Monday, August 7, 2017

Interview with To Really See Artist Holly Rapoport

For the first time ever, Spectrum ArtWorks opened a call for art to the public with our show To Really See, a partnership with University of Minnesota College of Pharmacy's Paul Ranelli. We received many submissions from individuals who wanted to share their perspectives on medications. Each experience offered is unique and expands upon the work that Spectrum ArtWorks aims to achieve: creating art, building community, and fighting stigma.

Holly Rapoport, HMR01

We will be featuring artists from the exhibit through various media forms; from blog interviews, a special publication, events, and a short video profiling art from the exhibition. Our first interview is with artist Holly Rapoport. We are showing two works from Holly that explore her experience with medications while living with a mental illness.

Holly, who are you? Tell us more about where you come from? Have you always been an artist?

I'm a radical number, full of wonder and dedication. I come from a strong mother, and a small town. I have always been an artist, from creative child to skilled adult.

Your artwork explores self-exploration and utilizes artmaking as a form of therapy. Can you explain that a bit more and why you find art and making art has been important to your process as an artist and as a person experiencing mental illness?

Making art serves as a type of meditation. Printmaking, drawing, and bookbinding are all laborious, tedious, and detail oriented practices revolving around a strict order of operations. When I’m working there is no room or time to think about anything else, only measurements and alignment. Working in self-portraiture forces me to look at myself, not from a mirrored angle but from the view-point of another person. Creating myself as I am and not as I see myself helps ground me in reality.

To Really See is a show about challenging stigma, particularly around taking medications. Your artwork fits well within the theme of the exhibition. Can you tell us more about the art you are showing? How it fits within challenging stigma? What do you want your viewer to gain from your pieces?

There is this bizarre idea that if someone needs medications that they should hide it, that it is something to be ashamed of. I whole-heartedly disagree with this notion. My illness and medications are a part of who I am. I want the viewer to know that they are not alone and there is nothing to be ashamed of when it comes to taking care of yourself.

The etching technique in your artwork is unique. It is expressive and textural. What brought you to this medium?

In high school I was a screen-printing apprentice in my home town. Years later when I began studying at UW River Falls I took an introductory Printmaking course and that was it for me. My etching style is reminiscent of my older drawing style, using crosshatching to create gradation. So I was naturally drawn to etching, as the mark-making is so similar to traditional drawing.

Are you working on anything new right now?

I am currently working on two collections of hand-bound books. “Little Black Books” is a collection of black-on-black Coptic bound books. I am also working on “Ghost Tomes,” a collaboration with my colleague Ashley Andrews in which I use her monotype ghost prints as covers for small Coptic books.

Holly Rapoport, Ghost Tome

Holly Rapoport, Black Books

Are there any other local artists that inspire you or that you are interested in?

I find that I am most inspired by fellow artists at UW River Falls. We have an incredibly supportive community. Everyone works so hard and that pushes me to always try and make better work.

Just a fun question here: If you were to given the choice to create art on either paper or canvas, which one would you select? Why?

Paper! Any day! It has been such an integral part of my life, from childhood until now. Everything I do artistically revolves around paper and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

All images courtesy of the artist. Interview by Jes Reyes.

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