As we patiently await this Saturday's opening reception of Casual Decline by Cannon Dill, we took some time to ask the artist a couple questions regarding his new series of works in this studio visit interview. We talk about influences, creative process and symbolism that went into his solo exhibition at Athen B. Gallery.
Be sure to join us this Saturday, October 15th at 7pm for the opening reception of Casual Decline. The exhibition features new works on paper, canvases and sculpture. The artists will be present. We're located conveniently off both 12th and 19th St. Bart Stations in Downtown Oakland. If you have any questions, comments, concerns please contact firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more.
Athen B. | What were your influences leading up to Casual Decline?
Cannon Dill | My influences for this show were regurgitated and reformed from lots of work I have seen by friends. Not to say anything is directly influenced, but reinterpreted and thought about yes. I can become jealous at times when I see work that is very loose and fun, so I started breaking down all my walls that I have built over the years of my so called artistic “career” and decided to start from scratch. Knowing that I was limited on time, I jumped into watercolors, was sketching every day, which is rare for me - and is probably the most important thing for a creative person to do, or to have a journal on hand. It started to become fun, less like “work” and more so like the feeling you get after school, when you want to rush home and get cracking on a project. The people that had seen the transformation were excited, had feedback to share, it was all really helpful and felt at ease.
AB | What is your creative process like? Is it formulated or natural?
CD | I’d say it’s a little of both, sort of all over the place. It’s really hard for me to regulate how I’m feeling half of the time, which is a huge part of my work. If I’m not feeling it, then I can’t really do anything, I have to be fully engaged. So in order for me to become activated I need to go through a ritualistic process of scavenging for materials and inspirations. I usually work in the studio in 3-4 day increments, the first day is just sifting through and processing information, the 2nd day is sketching, the 3rd and 4th day is when the work gets done. I tend to be attracted to found objects, photographs, clippings, or even tape cassette covers and band t-shirts. If I see a solid band shirt I get really juiced to work on something. So yeah, it’s natural, one thing will lead to the next, soon I’m hands deep in paper mache and then I’m off painting on the wall for no reason. From an outsiders perspective it might seem really strange too, almost a scene out of “A Beautiful Mind” when Russell Crow had all those paper clippings on the wall…
AB | Lets talk a little about your choice of symbolism, I noticed the wolf is absent in this show, is there a reason for that?
CD | Definitely, the reason I dropped the wolf this year, was because last year “In My Own Time” had a lot of it. The difference between the two is that one was about the conditions of present time, and an overall shared feeling of changing landscape/architecture VS. This show is about the Past, before the wolf had taken form - so he was cut from the bill. So ya know, I decided to expand the creatures a bit more - The Horse plays a big role, the painting I did of it was titled “ A level of Courage”, which is pretty much exactly what it means - and is in a way, the staple piece of the show. If I had the option of keeping that painting I would - Lets see, another piece “Identity Crisis”, is the Illustration of the wall of masks. The idea behind that one was to show that the Wolf wasn’t the only option, but a choice. It shows every other animal besides the wolf, as if I woke up and said, “Well lets see who am I going to be today? How do I feel? Do I feel like a jackass because then I would take the donkey mask.
AB | How does this show reflect current times?
CD | Just the title alone says a lot about the current state of…everything. It seems so dramatic but in reality we are in a really harsh, rapidly changing environment. So for me, “Casual Decline” says a lot about what is happening around me…politically and environmentally. Who knows what is going to happen, it’s the greatest form of anxiety - the unknown! And we are slowly becoming more desensitized and unaware of our surroundings - and with that comes casual decline.
AB | What do you hope for in the future as a working artist?
CD | Honestly my biggest dream is to have space! I really would love to have a lot of space to make really big gestural work. (For everyone reading this keep your ears open) - and once that is achieved, then well…I guess that is it, just a lifetime of working, going through the motions, enjoying stuff. Regarding projects, I am stepping away from showing at galleries for a while and focusing more on product - themed books, shirts, stuffed animals and paintings. So everyone that has been asking about product, things will be available online this spring!
As a side note, thank you to everyone that has kept interest in my work. Doing this stuff full time can be really difficult and challenging, and it’s the viewers that keep me creatively on my toes. I am very thankful. I hope you enjoy the show. - Cannon Dill