Interview by Amanda Quinn Olivar, West Coast Editor
Whitney Bedford is an American contemporary painter who currently lives and works in Los Angeles, CA. She is teaching as a guest lecturer at the University of California. Bedford aligns herself with the historical school of naval painting, "trying to update it, or even capsize it, in a way that only a hybrid of educations and living on the edge of the California coast can do." She uses her own mark-making to bring the original source material of her paintings into the realm of the imaginary. Layered with both ink and oil paint, romantic scenes of destruction, calm at sea, and migrating birds are manipulated to the point of abstraction, showing only vestiges of her starting point.
Bedford received her MFA at the University of California, Los Angeles in 2003. She was the winner of the 2001 UCLA Hammer Museum Drawing Biennale and received a Fulbright Graduate Fellowship from Hoschule der Kuenste, Berlin.
What was the aha moment that led you to art... and did Los Angeles play a part in your career decision?
My mother was a flight attendant, so my brother and I grew up traveling extensively in Europe, Asia, and the United States; all of the art and color I saw growing up translated into being an artist.
How has living in LA informed your approach and aesthetic?
Living in Los Angeles has had a strong impact on my paintings over the last several years. I am very much aware of the low horizon, where the sea is, and that low line has remained constant in my work as a sort of stage on which the landscape and flora in my work are set. I am also very interested in bright colors and their more sensitive shadows (the palettes of Southern California) as the protagonists of my paintings.
When and how did you first feel embraced by our LA art community?
I arrived in LA in 2000 to attend the MFA program at UCLA. Coming here for school provided an immediate sense of inclusion into the LA arts community at large.
The exhibition speaks about the vitality of our art community. Which pioneering LA artist influenced you the most? And whose work do you find intriguing right now?
I came to UCLA because of the incredible cast of faculty (Baldessari, Charlie Ray, Chirs Burden, Lari Pittman, and guests) but have found my own narrative and encouragement in so many artists since then, whether they be painters, poets, cooks, or bands. LA's generosity in its open landscape has really encouraged the best in so many of us. But I think the most potent thing in LA is actually the loneliness--Henry Miller said that artists need loneliness, and I think that as impenetrable as it seems maybe the first year here, year following year it becomes a necessity--the amazing solitude and sound of your own voice, that you can hear it in such a big and engrossing city.
What is your favorite art accident?
Maybe my beginning? I had accidentally sent my UCLA application to Columbia and my Columbia University application to UCLA...and here I am!
How They Ran
Over The Influence
August 12 - September 5, 2018