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Arlo Drogin-Carter:

The Balancing of Opposites

How did you start getting into art? 

ADC: I can’t really remember a time when I got “into” art.  It was always a part of my life for as long as I can remember.  My mothers both make art and there’s always tons of art around the house.  My moms made sure I was enrolled in a bunch of art programs as a kid.  I’ve been taking summer classes at MassArt since I was seven.  I also didn’t really see it as a real career choice until maybe my junior year.  Late in my junior year I knew that I wanted to do art, but didn’t think I could make a real job out of it.  I took a trip to NY to tour the Eugene Lang School at the New School, but accidentally took the Parsons tour and ended up loving it.


Do you think it was a mix of nature and nurture? Being around parents that both did art and taking art classes as a kid? 

ADC: I would say it was definitely a mix of both.  I don’t know how artistically inclined I would be if I weren't surrounded by all that as a kid.  It could be in my blood, my sperm donor apparently ws a fine arts major in San Francisco. 


What kind of art does your mom make? 

ADC:  She does a lot of clay sculpture, nude women, vaginas, very lesbian art.  


Yeah that falls into that category for sure.  So do you sculpt or are you more of a painter? 

ADC:  I do most things, I like to do a little bit of everything.  I would say the one thing I don’t do is dance, that is the one form of art that I don’t like.  Mostly I draw and take a lot of photos and paint.  That’s why I chose fine arts as my major in parsons, it doesn’t have to be a specific fine arts it can be very broad which I like. 


Do you overlap your mediums? 

ADC:  Most of the time I keep them separate, but sometimes I like to mix things up.  In the portfolio I submitted to college I had a series where I took photos and I would paint on them.  I also had a piece where I sculpted on top of a canvas and then painted over it.  


So you are even blurring the lines between what is a sculpture and a painting

ADC:  I like it when you can’t really describe what you are looking at and it doesn’t fit into a box. 


Do you like the ambiguity in terms of materials or also with subject matter? 

ADC:  I noticed that I work with a lot of contradicting themes in order to show some sort of truth.  I’ll have a lot of themes of naivety and some sort of all knowingness.  Or some adult themes portrayed in more of a young spirited way. 


Was having contradicting things always part of your work or is that new? 

ADC:  I noticed it as I started to make work that felt more serious, work that was meant for my portfolio or college when I needed to think about what kind of artist I want to be, I drew a lot of inspiration from David Lynch’s visual work.  Less so his movies, but his paintings deal with a lot of dark themes that are portrayed in childlike almost crude drawings. It’s almost like the characters in his paintings and drawings know more than you do.  


I saw a short film by him called Alphabet and it definitely dealt with dark subject matter and was drawn in a childlike way. 

ADC:  Yeah I love that one.  My junior year I had to do a research project and chose modernism, postmodernism and metamodernism and researched a bunch of his movies.  I think that’s when I got into these themes.   


So when you moved to NY did you find your style shifting or did it help you narrow in on what you were already doing? 

AC:  New York helped me realize where I could go if I used different mediums.  I met a lot of people that made careers outta doing specific types of art and seeing that helped me focus.  I did a lot of performance art stuff because my studio teacher was a performance artist.  I learned alot about her work and found out about performance artists that I really enjoyed.  So [New York] did help me expand, but it made me realize what type of things I wanted to do within certain mediums.  Like I wanted to do this type of painting and this type of drawing.


Do you think the art world is moving away towards having a clear distinction between mediums? 

ADC:  I mean I think the whole world in general is moving away from label and segregation things. In general hopefully some point in the future we will eliminate the binary more and stuff like that.  Because of that it would mean more cross breeding between mediums and I’m excited for that. 


In terms of your style, is it more realistic, abstract or illustrational? 

ADC:  I definitely don’t draw very realistic things.  I think since moving to New York I lean more towards abstract drawing.  Also with painting more abstract expression maybe. 


Do you use figures at all? 

