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DELVE Interviews: Creating Change with Karen Mainenti

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DELVE Interviews: Creating Change with Karen Mainenti

WELCOME TO DELVE INTERVIEWS, A LOOK INTO THE UNIQUE PATHS OF ARTISTIC AND CREATIVE INDIVIDUALS. This year, we are focusing our Interviews and Gatherings on the theme: Creating Change.

Quiet or loud, social practice to solo studio painting, emerging to established, an artist’s voice is crucial to highlighting and synthesizing our human experience. We are interested in the critical eye and what it reveals, whether it’s a subtle visual pun or a loud, public proclamation. Art that comes from personal experience or a sense of civil responsibility resonates strongly, and has the power to activate society and potentially reimagine its structure.

Get your ticket here for our first event of 2018 in New York City at CUE Art Foundation on June 26, 2018.

 Karen Mainenti

Karen Mainenti

Our first interview of this theme is with the artist Karen Mainenti. She is currently a 2018 Artist-in-Residence at the Bard Graduate Center Library. She has exhibited at La Bodega Gallery and Trestle Gallery in Brooklyn; Gallery MC and the Society for Domestic Museology in New York; Guest Spot @ The Reinstitute in Baltimore Maryland; and the Cornell Museum of Art in Delray Beach, Florida. Her work has been featured on HyperallergicGothamistBrooklyn Magazine and BmoreArt. In 2014, her outdoor street art installation, DUMBO Underfoot, was exhibited at the DUMBO Arts Festival in Brooklyn, and she had a solo show at Chashama's pop-up gallery in the Garment District. In 2013, she attended the School of Visual Arts Summer Residency Program in Painting & Mixed Media and was a visiting artist at the Tulsa Girls Art School in Oklahoma.

Describe your current work and how it fits into the theme, Creating Change.

 “I Feel Disgusted With Myself” Deodorant Soap by Al Franken, U.S. Senator (Irish Spring), graphite on paper, 25.5in x 19.5in, 2018

“I Feel Disgusted With Myself” Deodorant Soap by Al Franken, U.S. Senator (Irish Spring), graphite on paper, 25.5in x 19.5in, 2018

My latest work is a series of graphite drawings which explore the similarities between the apologies made by men accused of sexual harassment as a result of the #metoo movement and the fault-finding marketing claims commonly featured on women's beauty products. It struck me how unusual it was for a man to acknowledge his flaws, particularly in a public manner, and wanted to draw attention to this. I appropriate these repentant quotes from each man's statement and pair them with popular consumer products like Irish Spring, Barbasol and Speed Stick. Each quote is then given further context by using elements from the actual packaging design—"Maximum confidence! Feel clean and fresh!” —thus exposing the irony of such a juxtaposition.

Does this work come from personal experience or a sense of civil responsibility, or both?

My artistic practice is rooted in my personal experience as a woman whose identity has been impacted by society's absurd and unnatural expectations of perfection. With the recent rise of the #metoo movement, I was stunned and delighted to finally see men being held accountable for actions that are all too familiar for women but have long gone unmentioned. The momentum of the movement has motivated me to contribute to these essential conversations about the dehumanizing power norms in the United States and create cultural change for women.
 

Do current events inform or guide your artistic decisions and processes? If so, how?

 “I Pledge To Be A Better Man” Shaving Cream by Donald Trump, U.S. President (Barbasol), graphite on paper, 25.5in x 19.5in, 2018

“I Pledge To Be A Better Man” Shaving Cream by Donald Trump, U.S. President (Barbasol), graphite on paper, 25.5in x 19.5in, 2018

Ideas for my artwork come from observations of everyday life around me. For example, if I’m watching the news, I’ll notice the glaring disparity in appearance and age between male and female broadcasters. If I’m out shopping, I’ll be struck by the gendered marketing for something as generic as ear plugs: blue “Hearos” for men, “Sleep Pretty in Pink” for women. Following this initial spark, I’ll begin to decide how best to shed light on my discovery through visual expression.

