opening this saturday at giant robot in LA is susie ghahremani's 5th solo show, the wild life. w/ promises of an interactive installation and a haiku contest it sounds like it's going to be a hoot, a holler and a heck of a good time. susie recently answered some q's for me about the upcoming show. she talks about the show, her inspirations behind it and her latest creative endeavors. i hope you guys enjoy it...and if you are in the LA area i would get on over, sounds like a show not to be missed.
what i love most about your work is how you depict animals. your color palette and the environment in which you create for your subjects really speaks to how passionately you feel about animals. what it is about animals that make them your primary subject?
thank you! aside from being an animal lover in general, i feel like animals are universally relate-able which is a big reason why i paint them so much -- they can be seen and understood independent of distinction of race, gender, etc. and the animal kingdom is so diverse i never feel like i run out of subjects and possibilities. plus, i'm around animals a lot (i have five birds and a cat and volunteer as a wildlife rehabilitator) -- probably more so than most people -- so they seep into my work naturally.
your volunteer job as a wildlife rehabilitator heavily influenced the show. can you tell us about how you were inspired?
the place where i volunteer has a strict "no bunny hugging" policy (that means: no treating wild animals like they're pets) -- basically, endeavoring to keep the animals in their care 'wild', making sure they do NOT get used to being around humans so they can survive independently in the wild following release. this got me thinking about the irony of things like birdhouses, and how weird it is that humans try to coax wild animals like birds into habitats outdoors that resemble their own. birdhouses look like human houses, but that's not a natural environment for a wild animal at all -- sort of funny, don't you think?
there will be a 3-d installation at the show. there are tantalizing hints on the press release that visitors will be able "to physically experience the world she creates in her paintings for the first time". can you give us any more hints about this? it sounds so exciting!
a haiku contest is part of your show as well. haiku is so awesome. was this your idea for the show?
it was! there are literally hundreds of miniature paintings in the show, and the visual effect of my shows can be sometimes overwhelming just from the sheer quantity and insane detail of my work, so i thought it'd be fun to add a little creativity and invite participation with the haiku contest! one reason i thought it'd be cool is that it would be a reason for viewers to connect with individual pieces from the show instead of the show as a whole. plus, painting is such a solitary activity, i feel like it'll be fun for everybody to see the varying responses to the work. and haiku is so clever! we'll be hanging up the haikus the audience writes as part of the installation and giving awesome prizes to the top three, judged by giant robot and i!
you've got an amazing range of products from eco-friendly tote bags (which i own and LOVE) to jewelry, what are some of your most recent products and/or projects you are especially excited about?
thank you! hands down, my new products with chronicle books are the most exciting for me! i feel like chronicle can make anything happen -- i just love all their gift and stationery items so it's not only a career highlight for me to have collaborated with them, but the final products (a full color journal, a set of note cards, a set of sticky notepads and more to come in the future!) are something i'm truly proud of and enjoy using!
i recently also illustrated the sets for a series of bank of america commercials , which was pretty different than any project i've ever done, and was very exciting!
you have been extremely busy so far this year. what else do you have coming up?
i have a line of autumn-inspired tote bags made in collaboration with the ever-amazing bungalow 360 bag company and a collection of baby clothing coming out with a new company called spark baby apparel. both of those are to be released within the next few weeks. i hope to participate in the amazing & juried LA crafty shopping event called felt club in november, got a few more group art shows before the year is through, working on a limited-edition letterpress collaboration with paper stories letterpress, and um.... who knows what else?? whatever comes my way!