ADC:  I would say recently there haven’t been figures at all in my work, in my drawings at least. 


Have you had any people that you met help you navigate your own path? 

AC:  I would say at MassArt I had a teacher for the summer programs who taught painting.  She was one of the youngest painting teachers they had teaching, she was 26 and graduated from MassArt.  She taught me a lot about how to look at art and understand what you are looking at and how to talk about it.  It helped me fine tune what I was looking to do in my art.  I actually ended up last summer working at MassArt as a teacher, teachers assistant and worked in her class.  We got matching butterfly tattoos that I drew at the end of the summer. 


Did you enjoy the teaching experience or was it more teaching with her? 

ADC:  I enjoyed the teaching experience with her.  There was one class last summer that was a one time class people could sing up for that was all ages.  It was five hours that I got to teach by myself, I liked that a lot.  I also liked that I was 17 at the time and none of my students knew that and some were in their 30s.  It was a very beginner's painting class and it was a very exciting opportunity that MassArt gave me. 


So teachers tend to teach from their own perspective and their style, did you keep it pretty objective or teach from your own style? 

ADC:  I think I taught mostly from my perspective, but honestly it is a little hard for me to remember part of it when i was teaching by myself because I was so nervous and just went on autopilot.  When I was a teacher's assistant, she has a very specific way that she teaches and her own opinion. I had very different opinions and it was nice because we balanced each other out. 


So do you think there is no right and wrong in art because it would appeal to at least someone? 

ADC:  I think you can really go about art in any way.  If you really boil down art it is just a way of expression and no one can tell you the way you are expressing yourself is wrong.  When I came to New York I learned what was good and bad art and how that was different from art I liked and didn’t like.  I think the key to good art is intention and that intention can even be the lack of intention.  Like I’m gonna make mindless marks over this canvas and that is going to be the apitnings, even that is intention.  The execution of that intention is somewhat important. 


So have you grown personally since moving to New York? Art schools stress that a big part of artistic growth is connected to personal growth.  

ADC:  I would say meeting so many new people and making so many new friends really fuels my art making.  I’m extremely extroverted and if i could spend my life around people for all of it I would.  That fuels me and because of that it fuels my art.  I’ve noticed recently I haven’t made that much art because I haven’t been around that many people and I’d see on instagram people posting and posting about their art which hasn’t happened recently.  I’m happy that it's not the way it was because it is more helpful, but I think because of those two things I haven’t made that much art.  I’ve just realized that those are super important for me making art more than in the past.  


Is your art more for yourself or for other people? 

ADC:  I guess it is more for myself, I don’t make and sell too much of my art.  I do like showing my art to other people, but the way I express things is more important that I am aware of it.  I just started using he/they pronouns in january.  I told my parents and said if they use he/him pronouns for the rest of my life it's fine, but as long as you know it is mostly for me and that I know.  It feels more like the way I express myself is more for me and less for other people. 


So you said you're extroverted, do you just meet people around campus? 

ADC:  I met people mostly just around campus or at events.  I made a few friends going out to art events randomly or shows and meeting friends of friends.  


How do you feel about the New York art scene now?  

ADC:  I’ve gone to some art shows, I’ve been to a few Danny Cole shows.  He has helped me understand some parts of the New York art scene.  He’s really big in some aspects, but still small in New York as a whole.  If you think some part of the art scene is big, then you are probably wrong and it is probably part of some scene.  


Do you want to make it big? 

ADC:  I hope I have some success to sustain myself economically.  It would be cool if I make it huge, but I just want to make art as a way to provide for myself.  My want is to do art and live in New York.  


Is there a distinction between the Manhattan and Brooklyn art scene? 

ADC:  There are smaller and more authentic shows happening in Brooklyn.  You get a different feeling from going to the Brooklyn Museum than going to the Met in Manhattan.  The Brooklyn events are more cozy, in smaller spaces and the people seem more approachable.  

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