Interview with James Marshall “Dalek” for The Space Monkey Returns!

Thinkspace Projects is pleased to present The Space Monkey Returns featuring new works by North Carolina-based artist James Marshall. Also known by his mutant cyborg epithet “Dalek,” an ode to the classic sci-fi British series Doctor Who. In anticipation of the exhibition opening, Saturday, December 2nd, we have an interview with James Marshall aka Dalek discussing the evolution of the Space Monkey and how he continues to challenge himself as an artist.

Opening Reception:
Saturday, December 2, 2017
6:00pm – 9:00pm

SH: Why do you think the Space Monkey has resonated with people so much?
JM: Maybe because it’s so representational of what is fascinating about humanity. I’d ideally hope that people can see a lot of the humor in it that is part of their own experiences through life. We sort of have to embrace the absurdity of our own stupidity as we stumble through navigating endless nuances.

SH: What is your favorite thing about being an artist? What do you think the role of art / the artist is in society?
JM: I just like making art. It’s fun for me. therapeutic in a way to relay a lot of my thoughts..but more so a way to keep my hands busy and mind occupied. Art/artist have always and will always be important to connect the dots of cultural shifts and the human experience. its connective tissue for the larger organism. that develops and delivers complex experiential layers into clear tangible objects.. how people relate to art is how it connects to their own lives. It gives meaning… it gives a voice… power and so on.

SH: Who has been one of the most influential people in your artistic development? Have they shared any advice with you other artists can apply to their work or journey?
JM: Me…and I only say that in so far as I need to remind myself constantly to stay motivated and push what I’m doing. Sometimes consciously, sometimes subconsciously…everyone’s journey is different. So I just try to keep focused on whats important to me and my own development as a person, and therefore as an artist.

SH: I know it’s old news, but for many, they were not aware at one point you were a studio assistant for Murakami. One choice story or a bit of wisdom from him that has stuck with you, that you’d care to share?
JM: No, it was a long time ago and hasn’t been relevant to my life in ages. I learned some technical stuff that helped me get organized, but ultimately I modified things to suit my needs.

SH: Who were some of your favorite punk bands when growing up?
JM: Oh man, Minor Threat for sure, The Freeze, Ill Repute, Scream, Dead Kennedys, Agent Orange, The Faction.

SH: How do you continue to challenge yourself as an artist?
JM: I just know I need to challenge myself. I’ve never been cool with going through the motions in any aspect of life, part of why I dropped Space Monkey years ago, didn’t feel I had anywhere to take it given my skill sets. I’ve learned a lot since then and it made sense to revisit it, I got excited by it again and I’m sure it’ll wear thin again…maybe? We’ll see, I just keep trying to teach myself how to paint how to understand color better, just the basics. Maybe once I figure that out I’ll get rolling. Without a doubt, I still feel like I haven’t really learned to paint yet, too many distractions in life and making art just isn’t my main focus. So maybe one day it will be and I’ll crank out some stuff.

SH: Your work really translates a love for color. What is your favorite color, and how many paint colors do you have in your studio? Do you mix them yourself?
JM: Yeah. Just trying to learn color, mixing them helps. I have a couple hundred right now, don’t have a favorite really, they are all good. Depends on the mood, day of the week and so on.

SH: Are you detail-oriented and a geometry nerd outside of your work, or is all the neurosis tapped out on the canvas?
JM: No, I gotta have things certain ways, there is a lot of that in my day to day life.

SH: Do you remember the first sticker you created of the Space Monkey? If so, do you have an image of it you can share?
JM: It was a long time ago… Shepard Fairey helped me make stickers back in 97 or maybe it was 98, anyhow…no photos…not that I have anyways.

SH: Who do you think everyone should look up?
JM: That’s a broad question, they should look up anyone that they want. I could name a million things, relevant to different aspects of what I find interesting in the world. It probably wouldn’t be an artist. Let’s be honest, for all artist do, it’s nowhere near as fascinating as what scientist or people in other exploratory fields contribute to the growth and development of our species.

SH: What about other artists’ work excites or fascinates you?
JM: Hard to’s just a reaction.. usually based on whether something is interesting or not.. so much shit in this world is boring and unoriginal.. so i just like people who actually have something striking to say. Honesty always comes through in art or anything really, so if it feels genuine, it’s good. Too many posers out there.

SH: Whom would you want to collaborate with, dead or alive? The person can be in any area of the arts; film, dance, music, etc.
JM: Walt Disney probably.

SH: When not in the studio, what would an ideal day look like?
JM: Hanging with the family, that’s all I like to do when I’m not painting and watch Duke basketball.

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