Tag Archives: New York City

Artist Feature: Jason Jaworski

self portrait

Interview with Artist: Jason Jaworski

Rae: So tell me your story.

Jason: I’m just a small town girl living in a lonely world.

Rae: At what age did you decide you were going to be serious about art?

Jason: When Biggie and Tupac died. I think everything got real serious after that.

Rae: Haha… now tell me about your zine, “Sprinkles, Sparkles, and Kankles.” How did you get the name? 

Jason: I had just moved to New York. This was 5 or 6 years ago. I didn’t know anyone or anything and was broke beyond shit. I was working at an archive of a well-known photographer at the time, dealing with numerous museums and estates. Including the Dali Fundacio, the TATE Modern, and the MoMA.

Every day I would ride the train a little more than an hour north to the Upper West Side of Manhattan and be transported to this strange bubble of wealth and magic. In the evenings, without money or company, I would walk down Manhattan taking pictures and jotting down notes, trying to find food and take in as much as I could. Sort of like a sponge. When I got back to my apartment near Coney Island I would write and work off of everything I’d consumed. Regurgitating everything I had seen and absorbed.

That was in 2007. The same year I had befriended a woman who lived in the Dakota building on 72nd Street. We met through a mail-art project I had started. It involved sending letters I wrote to random addresses. An artist I met at my work, Donna Ferrato, had a show opening on the East Side. I invited the woman from the Dakota to go with me.

We walked up and down Fifth Avenue on one of those magical nights where the ebb and flow of the city seems to work concurrently with one’s own feelings.

It was getting late. We walked back across the park, towards the West Side. It started to rain. While beginning to hold her hand, she said the exact same thing I was thinking- how everything, in the rain, at the right moment, with the right light, can cause things to sparkle.

Rewind two decades. I’m a child. My mom, an immigrant, implants in my head the word “sprinkles” in association with rainfall. 2007: I’m walking in the park again with the woman in the rain. Sprinkles. And the sparkles that go along with it. Upon arriving at the woman’s house we were joined by a group of her friends.  Suddenly, before me were an enormous amount of kankles. Belonging to men and women alike.

That night, I walked back to my apartment near Coney Island as the sun rose. I sat down and jotted three words quickly: Sprinkles, Sparkles, Kankles.

They sort of fell into each other. And described a personal moment in time while also being humorous, something I very much liked. The name sort of stuck and I’ve been making zines and other things inspired by those impressions ever since.

Rae: Describe the process within yourself when creating a new piece? And how do you decide the medium, since you do all kinds of art?

Jason: I’ve always had problems sleeping, either sleeping too much or not enough. When I’m alone, hungry and at my most tired is when I work the best, usually right before the sun comes up until 1 or 2pm. Sort of from about 2am to 2pm. A nice 12 hours. My friend Rhode calls it the Vampire Schedule.

Process wise, I kind of just put everything I’m working with in front of me. And sort of overwork till there’s too much, and then deconstruct everything from there.

It’s like constructing the tallest building in the world then realizing you just wanted a small house. Reusing and re-appropriating all the previous materials. Like compressing a large wad of coal into a diamond.

As for medium, each one dictates to me when to work with it. I don’t steal anymore. I used to when I was younger. But I’ve stopped completely since then. Since I don’t have much, I work with whatever is around me, and with whatever new tools I acquire. So it’s usually what’s around me that decides how I work and interact with it.

Rae: I really love your process of documentation. You’re very meticulous. And I mean that in a good way.

Jason: I’ve always thought I was gonna die young. I don’t want to forget anyone or anything that I’ve been or have come in contact with, no matter how much I run away. And just as a photograph can contain within its image the details of a moment, I’m just trying to catch as much as I can with as much as I can.

Rae: Would you say you challenge society’s normal mode of thinking with your work?

Jason: There’s this Jackie Chan movie called Who Am I. The whole movie is pretty amazing. I haven’t seen it since I was a little kid though, so by now it might be awful. Throughout the whole movie there’s all of this amazing stuff going on. I think at one point he slides down a building and fights some guys in wooden shoes. Amazing. The only bad part of the movie, from what I remember, is when he gets up on a ledge and screams the title of the movie to the world: “Whoooooooo aaaammmmmmm I?!”

