MANDY LYN FORD
Mandy Lyn Ford is a Los Angeles artist, a New Jersey native, and a New Mexico transplant. Her work draws aesthetic influence from all three. She moved to New Mexico as a teenager to later attend New Mexico State University and the University of New Mexico, and in Los Angeles she studies at UCLA. Her studio is currently in the heart of LA in MidCity. Mandy’s work deals with binaries and is often reminiscent of electronics, punk and ska posters, stain glass windows, and church architecture. These visual influences are evidence of her childhood: growing up in a home that was heavily immersed in computers and gadgets, and in a congregation that met in the architecture ofa historic landmark church. Her work is a constant evolution of itself; each painting includes themes and techniques from the previous while adding new bits to the conversation. Mandy’s work, on hand built wood panels, piled with canvas and paint, straddles the line between painting and sculpting.
Art can be many things, and one of its faces is objecthood. I am making objects. Objecthood in art’s history has been more concerned with its innovative stance than with developing the object beyond its realization of itself. The work I make is full of earnestness and giving. Each object is an honest attempt to trump the last, and each work is an authentic reflection of my state of being when I make it. The works are an indexical excavation with a lot of history available on their surfaces.
I am making sculptures with painting materials. I use canvas and paint, acrylic medium, and gesso to mold hand built wood panels into 3D surfaces, and often end up cutting the panels half way through the process and reassembling them. I mostly sculpt with canvas. These objects hang on a wall, and are willing to take on the historic dialogue of painting because they are made with painting materials and present the way that paintings do, but they play by different rules.
My direct inspirations come from layered cakes, screens and computers, stained glass windows, old graphics, and from the materials I use. Each painting is an adaptation of a formula I have gravitated toward. The motifs in each painting are cut-outs, lines, and dots. I rearrange and remix these elements in a plethora of ways and add or subtract from those elements. The aesthetic I strive for is a balance between rough and dirty and sexy clean.
Visual art is accessed through the language it creates. Each painting stands alone but is informed by the larger body, and is also informed by the current contemporary work being created by others today. They are in conversation with each other. There is a visual signature, and developing language occurring in my paintings that can hopefully engage when I adhere to the apparent rules I have made for myself, and surprise and delight when I decide to break them or add new elements.
My major inspirations/artists in convo with are: Paul DeMuro, Bret Slater, Caroline Larsen, Peter Halley, Jonathan Lasker, Russel Tyler, Bram Bogart, Kari Cholnoky
Hi Mandy! It looks like you have been super busy with a number of exhibitions already in 2015, with lots more to come! Congrats! Do you have any advice for other emerging artists who want to gain an audience for their work?
I still feel like I am in the undercurrent of emerging. I emailed Eric Sall a while ago and asked him that same question, I think his advice was the best: good photos. when you are emerging that is how your work is seen the majority of the time, so make 'em as good as you can.
I love the way you describe your paintings as having unique personalities, and being named after completion. They really seem to be having a conversation with each other. How does the conversation change when exhibited in a solo show vs. a group show?
When the work is with itself the aesthetic is completely my vision. When the work is put with others it becomes about finding similarities between mine and other's styles. About how a few different people flesh out the same idea, the idea that the curator had and noticed in all of the work. When work is organized in a solo exhibition it is much easier to see the artist over time and to get immersed in their ideas and processes.
Can you talk about the evolution of your process and your distinct mark-making? Have you always
worked in this way?
I had always worked in a way where I thought of 'the paint' as object, (thick impasto marks) but within the past 3 years began to encompass 'the painting' as object. I feel like I marry those two concepts now. My work is made with about 85% traditional painting materials that are pushed into nontraditional uses, but still hung traditionally on a wall. They are sculptures with paint and canvas. I have discovered new ways of using canvas, paint, medium, and drawing tools just by having them around to experiment with, and I'm constantly trying to discover new ways to use them. Accidents, epiphanies, impatience, annoyance and need are often the catalysts for discovering new territory in my work.
Your work has an experimental, playful vibe with an innovative use of familiar materials. What materials work best for your unique application? Are there any new materials you are excited to try in the future?
