Elizabeth Wagget: An Exclusive Interview with A.I.M.O.
What a pleasure meeting you at Joseph Gross Gallery. Can you touch upon how you were involved in the Artleadher show?
As you know Mashonda Tifrere curated her debut Art LeadHer show at the Joseph Gross gallery, of which I’ve always been a fan. I'd just had a solo show in NYC and some of my pieces from the show were shown to Mashonda who asked to see more. As it happened I'd been working on something new which they chose to put in the show, I literally completed it the day before, so it must have been meant to be!
I was so thrilled to be part of it! You know the drill, lack of female art in galleries, pay, representation in museums, etc. There are always issues simmering below the surface. Seeing it approached actively and in a graceful and positive way, as Mashonda does everything, is the best. She and her team are a dream to work with.
Your palette of black and gold just works. Were you always a fan of this palette? If so, what does it signify to you?
Monochrome, particularly lavishes of white, will always make my heart beat faster. I come from a design background and for me color has always been something I prefer to see in nature. I knew this early on when in school my art teacher caught me layering white paint in textures and told me that wasn't going to get me an 'A'. White artworks from Michelangelo's David, to Jasper Johns' White Flag and Christopher Wool’s stencils enthrall me.
The monochrome allows me to focus on the stark beauty of something not traditionally considered pleasing, presenting it in a graceful way. Add in the dichotomy of gold, and it brings context and dimension to my work. The arbitrary value of gold juxtaposed onto an invaluable creature visually tells a story, commenting on our misplaced values in the process.
The combination allows the work to tell a story as well as be visually appealing. Otherwise I'm just drawing still life.
What is your favorite subject matter to paint and what about it resonates within you?
Usually something from nature, an animal, insect, etc. I just become so drawn into the object itself, whatever it may be, this beautiful miracle. You learn so much when you’re studying an object/creature for days or weeks at a time. I'm a bit of a crazy animal lady as it is and although it may seem macabre to some, I'm presenting them in a graceful way, which still allows the message to impact the audience. It's my way of preserving the beauty, soul, importance and life of the beast so long after its been discarded -- if it was even ever respected when it was alive -- and I try to emphasize that in my pieces. That’s the point really, trying to bring these creatures or objects to life and hit the viewer with the stark reality behind them, in them and after them, yet also the beauty of the organic shape. I really loved creating the Stag Beetle and The Lobster, I think their shiny bodies and depth really allowed me to showcase them well.
Were you trained in Art School?
In design school! My Undergraduate is in Fashion and my Post Grad in Design! I feel lucky to have taken the path I did, which led me first into teaching art actually. I've never been conventional with my approach and think this is significant in my work. lot of the techniques I have brought my design background. IT’S DEFINITELY A BIG DIFFERENTIATION IN MY WORK.
What art hangs on your walls?
I'm a minimalist, or at least try to be in a Manhattan apartment! It’s not just something I put into my work, but into all aspects of my life as well. There's a buffalo skull from a local artist I bought back from Bali, a Lisa Schultz neon (white obviously) and one of my pieces. I like to rotate what’s on my walls though because it contributes to my frame of mind and the greater creative process in a huge way.
Please tell our readers about the incredible piece you created for the Prince's trust and how you became involved?
Growing up I was always very aware of the work that they do, which is helping disadvantaged youths in the UK. I am still pinching myself, because I never thought I would have the opportunity to contribute to such a prestigious event. It was such an honour. A collector of my work is close to the Trust and showed them my work. The Prince’s Trust then asked if I would do a piece for them. They are amazing and have been so complimentary of my work. They are also incredibly well-organised which made it very easy for me. In fact the winner of the piece was kind enough to reach out and tell me how much they loved the artwork, which I was thrilled about. No matter how many pieces you sell, as an artist its always great to here the views of the collectors.
Is your artwork available to purchase? If so, where can our readers find your work?
Absolutely! They can find my originals from the Joseph Gross Gallery in NYC, Art Angels in LA and my editions are available on Saatchiart.com. I also do select commissions throughout the year, which I often work in with my travels. I've just been asked to do a huge 2-meter skull for a collector who's building his house in England, which fits in nicely with going home!