Viva Bang Bang

Artist Feature [ Grace Eunmi Lee ]

Brittany TaylorComment
Grace Eunmi Lee Interview // Viva Bang Bang

Grace Eunmi Lee, born and raised in Seoul, Korea, is a ceramist who has been working with clay for 11 years and now lives in Ontario. Her work reflects her interest in the mundane parts of life that are unnoticed and seemingly insignificant. Large scale installations such as her 2012 work titled "Dust", are made up of minute ceramic creatures which represent the microscopic particles that comprise ordinary, ubiquitous dust. 

In addition to her installations, Grace also has a collection of small, ceramic pieces available in the excellently curated, online shop SuiteHazen and will be displaying 4 of her espresso cups in an upcoming show in Seattle. 

I'm very excited to share Grace's interview with you and hope you enjoy discovering her wonderful talent as much as I did. 

Grace Eunmi Lee Interview // Viva Bang Bang
Grace Eunmi Lee Interview // Viva Bang Bang

1. Tell us a little about your background and how you got started in ceramics.

I was enrolled in art classes throughout grade school and high school, but it was in my undergraduate studies in university when I first encountered ceramics. My major in my undergraduate studies was Craft Design. I then went on to study ceramics further in graduate school. 

2. Do you remember the first time you ever worked with clay? Did you know immediately that it was the medium you wanted to concentrate on working with?

I started in ceramic as a student in my university. I remember how I enjoyed my first ceramic class. I made a lot of dishes and cups.

I didn't know immediately that clay would be my medium of choice because I didn't want to limited myself to a particular medium as an artist. But as I created more and more out of clay I realized that it was the medium that I connected with the best.

Grace Eunmi Lee Interview // Viva Bang Bang
Grace Eunmi Lee Interview // Viva Bang Bang

3. What’s next for you and your work? Will you continue exploring microorganisms with your creatures or will you explore something else entirely?

I want to continue to develop as an installation artist. I hope to have an opportunity to have projects that would result in permanent installations. I don't see me changing my theme/concept in the near future. I still have many ideas I want to explore.

4. You’ve had exhibitions in South Korea, China and Canada. Do you have any upcoming shows in the United States?

I have an upcoming show in Seattle. It's a small cup show with international ceramic artist. I will exhibit 4 of my espresso cups.

Event Details:

Seward Park Clay Studio and KOBO Gallery Simple Cup 2014
Showcasing ceramic artists from North America and Japan 
Opening event:  Saturday, November 1, 2014

Grace Eunmi Lee Interview // Viva Bang Bang

5. What’s the best part of being an artist in Ontario?

I love the diversity in Toronto. I find the diversity helps inspire new ideas and shapes. It also allows me the privilege of sharing my art with all kinds of different audiences. It gives me the opportunity to get a good mix of feedback from different perspectives.

6. You’ve said before that you’re interested in microorganisms and that the creatures you create and use to comprise your larger compositions represent the small particles of life that are often overlooked. Do you draw inspiration from things other than the overlooked particles of life?

I get inspiration from everything around me. Whether is something I see, hear, touch, taste, or feel, it can become an inspiration.

7. How many individual creatures would you say you’ve created (approximately) in your 11 years as a ceramist?

It's hard to say as I haven't really kept count, but I'd guess over 15,000 pieces.

Grace Eunmi Lee Interview // Viva Bang Bang
Grace Eunmi Lee Interview // Viva Bang Bang

8. What other contemporary artists do you admire?


9. Who (if anyone) has had the greatest impact on your career as an artist? (It could be someone who inspired you to pursue art, someone who helped you with your first show, etc.)

Melanie Egan (Head of Craft at Harbourfront Centre) and Patrick Macaulay (Head, Visual Arts at Harbourfront Centre) have had the biggest impact on my professional career as an artist. They were the first people to recognize my talents and give me the opportunity start my career as an artist in Canada. It's through the artist in residence program at the Harbourfront Centre that I started to blossom as a professional artist. They taught me a lot during the past three years, and it's because of my experience at the Harbourfront Centre that I am where I am now.

10. Do you have ambitions outside of being an artist? A lot of people have recreational time that is separate from their work, but for creatives, that line between work and play seems to get blurred. Is creating what you do for fun or do you also have a passion for say, cooking or horseback riding?

