Tique | art paper asks six questions to an artist about their work and inspiration.
This week: Letha Wilson.
Lives in Brooklyn, NY
How do you describe your own art practice?
I am interested in how to push landscape photography, quite literally, as a physical material. The works use photographs as an element within sculptural pieces that attempt to create a new physical experience, a hybrid of image and material, and a tenuous balance between the natural and the synthetic. My practice includes a wide range of activities such as traveling to photograph natural landscapes, printing in the darkroom, folding tearing and ripping photographs, pouring concrete onto photographs, and planning larger scale pieces with models. My practice is very hands on, and the photographs are filtered through my body at many stages – shooting, printing, manipulating in the studio, and even including the installation at a gallery.
What was your first experience with art?
My first really memorable experience was with a James Turrell room installed at the Denver Museum of Art. This piece was amazing, and particularly I recall the moment where my perception of what was happening in the space was completely flipped. It really opened my eyes to new ways of seeing.
What is your greatest source of inspiration?
Nature and the landscape, particularly in the Western United States, but even hiking in the woods out East gives me ideas. The sense of timelessness and the overwhelming magnitude of the spaces in the American West continually blow me away. Besides the large vistas, are so many details and moments, the rocks, geology and formations, it is a continual source of amazement.
What do you need in order to create your work?
Ideally, I need a camera, a place to visit, and then some way of printing these images. The particular material or process I use to print has its own specific characteristics, that I then react to or utilize for my purposes, so I work through a range of these possibilities. It takes time, tests and experiments to understand how a particular material works, and how I can manipulate that best.
What are you working on at the moment?
I just finished a solo show at GRIMM Gallery in NYC. Now I am at an artist residency at the Macdowell Colony, and working on a series I re-visit regularly that uses black and white photograms of flora and studio objects. I then manipulate and re-photograph the original photograms digitally, printing these out and layering them with other images.
What work or artist has most recently surprised you?
Well that is a tough question! I think a recent solo exhibition by Michelle Lopez at Simon Preston Gallery. I was familiar with her work, but this installation really impressed me, and perhaps surprised me. The show reads as a single, room sized floor piece and it all works so well with the architecture and space. So bold and impressive, simple details, lines and materials and it really captivated me with its grace.