I absolutely love New York-based artist Sarah D'Ambrosio's recent series Boys, which both abstracts and sensualizes and invites us to peer through the 'female gaze.' More at the links after the interview!
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Tell me a little bit about you!
I was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York and I currently based there in Bensonhurst. I just received my MFA from University of New Hampshire and studied at Brooklyn College for my BFA. My summers in between undergrad have mainly been working as a studio assistant in NY and going to Mount Gretna School of Art in PA for their intensive program and now a residency they have just developed.
When did you first discover art, or realize you wanted to make it yourself?
Honestly, it was never in my plans. I am the sixth of nine children and the first and only to graduate high school. So when I found a way to get to college the last thing on my mine was art. However, a few years later I was kind of forced into a painting class and took an introduction course with a fantastic painter and woman, Diana Horowitz, where I fell in love with painting. I don't think I quite understood what was happening at the time I just knew I wanted to keep painting and figure this stuff out.
What is your process like?
My process is pretty intuitive and physical these days although I am very concerned with formal ideas in painting and therefore, my process can deal with a lot of looking to other painters for guidance. I don't plan for anything but I do set up limitations which can be helpful. The drawings are quick, maybe sometimes even just 30-45 min but I do them in pretty large quantities, sometimes hundreds in a week. The paintings are much longer and they can take months at a time. They are constantly reworked and the paint kind of piles on. I try to work on a few at once so I don't kill a painting before its had some time to cure.
What do you do when you find yourself in a creative rut?
Just tons of drawing and drawing from the old master paintings. Right now Titian is my guy I turn to when i feel like I am not sure what I am doing.
What do you love most about your medium? What challenges or surprises you most about it?
Theres nothing really quite like the consistency of oil paint. Particularly when you are dealing with flesh as subject. I really enjoy the sensuous nature of paint and how it reacts to being pushed and pulled around a surface. It seems to mimic all the important textures you come across in this world, its buttery, its wet, it wrinkles ,crusts up but more importantly is so intensely close to what flesh is like at least as close as you can get in a painting object. It moves in such a wonderful way and much more of the earth and human than any sort of plastic or synthetic medium.
What are you working on right now?
I am currently at a residency in Mt. Gretna called the Four Pillars Artist Residency and I am continuing my series of 'Boys' but creating another limitation where all of my 'Boys' are set up in a place i'm more familiar with personally. In this case, Coney island. That's where I spent all of my summers and where we used to live. Theres a lot of opportunity there for color and solving the problem of putting figures in a painted space.
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