FAD: How did you become an artist?
Evan: Making art has always been second nature to me. I've always had a desire to create, and I'm always doing something with my hands. Expressing myself visually has been the most natural way of communicating for me. However, as a kid, I never thought it was a career option until I visited The Museum of Modern Art during a family vacation in New York. I remember standing in front of a Rothko and from that day forward, I knew I wanted to be an artist. So in high school I took every art class I possibly could, then when it came time to go to college, I majored in art. I applied for graduate school at Pratt, and as soon as I was accepted, I dropped everything and moved to New York. I have a knack for crafting and anything DIY, so that transformed into fine art.
FAD: What inspires or influences your work?
Evan: My main influences stem from my childhood growing up in rural Idaho. My mother was an antique collector, so I was surrounded by things like vintage floral textiles, cross stitches, and paint-by-numbers. I would spend a lot of time with her at thrift and antique stores looking around. At the time, I didn't care for antiques because they possessed a sense of traditionalism that I despised. But now, I'm constantly thrifting, scavenging for objects that resonate my past in Idaho. Most of the materials in my sculptures are found, and I have developed a visual language by borrowing certain aesthetics. My work serves as a celebration and critique of their embedded ideologies.
FAD: What do you hope to achieve with your work?
Evan: I hope to provoke a dialogue around the issues in my work relating to gender and domesticity. My work often investigates the construction of self through the dualistic perception of one’s public and private identity. Confronting the various forms of traditional, often heteronormative, domesticity, my work is intended to challenge the gender ideologies associated with the mythos of The American Dream. Utilizing found objects, I examine their metaphorical qualities as stand-ins for the human body. As a result, much of my work conveys the unity of dualities and notions of ambiguity, questioning what is disguised and what is revealed.
FAD: Do you have a favorite artist? How have you been influenced by him/her?
Evan: I have many favorite artists but one that will forever stand out to me is Robert Gober. His retrospective at the MOMA, "The Heart is Not a Metaphor" was life changing. What I appreciate is that everyone seems to take something different from his work. It is accessible because the forms are so familiar, yet each piece is metaphorically complex – there is more to it than meets the eye. By re-contextualizing and elevating the familiar, he is able to say something profound. I strive for the same in my work.
FAD: We noticed that a lot of your pieces have a floral theme. Tell us more about this.
Evan: I often use floral motifs in my work for several reasons. One is, because I enjoy it - floral patterns are very familiar and aesthetically pleasing. I like the idea of pulling a viewer in by the sheer beauty of something, then upon closer look, you realize that it isn’t what you thought. Flowers can also signify major events in life, for example, death, romance, celebration, achievement or an apology. Each viewer has a different association with the flowers in my work.
FAD: Tell us about the piece that you have chosen for FAD Market.
Evan: The piece I chose to include in FAD Market was made specifically for the event. I wanted to make a painting that would actively engage the viewer – in this case it is a backdrop for photography. It’s easy to walk past a painting without actively engaging in it, but what happens when the viewer is looking at a photo of themselves in front of it?
The flower shapes in this painting were originally found in a vintage botanical illustration book, which were collaged into the pattern. The image was projected onto the canvas, drawn and filled in, then outlined. When applying the paint, it would frequently spill out of the shapes and drip onto the background. Struggling to keep the paint within the confines of their boundaries, I began to embrace their flaws. As a tattoo artist and painter, I often think of canvas like skin. My paintings then become a metaphor for the human body – imperfectly perfect, displaying its own history and narrative on the surface. Standing in front of it, the viewer becomes a part of the piece.
I have a deep appreciation for anything handmade and I've participated in markets such as FAD Market in the past, selling prints and paintings. It’s a great opportunity for makers to get their work out there and engage with their community. I've been in this part of Brooklyn for several years and my hope is that I will be better acquainted with my neighborhood after this experience.
FAD: What do you enjoy most about living in New York?
Evan: My favorite thing about New York is the people. New Yorkers are real. New Yorkers are impassioned. The moment you step out of your apartment and onto the streets of New York you feel the energy. It’s inspiring to see so many people working together in such a small space. If I had to pick a favorite activity, it’s probably going to the museums, or going to park with my dog.
About Evan Paul English
Evan Paul English is an interdisciplinary artist, born and raised in Meridian, Idaho. He received his BFA from University of Arizona, earned his MFA from Pratt Institute in 2016, and currently resides in Brooklyn, New York.
He recently had a solo exhibition at NAPOLEON Gallery in Philadelphia, exhibited work at The Boiler | Pierogi in Brooklyn, and presented his MFA thesis exhibition. He is a recent solo artist-in-residence at Surel's Place in Boise, Idaho, upcoming artist-in-residence at Vermont Studio Center, and the recipient of the Stutzman Foundation Vermont Studio Center Graduate Fellowship.