First stop, Art in Odd Places recently caught up with artist Agata Oleksiak, or Olek for short. She was one of the artists during the 2009 festival with her dynamic work called “Thank you for your visit, Have a Nice Day”. Olek has been featured in The New York Times, CNN, Washington Post, Village Voice and Fiberarts Magazine for her work on mixed media, creating sculptural environments using her amazing crocheting skills. Olek was kind enough to share her thoughts about being part of Art in Odd places.
Aiop: Tell us about Olek, creator of “Thank You For Your Visit, Have a Nice Day”
Olek: I was born Agata Oleksiak in Poland. My English teacher told me “Poland is not ready for you, move to NYC”. I was always a good student, so after spending 22 years of my life in a gray, industrial, close-minded city in the South of Poland I escaped to Brooklyn. I rediscovered my ability to crochet and my crocheted journey/madness started. I cover objects and people as I go or as they enter my space, my life. The crocheted connections are stronger as one fabric, as opposed to separate strands, but if you cut one, the whole thing will fall apart. I like choosing ephemeral materials as a statement of the limited life of an art object, as well as an art concept. Unraveling plays a major part in my performance pieces. I can’t really speak to what I want to reveal—to know that, you’d have to find the end of the string and unravel it.
Aiop: How was your Art in Odd Places experience?
Olek: Overwhelming, exhausting but, most importantly, rewarding and satisfying. I planned to present a one day, 3 hour action that grew into a 4 weekend crocheted full body suits public life installation. I am very pleased with the great publicity that followed the AIOP festival and, in particular, my artistic statement for this venue. I couldn’t have done it without help from my friends, friends of friends and… Joshua Suzanne. She invited my piles of signs and yarn to take over her “Rags and GoGo” store on 14th Street where I was able to outfit my species and store the “props” between the performances.
And I cannot forget about the very close and extremely helpful communication with the curator Radhika Subramaniam. Nothing gives you more energy than a curator that believes in your proposal…then the final product.
I wish AIOP festival had a budget for the artists. I am strongly against the fact that we are constantly asked to produce public art, actions without any artist compensation. Actions like “Thank You For Your Visit, Have a Nice Day” needs performers, suits, coordinators, photographers, videographers, food and drink, washing machine, materials, prints, transport…pain killers…
I wish this venue good luck with making it even more successful and powerful. Raising funds would be the next step!
Finally, as an artist I must say I am especially content with the comments I’ve received from viewers. It is a public work and without the strangers who enter the space of my actions, my work couldn’t be completed. All of the five senses are always heightened as the audience develops new means of interacting with the piece, realizing that their response greatly impacts the art and the ways my forms are moving over time. Their response is the art, and my work is a mirror.
Aiop: Any words of wisdom for artists who are interested in becoming part of this year’s Art in Odd places festival?
Olek: Everything takes longer then you think. Weather is unpredictable. Count mostly on yourself. Everything is possible.
Aiop: What projects are you currently working on and where can people reach you?
Olek: I am currently participating in a show at ABC No Rio on the LES. I was able to accomplish my project that was on my mind for 5 years. Please go to 156 Rivington Street and enjoy it. It is a public installation and is waiting for viewers to complete it with their energy.
I am an artist in residence at AAI-LES Rotating Studio Program, where we will have open studio in May.
I am also going to need your clothes for an action “Bring Your Clothes” I am preparing for Brooklyn Museum on June 16th. If you are interested in being a part of my work there by donating your garments, cutting them with me or even crocheting a new piece out of “old”, please send me an email to email@example.com
And there you have it! Thank you Olek and we look forward seeing your projects.
To check out her show at the ABC No Rio, visit http://www.abnorio.org
To see more of her art work, visit her website at http://www.agataolek.com
To contact Olek or to participate in her upcoming piece for the Brooklyn Museum, email her at firstname.lastname@example.org