Interview: Rebecca Stenn
Luca Curci talks with Rebecca Stenn during FUTURE LANDSCAPES, 3rd Appointment of BORDERS ART FAIR 2021, at Palazzo Albrizzi-Capello.
“I have been a dancer my whole life, and movement for me has always come from lines, colours, and shapes in motion. My paintings grew out of my fascination with movement. I paint the same way that I move through space; carving, pulling, and expanding. In this medium of expression, motion spills onto the canvas. I paint with sensuality and spaciousness, with strength and softness, with attention to colour and line and abandon all at once. For me, each of my paintings becomes a dance, both in their creation and their end result”. U.S. artist Rebecca Stenn has been a professional dancer, choreographer, and educator throughout her life. More recently her artistic practice shifted to include painting when she realized that the paintbrush was an extension of her body’s movement. Intrinsically linked with decades of dance performance, the artist considers space and proximity within her paintings. Acutely aware of the movement during the process of painting, Stenn works with acrylic paint. The artist began with purely abstract painting focusing on the process of work, such as brush strokes and movement required for various textures. Over time Stenn has begun to paint landscapes and portraiture. Stenn exhibits in New York City with Agora Gallery, where she is a represented artist, and will take part in art fairs this year in New York City (Metropolitan Pavilion) and Miami (Red Dot Art Fair) as well as a spring 2022 show at Agora Gallery in Chelsea. Her work has been exhibited as part of the Coming Out and Paradaiso shows, at M.A.D.S. Gallery in Milan, Italy, and the Ars Gratia Artis exhibit at Virtual Artists UK. Stenn’s piece Fountains of Quarters (wishing) is currently being shown in the Future Landscapes exhibit as part of the Borders Art Fair in Venice at the Palazzo Albrizzi-Capello. She recently won a juried art competition at the O’Hanlon Center for the Arts in California and is showing work in their current WOMEN MAKING THEIR MARK exhibit. As an acclaimed multi-dimensional artist Rebecca Stenn continues to dance, paint, and teach all while constantly experimenting with modes of making.
Luca Curci – What is art for you?
Rebecca Stenn – Art is the way I understand the world around me. Art allows me to tell stories, and to feel a sense of connection. Art is breathing in all the good and bad and everything I encounter and then finding a way, through color and line and space and movement, to share it back.
LC – What are your thoughts while you paint?
RS – I am lost in my own inner world when I paint – hours can go by and I don’t realize time has passed. I fall into a place of wonder and flow. I move in front of the canvas (even dance sometimes), and I become involved and connected to the painting unfolding before me.
LC – Do you have any habits or rituals while you work?
RS – I usually take a long walk before I paint. I live near the beach and walking by the waves settles my thoughts and allows me to come to a place of concentration. Music plays a large part in my painting practice. I listen to every kind of music – my taste is totally eclectic, according to what I am working on, but I like to have it loud and all-encompassing, to create an environment I can immerse myself in while I paint.
LC – How do you choose your subjects? Is it a reasoned or an instinctive process?
RS – When I am painting an abstract, if I listen well, the canvas literally tells me what to do. If I am painting a portrait, I often paint someone I love or am drawn to. I am interested in capturing a layered or perhaps questioning expression. I paint what I see. It is both reasoned and instinctive and that is what makes it so captivating, mysterious, and compelling for me.
LC – Did your style change over the years? In which way?
RS – I started painting three years ago. My style has definitely changed and morphed in that time, as I discover what I want to say as a painter and continue to experiment boldly and sometimes wildly with my brush. I have a sense of timelessness now when I paint – I can take as long as I want or need to, I have discovered the unrushed process of letting a painting unfold over a very long time.
LC – What is your creative process like?
RS – The process starts, for me, with the spark of an idea. It could be a color, a moment, an expression, something I see on my way home. I let the idea sit for a while until I’m ready to stand in front of the canvas. I love the moment of the first brush stroke on the canvas – the boldness, the audacity of it. After that, the painting often reveals itself to me. Sometimes I can work on a painting for days, coming back again and again to the canvas with many overpainted layers. I also love the moment when you know a painting is finished – that it doesn’t need one more thing.
LC – What do you think about the concept of this festival?
RS – The whole concept of Future Landscapes fascinates me because, in it, one can find both a sense of what is possible and a sense of real, corporeal space. The whole notion of a future landscape, one that might be swayed by the now but is actually unknown, is inspiring to me. What is possible, what can happen, what will unfold and how will our actions change our environment, our landscape?
LC – What is the message linked to the artwork you have shown in this exhibition and how is it connected to the theme of the entire festival?
RS – My painting, Fountains of Quarters (wishing) was made during the darkest part of the lockdown/quarantine in New York City, during the early spring of 2020. I was interested in the notion of possibility, expansiveness, wonder, color, the joyful chaos of bokeh photography, and unrushed time, all during a time of isolation and claustrophobia. My young son titled the painting – it reminded him of the joy of tossing a quarter into a fountain and making a wish. In this way, the painting brought me back to a place of possibility and expansiveness, to a future landscape filled with the possibility of realizing one’s wishes in a world free of borders both real and imagined.
LC – What is your idea about ITSLIQUID GROUP?
RS – ITSLIQUID GROUP is a unique place for artists to share work in an incredibly international environment. It is an honor to be among artists and work meticulously curated from around the world and to see work that I am inspired by, work that makes me think and question. In a time when the world often feels compartmentalized, ITSLIQUID GROUP allows
international artists to come together, digitally and in person, to share work and ideas.
LC – Did you enjoy cooperating with us?
RS – I loved working with ITSLIQUID GROUP and would be honored to do so again in the future.
LC – Do you think ITSLIQUID GROUP can represent an opportunity for artists?
RS – Absolutely. It is an exciting opportunity to be able to share work with a stellar group of international artists that I admire. It is also an honor and great opportunity to show work in Venice, in such beautiful, iconic rooms that ITSLIQUID has curated.