Studio Visits

Memories of Stories Told: A Studio Visit with Eugenia Barbuc

by Alexis Alicette Bolter

barbuc- studio photo.jpg

There was a moment during my studio visit with Eugenia Barbuc where I thought we might be related.  That is the kind of spell Eugenia casts on her viewers, a familial intimacy that is intoxicating and perplexing.  Her worlds of abstract places are at once foreign and familiar, framed by absurd actions that are sincere attempts at inherently flawed tasks.  And in this tangled web of imagery and looped narrative, you walk away from this undeniably California work and think… yeah, I know what you mean.

I became a superfan of Eugenia when I saw her video then suddenly she is at a critique night held through the Women’s Center of Creative Work in Los Angeles.  At critique night, you go around in a circle and awkwardly introduce yourself and your medium. When you get to Eugenia she’ll say with a charming smile that she does painting, sculpture, video, and installation.  And guess what, she honestly does all of those things.

My article for The Coastal Post gave me a wonderful opportunity to find out more about Eugenia’s process.  Being that this was my first interview, I went into our studio visit with a series of questions and themes I had observed from my previous exposure to her work.  “I find your work to be pretty funny, do you use humor as a tool and to what end?”  “Your videos contains found footage in the form of home movies shot on film, how does this inform your work and what does that medium mean to you?”  Little did I know these questions were silly, canned, and, well, not nearly as interesting as what came up during our discussion.  

barbuc-studio table.JPG

When I enter Eugenia’s studio I found a stack of drawings, paintings hung on the wall, a table covered with maquettes, and Eugenia’s computer ready to screen her newest work volver after volver after volver.  When I asked about her process it was amazing to see how each object and image is an exploration on the way to this final video.  How a conversation led to a drawing that led to a sculpture that led to a drawing that led to a performance that led to a sculpture that led to a video.  Each individual work and the work’s successes and failures inform the next piece.  This type of creative chase results in such a wonderfully eclectic body of work.  Eugenia likes to talk about in between spaces, this unknowable space that isn’t quite foreign and that isn’t quite familiar.  Essentially her studio space exists in a similar dimension.

After watching volver, the creative chase continued as we discussed the exploration of memory in Eugenia’s work.  When Eugenia talks about the abstract places in her video she is referencing the space that exists around her memory of a memory.  The films, objects, and landscapes in this series are connected to a documentary Eugenia did for Para Los Ninos.  For the documentary, she interviewed women from South and Central America about their journey to the States.  Their narratives were strikingly similar to her parents’ narratives and how her parents’ came to America.  As Eugenia describes, “From my standpoint, I was interested in how I access the memories of these places they tell me.  The stories exist as places in my own head but they are not the same places as the places of their memories.  I like that abstraction of place.”    

The abstract places in Eugenia’s video are brought to life by the accompanying soundtrack. The music is haunting and homey and an all-around perfect fit for the mood.  The source of the music came up when we discussed the theme of failure in this body of work.  Eugenia taught herself to play these songs on the guitar and finds the music’s failed performance as an important imperfection.  Failure is such an integral part of Eugenia’s practice and is closely accompanied by the humor associated with that failure.  The failure of the objects is related to what Eugenia describes as the failure of the body.  “I want these objects to exist in the same way I, as a body, exist.  In this constant state of failure.  Not striving for perfection but existing with the frayed edges and the imperfections and embodying an intersectional idea of a thing.”  Not only does this resonate with the music but also, very memorable, with the fleshy carabiner that Eugenia clumsily tried to finagle in front of the canned mountain backdrops.  

