What are you curious about? Will:
I am interested in ideas relating to impermanence and chance operations. There are colors and forms in my work that I don’t necessarily create but rather facilitate their discovery. I think a lot about how things exist in multiple states and iterations, what is there and not there, 2D vs. 3D, digital and physical, how forms are evolving and growing, how things are never really static. There is this glimpse of a hidden network of ideas and shapes and images - one moment it’s physically there, and the next, gone.
Describe your art and describe your process. Will:
I usually begin by making a mess to find out what is going to be revealed to me. I’m constantly working on the floor, sprawled out, all my materials within an arm’s reach. A lot of the work begins through, and is informed by, mono-printing: when paint and media is applied on one surface and then pressed against another, a pseudo-mirrored image is revealed. Lately I’ve been going back into some older works and tearing up other works, focusing a little more energy on collage and mixed media. I like the idea of “graffiti-ing my own work”, how marks and images and intentions can always change. Ultimately, the studio is a space where I make my own games and challenges.
You have such a strong sense of color and shape in your work. What comes first, color or composition, and do they play nice or compete with one another? Will:
Color is definitely a driving force behind my work; it goes hand and hand with form, two pieces in a puzzle. They inform each other and are able to (hopefully) foster a larger conversation. Although I am constantly doodling and drawing on pretty much every surface I come across, the shapes in my work are more spontaneously driven and less controlled and predetermined.
Having a background in painting, what drove you to put the brush down and create art from other tools, tapes, mixed media and collage techniques? Will:
Working with mixed media is a form of exploration and play. I’ll pick up a brush here and there, but I like the uncontrollable elements and accidents that occur when my hand is a little less present. There is still an intensity of gesture and action through collage and my use of tape and spray paint, but the process and results are different than with a brush (although the tape acts as a brush-stroke itself). I constantly think about a series of un-stretched canvases I created while at Pratt where I put down a huge piece of canvas on the floor and made a pool of paint and water; I dipped smaller pieces of canvas onto the floor to capture whatever media I could. I wanted to depict the specific moment and performative act as well as witness the “organic” forms and abstractions that were created, each one completely different yet contingent upon the same factors.
What currently inspires you— what are you reading, listening to or looking at that drives your work? Will:
The last novel that I read that I really enjoyed, and was moved by, was Rachel Kushner’s “The Flamethrowers”. Really gorgeous and exciting and romantic; the protagonist was such an amazing and real character that was relatable yet unpredictable. I’m currently reading Malcolm Gladwell’s “Outliers” which talks about how success is acquired through an array of cultural, personal, random and experiential factors. I always feel like we’re having a conversation when I read his work. Spike Jonze’s “Her” was my favorite film of the year; a very hilarious and poignant exploration of love, technology and how people connect and relate. I’m currently watching “Girls” which I love and hate, and very excited for “Veep” to come back into my life. The last exhibition that got me really excited was Katherine Bernhardt’s “Stupid, Crazy, Ridiculous, Funny Patterns” at CANADA back in February. Her work is bold, bright and comical, and composed of super painterly images of Capri Suns and hamburgers. I love how loose and uninhibited and freely she paints. Erin:
What would be the one piece of advice that you would tell the younger you? Will:
Don’t stop creating – and practice your cello more.
Did you ever feel like giving up? Why didn’t you? Will:
The studio is always an exploration and a challenge in the best possible way. I’m excited to partake is a dialogue about art and life and hopefully engage others to think and see things a little differently. Erin:
What’s your strongest memory from your childhood? Did you ever try to depict it in your work? Will:
I am definitely influenced by my childhood games and toys, such as original Nintendo, Tetris, Marble Works, Dominoes, Connect Four and Legos. I remember as a kid going to my cousin’s house in Delaware - when everyone went to sleep I would go into their basement and take out every toy and Jenga block and racecar they had and create what I called “Toy City”. It was a very meticulous arrangement of hundreds of toys and objects; a “functional” city, if you will. I always got the sensation that I wasn’t building the city as much as I was discovering it. I did this for a few years until it stopped being funny and was just annoying for my family. Erin:
If you could collaborate with absolutely anyone who would it be and what would it look like? Will:
I would love to collaborate with Sarah Sze – her work is incredible; it always blows my mind how she creates these very intricate not-really-but-looks-like-they-are balancing installations, composed of thousands of objects categorically placed (they remind me of an adult Toy City, actually). Her exhibition at Tonya Bonakdar Gallery and the Asia Society a few years ago was one of the most impressive things I’ve ever seen. Erin:
What’s next in your plans for your work? Will:
I am speaking on a panel next week at Loft 594 in Bushwick organized by Margaret Coleman called “Process Versus Concept”, which should really be an interesting conversation about material, execution of concepts, documentation of process, unintentional collaborators and how the materials used to create a work of art can be the work in and of itself. I was also recently awarded a residency through the Wassaic Artist Residency in Wassaic, NY, and will be heading there this August to make a new mess in a new space.