Welcome back to our continued series, ONLINE → IN HOME. This week, we feature East Nashville, TN based Artist, Lindsy Davis. We asked Lindsy some questions to learn more about her and how the current state of the world is affecting her life. Lindsy is a prolific Artist with a strong studio practice, a deep thinker, printmaker, gardener and most of all, a lovely human that we are glad to know and share with you...
Red Arrow: We’ve been working together on and off, for about four years and I have loved watching your career grow and your work change. What are some takeaways you’ve gathered or learned between your first and most recent show with us?
LINDSY: WHERE TO START! Well, between my first show w RAG (2016) and my most recent show (Jan 2020) I feel that I've learned a lot. In 2016, I was way more aggressive, hard headed and thought I knew what and how I wanted to present my work. I had an “all or nothing” approach that made some concepts and presentations of works difficult not only just for Katie on how to hang but for any potential buyer. I didn’t think about where the works would end up, in a home. Rather, I could only see as so far as HUGE the gallery walls which would enable all the works to be seen together, cohesively. Which, still is incredibly important but not the only important aspect. It took a while for me to realize the gallery walls were not the “forever home” these works would need to make my practice sustainable. I would have to get off this elite artist persona pedestal I put myself on and think about how someone would hang these works, framing, stretching, etc. At the time a large chunk of my pieces where on un-stretched canvas. Many of which are rolled up under my bed. Not only did I regularly start stretching my canvases, I also started building frames and making it so my smaller works could have more chutzpah.
Red Arrow: Are you still making handmade paper and prints?
LINDSY: Yes. Paper making is like riding a bike, its hard to forget and it's there when you need it. I was raised to be a workaholic, not by choice. So I have a fat stack of beautiful handmade Japanese Kozo I made years ago, that’s what I snag from if I need any. Recently I've been getting back into paper-making as a form of sculpture. Paper is an extremely versatile medium. Especially the eastern methods that do not require chemicals or heavy machinery. The metaphor of the Japanese method, which is what I fell in love with— is you can make paper that looks and is as thin as lace, seems delicate and translucent, but because the fibers are so long- it cannot be ripped like an ordinary printer white paper. The play of strength vs delicacy, what you perceive as fragile being incredibly strong and capable and what is perceived as strong is flimsy and brittle. Paper-making is mediation for me. I have not been doing much carving for woodcuts. I will start one every now and then but Im trying to be better at “whole-assing” a few things rather than “half-assing” many things.
Red Arrow: Your paintings manipulate the eye into seeing different depths and shadows. Explain how you achieve this…
LINDSY: Research! I've been reading and discovering and re-reading and taking notes- and emailing European professors. Honestly, I am obsessed.
Gestaltism was the first concrete definitive concept (relating to my art/seeing theories) I stumbled upon while reading “Doors of Perception.” To my ecstatic surprise, all my theories of how the eye perceives and how the brain assigns meaning was, theoretically, true. It took years, many artists statements of many different postulating hypotheses to just stumble into Gestaltism. I spend another two years delving into specific psychologists that spearheaded this theory, the German psychologist Wolfgang Köler to be specific. Through years of reading and evolving research, I have found enough evidence to prove Gestaltism true through brain science that has been proven within the last 20 years, Rodrigo Quian Quiroga’s “The Forgetting Machine” is an excellent source for this. How he backs some of his perceptual ideas in brain science is through Gestalt imagery which proves Gestaltsim true! Its absolutely enthralling and exciting to feel that what Im researching in, is on the forefront of theories in brain research that are still being proven to this day!
How I actually come up with the imagery is a lot of drawing, moleskins, sketchbooks. I squint a lot, I go cross eyed, I allow as many barriers of true sight to get in the way and then I allow myself to think what I see to be true. I draw it out and go from there. Over time, you make discoveries of how the brain solves a puzzle by using association tricks, and by understanding that you can further manipulate and prolong the sense of “figuring out” what you’re looking at. In the end that is my goal, prolong that time of not knowing, of pure ambiguity. Our brains just want to solve and survive, our eyes are tools for the brain to gather information. Understanding how that information is gathered and how to manipulate it is the most interesting part.
Red Arrow: What is the first thing you want to do or place you want to go when things level out a bit more?
LINDSY: Get back to applying to residencies. Go back home for a visit and go to my favorite small galleries in upstate, Soho and LES. Visit my 95 year old grandmother. I really need to plan a trip. Not having access to a museum with a respectable collection in this city is incredibly disappointing, so anything that can give me a full body dunk into some new contemporary art would be the best option for a first post-quarantine thing to do.
Red Arrow: What do you listen to in the studio?
LINDSY: Things I can dance to, relax to and podcasts. Podcasts about weird crimes, living artists, mental disorders, fairy tale meanings, plants, historical figures, abstract genre history, forgotten history, stories.
