Interview with Stephanie Buer for ‘Hiraeth’ | Exhibition on view November 13 – December 4 at Thinkspace Projects

Thinkspace is pleased to present Stephanie Buer’s ‘Hiraeth.’

Hiraeth is a Welsh word, meaning to miss/long for a place that you can never visit again. It perfectly captures the emotions felt by Buer for her beloved Packard Plant in Detroit, Michigan. Buer’s urban landscapes explore the many layers of history found in the marginal areas of cities. She is fascinated by how these places change as they succumb to the manipulation of vandals, artists and the resilience of nature ever slowly growing alongside.

In anticipation of ‘Hiraeth,’ our interview with Buer discusses the impact of the Packard Plant on shaping her artistic style, her MFA program and the type of teacher she would like to be, along with the power of women (especially when in avalanche territory).

What was the inspiration behind this latest body of work? What themes were you exploring?

The inspiration for this work came from a box of old photos I found while cleaning out my studio last summer. The photos were about twenty years old, taken during my first years of undergrad at the College for Creative Studies in Detroit, and they were of the Packard Plant, all from my first visits to the factory. The inspiration is two parts, first a beautiful bunch of old faded analog photos, and second this beautiful, old automotive factory in Detroit that I fell in love with during my formative years as a young artist and which in turn became the inspiration for my early art-making. It is about exploring the themes of connection to and love of place and also this feeling of nostalgia. Remembering a place, a time and all the feelings and inspirations that came along with it, being young, moving away from home for the first time to Detroit, falling in love with the city, and finding my voice as an artist.

Do you recall the first time you visited the Packard Plant? Who were you with, what did you find, and what were the feelings/emotions it stirred in you?

I absolutely do!! It’s such a wonderful memory. Outside of school a friend and I used to spend a lot of time at the Heidelberg project, we loved exploring that spot and getting to know the artists who worked there. One day, one of the artists was planning to go gather materials for an installation piece he was planning and he was telling us about this old factory where the Salvation Army used to store donated goods and then at some point abandoned the operation. So, there was this rumored space in the basement of the Packard plant where there were supposed to be loads of old, donated goods and he wanted to go there to gather supplies. We joined him in the adventure and that was my first trip to the Packard Plant. We found out that there was indeed a giant room filled with abandoned, donated goods, I remember distinctly a small mountain of old pumps and we all climbed to the top, it was so surreal. There were giant boxes filled with belts, ice skates, winter boots, pants, etc. It was so weird.

We also wandered the whole factory which is about a mile and a half square, so it was enormous. It was so wild and I immediately fell in love and started going back to visit at every opportunity. When I moved to Detroit from my home, it was the first time I had ever lived in a city. I’m a rural gal, my childhood was spent almost entirely out of doors. The city was a bit of a culture shock and I was so homesick for quiet, rural spaces. The minute I entered that old building, it made me feel like I was home, it brought me back to those spaces that I missed. It was so quiet and peaceful, plants and trees were growing wild, I remember in the spring you could even hear the winter ice melting, dripping from the floors above. So much of it, oddly enough, reminded me of home. Those were the feelings and emotions that it first brought up in me.

When exploring buildings or finding source material, do you need to connect with a space or focus more on its visual textures/composition?

Both of those aspects are important in my practice. I absolutely need to connect with a space, to spend time with it, to walk and explore it. I think the second aspect, takes place more often in the studio, but I do spend time in real life exploring visual textures and compositions, especially in framing the photos that I take but then through those photos, in the studio is when those aspects become imperative.

What was the most challenging piece in this exhibition? How did it help you grow as an artist?

Because I was trying to mimic the look and feel of old, analog photographs, I found the color palette to be new and challenging. The most pronounced difference was in the pieces Sunset and Sunset II, I loved the color palette so much, it was very nostalgic but very different than my usual colors which lean heavily into a blue/purplish range, these had so much green and yellow. I like how they came out though. I think that any chance you get to venture outside of your normal mode of working, helps you to grow as an artist, it adds a broader range of knowledge to your ever-growing toolbox of skill sets.

Can you share with us a piece of artwork or an artist who has had a significant impact on you?

