Hello and welcome to the 49th 33 Art Questions With Jackson interview! This time I interviewed the super impressive Farida Hughes, an artist I really admire and who enjoys using color in her work as much as I do. I had loved her Instagram and then became even more of a fan when I saw her work in a show at one of my favorite galleries - Catherine G Murphy Gallery. Her thoughts about art were very interesting to me and I am sure they will be to you too! Thank you for reading! (Instagram: @faridahughes_artist / Images 1, 3 and 4 courtesy of the artist)
Jackson: What inspired your interest in making art? Are you from an artistic family? Did you have an experience that stayed with you?
Farida: There isn't one thing that I can identify that inspired my art-making. My father was a chemical engineer and would sometimes bring home technical drawings he made, but I didn't understand any of that aside from being impressed by the giant rolls of paper and blue lines. My mother came from a farming background and has a strong DIY attitude about everything. I am certain that influenced me early on. I was always "good at art" and I think I got that identity moniker among the kids in grade school. I would lose myself in art work. As a young girl on the many long car trips with family I would occupy myself by taking my fingers and framing little compositions of shapes, lines, and colors as I saw things go by out the window. I told this memory to a friend when I was in graduate school and she said "You were born to be an artist!" Doodling and dreaming are pleasant activities easily accomplished, but the desire to arrange in place all the necessary things to bring something of visual communication into the world, (time, space, energy, tools, and supplies), that is a different kind of drive and passion. Probably seeing people around me build and make things helped influence me on this path.
Jackson: I love your use of color and I respond to it because I also love using color. How did you settle on the use of bright colors in your work? What does it mean to you personally?
Farida: Color is everything. I embrace color; to me it is the driving force in my work. Color choice don't always inform my composition, but once I choose a color to begin with it definitely informs the composition to the end. I use color both metaphorically and allegorically, letting it stand in for social or political ideas I might want to express. Exploring both the visual and the physical weight of color is a back and forth process in painting, like a little dance, that is so engaging but sometimes also infuriating. People often ask me, especially with my Blends project, if I assign a color to a meaning, like a label, but I work hard to stay away from that. Color is infinitely variable, like humanity, so that, to me, is poetically important. The choices and combinations are endless. For a time I really disliked primary colors because they were so absolute, and intentionally chose a palette based on the secondary, tertiary, and the "grays" of intermixing, but I have explored in primaries in recent years years and found that I can like them when I edge them toward difference. I do think my practice of incorporating my colors into resin makes them brighter, more intense. This vibrancy makes them seem more colorful, however, I am using the exact same paints I use when I paint with oils on canvas. There is something about the way light passes through the medium that affects how we experience the color. All of this makes painting so exciting!
Jackson: If you could meet any artist living or dead, who would it be and why?
Farida: Today, I would have to say I would love to meet the living artist Amy Sillman. She is an extraordinary painter, but also a critic, a writer, and a teacher. She seems to know everybody, or at least their art. She has something to say about everything, and does so articulately and with wit and intelligence most don't match. She doesn't take herself too seriously, and approaches both life and the work in the studio with a sense of humor that makes this task of "being an artist" all the more human. I would love to hang out with her in front of a huge Gerhard Richter abstract painting and geek out about paint, Darth Vader, the sides of barns, or whatever else came to mind, and savor the bits of wisdom that those random mental exercises inevitably reveal.