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Artist Interview: Lucky Rapp

San Francisco based visual artist Lucky Rapp presents new work for our #portrait exhibition with a series of mixed media relief panels. Rapp’s witty mustache series plays with the idea of characteristics on a face that can alternately define a person as well as act as a disguise. In a large-scale work titled forever, Rapp uses her own profile in a contemporary interpretation of the silhouette, a mode of portraiture popularized in the early 19th century. Read on to learn about Rapp’s early beginnings as an artist living in Europe and why resin is her medium of choice.

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mustache 1, mustache 2 & mustache 3, 2016 | Mixed media

YOU HAVE A BACKGROUND IN SPORTS MEDICINE AND ATHLETIC TRAINING – WHEN DID YOU MAKE THE TRANSITION TO ART? WHAT INSPIRED THAT CHANGE?

I graduated with a BA degree in Athletic Training and Sports Medicine and I knew when I completed my last semester that this was not what I wanted to do. When I moved to Paris in 1995 and saw a sign advertising Parsons Fashion and Art School, I knew this is what I wanted to do. Unfortunately, my parents said no and I didn’t have the money so I found my way in Europe and became a window dresser and opened a gallery in my apartment in Mannheim, Germany. The biggest criticism I always received was that my windows overpowered the clothing and that the installations I created surrounding the artists at my gallery always overpowered the art.

When I returned to the U.S. in 2001, I decided to start making my own art rather than art for windows and homages to Keith Haring and Andy Warhol; I wanted to create my own pieces. The inspiration arrived when we did a fashion show in the streetcar repair depot that Mercedes Benz sponsored in Mannheim. We put a mannequin on the repair strip on a column and other mannequins were on a bridge up above, looking down onto the whole fashion show. I created a huge diptych that read, “sometimes the past is looking down on the present to help and guide us to the future….” People went crazy. I loved it and everybody wanted it. I get lost in writing and it was something I knew I wanted to do in combination with creating art. I also wrote two children’s books that became window displays with moving figures. Creating was like breathing to me; it became a necessity for survival and was natural.

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forever, 2016 | Mixed media

WHAT IS YOUR PROCESS LIKE WHEN CREATING A MIXED MEDIA PIECE? WHAT APPEAL DOES RESIN HAVE TO YOU?

Many times I get an idea from my dreams, travel, films, music and life. I usually have a vision of how large I imagine the piece or what I imagine it taking shape into. Some letters look magical in cursive and some in bold type, but it always depends on its message. There is a definite process for me to create and I suppose it goes from a dream to a vision to a mock-up to fruition. I also have an idea what color it should be; I think that has a large impact on the message. I am doing a piece titled “sea of dreams” and although I am colorblind, I love this color called galapagos turquoise. To me, that looks like a sea of dreams and I envision it being in cursive. I never stop thinking about creating, not even in my sleep. Resin is a challenge. It is temperamental and has to be handled with care. I like that it locks a piece of work in to a state of “permanence” because nothing is truly permanent. I like making pieces that have layers of imperfection with sanding or plastering and then sealing it with a perfect finish. To me, that is the true meaning of contrast.

WHAT INSPIRES AND INTRIGUES YOU?

Contrast and language intrigue me. I am fascinated by two extreme opposites that come together. I think it looks beautiful when something is sanded down so hard and is imperfect and almost deconstructed, and then it is preserved with resin. The coating is glassy, clean and perfect, covering layers of distress and confusion and forming one cohesive piece with two extremely different concepts. The rough and the beautiful. Learning also intrigues me. I continue to explore and understand the different properties and science of working with resin.

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WHAT ARE YOU WORKING ON NOW? DO YOU HAVE ANY NEW WORK IN THE PIPELINE FOR 2016?

I just finished 20 pieces for a show called “FourSquared” at Arc Gallery in August. The series is called “inappropriate” and it is exactly that. I am working on two large pieces, “sea of dreams” and “sea of love” and rather than words, I want to draw waves as a representation of each of those statements. I plan on completing the series “the sound of music” for Open Studios in November for my studio at 1890 Bryant Street #404. And, as always, I’m working on several different commissions and thinking about new series of work.

Hear Lucky speak about her works at DZINE Gallery’s upcoming lecture series Artists in Conversation: #portrait on Wednesday, July 20th at 6pm. RSVP here.

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