Artist of the Week: Rebecca Ward

Rebecca Ward is a Brooklyn based artist originally from Waco, TX. She received her MFA from School of Visual Arts in 2012 and is represented by Ronchini Gallery.

@thinpickins

Rebecca Ward // Photo by Francesca Riccioni

Rebecca Ward // Photo by Francesca Riccioni

Tell us a little bit about yourself and what you do.  I’m making textile-based works and sculptures that focus on geometric abstraction and traditions of craft. I’m deeply invested in the ways abstraction can blur the boundaries of gender, language, and myth making. I’m from Texas and I love to make salsa. I can’t ever find good Salsa in New York. I grew up in Waco and am getting better at admitting that to people. I like to exercise because it keeps me sane and lately I’ve been going to weird workout classes. Who knew surfboard yoga and underwater cycling existed? I’m fairly sarcastic and have a sick sense of humor. I’m an Aires and very strong willed. I like to psychoanalyze everyone.

WARD08Top 3 favorite or most visited websites?  My favorite sites to distract myself in this overly fraught political era are: Abebooks.com, They’ve got rare and hard to find books at good prices, or just really cheap paperbacks for a couple of bucks that might have cost your more on Amazon. Freewillastrology.com, Rob Brezsny is kind’ve a genius even if you think that astrology is not an exact science. 1stdibs.com, I use this site to browse through the troves of objects and functional items that I didn’t know existed in the world. It’s great for research and for contemplating the difference between art and design.

What is it like living and working in NY?  Simultaneously inspiring and difficult! Everything moves at a very fast pace. But there’s always someone fascinating to have dinner with or talk to. My mind is constantly engaged and people are doing really interesting and inspiring things. The city refuses to let me be lazy, and there’s always a new pocket of the city unexplored. I’ve also had to accept FOMO since it’s impossible to see and do everything.

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What is influencing your work right now? Protests under the Trump administration, YouTube sewing tutorials, furniture design from the 60’s and 70’s, the gender revolution, and language.

Currently reading?  The Adirondack Guide-Boat, The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat, Wittgenstein’s On Certainty, and Sarah Schulman’s After Delores.

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What are some recent, upcoming or current projects you are working on?  Right now, I’m working on some new thread pieces I’ll show at Armory with Ronchini Gallery. And last year was such a great year! Duro Olowu included me in ‘Making and Unmaking’ at the Camden Arts Centre, and took part in Tim Sayer’s exhibition at the Hepworth Wakefield. I also did a residency with the Shandaken Project at Storm King.

Favorite drink?  I have to say smoothies as I make them religiously. I use a Nutribullet and I can’t remember what life felt like without it. I even took it with me to my residency, and all the other artists were very supportive and ended up converting too. It’s sort of a cult figure now.

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Who are some of your favorite artists? Recently I find myself looking at the work of Hannah Levy, Iman Issa, Helen Marten, Jessi Reaves and Ryan Lauderdale. I like the way these people are dealing with cultural detritus and minimalism. They’re making work that references our digital lives without a screen being the focus of the work. I just love the way Helen Marten plays with language. People I’ve always and will continuously admire are Agnes Martin, Dadamaino, Carol Bove, Paolo Scheggi, and Lygia Clark.

What is your process like?  My process is fairly slow and multifaceted. I’m making works that require many different types of making. Much of the process takes a good amount of time and requires several steps. For the string pieces, I take threads out of canvas one by one. I then manipulate and sew the fabric, I attach it to the frame one thread at a time, and then I paint the work. It’s tedious. My process also involves a lot of coffee, tacos, and snacks.

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Favorite NY hangouts?  Prospect Park, Greenwood Cemetery, Raoul’s, St. Ann’s Warehouse.

Cats or dogs? I really want a dog.

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What’s your absolute favorite place in the city/the world to be?  Soaking in a hot pool of water somewhere or swimming in an ocean.

Rebecca Ward's studio

Rebecca Ward’s Studio

What were you like in high school?  A total nerd, wishing I were a better basketball player.

What are some of the best or worst reactions you have gotten as a result of your work? Response to abstraction is totally subjective and people see what they want to see. That can range from comparison to a  landscape, wearable garments, or recalling some latent memory about a woman wearing a sundress. I think thats personal and I don’t deem them as good or bad.

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