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All of these failed and repetitive actions are brought to life by a cowboy.  Eugenia plays the cowboy character in two different iterations.  Eugenia dressed as the cowboy in the classic white t-shirt, jeans, and cowboy hat illuminates a striking comparison of the lone ranger and the artist in the studio.  The struggle of an artist to create in a capitalistic economy leads to an isolated life focused on hard work and constant production.  This structure is also rooted in a patriarchal lineage where the male cowboy is heroic and the male artist is genius as they both reign over their kingdom.  Eugenia describes her attempts to subvert that narrative through her performance of this failed masculinity.   The queerness that Eugenia inhabits in here role as cowboy shines through in the form of a yellow sports bra.  The other cowboy character in this work is the draped landscape topped with a cowboy hat (à la Casper the friendly ghost).  This figure, while accompanied by mystique and dramatic effect, is essentially a body hidden by a western landscape backdrop.  When I first asked about the western subject matter, Eugenia discussed memories of her childhood and growing up in a home decorated by western imagery including paintings of vast western landscapes.  “My parents are not from here so when they decorated their home they decorated with cowboy stuff.  I remember thinking ‘why are they so interested in these western landscapes?’ and it’s because it’s considered the American dream.”  In this work, Eugenia covers herself in the “American dream landscape” as an attempt to embody this memory of her parents’ desires.  The absurdity of such an action and the attempts to blend in with her surroundings creates both a humorous and poignant moment in this video.  

Before I left Eugenia’s studio I asked to grab a few photos and I couldn’t help but request an image with the fleshy carabiner.  I’ve seen this prop in previous iterations and this most recent sculpture, in its silicon material and flesh tone, is by far my favorite.  The inherently flawed object that replicates a tool intended for security and strength becomes limp and impotent in its new form.  As Eugenia very aptly points out, it looks like a dildo.  Eugenia’s repeated attempts to make the object function as intended (both in the video and in our photo exchange) have a charming effect.  Each time the carabiner locks into place and is then released I hear an inaudible “ta-da!” ringing through my head.

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The world of Eugenia Barbuc is familiar for a reason, the way she engages with memory allows the viewer to enter the work and feel like they’re in a familiar abstract place.  Her studio feels the same.  Everything you see looks like something you’ve seen before but not exactly.  It’s the quirky in between.  I left her studio giddy and energized despite the late hour and long day.  If there was a fake sunset background I would have triumphantly walked into the sunset that night.

Leah Guadagnoli visted by Ryan Turley

I “met” Leah Guadagnoli via Instagram.  Better yet I should say that I started stalking her work via Instagram about a year ago.

As with most Instagram acquaintances I liked the images she was posting and so I ‘liked” them again via a small heart shaped button click.  

The images that Leah, or for Instagram following purposes, Lavenderladysupreme (her name on insta) was posting were mainly of her paintings.  I would consider them assemblage but they are not mine so we will call them paintings.  

These pieces were dynamic in alternative shapes, sizes, textures and materials.  The paintings looked slick, wild and exciting.  I felt like I was seeing something really new yet super familiar and nostalgic.  They were calling to mind memorabilia from the 1980’s and 90’s.  The geometric pattern on the paintings were printed onto fabric and looked like something Zach, Kelly, Jessie or Screech from Saved by the Bell would have donned or Jem and the Holograms would have worn whilst working late at the Starlight Foundation.  You don’t need to know these references to feel the nostalgia that I feel and am so attracted to in this work but it couldn’t hurt.  

The Happiest Hour, 2017
acrylic, pumice stone, molding paste, digital print on fabric, found
fabric, insulation board, and polyurethane foam on aluminum panel
24 x 18 x 3 inches

I decided to “reach out” to Lavenderladysupreme so I could get up close and personal with these pieces.

Leah and I corresponded a few times over a few months and finally caught one another in early December.  Leah graciously invited me over to her studio in Prospect Lefferts Gardens, Brooklyn where she lives, works and also operates a small residency program called The Maple Terrace

Leah was just returning from her residency at The Lighthouse Works in Fishers Island NY and will be off to the Wassaic Residency Program in January.  Leah has been on the successful residency circuit for quite some time now having also been at Yaddo, Vermont Studio Center, and Soaring Gardens quite recently as well.

I initially wanted to know about how she made this work and what inspired and fuelled her work but sometimes as two artists can be we ended up talking a lot more of how these works are made.  All great information nonetheless.  We spoke about her Graduate Studies at Rutgers and how she began to experiment with various textiles more haphazardly tossed and placed creating her imagery to now the very architectural almost “tightness” of these polished more structured works.  

