Adele H. Stamp Student Union - Center for Campus Life

Curtains: Stamp Gallery's Spring 2020 Artist Interview Videos

 
Curtains: A series of videos highlighting the University of Maryland's second- year MFA Candidates and their work. Join us on STAMP's Youtube channel on these Thursdays at 6pm for these premieres: youtube.com/umdstamptv
 
  • April 30 - Noah McWillians
  • May 7 - Heidi Zenisek
  • May 14 - Elaine Qiu

Noah McWilliams

Video Premiere Thursday, April 30th at 6pm: stamp.umd.edu/mcwilliams


I am interested in how culturally agreed upon definitions of beauty are used as tools to justify the otherwise indefensible. Whether its fairy tales, religious rituals, or product marketing, our darkest impulses are shrouded in the promise of pleasure. My work illustrates cracks in the spellbound beauty of these fantasies as cultural assertions of control are presented as moral truths. It grinds suggested narratives to a near halt, transforming them into truncated portraits of dysfunction.

 


 

 

 

 

noahmcwilliams.com     @noah_mcwilliams_art

Heidi Zenisek

Video Premiere Thursday, May 7th at 6pm: stamp.umd.edu/zenisek

 

While playing the role of “artist as witness,” I have recognized notions of control, dominance, and stability within agriculture and land-use practices. Reexamining details of my childhood on a farm and my experiences traversing the world as a contemporary woman underlies my art’s focus on humanity’s interaction with the natural world and its relation to broader systems of power and subjugation.

I make work that doesn’t necessarily depict the farm, but is “of” the farm, recasting our understanding of good or bad, and collapsing the distance between life and death. Having witnessed firsthand the whimsy & brutality of nature, I investigate ways this farmstead childhood has uniquely shaped the lens through which I view the world. Time is measured by the color of the fields and when babies are born. Vast expanses of crop are raised, harvested, and migrated. Large quantities of material are vigorously used for months, then discarded or replaced, and certain animals are only as valuable as their ability to procreate. Humans manipulate reproduction cycles through breeding, artificial insemination, castration, pollination, and genetic engineering to optimize yields. I’m interested in what has been normalized in my eyes, but is seen as alien and cruel to those who did not have the unique experience of a rural upbringing. To reduce these practices to good or bad is simplistic. It’s the complexities in between that I explore. It is said that poetry exists in the space between the question and the answer…. Perhaps that's where my work exists as well.

 

 

 

 

 

 


Knob

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bullet Points is the result of re-examining my relationship with hunting through probing my childhood memories of this culture. We’re dynamic beings and to reduce the conversation to good or bad is superficial. It’s more complex than that and this is my attempt at working through those complexities.I took a closer look at some of the facets of deer hunting: ritual, tradition, community, identity, necessity, sport, power, desensitization, gender roles, sexualization, fetishization. My curiosity about this complex connection I have with life and death grew into an interest in the simultaneous seduction and repulsion I feel towards the graphic nature of the process. Some of my earliest childhood memories are of the blood streaked floor in one of the structures on our farm dubbed “The Deer Shed.” Here, deer carcasses are brought to be skinned and processed post-hunt. The men would laugh and drink Busch while I made a game of tracing the crimson gestures with my boot. Shouldn’t I have been traumatized by all of this? Was I groomed from an early age to form this disconnect or was it more innocent...the familiarity of death, a respect for the need to feed oneself and family. How much is nature and how much is nurture?

 

 


Entrails 1

 


Entrails 2

 


Entrails 3

 

Open Season 16

 

Open Season 17

 

heidizenisek.com     @theheidz

Elaine Qiu

Video Premiere Thursday, May 14 at 6pm: stamp.umd.edu/qiu
 

I paint to understand our existence—this life and our relationship to one another.
Before I became a painter, I was a journalist. For me, painting, like journalism, is my way of looking more deeply into what lies beneath the surface of things. The painting process has been an inward journey that consists of constant selecting, examining, assembling, verifying, rearranging, discarding, and above all, discovering.
The tension between the seen and unseen is the common thread running through the bodies of my work. I have always sought to give an image to the unnamable and unspeakable.
The theme of this series is about facing loss and uncertainty. It is a response to the current pandemic of COVID-19. The series is a gesture of acknowledging suffering as the shared human condition, and beneath it, the mortality that haunts us all.

 

 

 

elaineqiu.work     @elaineqiuart