Today we’d like to introduce you to Emily Mast.
Emily, please kick things off for us by telling us about yourself and your journey so far.
I was born in Ohio to a full-time mom and a lawnmower salesman. My two brothers and I all became artists. None of us stayed in Ohio. I studied art, theater and creative writing in upstate New York. I lived in France for seven years and in Mexico for two years. I’ve had studios in an old canning factory in Avignon, in a former metalworking factory in Paris and on a sun-drench patio in Mexico. I came to LA to participate in an experimental art school and ended up staying for grad school. I’ve been making performances since 2006. My first performance took place on a fishing boat in the Pacific. These performances more often than not incorporate dance, theater, poetry and/or music. For me, to “live the dream” is to travel and present my work in different cities all over the world. In 2018, I founded Mast on Fig, a space dedicated to the development and communal sharing of experiential events and artworks. It is located in a brick storefront in the Cypress Park neighborhood of Los Angeles. There we host residencies, performances, workshops, classes, aesthetic experiments, readings, screenings, immersive experiences and community gatherings. You can sign up for our mailing list by contacting us here: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Can you give our readers some background on your art?
I make performances and ephemeral installations that incorporate bodies, movement, sound and idiosyncratic experience to exhibit uncertainty as live sculptural material. I’m interested in collaborations in which the co-construction of knowledge is key. For every project, I gather a micro-community of collaborators who I lead in the collective exploration of a given works’ subject matter. For example, I worked with a stuntman, a stutterer, a sign-language interpreter, an actor, a director, an auctioneer and a young child on a piece that examined the imprecision of language and the myriad ways it can be delivered, understood and misunderstood. By working with a diverse range of people in a very personal way, we create our own truths through collective experience. I am therefore continually redefining notions of authorship while affirming my role as an artist.
My practice exists across and between disciplines. I attach myself to writing, theater, choreography, sociology, psychology and education and use them as tools in the rich territory of art. Every encounter results in the creation of a physical and visual lexicon that is unique to the particular exchanges experienced. This insistence on communication and human interaction result in volatile works that aim to provoke reactions and face-to-face human interaction.
Artists rarely, if ever pursue art for the money. Nonetheless, we all have bills and responsibilities and many aspiring artists are discouraged from pursuing art due to financial reasons. Any advice or thoughts you’d like to share with prospective artists?
Never lose sight of what turns you on creatively. Do not hesitate to pursue it, even if it’s (financially) challenging. The best way to succeed at doing what you do is to DO IT.
What’s the best way for someone to check out your work and provide support?
You can see my work at various venues locally, nationally and internationally. I recently presented work in Leuven, Belgium, Arles, France and DTLA. My next piece will take place at the Picasso Museum in Barcelona, Spain. You can see documentation of past works at emilymast.com. You can support my work by purchasing performance “relics” such as this photograph. All proceeds go towards the creation of more live artworks!
Gaea Woods, Betsy Lin Seder, Max Schwartz, Émile Ouroumov, Emily Mast