Today we’d like to introduce you to Holly Boruck.
Holly, we’d love to hear your story and how you got to where you are today both personally and as an artist.
I’m a native Californian; born in northern California, raised in Pasadena, moving up and down the coast several times as an adult. I was lucky to have grown up in a house where the arts were supported and encouraged, opera floated through the rooms, beautiful original artworks inhabited the walls and visits to cultural institutions were frequent. These early experiences inspired me to explore several areas of the arts, studying ballet for over 30 years, the violin and viola throughout childhood and, as an adult I’ve worked in the animation industry, costume design and set design. I received an BFA in architecture from California College of the Arts in San Francisco and an MFA in painting from Cal State University Northridge. I currently teach as an Adjunct Lecturer at Cal State University Northridge and as a faculty member with Ryman Arts.
I’ve been awarded a City of Pasadena Individual Artist Grant, USA Projects Funding Grant, Durfee Grant and a George Sugarman Grant. In 2013 I founded Surrogate Gallery Projects (SGP), a curatorial project dedicated to facilitating connections between under-represented contemporary artists and under-used/empty commercial spaces in Pasadena. SGP has won multiple grants and is a fiscally sponsored project under the Fulcrum Arts EMERGE program. My studio practice encompasses painting, drawing, sculpture and occasionally video and has been exhibited at the Long Beach Museum of Art, Ferencyarosi Gallery Budapest, Art Dialogue Prague and more recently a solo exhibition at Penn State Altoona, featured at Miami Spectrum with bG Gallery, Rymer Gallery Nashville, Irvine Arts Center and the Billboard Creative in Los Angeles.
We’d love to hear more about your art. What do you do you do and why and what do you hope others will take away from your work?
I normally have several bodies of work in progress at any one time. Currently I’m working on four: Zeitgeist Portraits, Marcus Durkheim – Is This Not, Musings and Omni-Optic. In the last couple of months, I’ve been focusing on Zeitgeist Portraits as I have a solo exhibition with these coming up next year at the Foundry Art Centre in St. Charles, Missouri. I began working on Zeitgeist Portraits during a residency project last summer at The Andalucía in Pasadena, an urban commercial space open to the public where foot traffic is plentiful. I set up a temporary studio and invited the public to participate. They were asked to respond to the question “What is your outlook/frame of mind about the current state of the world?” with facial expressions and/or any physical poses, in any way they wanted. I took several photos of each participant and then worked from these photographs, adding my own additional visual elements to the final portrait paintings. Zeitgeist Portraits is my way of making sense and communicating most authentically about the ‘interesting times’ in which we are currently living. My goal is to capture the richness of the human experience through the gesture of our bodies, reflecting intellect, emotions and spirit simultaneously.
Marcus Durkheim – Is This Not reflects my interest in subjective versus objective perception and the illusive nature of reality. Life is made up of a series of events that create memories charged with emotion coloring our responses to everything around us, a lens through which we see the world. I use physical objects to represent ‘reality’, inert avatars that acquire meaning through the associations and emotions that we attach to them. In this way, the objects in this work also symbolize larger philosophical questions about human understanding and interpretation of existence. The title of this work, ‘Is This Not’, is a question, the inverse and play on Magritte’s statement, THIS IS, alluding to the fluidity of perception. During the process of making the work I alter and/or omit the use of my eyes so that my relationship to the surface, the paint and the object are further altered and reconsidered. I use a combination of realistic and digitally abstracted imagery as visual reference. Marcus Durkheim is an exhibition pseudonym I use with the intent of inserting an additional layer of ambiguity; questioning assumptions and conclusions. My work titled Musings is an ongoing record of thoughts, memories (past/present) and meditations of everyday experiences and fragmented bits of understanding. I often drift toward contemplating the inequities and absurdities in life. I notice how we struggle, how we fight to live, keep going, and sometimes I get an overwhelming joy about how rapturously beautiful nature is. These works are created using blind contour as I feel this method more closely represents, in visual terms, the way things appear in my head. In Omni-Optic my focus is on the insidious reality of being ‘observed’. Watched. Monitored. Cameras, microphones and keystrokes scrutinizing our behavior. These paintings reflect contemporary ‘omni-optic’ facts of life, how we’ve successfully transformed Foucault’s architecture of the ‘Panopticon’ (surveillance of the guilty/accused), into a digital/technological ‘Omnioptican’ (surveillance of the innocent). Omni-Optic questions the effect of collectively being monitored. I wonder how, as in quantum physics, the mere act of observation affects the behavior of the observed.
A consistent thread throughout my work is a deep interest in the human psyche, earthly experiences, feeling a tender sensitivity toward the outcast, shunned and darker corners of who-we-are. I’m interested in asking questions without needing to provide or find answers, pondering the idiosyncrasies of life. My work explores human nature and the mysterious landscapes of the psychological inner realms.
The sterotype of a starving artist scares away many potentially talented artists from pursuing art – any advice or thoughts about how to deal with the financial concerns an aspiring artist might be concerned about?
This is one of the ultimate dilemmas for artists. It’s very difficult to support yourself AND have any kind of quality studio time. The truth is that most artists do not fully, and consistently, support themselves with their art, and never will. Many artists teach post-secondary art courses because it affords them flexible time to have uninterrupted studio days while maintaining engagement in the arts, not to mention the satisfaction of working with young artists. Other types of jobs with flexible hours and living wages can be found; one just needs to find one’s niche. Having supportive partners, emotionally and/or financially, is important because the one thing that is essential is that artists must be disciplined and to head to the studio whenever time permits. Another suggestion is to apply for grants. There are fewer of them than ever, and therefore competition is greater, but once you receive one it can lead to additional opportunities. As with most areas of the arts, rejections are par for the course and some years will be better than others – just keep working hard and seeking opportunities.
Do you have any events or exhibitions coming up? Where would one go to see more of your work? How can people support you and your artwork?
There are several ways to see my work: on my website or in an exhibition (also posted on my website) and studio visits are welcomed. My work and that of all artists can be supported by engaging with the work in person, talking with the artist about their work and of course purchasing original artworks never hurts! Equally important is supporting the arts in general by donating to non-profit art organizations, attending art events, visiting museums and being an advocate for the arts in schools.
- Website: www.HollyBoruck.com
- Phone: 626-345-0436
- Email: HBoruck@aol.com
- Instagram: hboruck
- Facebook: facebook.com/holly.boruck