Interview with Allison Zuckerman

Could you give us a brief introduction to who you are and what kind of work you make?
I am inspired by artwork that performs, excites, and entertains. My Pop-Surrealist work, maximalist in its presentation, is suspended between high seriousness and ridiculousness.  The theatrics of feminine emotion, pushed to the brink of hyperbole, ignite my mischievous, irreverent, cannibalistic, and cyclical artistic practice.

Fusing and confusing painting with print media catalyzes my artistic practice. I am fascinated by the way a painted stroke appears when it is photographed then printed in pixelated form.

Through an interchange of photography and painting, I convert painted strokes into printed pixilated marks and apply them as collage to canvas. I photograph a painted figure from a completed painting, print this photograph, and either cut it up or use it in its entirety in a new painting. I also use my photographs to build the bodies of 2-dimensional cutout sculptures. This digital recurrence of resized body parts and characters serves to parallel Internet hyper linking; the protagonist of one painting becomes a portal into a new world when it appears in a separate painting or cutout sculpture. 

The battle of photography versus painting is a central component of my work. I simultaneously reconcile and foment the conceptual battles between high and lowbrow culture by photographing and digitally manipulating my paintings, printing them, and merging them with physical paint. Brush strokes and collage pieces have equal importance within the paintings. These collisions amplify the principal narratives of romantic strife and body image conflict within many of the paintings.

I graduated from the University of Pennsylvania in 2012 and subsequently attended the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, where I received my MFA in Painting/Drawing in 2015. I currently live in my work space in Brooklyn, NY. 

Where do you gather most of the inspiration for your works?
The idea of sampling is very inspiring for me. I sample my past work, 1950s kitsch icons of American leisure (ranging from Gil Elvgren’s pin-up paintings to the iconic pink flamingo lawn ornament), and art history (Manet’s controversial Dejeuner Sur L’Herbe, Lichtenstein's crying women, Matisse’s dynamic cut-outs, Bouguereau's damsels). Processing personal events, usually romantic in nature, provides a springboard for many of the paintings. 

What is your most important artist tool? Is there something you can’t live without in your studio?
I do a lot of sketching and brainstorming on Photoshop and would have to significantly restructure my practice if I did not have access to it.

What types of obstacles have you run into in your artistic practice and how do you go about navigating around them?
Currently, my biggest obstacle is not having enough time to devote myself to my work fully. Like learning a language, one must immerse themselves in the world of their work to make true discoveries. To spend only a few hours a day, here and there, in the studio, is quite frustrating for me. To navigate around this issue, I am spending more time working digitally as it is more mobile and easier to jump in where I left off. 

What do you feel are the recurring themes in your visual work?  
Using satire to critique the dynamics between men and women dictated by patriarchal power.

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Is there a particular artist you feel you relate to? Who are your role models (artists or non-artists)?
Andy Warhol is my primary artistic inspiration. Tim Heidecker and Eric Wareheim tremendously influenced me during college and still do. Dana Schutz, Alice Neel, and Nicole Eisenman are major painting heroes of mine. 

What is the best piece of artistic advice you’ve been given?
Find your voice and speak it.

Check out Allison's work in our current exhibition, Re Run