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  • Stashia Smyrichinsky

Interview with Drew Peterson

1. What was the first thing that informed / inspired you to know that you wanted and/or needed to become a maker?

I was introduced to art in life through my own interests in drawing, but later grew when I started writing graffiti and studying painting in High School. I participated in an Art program through Juxtaposition Arts in North Minneapolis that offered mural painting programs for youth. They also taught a monoprinting course at the Walker Art Center. This was my first introduction to Screen printmaking, which I later immersed myself in during independent study hours in High School. I studied printmaking at the San Francisco Art Institute before moving back to Minnesota and attending the University of Minnesota. Printmaking combines components of technical control/structure, tradition and innovation, and mechanical distance in the artmaking process that aligns with how my brain works. It makes me feel both in the moment and anticipating what's to come. I think the earliest stages of my development were informed by an explorative element--I was let alone to try things and learn the process through trial and error.

2. What environment helps you focus to create art?

After graduate school I spent 5 years slowly building my own studio. I transformed the space from its dingy dark original state into a bright galleryesque space. I like a space that can be free of clutter, because naturally I am not the most organized person. I also worked as an Assistant Printer at Highpoint for Printmaking in Minneapolis for some time before grad school. These studios were beautifully designed and maintained. I wanted to create my space with that same sort of reverence for form and functionality. I also host artists for collaborations and exhibit work out of my space, so having it be clean and hospitable helps accommodate those purposes.

3. How do you curate your color stories for your work, and do you have any favorite colors you find yourself being drawn to frequently?

My favorite pigment is Prussian Blue. It reminds me of the cool bluish light of winter and have created a series called Heavy Light that recalls winter time memories of my youth. It is also used medicinally to treat heavy metal poisoning, which I found interesting because visually it's a very soothing color.

In general I pivot between a well informed relationship to color and a "throw a wrench in the gears" approach. Often I will design a film layer to printed with color "a" and then at the last minute choose color "e" just to turn a corner to something unexpected. Color for me can most often be resolved through my decisions that follow.

Rarely do I map color in advance, but I am starting new projects that will involve more planning in terms of color.

4. When composing multiple layers, do you plan out how they will interact with each other or do you work intuitively?

I begin with a water color monotype layer that is screen printed, then create hand drawn films that attempt to weave in and out of that atmospheric ground. For the most part I work intuitively or should I say from an embodied state. Over the past 2 years, I have tried to associate my formal decisions with physical sensations of my body. Works develop through long periods of time where my lived experiences are sorted out mentally and emotionally. This often leads to a physical, felt experience in the body which helps me to describe it formally. Prints then become layered composites of separate lived experiences woven into one.

5. How do you balance the delicate dance between representational and abstract figures in your work?

I think most often a representational motif will relate to a very personal reference. I had to go back and look through images because I don't really prioritize the representationality in my recollection of my work as a whole, but the pieces that do all pointed to something pretty personal and sentimental. I've never really shown the figurative works I've made, but have found a lot of joy and satisfaction with some portraiture i've created in the last couple years, and just recently started drawing portraits on my iPad to learn how to use those digital drawing programs.

It's not entirely important to me, but most of my work recently does have almost a secretive narrative structure. Meaning that although the product is abstract, lived experiences are informing those abstract marks.


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