photos, portraits of long gone celebrities and all things discarded. I like to set rules for myself. One of these is deconstruct a single image and put it back together in a new way. Another is, go to your Tumblr feed and and make a collage out of the first 10 images you encounter.
As a pretty recent MA grad, what do you feel has been the most exciting aspect of pursuing art outside of the university environment? What has been the most challenging part? Is there anything you know now that you wish you would have known as an art student just getting started?
Now that I am done with grad school I can focus on working in the studio. It’s a shift from completing assignments from a professor to making assignments for myself. I do this by always staying active in the creative community here in Colorado. Hard work pays off, don’t forget that. Stay focused, have fun.
Who or what are some of your major influences?
My influences are my friends and those in the Denver art community. I love the cut outs by Matisse a lot, I’ve always been a fan of Basquiat’s work. For the last two years I’ve been working with an artist named Bill Stockman, framing with him, preparing his panels and handling his work has really made an impact on my newest work. I’m very grateful to be able to spend so much time with a established Denver artist.
You're getting started at a long-term residency at RedLine; do you have a large project you're starting? How important art residencies to building an art practice?
Currently I am working on some large pieces in my RedLine studio. Daisy McGowan is curating a RedLine residence show that opens in January and I am attempting to make new works that break away from my normal practice of collage making. I have been experimenting with concrete in the studio and thinking of collage as sculpture.
Do you have any exhibitions or other projects coming up that I can share?
Nice Work, if you can get it. RedLine Residence show, January 20th 2016 curated by Daisy McGowan.
Find more at mariozoots.com!
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