Artist of the Week: Amy Yao

Amy Yao is originally from Los Angeles, California.  She received her MFA in sculpture from Yale in 2007 and recently showed work in PS1’s Greater New York exhibition.

When and where did your interest in art begin?  I’ve always been interested in art amongst other things such as activism from a very young age. But I became aware of what was going on with contemporary art when I was 15 and going to punk shows at Jabberjaw — my friend who was older than me and in undergrad at UCLA, Gabie Strong, suggested I read Art Forum. I already knew of Cindy Sherman from Babes in Toyland record covers, etc. And sought out a show by artist Tammy Rae Carland at LACE because I knew of her work from Bikini Kill record covers. My interest in music and feminism really gave me access to a lot of what was going on in contemporary art. One of the first shows I saw was about Womanhouse at MOCA in LA.

What kinds of things are influencing your work right now? I actually really loved the movie Sex and the City 2. I’ve been reinvestigating “chick flicks” in general. I’m also looking into this medieval Japanese Umbrella parade called Furyu. Colorist Faber Birren. And places in LA past and present such as Club Screwball, Ding-a-ling, Cacophony Society, people like Hedi El Kholti of Semiotext(e) in LA, Michelle Carr.

What was the last exhibition you saw that stuck out to you? I’d have to say the Jorge Pardo show at Friedrich Petzel was so strange. He had this digital print of a hamster shot on a white seamless that was framed by one of his C&C routed “funky” frames made of MDF. The digital print had torn edges. It was strange to see this “touch of the hand” in work that seemed so based in being digital. Like a ridiculous formal/ conceptual joke that was very subtle. One of the weirdest works of art I’ve seen in a while. Other shows I loved were Broodthaers in NY at Marian Goodman. Of course Rosemarie Trockel at Kunsthalle Zurich was wonderful!

If you hadn’t become an artist, what do you think you’d be doing? Probably either be involved with politics, community organizing, or a doctor (not for the love of medicine, but just because I was ok at it in school).

Favorite music? I love all kinds of music. Right now I love Lil’ B, Drake and for some reason I’m really into pop music like Justin Bieber… I have Bieber Fever!! I always have deep love for music that came out of the West Coast in the 1990’s — Dr. Dre, Kurupt, The Frumpies, The Mummies. Those Sun City Girls field recordings like Princess Nicotine are amazing.

What were you like in high school? I was really into music and played in an all Asian female garage punk band. Went to see bands every week at this place called the Jabberjaw in Los Angeles. I was also into school and learning.

What do you do when you’re not working on art? I love to swim laps & ski whenever I can… I follow competitive swimming on TV and elsewhere… I also collect music and films in all formats and love to hang out with friends. Sometimes I watch Jersey Shore, the View, and Real Housewives TV shows. I also love PBS, I always watch Charlie Rose.

Any current or upcoming shows we should know about? I will have a show in Dec. at New Jerseyy in Basel Switzerland. I love those guys!