Interview w/ Allison Schulnik

In a mystical world of hobo clowns, pet possums and rabid monkeys, Allison Schulnik‘s surreal environments playfully explore human psychology through saturated color and rich texture. The artist consistently produces mesmerizing work which combine the forms of painting, sculpture and animation, creating a body of work that speaks to a multiplicity of mediums through each manifestation. This week, DailyServing’s founder Seth Curcio spoke with the artist about her diverse artistic practice including her recent animation, Forest, which was created as the newest music video for the Brooklyn based indie rock band Grizzly Bear, and her latest exhibition Home for Hobo at Mark Moore Gallery in Los Angeles. And stay tuned! Each Monday, will bring you one step closer to a new international artist through our new weekly interview series, letting you in on the secrets of your favorite artists and their upcoming projects.

Seth Curcio: You have recently completed exhibitions with great success in London, Rome and New York City. You also have an exhibition of new works currently on view at Mark Moore Gallery in Los Angeles titled, Home for Hobo. This exhibition continues to explore different emotional states through your hobo clown protagonist. Can you tell me a little about what is included in the exhibition?

Allison Schulnik: Its a little bit of his world.  He’s got a home, his sanctuary. There is Rug Girl, Possum, and Klaus…  friends and companions, maybe alter egos and bizarros.

SC: Within this exhibition, several different characters appear in your paintings, sculptures and animations, many of which you just named. Most, if not all, reoccur in your other bodies of your work too. How did you decide on these specific characters, and are they rendered completely from imagination or are they based on anything in particular?

AS: They come from different places. Mostly they come from drawings that I do. Sometimes I get inspired from a photograph or another painting or sculpture or film or dance or song, then I draw that or something inspired by that, and it becomes something else.  Sometimes I just draw from my imagination. Often for months, even years I’ll have an image or character continuously reappear to me and not know why, until it proves important enough to get immortalized in oils. Then, I still don’t know why I painted it.  One day I might figure it out.

SC: The animated video Forest, which is also on view at Mark Moore Gallery, was used as the music video Ready, Able for the Brooklyn-based band Grizzly Bear. This is the second video that you have created which utilizes a Grizzly Bear song, however this one became their official music video. Talk to me about how this collaboration began. How was the video created and what takes place?

AS: I asked them for permission to use their song Granny Diner on my last film, HOBO CLOWN.  They approved and a year later they asked me to do a music video for their next album, Veckatimest.  I agreed. They gave me the song, and I made an animated film for it. It is an abstract kind of narrative, if anything. It follows the Long Hair Hobo character through an alternate type world, Forest, where he encounters a bizarro world version of himself.  Then things begin to happen…

SC: The animation seems like such a natural synthesis of your paintings and sculptures, and Grizzly Bear’s music really adds a different element to the work. Are there any other collaborations similar to this that you’d like to explore? I know that you play in a couple of bands, have you ever considered composing your own music for future animations?

AS: Yeah, I have a couple bands in mind I’d really like to work with.  I’d like to have music composed for my next film too, rather than using something that already exists. I’ve thought about doing some sound and music myself as well, but that might not be a good idea.

SC: Learning that you are an avid painter, sculptor, animator, dancer and musician, and by viewing the myriad of works listed on your website and your exhibition schedule, it appears as if you are a very prolific artist. What is an average day like for you in the studio?

AS: Once I get into the studio I stay there all day, sometimes all night.  I like privacy.  I sit and stare a lot.  I like to snack, and to look at stuff. I find weird little things to do.  Sometimes painting comes in a very concentrated way.  Then, sometimes it comes with a fury of dancing and singing. I put on some good Babs show-tunes, some epic Angel Witch, some atmospheric doomy metal, or maybe a little Peabo Bryson… it just depends on my mood.  But, the music is always loud. I don’t have computer or TV at the studio, because procrastination involves those kinds of things.  I just don’t have any kind of method that I can count on.  One thing works one day, and doesn’t work the next day.  I’m fickle with a short attention span.

SC: It seems as if you still manage to complete a lot of work even with a short attention span. What are you working on in the studio right now? And, what projects are on the horizon for you?

AS: Well, I just finished all my work work for this show, so I am taking a little break for a minute.  Going to let some ideas brew in my head for bit… you’ll just have to wait and see!