I recently was interviewed by Art Zealous, a New York based art magazine and website!
Below is an excerpt from the interview; click the link to read it in full:
Noel Kassewitz’s Artwork is Climate Change Ready
August 27, 2018 by Art Zealous
For this month’s #ArtPowerWomen series, we turned to the seas. Kidding, well sort of. Noel Kassewitz, a DC artist recently transplanted from Miami, is set to bring attention to the environment, specifically rising sea levels through her art.
About a year and a half ago, Kassewitz started exploring various ways to make paintings “climate change ready.” She extensively researched materials, consulted with an expert art conservator and eventually learned how to weave her own canvas and embed buoys and other found flotation devices into the fabric of her paintings. Kassewitz has even created waterproof paintings using synthetic sailcloth & marine foam that the public will get to see in person as she is set to float down Potomac River this week starting tomorrow, August 28th, 2018
If you make your way to the Potomac waterfront and see a woman floating on top of a painting, don’t be alarmed, instead grab your phone and snap a photo using the hashtag #artistadrift. But before Kassewitz “sets sail,” we sat down with the artist to discuss climate change, her latest body of work, and why she chose to float down the Potomac River.
Art Zealous: You grew up in Miami, which has over the years, become a major art hub, how has the art scene changed since you were younger?
Noel Kassewitz: It has changed quite a lot. When I was growing up, the Wynwood neighborhood wasn’t trendy. In fact, I remember going on a school field trip to visit an artist’s studio there and we were all told to file in as quickly as possible from the bus to the door because of safety concerns. However, now with each passing year Art Basel Miami has grown bigger and has spun off countless satellite fairs that launch during the first week of December in what is known as “Miami Art Week.” While I still think more year-round institutional support is needed for local artists, the fact that it’s even possible career-wise to remain in Miami is such a transformation.
AZ: Your family worked in the marine industry, specifically researching dolphin communication, we have to ask, do you have a favorite sea creature?
NK: I might be disowned if I don’t say dolphins, but in addition to dolphins, I adore sea turtles and cuttlefish! The ocean is so incredibly fascinating it’s hard to pick a favorite. The sheer variety of the species is mind-boggling and each species has its own unique characteristics and adaptations that deserve our attention.
AZ: You have this deep-seeded respect for nature, do you remember a specific moment growing up where you realized that you cared more about nature and the climate than your peers?
NK: Yes, and it annoyed me to no end that people didn’t feel as passionately as I did. I just couldn’t understand it. I remember a friend in college talking about how they saw no point in buying organic food because while it might be better for the Earth, the benefits didn’t personally affect their life. To me it was such a selfish, bizarre stance to have —“you live on Earth, don’t you?” — but I still remember the valuable lesson it taught me. You can’t convince people if you don’t speak their language. That friend was very interested in skincare and “maintaining a youthful glow” so I countered her statement with the notion that avoiding pesticides would be one of the best anti-aging thing she could do… and suddenly I had her attention.
AZ: You mentioned you are influenced by the Rococo period, the popularity of pink, wealth and the fact that people during this time period seemed to ignore boiling issues around them. How does this play out in your work?
NK: I find the Rococo a fascinating time in history. The term is used for a particular style that was very popular in the few decades leading up to the French Revolution. It was characterized by a pastel palette and a focus on the playful, decadent, and frivolous by a governing aristocracy who were intently ignoring the warning signs of a system out of balance. Then the French Revolution happened, which rebalanced the system, but at a very bloody cost. I can’t help but relate this chapter of history to the current one we are in. There is growing inequality between the classes in society and evidence that environmentally we can’t continue business as usual. What caught my eye artistically was that pastel colors were suddenly in vogue again. Do we use this color to soothe or fool ourselves as outside pressures builds?
AZ: We’re so fascinated by the materials you use in your latest body of work, They Say Hope Floats, But I’d Rather Be Sure. Do you believe your materials inform your practice? Talk to us about how you source the materials you use.
NK: It’s hard to say which comes first as it varies. My materials and practice cyclically feed into each other. Sometimes I will get initial inspiration by a material— in this project it was those nets on Isola dei Pescatore— but once I have an idea, it takes over and informs from there on out what materials I will use as it continues to evolve. I think in these ways I come from a more sculptural than a painterly approach in that each material used must have a given reason and purpose.
To read more, follow the link: https://artzealous.com/artpowerwomen-series-noel-kassewitzs-artwork-is-climate-change-ready/