Known for her work at pioneering gallery Deitch Projects, Kathy Grayson is now director of her own project, the fast rising HOLE NYC. She's been busy outside of NYC as well, most recently working on The Green Box Project down in Miami.
Her first curatorial project in the digital realm, Green Box brought her previous "Facemaker" exhibition (which ran at RoyalT in Los Angeles in April of 2011) to video format. Four artists join the fold — Ben Jones, Allison Schulnik, Takeshi Murata, and Mat Brinkman — each occupying a side of the Green Box cube.
The exhibition ran from September 30 to October 12, 2011.
Complex spoke to Grayson about the project and her desire to expand the audience for art.
Head to the next page to begin the interview.
Tell me a little about the impetus behind the Green Box Project?
I was very excited to adapt a curatorial project I executed in real space to a virtual space. I constantly struggle with the fact that gallery attendance is down in recent years, and I put so much work into an exhibition that many people will never see in person, but instead over the internet or in a catalogue.
I have always wanted to develop a way for people all over the world to experience one of my curatorial projects whether they get to visit the gallery or not, developing a curatorial project in the virtual world was then of great interest to me and also a great challenge.
It seems you are always interested in exploring format - whether it be poster or augmented reality - would you agree? What excites you most about experimenting with different media?
My overarching goal is to bring ART FOR EVERYONE. Working at Deitch Projects for eight, I soaked up Jeffrey Deitch's mandate that art needn't be just for the 1% of people who can afford it, that art is not just a luxury good. Young artists especially make works that cross over into all other areas, design, music, fashion and product, so the project I have done in the past Postermat (poster show), Art Machine (vending machine), etc. and the artist shop we maintain in the front of the gallery, are all geared towards EXPANDING THE AUDIENCE FOR ART. This augmented reality project fits perfectly into this goal.
In re-imagining "Facemaker" what were your goals? As a curator what are the challenges of adapting an idea to a new way of making (on the side of the artist) and seeing (from an audience perspective)?
Adapting Facemaker for augmented reality was difficult because there were so many small paintings and drawings, large paintings and large drawings, work of all sizes, that would not translate into the small format of a phone. Thankfully, some of the best works in the show were video pieces that explored new ways to make a face, and the liveliness and experimental nature of these videos made them perfect candidates for augmented reality.
The title of the show FACEMAKER came from a video piece Ben Jones made in 2007 so that was the beginning of my thinking on the subject. Allison Schulnik had paintings in the exhibition but I remembered a fantastic claymation video she had made for the band Grizzly Bear and had her adapt that to focus on the faces invovled. Then Mat Brinkman had made a series of sequential drawings and I had the idea that animating them would make a great contribution as well. Lastly, Takeshi Murata is one of the best young video artists around and his piece was a study in exploding and reconstituting a face through hacked video.
Those four works covered the themes in the actual exhibition and were potent and pungent even at a small scale and excerpted.
What about location? You're in Miami for Green Box, you've been at Deitch (obviously, and The Hole has had two different venues.) How much does place matter to audience, in your opinion?
Miami is a great place to debut cutting edge emerging art. I have gone to Miami every December for 8 years for Art Basel Miami and am not only connected to artists there but also galleries, hotels, shops, bookstores, etc. It's a great place to see art and a great place to party.
I always bring my best stuff to Miami, whether the art for the booth or bands to perform in hotels or murals to paint in Wynwood, etc. so it comes naturally to bring your best shit to Miami.
In simplest terms, tell me a little about each artist?
Ben Jones is a legendary comic and new media artist. From sharpie drawings of comics to elaborate video paintings that meld paint and projected light, Ben has been a pioneer of new art since 2000.
Allison Schulnik is one of my favourite new painters from LA who slops on huge masses of paint onto her canvasses and almost sculpts it into an image. Her work with claymation is some of the most vivid and evocative work I have seen and she is a master of creating new worlds that her strange beings inhabit.
Mat Brinkman is a legendary underground comics and noise and art man from the collective Forcefield that came out of a building, Fort Thunder, where he and his teammates lived and worked back in 1998-2002. His artwork is very dark and very innovative; the series of heads he made on one giant pad of rice paper, where each drawing bled into the next page, resulting in 48 drawings that read like an animation.
Takeshi Murata comes from Providence RI around the time of Fort Thunder and the pioneering animation department at RISD. Takeshi's big innovation was hacking away how a computer reads video information, and using code, making pixels do amazing things they have never done before. He is a real video art pioneer.