Q: Why did you become an artist? When, where, and how did you get your start?
A: I was always making something -- drawings or constructing figures or hideaways. In part, I think this had to do with being
exposed to a different culture at a young age (my father had spent 10 years in China, my mother, who came from Norway, was
there with him for part of that time, and the whole family spent almost 5 years in Korea -- a house full of wonderful languages,
stories, exotic chests, paintings, coins, pots, etc) , plus I always got a lot of encouragement. When I was 12 I realized that what I
really wanted to do in life was to make art. So I went to school to get an art degree, got out and set up a studio.
Q: What challenges does an artist face here in the Cleveland area? What challenges have you yourself faced?
A: Same as in many cities -- getting exposure, opportunities to show; selling work (if that is the kind of work you make);
contributing to the effort to raise public awareness of the and necessity of art; shifting the generally conservative outlook of a buying
and/or attending public.
Q: What are the positive aspects to being an artist in the northeast Ohio area?
A: Central location, good place for supplies, equipment, space -- cheap rent, cheap real estate, reasonable cost of living. Good people.
Q: What is the thrust of your work? How would you characterize your work?
A: My primary focus is temporary installations that are specific to the site, physically and often contextually. I incorporate a broad
range of materials from audio and video elements to clay and salt, sometimes sculptural objects as well. The ideas move through a
cycle of looking inward to looking outward. For example, underlying concepts might encompass the nature of the urban
environment; or the relationship of the creative process to the art world; or psychological or spiritual journeys.
Q: Which creative forces have influenced your work?
A: Any one particular person? The nature of asphalt, entropy, cycles of potential, accumulation, decay; physics, metaphysics; various
cultures. What do you mean by creative forces? Lots of people: my mother, my father, my sisters, my uncle, numerous well-known
artists, various writers, my friends.
Q: What other outside elements form and inform your work?
Q: What advice would you give to an artist just getting established in the Cleveland area?
A: Like anywhere. Get involved. Be a part of what's going on.
Q: Do you have a favorite work at the Cleveland Museum of Art or elsewhere in the city?
A: Asian section -- Jomon ware, Korean inlay; The Free Stamp.
Q: What is one of your all-time favorite prints? Why?
A: Rembrandts, awed by the deep richness and the spontaneous line quality. Hokusai: combination of simplicity subject matter, and
color. They also made me feel closer to my childhood years in the Orient.
Q: What is the most surprising revelation about the printmaking process?
A: Working with colored inks via combining plates, although I am not sure that this would qualify as a revelation. Well, I suppose
some of the processes that no one was doing when I was an undergrad (like paper litho or wood intaglio).
Q: What is the most difficult printmaking aspect to get accustomed to?
A: The time it takes me to print and to clean up the mess afterwards.
Q: What are the direct links to how you usually approach your work (in your traditional medium)?
A: I work with ideas, I use a lot of different elements and materials, so what's not connected?
Q: What question do you yourself have for the art community here in the Cleveland area?
A: Which art community? Those who attend Karamu events, SPACES events, CPT? The patrons, the makers, the administrators?
Rather I would say to all organizers and makers: Thanks for all the on-going efforts in making It happen Here.
Q: How have you benefited from working at Zygote Press and from being involved in the artist-in-residence program?
A: Exploring Flatland. (No matter how "deep" a print gets, it is still flat when compared to dealing with the dimensions and materials
of a whole environment). It has been a pleasure to get to know a great group of people better; a wonderful opportunity to stretch,
grow via new challenges -- exploring similar and different ideas in a medium far removed from what I generally do.
|The interview with Laila Voss took place in early September of 2002.
|Interview © Zygote Press, Laila Voss, and Christian-Albrecht Gollub
with Laila Voss
|The following interview with artist LAILA VOSS was first published
in the Fall 2002 issue of Fresh Ink, the Zygote Press newsletter.
Laila is known primarily for her site-specific installations, sculpture, and performance art.
A member of the Board of Directors of SPACES, she has taught
at a number of colleges throughout the northeast Ohio area.
During the Summer of 2002, Laila was one of the Zygote Press Artists-in-Residence.
"Quinta Essentia: East & West," an exhibition of work produced during her Zygote residency,
was presented at the Zygote gallery from September 13 through October 12, 2002.