Eve Fowler is arguably one of the country’s greatest living conceptual artists — trained in photography at Yale and in journalism from Temple University, she documents queer lives, interrogates “non-creative” visual forms and bridges the word with the body. She’s joining us this weekend for artists workshops at Snow in the Desert, an art space for women at Ace Hotel & Swim club. We asked her about her work, and what we can look forward to on Saturday afternoon…
What is your relationship, or your work’s relationship, to ideas of “beauty”?
I don’t really think too much about beauty in an art context. When I look at art or when I make art I tend to think more about what the artist was thinking or, regarding my own work, I’m trying to get information out into the world that matters to me in some way. I have a lot of art up in my apartment right now because I run an art organization, Artist Curated Projects, and I really love most of it but I don’t think about any of it in terms of beauty. When I was in grad school the worst thing you could tell someone was that their work was beautiful…
Talk a bit about the series of works you created at your residency at One Colorado — related to one of our favorite books in the world, Gertrude Stein’s “Tender Buttons.”
The public art project I made this year using text by Gertrude Stein is something I’m really excited about. I have been working with that text for a couple years making collages. Last year driving to my studio downtown I would see neon posters, made by Colby Posters, on telephone poles and fences. This is a very common form of advertising here and these posters have been used by a lot of artists. While I was using Stein’s text to make cardboard, wood and paper signs and collages I started to think these posters might be a great way for the general population to experience this text that I really love and enjoy. I see some of the text in “tender buttons” as really queer & coded but I think it’s so open-ended that it could mean so many things depending on who the viewer is. Aside from being posted in public, the posters have been used for classes, occupy LA and other protests. I recently made larger versions of them, paintings, for a show in Austin, Texas — along with a sound piece I made in collaboration with Tara Jane O’Neil. The sound piece combines ambient sounds collected while I put the posters up and “this is it with it as it is” spoken continuously for three minutes.
What will you be working on this weekend at Snow in the Desert?
I think this weekend I will have my library that I collected from the One Institute Gay and Lesbian Archive. They sell books for 50 cents there and over time I collected about 65 books. The books are wrapped in collages — I think we will unwrap them together and talk about that project a little. My library has some very obscure books in it but I think the books and the authors are important because they were out when it was hard to be out — making it easier for everyone now.