The 20th-century American painter, Andrew Wyeth has definitely had a significant impact on my work. Especially his watercolor landscapes of winter scenes of the countryside in Pennsylvania where he lived. I am so madly in love with his monochromatic palette, his minimal compositions, and his dedication to representing the banal in such a classical and melancholic style. They’re just so beautiful.

You love to backpack and go mountaineering when not in the studio. Can you share with us your pack must-haves and one of your favorite trails you’ve hiked or places you’ve climbed?

I do love backpacking and mountaineering! What a fun but challenging question! Let’s see, my backpacking pack is entirely different than my mountaineering pack. When I’m mountaineering my pack is so full of essential gear for whatever climb I’m doing, whether it’s alpine ice, alpine rock or glacier travel, that and I have to go as light as possible so I can be quick, so I love to splurge on pack weight when I’m not mountaineering. I love to bring fun food items when I’m just backpacking, like a fancy mountain charcuterie, some wine or fresh veggies, something surprisingly luxurious for a remote mountain camp. It’s always such a joy to share with your friends and such a treat for yourself too. Food tastes like a million times better in the mountains after a long day of hiking.

I have way too many favorite places to pick just one!! If I’m just rock climbing, it would have to be Smith Rock State Park in Oregon, it’s like a home away from home for me, filled with a lifetime of happy memories. For alpine climbing and hiking, definitely Northwestern Washington, The North Cascades National Park, The Enchantments, The Monte Cristo Range there are so many amazing places to hike, camp, backpack and alpine climb in Washington State. To narrow it down though if folks are looking to visit, I recommend a hike to Lake Anne on Mount Shuksan, its beyond stunning. I’ve climbed that mountain so many times and it never ever gets old. Very close by too, is a hike to the base of Mount Baker starting at the Heliotrope Ridge Trailhead, it takes you, in very short order, right to the terminus of the Colmen Demming Glacier and I think getting up close and personal with an alpine glacier is something everyone should do in their lifetime if they are able. They are sadly, melting so fast and are one of the most beautiful and life-changing things I have ever experienced. You can even camp up high, next to the glacier, and fall asleep on the mountain, listening to the glacier move and calf. Really words cannot express how amazing it is, and its actually very accessible.

Do you have any rituals for tapping into a creative flow?

Since so much of my work is inspired by place, I find going for walks or bike rides to be great for getting inspired. Wandering around, mind empty, just taking it all in, looking for interesting moments, textures, and scenes, this really gets me excited to make new work.

We’re very excited for you and your pursuit of an MFA; we imagine that studying on top of your studio work is a lot to juggle. What are some of your strategies for balancing both responsibilities?

It is a lot to juggle for sure but I think working full time as an artist really prepares you for heavy workloads like this. I do have a few strategies; the most important I think is to stay incredibly organized and on top of things. That sounds so lame but for me, it really helps. I make so many lists and have multiple calendars with deadlines and goals, going at once. The unhealthier strategy is that I just work too much, a 12-14 hour day is not out of the ordinary, which is not cool I know, but I think there are busy seasons and slow seasons in life and I’m just in a busy one. In order to balance that though, I think it’s important to take long breaks and schedule one in advance so you can look forward to it. Right now, I’m working towards a break at Christmas time which will be amazing! The other is to carve out time every day for something you enjoy that helps you care for yourself. For me it’s time on my bike during my commute, going bouldering at the gym, doing yoga, or making good healthy food for myself. Whatever makes you feel grounded, and cared for, do something every day to keep yourself healthy and happy.

The MFA will help you be able to have the opportunity to teach. What are some of the characteristics or techniques you’d like to adopt from the teachers who have helped guide you? What are some things that you’d want to do differently than some of the teachers you had?

