• Studio visit with Victoria Manganiello

    Artist Victoria Manganiello in her studio
    Artist Victoria Manganiello in her studio

    What is your background in the arts and how did you end up in NYC?

    I have always been a maker. Ever since I was a kid, I was drawn to objects and construction and actually, I wanted to be an architect for most of my childhood. I always preferred playing with legos and graph-paper. In college, I did a double major in Art History and Studio Art and it was during my first semester that I took a fiber arts class and quickly found a proclivity for weaving. As a student, I also worked as a research assistant to the head fiber arts professor and for three years was the assistant adult educational programming coordinator at the Tang Museum in Saratoga Springs, NY. I have always been interested in the intersectionality between making and learning; I’m inspired by the discoveries brought by audiences.

    As an aspiring artist and inspired arts worker, New York City seemed like the right place to go after graduating from college. For a few years, I worked at Sotheby’s in the contemporary art department as an auction sales manager and then ultimately left to start my own project, No Home Gallery, a non-profit education based gallery for emerging artists, curators and hosts. I balance my practice as an artist with freelance work from other artists, educational institutions, start-ups and designers.

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    Can you talk about your process?

    My work is heavily process based. I create paintings by constructing my own canvases. I like to work with natural materials like cotton or wool and have recently gotten into the practice of spinning my own yarn to be incorporated into the structure of the canvas. I build the abstract compositions of the paintings while I am building the canvas, using a variety of pigments and processes both natural and synthetic. The paintings are then either stretched or mounted on custom stretchers and platforms. I make installation work whenever I have the chance and with those projects, I employ a similar process. With installation work, I like to respond directly to the space my work will be inhabiting. Site-specificity excites me. This summer, I am looking forward to a show in Linlithgo, New York (Hudson Valley) at The Frank Institute @ CR10 entitled “x/y” for which I have made an installation that responds directly to the space, a barn. The opening event takes place on July 30th and a group of dancers/musicians will be responding to the work in the form of a performance.

    My process in making is accompanied integrally with my practice as an educator and thinker. I seek out and manage spaces for engagement. For example, I run an artist critique club and the conversations and connections there have inspired and challenged me in ways that have then, in turn, affected my process as a maker tremendously. I think about the circuitous ways that we learn and connect to each other (across time and space) and thus, am drawn to abstraction.

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    What are the advantages or disadvantages of spinning your own yarns vs buying them ready-made?

    Every material component of my paintings has passed intimately between my fingers multiple times. I feel the intensity of my connection to the object heightens with each level of involvement. The act of spinning, like that of weaving, is very repetitive, tedious at times, and certainly lengthy, but I find it meditative. Hand-spun yarn does not have the same strength as machine spun-wool so it is not adequate in most aspects of the creation of a canvas, however, I like to utilize it whenever possible.

    The handspun yarn has a quality that a machine is unable to achieve and I think it’s beautiful. I have also learned valuable lessons in patience and purpose from the slow processes that I use to make work and this, too, is beautiful.

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    Who are some of your influences?

    Some of my favorite artists are Julie Mehretu, Joan Mitchell, Mark Bradford, Sheila Hicks, Lenore Tawney, Zhou Chunya, Clyfford Still, Wayne Thiebaud…I could go on and on. I just saw the Narseen Mohamedi show at the Met Breur and was blown away. Artists like these have influenced the way I think about beauty, construction and presentation.

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    I  loved the Sheila Hicks show at Sikkema Jenkins & Co last year. Did you see the show?

    I did! And actually, I had the chance to meet Sheila Hicks at that show. She is a pioneer in the textiles as fine, contemporary art conversation and I really admire her tenacity and commitment to her medium. I think her work is beautiful and I love the way that she talks about it. Her use of material and attention to color and texture transcend category and exemplify, simply, beauty in abstract art. She is extremely sharp and her work is very intentional. She is a huge role model, for sure.

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    Do you have any projects or shows coming up?

    Yes! July 30th is the opening of “x/y” at the Frank Institute @ CR10 in Linlithgo, NY (Hudson) where I will be showing a large scale installation and some small paintings. With this show, I’ve taken the opportunity to explore and question our understanding of linear timelines and collective consciousness.  I’ve been working with two dancers and a composer who will be performing with my installation on opening night. I also have a few pieces in a group show entitled “Fray” in September at Gowanus Loft, opening on September 22nd- this is the culminating show for a residency I have been doing this past year at the Textile Arts Center. And I’m developing a partnership with a Brooklyn Restaurant whereby I will be collaborating with their chef to create a performative dining experience for patrons. Guests will be invited to enjoy a carefully chosen menu and intentionally stain a hand-woven table cloth. Stay tuned for more info on that!! I’m going to need some hungry art-lovers come fall.

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    Jamie Martinez

    Jamie Martinez

    Jamie Martinez is the founder and publisher of ARTE FUSE contemporary art platform. His process involves constructing, deconstructing and fragmenting images, data, and information geometrically into triangulated segments and is also the founder/director of The Border Project Space in Brooklyn. Jamie studied at the International Fine Arts College, Fashion Institute of Technology and the Art Students League. Follow him @triangulism (instagram and twitter)

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