What is the artist's role in creating change?

I believe the inventiveness of artists inevitably creates change, whether they intend it or not. It could be as simple as provoking the viewer to look at something in a new light, or more strongly challenging prevailing ideas or norms. Sometimes, art has an immediate impact. In other cases, the work is not fully recognized for its significance until years, decades, or centuries later. It’s disturbing to me that the Guerilla Girls’ poster “Do women have to be naked to get into the Met. Museum?”, created in 1989, is still so relevant today.

How do you find balance with living your life and making this work?

For me, the two are absolutely intertwined. My observations of the world and my place in it as a woman inspire my artwork and continually fuel new ideas. It's cathartic to bring a sense of humor to issues that trouble me.

 "I'm Not The Man I Thought I Was" Hair Color by Harvey Weinstein, Producer (Just For Men Mustache & Beard), graphite on paper, 25.5in x 19.5in, 2018

"I'm Not The Man I Thought I Was" Hair Color by Harvey Weinstein, Producer (Just For Men Mustache & Beard), graphite on paper, 25.5in x 19.5in, 2018

 "All My Flaws” Regular Deodorant by Jeffrey Tambor, Actor (Speed Stick), graphite on paper, 25.5in x 19.5in, 2018   

"All My Flaws” Regular Deodorant by Jeffrey Tambor, Actor (Speed Stick), graphite on paper, 25.5in x 19.5in, 2018

 

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June 26th, 2018: DELVE Gathering/NYC: Creating Change

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June 26th, 2018: DELVE Gathering/NYC: Creating Change

Get your ticket here for our first event of 2018 in New York City at CUE Art Foundation.

DELVE Gatherings are rooted in the desire to build a strong, supportive community around art, artists and contemporary issues. The theme we will be exploring this year at each event is Creating Change. Quiet or loud, social practice to solo studio painting, emerging to established, an artist’s voice is crucial to highlighting and synthesizing our human experience. We are interested in the critical eye and what it reveals, whether it’s a subtle visual pun or a loud, public proclamation. Art that comes from personal experience or a sense of civil responsibility resonates strongly, and has the power to activate society and potentially reimagine its structure.

We're thrilled to have our first gathering in New York City on June 26th at CUE Art Foundation, a dynamic visual arts center dedicated to creating essential career and educational opportunities for emerging and under-recognized artists of all ages. Through exhibitions, arts education, and public programs, CUE provides artists and audiences with sustaining and meaningful experiences and resources.

During the DELVE Gathering, a solo exhibition by Sheida Soleimani, curated by Kate Shepherd will be on view at CUE. Titled Medium of Exchange, the exhibition presents sculptural photographic tableaus that address the relationship between dictatorships and the petroleum industry at a time when oil has become a form of international currency and a source of warfare.

Meet our speakers:

 Jeff Bergman. Photo by   Jeremiah Dine

Jeff Bergman. Photo by Jeremiah Dine

Jeff Bergman is a writer, art dealer and curator in New York. He is a Director at Pace Prints.  In 2016, he became the founding reader of an ongoing Teach In at Trump Tower. His art newsletter Atlas is in its fifth year.

 Katrina Majkut

Katrina Majkut

Katrina Majkut (My’kut) is a visual artist and author living and working in Brooklyn, New York. She is dedicated to understanding how social traditions affect civil rights through embroidery and writing. She exhibits her cross-stitched artwork nationally, often at U.S. colleges, where she constructively engages with students about politics, women’s health, social practices and art as activism.

At our Gatherings and online via our blog and social media, we’ll be sharing the work of artists who don’t separate their everyday realities from their art making, and in turn use their own artistic language to communicate in the best way they can. By sharing their processes, histories and ideas, it’s possible to educate and inspire others to take action and cultivate change in their communities.

Over the next month as we look forward to the event, we will be sharing interviews, articles and artwork that relates to our theme. If you have any ideas or suggestions to share, we’d love to hear from you.
Secure your ticket here, it's only $10.

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