Interview: Trudy Benson

With Trudy’s show coming up, we asked if we could swing by her studio and check out what was cookin. If you’re unfamiliar with her work, it’s an abstract exploration of textures, shapes, and color, resulting in beautifully chaotic paintings. The overwhelming pieces are suprisingly calming though. A feeling of exploration and intrigue comes over you as you pan the topographic paint clumps for new oil based lifeforms. This same feeling continues into her work for her latest show, only she seems to have pushed the exploration of her techniques, as well as the dimensions, a few more notches. We couldn’t wait to sit down and ask her a some questions, like what she was smokin when she concocted these new beasts, her path from VCU painting department to selling out her first solo show in NY, and a little insight to her second solo show opening tomorrow.

photos and interview by Mauricio Vargas

Hey Trudy, lets start out with life after VCU painting department…
I stopped painting for about eight months and drank alot. Eventually I decided to get my act together and apply to grad school. I got into Pratt, so I moved to Brooklyn and got married along the way.

 How have your influences and approach to painting changed from when you were at VCU to when you were studying at Pratt?
I think in both cases i was rebelling agains the way the school was structured when it came to teaching. Where in VCU’s case, everything was very hands off not really teaching anything, allowing the student to ‘find themselves’ etc, where at Pratt it was the opposite. At Pratt it was a big influence on skill and craft in ones work. Also, at VCU I mainly was inspired by figurative work, and when I got to Pratt found that my biggest influence was being in the city itself.


So whats your background? Do you have an artistic family background?
My family’s from Virginia, neither of them make a living as artists, but they both draw. My mom did drawing of birds and deer and stuff, and my dad makes wierd fucked up drawings of cartoon characters. They were both also very encouraging of my art.

What has your successes provided you other than money that your are greatful for?
First of all, because of Mike Weiss Gallery that represents me now, I am able to work in this great big studio I have now. Along with the opportunity given by my first show I think moving to this space has propelled me to grow a little faster and really understand what it is to be a full-time painter.

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Would you say technical experimentation is a big part of your work? How did that transition from figurative to abstract occur?
I think as I stopped making figurative work and became more expressive and minimal at the same time, so was making giant gradients and circles using squeezed paint from the tubes. So I started really experimenting with different types of paint and seeing how they can be applied, I am still doing that all the time.

What was the feeling that came over you during your first solo show in New York?
Well i had my thesis show at Pratt and shortly after got a call from Freight+Volume saying that I was the next show, which was two weeks away. Luckily I had already concieved the whole show for my thesis and then some, so it worked out. During and after it was really crazy because I was just in school working at a restaurant selling tacos at Pequena Dos. I ended up selling out my show, so I quit my job. Thanks to some good press from James Kalm Report that got a lot of notice and kinda shot my show into a mini spotlight.


Tell us about your show coming up, where you’ve taken your work for this show.
The shows called Actual/Virtual, and with my paintings I was trying to push with what you can do with space and dimensions. Most of these I wanted to create an illusion of depth, but a shallow depth. Sort of like staged and the shapes are actors. Also I was playing with the idea of translation of digital media, and the way it morphs and skews between medium.

Have you ever considered implementing technology or digital aspects to your work?
Well I grew up around videogames, movies, and understanding technology, and how an image is made up of certain pixels and elements to make a picture. To me a painted world is more virtual because you can interpret a painting different from one angle to the other because of its physicality.

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Man, well I need an ACTUAL beer, because I’ve VIRTUALLY run out of questions. Thanks a ton Trudy, see you at the opening!
Special thanks to Beth Noe for helping out. xoxo!

View more of Trudy Benson’s work at Horton Gallery’s website.

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