Andrea Marie Breiling
Andrea Marie Breiling received her MFA from Claremont Graduate University in 2014, and her BFA from University of California, Irvine in 2008, graduating with highest honors. Selected exhibitions include: Paddle8 "Don't Hate," an LGTBQ youth Benefit Auction 2015; Stretchin It Out, a solo exhibition with Sonce Alexander Gallery Los Angeles, CA 2015; Support at Support Room, Chinatown, Los Angeles, CA 2015; Dallas Art Fair 2015; MAS ATTACK 7 Santa Monica Art Studios; MAS ATTACK 5, Torrance Art Museum; G.L.A.M.F.A. (Greater Los Angeles Masters of Fine Art Juried Exhibition) 2013 and 2014; #ImNotBuyingIt, The Arcade, Los Angeles, CA 2014; C-Note, JAUS Gallery, Los Angeles, CA 2014; Zero Down, Mark Moore Gallery/5790 Projects, Los Angeles, CA 2014. Breiling’s latest work was recognized multiple times in the High & Low Culture section of the Los Angeles Times by staff writer Carolina A. Miranda, who gave the artist several enthusiastic shout-outs. Breiling has also been published both online and in print by: Patron Magazine, Fabrik Magazine, and was selected to appear in Fresh Paint Magazine 2014, and the New American Painting 2014, Pacific Coast, Issue #115. She is a co-founder of the queer-feminist performance collective Skunkworks, who were the 2014 recipients of the Albert B. Friedman Grant. Breiling is represented by Galleri Urbane in Dallas, TX, and Sonce Alexander Gallery in Los Angeles, CA. Currently Andrea is residing in MARFA, Texas preparing for her upcoming Solo Debut show at Galleri Urbane in October. (Below are pictures of Andrea in her current studio/residence in Marfa, Tx, taken while preparing new work for her upcoming show!)
I prefer to pursue the infinite possibilities that painting has to offer and explore the medium as an important part of feminist art practice. By forgoing deconstruction for optimism, I seek to playfully embrace the tension between discipline and improvisation. This was the approach I took creating my latest body of work for my recent solo exhibition "Stretchin It Out" at Sonce Alexander gallery in Los Angeles, CA this past June. The idea being that by embracing internal tensions and contradictions, the material would dictate its own integrated poetic — a raw, funky, colorful, humanistic, purposely handmade work existing on the cusp of ephemerality. I kept thinking that in order to create work that is both so visceral and raw yet airy and colorful, I have to mentally and physically ‘Stretch It Out.’ Utilizing materials such as the plastic wrapping of store-bought canvases, plastic drop cloths, found objects, repurposed-old paintings, new & old fabrics, pleather, oil, acrylics, aerosol spray, and liquid latex; I used the mix mash of materials to build texture and create a tension between the stretch of the plastic, and the delicacy of the materials which created moments of chaotic slippage and fragility I find very exciting, poetic and, above all else beautiful.
You recently spent a month in Marfa, TX creating work for your new show. Can you tell us more about the urge you felt to escape the city atmosphere and find solitude and ‘newness' in your practice?
Yes, I did just spend a month in Marfa, Texas, and now I am currently in Austin finishing up some last minute work before I head to Dallas to install my show. I was originally approached by the Dallas/Marfa based Galleri Urbane right after I graduated with my MFA last spring. I was really drawn to their program not only because they are super sweet authentic people, but also because they had a satellite location in Marfa. I had always been familiar with Marfa and the Chianti Foundation, and read a lot about the works in grad school. It always mesmerized me—the desert oasis for artists. I imagined right away that I would have a show with Galleri Urbane and make work in MARFA for it. The loved the idea of leaving the city and nestling into a town with less than 3,000 people. Making work felt so spiritual and nostalgic, like going away to camp as a kid. You leave the city, you leave all things familiar—family, animals, loved ones—to re-center yourself, refocus, and perhaps grow. I am always looking for opportunities to stretch myself and pull back layers. I am on a constant quest to better understand myself and the world we live in. I am so glad I made the choice and went with my gut. Marfa has really lived up to my expectations, although I don’t see myself running back there anytime soon. Overall the experience was worth it. My critical voice was alive and on fire there. Women still have a lot of work to do; this country still has a lot of work to do for them! Marfa is great, but I am drawn to places that are forever evolving. Once I hear and see more female voices (queer and of color) represented in this oasis, the more I will want to return.
