Saturday, January 19, 2008

Interview with Caroline Hwang

Artist: Caroline Hwang
Current Exhibit: "Salvage"
Location: Giant Robot, San Francisco
Address: 618 Shrader St

"Raised in Southern California, Hwang graduated from Art Center College of Design. Influenced by graphic arts, films, and music, Hwang turns fabric, quilting, and painting into collages that reflect the complexities of human relationships. Currently residing in Brooklyn, Hwang has been featured in Paper Magazine and Swindle Quarterly, and has contributed illustrations to The New York Times, Bust Magazine, and HOW Design. Recently, she was part of the Giant Robot-curated To The Masses group art show at the Scion Space in Los Angeles.

Hwang’s latest work integrates the craft aesthetic of quilting and sewing with nautical themes such as color-block flags. As the title implies, Salvage is about searching for something lost and preventing further loss in adverse circumstance: picking up the pieces--glimmers of hope, pieces of oneself--and starting anew."

Can you describe your work for us?

My work are usually paintings on fabric that utilizes sewing and quilting techniques to provide a sense of "comfort". Most of the time, the themes are about relationships, emotions, the "self."

Your titles are like captions, which are like thoughts coming from the heads of those in the composition. Do you begin with words or images? Why?

Actually, a lot of the titles come from song lyrics. Sometimes I start off with a song lyric that inspires me. Its not so much that I'm illustrating the song lyric, but its usually something I relate to or I feel that others can relate to and I try to create something from the feeling of the song.

But other times, I do start off with an image. And somehow, while listening to music I see that the song and the piece relates. Music is a great inspiration to me and I usually work with music in the background.

Can you tell us about where you grew up and your early years of life? How did it influence your art?

I grew up in various parts of Los Angeles, CA. We moved around a lot when I was a kid, but it was usually pretty central to Los Angeles or the San Fernando Valley. My grandmother used to live with us from the ages of about 5-10. She was constantly sewing, knitting, crocheting. I think that always stuck with me, I used to get so much comfort from sitting and watching her. We always talked about having her teach me how to knit, but we just never got around to it. During my free time I would usually walk a couple blocks to the fabric/craft store and walk around the store for hours. Sometimes I'd buy a embroidery kit, quilting kit, etc. and work on projects. I think those were my biggest influences on why I use sewing and fabric in my work.

Do you listen to music when creating new compositions? Who?

(I think this goes along with the question #2, but I'll just list who I listen to) I listen to a wide range of things. Depending on what new music is out or I'll always go back to what I feel like listening to.

In my constant rotation: Nina Simone, Kings of Convenience, Radiohead, Feist, Bill Withers, Bonnie "Prince" Billy, Blonde Redhead, Broken Social Scene, Cat Power, Sigur Ros, Digable Planets, Tribe called Quest, Jeff Buckley, M. Ward, New Order, Pavement, Pixies, to name a few (or more than a few)

Right now I really like listening to: Little Dragon, Jose Gonzalez, Yeasayer, Dirty Projectors, the National, Celebration, Cinematic Orchestra, Justice, The Whitest Boy Alive, Mark Ronson

I'll also listen to pop R&B for fun and even though the lyrics aren't as "poetic," it still sends a message.

Do you travel much? Where were you last? Where will you go next? Do you see new developments in your art after a traveling adventure?

I don't travel as much as I'd liked to. I just recently went on a 2 week trip to various parts of Europe by myself. Which was really fun and exciting. It was a challenge to go to another country by myself and to navigate on my own but I was really glad that I did it.

I'm not sure where I'm going to go next, I think I may go to Paris again soon for a friend's art show. But I'd really liked to go to Brazil, that's one place I've been wanting to go to for a long time.

Everywhere I go is usually very inspiring to me. I see new things, new influences, new art, new people. And because so much of my work is from observation, I think it all seeps in one way or another.

Thanks Caroline!

Explore her website:
And, don't miss her show at Giant Robot SF!

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