Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Artist Interview: Erica Schreiner

What is your name: Erica Schreiner (dot com)

Do you have a formal art education or are you a self taught artist: I went to art school when I was in Portland (The Art Institute of Portland) and it was great. The school itself taught me some technical aspects, what to do with tools, etc., but real creativity can’t be taught. The most important things I gained were from the time spent, out of class with the other artists.

I have a memory of Tim, Dehlia, Dave and I. These were other art-kids I met in school. We picked up one of those cheap jugs of wine, split the cost, and went back to Dave’s studio apartment. We threw a large piece of raw canvas in the center of the room and took turns splashing paint, or whatever we could find on it. We were shouting about revolution, and by the end of the night, bleeding onto the canvas and pissing back into the empty jug. Those things, just being allowed to explore your creativity, without any rules, are the most important things I gained in those years.

What is the style of your pieces: I hope no one answers this like, “Surrealism.” Look, I’m not going to be one of these people that’s like, I can’t be defined. I’m just too crazy, or whatever. That’s silly. But, I’m also not consciously seeking out a style and trying to stay within it’s parameters. I’m not going to let a style define my work, how about that? I love to create things that are beautiful and complex. I love to create things that have meaning to me and that leave a little interpretation open to the viewer. I love to create things that show the beauty in sadness.

What is the medium in which you work: “Pictures came and broke your heart... video killed the radio staaar, video killed the radio staaaaar!” I’m a video artist, writer, performer, you name it. In front of the camera, behind the camera, you know.

What started you on your path as an artist: Depression. Maybe that’s not what got me started creating paintings at age five, but that’s certainly what continued me down the path as a creative in my adult life. Spending the majority of my life sad, and realizing that when it ends, you just die and then it’s all over, what else could I do but try to make something to leave behind? It might sound generic, but some people have religion, alcoholism, children, whatever. For me, making art justifies my existence.

What is one of the most important things that art has brought to your life: Hm. My answer is so close to the one above. I guess I could pick out individual traumatic instances in my life that have inspired me to create, but we all have those. If you look at my work, you’ll see them. It’s another way to try to make sense of experiences I don’t understand.

What is your favorite genre of art besides the one you work in: I really love musicals BECAUSE when you’re feeling blue, watch Singing in the Rain or Mary Poppins and it will surely make you feel better. The only bummer thing, I’ve never seen a musical on Broadway because tickets are so expensive. Even the back row seats are like two hundred bucks. I hate that art can be so bourgeois that I can’t afford to go! But I guess I’m glad the artists are getting paid. Someday!

Do you have art showings, and if so what are they typically like: I’ve shown my work on screens in galleries, projected on walls outside, and even played in movie theatres, which is probably my favorite venue, because the lights are off and you can’t really see people reacting to the film until it’s over. There is all this anticipation throughout watching your own work with an audience. You wonder if it’s good enough or if people will like it. Then of course, there are the parts that are like, “Ha! We’re all in the same room watching this weird thing I’m doing!”

I’ve also created 45 min long video installations that loop in clubs. That’s more of a party environment. Everyone’s drunk and usually excited about my work, but there is always the occasional asshole that tries to tell you what he would have done differently. And to me, it’s like, if it’s up and playing, I’m done with it.

Do you have a certain set of clothes you make art in: When I’m at home in front of the computer editing or writing or something, I’m usually in my underwear, but if I’m performing on camera, I just try to find the cutest thing I own and wear it. Usually vintage, but I’m sort of obsessed with Rebecca Taylor right now.

What has been the most frustrating part of being an artist? The whole thing. Can I say that? No. Okay, it’s like this: You realize the most important thing is creating art, you have to do it to stay alive, blah, blah, blah. You’ll die if you don’t. And you realize that you can’t have a day job like everyone else. Someone else’s successful career is still a day job to the artist if they’re not making their art. So, I could be a curator or a well-paid graphic designer. It doesn’t mater if I’m not making my art. So, most people get to find a career and peruse it, and that’s that.

Well, the artist has to make money to live while trying to create. Balance the day job with finding time to create. Of course, while you’re at your day job, every single moment is spent thinking of how, one day you’ll get out there and flip everyone off with both hands because you’ve finally got your big break.

All your friends think you’re a total snob because your dreams and aspirations are so much “higher” than theirs. You can say they’re just different, but people that really know you know that you’d never settle for their lives. And there is no nice way to put that.

You’re starving, pissed off, sleepless and your friends all hate you. You search for other artists to be friends with, but you can’t be real friends with an artist whose art you don’t respect. Those artists are so rare to find! But, once you do find an artist and both of you respect each other’s work, you both are competitive and never fully trust each other.

Oh, and you get calls from your parents once a week, asking you why you don’t just leave New York and come back to Oregon. :)

What is your favorite sandwich of all time: Ferdinand in Peirre Le Fou says, “I'm glad I don't like spinach, because if I did then I would eat it, and I can't stand the stuff.”

Has this year brought about any changes in your work, and if so what are they: Yeah. Every year changes you if you’re listening. This year I was ripped to shreds and I try to put back the pieces, and come out of it a bit better than before. Perhaps with more scars, but hopefully better. And hopefully those searches and discoveries come through in my work.

Who is your favorite artist alive or dead: I have a million. I love Cindy Sherman, or any artist that’s willing to dress up in a million outfits. Wynne Greenwood. Vera Chytilova. Andy and Edie. Maya Deren.

What is the most moving piece of artwork that you have seen in person: “Subway” by George Tooker. It’s part of the permanent collection at the Whitney. It’s amazing. I could stare at it forever, and have.

Do you have any animals, and what do they think of your work: Marcel, my all white cat has been in some of my work. He’s gets pretty freaked out on camera, but he’ll be a sport if you hold him very tightly.

Do you have any upcoming exhibitions you would like to share with us: I’ll be part of the art show in Kingston, NY at the T-Shirt Factory on June 5th, that’s next weekend. I have a film festival screening coming up and hopefully a gallery thing. I do sporadic performances and readings, as well as collaborative work with other artists. If you want to stay informed about any of this, find me on (ugh) facebook.



If you are an artist and would like to be featured email sivy221@aol.com

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