I've been using more spray paint lately which makes me want to try airbrush, it will give a different version of that handless mark. I try to get a mixture of handless and tactile marks on each painting. Spray painting, dripping, pouring, dipping, and throwing are the handless or 'chance' moves I often make—and squeegie, cutouts, brush, and drawing are the manual, specific marks I make. The entire painting is a feast of indexical excavation—it's not always easy to tell what happened, but you can figure it out and you can see that a lot did happen.
Is there a specific type of imagery or motifs that are you looking at as references or source material when creating a new composition? Do you plan your paintings prior to starting, or work more intuitively?
I tend to stick with the motifs of line, dots, and cutouts. There is always more than one layer and an area of a peeling away of layers to expose all of the time and war that had taken place on the surface. I am definitely inspired by a lot of imagery from my childhood; a historic church, technology, Nickelodeon, my grandma's house, and current shapes and palettes here in LA.
You live and work in LA, what are some of the advantages in being on the West coast?
Does the vibe and energy of the city affect your work?
It's great to live among other working artists. I love being able to see new and great work every week just down the street. I follow a lot of current artists on instagram and I feel like seeing into everyone's studios on a daily basis has organically put us all in conversation with each other. But those are sought out connections—going to galleries and museums is like turning on the radio—being presented with things I didn't even know I needed to find.
From photos you have posted online, you studio looks awesome! What are the most important
elements of a successful studio/work space?
For me, the most important element is having my work space close to my living space. I like being able to jump into the studio at any moment or being able to take an actually relaxing break if I need it. For example, yesterday I spent the entire day painting and I thought I was done, so my husband and I made dinner and started watching TV. We were about to go to bed and I told him to tell me what he thought of the painting I just finished. We both decided at that point it was close but not done—I had been on my way to bed at that point, but instead I got sidetracked for 2 more hours in the studio. It was awesome. Painting is not tiring, it gives me energy.
What is a typical day like for you? Can you talk a bit about your studio practice, and how you
stay motivated to create new work?
Right now I have three types of typical days—wake up at 6:30AM take the bus to UCLA and go to class all day until 9PM/wake up around 10AM start the coffee and start painting/or wake up and work at Trader Joe's for 8 hours and go to school. This quarter it has been hard to have time to paint, it has been heavy on the homework. I don't paint in school, I keep my professional practice separate from the classes I am taking to finish out my BFA. I consider the usual pace for myself about 1 painting every 2 weeks. I stay motivated to paint because I feel nagged if I don't. It has become habit at this point—an exploration, a challenge, an identity, a satisfaction. The days that I get to just paint all day I get the most interesting results and coffee helps with longevity. After about 5 hours my body does start to get a bit tired but by that point I usually have a few ideas in mind that I need to get accomplished on the painting before I call it a day. I need to get to the beach or just some general hanging out done this summer.
What do you listen to while you work? Any music or podcasts we should check out?
I do listen to a lot of podcasts. I like to listen to things that don't allow my mind to wander, I like to keep my mind in the present tense while painting. It can be easy to go into reverie if I am working on repetitive marks, but if I am actively thinking about the next move to make and I need to be absolutely present for a mark, I like it quiet so that I can actually think. When I'm listening to podcasts I listen to the usuals: WTF, Radiolab, This American Life, and 99% Invisible. Sometimes I like to turn on BBC Radio 4—I can only handle NPR for about an hour before it gets repetitive. I like listening to Family Guy and Southpark. They are boring to watch, but listening is a different experience. Also Librivox audio books (all old classics for free!) When it comes to music I'm all over the place. The last really good listen I had was weirdly H.I.M. I forgot how much I like them. Black Sabbath always does it, Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes, Teddy Pendergrass, Maceo Parker, David Bowie, oo! and Heney Rollins has an awesome radio show on KCRW that can be streamed at any time. Ya, it's apparent I have a lot of listening time lol.
Thank you so much for taking the time to share your work and talk with us!
To find out more about Mandy and her work, check our her website.