Unedited conversations between artist in a productive critique discovering thesis and processes behind the work.
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Conversation between Galen Bradley and Olivia Ramos.
BRADLEY: hey I'm ready when you are
RAMOS: Hi Galen
So happy to be in a conversation with you.
It's been so long.
It's been a while!
How are you doing?
I am well - how about you? How is grad school going?
It's a little stressful because I am about to install my work for the thesis show, which opens on Friday.
Does that mean you are graduating?
How was your experience overall?
It's hard to unpack since I am still in the thick of it. Two years is a very short and condensed time to be engaged in an academic setting.
A lot has shifted.
You basically go to grad school to get a bunch of different voices, ones that you wouldn't hear if you were by yourself in the studio.
It's been a whirlwind.
And in what fundamental ways have you shifted.
Although it is super obvious in your work - at least from our last conversation in 2014.
Two major things happened: one was slowly coming to grips with the fact that painting is not like drawing with color... which is actually obvious.
But being forced to confront the materiality of paint was somehow a new consideration... and the focus on color.
In my final critique last year I was confronted with just how bad my color sense was, and how much stronger my drawing/printing skills were.
In comparison to my paintings.
I resented that gap and almost gave up on painting completely.
But i spent July in Maine painting from life on a farm
and removed all notion of content.
The content was provided for me in the landscape.
So i just focused on actually painting and color.
So you gave up the movie theme
In fact, it's still very present.
But i realized that film's influence is very deep seated in the way i perceive and process the world.
The POV of the camera is still present in much of my work. I sent you some examples that included vertical paintings, but most of my paintings use the horizontal format, usually with dimensions that evoke cinema screens.
But now my work has more to do with presence, or "presentness".
I have this desire to be present, but if i engage with world as a camera, viewing the world like film, i become a non actor.
Painting has become that tangible thing in my life, proof that i have agency.
I like the way you are headed.
I'm not sure if the film foundation was holding you back.
But this idea of being present in the work is very powerful.
Yeah film as specific content was definitely getting in the way, or more that I was a really a frustrated filmmaker
but i had this realization that film had shaped me to essentially be a voyeur in my own life.
I felt this separation, i guess you could call it mediation
and that had to with mind feeling like a physical separate entity, and that i was staging things, framing them in the cinematic language I had internalized.
But in a way you were also isolating.
And perhaps missing out on the real experience of it.
Or not allowing yourself to feel it
It felt like i was missing out and i was very frustrated.
I wanted the "real" experience.., but i didn't know what that meant.
I've become obsessed with this failure.
I wondered if painting would somehow help.
Painting keeps you present, while you are in front of the canvas, but also with the subject. You are physically connecting to the subject, but still are removed.
It seems to mirror that failure of connection.
The painted thing is not the thing itself, and in the process of painting, you are still not actively engaged in the world.
It is one more barrier.
If that makes sense.
I'm not sure - the subject might not exist at all and you can be just as engaged.
It is really up to you.
It is you and the subject on your painting.
The film gets between you and your painting. And nothing should.
I'm not sure your connection with the world is as important as the connection between you and the painting.
Isolating from the world may or may not affect your painting.
But isolating from the painting itself .. not sure, that makes me uncomfortable for some reason.
I agree, and I would say that my time here has been trying to resolve that isolation from painting itself.
I've learned that the specific subject is not as crucial.
I'm curious why you are uncomfortable with it.
Well there are no rules so if you want to paint as if you were making film perhaps that can be successful.
And likewise there have been films that have been made like paintings I'm sure.. But there is something strange in the misappropriation. Something missing in each case.
There is a breath of depth one can reach with painting and unless you are fully engage whatever painting is, then there is a cap to how deep you can go. And maybe that's what makes me uncomfortable.
The practice is in the reconnecting back to as as much as possible.
I don't think it is possible to "stay" there.
But it is possible to be in it often enough to feel the difference.
And i would argue that anything can be a bubble.
This idea that "real life" is going to start after school is very inaccurate. In my opinion.
You'll go from one bubble to another. Until you realize that it's all the same thing. Like a treadmill. You are always on it.
haha yes i agree. It might not be any different than moving for a new job.
But school is artificial in the sense that life as a practicing artist will not be like this...no one will be knocking on your studio door.
Well, at leas potentially.
I disagree. People will knock on your door if you develop a practice of having people over.
And going over to other artist studios.
School is a template you can take with you.
Yes and it is your job to take that practice with you.