Have you attended other residencies in the past? What was it that a typical more social residency experience was lacking for you in this case? Do you fee like this trip satisfied the urge?
I have actually never attended any type of artist residence before, though the big ones like Skowhegan have always intrigued me. But, after realizing just how expensive some of them are I became slowly turned off. I am into the free ones though that give you a nice stipend like Bemis! I will alway remember when I took a class with Lari Pittman at UCLA and he said something like, artists shouldn't be spending their time tucked away in the woods holding hands with another artists. We need to be out engaging; the world is our political landscape; we need to engage in it.
Did This trip satisfied my my urge? You could say that. I got a taste of all things Patriarchal. The white male cowboy still lives on and still lives strong. I think the biggest thing I noticed was how much Marfa is lacking in women artist’s voices, queer women, and women of color especially. Donald Judd and the Chinati Foundation can only push so many white male artists to join their common until it feels restrictive and very old-school macho. I love LA, and I can't wait to be home! Although Austin is BADASS, and I love it here, but that’s a different story for another time
You mention invoking the spirit of women from the past by incorporating fabrics from thrift stores, in particular, clothing from the 60’s and 70s. What interests you most about artists living during this time? Do you feel a connection with them somehow?
Yes, however, as the work is evolving the fabrics are becoming less specific. I started feeling very inspired by the vintage finds in MARFA. It felt as if the clothes were worn by women fighting for suffrage and pioneering social change with their flower power hippy wearing wardrobes. Marfa has that picturesque vibe, the yellow daisies literally overgrown everywhere, the tall green grass, rolling hills, butterflies, dragon flies, horses—its like the back drop for a ‘Free People” ad. I felt my inner flowerchild come alive. But, as the work evolves I have found myself pulling more from my wardrobe. I have incorporated a lot of what little belongings I actually brought. In particular are these two striped towels I got at the the beach in Malibu before I came; one red-and-white and one a blue-and-white. They both have been so pivotal for me in this new work. Something about the TEXAN AMERICANA pride. Red white and blue are on everything and everywhere. It really makes you reflect on these colors, and how much they represent and what that means especailly as our social climate continues to evolve.
What was it about the minimalist nature of the landscape in Marfa that interested you?
Well, I like color. I like the queerness in color. Minimalism to me can be quite beautiful, but also very repressive. It’s interesting how all these straight white men created and birthed MARFA. And, as a result it’s sort of limited by this minimalism (although the light works by Dan Flavin where crazy beautiful and so advanced. I LOVED THOSE. Also, the outdoor works by Judd were also mesmerizing and really pushed me to think bigger.) However, I think I wanted to come in and splash some color and expression to the minimal terrain. After all, it’s quite the “minimal” landscape to do so. Lol, pun intended! :)
Do you feel that through your travels to Marfa, that somehow your connection to LA has become stronger?
Yes and no. I would not say the traveling has, per se. I am pretty well traveled; I have lived in NYC, and have been to Europe ect. I love Los Angeles, and I know that is where I want to be. As I get older I might move back to NYC, but only because the painting dialog is so strong and vibrant there. Although, I do think LA is a much more interesting and tantalizing place to live. I wish more painters of every generation lived in LA, not just young-emerging and mid-career. If the New York scene just went ahead and moved to LA already I would be set for life!
You mention in your statement that your work exists on the cusp of ephemerality. Is there a point at which your work becomes too ephemeral?
