Sunday, June 17, 2007

Art Space Talk: Leah Pecoraro

I discovered emerging artist Leah Pecoraro on Leah's work is based on psychology and the millions of thoughts that occur in the human mind on a daily basis. She does this by utilizing a unique juxtaposition of themes that reside between life and death.

Brian Sherwin: Leah, your art has a very rustic... almost decayed quality about it. At the same time it has a shamanistic nature about it.... spiritual... as in the essence of life. Is this juxtaposition of death and life intentional?

Leah Pecoraro:
Yes it is intentional… we are decay, we create it, we (physically) start decaying in our twenties, and life is able to continue because of decay. Aesthetically I see decay as being beautiful, it is just as much a part of life as death is, it’s the space in the extended middle, and I think it gets overlooked more than the ‘beginning’ and the ‘end’.

My work is based on psychology; each piece represents one main thought with instinctual sub thoughts stemming from it. There are millions of thoughts that occur daily in the human mind.

It may look as though I concentrate on the juxtaposition of life and death, I use many symbols that could be classified as a representation for death (namely skeletal structures), this is just my language. To me the skeleton symbolizes the core, the mind, it is the basic support for our bodies.

Most people think that when they are looking at my art they are seeing an obsession with death, or a morbid way of thinking, it is quite the contrary, These pieces are celebrating life and examining thought. Once you understand the language you’ll see my creations much more differently.

BS: So your work is more about life than death... is it common for observers of your work to comprehend upon first viewing your work? Or do you think the fact that society has an underlining fascination with death that people are blinded from the message you are trying to convey? In that sense, would you say that your work offers social commentary on this morbid lust, so to speak?

It’s really not intentional if it does. That’s one of those "each person ‘ought’ to be seeing something different when they look at a piece" sort of things. Unfortunately we’re in a culture that is over-saturated with the ideal that dodging death and trying to remain everlasting is an important priority… very vain.

Death’s just as much a part of it all, I don’t claim to know what transpires after one is deceased and I’m not interested in agonizing over it either, I’m too busy living.

People tend to just look at the exterior of everything, it’s safe, it’s easy, and it uses a lot less mental energy/strain then being analytical. Having said that, yes most people look at my work and find it overly dark and threatening. Which I find to be most unfortunate, instead of asking questions they assume they see, experience, and fully understand the work without even trying.

One of my personal objectives as an artist is to try to make people think. Look at the puzzle I’ve created, now try to figure it out in your own way. I’m happy to discuss it, I’d rather try and make some one understand rather than callow assumptions form after viewing it.

BS: Some of your sculptures seem to be a twisted display of childhood toys. For example, 'A Grasping Mind' (image above) appears to be a very unfriendly Jack-in-the-box. Do you strive to do a sort of 'visual play' with childhood fears and anxiety within the context of your work?

’Visual-play’ yes, although fear and anxiety are not my intention, I could see how this would be implied. The purpose for visual-play is this, it’s relatable. There comes a time in everyone’s life when they analyze their childhood, try to figure out why they are the way they are, objects trigger thoughts/memory.

The structure aside, now lets get to the concepts, all of my sculptures are based on the subconscious. Think in terms of this, if you were to crack my head open and visual images and objects were to come out, this is the sort of thing you may see, Clutter, static, scattered thoughts, they initially stem from something and are leading to something.

The jack in the box piece takes an understandable form of a childlike toy, an element of surprise, and examines deeper passages of thought. The box is covered in quantum physics theories, each side represents an area of the brain (frontal, parietal, occipital, temporal), what this piece communicates is a linkage of humanity in unspeakable terms. It’s a suggestion that humanity is connected on an unseen and often unrecognized level.

BS: So would you say that your work reveals the lack of interpersonal skills that people often have? Does it reflect the inability of people to feel a sense of 'belonging' or a 'connection' with others? It would seem that people could feel this if only they could 'get past their minds', so to speak.

Some pieces do offer that idea, yes. Yes, I do feel that people have lost themselves in that sense, who could blame us for such thinking? There are so many things pushing down on us in all angles, it’s easy to become a tangled mess of worry and stress. I fall into those traps all the time myself. Oddly enough when I’m creating I feel that something larger than myself comes through, I would never claim to know what it is, but I feel much more at ease and much less alone.

