NYFA first encountered Transylvanian born artist Ioan Florea after his immediate and empathetic response to Hurricane Sandy six months ago. Founder of C.A.S. Paints, Ioan donated more than more than 1,200 tubes and containers of paints, gels, and sample sets to NYFA for artists impacted by the storm. Hundreds of artists benefited from his generous contribution. IAP and NYFA Program Associate Michon Ashmore interviewed Ioan to find out more about his artistic practice, his business and his experience as an immigrant artist.
Tell us about your work. What are your motivations and the focus of your upcoming solo exhibition this Fall?
Growing up in a utopic Communist society and immigrating to the USA, a different utopic society, I have been part of revolution and witnessed financial collapse, and have also gone through a long legal immigration process of changing and redefining my identity. During my childhood in the Communist regime back in Transylvania, I spent most of the time exploring the surrounding forest and the hills full of earth pigments, clay and kaolin.
The Communist government had control over everything, from what you think to what you eat. It was illegal to slaughter your own animals for consumption, but people did it anyway, hiding the animal bones in the forest. That is how I started finding animal bones in the nearby woods. I was very intrigued by the interesting shapes of the vertebrae and I started to collect them, turning them into toys and carving and drawing on their surfaces. Also, my father used to be a radiologist and I spent time studying and being fascinated by his X-ray images.
My recent work is influenced by my personal experience with the lengthy legal immigration process. It addresses globalization and human migration in search for utopian spaces and the consequences that come with that. My upcoming show at Surplus Gallery
will focus on my new paintings that integrate and explore different new pigments and lightweight materials inspired by the world of nanotechnology. I developed my own custom 3D image fused resin and pigment transfer on canvas, and I also use liquid metal paint that I formulate. My paintings have a double function, addressing both the visual and tactile senses. I’ll also have some sculptural floor pieces based on Constantin Brancusi’s “Silent Table,” for which I will be using recycled 55 gallon drums as chairs with 3D shapes attached.
I am also integrating text in my new work. I remember slogans used by Communists that were displayed on huge billboards all over. One of them was “No meal without fish.” People who complained because the government was altering the salami by adding soya used the slogan “We do not want any more soya salami.” As we know, fish is good for you but the Communists were promoting it because it was cheap. Soya is also good, but it was added to the salami for economic reasons, not because it was healthy. I explore these kinds of contradictions from my past with new ones from a consumerist society.
Image:© Ioan Florea, Nanoshapes, 120" X 96" x 6" fused resin/pigment on canvas, 2013 which will be part of the Sightlines show in June 2013. Courtesy Carpathian Art Studio
Mural created by the students of Casita’s ArtWorks internship for 52 People for Progress to honor the salsa legends that have performed at 52 Park in the South Bronx.
For this month's featured organization NYFA Program Associate Michon Ashmore interviewed Casita Maria Center for Arts and Education about the organization’s programs, its place in the local community, and an exciting new initiative that’s underway.
Casita Maria was founded in 1934 to serve the immigrant Hispanic community in New York City. Its primary mission was to offer after school enrichment and recreational activities for the children of newly arrived families from Puerto Rico and other Spanish-speaking countries. As more Hispanic families came to New York City, however, the need for more diversified programs and services grew. How would you describe your mission today?
It is very true to say that we have changed over time, and that we now offer a much greater range of programs than we did during the early days. Working from a small East Harlem apartment, Casita Maria’s goal back then was to give the children of recently arrived Hispanic families the educational support needed to thrive in their new homeland—the young could lead their parents and their community to full participation in the life of the city.
Casita Maria moved to the South Bronx from East Harlem in 1961, and like so many of the changes we have made, we moved to better serve our community. At the time of the move we were offering programs similar to those created by our founders, and tens of thousands of New Yorkers gained vital skills and were offered essential services through our work. During the 1970’s, as the “Bronx Burned,” Casita Maria was an island of safety and a route out of poverty. Throughout these years we expanded our programs to include homeless services, drug rehabilitation, violence prevention, gang intervention, teen pregnancy prevention, and many other services. When people look back to this time, Casita Maria is credited with protecting many thousands of vulnerable children and adults.
Today, we are one of the few organizations in the South Bronx that welcomes kids at the age of six and stays with them until college while providing family learning through the arts. We are also different in the plurality of ways in which we can attract community members to utilize our services.
Installation view of Sanford Wurmfeld: Color Visions 1966-2013
Hunter College Times Square Gallery, NY, 2013
Photo: Louis Chan
Opening: Friday, March 29, 6-8pm
MINUS SPACE is delighted to announce the exhibition Sanford Wurmfeld: Light & Dark. This is the New York-based artist’s first solo exhibition with the gallery and it will feature a suite of new paintings investigating the extremes of light and dark value in color painting.
Maxwell Anderson is The Eugene McDermott Director of the Dallas Museum of Art. Prior to joining the DMA in January 2012, he was The Melvin & Bren Simon Director and CEO of the Indianapolis Museum of Art, the Alice Pratt Brown Director of the Whitney Museum of American Art, the director of the Art Gallery of Ontario in Toronto, Canada, and director of the Michael C. Carlos Museum at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia. He holds a PhD in art history from Harvard University and began his career as an assistant curator in the Department of Greek and Roman Art at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. He has written numerous articles and introductions to books and exhibition catalogues, and co-authored several books on ancient Roman art. His most recent publication is The Quality Instinct: Seeing Art Through a Museum Director's Eye (American Association of Museums Press 2012).