Friday Interview: Delia Kovac! July 01, 2011 10:52

Happy Friday, loyal readers! Let's be honest, today is going to be the kind of day that you work a little in the morning, take a long lunch, and then surf the internet in the afternoon while you wait for your boss to tell you it's ok to leave early. I'm here to help you out, and supply some afternoon reading for you. This week I'd like to introduce you to Delia Kovac. Delia has been part of the Craftland world since the very beginning, and she currently has a solo show in the Craftland Gallery called Comfortable Distance. So, after your boss lets you out of work early, get on down to Craftland to see this awesome show in person, it'll be on view through July 16th. Have a great weekend, everyone!

Please introduce yourself and tell us a little about your handmade business.
Hello, my name is Delia Kovac.  I
grew up in Milwaukee, WI and moved to Providence, RI in 1998 to get a BFA in printmaking from RISD.  I went on to get a MFA in visual art from Rutgers University. I just joined the board of Girls Rock! Rhode Island I often describe myself as a multidisciplinary artist, so that I can avoid saying "well... I draw a lot, I paint sometimes, and I print when necessary. I would make paper if I had access to a papermaking shop. I also also make videos occasionally, I did a performance piece once where I sang my high school bedroom songs. Also I recently started knitting again, and I've been making these cloth mask things." 

Describe your studio for us.
After years of deep compromises with begged/borrowed/stolen work space, I decided to get organized and slowly save enough money to build a studio.
I use a lot of different materials, so I need to be a well organized pack rat. My studio is in a fully finished basement. There is not a lot of natural light, but since I usually end up working at night (after work), it doesn’t bother me.  I use a lot of clamp lights with natural white light bulbs, so my white paper doesn’t look yellow. I installed a large slop sink I found on craigslist to wash out screens and I built a 10 x 4’ table to spread out and possibly someday print repeat yardage.  I still have to build some large paper storage, a powerwasher splash catch, and a water filter.  While I am saving up money for materials for those projects,  I am challenging myself to see what I can make with what I already have.

What was the inspiration behind your exhibit currently on view in the Craftland Gallery, Comfortable Distance?
For Comfortable Distance I pulled together many different bodies of work that I had always wanted to show together but never had the space. I took Craftland's handmade mandate literally.  I selected a variety of techniques (drawing, painting and knitting) that were immediate and as hand made as possible.
In the case of the Static Portraits,  I made the paper from reclaimed abaca fiber (banana leaves) scraps from a Sandy Skoglund project I worked on for the Brodsky Center for Innovative Editions in New Jersey. Over the course of 3 months, I helped make 5,000 boxes by hand from endless rolls of abaca. With the sage advice of Master Papermaker Anne Q McKeown, I reconstituted the scraps into several 60 x 40" pieces of paper.  I stood over the hollander beater for over eight hours pulling apart unruly fiber balls that were clogging the works just to make the pulp.  After the paper was dry I hung them on my studio wall for a month petrified to draw on them.  I stared  at them everyday. I realized that their naturally ragged edges cast beautiful shadows.  On 2 of the abaca pieces, I built up line work inspired by the shadows, to create fields of static.  Another piece of abaca was used in a video installation.  I still have one precious piece of abaca rolled up and waiting for me.

Can you tell us a little bit about the collaboration with New Jersey artist Marissa Paternoster that's part of the exhibit?
I asked Marissa if she wanted to mail some drawings back and forth since we don’t live in the same town anymore. Our drawing styles are different, but there is an obsessive line quality in both.  I wanted to see what would happen when we corralled all those marks into the same space. Drawing is at the heart of Marissa's art practice, she is the co-founder of a public drawing project called Doodle Drag  Anytime I think about complaining about not having time/materials/space I imagine Marissa carving out time to draw in a van while on tour with her band Screaming Females, and I shut up and get to work. We decided that the proceeds from our collaboration will be used to buy bus tickets so we can visit each other and draw together.

What advice would you offer someone trying to take their art from hobby to business?
Cultivate high standards and low expectations.  Don’t try to sell anything you wouldn't buy if you had the money.

What does handmade mean to you?
As a printmaker, I think everything that is not a natural wonder is handmade if you consider it long enough.

How did you first become involved with Craftland?
Craftland founders Margaret Carleton and Johanna Fisher asked me to consign some of the hand-bound books I was selling at a RISD sale, back in 2002ish.   I think it was their first year downtown.

Guilty Pleasure?
I don’t feel guilty about my pleasures.

Delia's pieces are available for purchase in our online shop, check it out here!
Delia's website is here, and you can also be a fan of hers on Facebook to stay up to date on her latest work.