Number Two Song In Heaven, 2017
acrylic, pumice stone, molding paste, Plexiglas, PVC, digital print on fabric,
canvas, insulation board, and polyurethane foam on aluminum panel
60 x 38 x 3 inches

Leah uses Illustrator to create her textile patterns.  These patterns could still be inspired by a found piece of fabric, the upholstery on a bus coach, memories of the décor of her childhood home or a found image on the web.  She pointed to one of her newer table top sculptures and mentioned how the patterning that inspired this piece was from the security envelopes that you would send sensitive materials in the post with like bills and checks.  A camouflage envelope to keep your personal and confidential information secure which looks very much like the camouflage used in the military.  We also spoke about how she is attracted to this type of camouflaging which is basically geometric patterning, often bright and colourful and found in public spaces upholstery, carpeting and textiles to hide stains and wear and tear. 

It is important to Leah that the works have a hand-made quality, which from her online imagery I did not see.  Now seeing them up close I definitely can see her hand in the process.  This is not to say they are sloppy by any means.  These pieces are meticulously built but Leah allows her hand to show more in her bringing together the various materials comfortably.  Nothing is forced; it all just lives together quite nicely.  Leah is able to marry pumice stone mixed with her paint, geometric textiles wrapped around foam insulation, acrylic type plexi-glass and regular old paint into these “meant to be” formations.  The paintings command attention in their pastel, day-glow, smooth, bumpy, sharp edged, round, rigid, dizzying yet grounding presence.

It takes a lot of restraint to not reach out and touch this work.  A problem I am sure she and the galleries must run into daily.

After I was finished gushing over the work Leah and I discussed another project that she has been working on for some time now, The Maple Terrace Residency.

Leah opened her home/workspace as a residency space for emerging artists looking to get involved in the New York Art world in some way.  Leah explained how this happened over a period of time that while she would be away at residencies herself she felt that she could probably make a little cash renting her place out but maybe the live/work situation could be better utilized by another artist as this is how she set the place up for herself.  If she was going to be out at another residency why not let another artist in need of this type of exposure and opportunity make use of this wonderful space?

Number Three Song In Heaven, 2017
acrylic, pumice stone, molding paste, Plexiglas, found fabric, canvas,
insulation board, and polyurethane foam on aluminum panel
60 x 38 x 3 inches

Leah now offers artists to apply for spots when available to spend one month long residencies that she organizes herself that include all sorts of really wonderful perks.  Leah organizes studio visits with friends and colleagues to come and visit the residents, which is invaluable.  She also works with local community businesses that will offer things like a couple of slices of pizza from the pizza shop or a bottle of wine from the wine shop.  The list went on.  The amount of detailed organization is a true testament to Leah’s generosity as an artist but also a community builder and leader.  I could not respect this pursuit more.  

In an art world where many claim to be paying it forward (I have known a few) Leah is really, really doing it!  

I commend Leah on this pursuit and cannot wait to see where the work as well as her other admirable pursuits take her.

Leah has a ton of shows currently and coming up so check her website and follow her on Instagram for all the goodies!

Looking for a brighter day

Leah Thomason Bromberg visits Lakwena Maciver’s studio

I walked past endless stalls of vegetables, a black and white dress I really liked, patterned fabrics of every sorts. It was crowded enough to make it hard to walk. I spent £1 on raspberries as I made my way to Lakwena Maciver’s studio toward the end of a Dalston street market in east London. Inside her studio it was still filled with bright colors and voices, but they were on the five paintings she was working on for her exhibition, The future’s gold.

Lakwena herself is quiet with a lot to say. Her work comes from political promises. They are cutting in what is promised, yet sincerely optimistic. The work points to how the state of politics are far from the way they need to be.


My visit to her studio was a few weeks after another election in the United Kingdom which destabilized Theresa May and the Tories’ grasp of power, and a year after the Brexit vote--a process looming over us still. There is always the sympathetic look of knowing when the conversation turns to American politics.

