Brian Rochefort is a mixed media artist working primarily in ceramics. Rochefort grew up in Rhode Island and attended the Rhode Island School of Design, where he received his BFA in 2007.
What is it like living and working in LA? The best part of living and working in Los Angeles is that it’s less expensive than NYC. My studio is big, naturally lit, equipped with a kiln and is only a short drive from my home, which is very difficult to have in NYC. New galleries and museums are constantly being built, from artist-run-spaces to commercial galleries. This gives artists in LA more opportunities to show their work. Most importantly, it provides some hope! Everyone’s least favorite aspect of Los Angeles is the horrendous traffic. If galleries are spread apart, it’s difficult to gallery hop.
What is influencing your work right now? In the past year, I have been traveling to protected barrier reefs, craters and tropical rainforests around the world. I started off by visiting the Galapagos Islands in Ecuador, which was life-changing. Shortly thereafter, I traveled through Belize and Guatemala to spend time on a protected barrier reef and to visit tropical rainforests. In January of this year, I went to Tanzania on a week long safari through the Serengeti to Ngorongoro Crater, then to Zanzibar Island, which is off the coast of East Africa. I just recently got back from the Bolivian Amazon, which was truly amazing but also terrifying. These trips have had a profound impact on my life, especially my studio practice. I’m also interested in seeing exotic animals in their natural habitat, and experiencing nature while it still exists. Channeling these experiences into my work is ongoing and very exciting.
What are you reading right now? I prefer nonfiction. I read and reread anything and everything by Christopher Hitchens. I also enjoy Sam Harris and Ayaan Hirsi Ali. I’m always in studio, so I enjoy listening to their lectures and audio books.
What are some recent, upcoming or current projects you are working on? Right now, I’m preparing for a museum show at the Boca Raton Museum of Art. The show is based on George Ohr. Included are some of my favorite artists such as Ken Price, Sterling Ruby, Kathy Butterly and Jesse Wine. I am also working on my first solo show in the US, which will take place in the LES in NYC at a great gallery. I haven’t announced the name yet – coming soon!
Who are some of your favorite artists? Matt Connors, Liam Everett, Jackie Saccaccio, Ken Price, Ron Nagle, Nicole Cherubini, Andrew Lord, Bram Bogart, Amy Bessone, Sterling Ruby, Joan Mitchell, Franz West. The list goes on.
What’s your absolute favorite place in the city/the world to be? I truly love being in my studio, although sometimes I wish it were in the countryside rather than in LA. My favorite place in the world is the Serengeti. My fantasy favorite place is to visit Rwanda to see a gorilla in the wild, which I will do at some point.Describe your current studio or workspace. My studio is well-lit and extremely minimal. White walls, recessed lighting, a big white cube room with polished concrete floors. I have a separate kiln room. I cannot stand clutter so I recycle anything I cannot use or only buy out of complete necessity. The only ceramic tool I have is a kiln.
What is one of the bigger challenges you and/or other artists are struggling with these days and how do you see it developing? The number one problem almost every artist has right now, at least every artist that I know, is purely financial. It is impossible to pay off student loans when they are inherently designed to prevent you from doing so, even if you have the resources to pay it. The second is getting a reputable gallery that will launch their career in the right trajectory. While we’re in the Trump and Republican era, I believe this problem will become much worse for young people. It is incredibly tragic because we’ll have to pick up the pieces once the older generation dies off.
What are some of the best or worst reactions you have gotten as a result of your work? I’ve had mostly positive reactions to my work. Most people are interested in my colors and technique, as well as why I choose the places I travel to. The worst I think is when I had a gallerist dodge the work almost completely and basically ask who I am friends with in Los Angeles. Another person said my colors weren’t vibrant enough, maybe they were color blind. It is always incredibly annoying when people make asinine associations as well. These are minor annoyances though that I can look past easily.
If you had not become an artist what do you think you would be doing? I’d be a car salesman.