This weekend, families, art lovers, and artists flocked to Bushwick in Brooklyn for the annual three-day art festival Bushwick Open Studios. Started in 2006 by Arts in Bushwick, the event has continued to evolve over the years (along with the neighborhood), and has become one of the city's largest public art celebrations. This year, more than 200 artists allowed the public inside their private studio spaces to reveal what they've been working on. After visiting dozens of studios, it becomes clear that no two artists are alike. Here are five emerging artists who opened up about their process, inspiration, and the thoughts behind their work.
Teresa Kudarauskas's vibrant, '80s-esque, surrealist art has a 3D feel to it that brings color and life to her studio. The idea for the large-scale painting Kudarauskas is currently working on, Mirage, came to her while she was at an Ambient Church event (a roaming audio/visual performance series). During BOS, the artist intentionally played the song "So Alive" by Love and Rockets to amplify the piece. The painting depicts a loading dock on Mars that two mysterious, alluring figures have been teleported to (Kudarauskas loves sci-fi). According to the artist, the work addresses the idea that, as a culture, we tend to judge people before we get to know them, and that we're all subjected to that pressure (Billy Joel's "Pressure" is a song that also works with the painting). Kudarauskas often gets inspiration by listening to a song, and then uses Photoshop to develop a composition before realizing it with paint on canvas. First conceptualized in April, Mirage is weird and wacky, and we can't wait until it's finished!
Ryan Jenq has worked in his space in Bushwick for three years, both as a commercial still-life photographer by day, and as an artist with a penchant for nudes. Jenq explains, "For me, shooting nudes is partly logisitcal because I don't need clothes or models that look really good—so it's cheap. But at the same time I just want to make and capture beatiful pictures." He doesn't tend to shoot people he knows because of the intimacy and awkwardness that's often a part of nude photography.
Sharing a studio space with Ryan Jenq is Italian photographer Stefano Ortega. Born and raised in Italy, Ortega moved to New York roughly eight years ago. His series, Palme Blu, was shot in his hometown of San Benedetto Del Tronto, a small beach town in Italy on the Adriatic Sea. For Ortega, "there's something about the generation between 30 years old and 55 years old: a comfort zone that people get in... they don't leave their beach life. It's very classic and timeless in certain ways but very modern in other perspectives." All of the photos were shot in film, medium format, over a few weeks around the same time of day so the color and lighting is consistant. Ortega is largly inspired by Italian photographer Luigi Ghirri.
Sarah Grass' drawings, which are all done in pen, come from a stream of consciousness, which make her two dimensional artwork feel almost more writerly than painterly—like a diagram. In true Surrealist fashion, Grass often incorporates symbols that don't quite match, like a tadpole-esque amphibian next to a prototype for a flying car, for example. Each drawing typically takes longer than a day, and nothing is planned out beforehand. She begins in one section, working her way towards another to give her drawings a sense of movement. The artist never erases anthing. Grass explains, "If something that I percieve as an error happens, I think of it as a trauma in life where you just keep going forward, and eventually things fall into balance again." Much of her art explores the theme of technology, and the dominating roles that the internet and social media play in our lives.
Jennifer Grimyser's images are created by photographing handmade sets—so while haters might say it's Photoshopped, it's actually all done in the studio. Her most recent body of work utilizes materials that bind things together, like tape and rope. Grimyser discusses how these materials can be a restriction but also a benefit: "If you're building things, then you need those kinds of materials. But when used too much, they bind or mask." In her studio, Grimyser presents her work as individual pieces, but they talk to one another; "There's a visual conversation." Interestingly enough, Grimyser often uses herself as a model, and says "there's something intimate about using yourself as a model. It's sort of a pseudo portrait. I'm never presenting my face but I think the hands can really be a type of portraiture, and these hands are making the work too, they're lifting the pages, they're manipulating the images, they're finishing the pieces."