amy sacksteder, ambition, gel pen and gouache on paper, 8.75"x10", 2007
amy sacksteder was born in augusta, georgia.
i was born in eugene, oregon probably a few years later (unless amy is a super genius, which wouldn't surprise me) as she entered university five years before me.
amy lived for a spell in the exciting city of chicago, which stimulated her artistic influences and planted the seeds of her organic, contemporary "hipster aesthetic."
i have yet to escape eugene.
(possible non-fact) amy loves avocados.
i hate avocados.
i believe strongly that amy and i may have been twins separated at birth. and not just because i have an art crush and want desperately to believe that a talent as raw and powerful as amy's is genetically encoded in me and as yet undiscovered.
when i first saw amy's imagery i was stopped dead in my tracks. one of the reasons that i've always been so enamored with art and artists is that beautiful moment when i find an image created by someone i don't know, never met, that speak directly to my heart. a "killing me softly" moment in which an artist's composition seems to be reading your diary entries aloud. having such an experience with a work of art gives you the chance to feel vulnerable and exposed without dictating what you will do with these senses. i love watching people at art museums and galleries, watching for the moment when they see their own heart laid bare, the look of shock, or comfort, or relief that someone understands.
amy's body of work artfully waltzes from crisp, voluptuous pieces from nature, to stark, efficient scenes of human isolation and dislocation. the first work of amy's that i saw was a piece entitled in all sincerity, an ambitious large scale work populated with sweeping, silhouetted flocks of bluebirds and queen anne's lace, with texturally sensuous passages of lunaria (also called silver dollar plant, honest plant, and money plant). i was so shook by this painting. it seemed to amass so many of my aesthetic interests and influences in one image, as well as creating a sense of nostalgia with the dried papery silver dollars, and the inviting cadence of the bluebirds. i knew i had to see more.
amy sacksteder, elegy: just like heaven, oil and gold-leaf marker on gessoed panel, 6"x6", 2008
amy's image ambition (posted at the top of this piece) is from a series that she did entitled the beautiful ones. as i was reading about amy, it was a quote about her influences that started to gel my theory of our tragic separation: " I was simultaneously influenced by the natural world and silhouettes, silk-screened imagery on t-shirts in boutiques, tattoos and band tees on hipsters in Wicker Park. " I may not be an expert on wicker park, but that sounds like a list of loves that i would rattle off. it's funny because amy talks about how initially she wasn't fully aware of her "perpetuation of an already prevalent hipster aesthetic," and how it took moving from her neighborhood in chicago and a visit to etsy (artsy-crafty people porn, i'm addicted) for her to become aware of the aesthetic sub-culture she had unwittingly become a hero for.
i only recently began to accept my own hipster status. having bartended at eugene's notorious hipster bar, indigo district, for awhile i felt sure i'd had my fill of joy division references, bob dylan sunglasses and cowboy tailoring. a couple months ago i went to a house party at my ever uber-hip friend heather's house. chuckling as i walked up the steps about the abundance of "taste-makers" sure to be inside, i found my outfit (coat of arms amongst hipster sub-sets) an instant hit. it was showing up at a hipster party in skinny jeans, black stilettos, and a t-shirt with two girls in bikinis and boxing gloves covered in blood that cemented my grudging understanding that i am a indeed at least part hipster. like it or not.
in the beautiful ones amy seeks to "understand the why behind hipster, rock kid, art kid- sanctioned images." she takes an interesting conceptual approach to try to puzzle out how particular images become iconic facets of hipster visual culture. amy explains, "I am interested not only in the preference of certain animals and imagery over others, but also in the process of appropriation---the distance that an animal must travel from its source in the wild, to its translation into slick silhouettes and layered silk-screened images, to its subsequent marketing and distribution; from an individual living creature to a ubiquitous symbol."
with her accomplished technique, thoughtful compositions and her broad intellectual curiosity amy sacksteder is a talent to keep an eye on. she is currently an assistant professor of art at eastern michigan university. she has two solo shows coming up in 2009, The Beautiful Ones, at the Arrowhead Room, Waubonsee Community College, in Sugar Grove, Illinois and still at the paint creek center for the arts in rochester, michigan. she has also expressed possible interest in putting a couple pieces in my upcoming menace to propriety group show, so i've got my fingers crossed that it will happen. she just happened to pick the four pieces i would have hand selected given the chance (it's that twin psychic connection). if amy's work makes it out to the show you'll surely hear me bleating about it for weeks, so keep your ear to the ground for a potential upcoming NW visit (of at least her work, if not her busy self) from the beautiful ms. sacksteder.