Interview with Keith Secola
1. Describe your influences- what source, artists, do you look to for inspiration?
My influences have changed so much over the past decade since I first started undergraduate degree in 2009 to finishing my MFA last year. Two inspirations that have remained constant over the years are my Native culture and skateboarding. When I was younger I connected to art through skateboarding and the artist culture that revolved around it. Finding influence from graffiti murals and graphic drawings while applying my own tribal teachings to the process of creating. Eventually I applied to the California College of the Arts, in San Francisco, CA. That’s where I discovered artist like Canupa Hanksa Luger, Wendy Redstar, Kara Walker, and Hank Willis Thomas, to name a few. Artiststhat challenge the ideas on identity and culture through a variety of mediums and installation. Coming out to the Bay area and being submerged in a larger art scene really helped me see the possibilities with my practice.
2. Where is your studio, and what does it look like? How do you find materials and resources to make work?
Currently, I am finishing up a six-month fellowship at a printmaking studio called Kala Art Institute in Berkeley, CA. I was fortunate enough to win their fellowship award right after graduating and started last October. It’s a large space that is located in an old Heinz Ketchup factory. It’s ideal because it’s 24/7 access with a huge space, presses, media-center, and screen-printing facilitythat allows me to go big with my work. My current projects have been using old book covers, preferably American Indian history books and American propaganda books. I source most of my materials from recycling centers and eco-friendly salvaged goods around the Bay Area. The fellowship culminates into a group exhibition this July through September 2019.
3. Describe your typical week- in the studio, at home, other activities?
I try to be in the studio as much as possibly especially during the fellowship contract. I like to work in the mornings and use that time to send emails and work on other applications. I will use the afternoon for other jobs and daily errands. Somedays I’ll head back to the studio for a night session. I still love to skateboard so I fit that in when I can, plus finding time to cook and take care of myself. During graduate school, I would push myself too much, running on low energy, no sleep, and poor eating habits.
4. How do you balance your art practices with other jobs, art or non- art related?
Trying to stay organized as much as possible. I found myself more productive when I would plan out my day or week. Knowing when you have to work and setting up studio time ahead. Following through with plans to meet friends to see shows and find that time to experience new artwork.
5. Can your share process of getting your work out in the world (types/exhibit planning process)?
Showing up to art related events is important, supporting the arts scene and artists will go a long way. Meeting new people has always helped me and having an access to show my work through my website is key. Having a clear way for people to reach me through my website and social media. I use Instagram to show my work, that has helped me boost my exposure and linked me to other Native Artists and people around the Bay Area basically for free. Get the best documentation of your work and start to build a portfolio of current projects for applications. I would make a list of all the fellowships, residencies, and awards that I was interested in and start applying. I have had my share of rejections, but I learned so much from the process to better my overall portfolio. I try to agree to every art opportunity, from big too small. My work can be viewed at KeithSecolajr.com and Instagram @Mino_mashkiki.