That’s all a side exposition leading to this- I don’t really ever try to question what I’m doing, or who it’s for. I don’t really think of society, either as a challenge or an entity. The same way a flower or plant doesn’t really think of people. The two just sort of coexist and somehow indirectly inform the other. It’s not that I’m ignorant. It’s more that I’m arrogant enough to think that I can ignore society. Without having to conform to whatever norm is floating around right now

Rae: Do you predetermine meaning or does it arrive later in your work?

Jason: I feel like anyone can make anything mean something. From a can of soup, to an empty frame, to a blank black canvas shared between three friends. I can only inject myself and my own meaning into something, so that it speaks to me.  If it ends up speaking to someone else then that is all the more reason to continue.

For me, sometimes the end will come before the beginning of something I’m working on. So I’ll work my way towards that end.

Although, more often than not, that end changes. I used to see everything I did as an exorcism of whatever ailed me at the moment. A sort of therapy. But I don’t really think about it that much anymore.

I just know that everything I do, and attach my name to, means something to me. Because only I could have done it- as good or as bad as it is. People always judge everything and everyone around them. That’s the sad way that we associate things with one another. But no one judges me and my actions more than me.

So it’s sort of like this interview- do I choose to be serious and pose a question? Or do I answer with whatever comes into my head? Or do I pretend to be happy when I’m sad or whatever it is? The meaning of something is derived from its core. And whether it’s a piece of plastic or a novel, everything has a core. Some just burn brighter than others.

Rae: Do you leave the conversation open ended in your art work or is your work more of a controlled study of conversation? For example, when starting a work, do you feel you are designing an experimental study that leads to a hypothesis or do you leave it open to move in any direction?

Jason: I think my real answer to this question would be much too long and kind of incoherent. The short of it is that I just don’t really care. Not in a “fuck you” type of way. It’s just that my thoughts never really collide with those questions while I’m working. I just need to do what I do and I’m doing it. It’s as simple as that.

Rae: Looks like you’ve been very productive. How many hours a day do you create?

Jason: Sometimes I’ll work 48 hours straight. Sometimes I’ll work 48 minutes. It usually depends on my mood and the amount of information I’ve absorbed. It’s impossible to describe without sounding like a douche. But I create when I can. Not when the time is available. But when I am mentally able to do so. I harness whatever is around me. That said, Mr. Miller once wrote, “Whenever you can’t create, you can always work.” So I always do.

Each object, whether tangible or not, each creation, comes from work. You can’t really get away from it. So, I can have thoughts and ideas and dreams, but if they aren’t actuated and acted upon they stay as dreams. It takes work to do something. So more than creating it is a process of working.

I would love to just lay in bed all day and think of all the amazing things I could and should do. But there comes a point when you have to get out of the covers and go outside. And turn all the notes and ideas, in whatever pad or notebook, into actualities. Otherwise they’re just dreams and ideas that never came to be. It’s sort of like masturbation. And, while that might be ok sometimes, there’s no substitute for the real thing.

Rae: What do you consistently draw inspiration from?

Jason: Cities and their structure. And how that structure integrates a place and its people. The repetition of images alongside one another. Jenny. Friends and strangers. (I’m kind of just typing down everything that’s coming to my head.) Burritos are inspirational at certain moments. A hug. Views from an airplane window. A high five from Rhode.

Rae: Any books that you’ve been reading that have taken your breath away? Inspired your projects.

Jason: Ever since I got it a few years ago, there’s no book I go back to reread and look over more than Memories of a Dog.

Rae: When you’ve got a creative block, how do you get yourself out of it?

Jason: Work.

Rae: Heard you’ve lived in many different cities. Which cities inspired you most and why?

Jason: The past few years have afforded me the ability to have a sort of irregular square formation of living in this country. Being homeless and going from Los Angeles to San Francisco to New York to Miami, with little spurts of scenery in Canada, Japan, Taiwan and Mexico.

Out of all of those places, I feel most at home in New York but each one gives its own inspiration in some way. San Francisco will always remind me of my sister and the sometimes frustrating, but always incredible and inspirational, relationship I’m grateful and glad to have with her. Miami is a sort of bounce house for me.

