artist interview

Last Chance: Garth Fry at Hillyer Art Space

Garth Fry pushes the limit in his solo show at Hillyer Art Space by taking his delicate technique of coiled paper to the next level with both large and small scale exhibitions. Fry revisits this technique with an emphasis on the viewing experience, focusing on the ethereal, delicate properties of paper coils.

His solo exhibition at Hillyer Art Space, which closes this Friday March 29th, showcases his push to enhance his work by reexamining the coiled paper technique and by creating works that can be viewed independently while providing an impactful viewing experience for the viewer.

Garth Fry 2

ArtSee had a chance to sit down and chat with our friend Garth to discuss his exhibition at Hillyer Art Space, what it’s like to be an artist, and just what it takes to be the upbeat and positive Garth Fry we know and love.

 ArtSee: What's the last show that you saw (not yours) that inspired you?

Garth Fry: The Ai Weiwei exhibit, "According To What" at the Hirshhorn Museum. Biggest take away there for me was his craftsmanship displayed in China Log. Ai built logs from dismantled Qing Dynasty (1644–1911) temple posts. He then carved an opening through the center of the log that displays the shape of China. The materials used in the log creation reference China's past, while his carving techniques become symbolic of the counties future. Ai designs mystery in a simple yet complex manner with this piece; elements that I enjoy and try to incorporate in my own work.  


AS: Where is your favorite place to see art?

GF: I really enjoy the Hirshhorn Museum and keeping up with a few DC galleries like Hillyer Art Space, The Fridge, and RandScottProjects.


AS: What inspired the body of work in your exhibition “A Deeper Look Inside” on display now at Hillyer Art Space?

GF: The images I created with coils have been inspired by events that have happened throughout my life; from affairs as simple as everyday occurrences to monumentally life changing circumstances. Even the origin of the coiling process developed during a routine life event. I noticed large sheet of torn paper beginning to roll into itself while moving my studio from Arlington, VA to Richmond, VA. The simple paper rolling phenomena transformed into a regular studio practice while living in Richmond because I had little room and no funds to support my regular Printmaking habit. I began making images inspired by trivial situations and my daily surroundings. Most recently, in this show specifically, I've tried to push myself to expand within the paper coil theme and create works that could stand alone without being framed.

 Garth Fry

AS: What do you think has changed in your art career and your work since the beginning of your career?

GF: As an artist I've learned to follow my gut and intuition.  Early on in my career I leaned heavily on traditional means of expression, from materials used to the process of creation.  Overtime, I've been able to build on those conventional artistic practices to create new techniques with different forms of articulation.


AS: Who is your favorite artist dead/alive and why?

GF: Damien Hirst, for his ability to create works that feed on peoples fears and emotion so decoratively. 


AS: If you weren’t creating art what would you be doing? 

GF: Surfing


AS: What is you favorite food?

GF: I love a good burrito, but I'm not a picky eater and enjoy foods of all types.


Thanks so much for chatting with us, Garth! Be sure to catch his show “A Deeper Look Inside” before it closes THIS Friday at Hillyer Art Space. Also, you can check out more of his work on his website:


A Deeper Look Inside is open until March 29th, 2013 at Hillyer Art Space 9 Hillyer Court, NW in Dupont Circle. Hillyer Art Space is open 12-6 Tuesday – Friday & 12-5 Monday’s and Saturday’s. 

Through the Window of Steven Cushner's Creative Process

On January 9th, to kick off the new year, I attended the Hemphill press breakfast to do a write up on their latest show for our affiliate post on Borderstan.  It only took minutes to realize that Steven Cushner’s show was one of, if not, the best show I had ever seen in a gallery in Washington, DC.  In case you have not had the chance to see it yet, his work in this show includes large, symmetrical, over powering and familiar works on oddly shaped canvases.  It was only a week ago that the work of Steven Cushner’s genius started to come together.  Visiting Steven in his home studio, I was able to really understand his creative process and get a sneak peak at what he is currently working.

After seeing the show at Hemphill, it surprised me that one of the first things that Cushner told me was that his relationship with color goes back as far as he can remember and at times can get out of control.
  His studio is surely full of it, different from the muted tones of his current show. Every space on his wall is covered with his latest pieces and watercolor “sketches” of the images he hopes to put on canvas. Color, color and more color!  With the overwhelming color in his studio, I immediately wanted to know what led to his, almost entirely, black and white work currently at Hemphill.  This work came from an overload of color in the early 90s that Cushner says included work with awful, crazy colors.

Cushner’s work is very physical and gestural but he considers it “fake gesture”.  He tried to explain that the “fake” part comes in the editing stages of his work.  He explained that each of his works consists of many layers and most works may have even started out a completely different, color, size or shape.  He often has trouble figuring out which colors to use and where to take them, even if that means eliminating them all together. 

My favorite work currently in Cushner’s studio, is hardly a work in progress. In fact, if it doesn’t find a home, I hope to own it one day!  It is a work that he hopes will evoke the idea of infinity and a forever journey.  His inspiration was very clearly mountains and like the work currently at Hemphill, Cushner very deliberately worked on creating a drastic sense of space with illusion.  While the colors were more muted that he thought the final product would be, it was captivating, calming and gave the feeling of seeing a gorgeous sunset.  Like the work at Hemphill the works size in itself is truly remarkable and powerful.

Working with smaller canvases is more difficult for Cushner.  In our discussion of his technique, he expressed several times that he was more comfortable with large canvases and that they just feel right.  Clearly, the large-scale works translate in a truly unique and powerful way, whether in color or, as currently seen at Hemphill, in black and white.

I was honored to have had the chance to look through a small window of Steven Cushner’s creative through process. His show at Hemphill will be through March 9, 2013 and is worth everything minute spent sharing the space with his works of shaped canvases.

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