LTB: What is your normal, ‘working size’ for your paintings?
LM: There’s something political in filling up space.

And there is political weight in filling space. Lakwena shares that she usually works really large, filling as much space as she can. Lakwena’s voice is undeniable in the work as well as in the space it takes over. The vibrancy of her paintings fill the space. The largest of her five pieces seemed about 4’ x 4’, yet feels much larger than that given her palette. Lakwena has also completed several murals in various locations internationally that also envelop the entire space. For The future’s gold she has painted the walls as well as installed her work.

Lakwena’s work seems to need to spread beyond the frame. Even in her studio, it feels like they have oozed onto the floor--it is covered in black and white checked utility rubber mats.

Pictorial space has always felt political to me: when else does someone have complete autonomy over an entire world? As a woman who was taught it was “good manners” to be quiet and invisible, I can’t help but appreciate the sass in taking up space. Voices need to go beyond their allotted space.

LTB: What’s the relationship between the image and the text?
LM: I think a lot about mirrors. There is a quote: “For now we see through a glass darkly,” which ends with the idea that “now we see clearly.”

A collection of fabrics and books fill up Lakwena’s studio. A small black and white necklace finds itself in the edge of one of her paintings. Her desk drawers are painted in a day-glo gradient. The patterns feel like they just naturally emerge from Lakwena, standing next to me in her lime green dress.

The paintings draw on her experiences as a sign painter, and she subverts the connection to commercial advertising with her politics. There is the analogy of commercialism with politics: selling a message that the future will be better if you buy this or vote for him. There’s also the analogy of a mirror--how advertising reflects desire. The way the patterns frame the text echo a sort of mirror in the work. It’s a biblical reference to our lack of vision into the future as Lakwena quoted: “For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known” (I Corinthians 13:12). 

The gold in the paintings also reflect poorly, a vinyl imitation of something far more precious. Lakwena opted for vinyl instead of gold leaf--it’s more commercial, less referential to history painting, and non-elitist. For a moment I’m lost in imagining all the Renaissance cathedral paintings and the apocalyptic visions in the book of Revelation. In that book there are promises of a “new Jerusalem” paved with gold, but the gold is so pure it is perfectly clear. Again: what we see here feels inferior. How clear is our vision of reality?

LTB: Where do you find the phrases that go into the work?
LM: For this painting, there’s a song by Gil Scott-Heron that says, ‘Black people / will be in the street looking for a brighter day. / The revolution will not be televised.’

The sort of discontent with the status quo and push for the newly imagined is a huge part of Afrofuturism. Lakwena herself likes to blend Afrofuturism with a messianic philosophy: waiting for, longing for, imagining a promised and better future. 

The Revolution Will Not Be Televised goes on:

Green Acres, The Beverly Hillbillies, and Hooterville
Junction will no longer be so damned relevant, and
women will not care if Dick finally gets down with
Jane on Search for Tomorrow because Black people
will be in the street looking for a brighter day.
The revolution will not be televised.

The revolution will not be televised, will not be televised,
will not be televised, will not be televised.
The revolution will be no re-run, brothers;
The revolution will be live.
— Gil Scott-Heron

The future and the revolution take on this mythical quality.  When are people more empowered than when they are creating their own myths? Myths are about making the ordinary, extraordinary--beyond and outside of the quotidian--as well as unrecognized by capitalist interests. Advertising has nothing to do with changing power dynamics.

Lakwena's paintings as contemporary work feel alive, living in both the present and the future. The text could easily become sarcastic or glib; but I found myself being spurred on to imagine what a golden future would maybe be.

She pulls out books about Oakland’s Sun Ra, a musician and artist whose bright aesthetic echoes in her studio. He took on his persona as a prophet and never deviated from it, becoming a pioneer of Afrofuturism itself. The small artworks inside the book are themselves mythic and feature characters wielding unworldly powers. This too is an imagined world grappling with extraordinary powers. There’s a similar sincerity in Lakwena’s work: optimistic but not removed from the realities of present day. 

