Arts, culture, ideas & expression of a few wild art monkeys living in an arts loft in Jersey City.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

BATTLING MR.SELF- A brief interview with Artist Nyugen Smith

JF.You've been with 660 practically since it's inception. How would you define 660 and it's role with the Arts in Jersey City?

NS.Definition of 660: Home base. It's the NWA (during the time of Rick Flair, Lex Luger, Tully Blanchard, Arn Anderson, Dusty Rhodes and all ' them) to the WWF. 660 is another channel. People tune in to see what's happening. The program changes message stays the same. Sometimes it's 6 in the morning and the "do you know where your children are"? commercial comes on. Sometimes Snoop comes on. 660 is that kind of morning. Hot summers brings phone calls for charcoal ice and friends, cold winters require check-ins. Layer up, work steady. It exists as long as creativity exists among our friends, comrades, family, and some traveling through.

JF.When we first met you were doing paper garment sculptures inspired by the Tolkiens rugged aesthetic brought to life in the L.O.R trilogy. I noticed your work became larger almost instantly after you moved your studio here- can you talk about that initial departure from the garment sculptures into what has now become your signature style commonly known as "bundle house"

NS.Yep! Garment Sculptures. Those were great times. Once I moved my studio to 660 I had so much more space to work, so naturally I began to explore many more materials which led me to go bigger with my work. At that time I was still searching for how to express what I wanted to say and discovered that found materials brought me closer to articulation of my ideas. In 2005, I met an artist, Chenoa Maxwell and her photography from a body of work that she developed in Uganda made a huge impact in the way I began to view my work. That's when I began Bundle House.

JF.I've noticed that when you work here at 660 it's primarily sculpture and Bundle House related work, but when you work at home its typically the "SELF" series, which has many faces-talk about those faces, b/c in some you do battle with yourself and in others your clearly a character.

NS. Yes, at 660 I can use all the huge materials and all the good found stuff from my travels. At my home studio I feel like I end up working on SELF series. home I'm contemplative, personal items that are connected to other aspects of my life are all around, constantly reminding me of who I am, what I've done, what I plan to do, what I've learned, and what I haven't seen. So it's natural that I make SELF Series work here.
It's interesting you say sometimes I'm a "character" in the SELF Series, but it's all SELF. For me, that "character" is the same as any other depiction of myself in this series. that part of SELF that you're witnessing is a part of who I am. Sometimes I'm serious, sometimes I feel like a fool out of his mind. I love the freedom that comes with this work.

JF. Recently you've been tying the Bundle House work into the Self series, what convinced you that the two distinctly separate styles should be merged?

NS. Tying the SELF Series in with Bundle House is an experiment I'm conducting right now. I haven't brought the SELF Series into the 3 dimensional realm much at all so far, so I want to push it. Working with the palette of what would also be Bundle House material to make these assemblages adds an interesting number of problems to be solved. It's great!

JF. Finally, tell us about your recent video work with the self series. Im digging this professor self, whats he all about and whats to come of this new expression?

NS. This series of videos I've been releasing, is a way to continue to satisfy my need to make work wherever I am. So many artists that I know just have to make work somehow if they placed somewhere with optional media at their disposal. We're a perfect match. It's immediate and to the point. Right now I'm dealing with race/class and cultural elements particular to those with darker skin-from warmer climates. True. They are all completed within a 3ft x 3ft space. One of my favorite aspects of these pieces is the challenge of keeping them simple. By simple I mean, limited props, bare-bones backdrop and no editing. These video pieces allows me to give work away. People love to receive art from others. I know I do. So in a way I believe people feel as though they are receiving art when they see the videos. It is my hope that after people see them, they share it with others.

JF. Thanx for keeping that chi up! Im sure its inspiring more then just the folks at 660. List your links so people can keep up with what your doing and follow the progress.

NS.Yeah man! More Chi. check out links to videos here:

New website coming soon. One Love!

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