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Art & Life with Raymie Iadevaia

Today we’d like to introduce you to Raymie Iadevaia.

Raymie, please kick things off for us by telling us about yourself and your journey so far.
I suppose it started with my grandparents. They were the first artists in my life. Growing up immersed in their world of theater, art, jazz, antiques, and a love of dogs (and cats), a balloon of imagination and creativity was filled and encouraged.

Around this time of imagination building, I lost my father. Upon his death, (and looking back) it motivated me to focus my efforts into pursuing the creativity instilled from my childhood.

After earning my BFA from the California College of Arts and Crafts (now California College of the Arts), and my MFA from Art Center College of Design, my art practice has lead me to teaching. Teaching has started to work in tandem with my own studio practice by working off of the other to bring the experience of the studio into the classroom, while the classroom can re-energize the studio.

While teaching is something that is still very new to me, it has become a very fulfilling way of starting to come full circle. My grandparents exposed me to a rich world of art, as a teacher I find that I have an enormous platform and opportunity to expose new worlds to my students with encouragement and support.

Can you give our readers some background on your art?
I try to make things that have a sense of fullness to them. A sense of history, organism, substance, while taking a cue from Diana Vreeland, “the eye has to travel” making a fullness for the eye and body to move. Whether it’s a painting, drawing, sculpture, or collage, I want to immerse the viewer in a new space (or state) that creates a sharp and stark contrast with everything else. That sense of contrast happens primarily through color, which has been the through line to most of my work. Trying to develop a vibrant relationship with bright, bold, and sometimes garish colors to really stir the eye into attention and even contemplation, or at the very least to produce a chuckle or grin, like a Cheshire cat.

The filmmaker Jack Smith uses the word “escapist” when thinking about the work of art. It’s something that I think about often, especially now in such a rife political atmosphere of rhetoric and shouting over social media. While I feel that I try to make work that somehow specifically contrasts the negativity that I see and hear, I feel that it’s very difficult, and something that I haven’t fully developed yet. Which then leads me to more idiosyncratic ways of focusing a positivity into the artwork. Or at least the hope for positivity. Through my idiosyncrasies, I think about the word, “escapist” and I sometimes think that the artwork should be a place that ventures into a space of theatricality, the artwork as a stage to be immersed in, or a mask or costume to try on, wearing it for a bit to forget the world and maybe yourself for moment. I guess with my work I want to create an ease in which make-believe can be possible (although it could be that I watched way too much Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood as a kid).

Sometimes when I’m making the work, I try to practice that disconnection, or disassociation, forgetting myself, even though it feels so absurd. Because how could I possibly pretend that I’m not making the marks that I made or use the colors that I mixed? The same marks and colors and ways of making things that I’ve been doing with a familiarity for years. Something like the “muscle memory” of my practice. But I think the idea of “pretending” or “make-believe” is what I hope to activate in the viewer, the playful qualities of the work becoming animated through the looking, while perhaps picking up on the varied energies that have gone into particular works: from making a drawing at the very edge of the night, exhausted after working and driving all day in bumper to bumper traffic with only a few hours of sleep, to having a rare moment of spending the entire day working on a single painting, but because having a full studio day is a rare experience (I usually think that I’m going to get so much work done), but usually I spend the whole day painting over the same painting again and again, scraping it off or starting again and not deviating from the image for a moment but trying to stay focused to the painting, like a staring contest. Most times I blink first, but sometimes the painting does, and that’s a really exciting feeling. Which brings me back to a line from the short story, “Camp Cataract” by Jane Bowles, in which the character Harriet says, “…You see, in the morning I always practice imagination for an hour or two. It does me lots of good…” I suppose I want my work to create a space for the practicing of imagination, like the work as facilitator or even a conductor for the imagination.

How do you think about success, as an artist, and what do quality do you feel is most helpful?
For me success is the ability to make my work every day. If a day goes by where I haven’t stepped into the studio (even to sweep the floor), it becomes a lost day. I think it really comes down to that level of simplification. While I totally think it would be rad to make a living from my work, and maybe that will happen in the future, right now I find my ability to support my practice through my teaching something that is really important to me. It allows me to feel that teaching has an integral relationship to my studio practice, financially, but also energetically, as a kind of reciprocal force balancing and counterbalancing one another.

I have a folder in my email that’s labelled “galleries, grants, residencies.” Every message in there is a rejection letter of some sort to something that I applied for (I keep the acceptance letters in a different folder, the few that I have, haha). Its years deep and it’s something that I peak in every so often. I don’t spend a lot of time sifting through the messages, but I feel it’s more like an energetic record of my time, patience, and commitment that it takes to be a working artist.

Right now in terms of developing a stronger relationship to success, I’m trying to cultivate being proactive while also being patient when it comes to potential opportunities. But at the root of it all is the work, and it goes back to what I said above, if I’m not able to make the work each day (a little or a lot), then I’m not cultivating my practice. However, like everything, these definitions are constantly in flux and change according to temperament, time, and place.

What’s the best way for someone to check out your work and provide support?
Right now I have a couple of paintings in Tiger Strikes Asteroid New York’s 2018 Flat File program. Other than that my recent work can be seen on my website, www.raymieiadevaia.com.

While I don’t have any other exhibitions of my work currently lined up, I am very excited because I am currently inaugurating my first curatorial project with my co-curator Keith Monda. We are curating an exhibition of Los Angeles artists to be held at Basement Projects, Santa Ana. The show is called “Getting Physical” and it opens Saturday, April 7. More details can be found on http://www.basementprojectsdtsa.com/ and on my Instagram page, www.instagram.com/raymieiadevaia/.

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