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  • Sam Earley

Interview with Aaron Coleman

1. What does a typical work week look like for you? How do you balance making your own art with other obligations in your life?

I teach two class twice a week. So thats a total of 12 hours in class. I have undergraduate thesis students, graduate studio visits, independent studies, committee meetings and department meetings. I rarely get my own work done on work days and my “off” days get filled up very quickly with other obligations to the school and students. It is so unbelievably difficult to find time for myself…let alone use that time to make work rather than relax. But…somehow I still manage to make quite a bit of work. I take full advantage of any opportunity to be in my studio. Even if I only have an hour I try to do something productive. I’ve also learned to be a morning person. No one likes waking up early…which usually means I’m the only one awake…so I don’t have emails coming in and meetings to go to or classes to teach. I feel like I’m tricking everyone somehow. So I get up at 5am every day a do something.

2. What is your research process like at the beginning of a new project or series?

My work tends to be reactionary. Something happens in the world and I respond. But I’m finding more and more that I’m interested in the history of how things came to be. So while i’m responding to sociopolitical current events, I’m also digging into the history that has allowed for certain situations or systems to manifest. If were talking about process I usually start with a group of disparate images and drawings which all represent a person, place, event or time period. Those drawings and images get collaged together in an effort to change their original contexts. That collage usually becomes a drawing which then becomes a print.

3. Could you share a particular moment when you decided to pursue mezzotint more specifically over other sorts of printmaking media?

Well…I didn’t really. Mezzotint was a passion for a few years…But it definitely makes up the smallest percentage of the work I make. It's slow and physically demanding and I have way to many Ideas to only work in mezzotint. I started working in mezzotint because if I did it correctly there was no evidence of how the image came to be. No drawn line…no etched hatch marks, no digital traces…Its such a mysterious looking medium. Its also a reductive process where you are literally pulling the light out of the dark. I work with stained glass imagery which just happens to depend on light and so mezzotint works well in that regard. But I never wanted to be the “mezzotint guy”. So i make screen prints and etchings and lithographs and paintings and collages and sculpture and blah blah blah….etc. I never wanted to be a specialist and I don’t want to ever be pigeon holed as the “whatever guy”. So now I choose the medium that allows me to bring forward the most honest version off my voice and what I want to say.

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