STUDIO VISIT – SASHA FISHMAN

Studio Visit, Sasha Fishman

August 2019

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“Norman” 2018

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Conversation between Amy Boone-McCreesh and Sasha Fishman

Where did you grow up, and how did the Baltimore or moving away from it influence your art?

 Grew up in Baltimore! I don’t think living in Baltimore had much influence on my work but I think living in Texas was when I began to become more aware of the scope of capitalism. I LOVE Texas, everything really is bigger there. Some of my favorite things are the very big very wide concrete highways that I think loop just because they can or these massive gas stations called Buc-ees which have about 100 gas pumps and any convenient item you may need like pickled eggs or like sandwiches with 6 meats and 4 cheeses, camo, and 80 bathroom stall options. And they even have a mascot. The ultimate convenience! But experiencing this heightened state of material culture made me question our systems of consumption and commodity fetishism. 

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Where is your current studio and how long have you been there?

 As of 6 months I’ve been in LA but I still keep a studio space in Baltimore in my parents’ basement! 

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Can you talk about the trajectory for your material preferences and usage?

 Clear things are so cool! I think I like them so much because they’re unnatural and synthetic, but also appear familiar because of they have similar optics to water. Italian gardens were designed for the sound of fountain water trickling to infer coolness. I’ve been wondering if clear/transparent/translucent objects are so enticing because they remind us of water, which would make sense evolutionarily. And there’s also a strange relationship we have to clear objects since we can be submerged in water but not in plastics or glass. I mean we could if it was molten but that would be uncomfortable. 

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 So I really love plastics, and I primarily use resin – it’s a synthetic and nostalgic material. Resin is also incredibly versatile. it’s relatively light, strong, durable and transparent. The problem is it’s toxic to work with, which ultimately drove me to look for alternatives and research the history of plastic to understand what it’s made of and how it was developed. I’ve been cooking bioplastic recipes, growing kombucha scobies, making hydrogels, and mixing everything in between. 

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 How are your days or weeks like as an artist, how do you structure your time?

I tend to be pretty all over the place in the studio, working on my computer then adding another coat to a mold and then testing another bioplastic recipe. The multiple projects I’m working on I circle around to about every week to three weeks depending on how busy things get. I’m still trying to figure this out – I usually end up staying in the studio until late at night. 

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What do you feel are the underlying themes of your work? What are you trying to achieve?

How we’re trying to control environmental entropy. Out of our desperation for preventing natural decay we’ve been subverting durability into an environment we’re no longer symbiotic with. And how we’re dealing with it is strange, sometimes hopeful but pretty dark.

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Working so much with plastics has made me think about my relationship to the environment, where things come from and where things go. How are materials processed, how are things are extracted or the energy that’s used in the process. I think there’s a lot of potential for that to change, but there’s been more focus on treating the symptoms rather than the cause of the problem. In the tragedy of the commons, if people are sharing the same resource, they ultimately destroy the thing that sustains them. It’s tragic but also humorous – the absurdity of it. 

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How do you deal with the highs and lows of creating art? How do you keep it going?

 Having multiple projects rotating at different stages! Another helpful thing is doing studio visits with other people–and going to openings. Having a community is the best thing to have when you’re feeling stuck. And listening to podcasts wow I don’t know what I’d do without podcasts. They’re like a cool and fun classroom for your ears!

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What do you feel is the ideal viewing experience for your work or do you have a specific place or space in which you’d like to exhibit?

 I want art to be more visibly accessible – maybe this means showing outside of a gallery or in a more inclusive space. In Dallas, there is a new sculpture park–an artist run outdoor space called Sweetpass Sculpture Park–and it’s so exciting because usually sculpture parks are historically this elitist set up with big, bronze casts, and how do you relate to that as an emerging artist? Those are really indestructible. But this park shows work by emerging artists and being outdoors to view art is so much more welcoming. Sweetpass is totally reinventing the concept of a sculpture park. We need more of those!

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Do you have anything coming up or anything you’d like to promote?

 I’m collaborating with a company called Spira that grows spirulina which is a blue green algae that has incredible applications from electricity to protein to a natural blue pigment. The founder, Elliot Roth is a very energetic scientist and advocate of the DIY bio community, if you’re interested in it you can check out his article on Medium. There are a couple other projects I’m working on with people based around the sciences, stay tuned for updates in the upcoming months! I also make jewelry and ironically it is made out of resin! 

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Resources recommended by Sasha:

 DIY bio guide

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Assorted photos by Matt Cronin, Matthew Genecov, and Rob Ferrell