Natalie Hope McDonald fills us in on her work, parallel to our Winter ‘22-23 exhibition: “In the Mix”.
What initially brought you to art?
I've always been an artist. As a kid, you'd be more likely to find me drawing than doing anything else. I suspect that being an only child initially drew me to art as a way to occupy myself. I liked being by myself then. I guess I still enjoy that part of being in the studio. The time I spend making my work is meditative in a lot of ways. I still feel like that kid sometimes.
What imagery has historically interested you and why?
Scenes from cities have had a profound influence on me, both the abstract lines and the nitty gritty details one sees on the streets. More than ever I have incorporated some of these subjects into my art. I've also been engaged with popular culture and celebrity for as long as I can remember. I think I'm always trying to deconstruct the notion of fame in obvious and subtle ways.
How has your process evolved in the last 5 to 10 years?
I've expanded beyond canvas and paper into 3D pieces. I never expected to be creating an installation like the House I and II for this show. But it's something I now want to do more often. I also didn't anticipate I would be working with a partner on the project (it's challenging when one is used to working alone). But the experience inspired me to think bigger. Marcello and I will be working on some new projects soon. I'm grateful that he campaigned for this piece. It's been one of the best experiences.
What, or who, has had the most influence on your work?
Memories and nostalgia tend to influence my work the most. I'm always looking for new ways to create something visually compelling that's also deeply meaningful to me. My abstract paintings and my newer works actually have a lot in common in terms of being about the past. Both mediums require me to delve deep. They can be heavy psychological dives for me that I ultimately want to be interesting for someone who may not know that part. There are coded meanings everywhere in my work. They are not meant to be known, but absorbed as a whole experience.
In the art world, Warhol is also a major influence to me. My silver mylar series is inspired by his silver factory, in part, as well as my own work as a writer.
What has surprised you about your practice?
I don't always realize what is inspiring something I'm making until I have some time with it after it's finished. Only then do I realize where it's coming from - and it can be a little surprising, even to me. I try not to overthink it too much during the process even though most of what I do requires a lot of tapping into feelings and memory and turning those into something concrete. Even so, it's always more instinctual than planned out.
What is your identity at large? Do you think about this a lot in relation to your art?
Giving myself over to art has been freeing in a lot of ways. Don't get me wrong - it's a tough business that requires endless hustle. But I've always known innately that this is what I should be doing since I was a kid. No question.
But it means constantly reinventing and working. I always think what I am doing now is just a small part of what's to come.
I just read a quote by Miles Davis recently that said if you are a creator you must be willing to change all the time. There can be no stagnation if you expect to survive as an artist. That really resonated with me.