Artist of the Week: Justin Witte

Justin Witte was born and raised in Grand Rapids, Michigan and currently lives in Chicago.  He earned his BFA from the Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design and his MFA at University of Illinois at Chicago.

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What kinds of things are influencing your work right now? Having to make work in my office. My daughter. Thinking about the edges and backs of paintings. I am also always learning and stealing amazing ideas from my wife Olivia Schreiner.

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What materials do you use in your work and what is your process like? Most recently I have been painting on board, linen, foam-core, cardboard, aluminum, insulation foam and unprimed luan. I usually have three or four larger pieces going on at once that I develop over several months and then at the same time I am always making smaller quick pieces that are usually finished in one sitting. The small pieces allow me to do a lot of material exploration and keep the larger works honest.

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What are some recent, upcoming or current projects you are working on? I currently have an exhibition of my work up at Moraine Valley Community College and am organizing a group painting show that will open in September at the Glass Curtain Gallery. I am really excited about that show because it will have work from painters like Magalie Guérin, Tim Nickodemus and Emiliano Cerna-Rios who are all fantastic. I am also getting ready to launch the second part of my POST project this summer.

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What artists are you interested in right now? There are so many! I am really interested in Selina Trepp’s photos, she is doing something crazy wonderful that I don’t see anywhere else. I also really love Keiler Roberts Powdered Milk comics.

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What was the last exhibition you saw that stuck out to you? I really enjoyed Paul Cowan’s recent show at the MCA. I actually went to the show expecting to dislike it, but the work was smart and surprisingly seductive. It helped that there was also a newly purchased Charline Von Heyl just down the stairs from his show. It was great to walk from her painting, which is just an amazing capital P painting, to his lures and urinal dividers.

What do you do when you’re not working on art? I am a dad. I teach in the Art and Design Department at Columbia College Chicago. I am an exhibition coordinator. I am in the 3rd year of a home renovation. When I am not busy I try to watch as much baseball as I can.

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What are you really excited about right now? I am excited about my work, the upcoming birth of my second daughter and Spring.

If you could go anywhere in the world where would you go and why? I have a hard time thinking of a destination but I always think about types of journeys I would like to take. For instance I have always wanted to take an epically long sailing trip or ride my bike across the country. Seeing as I don’t know how to sail I probably stand a better chance of going on the bike trip.

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What were you like in high school? See below

Most embarrassing moment? See above