I like craft in general, so I like to participate in activities that allow me to exercise my creativity. That can be cooking, knitting, or anything really.

11. Can you tell us more about your new line with SuiteHazen? What led to this collaboration and can we expect more product lines like this from you in the future?

I wouldn't say it's a collaboration, but certainly a great partnership. Working with SuiteHazen has provided me with a great outlet to reach out to the European market with someone who has a strong background in marketing. I hope that we can share in each other's success and help each other succeed further.

*Images via the artist's website and SuiteHazen

To read more about Grace and see more of her work visit her website here.

Want to add one of Grace's pieces to your art collection? (I did!), visit SuiteHazen.


Artist Feature [ Karen O'Neil ]

Brittany TaylorComment
Karen O'Neil Painting

If I'm honest, the idea of a still life painting does not usually excite me. Having had to draw and paint many scenes filled with cups and assorted fruit sitting on fabric as an art student, I grew a bit tired of them. But I'm here to tell you that my love for the age-old still life has been renewed! How could it not be after seeing these paintings by Karen O'Neil? The cheery colors and use of light are truly exquisite. I believe any one of these bright paintings would liven up even the dullest of rooms. 

Karen, who has been teaching at the Woodstock School of Art since 1990, leads painting workshops and offers online critiquing services for artists that cannot commit their time to a weekly class. Karen kindly shared her response to my interview questions in essay format below. I hope you enjoy reading about her life as an artist as much as I did!

Karen O'Neil lemon still life

Becoming a painter had a lot to do with nature/nurture! Several members of my family are talented visual artists. I believe there is a genetic component – in my case, at least! My Dad was very talented, although never had any formal art training. My parents valued, and nurtured talent.

When my older brother James began drawing at an early age, my parents found an artist nearby to provide him with private art lessons. James went to art school on scholarship, and is a successful painter. His work can be found here. While he was in art school, he would let me tag along on trips to the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. I learned a lot, and more importantly, became inspired.

Karen O'Neil Still Life Painting

Following in James footsteps, I went off to art school after high school, intent on becoming an illustrator. I loved the first foundation year of art school – drawing, drawing, and more drawing, and pulling all nighters to finish projects for 2D & 3D design. The second year proved more challenging as I entered the illustration department at what was then called the Philadelphia College of Art.

I was passionate about the drawing classes, but had a really difficult time with narrative story telling with my drawing. I found myself skipping classes and going to the Philadelphia Museum of Art, where I would stand for hours in front of some small and exquisite Vuillard and Bonnard paintings. At some point before that year ended, I realized that light, color, form, and painting issues were my subject, so I came home to Massachusetts and transferred to Mass. College of Art. Fortunately, I found myself in George Nick’s painting class – which was exactly what I needed at the time. I still hear George’s voice sometimes when I’m painting – “make that darker!!” I also had the great fortune to study with Henry Hensche in Provincetown one summer. Staying with brother James, who was living in Truro at the time – I would ride my bike to the Cape School, paint colored blocks in the sandpit all day, work at Napi’s restaurant washing dishes until 2am, ride bike back to Truro......and begin early at the Cape Shool the next day! It was great discipline, and exercise. 

Karen O'Neil Interview
Karen O'Neil Still Life

After art school, I worked part time jobs – waitressing, office jobs, etc. I was always painting during the week, and my friends from art school would keep meeting, going to drawing sessions, and painting together.

I met my husband Peter at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum – he had just graduated from art school. We both worked at the museum, and quickly became good friends. We were constantly at art museums, always going to New York & Washington DC. Art and life have been interwoven for us since we met. Eventually, we moved to Woodstock, NY, after participating in an artist residency program here. We both began teaching at the Woodstock School of Art. I‘ve been teaching there since 1990 – and have loved (almost) every minute of it.

Karen O'Neil
Karen O'Neil Fruit Still Life

Having to explain something to another person clarifies things for me, which has helped me in my own work tremendously. I am a hands on kind of teacher. Visual people learn in visual ways, and I do a lot of demos in my classes. I have learned so much from students, which has helped me to become a better teacher. Most of the time, painters struggle with value issues (light & dark), and color relationships, and seeing the big picture.

