PE Ledger

How Can You Make the Greatest of Your Time as a Resident Artist? The Key, according to Saya Woolfalk, is to Pick the Brains of Those Around You

The artist recently finished a residency at the Newark Museum of Art, where she has a colourful solo display.

Saya Woolfalk’s artistic universe is based on a unique blend of science fiction and fantasy, and it is populated by a race of time-travelling “Empathics” who can communicate with nature.

When Woolfalk was asked to participate in an artist residence at the Newark Museum of Art, the herbaria collection was an obvious choice.

Those plant specimens, along with the museum’s landscape paintings, became objects for the Empathics to reinterpret.

“Saya Woolfalk: Field Notes From the Empathic Universe,” the resulting exhibition, includes more than 20 works in various media, including a kaleidoscopic video installation, vivid collages, and textile works.

She’s even installed digital murals in the elevator to establish the tone for her alien vision.

We talked to the New York-based artist about life in her Brooklyn Navy Yard studio and how she changed her technique during her residency at the museum.

What is your studio’s most essential equipment, and why?

Inside and outside of the studio, I spend time in the studio. In either scenario, the most important component I require is a willing creative collaborator.

Collaboration is important to me because I believe that diverse people—and different energy working together—spark creativity. I visited curators Amy Hausmann and Kate Menconeri at the Olana State Historic Site and the Thomas Cole National Historic Site in the Catskills a few weeks ago.

I carried my spatial memory of the two houses, my talk with the curators, and the land itself back to the studio and am currently working with.

What do you most want to accomplish in the studio tomorrow?

I’m very looking forward to meeting with the mayor’s office from the city of Los Angeles to discuss a multi-site memorial project honouring the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg that I’ve been working on for two years.

I’m excited to think about Justice Ginsberg, Coretta Scott King, and Marjory Stoneman Douglas tomorrow as part of Hulu’s Made by Her: Monuments campaign.

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