Jim Houser will be showing his latest body of work alongside Jeremy Fish in their upcoming exhibition opening Saturday, June 25th. Jim Houser’s work is an analysis of self and the world, stripped of pretense and broken down into its most simplistic form of communication. In turn creating work that is both playful and thought-provoking. Our interview with Jim Houser discusses the inspiration behind this latest body of work, his thoughts on the art world, and a basic day in the life of this Philadelphia artist.
SH: What is the inspiration or narrative behind the latest body of work ?
JH: It is all just continued self-examination , but hopefully has elements to it that are universal and that people can relate to. Looking back over what I have made over the last few months, my health comes up a lot in there. My son has started to work his way more and more into things, I think maybe appropriating ideas of how he sees things. Also, there’s some meditation in the work about the work itself, the how and why I make what I make.
SH: How do you work through creative blocks and self-doubt?
JH: I make work because of that stuff, not despite it. It seems like the periods where I feel good about myself and my work is usually when I sit back and rest. That zone of feeling frustrated and or anxious is kind of a sweet spot for getting things out for me, unfortunately.
SH: As you are showing alongside Jeremy Fish, what are a few of your favorite aspects of his works?
JH: His craftsmanship and attention to detail. I constantly see things from Jeremy that boggle my mind from a technical standpoint. And also his work ethic, he is incredibly prolific.
SH: You’ve been a part of the New Contemporary Art movement for well over a decade, what are your feelings about the movement, your place in it, and where it is headed ?
JH: The older I get, the less energy or interest I have to look around at what direction that stuff takes. I just do my thing and keep my head down, really. As far as my place in anything goes, if I am thought of as a good person who makes honest work then that is really all I could ask for.
SH: Your work possess different reoccurring symbols that connect to deeper meanings, care to elaborate on any of the “regulars”? Definitely, tell us a lil’ about my favorite, the Lurker please.
JH: The Lurker references those feelings of doubt and anxiety that you referred to, for the most part. But most of those reoccurring icons have multiple meanings.
SH: Your work has been described as visual poems, do you have a favorite poet? If not, do you have a favorite author?
JH: No, I don’t have a favorite poet. In fact, I like writing poetry but don’t really enjoy reading formal poetry as such . I’m drawn to a particular type of poetic prose, like a specific type of well crafted evocative sentence. It’s hard for me to put a finger on exactly what that is. But if I find three or 4 of them in a book, then to me that’s a pretty good book. As far as what I like to read, I read a lot of science fiction and historical non-fiction.
SH: When did you first find your artistic voice, when did it all click? How have you grown over the years?
JH: Man, I don’t know. I’ve written and drawn my whole life. I guess once I noticed that other people were drawn to what I made and were responding to it? Maybe my mid -twenties ? But iIdon’t feel any differently about what I make now than I did when I was 10 years old .
SH: Your work has a playfulness to it and you’re very open about sharing your son’s artistic aptitude, has he influenced any of your work?
JH: I think the playfulness people perceive may come from trying to execute an idea in the simplest way possible. Even my more complicated paintings are just a collection of single simple thoughts. In a lot of ways, the best things my son makes or does will capture that concept perfectly. I’ll look at things he draws and think never in a million years would I be able to pare things down to that, and yet here it is .
SH: What is the biggest misconception about being an artist?
JH: It makes me sad when people refer to themselves at “not artistic”, but in the same breath they can prepare a spectacular meal or use some novel way to fix their car or their water heater. Everyone is creative, it’s part of the human condition.
SH: What does a day in the studio look like and your creative process?
JH: Get the kid ready for school, get him out the door. I usually work from 9am -1pm then eat something and take a nap. Seamus gets home at 3pm and we hang out until Jess gets home at 7pm. We eat dinner as a family. Once he is in bed, I work some more , 8-10pm. That’s a pretty standard day.
For more information on the exhibition please visit the Thinkspace Gallery website. The opening reception is from 6 – 9pm on Saturday, June 25th.