Meet the Artists: Ginny O’Brien & Michael Basinski
A conversation with Ginny O’Brien & Michael Basinski
How did you each get started in the visual arts, and when did you first decide to combine your styles the way you have for this show?
Michael: Back in the last century. I see my art as poetry. It is writing that is more visual than antique writing that is most often used to measure Dow Jones and such. Some couples go for walks, or to strange places like Taiwan or the grocery store. I see as we not just talk about the arts but extend and expand that conversation into experiment, it is to make an actual. It is a learning evolution.
Ginny: I got started in the visual arts at a very young age. As a kindergartener I liked to draw profiles and mermaids, and these drawings inspired my mother to send me to art classes at the Nelson Aktins Art Museum in Kansas City, where I lived until leaving for college. Thus began a life-long love of art, both looking at and making. I studied textile and fiber arts at the undergraduate and graduate level and have been exhibiting my mixed media paintings and wall hangings for many years now. Mike and I met in 2008, and soon after decided to experiment with making art together, literally handing a single work back and forth at the kitchen table, and this is the way we continue to work when we decide to make an artwork together.
What is your favorite piece that you’ve created together, and why is it your favorite?
Michael: I like them all as they roll off the imagination.
Ginny: We have made a lot of work together so it is hard to single out just one work. For this show, the newest works which are a set of 30 mixed media collages each made on a printed broadside, I really enjoyed the challenge of making a new composition creating work where the form of the white negative space is equally important as the images we created to unify our distinct styles of making and the materials we each use in our process.
Where do you find inspiration for your art?
Michael: I wake up, or I go to bed.
Ginny: I find inspiration everywhere, especially immersed in the natural world we are all a part of. I do have an internal innate desire to “make” that is always present but hard to define with words, it’s just a part of who I am.
How have you used art in non-traditional settings to have an impact throughout your life?
Michael: Wherever there is any art it is non-traditional.
Ginny: I have used art in non-traditional settings for many years now. Over the years I have worked with children and adults with developmental and physical disabilities facilitating art activity sessions in day services settings that include teaching my own methods and process for making art and we often made collaborative art together. I have developed and led similar art activity sessions in hospital settings for both adult and adolescent in-patients, and that work informs art activity sessions for children and their families I design and facilitate in my current position at Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center as Resident Artist/Program Manager for the Kathleen and Joseph Curatolo Pediatric Visual Arts Program.
You use so many vibrant colors in your art. What is your favorite color?
Michael: Take color. Subtract co. And then add an e to that and: lore
Ginny: My immediate response for a favorite color is yellow but then I think of purple as another favorite. Sometimes I think I like yellow because my painting professor once told me I should never use yellow in my paintings, so I of course gravitate to it and often use it in my work. When Mike first shared his visual poetry work with me I noticed he used a lot of yellow in several of his works, so there you go! In general, I love combining several high contrast colors in unusual combinations, although I am presently working on large scale paintings using black, white, and bluish grey, but with hints of yellow here and there.
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