I was actually awarded a graduate teaching fellowship this year which is pretty cool, they give two students out of every cohort the opportunity to teach a class during their time as a graduate student, so I’ll get to try out some of these techniques sooner than later. Next semester here at Emily Carr, I will be teaching an introduction to drawing course! I’m so incredibly nervous but also excited. In my experience, I have noticed that teachers have this habit of projecting their own art careers, their biases, and ideas of what the art world is onto their students. I’ve had both really amazing teachers who didn’t do this and really awful learning experiences where teachers did project and it’s stifling. I’ve had teachers who believed in what I was doing and supported me, gave me space to be myself which was a game changer, and, on the flip side, teachers who thought that what I was doing had no place in the “art world” that it was too boring, too safe, too commercial, too childlike, too anything, you name it, I’ve heard it. I would love to be the type of teacher who could be more inclusive in showing that there is a place for all types of artmaking, that “making it” in the art world can look like many, many different things.

Most of my teaching experience up until now has been in the mountains, which is a heavily male-dominated space. I’ve really enjoyed watching other women teach, and lead in the mountains. They have a way of creating such a supportive, inclusive environment, one where you feel safe in expressing your feelings, whether it’s a hesitation or an excitement over something you’ve accomplished. These expressions are often stifled in male-dominated climbing spaces, but climbing in all-women spaces is like a festival of feelings and encouragement and I’m here for it! There’s a statistic we all learn about in backcountry travel that I will try and summarize, regarding avalanche safety, which says that there’s this incredibly dangerous age range among men in the mountains, roughly like 24-34 years of age, I’m just guessing here but it’s around there. Anyways, if you add a female to that team the likelihood of the group avoiding an accident goes up like 50% or something ridiculous like that. Women are amazing, they communicate better, they’re more supportive, they listen, they delegate more, and express hesitation because they don’t let their egos get in the way. I think women are incredible leaders and teachers and I plan to bring this energy to the classes I teach. To create a safe, brave space for expression, for trying new things, and for learning, connecting, and sharing. I can’t wait!!

What is one of the most memorable meals of your life thus far? It could be the food or the company that made it have a lasting impression.

A couple of years ago, I went to Japan for the first time to visit my friend Kozy Kitchens and her husband Dan. They were moving back to Japan and had bought an old farmhouse to renovate and turn into their home and an artist residency someday. While we were there, she took us to visit some friends who had a similar old farmhouse in the mountains that they had turned into a bed and breakfast style place to stay the night. We had this most amazing dinner cooked in an Irori, and we all sat on the floor around it and roasted wild game from the surrounding countryside and ate wild, foraged foods from the forests, there were some other friends visiting as well, from all over and it was just magical. The company and conversation were amazing, the food was amazing, and all in this ancient farmhouse in the mountains of rural Japan. What a great experience, I will never forget it! I really hope to visit again someday when travel becomes possible and the grad school craziness is over.

‘Hiraeth’ will be on view from November 13, 2021 – December 4, 2021

Opening Reception with the Artist(s):
Saturday, November 13, 2021
6:00-9:00pm

Interview with Jimbo Lateef for ‘Shades of Feelings’

Thinkspace Projects is excited to present Jimbo Lateef’s ‘Shades of Feelings.’

Lateef explore using modern calligraphy also known as contemporary calligraphy to represent his subject as an identity and style in art ranges from functional inscriptions and designs to fine-art pieces where the letters may or may not be readable, in my own aspect is not readable, it just a design that represents the forms of the subject.

In anticipation of ‘Shades of Feelings’ our interview with Jimbo Lateef explores his desire to create, how he developed his artistic style, and what other skills he’d like to explore.

For those not familiar with your work, can you tell us a little bit about your background? How did you come to be introduced to Thinkspace?

My Name is Jimbo Lateef, am from Nigeria, Lagos b.(1999)

I studied Art at Yaba College of Technology

I was introduced to Thinkspace art by an art Collector 

What was the inspiration behind this latest body of work? What themes were you exploring?

My new body of works is the theme “Shades of Feelings,” I was inspired by different varieties of people’s emotions around my society. The people I see and meet every day and their various thoughts, feelings, behavioral responses.

Can you share with us one of your most colorful and impactful memories?

My most colorful moment was when I got admitted to study creative arts. After trying for 2 years, I had an art teacher in secondary schools that encouraged me enough to go further and study more about art. That has actually had a great impact on my life 

What was the most challenging piece in this exhibition? How did it help you grow as an artist?