Everyone’s involved in his or her own struggle, each one is equally as difficult as the next, even if it doesn’t appear to be.
People put up their own blocks, it seems we try and push away what makes us happy out of obligation or fear of failure. We try to achieve what society tells us is worthwhile instead of achieving what is worthwhile to ourselves, we loose ourselves in this thinking… it’s a very tricky thing to battle with the mind and the heart. Everyone has their own perceptions to conquer.

BS: You are known for your dark humor. I assume that humor is also a major aspect of your creative process. What other influences do you have?

I honestly don’t focus on humor as being a part of it, although I believe it is important, again relatable. I guess if anything I focus more on satire than blatant humor.

My main influence could be as small as a simple thought, the real inspiration comes from deconstructing that simple thought, dissecting it and seeing where it leads me. The mind is amazing, I love human interactions/reactions, it all varies so extensively. I never run out of paradoxes or curiosities, thusly I never run out of influences or inspiration. It’s hard to nail down any one thing as being influential.

BS: So based on your statement you could find a million influences from one person alone, correct? So as long as their are people, events, and so on... you will have constant inspiration. Do some people and events inspire you more than others? For example, which causes your creative juices to flow- the birth of a child or some major world event?

There really isn’t one thing, it could be as small as an insect and as large as a catastrophe. I think human interaction inspires me quite a bit, I like seeing different reactions to situations, I try to put myself inside those perceptions and mentally see how I would react to something.

BS: Finally, what are you working on now? Can you reveal any aspects of your future projects?

LP: I’m working on a variety of different things. I’m always experimenting with new materials I don’t like to limit myself in the least bit. In the future I would like to construct large installations, I’m interested in action/reaction. I want to create kinetic installations that are set off by natural movement (the viewers movement). This requires a lot of space and time. I need more exposure before I can venture into this territory. We’ll see…
I hope that you have enjoyed learning about Leah and her art. Feel free to leave a comment.
Take care, Stay true,
Brian Sherwin


NanoGlobe said...

Our society in general is fixated with the embrace of birth and life longevity. Often times in our modern culture disregards death as something to cherish, but it is an essential element in our circle of life nonetheless. We cannot have life without death, and no death without life. What is old is renewed, and what was once new becomes old.

Leah's artwork is definitely intended for the advanced complex audience. It is intended for one who understands the philosophies of life, and who can appreciates death as much as they do life. Ideally, one who is neither prejudice or bias about life or death. I can understand how most people would deem her work as "dark," but to the educated mind the first thing that comes to thought is life. Specifically, the social evolutionary process of ones life. True that there are far more glamourous things that many would rather embrace. Take Paris Hilton for example. What society sees on the surface is rich beauty and wealth, something we all can relate to as a "want" most people would like to have. However if you take a peek of what's inside of Paris what you'll find is what Leah portrays best of her work.

So where is the true beauty in the art that we see? Depending where the audience come from, they can decode Leah's message into something they either like or don't like. One things for sure is that you'll learn a lot about yourself the longer you observe Leah's work. What does that mean? Well ... I'll let you figure that out yourself. But here's a hint. Things aren't always are as they seem. Would the princess ever find her prince if she never kissed the frog?

Anonymous said...

After reading the interview I went back to Leah's new work and saw in it puzzles and found myself lengthening the time to look at each work...I think what I consider the strength is the 'outsider art' quality like one would see in 'Intuit' Art galleries. I see a bit of 'tramp' art, folk art and even religious art...The immediate response is not morbidity for me but a question of ideas used and making them read as one major statement...I see in her paintings a stronger control and ease with making the surface and idea work as one element...Leah's sculptures are the more 'folkish' in quality but at the same time make one stop and look at the parts vs the whole...I tried to think of something or someone in art hsitroy that her work reminds me in African Tribal art to be the closest in my mind of the same mysterious feeling and sense of keeping the work at arms length...Decay does have its magnetic nature in that all of the CSI series involve looking at decay and discovering a past reality...we are all fascinated with this aspect since we too will be there at some time...ALAS.

paul said...

Are you trying to tell a story?