Wonderful work by recent graduate Marissa Wedenig, currently based in Vienna, who is also participating in a group show that opens on April 4! More info about that toward the end of our stellar interview, where we chat about what it means to be home, and experimenting with different ways of representing creative ideas.
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Tell me about yourself! Where are you from originally and where are you based now?
I am Austrian, but I grew up abroad (USA / Latvia). I moved back to Austria when I applied for the Arts University, so since then my “home base” has been Vienna.
You've just graduated from the University of Applied Arts in Vienna, where SAME SAME BUT DIFFERENT was installed. What has your art education experience been like overall?
The University off Applied arts is a great place to study arts. I had the feeling it was more like one big shared studio then an Institution. The freedom I received there, really helped with finding my own approach to art.
What first interested you in painting or making art?
As many artists, the fascination of making something appear on a piece of paper started early on in childhood. Later in my teens I was really into digital art and Asian comics and wanted to make animated films like Studio Ghibli, but as the saying goes, “You have to drown your first puppies,” to get to something that is different and your own.
I think what survived from this teenage crush is the use of bright, dazzling colors, and also a sort of narrative or “deeper meaning” behind an image. Each painting must have a story to tell, otherwise I’m not satisfied with it.
My interest in fine arts, however, took root when I started studying and realized that art can be more than an object of beauty and subjective taste. It can be a form in which one can express a complex thought in a visual form. It is visual philosophy, if you will. It can make one see connections that one did not make before.
Your work is quite abstract and colorful, and I'm drawn to your attention to the physical quality of the paint itself; its texture on the surface and its consistency. Can you elaborate a bit on your practice, and about your thesis show's theme of "home?"
„SAME SAME BUT DIFFERENT“ is a work based on my personal experience dealing with the questions “What is home, where is home, and how is home defined? Does home necessarily have to be the place where one was born?“
Each of the tiny paintings depicts something that I associate with or reminds me of home. The process of making these paintings is a bit like going abroad and recognizing something familiar in an otherwise unfamiliar place. Suddenly there is this connection between one’s past and the place one is presently at. Similar with my paintings, if the painting does not evoke in me any kind of association, it is either not finished or is discarded.
What is your favorite thing about your medium?
That there are no limitations. My techniques are basically about mixing mediums together to support the idea behind it. Mainly I work with painting, drawing, experimental film, and installation. Sometimes I remember a technique somebody showed me when I was a kid, and I try to combine it, for example, with film. That is how my short film TransFolding came to be. I used origami and stop motion animation to create an experimental music video.
What is your process like? Do you plan in advance or do any research for your work, or do you work mostly intuitively?
Yes, my process always begins when I stumble upon some interesting thing. It can be a fact I read somewhere, a story, or a thought that I want to visualize. After figuring out what I want to wok on, my approach then is to find the medium that best presents my intention. The initial idea is the most important thing in my work; the medium and aesthetic choices I make are all in order to support the idea. The process of research is usually the process of making the piece. Each step is thinking, researching, and coming up with visual metaphors for it.
What is your studio space like?
At the moment I have been traveling a lot so I’m working out of a suitcase.
Is there a tool or an object in your studio that you couldn't live without?
This is too hard! I can’t live without any of my tools or materials... but if I’d lose my sketchbook it would be a black day... it’s the thing that keeps my ideas from disappearing.
Is there anything that you find particularly challenging or daunting about pursuing art seriously, especially as an artist just leaving university?
Ha-ha, when someone asks me this kind of question, I hear this tune in the back of my mind “Money (That's What I Want)” by Barrett Strong. The beginning is a challenge: how to create an existence around one’s artistic life. How to support yourself and be able to invest in art. This is still something I am trying to solve.
What is the best piece of advice you've received?
“Water is not blue, the sun is not yellow, grass is not green and clouds are not white!”
Do you have any upcoming exhibitions or other projects?
On 4th of April I will be part of a group exhibition in the Zurich Kantonalbank, which will show until September 2017. In May I am presenting for the first time a piece that is a collaborative work, done together with the newly formed artist group Éōs (Karina Mendreczky, Katalin Kortmann Járay, Marissa Wedenig). We’re planning to do more collaborative installations in the near future.
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To submit your work to the website and find other current opportunities to get involved, visit here!