Sunday, February 04, 2007

Art Space Talk: Fraser Taylor

I recently interviewed artist Fraser Taylor. Mr. Taylor instructs art at The School of The Art Institute of Chicago. He has been an Adjunct Assistant Professor for the Department of Fiber and Material Studies and now serves as a Visiting Artist. Fraser has exhibited and lectured in Britain, Europe, USA and the Far East.

Fraser is known for his large drawing-based abstract collages. He combines his knowledge of form and composition with his skill in paint, ink, fabric, wire and tape to create works of art that are intriguing to the trained eye.

Fraser's recent solo exhibit- Reverse Transcriptase- at the Hyde Park Art Center (Loope Gallery, Chicago). Was a great success. The exhibit caused a stir in the Chicago scene. The exhibit included his largest drawings to date. The title refers to an enzyme, most commonly used by retroviruses such as HIV.

Q. When did you first discover that art would be an important part of your adult life?

A. "When I was about 7 years old."

Q. How has society influenced your art? Are there any social implications in your art?

A. "A recent drawing project, installed in the Cook County Administration Building, Chicago, Illinois, referenced an enzyme, Reveres Transcriptase, which is most commonly used by retroviruses such as HIV that transcribes single stranded RNA into double stranded DNA. This project invoked my infatuation with mortality and the prevalence of accelerated life processes in modern society."

Q. On average, how long does it take you to create a piece?

A. "Any thing from 1 minute to 2 years."

Q. Can you share some of your philosophy about art and artistic creation?

"A. Good art is art that makes the viewer return to the world different."

Q. Has your art ever been published?

A. "My work has been reviewed in, Chicago Sun Times, Chicago Tribune, Chicago Time out, The Japan Times, Arts Review, Newsweek."

Q. What was your most important exhibition? Care to share that experience?

A. "My most important exhibition was, "Graft", MN Gallery, Chicago, 2004. It was the first time I exhibited my work outside of a commercial gallery system. Not having the restraints and pressures of having to sell work was liberating and enabled me to take larger physical and conceptual risks and show a combination of practices in one exhibition."

Q. Do you have any 'studio rituals'? As in, do you listen to certain types of music while working? What helps to get you in the mood for working?

A. "I work in silence. I do not like any distraction. Looking at the work of other artists always inspires me."

Q. If you could pinpoint the characteristics of people who collect your art, what would they be?

A. "I am always surprised at the diversity of people who collect my work."

Q. Discuss one of your pieces. What were you thinking when you created it?

A. "The above mentioned work, "Reverse Transcriptase" (image above), was my largest drawing project to date. The two drawings, 19 x 15 feet, sat opposite each other in the lobby of a public building in down town Chicago. The drawings are collaged together and incorporated various media, including charcoal, graphite, oil, tape, wire and cloth. The drawing process confronts the particularities of the materials employed, whether they are borrowed from popular, indigenous or alien contexts and how those materials are assembled into socio-cultural narrative structures."

Q. Where did you attend art school?

A. "I have a MA from Royal College of Art, London."

Q.Where can we see more of your art?

A. ",, ,,,"

Q. Are you represented by a gallery? Do you have any upcoming exhibits?

A. "Upcoming exhibitions "In Line", Tim Olsen Gallery, Sydney, May 29th, 2007. "Impossible Violence", Hyde Park Art Center, Chicago, October 28th, 2007."

Q. What trends do you see in the 'art world'?

A. "Trends are always cyclical. I am aware of how interest in figurative verses abstract work moves back and forward."

Q. Any tips for emerging artists?

A. "Stay honest to yourself."

Q. Has your work ever been censored? If so, how did you deal with it?

A. ""Reverse Transcriptase" was installed November, 2006. It was almost removed by the building management on the grounds that it was not festive enough. A surprising number of colleagues rallied in support of the installation and persuaded the management to reverse their request."

Q. What was the toughest point in your career as an artist? Have you ever hit rock-bottom?

A. "An artist's career is always a roller coaster of failings and successes. Those extremes are often hard to deal with."

Q. In one sentence... why do you create art?

A. "Making art is my way of staying connected to world events."

Q. What can you tell our readers about the art scene in your area?

A. "The Chicago art scene is particularly supportive of young emerging artists. There are many approachable alternative exhibition venues."

Q. Has politics ever entered your art?

A. "Over the past few years I have been developing a line of inquiry that examines various borders and boundaries, both actual and theoretical, of cultures, races, lands and bodies."

I hope that you have enjoyed my interview with Fraser Taylor. Feel free to critique or discuss his work.
Take care, Stay true,
Brian Sherwin

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