Independent curator, art advisor and creative strategist, Susi Kenna’s platform Art Seen with Susi, showcases her artist studio visits as well as the art and exhibits she has visited. The Paddle8 Scroll has collaborated with Kenna and presents her studio visit and Q & A with artist Ivan Toth Depeña below.
Susi Kenna: How much does your studio space reflect you as an artist and as an individual? In what ways have you customized it to create your ideal working environment? How much, if at all, does having a studio space impact your ability to find inspiration and execute ideas?
Ivan Toth Depeña: My current studio situation doesn’t exactly reflect who I am individually, or my processes as an artist. I feel I’ve outgrown it in both project scale and headspace. A large barn or a series commingled shipping containers in the woods would be nice, and more me. The studio itself has varying impacts on my work and myself. I use it as a place for disconnection, contemplation, research, personal happy hours, playing music, serious rigor and intense production… All of the previously mentioned activities enhance inspiration, as well as, allow me to further my thoughts and finally execute them. I travel a lot for work and for pleasure. I find inspiration in all sorts of environments so the studio is not the end all, be all.
SK: You describe your work as existing within a new and amorphous hybrid of various creative disciplines. How does your education, professional, and independent experience with art, architecture, technology and design inform your process and define your current body of work?
ITD: I’ve studied art and have had a creative focus from a very early age. Starting with graffiti or street art which then led up to graduating from New World School of the Arts High School in Miami, Florida. These experiences were pivotal and allowed me to channel my energies and expanded my viewpoint to broader sensibilities. From that point I’ve used my education as a source of exploration, particularly during grad school at Harvard. I maintained a base course of study in architecture and simultaneously pursued my various other interests with just as much emphasis. These experiences have allowed me to practice my abilities in varying professional situations and have brought me to the point where I can focus on my studio and push forward with my personal artistic practice.
I don’t necessarily distinguish between disciplines in my process. This happens particularly during conceptualization and initial sketching, I utilize various aspects of my experience from each of these disciplines. Color, light, space, scale, 3 dimensionality, composition, typography, layout, print production, construction, materials, video editing, tinkering with code, etc.… All of these play very important roles in pretty much everything that comes out of the studio. Conceptually, I do not see any reason a building could not be a painting/sculpture or vice versa.
SK: The role that technology plays in your work both makes certain ideas possible yet prevents other ones from happening at this moment in time. Can you describe a work/project:
Created from custom software that you personally developed?
ITD: I’ve created several “Hybrid Paintings and Drawings” by layering photography via inkjet prints and silkscreen, laser etching and engraving, various enamels, acrylics, colored pencil, graphite and different types of collaging. The images are a result of the exchange or choreography between the Lego robot and myself.The Lego robot was built from a plan that was included in a how-to book. It was created to explore random mark making. It was later augmented with IR sensitivity to detect light and dark and better pen holding capability. The robot is told to react randomly when it encounters a mark of certain color intensity.
SK: Cannot yet be realized due to the limitations of today’s technology?
ITD: I have lots of sketches and ideas that are not technologically possible at the moment. But I have patience.
SK:The dictionary defines a glitch as a defect or malfunction in a machine or plan, a problem, a bug or a sudden interruption. However, you define “glitch” as an enhancement to your “highly structured assemblies.” Can you explain how by hand, software or both you explore the element of “glitch” and incorporate it into your studio and public artwork?
ITD: Anomaly, glitches, accidents, cosmic coincidence, serendipity… These can all serve as departure points for my work or just happy observations in daily life. I enjoy these things mainly because they lack a certain control. It is a method of removing myself from the work for a moment and then jumping back into it. I experimented with inserting journal notes into JPG code years ago and have been fascinated by that visual language for a while. I love it when our TV goes bonkers.
I’ve worked on software designed to randomly “break” images by manipulating their image code using foreign language to interrupt the flow of information, resulting in various different outputs. I can use this product directly or indirectly. Directly would mean creating a photographic print from the end result. Indirectly would be to use a color scheme or composition from the result as inspiration for a painting, assemblage or collage of other materials.
SK: Your sketchbook is truly amazing. Do you use it sketch out your more conceptual series such as The Fallen Sky Chronicles, or only for projects that require detailed planning and problem solving, such as your interactive public art installation, Reflect?
ITD: Thank you. I use my sketchbook for just about everything. It serves as my main method of communicating ideas. For specific project production and general conceptual development it has always been a really useful tool for me. If I ever lost one, I would mourn indefinitely.
Ivan Toth Depeña is an artist living and working in Brooklyn, NY. Depeña has a Masters Degree in Architecture from Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design. Recently he has completed a large scale, interactive permanent public art commission in Miami, Florida for Miami’s Art in Public Places. This work entitled Reflect has received critical acclaim including being published in various periodicals and books including Architectural Record. Reflect was also awarded one of only a few “Public Art of the Year” awards for 2011-2012 by the Public Art Network. Depeña is currently working on two other permanent public art projects and pushing his personal work forward.
Susi Kenna is an independent curator, art advisor and creative strategist based in New York City, working with emerging and established artists since 2002. Kenna founded The Creatives Agency in 2010, focusing on creative direction and special projects for contemporary art ventures. Kenna was elected as the Co-chair of the Steering Committee of the Junior Associates of the MoMA in 2011 and was invited to join NADA in 2012. Exhibitions curated by Susi have been covered in Hi Fructose, Juxtapoz, Papermag, PSFK, Opening Ceremony, The Creators Project and Smug Magazine. Kenna holds a Bachelor’s of Business and Administration in Design Management from Parsons The New School for Design. Her ongoing adventures in art can be found at ArtSeenWithSusi.com.
Visit Susi Kenna’s website here for more artist studio visits and interviews!