Christine Wu’s “Sleepless” takes over Thinkspace Gallery’s main room next Saturday, January 23rd. We had the opportunity to interview Christine Wu to find out the inspiration behind the exhibition and how she has grown as an artist. Please join us at the opening reception for “Sleepless” from 6 to 9pm, January 23rd.
What is the inspiration behind the upcoming exhibition?
There are a lot of parts to this exhibition since the ideation of the work took some time to incubate. There’s a part of it that’s a love letter to a specific someone who will never realize it. Another part is in the title, Sleepless, as a reference of the things that keep you up and go bump in the night, real and imaginary. And yet another part is the idea of PTSD and how we hide the things we find hurtful or embarrassing and the different ways that they may manifest, whether or not we chose to allow it. In all my work, there’s a discussion between intimacy and space. How someone occupies a space, and how their body language changes the mood of that space.
What does a day in the studio look like? When are you most creatively inspired?
I always try to set a routine, but it rarely ever works. I like to think that I work at art as a 9-5, but it’s more like a hurricane, where you can see it coming from afar and you don’t do too much about it, then it all comes crashing down and you find yourself scrambling to find which pencils haven’t been broken. Typically, I’m most creative when I’ve just come out of an emotional shit-storm.
How do you think you’ve grown as an artist in the last 5 years?
I have matured emotionally and come to terms with limitations in society. Five years ago I would have told you that I wanted it all and I wanted to do everything, and though that’s a fine thought, it’s just not possible. Every day in our lives we make decisions that closes and opens doors, and there are simply so many things that we will never be able to experience. My technical skills have also tremendously improved, as it always will with 5 years of continuous practice. I plan on continuing to grow in the coming years and to create more conceptual work as well as establish concrete ideas.
There is a movement in your work that is disjointed but fluid at the same time, how did you come to develop this style?
It’s an examination of memories and the way we move through time. I have a faulty memory when it comes to my adolescence, and my memories and dreams blend together to the point where I sometimes mistake a dream for a memory. We never remember things exactly as they were, there will always be some kind of fuzziness here and there, I think simply because we can’t focus on and experience every single thing around us. The disjointedness comes from the feeling of wanting to experience everything and not being able to. Hesitation with a tinge of regret.
What do you feel is the biggest misconception about being an artist?
I get the feeling that many people see being an artist in extremes, that it’s either fun, easy and full of parties, or that we’re constantly, horrendously tortured. There are moments of both, like nearly all humans, but most of my existence lies numbingly in the middle. People want to see the wild, crazy creative so that they have a story to go along with the art. There’s this great segment that Willem de Kooning did when he was being recorded for an interview. A documentary was being recorded while he was doing this interview and he made a big show about his process and he wildly flung paint on a canvas. After the interviewers left he turned to the documentarians and asked them if they really wanted to know how he worked. Of course they said yes, and they watched him put a single stroke down, then walk across the room and sit in a chair, whereupon de Kooning revealed that he sits in said chair for most of the day while figuring where the next stroke should fall.
What is your creative process, do you develop the idea first and then take a reference photo or does the photo shoot inspire the ideas?
My process is very organic, where everything informs each other. I’ve never been a person who does thumbnail sketches for my pieces, and I’m quite horrible at doing them if I was forced to.
What were you listening to while creating the work from this show; podcast, music, Netflix?
Most of the time I was working in silence. I have a hard time concentrating if there are too many things going on at once, especially when I’m working (I’ve even unplugged the internet on multiple occasions). When I was listening to music I had PJ Harvey, Chelsea Wolfe and Laura Marling on heavy repeat. Oddly enough, I don’t typically listen to too many female artists, but it was fitting for this body of work.
How do you push through moments of self-doubt?
Tears. Lot of tears. And writing. I am constantly analyzing and reflecting on myself. My journal is my therapist and I’m brutally honest with myself and critical of my abilities and contributions to society. People who never experience self-doubt should be checked into a mental institution for extreme narcissism and sociopathy. I’m an empath sponge and I absorb the feelings of everyone around me. If I’m not in a calm environment, the self-doubt can be crushing, especially since I give a sincere effort to consider everyone’s opinion. It all makes me feel very stupid, more frequently than I’d like to admit.
Is your work a reflection of personal emotions or observations?
My work is definitely more emotional, but that’s an easily misinterpreted scenario since our emotions are informed by observations. It’s all personal in the end, that’s something my work will not be able to escape.
If you knew when the world would freeze for an hour, what would you do during that time?
Enjoy the silence.