Having some of the most talented and good-spirited friends I know of, Los Angeles is like an unorganized playground of a place where the rides don’t too often work. But when they do it’s worth it. And New York, always my home even if I don’t have a home there, has everything I could hate and hope for all in one place.

Rae: Any upcoming new projects in progress that we can look forward to seeing soon? Any shows or traveling on your calendar this year?

Jason: I’m planning a show with my friend Sasha Grey in the near future. And I’m organizing and exhibiting a photo project and documentary I created while going out to Japan a week after the earthquake last year. And I’m working on a series of books which should hopefully start to trickle out at the end of this year along with a few other goodies.

Rae: Sounds great to check out! And you’ve done some collaborations with other artists in the past, but what motivates you to connect and build relationships through the art making process?

Jason: Some things require more than one person to get done and any moment or opportunity to be able to work with one of my friends is a welcome one.

Rae: Any artists that you would be happy to collaborate within the near future?

Jason: More friends or talented strangers.

Rae: What do you like most about the art surrounding you in San Francisco/bay area?

Jason: Lulu and Nae Nae, Tranny Karaoke night at Aunt Charlie’s. The homeless guy that pulled out his tooth and gave it to my sister. Evan, Amanda, Chelsea’s flannel. Matt, Nisan, Raymond Brown, Keiko, Ray, Austin, Pardee, Monica and Harrison. Green Apple, Kayo, Los Coyotes’ buy one get one free Wednesday burrito special. The guy who screams “you got a quarter” to people on the street. And everyone and everything that hates or hugs me.

Rae: What type of music or bands are you listening to right now if any?

Jason: I’m responding to these questions at this moment while listening to a group of songs I heard while falling in love with my friend at a goth party. I don’t know if that’s embarrassing, honest, or both.

Rae: Finally, what has been your most exciting moment as an artist?

Jason: Buying my parents dinner and paying more than “just the tip”.

Rae: This wraps up the interview. Thank you, Jason! Gonna definitely be seeing your work around I’m sure!

Jason: Thanks.

Check out his website: Jason Jaworski

The images throughout this interview are from Jason’s recent photo project documenting cities along with vernacular images and found photographs.

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Keith Smith, Book By Book

Keith Smith, Book By Book is and exhibit at Bruce Sivlerstein Gallery, New York.

Keith Smith has been creating books as works of art since the 1960s, yet he has rarely shown his work to the public over the past twenty-five years.

He designs books that allow the viewer to experience and question the structure and nature of the book itself—his works are often radical departures from traditional books made of string or covered in fabric, they unfold, light-up, do not open, are unbound, or punched full of holes. Each piece is an opportunity for the viewer to expand his or her own expectations for a book and physically engage with the imagery or text.

For Smith, his work is a form of creative articulation whereby the act of making the book—the binding, printing method, page materials and textures that comprise the form, content and structure of the book are chosen to most adequately express the artist’s original inspiration or personal challenge.

While a single book might be guided by one idea or one particular interest, when the viewer examines the artist’s complete body of work—currently over 280 books—images of certain people and places reappear, and Smith’s voice begins to emerge. His works address the recurring themes of love and desire and reveal the artist’s efforts to reckon with his sexual identity.

Keith was educated at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and the Institute of Design at the Illinois Institute of Technology. He has taught at the Visual Studies Workshop, the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and the University of Illinois. He is a recipient of two Guggenheim Fellowships, and a National Endowment of the Arts grant and a Pollock/Krasner Foundation grant.

His work is in the collections of the Art Institute of Chicago; Center of Creative Photography, University of Arizona; Fogg Art Museum, Harvard University; International Museum of Photography at the George Eastman House; Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; Museum of Modern Art, New York; The Getty Museum, Los Angeles; and the Victoria and Albert Museum, London among others.

He has authored nine books on bookmaking, among them; 200 Books, An Annotated
Bibliography, published by Keith Smith BOOKS, First Edition, May 2000; Books without Paste or Glue, Non-Adhesive Binding Volume I, The Sigma Foundation, Inc., 1991; and Structure of the Visual Book, First Edition, The Sigma Foundation, 198.

Courtesy of Bruce Silverstien Gallery. Exhibit runs till January 7, 2012.

www.keithsmithbooks.com

www.brucesilverstein.com