Orange Still Life Karen O'Neil
Still life painting Karen O'Neil

Knowing when a painting is finished is another issue painters struggle with. When you are “noodlng” a painting (making unneccasary brush strokes, etc....), that’s a sure sign that you need to stop and reflect. When you have communicated your idea, or your feeling – that’s enough. Overworking kills the freshness and spontaneity of a work. 

Karen O'Neil Viva Bang Bang
Pear still life Karen O'Neil

I feel so fortunate to be able to make a living from painting, and teaching painting. I have also seen my own work develop dramatically in the last 15 years. A lot of things seemed to start to come together, and I feel like I’m developing my own visual language. In November, I’ll have some work at Mason Fine Art’s new gallery space in Atlanta.

Karen O'Neil candy still life
green cup still life Karen O'Neil

See more of Karen's inspiring work on her website and be sure to like her facebook page! *All images are property of Karen O'Neil and used with artist's permission. 

Artist Feature [ Kate Long Stevenson ]

Brittany TaylorComment
Kate Long Stevenson

It's hard for me to describe exactly how Kate Long Stevenson's bright, gestural paintings make me feel. Happy? Giddy? Like I'll never be able to tear my eyes away and look at anything else? Surely you feel the same way?

The works created by this South Carolina-based abstract expressionist are rich and full of movement. On her website, it eloquently states that Kate, a life-long lover of music "relies mostly on classical compositions to guide her as she builds a painting, layering chords of color over energetic swirls of charcoal and paint." And oh yea, one of her paintings is in Darius Rucker's bedroom. 

In our interview, Kate shares about her process, the hardest part of being an artist, and the best way to spend 48 Hours in Charleston. 

Kate Long Stevenson
Kate Long Stevenson

When did you first know you would pursue a career as an artist?

I majored in art in college, but it wasn’t until my senior year that I really considered pursuing it as a profession, and it was a few years after that when it became a passion.  

Some artists struggle to find a style while for others it just comes naturally. Did you find your current style of painting early on or did it take some exploration and experimentation?

It took a while to find my style…I always loved abstract work, but felt compelled to paint for a seemingly conservative market.  As an artist, it’s so important to be passionate about your work, so I abandoned whatever I was doing and started experimenting, exploring, and painting for myself vs. a potential client or specific market.  Every so often I have to repeat this process to disconnect from what becomes expected.  

Kate Long Stevenson
Darius Rucker Home

Do you have a dream collaboration?

I think it would be amazing to paint the “scenery” backdrops for a beautiful ballet, a la Helen Frankenthaler  

Kate Long Stevenson

What contemporary artists do you admire?

I am a big fan of Howard Hodgkin, Alex Katz, Chuck Close

Tell us about your process. What's the journey of an idea in your head to the canvas in your studio?

First and foremost, I’m passionate about color and music.  A new piece can begin out of a color combination I admire from a catalogue or a song I liked that day.  I generally have to stick with both to remain focused during the entirety of the process, so it’s got to be interesting to me.  I like to work on large canvases, and begin sketching out the painting with charcoal while listening to loud music.  It can be anything from classical to hip hop, so long as I like that tempo and can interpret the movement onto the canvas.  Even though this initial process is pretty uninhibited, the crazy, gestural marks eventually need to evolve into a composition that makes sense to me.  I subsequently spend more time staring at a painting from ten feet away than I do up at the easel.  The application begins as very physical and immediate and segues into something much more thoughtful and deliberate.  It’s a process of creating balance, adding color, rediscovering the original marks.  An lots and lots of layers.  

Kate Long Stevenson
Kate Long Stevenson

What's the most challenging thing about being an artist?

Biggest challenge:  Having my work make sense to me.  Abstract is so subjective, and there’s a lot of “my kid could paint that” mentality.  So, it’s important to me that the elements of the painting are interesting, balanced…I don’t want it to be or look effortless.  

You've made a successful career as an artist and have been featured in numerous popular publications. What advice do you have for other aspiring creatives?

Why, thank you!  Never paint for the market.  Only paint for yourself.  If not, the work will suffer and you won’t enjoy the experience.  

