THEA ROSE GREGORIUS
To begin, could you tell me a little about yourself and your background?
My aunt is an artist whom I have never met. She is mentally ill and sends my mom documentation of hundreds of her pen, ink and watercolor pieces. I spent my childhood looking through the work and letters, dissecting the symbolism within the images and the text. Looking back I see that I naturally responded to her work and started making work that was possibly an attempt to form a sort of conversation with this stranger. I studied both sculpture and photography in school at NYU where I made photography installations in response to my aunts work. I graduated early to move to Berlin for three years where I transitioned to work on paper. I find my current work is a product of these early academic studies combined with the immediacy of drawing. The work functions as a meditation on sculpture as much as it is a study on light.
Describe your journey to becoming an artist. Has it been easy? Natural? What has been difficult?
My residency experiences have directly shaped my current practice. Many series I make are influenced by these time periods, most specifically changes in landscape. I often find it difficult to expand upon ideas in New York and attending residencies allow for contemplation in a more immersive environment.
How would you describe your work to someone?
Methodically ordered mark making utilizing the grid as a tool to suggest the infinite.
What is important for viewers to note when viewing your work?
I think it is important for the viewer to spend time with the work.
What is your process like? How important is process in understanding your work?
My work is very process oriented; each mark is the remain of a specific gesture, a pinprick that is instantly recognizable. The papermaking process serves as an extension of that. It is a very labor intensive process to create what at first glance may read as a simple work. I value the relationship of papermaking to drawing, focusing on the rawness and immediacy of the two mediums that often coexist.
What does your work aim to say?
I would like to think of it as a sort of sender of energy. The work is very much trying to understand the macro from a micro viewpoint.
Can you highlight some of your influences and discuss how they have impacted your work?
Hilma af Klint, Emma Kunz, and Agnes Martin are all apparent influences of mine. I am interested in their use of geometric abstraction as a means to channel spiritual ideas, running parallel to my own work. I am also heavily influenced by the ZERO group specifically the artists Otto Piene and Günther Uecker. The works aim to reshape art to fit a universal aesthetic and to begin from a zone of pure silence and new possibility.
Where do you find inspiration?
While at a residency in Oregon I developed the series “Compression of Time & Space”. This was the first time the physical landscape directly impacted my work. I had always pulled inspiration from nature, most commonly found in the form of light and cosmic imagery but this experience seemed to clarify my interest in this. It was the first time I was experiencing the expansive sky out west. The desert landscape really influenced me to become interested in the idea of “thin places” which created for me a sense of timelessness and the sublime. This is also when I first introduced pigment in the pieces in the form of watercolor. Before this I was working exclusively in monochromes. I divided the compositions with extremely subtle washes almost refining shadow more than color.
Light is the driving factor in most of my work. I recently attended a residency in the south of France where the quality of light is simply magical. I spent a good deal of my time documenting the dappled light on buildings and in the garden outside of my studio. I sometimes joke I will give up paper altogether and end up making light sculptures. I just haven’t fully figured out how to capture it in a way that preserves its purity and therefore giving up a certain intimacy with it. For now I find a way to filter it. The past couple of series I have been working on are based on different optical phenomena.
In your experience, what is the best thing about being an artist? What is the hardest thing about being an artist?
The best thing is definitely experiencing transformative moments while making the work. These moments allow me to believe in the connection to something much larger than myself. The hardest thing is one's lack of control beyond one’s own practice. Once the work is released out of the studio and into the world there is not much that the artist has power over.
What piece of advice would you give to a young artist?
I am a young artist so honestly I think I too am trying to figure it all out. I would say aim to produce honest work and not just adhere to a certain aesthetic or trend. I try to remind myself to strive to make something timeless in the sense that it will have lasting relevance. Also simply take care of yourself.