That is after all what we are constantly promised: for the future to be great again, strong and stable. And the best slogans promise what we want. I remember “hope” being so important after the Bush years. For whom are these promises? Her son napped quietly next to her work, a reminder that politics and power dynamics aren’t at all theoretical. 

The present isn’t gold; let’s hope that the future could be.

Lakwena Maciver lives and works in London. Her exhibition, The future's gold, is at KK Outlet, London N1 from 7 July to 31 August 2017. You can also see more of her work at or follow her on Instagram @lakwena.

Joey Parlett visited by Nick Pereslugoff

Genesis 11:1-9 contains the mythical story of the city of Babel and the fate of its people. The world had a single common language that enabled man to devise great projects, each surpassing the former in their sophistication and wonder. However, this unity aroused a parochial blind spot: a hubristic desire to construct a tower so tall it could reach Heaven. God, struck by the arrogance of man’s ambitions, scattered them across the world and imparted different tongues onto them. Where there was once cohesion and understanding there was now only babel, an inherent inability to understand a neighbor’s speech. The Tower of Babel represents the tragic telos of man’s creative ambition; that soaring towers of magnanimous proportions do not culminate at the precipice of Paradise, but in scattered confusion.

Brutalist Babel (2016). Image courtesy of the artist.

Brutalist Babel (2016). Image courtesy of the artist.

Joey Parlett’s work can be interpreted as manifestations of antithetical themes present in the Babel narrative; construction to overwhelming and superfluous excess and, oppositely, deconstruction to monistic absurdity. His work Brutalist Babel (2016) renders the Babel myth in the likeness of 20th century Brutalist architecture.  Different buildings and structural elements, collected from found books and materials, are layered over one another in an impossible amalgam of rigid, geometric facades. The work can be seen as an encapsulation of the spirit and process of his practice in general. Working primarily from found images ranging from public domain photographs of NASA projects to Renaissance paintings, Parlett combs through his collection of images, navigating through different avenues of inquiry by rendering an aspect of the image in pen and ink; either adding to an inherent idea found in them, or by a phenomenological bracketing, isolating one element from the context of the images’ totality for the purposes of comparison or juxtaposition.

His latest ongoing series, In The Desert, deconstructs Giovanni Bellini’s famous painting, St. Francis in the Desert, through works that center on objects within the painting. Bellini’s work is known for the minute narrative details in the painting’s landscape. Each object is carefully placed and considered with respect to Biblical and Franciscan literature. The scene is washed in a warm radiant light facing St. Francis, arms outstretched, beholding the Divine. Not only is the work a formal masterpiece, readily apparent aesthetically, but it is also immediately intelligible symbolically with the help of a small amount of background information. By deconstructing the painting through its individual elements, Parlett also deconstructs it’s symbolic order.

In The Desert (2015). Image courtesy of the artist.

In The Desert (2015). Image courtesy of the artist.

The work In The Desert (2015) is Parlett’s first work in the series, giving the series it’s name. Having been familiar with the importance of the landscape in Bellini’s work, Parlett chose the landscape itself, the first plane behind St. Francis, as an object to be considered. Removing several elements, the desk and fence in the lower right, St. Francis himself, and the farther two planes in the top left, revealed a curious and serendipitous rabbit hole directly in the middle of scene, where in Bellini’s work, St. Francis’ hand, bearing the marks of the crucified, points to. From here, his curiosity was piqued, galvanizing him to move into different parts of the work.

Waterfall Mountain (2017). Image courtesy of the artist.

Waterfall Mountain (2017). Image courtesy of the artist.

