Our next Artist Insight comes to us from St. Louis-based, multimedia artist Cole Lu. Be sure to come view her work and others on the evening of December 5th for our Grand Opening Event!
1. How would you describe your personal practice? Where do you work best, what inspires you?
My personal practice has shifted so drastically from being purely engaged with darkroom photography to whatever I found fits with the content. Since I’m not specifically bounded with any medium, it’s definitely a learn-as-it-goes experience. Video has always been a medium that I love to include and work around, mainly because the traditional hierarchy that I wanted to challenge; it sort of flips the notion of how moving images have been seen as just a form of public entertainment.
So I often make video that provides meaning to objects, at least that’s how I hope it is perceived most of the time-- paintings and other objects that are absolutely meaningless without the video. Now I’m challenging myself, thinking without video, with more of a conventional hands-on approach, even if it still has the inherent digital quality, like composing three-dimensional collages; using found objects to alter/ or not; building sculptures with plywood and two-by-fours; printing on fabrics and papers; even stone carving. My current reading is always the thing that inspire me, I guess it also depends on what kinds of book I was drawn to at the time that I make, I like literary non-fictions, poetry and critical essays. Reading is such a full body sensory experience, it just makes me feel propelled to make all the time after I consume it.
2. What concepts are driving the work you will be showing at the gallery opening?
I was lucky to be invited to make a piece for the space that is a storefront window on the street; making a public installation is something that I’ve been having a growing interest in doing. The work that I made for Westminster specifically speaks about the identity of minorities, in racial, gender politics, and geographic marginalization. As a visual artist who is not only a non-citizen queer female, but also an outsider in arts before. I have always caught myself feeling dysphoric, even anxious of my own placement. The piece is entitled “Soft Architecture”, which was inspired by Lisa Robertson’s essay, I interpret this piece simply as a sense of belonging. The installation is a three-dimensional collages with digitally printed fabric, a found object with public signage, which is about searching for a person, but this person can also be a place. It's about how we see home, how this idea of belonging somewhere can be a unreachable utopic desire.
3. How do you feel about working in St. Louis?
St. Louis can be really challenging, just at the basic level of how the city is structured, and how limited the job options are here. I grew up in a highly populated city, and have always lived in highly populated places. So far, this has been an interesting experience for me. The lifestyle is definitely a challenge, but also a luxury. Never have I ever had a chance to afford the space that I have here compared to anywhere I lived before. I think, in general, it’s a good place for artists. The vastness is not overwhelming, yet it provide room for headspace too. I am lucky to be able to work at a place (Fort Gondo Compound for the Arts) that I love and enjoy for almost two years now. For me, the most important thing about St. Louis is the people that I have here; they are definitely one of the major reasons I’m staying here.
4. What's your dessert of choice and why?
I’m not a sweet tooth person, but there are couple things I can’t resist. Swedish Fish, especially the one you can only get at the theater (Tivoli, in this case). The colorful ones. I have to admit that’s partially the motivation that drives me to the movies sometimes. Skittles, I can’t really explain why, but my craving for skittles happened during the time I was working on my graduate thesis, and they were my main writing fuel. And also, I’m a big coffee drinker, so basically anything goes with it works for me.