Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Art Space Talk: Thea Pratt (Part 1)

Thea Pratt is an artist who works in a variety of mediums. She studied art at the University of Manitoba and Hunter College. Pratt was recently selected for representation at the NYAXE Gallery in Palo Alto, CA.

Woods by Thea Pratt

Brian Sherwin: Thea, you were selected for representation at the NYAXE Gallery in Palo Alto, CA. As you know, NYAXE Gallery is operated by the founders of www.myartspace.com and www.nyaxe.com and serves as a way to bridge the online and physical art world. Why did you decide to submit your work for consideration?

Thea Pratt: It was so easy. My life is hectic just surviving and making art. Trying to get it out there is just one more hassle and I'm not good at it. So when all I had to do was press a computer key, it was a no-brainer.

BS: What can you tell us about your academic background concerning art? Did you study art formally? Tell us about your art studies in general-- any influential instructors?

TP: I did my BFA in Winnipeg, Canada at the University of Manitoba. The best thing about those years was the rivalry between the Manitoba born and bred faculty and those who had come in from the U.S. This produced a really good energy, allowed for experimentation and new ideas. There was also a good Visiting artists program that brought in people like Lynda Benglis, Dennis Oppenheim, Richard Serra, Robert Irwin and so on.

Then I came to New York and went to Hunter College for my MA in studio art. Interestingly I found very little energy and a parochial attitude. The best part of these years was the students I met. We visited each other's studios which were all over NY so I got to see parts of the city I would otherwise have missed.

I left Hunter having completed all my requirements except for my thesis. (call it frustration) I guess the one instructor who I remember from Hunter is Rosalind Kraus. She helped me to "see" photography.
Woods by Thea Pratt

BS: Tell us about yourself. At what point did you gain an interest in creating visual art?

TP: I guess that the consistent thing about my life has been moving. I've done this since I was about 8 and my latest move was in Feb of this year. This means that my life is always "new"I really became hooked on art when I moved to a small town in Manitoba, Canada.

I had been married for about a year and had only lived in cities. I had a lot of time on my hands and our living-room window looked out on a tiny house with a huge vegetable garden owned by a tiny, bowlegged, elderly Ukrainian lady. I saw her planting and weeding during the summer. Then in the fall, she came around the corner of her house, wearing a straw hat and carrying an armload of dried cornstalks and a bucket of straw. The sun hit her and, to me, she glowed. It was a split second but I felt that I had to put this down in some way - it was just too beautiful. I didn't have a camera but I did have some paint-by-number paints and canvas board.

So I started painting. I came across other scenes that hit me the same way and this just continued. (except that I got better paint!) Then I moved back to the city, went to art school and found that I could find that excitement from a blank sheet of paper and lines and forms and colour.

You Are Not Ready by Thea Pratt

BS: Can you tell us about your art? Give us some insight into the thoughts behind your art.

TP: At art school I had a terrible time talking about my art. This hasn't changed. Part of this is because it's spontaneous and intuitive. One of my profs said that the reptile part of my brain is very active. A fellow student said I take things in, digest them and they come out my own.

BS: Can you discuss your process in general? Are there any specific techniques that you utilize?

TP: As I said, the process is spontaneous and intuitive. Some pieces start with a few lines on a page. I keep building until something comes out of it. Some pieces take years to complete. I think that they're done and then have to go back to them again and again. The materials (I include my drawings/paintings/images in this) keep recycling and then become something.

Very few pieces "emerge fully formed" and take a very short time to do. These are usually my favorite pieces. Art is intertwined with my life so I just keep making things and they keep growing.

To read Part 2 of my interview with Thea Pratt click, HERE

Take care, Stay true,

Brian Sherwin
Senior Editor
Myartspace Blog on Twitter

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