Comparing his work to a web page, Parlett describes the process of moving through and investigating an image as similar to clicking through hyperlinks. A main page, the original work by Bellini, contains a finite set of objects, each with an implied meaning within the work. What would it be like to “click” on one of these objects, a rock or a desk,

 and be brought to a more detailed page pertaining to it? Waterfall Mountain (2017) elucidates this idea most clearly through an arrangement of different representations of water, including the one in Bellini’s work, arranged into the shape of a mountain. Similar to Pippin Barr’s v r 3, a VR museum containing different digital representations of water, the viewer is invited to contemplate a variety of approaches to drawing water, a substance that is notoriously difficult to replicate. However, by arranging the water samples into a mountain, Parlett once again invokes a Babel theme that points towards the absurdity of the project; to represent a substance that is inherently dynamic, chaotic, and unstable in a flat, static, and graphical way. Thus by “clicking” on the water, what is revealed is not an essential insight, like what one would expect to find by being directed to a new web page from a link in another, but an essential absurdity; by bracketing water off from the rest of the image, it looses the contextual meaning it has in Bellini’s work, reducing it to a series of marks on a page.

Parlett often stretches the link between the smallest element of an image and it’s meaning. Given that Parlett’s work derives from photographs or realist paintings and imagery, in the case of Bellini, one can draw a metaphorical link to Roland Barthes’ photographic theory. To Barthes, photographs have two key elements active within their symbolic frame work; a photograph’s punctum, the small or simple detail of a photograph that gives us a personal impression, and its studium, or more general meaning within culture as a whole. Parlett’s work treats the objects in question like punctums, small elements that give us a unique impression that’s not quite comprehensible, isolated like in Waterfall, and compares these to the studium that the object has within the original work.  The result is a discursive ambiguity, an impression that is definite but ambiguous. We know that the collages are water, but we are simultaneously aware that it is merely a representation of water, lacking the Biblical meanings in the original work.

Tunnel (2015). Image courtesy of the artist.

Tunnel (2015). Image courtesy of the artist.

Unlike most photographs, a drawing can be reduced to a basic level as a series of marks or textural information. The stroke of Parlett’s pen is laid in the open, free for the eye to see. As the viewer steps back from his work, the image becomes more clear at the expense of the strokes’ visibility. This is realized most fully once the image is digitized, where, due to screens that compress the work into smaller sizes, the images become the most “real” looking versions of themselves. By bracketing objects within images, honing in on the small details, punctums, or representations, Parlett doubles the metaphorical link between distance and clarity. Not only is there a relationship between physical distance from the work and its actual visibility or clarity, but there is an analogous link between the singularity (the degree, or distance, Parlett has traveled down the road of representation from the original image) or isolation of the image the work is derived from, and the increasing incoherence as a studium. 

Library (2016). Image courtesy of the artist.

Library (2016). Image courtesy of the artist.

Ultimately Parlett’s work grapples with the dialectical relationship between the process of making and the act of representing. Parlett’s idea of the final work is never fully known beforehand. He collects images and sieves through them, contemplatively searching for something that catches his eye. After getting a hunch, he moves on to reproducing the feeling of that hunch, drawing out the implicit within the explicit images. Perhaps, this is why Parlett so often depicts caves as well as towers; close quarters and unimaginable constructions; both resonate with the process of moving through information, collecting it, and trying to make something out of it all. The cramped, technologically absurdist scenes Cupola (2016) and Tunnel (2015) bristle with nervous minute details, wires and buttons covering every surface. The scattering anxiety one feels by looking through these images mirrors the same energy expelled by the artist in looking for an image to begin working with. Each button in the scene, each wire, beckons a curious question. What exactly is all this for? In the words of Heidegger, “questioning leads a way,”  but to where? In the back of the rooms, at the focal point of each work, stand two blank windows, staring back at us in relief from the swarming surfaces around them. Like in Mystery Cave (2015) and Library (2016), these hypnotic blank spaces are sheer impossibility; representative of the horizon, the limit, of the possibility or articulation, definition, and representation in general. They are precisely the opposite of Sugimoto’s theater scenes; pure white rectangles that represent, and as photographic exposures, literally are, the totality of the information (i.e. light) displayed on them. Beyond the mass of information in our increasingly technological, information hungry society, what is there? Technology begets technology; representation begets representation; information begets information. We move forward without knowing why, knowing nothing else but the continual construction of the Colossus.  When they appear, we are drawn to these soothing gaps in representation. Yet, perhaps, walking up to them, curling a hand around the door frame beholding the light, we are suddenly struck by the unknown; where are we going?


