Monday, 8 August 2011

Featured Artist - Erin Burns

Erin Burns' work involves delicately painting and marking the surface of a photograph taken in a natural environment which is then mounted on aluminum and then covered in multiple layers of viscous polymer resin and paint. The viewer appears to be looking through a translucent solid where textures, layers, and imagery converge.

Where did you train? What did training teach you and what do you wish it had taught you?
I have a Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) from the University of California, Berkeley and a Master of Fine Arts (MFA) from New York University. I was born in the San Francisco Bay Area, California and moved to Brighton in 2003.

When and where did you first want to do what you do?
I was a creative, theatrical kid. I loved dressing up and drawing and thought I’d be an actress or artist or vet when I grew up. I have always loved animals but am squeamish and cry at the sight of an injured spider or crushed snail, so it was a safer option to head down the creative route.

One favourite living artist?

Gosh there are so many. I guess if money weren’t an issue and I could live with someone’s work it would have to be the German artist, Gerhard Richter. To see his work in person makes me physically tingle and sometimes even burst into tears. His ability to render raw emotion via paint handling is magnificent.

One favourite historical artist?

Joseph Beuys for the sadness, drama, and complexity. I find his work very moving although it is so different to my process.

Where do you get most of your inspiration from?
Everything and anything can be an inspiration. Books, movies, clothing patterns, design mags, nature, signage. I am constantly taking in imagery that makes its way into my work. I just bought a bunch of wallpaper samples to use as inspiration for my paintings.

What is the most interesting / fun job you have had?

I used to dress mannequins for a living when I was a window dresser in San Francisco. I went store to store coming up with creative ways to sell clothes with props and design. It was nice to get paid for having a good eye, I couldn’t believe you could get paid for being creative in that way. I loved it.

Have you had any interesting work related collaborations?
I am still in touch with many of my New York classmates from graduate school and a few of us have done mail art projects where we send small panel paintings back and forth to each other in the post and work collaboratively over a few months on a few pieces. It is always so exciting when something comes back to you, changed, but still with your hand in it. It is a very loose way of working in that you can’t be precious about the bits and pieces and you have to trust the process and let go. It is a good thing to do and can free your own process greatly.

At age 16 who most influenced your style?
Depeche Mode, The Thompson Twins, Benetton, Vogue and Glamour magazines. As for artists I was really into photography and followed the work of Annie Leibovitz.

Last book / film that blew your mind?
Book: What is the What because it was shocking, sad, moving, and inspiring.

Film: Honestly, Bridesmaids….it was such a good laugh.

What music are you currently listening to?
LCD Soundsystem, Regina Spektor, Elliott Smith

Who would you say buys your work?
My collectors range from supportive friends to strangers who see my work at art fairs to corporate buyers and interior designers. I have work in the Dorchester Hotel, Great Ormond Street Hospital, and the Ritz in Los Angeles. And just about all of my friends have purchased work. I have been very lucky to be so supported.

Where and what is your studio?
I have a studio at Trafalgar House in Portslade with obscure sea views. I am across from a dilapidated, abandoned building that is beautiful.

Do you have a good work/life balance?
Yes I think I do. My studio is very close to home so I can pop round at anytime to get things done if I suddenly feel the urge or need to check on a pour. I see “studio” time as anything that adds to my creative flow so travelling, gardening, walking the dogs, going to see shows, etc…these are all things that feed into my practice. Even sitting in the garden with the latest Elle D├ęcor magazine (one of my favourite pastimes) can be considered “studio work”.

What one word would describe your feeling of doing your work?

If you could be doing anything else what would it be?
Comedic actress if I was very brave.

If you could exhibit in any gallery in the world which would it be?
Ooh. I’d take Purdy Hicks in London to start with and then ideally end up with a major retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art in Manhattan when I am in my 80’s.

Any other relevant information?
I am showing some older work at the Brighton Art Fair this year so things that my dealer no longer takes to market. Make me an offer! Pieces will be priced to MOVE!

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