Is there a particular artist (or artistic theory) that has influenced or inspired your work over the years? (Including—but not limited to— the series of work on display at Twist Gallery)

JR: I began to imagine myself as a fake scientist after reading “Unearthing the Dragon: The Great Feathered Dinosaur Discovery” by Dr. Mark A. Norell, chairman of the Paleontology division of the Museum of Natural History. I am fascinated how scientific figures often write themselves into their narrative of discovery, charting their personal journey alongside the unfolding research. The scientists become colorful, larger than life characters like underdog rock stars, powerful but maybe a little nerdy, self-important, captivatingly driven.

RH: Eva Hesse, Alberto Burri, Lucio Fontana, Jacques Derrida, Georges Bataille, Robert Rauschenberg, Jasper Johns, Jean Dubuffet, Gerhard Richter, and Terry Winters are artists and thinkers who serve as a stimulus for me.  My work also explores metaphysics, phenomenology, sign systems, language, the idea of the other, and the formless (pardon the shameless pedantry).  Contrary to what some individuals think.  I’m not heavily influenced by Damien Hirst.  I’ll go so far as to say that I like Hirst, but he’s normally not an influence.  Some of my displays might resemble some of Hirst’s, but I don’t hear too many people making comparisons between Da Vinci and Francis Bacon because they both used oil paint.  If I keep hearing comparisons to Hirst, I’m going to ask that I be compensated like Hirst.

Interview for Twist Gallery by Maggie Carrigan

Both of you make reference to the fact that your works have an element of something viscerally personal being revealed. In a nutshell, what is it about the organically intimate that begs your particular form of public disclosure?

What was your draw to the types of media used in these works?

RH: I scrupulously select my materials for their inner dynamics.  I think Dubuffet talked about developing an intimacy for your materials.  Over time, you know what they are capable of and you return to them for what they can offer.  He also talked about the relationship between the artist and the materials being like a dance.  At times, the artist takes the lead.  At times, the materials take over the lead.  This creates an interesting dialogue and it is an integral component for reaching new points of reference.  I like to direct my materials, but I don’t completely dictate them. 

What do you feel is the importance of artwork to the average viewer and consumer?

RH: It’s important to provide artwork with which the viewer remains engaged.  The worst reaction an artist can receive is indifference.  If I can elicit a reaction, whether it’s allure or repulsion, I know I’ve created a successful piece of art.  If a viewer is revolted by something I’ve done, I don’t consider that an affront.  For me, hearing a viewer say “that’s disgusting” is just as good as hearing them say “that’s beautiful.”  I’ve had that happen before and I remember having a feeling of gratification.  At the same time, I avoid being salacious, primarily because I find such work to be rather banal.  Producing something shocking just for the sake of it being shocking is a rather vacuous action in my opinion.  There are more successful ways of confronting the senses, and I hope I’m on my way to achieve that for the viewer and for myself. 

How do you take your coffee (or tea)?

JR: Styrofoam free, prone to regeneration.

RH: Usually, I take my coffee with enough half and half to create that perfect beige color.  You know what I’m talking about.  Not too light.  Not too dark.  When I’m visiting my parents, we drink coffee nonstop and we doctor it with heavy whipping cream.  I usually gain a little weight when I’m at home.  Lately, I’ve been enjoying it black. 

Name your favorite singer/band from the 1990s.

RH: Billy Corgan or PJ Harvey.  Can I say Eliott Smith?  He was around for the better half of the 90s.

JR: I’m partial to Hole. Really I love all 90s music except for the Dave Matthews Band.

Jaime Raybin: I often begin a piece with a cringingly personal, cathartic seed of an idea, then work to push it into something more open ended. Too confessional and direct and it’s exhibitionism and not art. My final work has a layer of removal, a filter that still hints at the personal but hopefully becomes something more ambiguous and interesting. 

Ryan Hogan: Normally, I would have contested whether I’m revealing something personal with my work.  Because of a recent conversation, I’ll make that concession.  For my process, I begin with toxic materials and attempt to form them into something a little more winsome.  There have been toxic and chaotic times in my life.  I’m still emerging from that and attempting to create something more auspicious from those experiences. So, could my work be considered somewhat autobiographical?  The person with which I spoke seems to think so.  I suppose I’m more inextricably tied to my process than I originally thought.  Consequently, this is the work I provide for public disclosure. 

JR: I compulsively collect materials that interest me, documenting them with the microscope and filing the images away into a digital junk drawer that I pull from later. My microscope practice is a very solitary ritual, and my choice of materials reflects that, scrapings and samples from my intimate world.

JR: Much like movies, books and music, art is a way to spend some time inside someone else’s head. It can be escapist, academic, or intuitively reflective, a visual form of mass communication.