Yes, and that is never fun. I want my work to live on and intersect into history. I am really working on creating the effect of ephemerality while making something durable and forever lasting. I still haven't figured out exactly what ephemeral characteristic of the work it is that I am drawn to the most—and why I am even so drawn to it in the first place. I am even starting to question whether my interests in that are shifting altogether. This new work feels more archivable then what is in the pictures you have (the older work from May of my last show), so I guess that’s something. I suppose the work is evolving, becoeming stronger and more wise!
Are the histories of the materials in your work (beyond aesthetic appearance) important to you?
Sometimes they are, and sometimes it is purely the color, shape, and aesthetic. In my current body of work that I am working on right now for my upcoming in Dallas, I found Marfa, itself, pretty inspiring. I imagined feeling what it felt to be a flower child in the 60's and 70's—rocking the peace and time for change. Marfa is small, and it really felt like I was a living in the past, yet in the future. I was drawn to the history. I found myself hunting for vintage fabrics, or fabrics that felt as if they had a life well lived. The fabrics got me super pumped and eager to create. I enjoyed the stories and fantasies I would imagine and tell myself about who might have been wearing the pants, or using the pillowcase. It was fun. It felt poetic and spiritual for me. I know it might sound corny, but if you ever get to visit Marfa and live there you might get it.
Can you describe your working routine? Do you have a daily studio practice? What is the most important part of maintaining a successful studio practice?
My working routine is definitely not consistent—or, at least, I have not been able to find one. Sometimes I work 24 hours around the clock, other times I work during the day and go home for or a shower and dinner, and sometimes I work nights. It’s always shifting. I think having a job that pays decent money, and isn’t really a passion, is the most important part of maintaining a successful studio practice. I emphasize MUST NOT BE A PASSION. It can be something you love or like, but not something that keeps you up at night. Your art should be the only thing keeping you up at night. You need money to make art. Bottom-line. Unless you become a teacher, that’s my exception to the rule! Teaching what you love is the "GOLDEN TICKET!" giving back and enriching lives with your passion—now that is the LIFE!
Can you tell us more about your LA collective, Skunkworks Projects?
In grad school, three of us ladies (Patricia Burns, Crystal Erlendson, & Myself) got together feeling frustrated by the confines and limitations of the institution, of the patriarchy, and all that. We all had performance aspects to our work, and crazy feminist genes—and we wanted to get our energies out and be productive. We got together quite quickly and started putting together intense performances. We birthed a unicorn once. We took on so much work, we eventually added in a 4th partner, Charlie. He was a perfect addition. With his love for sound and technical skills we have been able to create pretty interesting atmospheric work. But most recently, we just finished a PADDLE 8 AUCTION where we curated a benefit auction of about 30 works by LA artists. All proceeds went towards an LGTBQ YOUTH summer camp. It was a humungous project—I mean it was BONKERS. We raised 15k! It was really incredible!
Currently, Crystal Erenlendson just welcomed an amazing baby boy and is living up north with her new family. And Charlie is in law school. So Patricia and I have been Skunkworks and we intend to keep it going, growing, and moving forward to continue making a difference—even if it is just us two! Stay tuned, we are always up to something.
Can you give us some insight into your process? How do you begin? Do you keep a sketchbook/does drawing play a part in your work?
No, I don't keep sketchbooks. I do keep journals that I will write in to tease out and express ideas about my work. I do feel like a lot of my preparation actually comes through meditation. Nothing serious—I don’t really follow any meditation guides, but I do try to refocus myself during that not-really-sleeping-not-really-awake time. I do my best work during those liminal moments, when your subconscious can kind of work its way into your thoughts, but you’re awake enough to process them. My imagination runs wild and sometimes I get really excited about an idea. It jolts me awake and I get up and start writing about it.
Is community and conversation among artists and artists and viewers important to you? Did escaping this community by working in Marfa change your thoughts on this?