All the pieces were challenging. I learn from one piece to create another one, the process actually helps me focus on developing and strengthening my skills — explore more of my creativity 

What does a day in the studio look like for you? How do you structure your days? 

Making art is the most important thing that artists do. I will always create when am in the studio, I work every day and probably rest when I need to make some research and immerse myself in culture.

Do you have any rituals that help you tap into a creative flow? 

No, I don’t have any rituals that help me tap into a creative flow. I make research. 

What is your most favorite and least favorite part of the creative process? 

The most favorite part of my creative process is using my lines to create forms, light and shade.

Your use of calligraphy style strokes is really dynamic, when did you first start experimenting with this style and how long did it take you to really perfect the look and feel? 

I started experimenting with calligraphy lines when I first came across “GOTHIC” font in a design. That has been my favorite font. I use the font to write each time I’m given assignments to work on in school. I’ve really perfected the look and feel that it doesn’t take a lot of time anymore. It’s now part of me, have mastered it over years.

Who are some of your creative influences?

Every good artist I have met is part of my creative influence.

If you could have any skill or topic downloaded into your brain, what would you want to be able to do/ be an expert at?

I will love to have good skills in sculpting to explore more with my lines 

If you could throw a dinner party for five people dead or alive, who would be on the guest list? What would be on the menu? What would be the ice breaker question?

I will love to have a dinner party with a great contemporary artist and creative mind, and the question will be “What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?”

Boris Anje’s (aka Anjel) U.S. solo debut, ‘Black is the Color of Gold’ opens November 13th | Thinkspace Projects

Thinkspace Projects is thrilled to present Boris Anje’s (aka Anjel) latest body of work and U.S. solo debut, ‘Black is the Color of Gold.’ Featuring an entirely new collection of his vivid neo-pop portraits of contemporary African dandies, this exhibition is wildly engaging.

By placing his subjects against contrasting heavily logoed backgrounds, Anje reveals their sartorial elegance and pride, while drawing attention to the pervasive influence of consumer culture. His work toes the line between societal issues including race, identity, and consumerism. Paying special attention to depicting compelling portraiture from different generations, Anje’s work creates an unspoken dialogue between the subject and viewer.

“In these paintings, I portray joys, fears, emotions, and happenings to situate the viewer in the same realm as my subjects, who are painted in logoed atmospheres of brilliant colours. These brands are repurposed as devices of pride, of protection, of projection, and in a way, a level of armor. They serve as a membrane between what the subjects feel and what they’re trying to project out into the world.”

Using the garment as a device of storytelling, Anje channels, first and foremost, pride from his subjects. The pop culture influence is undeniable, adding layers to the paintings beyond physical realism that pull viewers in.

A recent new addition to Anje’s work is his use of symbols from the Adinkra alphabet, which is a contemporary way of writing some of the languages spoken in Ghana and Ivory Coast, including Akan, Dagbani, Ewe and Ga. The Adinkra symbols are sometimes utilized in the logo designs of entrepreneurial brands, where the symbols are used to represent sayings, proverbs or concepts, such as wisdom, strength, unity, wealth, love and peace.

“I want to give value to the black body,” Anjel declared from his studio in the Cameroon coastal city of Douala. “I’m trying to give some kind of attention, some kind of attraction, to the person of color.”

‘Black is the Color of Gold’ opens November 13, 2021 with a reception from 6PM to 9PM. On view until December 4, 2021 at Thinkspace Projects.

About Boris Anje
Born in 1993 in Bamenda, Cameroon, Boris Anje Tabufor discovered art in early childhood. Immediately after his BAC in 2012, he took the entrance exam to the Foumban Institute of Fine Arts (IBAF). During his studies he attended the workshops of certain local artists and the contemporary art center Les Ateliers Sahm in Brazzaville where he met the sappers. In 2015, he obtained a professional license in drawing-painting from IBAF and then his Master’s degree in 2018. He is currently pursuing research and artistic production. Some of his works have found their home in major collections such as the permanent collection of the World Bank in Washington, GANDUR Foundation, and also in the personal collections of certain collectors all over the world. He lives and works in Douala.

