December 2017 Artist Interview
Resa Blatman received an MFA in painting from Boston University in 2006, and a BFA in graphic design from the Massachusetts College of Art in 1995. She taught graphic design at MassArt from 1997-2012. Resa has received several grants and awards, including the Arctic Circle Residency (June 2015), where she sailed up the west coast of Svalbard, Norway to hike the glaciers and explore the icebergs and unique landscape. Her work is included in several collections, including (U.S.) Fidelity; Twitter; Hilton Hotel; (international) The WH Ming Hotel, Shanghai, China; United Arab Emirates; Europe. In 2016, Resa completed a site-specific commissioned installation for the Somerville Hospital, in MA; she had a 10-month solo show at the Museum of Arts and Sciences in Macon, GA, and exhibited in a group show at the Spartanburg Art Museum in Spartanburg, in SC. In 2017, her work was in several group shows, and a solo show at Western Illinois University in August-September. In 2018, her work will be included in a group show at The Museum of Art at UNH in January, and the Dorsky Gallery in NY, in May. Resa’s work has been reviewed and featured in numerous publications. To read these and to see more of her work, please visit Resa’s website resablatman.com. Two recent articles on her work and climate change can be read at the links on her homepage.
At what point in your life did you know that you wanted to become an artist? Did the realization emerge slowly?
I knew at 4-years old that I wanted to be an artist. I never imagined doing or being anything else. However, now that I'm much older, I often think it would be interesting to be an anthropologist, but I would still make artwork.
How did you evolve your style and favorite mediums?
I adore painting and thought it would be the only medium I'd continue with, despite also having spent time working with printmaking and stone sculpture. I no longer work with stone, and I haven't done much printmaking in a while. In 2008, I started painting on laser-cut surfaces, and from that point on, my paintings took a more "sculptural/3D" turn. Since then, I've been making large-scale wall installations that include mostly Mylar and Lexan surfaces. I consider this work to be painted installations, or drawing installations, as they use the wall as their substrate, and I paint on the surfaces with oils or acrylic or draw on the surfaces with colored pencil, pen, and ink.
What are your time management techniques? Do you have regular working hours...or favorite times to work?
My studio is about three blocks from my home, which affords me a lot of work/time flexibility. I work full-time in my profession as an artist, but that doesn't mean that I'm in the studio all day or every day. A lot of my time is spent on the computer applying for grants, exhibits, residencies, reworking my statement, updating images and my website, etc. I generally get to the studio five days a week for 4-6 hours a day from 1pm-7pm, but some days I may only get there for three hours. I also work on small projects at home, which I consider additional studio time.
Do you work on more than one piece at a time, or primarily just on one?
Yes, I have several projects going at once. This wasn't always the case; I would work on one painting and that was it. Now that I'm making installations, paintings, and drawings, I can work on one project while another is drying, or while I'm thinking of the next step.
What would you say is your biggest influence -- that which keeps you working, regardless of all else, your most steadfast motivation?
I'm not sure I can name one thing. It's automatic for me to make things; it's just the way I'm wired. That said, if I go too long without making artwork, then I notice that I start to feel depressed, so, not getting depressed is a huge motivating factor. Being an artist is woven into my identity as a person — I have to breathe, drink water, and eat to survive, and I also have to make artwork to survive well.
Does trying something new and not knowing the rules -- the boundary pushing -- create anxiety or excitement in you? (Or both?)
Excitement for sure! I get bored very easily and I have a million ideas. I love implementing those ideas and trying new things, materials, techniques, etc. However, I have to reign in the ideas and use my time and talents to the best of my advantage. I've gone off on tangents that proved a waste of effort and money (buying supplies, investing in new materials, etc), but I learned something from that detour, and the detour always brings me back to my strengths — painting, drawing, and installation. When I start new projects or bodies of work, I'm always challenged in a way that I hadn't conceived of before, and thankfully the new work improves exponentially over the previous.
Do you enjoy having the "duality of both chaos and control" or are you happiest with a set plan?
I always have a set plan, but the plan rarely comes out in the way that I originally envisioned it. This is okay though; the changes, mishaps, lucky mistakes, all make for much better work and an active mind. I've planned new work, in fact, I've seen the entire project through to completion in my head, but it inevitably changes, or I change. I've started new bodies of work over and again so many times, that I now understand and appreciate the pattern.
Do you have any projects or events forthcoming?
"Deep" at 1630 project space
November 1, 2017 - January 2, 2018
"Long Eye" at The University of New Hampshire's Museum of Art
January 25 – March 31, 2018
Durham, New Hampshire
"Wake" at the Dorsky Gallery
May 6-July 16, 2018
Long Island City, New York
You can find more information about the artist at her website
Bleached Coral 1 & 2, 2017
colored pencil and pen on board
20h x 30w inches, each
Dispersant, and detail images, 2017
oil on layers of hand-cut Mylar
site-specific: 96h x 84w x 34d inches
Fading Reef, and detail images, 2017
acrylic, colored pencil, and pen on Mylar
site-specific: 96h x 101.25w inches