Red Arrow: What does a typical day for you look like these days?
LINDSY: Mornings consist of either yoga, biking or hiking. Followed by coffee, more coffee, in and out of the garden and in and out of the studio. More coffee. Realize I haven’t eaten that day and do that. Go on a hike or a swim at a lake, forage at my local spots, go to the farmers market, stare out the window. Paint, paint more. Work on something else, draw, watch a movie, read a few chapters, drink an excess of earl grey tea. Draw, draw more, collage, check email. Force myself to leave the studio and go on a walk. Realize I left the house in my slippers, let the neighbors think I'm losing it. Harvest and weed in the garden.
Red Arrow: 2020 has been a year so far. What do you do or reflect on to find peace and positivity, that you could share with us?
LINDSY: I just am thankful I have ideas and concepts that inspire creative endeavors that take up enough time to distract me. There's enough horrible things happening in the world, and this country that makes it so difficult to see the light. however, with more folks than ever staying home, it creates space for change, for collective thought to snowball into collective action and now, how amazing it is that were all standing up for our community. I'm finding peace in the complete unrest. The unrest to keep making, to keep lifting up our friends and community, to keep learning and keep educating. It's peaceful to see so many people ready to brace the front line against racism in this country. The chance to rebuild a future that we can be proud of is completely positive and helps me keep an eye moving forward and not hovering over the loss of “normal” life pre-corona.
On the daily though, I experience ups and downs. I draw a lot. I listen to things that can pull me out of my headspace. Ive been reading books that are more action and survival stories. “When I fell From the Sky” and “Into Thin Air” have been two that I just finished up.
LINDSY: I'd like to talk briefly about coming back to color after a decade hiatus...
Color is another challenge that I had been reluctant to attempt to face. Titling works with more than just numbers was the first battle. The biggest thing I had to learn was to let go. To not take myself so seriously and to be silly and have more fun. My friendship with JPK opened my eyes to being silly. Knowing him is knowing a friend I can bounce crazy ideas off of, tell a weird joke too, just send a line that is from left field. So I took that approach to how I approach painting. I was taught at a very young age by my first mentor, Bill Kooistra, that you can always paint over it. So with that mantra and and light hearted silly nature I just started (another mentor, Bill Flynn would say the hardest part is starting, so “just start” — another important mantra). I only had old gross paints I hadn’t touched in years, Wow it was horrible, I didn’t know what I wanted to use, how to mix properly, it was a mess. But after many months and covering and recovering and covering again, I found my stride and finished my first large scale color painting in 10 years. I'm so excited to move forward with color. All this was when the tornado hit and the month following. There was a lot of energy in Nashville. Energy that I believe, helped propel me to want to add color. (and also the anti-depressants that started kicking in around this time, I truly believe that helped too.)
Red Arrow: This week we decided to collectively donate 20% of any sales, to two charities you chose. Considering we have sold three large paintings of your work this week, I'd like to let folks know, which charities they are and why did you choose them to donate to?
LINDSY: "Free Hearts" is an organization led by formerly incarcerated women that provides support, education, and advocacy for families impacted by incarceration in order to keep families together and reunite those torn apart.
Back in his late 80s my grandfather retired from preaching and wanted to be an advocate for prisoners rights. Being able to provide a sense of stability for folks going through incarceration and release was incredibly important to him. My family became friends with some of these folks and I have incredible childhood memories of visiting some of these people in their homes! with their partners! I feel so lucky to be able to use part of my proceeds to donate to this non-profit and help continue what my grandfather instilled in me.
Mission— The Trap Garden is a social enterprise that provides a sustainable source of healthy, high quality foods and offers innovative solutions to the physical, financial, and educational shortcomings in food insecure communities. Our mission is to help build, sustain, and empower low-income communities by assisting in the creation of community gardens and the promotion of healthy eating. The Trap Garden seeks to motivate and inspire others to start something that matters in their communities- to not depend on a major grocery store or business to provide them with their daily needs. The Trap Garden improves geographic, economic, and informational access to vegetables within food deserts. We create gardens in unlikely places that foster opportunities for community engagement, education, and support, as well as economic empowerment, by returning the community and its resources to the people.
Before moving to Nashville I lived in Beacon NY, I was one out of two farm workers on a 2 acre plot of farm land called “Common Ground” and our mission was incredibly similar to Trap Garden. Working with the community to educate and spread the love for a sense of autonomy and self-sufficiency through food growth was and still is an important part of why I still maintain a garden and help my friends with theirs. When I first moved to Nashville I volunteered at “Old School Farm” I really enjoy getting my hands dirty for a good cause and after learning about Trap Garden I knew I had to look into them. I am so proud and excited to be able to donate to them, its very important to educate the community on self-sustainability through food growth. It not only makes your community healthy physically and mentally but it mades the landscape and the whole ecosystem of the neighborhood thrive!