Deedee Cheriel's much anticipated show, ABRACADABRA opens tomorrow night at Merry Karnowsky Gallery in LA. Deedee took a minute out of her busy week to answer a few questions I had for her about her show and inspiration behind it. - meighan
ABRACADABRA opens October 9th, 2010 and runs through November 6, 2010.
You name quite a few inspirations in your work: East Indian temple imagery, folk art, feminist punk rock, mysticism, and the naturalistic environments of your Pacific Northwest childhood. What inspiration weighs the heaviest in your work?
I think it is hard to separate how each of those things have crept into my work. When I started making record covers for the bands I was in I really liked the iconic imagery from The Sex Pistols records or The Clash. The images that instantly evoke some sort of feeling became how I approached my image making. People seem to react to my bear head growling, or the tree head on fire in this way.
I think my Animal-people use came from traveling with my dad in India. I also was a big reader of Latin American magical realism literature when I lived in Santiago, Chile. The imagery evoked in that style of literature references folk art. I am drawn to particular animals that come from where I grew up for nostalgic purposes. I used to go on 3 week long camping trips with my mom and find deer and cows that had been killed by bears and I was super fascinated by animals even back then. I planned on becoming a veterinarian.
Among the above inspirations it's clear that folk art is a big influence in your work. Besides painting, what other mediums do you work in? Do you knit or sew?
As odd as it is, or perhaps as unambitious, my New Years resolution last year was to learn how to knit. I learned over Christmas, so in honor of royal procrastination, I learned a week before the year ended. I love clay and ceramics and have been wanting to make a bunch of pots that I can paint on for a show.
Your work is so colorful, yet the description of your upcoming show ABRACADABRA hints at a darker side of the human condition. Can you tell us a little bit about what's happening in this newest group of work that perhaps the viewer may not see right away?
I guess I took from the darker side of the human condition- jealousy, ego, narcissism, and tried to transform these into stories of overcoming, or even giving a sense of humor about these things. I wanted to enlighten and make beauty out of that darkness. Which is how the title of the show came about. Much as the Alchemist turns metal into gold: I was hoping to bring beauty to the uglier parts of the human experience. So the magic of that transformation is what I titled my show.
Why did you choose the word “abracadabra”? What are you hoping to convey?
"ABRACADABRA" is the encantation that was used to help heal people who were fatally ill, and whose only cure was to wear an amulet that had abracadabra written into a triangle. I want to help heal the destructive nature of my own ego and stuff in my relationships with others. So hopefully my work can help others to do the same or at least to have a laugh at all of it.
There is a painting of you wheat pasting an image of a bear with the words 'You Have Everything You Need'. Where are you in the pic and what's the story behind the paste ups?
That photo was taken at a wall downtown. The bears have always symbolized the Buddhist idea that to desire is to suffer. I think I first started painting bears when I quit smoking, and I was constantly looking for something outside myself to fill up the emptiness left by overcoming that addiction.
You've had a super dynamic life, been in all girl bands, worked on a semi-autobiographical documentary, created art work and t-shirts for bands...what's next for you?
I really want to live in a tree house.