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Artist Interviews: Linda Lay

Artist Interviews: Linda Lay

Today we are welcoming Linda Lay to the AMU Blog! Linda is an artist, writer, and teacher who investigates humor, mysticism, form and material in a "lo-fi"​ and diaristic way, using the language of the comic, crafting, performance and traditional art practice. Thank you Linda for taking the time to share some inspiration with the Art Makes Us community!

AMU: Art Makes Us ___.

Linda: communicate and understand differently than when we use direct language.

AMU: Tell us a little about yourself and your art. 

Linda: I'm half American, half Chilean. I was born in California. I went to art school in Kansas City Missouri and received my MFA in Los Angeles. My art is usually pretty colorful and humorous. Performance projects are often connected to writing. I define parameters for projects (based on materials or themes) then allow for intuitive processes to dance around with formal ones. I make a lot of monsters. Sometimes I explore things in my world I am familiar with but don't quite understand, like my series of Air Jordans or famous pro wrestlers.

AMU: What's your favorite medium?

Linda: I use whatever medium the work/idea needs and that is my favorite when I'm lost in the making process. I studied digital filmmaking for a year in Kansas City and like using that medium for some performative things. I love the puzzle that words become when writing and editing. When I paint I often use acrylic or gouache or watercolor. I used to use glitter a lot and sometimes I revisit that medium, in new ways. For some time now, I've fallen deeply, deeply in love with found fiber art mediums and the processes involved with forming and reinventing them.

AMU: What inspires you?

Linda: Spending time around natural things like forests and natural bodies of water reminds me that I'm on track, and I sometimes become entranced by lines made by tangled tree branches, or the smell of pine needles on the ground, but the thought that I'm going to weave something or crochet, or sew parts of a strange tapestry is really what gets me going. Engaging fully in daily activities and simultaneously figuring out something mysterious that I'm hankering to form is motivating. Seeing the results of what my hands can come up with based on my effort, my intuition, my experience and how materials behave is totally inspiring. I also love to find artworks in galleries and museums that seem to meet me on both a material and conceptual wavelength.

AMU: What are your artistic goals for the future?

Linda: I am so close to being completely done with a body of work involving painting and fibers and various processes, like weaving, felting, sewing, crochet and embroidery. They're all monster portraits, which is nothing new for me. It's made up of about seventeen pieces and they are crafted well. Proper frames or secure display systems are involved, which is exciting. My goal, in regard to this work, is to have it all up in some kind of space where I feel they belong. I want them to all be together and out in the world, at least for a short period of time, even if it's just for studio visits. I've spent a lot of time compromising in regard to how my art has been presented, and I'm glad to do that occasionally, but I'd like to have a little more control again, as I did when I had a small shop-space in Hollywood. Beyond that I just want to continue to follow creative "leads" that allow me to make, grow, and share my art (writing included) that continues to evolve and become more of what I have always felt it should be.

AMU: What is one piece of art advice you were given that has always stuck with you?

Linda: I think it was the painter Agnes Martin, in an interview talking about that feeling when you know you have to make a mark that changes and maybe destroys everything. I can't find the interview, and it may not even have been her that said it, but I believe it was something along the lines of "You have to do it. You have to try. The worst thing that can happen is you have a bad painting. So what. If you have a bad painting, you can make another one, but you have to try out the idea." This has led me to a lot of frustration but she was right. Eventually I find the invaluable lesson that a random blue line I have to work all night to remove, or the canvas made of twigs that breaks every time I hang it, is teaching me.

AMU: If they made a film about your life, who would play you?

Linda: Molly Shannon. I've had more than ten people compare me to her or bend down on one knee with their arms stretched out over their heads shouting "Superstar!" at me over the years. I've come to understand that as a big compliment!

AMU: What famous artist would you love to meet?

Linda: I think it would be cool to have a studio visit with the artist Thomas Campbell. His art is colorful like mine and he uses sewing processes and also makes skateboarding films and ceramic sculptures. He has a very strong, down to earth and clear identifying aesthetic which is what I am always working to achieve. He lives with his family in Bonny Doon, so he's not too far away from where I live and I like that, as well.

AMU: What do you wish you knew when you started?

Linda: That I can handle a lot more hard work and rejection than I think I can.

AMU: What’s your favorite color?

Linda: The last time I had an answer for that I was eight years old and it was green. This question was a very important part of kid-conversations so I buckled down and chose one, but I felt like such a liar. Soon I realized I didn't have to make a choice. I love them all.

AMU: If you had an artistic superpower what would it be?

Linda: Maybe to collaborate on art projects with animals? To have some kind of internal translator that allowed me to find animals that want to make stuff for no real practical reason and like, spend a month in a gallery with a chicken and show everyone what we made. I'd go to that art show!

AMU: Where can people go to see your work?

Linda: In June I'm going to have some of my fiber works on display at the Monterey Arts Council booth at the Artichoke Festival at the Monterey Fairgrounds, here in California. I'm also hosting a community weaving project with them at that event as an active collaboration. Most of what I'm up to is posted on Instagram and my handle is @lindalaylindalay. Any details about upcoming shows or links to projects will be there and at lindalay.com.

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