Curator Sessa Englund‘s affiliation with Con Artist Collective began in the early part of this year, and her written observations on the creative struggle provide the inspiration for the show. I first met Englund in the Spring while covering this year’s BOS ’13 Benefit Party where some of her work was featured. Last week we sat down to discuss conflict and contradiction in the creation of contemporary art, the theme upon which Problematic is based.
As an artist Englund speaks thoughtfully on the subject of what purpose – if any – art actually serves. She likens it to an identity crisis where the romanticized view of the practice as some spiritual truth can, and often does, clash with the concessions artists are forced to make to an expensive world – both for the sake, and to an internalized detriment, of their work.
While simultaneously explaining and exploring her own ideas on the subject she is careful not to hint at any one permanent conclusion. Instead, she remains objective about the messy space of potential between an idealized vision of art, and the complexity of the real world reflected inside of it.
“The fourteen invited artists were asked to center their process on three contradictions which they perceive to be inherent in the contemporary practice of art: art as rejuvenator and self-destructor, art as both dependent and independent upon consumerism, and art as both a heightening and an obfuscating agent in our attempt to perceive reality. The resultant exhibition displays a variety of work all speaking to the individual artists’ struggle with the common paradoxes of the artistic practice.”
A graduate of SUNY Purchase, Englund’s own mediums include painting and surface design focused on textile and patterns. She tries to put her work in the place “where design and art can coexist and meet.” In her experience of the difference between the two, she muses, it’s more a matter of intention than medium. Born in Connecticut, she spent eight years in Sweden, where she was surrounded by working artists on both sides of her family. To this Sessa attributes her appreciation for craftsmanship, and creativity.
Although her pragmatic understanding of artistry lends little romantic sheen to the work, she admits that creating is still therapeutic for her. And even if she doesn’t yet know what purpose contemporary art serves, where art and design separate, or how to birth the art of her dreams in an increasingly expensive habitat (one founded on art, which seems evolved to now eliminate artists) Englund does what she does simply because she loves it.
True, love can be most Problematic.