Gala Bent has just opened up her latest show, Overgrown, at 4Culture. I've clearly been living under a rock because I've never seen her stuff. Despite her constant showing or inclusion in the Tacoma Biennial. Such a statement about how we all get lost in our own little worlds. Anyway, she's great -- as a person (well, first appearances point to yes!) and as an artist. Don't take my word for it, come on down to 4Culture and check it out. It reminds me of all my favorite childhood books wrapped into one beautiful art show.
Readers in Tandem, Gala Bent (image via artist)
Hi Gala! It was so great to meet you last night at your opening. I wanted to ask you a few questions and talk about Overgrown. Your drawings at 4Culture pull me right in -- they have an amazing sense of movement but feel anchored by stalwart geometric forms. Would you talk about the show?
Well, my main meditation when making these pieces was the tension between boundaries that we make and use as humans--classification, categorization--and the things that challenge those stalwart convictions or structures (thus, "Overgrown"). Without being a proper philosopher, they are my own way of thinking about epistemology. The influence of childrens' books and animators like Hayao Miyazaki are in here as well, probably mostly as a tribute to the role that imagination has in our understanding of the world and its players.
Everything seems to be coming together (detail), Gala Bent (image via artist)
You have an amazing ability to draw hair and fur. It makes me want to reach right in and ruffle it up! When did the furry creatures start emerging?
I was drawing realistic animals before jumping into the more anthropomorphic breeds that you see in this show. I would mostly draw from books about animal identification, and I was struck by the beautiful unity and variety between hair and feather structure as it rounded corners and haunches and made its way down necks and sprouted into tails (et cetera). When I looked around me at human hair patterns, there was a clear link to these swirling currents and reactive lines, but also a very specific human version that is connected to loads of other cultural history and ideas. In our realm, we enter into braids and bobby pins and haircuts and all sorts of other goofy and profound things in order to draw attention to our personalities and ideas about ourselves.
Beastly Burden, Gala Bent (image via zackandgalabent.com)
You (and Zack) are expecting your third beautiful baby next month. Is this the last we're going to see of you for a while?
Actually, I will have work in the SAM gallery in July, and will have another exhibition through Half/Dozen Gallery out of Portland in August. The work may be at a smaller scale (like the four smaller pieces in the show) because of the pragmatics of getting to the studio with a a new one, but I haven't stopped so far with the arrival of either of my other sons. Drawing provides a welcome respite from the cycles of early child care, and now my older kids are willing to draw alongside me! We talk about what they're drawing and what I'm drawing. It's awesome.