Interview with ROJA for ‘Asco’ | Exhibition March 4 – March 25, 2023

Thinkspace is pleased to present ROJAAsco‘ where time is organized around damage. Moves across, an undaunted predator. An animal eating from our heart, and against which we react with nostalgia or with the burning gesture of revenge. But here there is no yearning. There is fury, there is rage, there is nastiness. And the alternative -both its poignancy and its affliction- that the work seems to suggest, is: facing the annihilation of time, self-destruction; facing its nightmare, hallucination.

Our interview with ROJA shares how she fell in love with embroidery as her medium, the biggest challenge for her with this exhibition, and what her favorite apocalyptic landscape would be.

Can you share a little about your background and how you first heard of Thinkspace?

I got to know the gallery through Imon boy, an incredible artist whom I admire very much. He helped me to get to know you and you to get to know me.

I feel that this expansion that you offer me in terms of my work is very important to me, and you have a very nice working dynamic. For that I’m very grateful and flattered; I’m excited about everything that can come with Thinkspace.

Do you have any rituals that help you tap into a creative flow?
What does a day in the studio look like for you? How do you structure your

Every time it’s different, I don’t know if I would call it a ritual, but I produce in the morning: I prepare a mate, turn on the radio, listen to music or a podcast. It also helps me a lot if there is order, cleanliness in the environment; that clarifies my ideas.

And if there is creative flow: I don’t stop.

I have my studio at home, in the city of La Plata, but I am also quite nomadic, and I live the same amount of time in the city of Buenos Aires, so I always take my embroidery from one place to another and I set up my “studio” in different places (friends’ houses and houses of kittens I take care of). I usually spend a week in one city and a week in another. At the moment this is the way it is.

When the work is just underway and I know what I’m going to do, I move the frame and threads to wherever I’m going to finish it. The task and the work can be carried without much hassle, depending on the piece, but I can almost always carry everything in a backpack.

My days are generally unstructured. It depends on the amount of work I have, embroidery times are very slow, and I can spend more than a week on a small piece, so I try to work as many hours per day as possible. My favorite time to produce is in the mornings, and I usually stay up until the evening advancing on a work, although this is not always the case, because I also have to divide myself between other jobs that require time (and don’t give me as much satisfaction as embroidery or drawing).

What inspired you to explore embroidery as your artistic medium?

I have always drawn, made ceramics, engraving, and sometime I have painted (something I am taking up again these days). But when I started embroidering, that’s all I did.

I think I really started to feel that something was finished when I put the thread on it. I think with embroidery I was able to finish finding my style. Or rather, it gave me confidence in it and allowed me to be freer in my drawings.

I am very attracted to details and meticulous work, the task of embroidering for so many hours can be therapeutic and sometimes I feel abstracted from everything and I love that. I enjoy it very much.

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

I think all the pieces were a challenge, each piece has its moments, its emotion, I live with them a lot, I love them a lot and I also get angry with them. What made me grow the most in this case, I think, was learning to manage my time, my chaos, my organization and my anxiety. I found a healthier way to produce, knowing that it was hard work and I think it finally made me trust myself more.

Who are your creative influences? What about their vision inspires your artistic voice?

Well, my creative influences change a lot. They can be ephemeral, of the moment, I see a lot of things on the internet. I always find some artist that I really like and I can take something from them, but I don’t feel like I have a mentor, or a beacon that stays there.

I’ve always been very inspired by the cartoons I watched as a kid, like The Simpsons, Dragon ball, Rocco, Hey Arnold, and the ones I still watch, like South Park, Family Guy, Rick and Morty…. 

There are things I read that I know get ideas and motivation going, for example certain horror stories. Or movies, situations with friends… But mostly I’m influenced by my nightmares.

If you could collaborate with any artists in any sort of medium (i.e. movies, music, painting) who would you collaborate with, and what would be making?

I would like to illustrate a book or do embroidery for the horror stories of Mariana Enriquez, the Argentine writer.  Or take those stories to videos, short films… and do the art direction. I feel that there may be an aesthetic affinity, a certain shared universe with her writing… or at least that’s what I like to think. Short stories, taking a story to a video instant.

I would also like to illustrate Aurora Venturini’s Las primas. They are books that leave images stuck in my mind and I think my drawings would go very well with her descriptions. The descriptions of deformity in Venturini are great.

Your work explores self-destruction, annihilation, and an imaginative interpretation of an apocalyptic landscape. What is your favorite dystopian downfall of humanity? And would you want to live through it or be taken out early?

