Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Art Space Talk: Carla Falb (Part 3)

Roller Coaster Series: Nitro by Carla Falb
This is Part 3 of my interview with Carla Falb. To read Part 2 click, HERE
Brian Sherwin: Carla, what are your thoughts concerning the internet and utilizing the World Wide Web in order to gain exposure for your art? In your opinion, why is it important for artists to embrace the Internet?

Carla Falb: When I began making art, in order to gain exposure, we had to take slides, which meant: hanging a black backdrop on the wall, lighting the work so there would be no glare, bracketing the shots, finding a studio that would process slide film, then selecting the best slides to have duplicates made. After making the slides we would need to label them – either with fine tipped Sharpies or clear address labels cut to size, and then finally mail our information out to galleries and competitions. So much has changed in so little time!

Now with digital photography and the opportunity to post our work on sites like My Art Space – the world has opened up for artists. People from all over the world have the opportunity to view our work! Through My Art Space, we can connect with other artists that have similar interests. I also know that I don’t feel nearly so isolated with my art making as when I wasn’t connected to the World Wide Web. I have a sense that people are interested in my work and want to see more.

BS: Will you be involved with any upcoming exhibits?

CF: As a matter of fact, I happy to say that I was just selected as one of twenty artists that will be exhibiting their work in the Spring Exhibition at the NYAXE Gallery in Palo Alto, California. Selected drawings and paintings from my Roller Coaster Series will be displayed digitally.
Roller Coaster Series: Viper Triptych by Carla Falb

BS: There has been several stories involving copyright infringement in the mainstream press as of late. What is your stance on copyright? Do you see strong copyright as a reflection of artist rights in general? Or do you feel that copyright restricts creativity? Do you have a stance on this issue?

CF: When I decided that I wanted to use roller coaster structures in my artwork, it occurred to me that I could just use images that I would be able to find online and in published books. However, even if I combined and transformed the images to make them my own, to get around the copyright laws, it simply felt unethical and phony – like trying to pass off someone else’s experiences as my own.
In addition, I decided that perhaps most importantly, I wanted viewers to have a visceral reaction when looking at my work – to actually feel as if they are on an endless ride. I realized that if I wanted to create this experience for my viewers, I would have to go to amusement parks, wait in line, ride the coasters, sit in the front car, and take my own photos – an industrialized/pop version of J. M. W. Turner’s habit of riding out storms at sea.
On the other hand, what about work that is about the mass media and our popular culture? Can you imagine if Andy Warhol hadn’t deliberately used copyrighted photos? His famous image of Marilyn Monroe was originally a publicity shot by Gene Korman for the film Niagara, made in 1953. Did Shepard Fairey do anything that different from Warhol when he used an Associated Press photo as a basis for his recent “Hope” portrait of President Obama? The following link is to a Washington Times article explaining the suits and counter-suits between Fairey and the Associated Press:

When considering the question of copyright infringement, it’s also essential to look at the work of contemporary representational painter, Damian Loeb, who uses movie stills as source material. At the beginning of his career he was involved in several lawsuits because of his use of copyrighted images. Currently he is considered one of the preeminent Post-Modern representational painters and is represented by the prestigious Acquavella Gallery in New York.
There is an excellent article on Loeb’s website by Charles Giuliano that mentions the suits and describes Loeb’s commitment to film as a resource for his paintings:

On the Acquavella website Loeb explains his choice of using images from films: www.acquavellagalleries.com/artists/damian-loeb/

Do I have a stance on these copyright issues? I imagine the simple answer is that it depends on the artists’ intent. I agree with Shepard Fairey when he explains that artists’ use photos of public figures for “reference as a part of social commentary should not be stifled.” When copying serves a higher purpose, it seems ethical, and in some cases, essential to the meaning of an artists’ work.
Roller Coaster Series: Medusa by Carla Falb

BS: As you know, the economy has been hard. Have you had to change-- or should I say adapt-- your practice due to the economy?

CF: Actually, the economy has always been an issue for me. Rather than placing my career as a painter first, I’ve been teaching in public schools for twenty-two years to earn a steady income and that job has always come first as far as prioritizing my time. As a consequence, most of my artwork has been accomplished over the summer. On a positive note, my work with students gives me so much fulfillment and joy; it has played a huge role defining my identity and giving my life purpose.

BS: Finally, is there anything else you would like to say about your art?

CF: Look for some new work this fall on My Art Space and on my website: www.carlafalb.com. I plan on having a productive summer!

This concludes my interview with Carla Falb. To return to Part 1 click, HERE

Take care, Stay true,

Brian Sherwin
Senior Editor
Myartspace Blog on Twitter

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