Sunday, January 20, 2008

Art Space Talk: Andrea Blum

Andrea Blum was born in New York City and received her education at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts/Tufts and the Art Institute of Chicago. Andrea has built permanent projects in California, Ohio, Minneapolis, Wisconsin, and Boston, as well as France, the Netherlands, and England. She has done many commission installations including installations for A.T.& T. and the Marina Bank in Chicago. Andrea is a Professor of Art / Combined Media at Hunter College CUNY. She has held academic positions at several others schools, including-- Cooper Union School of Art, Princeton University, and the Rhode Island School of Design.

Birdcage 2007

Brian Sherwin: Andrea, you studied at Boston Museum School of Fine Arts/Tufts University and the Art Institute of Chicago. How did your experience at those schools influence you as an artist during those early years?

Andrea Blum: The museum school made me realize I could be an artist..for me it was fantastic...

BS: Andrea, you have taught at several schools-- Rhode Island School of Design, Princeton University, Cooper Union School of Art, and most recently at Hunter College CUNY. How did you find balance between instructing art and creating your own art? I've spoken with several artists who have said that it can be very difficult. Has it been a challenge?

AB: Interesting... sometimes fun... currently my teaching position is supportive of my career which makes it less of a burden... however it is non-stop work.

BS: Let us discuss your work. In many ways your work reveals a sense of voyeurism and vulnerability. For example, your furniture projects often involve strategically placed 'windows' that target specific locations of the body when seated. At first sight, many of these works appear to conceal the sitter, but in reality they are left vulnerable-- a false sense of security and comfort is established. Can you go into further detail about this?

AB: I have always been interested in how people display their neuroses, how embarrassment is something we all have in common, triggered by our own personal histories. At the same time my own nervousness keeps things at a distance-seemingly remote, often times couched in metaphor. An example of this is how I arrange space, orchestrate intimacy, and turn the public into unknown performers. There is admittedly a starkness to this approach, but I think of it as a perversion which accompanies my tendency towards voyeurism rather than malice.
Leg/Neck 1994

BS: Andrea, when did you first start this journey-- I suppose I can call it a journey --of giving new meaning to the environment around us by dismantling-- exposing-- the traditional qualities of functionality in public design that we come to expect?

AB: When I felt that the scale I wanted to work with had to responsibly address the context... which for me meant the public.

BS: You are interested in psychology. Can you discuss the psychological implications of your work? Are there any specific schools of psychological thought that you adhere to within the context of your work?

AB: Whatever the form, the work considers the relationship of the social/political world to the private psychological one. My approach is to combine humor and cynicism to zoom in and out of the conditions which organize us as a culture, thereby hoping to affect us as individuals. I take a non-specific approach to my work as far as specific schools of psychology are concerned.
Suspended Aviary 2006

BS: Is there a spiritual side to your art?

AB: Absolutely not.

BS: Andrea, can you tell us about some of your other influences?

AB: Architecture. My work falls somewhere between sculpture, architecture and design. The work takes various forms and scale; I design public spaces, libraries, small architectural structures, live /work spaces, and bedrooms. I make furniture, not as ‘good design’ but rather as a way to isolate the body in its social environment. I think about how furniture can be used as a camera to isolate body actions and behaviors, and I look for the moment when the way people live at home is displaced into public view.
Spiral Love Seat with Birds

BS: Can you tell us about one of your more recent projects? For example, Spiral Loveseat with Birds. What was the inspiration behind this project?

AB: I am currently building this one for my show in Paris in march... it is a tower of babel... with chattering birds(canaries)... the spiral is structured so as to bring the ‘partner’ into the fray with complicity... IE (s)he adds to and is part of the confusion of mis-communication.

BS: Would you say that you enjoy changing the conventional into the unconventional? If so, do you want viewers of your work to question their perception?

AB: Sure.

BS: What are you working on at this time? Do you have any exhibits planned for 2008?

AB: Insitu-Faibenne Leclerc, Paris March 2008, MUDAM museum Luxembourg -may 2008, Maison Rouge, Paris June 2008
ZIP 2006

BS: Andrea, you have had a lot of success with your work... do you have any advice for emerging artists?

AB: It is a lot of work but have fun with it... lots of highs lots & lots of lows.

BS: Finally, is there anything else you would like to say?

AB: Thank you.
You can learn more about Andrea Blum by visiting her website-- You can read more of my interviews by visiting the following page--
Take care, Stay true,

Brian Sherwin


Anonymous said...

The photograph of the Livonia public space is reversed. I looks like a mirror image of the actual site.
I am attempting to get a Cub Scout Pack to take on the restoration of this site. It's in need of a little TLC.

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