Kate Long Stevenson
Kate Long Stevenson

What other creative pursuits do you have?

Other creative pursuits… Really my main one—being a mom to two adorable boys! :)   

What's your proudest moment from your artistic career?

Proudest artistic moment:  That’s always evolving.  Anywhere from having a good studio day where everything just clicks, to creating a body of work for a gallery, to hanging along side other artists I really respect, to watching my children delight in their own creative moments...

Kate Long Stevenson
Kate Long Stevenson

If someone is spending 48 hours in Charleston, what should they do/see/eat?

Oooh, GREAT question.  Lest you have a gracious Southern host, Zero George is a fabulous home-away-from home boutique hotel, and just a short walk to King Street.  Charleston Place Hotel is equally convenient and luxurious, and boasts a wonderful spa.  Be sure to pop by Bob Ellis Footwear, Hampden Clothing for women’s fashion, Sugar Snap Pea and Kids on King for children’s clothing, Worthwhile and Vieuxtemp for lovely gifts, and Dulles Designs on Church Street for the most beautiful assortment of fine papers and stationary.  Ann Long Fine Art on Broad Street is a wonderful gallery with gorgeous Realist artists and Otto Neumann monotypes, and Redux Contemporary Art Center on St. Philip Street brings cutting-edge installations to the LowCountry (and is the studio base for numerous local artists, like me!).  

I love to dine at Cru Cafe off of the Market for a delicious lunch in a quintessential Charleston Single home, or Butcher and Bee on Upper King for amazing farm-to-table specials.  The afternoon can be spent meandering through Charleston’s beautiful neighborhoods, and then perhaps a treat at Sugar Bakeshop (the mint chocolate cupcakes and ginger molasses cookies are my favorites).  Dinner. Oh, dinner.  I’m biased in stating that both FIG and The Ordinary are the finest restaurants in the city (or ever), so each night should be dedicated to them.  Stop by Victor’s Social Club for a cocktail…If your visit is over the weekend, check out the Farmer’s Market at Marion Square Saturday morning (and a very entertaining breakdancing show), and be sure to go to Husk for brunch and order their farm-to-table version of the In and Out Burger—divine!  

Kate Long Stevenson
Kate Long Stevenson

Visit Kate's website to see more of her wonderful art. 

*All images via Artist's website and used with permission

Around the World Blog Hop

Brittany Taylor2 Comments

Hello friends! I've been tagged in the Around the World Blog Hop by my friend and fellow blogger, Rachel Dreher of Quiltineering (an awesome quilting blog). The hop is basically a virtual game of tag where the person tagged shares a little about themselves and their blog and then tags three other bloggers that they find inspirational to do the same thing. 

Without further ado, here are my three blogger nominees that you should check out ASAP.

Jenna Puckett of Kitty Cat Stevens

I met Jenna in a book arts class at MTSU several years ago in a book arts class at MTSU. While we talked a bit during class and I enjoyed Jenna's work (and overall awesomeness), we didn't really connect until later when Jenna invited me to a Nashville blogger meet-up. Jenna is smart and creative and blogs about her book binding adventures on her blog, Kitty Cat Stevens.

Lauren Taylor of Lladybird

Lauren and I met at a Nashville blogger meet-up (yep that same one that Jenna invited me to) and I've been a fan of hers ever since. She's incredibly talented and equally as kind. She runs a great blog called Lladybird that chronicles her sewing escapades. 

Kimmie Jones of That Girl in the Wheelchair 

I also met Kimmie at a Nashville blogger meet-up (yea yea same meet-up) and look forward to seeing her at every one I attend. Kimmie is one of the funniest people I've ever met and is very easy to talk to (especially if you like talking about 90's pop culture, documentaries, and other fantastic topics). She shares her musings on her blog that girl in the wheelchair. 

And now, here are my questions/answers.

1. What am I working on?

Currently, I'm working on a top-secret project for my soon-to-be-born niece aka Baby Kraus and am also working on more minimalist embroidered pieces, layered maps, and Artist Features for the blog.

2. Why do I write/create what I do?

I run this blog for the pure joy of it. I genuinely love getting to know contemporary artists and sharing their thoughts and work. 

