4%ers Curator, Rachel Ralph, recently caught up with the extremely talented and athletic Ileana Tejada as we prepare for this years 4%ers group exhibition. Be sure to join us at the opening reception to see these beautiful life size renditions by Illeana in person and learn more about her in this interview with Rachel below!
Alexandra Levasseur | Andrea Wan | Angela Fox
Anne Harris | Beryl Fine | Erin Riley | Hanna Yata
Ileana Tejada | Kate Klingbeil | Kit King | Lauren YS
Marina Capdevila | Meryl Pataky | Nicomi Nix Turner
Noel Morical | Rebecca Morgan | Sheryo
Stacey Rozich | Winnie Truong
In an effort to understand the "hysterical" minds of this year’s group of 4%ERS, I got the chance to ask them each a few questions on themselves, their work, and the art world from their perspective. With such a diverse group of artists, I wanted to draw some connections, create some continuity, and just see what these artists have to say. No one ever shattered a glass ceiling without asking any questions first. - 4%ers Curator, Rachel Ralph
Check out Rachel's recent interviews for the upcoming 4%ers group exhibition with - Lauren YS | Beryl Fine | Alexandra Levasseur | Kit King | Hannah Yata | Kate Klingbeil
Be sure to join us for the opening reception of the second annual 4%ers group exhibition curated by Rachel Ralph coming to Athen B. Gallery this August 13th, 2016 at 7pm. To receive a preview of the exhibition contact firstname.lastname@example.org
RR | Name/Location/Age
IT | Ileana Tejada/ San Francisco, CA/ 28 Years (29 on August 27th)
Have you ever been called hysterical?
Yeah, but I kind of believe it. There is only one person that can really say they’ve seen me in that state of mind.
How do you feel being a woman has affected your art making?
I wouldn’t be making the work I’m making the work I’m making today if I wasn’t a woman. I wouldn’t have a reason to talk about the things I am saying about sexulaity, social gender norms and the deconstruction of stereotypes. The ideas and the creative process are related to my experience in this world as a woman of color.
How do you feel being a woman has affected your art career?
It’s just like any other professional career, but with much less respect because being an artist still isn’t seen as a professional career. As a woman you have to work harder than men to get the same amount of attention with very little payout. But it’s okay, I’ve got this.
Your work deals explicitly with female masculinity. What drew you to this field of inquiry?
I was a 260lb freshman in high school- I was huge. I was a track and field thrower, basketball player, and into weight lifting. My femininity was stripped away from me at a very young age. I wasn’t girly enough to be a real girl and wasn’t dude enough to be a boy. I was ashamed of my strength. Overtime I started to learn to embrace it, but it wasn’t until I came to SFAI my first year that I really became comfortable talking about it.
Your self portraits are so expressive. Do you feel that they allow you to explore your own psychological states? Does it provide you any sense of sanity?
For sure. I’m depicting my different levels of being, constantly taking traumatic events and turning them into works of art. These drawings are examples of the good vs. evil within me, fusions of my public self with my inner psychic-self, of the real and the imaginary. I’m never representing a single self. Sure they all look like me, but these self-portraits are just mirrors of the mind.
You defy traditional beauty yet your work is incredibly beautiful. The lighting, shading and composition are unmistakably gorgeous. Do you try to play with these ideals while highlighting our aesthetic desire for them?
Once I started investing serious time and money into photo shoots I learned how important these performances were to the actual production of these drawings. At first when I had people helping me with the photo shoots I thought I was being completely honest with what I wanted to say, but that turned out not to be true: I was still holding back and reserving myself from the way I really wanted to act. After investing in a remote control for my camera that all changed. The compositions that you see now are a result of that. But even with that I can’t honestly say that I’m showing you my most honest work. I’m constantly going through the images from my photoshoots picking and choosing which images I like better than others, particularly paying attention to how I look. And if I don’t like it I’ll reshoot it and photoshop in a new face, or a new hand, or foot. And the same is true for when I’m drawing them out. If I’m not happy with how something looks I erase it and do it over again. So I guess you can say that it is true, I’m constantly trying to perfect the work and make it appealing. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t.
You’re an athlete, a high level one at that. I believe athletes are more attuned to their bodies than most people and they need them to perform at such a high level that it can almost become an obsession. Do you think your interest in depicting the body has any foundation in your athletic history?
Absolutely. In undergraduate school I double-majored in fine art and kinesiology, it just made so much sense to for me to study both. I spent most of my days at practice and in competition, and I split my academic time between the art building and the kinesiology building. So yeah, my athletic history has so much to do with my interest in depicting the body. I’ve been an athlete and an artist since grade school, that’s never going to change
It seems like you used to work a lot in color and now it’s all blacks and greys and what I’m assuming is graphite or charcoal. Why did you make this shift?
I’ve always preferred working in graphite and charcoal, but using color in my work is something I’m constantly working on. I spent most of my years in graduate school learning to work in color. Towards the end though I was unsatisfied in how I was rendering the images, they looked too much like drawings that you would find in a comic book and as a result the message I wanted to get across was getting watered down with the humor of the resulting image, so two months before our MFA show I picked up a charcoal pencil for the first time in two years and immediately began to see how much working in color had benefited me. I’m slowing starting to work in color again little by little I'm learning how to manipulate it in ways that work better for me.