There is a contradiction in survive or be taken out, I am fascinated by the fact that I can see the end and at the same time I am terrified of dying, but I guess if all of humanity is going to be annihilated it wouldn’t bother me so much. I definitely want to see it and for all possible catastrophes to happen at the same time. That contradiction between the beauty of mass extinction and the terror it brings, all in one, is hard to describe.

Many times I have dreamed of giant, glowing metal structures falling from the sky. That might be a favorite apocalyptic landscape; I don’t know if it’s possible, though.

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 would like to be an ice skater.

What is one of your most memorable meals? It could be because of the food you ate or the company you dined with, but it is a meal that has stood the test of time

I remember some noodles I ate in Greece with my cousin Sara, after getting lost for hours in some wastelands full of kittens, we sat down in the first place we saw. I don’t know if there was anything special about them, I think they were just regular noodles. But I was very hungry and enjoyed them too much.

Photos courtesy of @BirdManPhotos.

Interview with Marissa Reyes for ‘Fighting Fickle Feelings For You’ | Exhibition on view March 4, 2023 – March 25, 2023

Thinkspace is pleased to present Marissa ReyesFighting Fickle Feelings For You’ where she explores sexism, the self and the delicate emotions that encompass romantic relationships. She uses the symbol of the banana to objectify men, they are a mere thing that is the source of the issues within her work. She uses self-portraiture to convey the intimate emotions and conversations that we have with ourselves about the choices we make within a relationship… where she allows the viewer insight into these very intimate moments of pain, hurt, love, doubt, and fear. Her inner thoughts can sometimes be like the wild west, lawless and violent. These very serious topics are encased in that same humor she felt as a 10 year old that she still doesn’t quite understand.

Our interview with Marissa Reyes shares her first memory of being sexualized by the opposite sex, what type of super human skill she would choose to have and who would be on her ultimate dinner party guest list.

Can you share a little about your background and how you first heard of Thinkspace?

I was born in Hollywood, CA, and was raised in West Covina, CA, I grew up with a dad who was in the Marines for most of my life so I bounced around a bit, living in Cuba, Oceanside, CA, San Diego, CA, Hemet, CA but mostly spending my time in LA County/San Gabriel Valley where the bulk of my family all live. I went to school at a Junior college, Citrus College In Glendora, CA, this is where I saw a possibility that I could pursue a career in the arts. I then pursued my bachelor’s in Studio Arts at The University of La Verne which then led to me pursuing my master’s degree In Studio Arts at Claremont Graduate University. My first group show out of Grad School was at Franchise Gallery. It was after this group show that I met Andrew and was given my first opportunity to show with Thinkspace. I’d heard of Thinkspace Gallery through reading Juxtapoz over the years and it’s insane to me that I just had my first solo with them, never thought I would be in this position but that just means I have to stop doubting myself.

Your work is both playful and confrontational, can you share a bit about your journey toward developing your style? What inspired you to revisit the shared childhood experience, especially of young girls, where eating a banana is no longer harmless?

Yeah, so I didn’t develop this style until my time at Claremont Graduate University. Throughout my undergraduate experience from Junior college to the University of La Verne where I received my BA in Studio Arts, I was super obsessed with figure drawing and Art History. I took as many classes as I could in those subjects. I fell in love with Rembrandt van Rijn’s self-portraits and how he used them to document his age and life. I took my skills in figure drawing and my love for Golden Age Dutch self-portraiture and in graduate school I was able to explore these ideas in depth. I found that using myself as the subject in a painting was a way, I could tell an ultimate truth, and share my experiences as a woman.

I retraced the first time I became aware of being sexualized by the opposite sex and felt it exposed a lot about myself and how I was shaped as a woman. I quickly realized by speaking to the women around me that this is a shared memory. I was driven by retribution, wanting to make things right. When I decided to take away the identity of the men and boys who had stolen my innocence and security, I made things right. I have created a safe space within my paintings for women who have been wronged and a learning space for the men who have committed the wrongdoing.

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

The challenging pieces in this exhibition are the paintings where the figure lives inside a detailed background and space. ‘Personal Punishment‘ is a good example of this, the figures are set in a saloon. I love to let my figures be the focal point with not much distraction, so pushing myself to explore settings and backgrounds was incredibly fun, but challenging

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

I sketch a lot, I like to make small watercolors, sketches, or color pencil drawings of paintings I want to create. This helps me visualize what will go on the next canvas.