For more information on Joey’s work, please visit his website.

Warm chairs

Leah Thomason Bromberg visits Lucia Dill's Berkeley studio

Lucia Dill, Beyond what I knew, 18 by 24 in, 2015. Image via

Lucia Dill, Beyond what I knew, 18 by 24 in, 2015. Image via

Folding chairs don’t exactly sound inspiring or really deserving of any sort of dialogue. Nevertheless, they are everywhere and most specifically at every large gathering -- the miscellany of the chairs in church basements, the “fancier” white, plastic version at weddings, office meetings, gatherings in people’s homes when there aren’t enough regular chairs, endless critiques on cement floors within art school’s repeated painted white walls. I can hear the ding of two hitting each other as I try to carry as many chairs as possible in some small, personal celebration of my own bravada while my mom supervises the clean up in a church basement where men are supposed to move the heavy things. Yes. I know these chairs well.

A single folding chair leans against the wall of Lucia Dill’s Berkeley studio. Is this one of her models? She confesses that she doesn’t need the chair anymore to make her paintings. Lucia Dill has been making this work since her final year in California College of the Arts’ BFA program. I met her and her chairs when our work was paired together in an exhibition, and it was like finding a painting-sister.

Lucia Dill in her studio at Makers Workspace in Berkeley, CA

Lucia Dill in her studio at Makers Workspace in Berkeley, CA

These are the uncomfortable seats for gatherings like in her paintings that she considers family portraits. There’s a necessity to them, like the necessity of relationships in our lives. Lucia is a self-proclaimed introvert, and I imagine that experiencing so much presence in these chairs feels slightly less overwhelming. Initially the work seems to indicate an absence; but I find them to be more of a continuation of that presence. Someone was here, now they are gone; the chair remains. Then the presence can remain even beyond the chair as a painting. I’ve found the process of painting to be akin to spending time with a person--it’s spending time in a space that may be gone. It makes a singular moment continue.

The chairs have a certain quiet to them. It’s a relief to someone like me who’s an introvert -- that it’s a presence without the requirements of actual interaction. It’s a reminder that someone is there.

Lucia also includes tags with her paintings and has created several artists books. The repetition of the chairs, the long lines, and continuation in the books seems to point toward language. These pieces bridge painting with books: books hang on the walls as paintings, painting and printmaking find its way into books. One project, On the Line, is a series of long, power lines which operate almost as music staffs. The black and white images relate the power lines closely to the text Lucia wrote. In these books, the hand relates so closely to language: as writing, as art making, as holding a book.

On The Line, one of Lucia's book projects

On The Line, one of Lucia's book projects

The forms construct a sort of code. I’m left wondering what happened in the space. The chairs moved to create vestiges of interactions, and Lucia’s repetitive use of imagery highlights all their subtleties.

The code also finds itself in her palette. Lucia chooses the colors based on her own personal associations--soft navy, Cal colors for her grandmother, cool teal patterns that echo the plants she sees during the day. There’s a strong connection between her work and the everyday. Bits of papers end up in her work. Lucia tries to live sustainably, and sometimes even mixes colors on her panels within her painting. Some of her work then makes its way onto bags and coffee cup holders.

Lucia doesn't need a chair "model" anymore.

Lucia doesn't need a chair "model" anymore.

Right now she is working through her body of work for an exhibition featuring daily created work for fifty days. The repetition of the chairs makes them almost characters. Lucia likes to think of their positions as body language. As part of her practice, an intense investigation like this can make you feel like you’re trapped but also provide a sandbox for experimentation. Her previously established language allows for new experimentation. Their dark forms walk across her paintings almost like letters. Lucia has been sewing and collaging to add a new area to her work, fusing the soft, lyrical line of embroidery thread with the hard edges of cold metal chairs.

These functional chairs, endlessly repositioned in circles and rows and aisles, absorb our warmth, and then slowly cool the longer our absence. Lucia’s facture and her consistent return to these chairs similarly linger.

See more of Lucia Dill's work at or via her Instagram.