Here's another minutiae exclusive interview with Leah Giberson:
Leah, I came across your work through Tiny Showcase, where you also found mine. We share a mutual fascination for suburban homes as subject matter. As you have mentioned on your site, you did not grow up in suburban surroundings. Would you care to elaborate about how you became attracted to suburban settings, or perhaps how your work has evolved into choosing these subjects?
I was raised by artists in an old farmhouse deep in the woods of NH. The suburbs were both foreign and intriguing to me - I imagined that was where normal people lived. I coveted these imagined worlds of wall-to-wall carpeting and air conditioning, where the kids were allowed to eat sugar cereal, watch lots of TV and had rec rooms to play in. I was sure that the moms kept clean houses, cooked with microwaves, styled their hair and wore make up and the dads kept the lawns perfectly mowed, taught their kids to play sports and went to an office to work. Among my many naive assumptions, the biggest was that the families who lived in these homes had no worries and their lives were predictable.
As an adult, I now realize that a perfectly groomed lawn or manicured hedge is not a reliable barometer of happiness within a home. It is this tension between the seemingly intact clean surface and the discord pushing from beneath or looming off stage that I am drawn to in my own work and I suppose, in my own life as well. I am a worrier by nature and am always on the lookout for inevitable disappointment and loss in my own life. Strangely enough I am also unreasonably optimistic and hopeful and am the first to admit that I have very selective memory, focusing more on what I want to remember and minimizing the harder times. It is this kind of editing that I embrace in my work. None of us can remember every detail of our lives, so we embellish some moments and ignore others in an attempt to make sense of and find meaning in our experiences.There seems to be an undercurrent of optimism or idealism in your works – through the clear blue skies and manicured lawns especially. In your statement, you mentioned that you’d like to “imagine what its like to call these places ‘home’”, and that it might not be what it “appears to be”. What do you mean by that?
I begin with an archival print of a photograph, which I adhere - either whole or cut up - to a loose piece of canvas. I paint out much of what would give the image a geographic specificity and distill the elements to what feels essential to me. When the painting is very close to completion, I sometimes embroider sections along the edge of the canvas before adhering it to a wooden panel. I then continue the painting beyond the edge of the canvas onto the wooden surface, including its sides. The result is a very textured surface full of surprises as you get up close to it. By the time I am done, there is very little (if any) of the original picture left visible. By painting over the original "fact" of the photograph, I simplify and cover up some parts and emphasize others in an attempt to unearth an arguably truer underlying story.I see that your works incorporate more than just paint on canvas – listing digital prints and embroidery thread as materials. Could you tell us more about your process?
In reality, these people are rarely there outside their homes or places of work. I don't paint them out. I guess they're probably inside or out running errands. I find most of these scenes heartbreakingly lonely. Even when there are people in my images, they are rarely truly engaged with one another - rather it seems almost coincidental that they are there at the same time.Like much of my own work, you also choose to limit or eliminate human subjects in these suburban settings – what do you say when people ask you questions like “Where are all the people?” (A question I am also asked frequently)
I grew up looking at the work of Richard Diebenkorn, Gorden Matta Clark and Ed Ruscha and find that their work still resonates with me. These days, however, I find the most inspiration by looking at the work of photographers. Carlo Van de Roer and Alec Soth are couple of my favorites at the moment, but I've also discovered some really incredible work on flickr and have actually started a series of paintings based on photographs that I've found there. With the permission of the photographers, I've made paintings based on the work of flickr members, Brad McMurray, Dennis Wade, David K, George Pollard and Kitty Dukane and am working on pieces by Manny Diller and Bully Rook.Who or what are your artistic influences currently?
Finally I must say that your work hits a deep emotional chord with me. If I flew above the houses in my own paintings, I imagine they would look something like your images. They are so lonely and brave as they cling to one another by a the road or whatever other tenuous connections they can find.
I am pleased to announce that I will have another print coming out with Tiny Showcase. This time it will be one of their four seasonal prints for the winter. Each of the four prints will be available as an open edition, but available only for a limited amount of time. The collection will be unveiled the day after Thanksgiving, when they will announce it first (as they do) to their email list. http://www.tinyshowcase.comDo you have any upcoming shows our announcements you would like to share?
My solo show at Office PDX in Portland just came down, but I have a few group shows coming up.
Dec 2- 28, 2008
Grand Small Works Show
Fuel Collection in Philadelphia, PA
December 12, 6-11pm
Design Nearby one-night-exhibition and sale
Pink Comma gallery in Boston
Enormous Tiny Art V
Nahcotta in Portsmouth NH
2 person show
Nahcotta in Portsmouth NH