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

A day in the studio for me usually starts with my sketchbook, I love to sketch current ideas. I feel like I have to get them out of my head and onto paper before I move on to painting for the day. I know this is going to sound super unproductive, but I have a tv in my studio and I’ll usually turn it on and play a comfort show or movie like, Harry Potter films, The Office, Game of Thrones to name a few and I’ll have it on in the background as I work. It helps me focus. Sometimes if I’m really feeling it, I’ll throw on some music. Currently listening to Tyler the Creator and Bjork. I will usually paint for hours late into the night. I stop painting when I feel it’s right and can’t go any further with the painting. I have no real time limit to spend in the studio; my only rule is that I must be there every day. I do tend to spend a lot of time in my studio. I love it.

Who is an artist or distinct piece of art that has significantly impacted how you thought about art or your own work?

Sarah Lucas’ work has had an enormous impact on my work. Seeing her sculptures for the first time changed the way I see the female figure and how I paint the female figure and why. Her work is bold and brave, she uses the female form to make important work about sexuality and societal repressiveness of women.

When do you feel most empowered and fierce like some of the banana-wielding women in your pieces?

I feel most empowered when I put on a badass outfit, some leather or latex some lashes and lipstick, and go out into the world. It’s unfortunate because I feel society has made women feel as though make-up is “bad” and we as women should not use it as something to feel more confident about because its “fake,” but I say that’s a bunch of bullshit men are saying because they have been taught through the media that women should be “naturally” beautiful. Well to that I say F that and I love me some heavy lashes, long eyeliner, and a red lip. It makes me feel powerful and sexy, and there is a lot of power in feeling sexy!

“Fighting Fickle Feelings For You” is your first solo exhibition, what advice would you give other artists who are working towards their first solo?

My advice would be to work, work and work some more!!! Procrastination is your worst enemy so put in that work.

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 would want to be a polyglot and just know an obscene number of languages.

Who would be on the guest list if you could throw a dinner party for five people, dead or alive? What would be on the menu? What would be the icebreaker question?

I’d invite Sarah Lucas, Baldur Helgason, Peter Saul, Bjork, and Artemisia Gentileschi. The Icebreaker wouldn’t be a question, but more of an assignment. I would give everyone a pencil and a sheet of paper and ask them to draw a self-portrait.

Exhibition on view through March 25, 2023 at:
Thinkspace Projects
4207 W. Jefferson Blvd.
Los Angeles, California 90016

For more about the exhibition and opening night click HERE!

Photos courtesy of @BirdManPhotos.

LA Times features b. Robert Moore’s first solo exhibition ‘Out the Mud: A Black American Rite of Passage’

“Moore’s work explores the complexities of being Black in America. He deconstructs traditional African tribes’ rites of passage and centers it on the rite of passage for African Americans, differentiating what coming of age means for the community here: survival. With works like “Amerikkka Made US ‘Crazy’” and “Messiah // Middle Child,” Moore dissects the life of Black youth and their resilience.”

‘Out the Mud: A Black American Rite of Passage’

Don’t miss this important show. Open Tuesday through Saturday from noon to 6pm through March 25th.

Thinkspace Projects
4217 W. Jefferson Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90016

Photo Tour of Marissa Reyes’s ‘Fighting Fickle Feelings For You’ and Roja’s ‘Asco’

Thinkspace presents a photo tour of  Marissa Reyes’s ‘Fighting Fickle Feelings For You.’ in Gallery III and ROJA’s ‘Asco’ in Gallery IV.

All exhibitions are on view at Thinkspace Projects now through March 25, 2023.

Photos by @BirdManPhotos.

Continue reading Photo Tour of Marissa Reyes’s ‘Fighting Fickle Feelings For You’ and Roja’s ‘Asco’

Photo Tour of B. Robert Moore’s ‘Out the Mud: A Black American Rite of Passage’ and F Cancer Charity Benefit Group Show 

Thinkspace presents a photo tour of b. Robert Moore‘s  ‘Out the Mud: A Black American Rite of Passage’ in Gallery I and the ‘F CANCER’ Charity Benefit Group Show in Gallery II

All exhibitions are on view at Thinkspace Projects now through March 25, 2023.

Photos by @BirdManPhotos.

Continue reading Photo Tour of B. Robert Moore’s ‘Out the Mud: A Black American Rite of Passage’ and F Cancer Charity Benefit Group Show