An Interview with Abigail Lucien
We met Abigail Lucien while we were both Graduate Apprentices at the Fabric Workshop and Museum in the Summer of 2015. She has since finished her MFA in Knoxville, TN, been included in a group show at PS1 and is heading to Virginia Commonwealth University where she joins the Sculpture and Extended Media Department (killing it basically). She took time during her move to Richmond to answer our questions and we're excited to share her work and see what she'll be up to next!
When did you start printing?
I was first introduced to printmaking during my undergrad in Tallahassee, FL. I decided to take an intro to print class and quickly became excited about the possibilities of print. The more familiar I became with the different processes, the more interested I became in pushing the traditional applications of print – printing on alternative surfaces or with unusual materials.
A year or so later I was hired for a work/study position as the print lab technician. I was given 24/7 access to the print studios and began spending all my time in that lab. I remember being there at all sorts of hours just geeking out over ink opacities and pulling prints on all sorts of weird materials. A big shout out to Denise Bookwalter and Amy Fleming - two amazing artists and printmakers who allowed me to hold that position and encouraged me to keep printing. I had a ton of fun spending time there on and off the clock, and was all for the sense of community that came with working in a shared studio environment.
Where do you make your work? Home studio? Shared print space?
My work is pretty amorphous, taking up as little or as much room given. The last few years I’ve been lucky to have a studio space of my own in addition to a print shop and a metal shop that have welcomed me in, but that hasn’t always been the case. Naturally, the work changes when access to space or tools change. At the moment, I’m in transition- having just finished my MFA in Knoxville, TN and now on my way to Richmond, VA to teach in VCU’s Sculpture + Extended Media Department for the fall. I’ve been making work between spaces (studio/printshop/metal shop) but that’ll change super soon. I’m excited to see how my work will adapt to a new space.
How do you see your print background informing your more expanded practice?
From the get-go I’ve had a pretty playful approach to printmaking. Questions of multiplicity, authenticity, and originality, along with other things, carry over into my expanded practice pretty seamlessly. I think it has a lot to do with print being in so much of what we interact with in a consumer culture daily - signs, advertisements, textiles, etc. I owe a lot of the way I think about my practice and the process of making to my background in printmaking.
Who would you love to collaborate with?
I’ve been fortunate to work in quite a few stellar collaborations. Right now I’m having a blast collaborating with SALES, my long time friends and incredible music duo based in Orlando, FL. I’d love to work with more musicians and filmmakers, people in the arts but out of my specialties. For me, collaboration means (among other things) pushing yourself and your partner(s) outside of your comfort zones to explore/create something that wouldn’t be possible without a joint effort.
But, like, on the real? I would kill to make an artist book with Issa Rae and do set design for Solange. A girl can dream…
Where are some of your favorite spaces in Knoxville (or Richmond?) for contemporary art or design?
Hands down one of my favorite spaces in Knoxville is Striped Light. Started by Sarah Shebaro, Bryan Baker, and Jason Boardman the space functions as a letterpress shop, a record company, and an active gallery. I really appreciate SL’s commitment to pulling in the community, be it hosting educational classes or showcasing local artists. The energy in the space is really contagious and exciting to be around.
What are you working on at the moment?
I’ve been jumping between a few different projects right now, which is how I usually work but at the moment a bit amplified as I prep my studio for a transition. It sort of feels like when you have fifteen tabs open on your web browser and your not sure which ones to close for good or keep open a little while longer.
At the beginning of the summer I adopted a ‘use it or lose it’ mentality to the my admittedly hoard-ish behavior when it comes to the materials I collect in my studio - Rolls on rolls of vinyl, pounds of poly-fill, scrap steel, glitter, placemats, inflatable pool toys, yarn, found fabric, photographs, magazine clippings, all sorts of things that attract me and accumulate in a studio. I’ve been forcing myself to push beyond my initial attraction to the materials and try to activate them in some way, or else completely sever ties with whatever it is and toss/give it away. I guess you could call it a studio purge.
I’ve been focusing on keeping it playful, not too serious. I think it’s healthy for an artist’s practice to have moments like this, where you allow yourself to take a step back and not only cleanse your physical space but also the attitude you bring to your studio and ultimately your work.