Oscar Joyo’s debut west coast solo show ‘HOME_BODY’ opens November 13th | Thinkspace Projects

Thinkspace Projects is excited to present Oscar Joyo’s debut west coast solo show, ‘HOME_BODY.’ In this collection Joyo strikes a balance between honoring his Malawian heritage and the world around him, resulting in pieces that were created both for himself and a broader audience.

In this case, HOME_BODY has a double meaning. The first is the one most of us are familiar with, being someone who finds joy being at home, and the second is a more personal approach, referencing the world that is always active in Joyo’s mind.

Joyo is becoming well known for his expressive portraiture that features his unique combination of photorealism and tribal patterning rendered in bright neons, coated in layers of thick, clear resin. His process-driven practice fuses together traditional and digital mediums to explore imagery and themes connected to Afrofuturism and Afrosurrealism, all imbued with a spiritual psychedelia.

For Joyo, the creative process is profoundly influenced by music, and his interest in visually representing the sounds he perceives. As Joyo overlays his portraiture with vibrant, dynamic lines, shapes and patterns, they are in response to musical tempo, timbre and mood. As he further explores and understands his personal relationship with sound and its conversion into visual imagery, Joyo hopes that this synesthesia will be a point of connectivity for the viewer.

“These works are inspired by anxieties and personal revelations during times of turbulence. HOME_BODY expresses a feeling of solace while exploring new and evolving themes within my practice. This body of work is a result of finding comfort and growth within oneself.”
Each element of the pieces works together to create this complex exhibition. Instead of a traditional orientation with each painting, Joyo opted to maximize the depth and dimension. The resulting collection explores balance, growth, and evolution.

‘HOME_BODY’ opens November 13, 2021 with a reception from 6PM to 9PM. On view until December 4, 2021 at Thinkspace Projects.

About Oscar Joyo
Oscar Joyo (b.1992) is a Malawian-born, Chicago-based artist.  His genre of work blends elements of Afrofuturism and Afrosurrealism. Oscar’s love for the arts began as a young boy drawing cartoons in Malawi.  He and his passion for art traveled all the way to Chicago, where he graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Life Drawing at The American Academy of Art in 2015.  Shortly after graduating, he explored and developed his technique of tribal patterns and vivid portraiture.

His primary medium is acrylic paint and resin on wood.  The recent inclusion of resin as a top layer is a means to create dimension and depth within his paintings.  Oscar attributes his chromesthesia (the ability to see colors when hearing sounds) to his use of various gradients and psychedelic colour schemes.  He pays homage to his Malawian heritage by his use of percussive shapes and patterns that breathe life into the paintings while simultaneously celebrating Blackness and hope for a better future.

Stephanie Buer’s ‘Hiraeth’ opens November 13th | Thinkspace Projects

STEPHANIE BUER
Hiraeth

Hiraeth is a Welsh word, meaning to miss/long for a place that you can never visit again. It perfectly captures the emotions felt by Buer for her beloved Packard Plant in Detroit, Michigan. Once a sprawling, lawless urban metropolis that was the epicenter of a decaying Detroit, as the city pulls itself up by the boot straps, the Packard Plant has slowly begun to be torn down and is no longer the playground for urban explorers it once was. Hiraeth is Buer’s love letter to the Packard, painted on small wood panels that are meant to recall the look and feeling of flipping through printed photographs and reliving memories of one’s past, a past that can no longer be revisited, as you look through the images… of what once was.

About Stephanie Buer
Stephanie Buer began pursing a career in art at the College for Creative Studies in Detroit, Michigan where she fell in love with the city and urban exploration. She spent the next ten years living in Detroit and developing as an artist.

Her urban landscapes explore the many layers of history found in the marginal areas of cities. From the imprints of industry and production to its eventual decay. Each subject has a historical context, an original purpose that is now lost. She is fascinated by how these places change as they succumb to the manipulation of vandals, artists and the resilience of nature ever slowly growing alongside. Through her art Stephanie seeks to find beauty and peace in these forgotten and unloved areas of cities. She currently works in Portland, Oregon at her studio in the Falcon Art Community.