Artist Spotlight: Nancy Tien
Thursday, April 28th, 2011 » See more posts from From the Curatorial Fellows, Interviews
Nancy Tien is one of the five artists who make up the self-curated group Both/And. She took a few minutes out of her busy schedule to answer a few questions about her current practice and future plans. Take a look:
Jeannette Tremblay: Why performance?
Nancy Tien: I became really interested in performance because of its ability to blend with everyday lived life, to really suggest very directly a lived life, and also its ability to change the way I lived. I first became interested with endurance and durational performance because I was interested in talking about race and the internalization of racism. Endurance work really resonated with me because it became an explicit and immediate form for me to talk about my everyday life in art, to frame a moment in time and suggest that it exists within me even when I am not performing. What it means for me to be Asian American doesn’t stop when I stop performing in an artwork, and that’s what really resonated with me, the suggestion of a work that has no clear start or end, that is inseparable from the artist’s everyday life.
JT: Whose work are you looking at right now?
NT: Zhang Huan, Patty Chang, “/////////fur//// art entertainment interfaces,” and Eddo Stern.
JT: What do you do outside of your studio practice?
NT: When not engaged in my studio practice, I am working as a freelance illustrator or reading.
JT: Describe your collaboration with Wesley Wilson (Art & Tech MFA 2011).
NT: With Wesley, we often shoot ideas back and forth, making sure to even include the ideas we’ve already dismissed before speaking them aloud. We end up rescuing a lot of ideas that we would have thrown out completely. When our art-making process is less verbal, it has more to do with the physicality of our bodies and seeing what we are capable of, considering things like weight, competition, limits, and strength. When we work in this way, it can be very playful. We test out a lot of ideas and try to see what might work. For instance, last semester, we tried to see if Wesley could do pushups while I laid down on his back. It didn’t work that well. Last year, I prompted him to teach me a song I had never heard before and to promise me he’d never play it later while I was in his presence or tell me who it was by or what the title was. I learned the song and only know the song to his voice, sense of rhythm and tone.
JT: Talk about your place in Both/And. How did that grouping come about?
NT: I actually met one of my group members, Matthew Schlagbaum (MFA 2011, Fiber), in Florida right before graduate school. We both were curated into a show together and began talking when we realized we were both attending SAIC in the fall and we became great friends. Matt asked me if I’d like to be part of his self-curated group last semester. It seemed like a really great idea. A show is how we got to know one another when we were first getting to SAIC, and to have our MFA show together at the end of graduate school seemed really lovely and fitting.
You can see Nancy’s work in the Sullivan Galleries, section 2.