Thanks again to Rachel for tagging me so that I could share about my work and other wonderful bloggers! 

Artist Feature [ Mina Teslaru ]

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Mina Teslaru

Mina Teslaru has been photographing Coney Island for the past 7 years, creating dreamy scenes that are both cheery and nostalgic. Her colorful, overexposed images filled with tiny people seem like they've captured a miniature set staged just for the photo. 

Originally from Bucharest, Romania, Mina now lives and works in New York City and has graciously shared more about her process, her other creative projects and her thoughts on photography. Check out her interview below!

How do you define your photography in your mind? Is it a passion, a hobby, a calling?

My artwork whether it be photography, painting, collaging or installation is an archive of nostalgic moments, mapping my own displacement in the world. I create instinctively so it’s either all of that or none of it. 

Do you remember the first photo you took of Coney Island? If so, please tell us about it. 

I moved to the states when I was 24 years old.. the New World hit me really hard as something extremely different, there was no comfort in the unfamiliar places. At the time I was living in Long Island and remember hitting the beach soon after my arrival, expecting the seashore to greet me with happy smiling faces, coffee shops, side shows, rides and most importantly crowds and crowds of beach bums looking forward to chat you up or share their life story with you – needless to say that’s not what I found. 

Months later I remember hearing of Coney Island and was bound to go conquer it all and see if it was “all of that” – and it was! That’s when I felt a little closer to home and knew everything will be alright. 

The first ever photo of Coney Island that I loved (I have a huge archive of thousands of them that have never been published) – is Coney Island Beach and it’s a tilt shift because it describes how I feel about this place, a microcosm of happy, jolly beach goers that wouldn’t exchange the Brooklyn Riviera for anything else in the world. 

There’s many ways of looking at Coney Island, some might see the grime and crowded beaches, some might see the colorful characters, some just go there for the rides and the Nathans, I love it because it is such a challenge trying to fit it in the palm of my hand... or lens for that matter.

I love thinking of the guests that stayed at Elephant Hotel, I love trying to image how wonderful it must have been to take a ride on the Parachute Jump. 

Tell us about your process. What sort of tools and equipment do you use? Do you have any rituals that follow when you're out shooting?

I am a very moody person, I have a love hate relationship with my camera. But she’s my only tool and I rarely use tripods I try to make my frames look touristical with a fantastical twist. 


What's next for you and your work?

I would very much like to have the time to experiment more with light installations. I tried my hand at it last year and it was very rewarding. You can see more about it on my website. Transplant, 2013

2D-wise I’d love to do a Circus series and of course continue with my Coney Island Series.

When did you know you wanted to be a photographer?

I still am not sure that’s what I want to be when I grow up... I’ve always said I wanted to be a farmer. 

What other creative outlets do you have?

I make collages out of old photos and I have a rooftop garden in Brooklyn that is very rewarding, creatively. 

Do you have a dream collaboration?

I would have loved to work with Basquiat and Kahlo. 

Other than Coney Island, what inspires you to create?

Colorful towns and villages, crowds of people, things I can’t do.

What's the best thing about being an artist in New York?

It has to be the competition. There’s so much amazing art here, so many incredible artists – the constant envy and jealousy keeps me motivated. 

In all fairness though – NY has its good parts and bad parts. Sometimes I feel like I can’t get out of my head here, like there’s no mind space for anything new. But I think that’s probably the kind of pressure an artist needs sometimes. 


When do you know a photograph you've taken is a good photograph?

Oh gosh... I don’t, really, not for sure. I get a gut feeling sometimes – I love my Coney Island Beach photo but never thought the world would love it so much. It sold a few thousand times already. I don’t know what makes a good photograph, there’s absolutely no thought process at all when I shoot it’s all instinctive! As soon as I start thinking I screw up. Making art for me is like a meditation... the goal is not to have thoughts at all, just feel it.

Who are some of your favorite photographers?

I really like Nick Meek’s work, Franck Bohbot, Julia Margaret Cameron.


What is your favorite photograph? 

It changes a lot but for now it’s Mulberry Street – I think the photographer is unknown and the photo was colorized but how wonderful is that scene? It’s like everyone on that street knows they are being immortalized but they can’t really grasp the concept...