Yes and No. Community is huge. I am nothing without my community or my audience and I really think there is no way to escape this anymore. Social media has won. I sometimes find myself imagining what people like Frida Kaloho, Georgia O’keef, Elaine De Kooning, or even Picasso would post if they had an Instagram account. Crazy how technology changes everything. I love it. I love and embrace the evolution. So, all in all I guess what I am saying is as people as artists we are can be anywhere now and still be fully engaged. Although, not gonna lie It was a bummer to miss all the September openings! So many good shows, by so many badass women painters with solo shows! Really looking forward to seeing the Rema Gholoum show, as well as Sarah Awhad, and Rebecca Morris. Oh, and although he is not a women I love Dan Bayles and I can’t to see that too!
You recently (2014) earned your MFA in painting from Claremont Graduate University. What have been some of the most important challenges as you begin your career?
I would say the two big challenges are juggling your finances, and making time to create work. I have been really fortunate though. One of my best friends from undergrad is a Set Designer now for television shows, and she and I have worked on quite a few projects together since I have been out of school. I set-dress for her which is super fun and something I have always loved doing. We work crazy hours (crazy like 12 hour days 6 days straight) for about a month straight, make a lot of money and then I hit the studio hard for a month or two after. I am currently in Austin Texas finishing up a two-month Texas art adventure and preparing for a solo show in DALLAS with Galleri Urbane, and I would not have been able to afford this without my production job prior. It's been pretty amazing. Knock on wood! lol :)
What have been some of your biggest influences? Books, writing, artwork, history, film, etc? Where do you find them?
Influences have always been the crazy hardcore women in my life. From my single working mother, to my Nana, to my three aunts who are all artists too. I search and admire the female spirit so much. I go looking for the influence and the encouragement in history, reading and consuming feminist nourishment always—it is my life line. Currently; I just finished The Flame Throwers, so insane and finishing up Agnes Martin which is also pretty amazing. But, mostly I am looking forward to reading The Argonauts by Maggie Nelson. I have only heard crazy great things about it. So stoked can’t wait!
You have mentioned that you seek to have fun in the studio. Is playfulness an important element in your work? How do you incite that fun or playful spirit in the studio?
I think what I mentioned was I want the work to be playful. I struggle with this; for the most part I am a super serious and emotional artist. And yet I consider myself a fun, goofy, humorous person. I want that to be there in the work, but it’s got to come authentically. Perhaps it might never be what my work is about. And, I am learning to accept that and be ok with that. I need to let my process thrive on whatever emotions are most center and influential for me at the time.
Are there a few artists that you are looking at currently?
I have been obsessed lately with looking at female abex painters: Mary Abbott, Gillian Ayres, Lee Krasner, Helen Frankenthaler, Elaine Dekooning, Perle Fine, Grace Hartigan, they are always teaching me so many ways to look and understand. I swear I will never grow old of learning from them. Hardcore ladies who saw color, shape and form in all different and unique ways.
What do you listen to while you work? Any music or podcasts we should check out?
A lot of the time I work with no music. It tends to distract me. Other times I am into high-energy music. Or my latest obsession (besides Beach House—their new album is amazing) is London Grammar. Their music is giving me a lot of energy still. They are taking me straight into another show this year. Kinda nuts.
Is boredom in the studio something that you have thad to contend with? Do you think all artists have to deal with boredom to some degree in their process?
I think boredom is never an issue. If anything, I contend mostly with anxiety and laziness. I always have a shit ton to do. Cleaning and reorganizing always seems to be at the top of that list. Oh, and don't get me started on archiving. I swear If I ever make the big bucks, I will pay someone top dollar to archive for me! #inmydreams
Is there anything else you would like to share?
Yes, YOU ALL ARE AWESOME! I love what you ladies are up too and I can't wait to see what you all do next! Hats off! :)
Thank you so much for taking the time to share your work and talk with us!
To find out more about Andrea and her work, check out her website
STAY TUNED for Andrea's upcoming exhibition There's No Place Like Home at Galleri Urbane in Dallas, TX this October, 2015. In addition, don't miss Andrea's Artist Spotlight in Issue Two of Maake Magazine :)