Ariel Baldwin (b. 1992 Memphis,TN) is an artist currently living and working in Chicago,IL. She received her BFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 2014.
What kinds of things are influencing your work right now? I am first always influenced by the materials I choose to use in a construction of the painting. Fabric patterns, sadness, the mechanics of a printer/scanner/copier. I am further influenced by my peers, and musicians, and artists. Recent bodily traumas, allowing myself to reveal my own vulnerability, the physical construction of the structure.
What are some recent, upcoming or current projects you are working on? I tend to work on 3 to 5 paintings at a time. In the time between paintings I’ll make a zine or a collage to get myself into a different headspace. I started making zines as a coping mechanism. These zines hold some of my purest moments of melancholy and despair. I want to be able to fully translate these into my paintings. I’m trying to do this by incorporating text to my paintings, although I do this with extreme caution and often rewrite or otherwise remove the written aspects.
What are some differences between your paintings, collage, and video work? Is there one medium you prefer? The major difference in my collage and in video work is that I allow myself to make jokes; I think that my humor is more accessible in those mediums rather than painting. I try to make funny paintings, but a lot of the time they end up being serious. My paintings have the ability to hold vulnerability, sadness, and strength in a way that I cannot capture in collage or video yet. I want to be able to add humor to my paintings, to balance out the bleak.
What artists are you interested in right now? Kira Scerbin, Alec Hatcher, Kaycee Conaway, Anna Mort, and Marina Miliou Theocharaki are artists that I have known and worked with since I moved to Chicago six years ago. I am continually amazed at the ability of these artists and constantly influenced by them. Their work will always to challenge me in ways I did not think possible.
For the last 8 months I’ve been listening to music with the intent of having that medium influence my work. I almost exclusively listen to music made by women — it wasn’t my intention for this to happen, but it did. The music made by Torres, Waxahatchee, and Julien Baker all have elements that I wish to adapt into my practice. The way that these artists express their vulnerability often leaves me speechless. Their work allows me to sit and take time with my practice; it allows me to be quiet and listen to what I’m doing. I want to evoke the same feelings in my paintings as their music does in me. I’m always trying to make a painting that feels the same way as a moment I heard in one of their songs. This may be impossible, but I’m willing to keep trying.
What do you want a viewer to walk away with after seeing your work? I know that I will never be able to control what the viewer will walk away with after seeing my work. I hope they can walk away with a raw feeling of vulnerability or sadness that I attempt to put in my work. I want them to be able to see parts of themselves in the work and know that they are not alone in what they feel. Because even if we think we are alone, we never are.
What are you reading right now? I am currently reading Kissing Dead Girls by Daphne Gottlieb and forever reading The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath with guilt for reading someone else’s journal.
Describe your current studio or workspace. I share a studio space with Kira Scerbin. This studio was originally Dana DeGiulio’s but when she moved away 2 years ago she invited Alec Hatcher and me to take over the space. When Alec moved a year ago I invited Kira to take his place. The space right now it set up so that Kira and I each have a space to make paintings in, we have a table where Kira makes clothes, and then another table with a printer scanner, copier to make zines on. I never thought I would be able to have a studio space outside my living space and be able to share it with artists that are influential me. I feel very lucky.
Can you share one of the best or worst reactions you have gotten as a result of your work. Last month I had a studio visit with one of my first teachers at SAIC. In the year I had him as a teacher, his class helped me create my first body of work that held any sort of meaning to me. This body of work was dark, heavy, awkward, and sometimes funny. A lot of the time in critiques I was met with silence, but he and a few of my close peers applied the first words to this body of work that would inform my practice now. In this recent studio visit he applied the same words (strong, awkward, sexy, sad, uncomfortable) to my current body of work. I was not expecting this reaction; I wanted to believe that I had evolved from this language of vulnerability. In my past body of works I had stopped sharing parts of myself, but in these current works I had slowly started to add elements of myself that I was willing to share with the viewer. I allowed this to happen, in that moment I realized I’m never far from where I started.