Artist of the Week

Amy Stober

November 9, 2022

Amy Stober (b. 1994 Oakland, New Jersey) lives and works in Baltimore, MD. Stober’s recent solo exhibitions include “Self Storage” at A.D. Gallery, New York, NY, and “Holding Patterns” at Springsteen Gallery, Baltimore, MD. Recent group exhibitions include “Elective Affinities” at Chapter NY, New York, NY, “Sinkhole Project is Presenting” at Mickey Gallery, Chicago, IL, and “May My Fiction Rule” at Tilling, Montreal QC. Her work has also been included in exhibitions at T293 Gallery, Rome, IT, Interstate Projects, Brooklyn, NY; 891 N. Main, Providence, RI; and Catbox Contemporary, Queens, NY.

Tell us a bit about yourself and what you do?

My name is Amy and I am a mold maker and painter living in Baltimore.

A Few of My Favorite Things, 2022 Cast polyurethane, polyurethane pigments, and acrylic 16 x 24 x 11 in, Courtesy of Chapter NY.

What initially sparked your interest in utilizing the form of the handbag in your work?

For years I had been creating cast duplicates of my own clothing. It began with an interest to archive. I think a lot about clothes and their capacity to hold both personal and cultural memory. We project so much onto clothing; class, taste, age, gender. It’s an aid to better understand ourselves and a tool for self presentation. To me, using bags to explore that sentiment just clicked. They are the ideal accessory of collectors and savers…simultaneously an object of privacy and exhibitionism.

I often think back to the time I bought my first purse- it was most likely from Kohl’s or Aèropostale, I was probably around 12 years old. It felt revelatory, an exciting facet to coming-of-age. I could store whatever I wanted there, and took comfort in the fact that its contents could remain private or shared by my choice, and it was all at hand – readily accessible. A small but impactful notion of autonomy.

Installation Shot from recent solo exhibition “Self Storage” , 2022 Courtesy of A.D Gallery.

When did you move to Baltimore and how do you like it there?

I moved from New Jersey to Baltimore in 2012. I like Baltimore a lot.

How do you typically select the imagery that you paint on the surfaces of the  sculptures?

All of the images in my work depict interiors of past and present homes, still lives of personal domestic objects as well as symbols pulled from my garments and other possessions. I like to designate each bag form with a goal or focus, and I typically create image groupings in accordance with that.

My circular bag form is delegated as an “internal clock”. Each iteration of the piece has a different variation of the same 3 images. An alarm clock, a bathroom interior, and an outfit laid out to wear. The larger rectangular bags often titled “New Jersey” or “Note To Self” are broader spaces for reflection on time and domesticity, and often have image groupings depicting marked calendars, interiors of my childhood home, and images that refer back to my maternal lineage. My shearling bags, often titled “fuzzy feeling” center around sentiments of love and obsession, often featuring doodles about my crush from my middle school diary.

Internal Clock 2, 2022, Cast polyurethane, polyurethane pigments, and acrylic, 11 x 2.5 x 10.5 inches, Courtesy of A.D Gallery.

How would you describe your relationship with casting?

Casting can be a utilitarian way to document, akin to photography. It freezes objects in form and time. That always drew me in. I am precious about my belongings, and being able to duplicate them in various iterations allows me to take them apart in a different way. It’s a slow and meticulous process that lends itself to meditation. I’ve always thought of my relationship to casting as an assertion of sentimentality over a process that is mostly used in settings of mass production.

Note To Self (Polinater) , 2022 , Cast polyurethane, polyurethane pigments, and acrylic 16 x 24 x 11 in, Courtesy of Mickey Gallery.

What do you typically consider when titling your works?

Most of them evolve as working titles, and I will often reuse titles with a slight variation. Sometimes one portion of a piece will act as a signifier for the title as a whole. I title pieces that feature the symbols “☮︎+♥=☺” as a variation on “Note To Self”. This equation is pulled from a t-shirt my mom gifted me. Despite my reservations about its blind positivity, I think of it as an aspirational note to self. As a whole, my titles dip in and out of being visually descriptive and revealing psychological states or feelings.

Fuzzy Feeling (Scribbled), 2022, Cast polyurethane, polyurethane pigments, and acrylic 14 x 15 x 8 inches, Courtesy of Tilling.

Can you talk about the decision to mount your sculptures, and how you feel their interaction with the wall describes their objecthood?

I like the aspect of confrontation that comes about when these works are wall mounted. With the bag’s opening facing the wall, their functionality becomes null. The part of the bag usually relegated to the floor is at eye level, as if to say “I’ve decided to show my belly”. I think there is humor and vulnerability there.

Internal Clock 1, 2022, Cast polyurethane, polyurethane pigments, and acrylic 11 x 2.5 x 10.5 inches, Courtesy of A.D Gallery.

What does your studio look like?

Last year I moved to a new living situation where there’s an old two car garage in the backyard. Over the last year I have been working to make it habitable as a studio. It is not complete but I have been fully working out of the garage for about 3 months now. I have a casting area, and a painting area. I am a floor person, no chairs at all. When I paint I sit on a yoga mat. I enjoy listening to TV while I work. I choose shows that are not necessarily “important to see”. Desperate Housewives is perfect for this. Mary Alice Young narrates nearly everything in the show, you never have to look up.

Do you have any daily rituals?

Drinking espresso and listening to bachelor podcasts in the morning.

Do you have any upcoming projects that you can share?
Right now I am working on some things for some forthcoming group shows, Spring 2023.

Interview conducted and composed by Sam Dybeck.