The Crown seeks to give exposure to local and international artists through The Crown Gallery, and hosts new artists each quarter. The Crown Gallery is currently accepting submissions for the Winter of 2022, and is seeking artists who approach issues related to environmental sustainability, intersectionality, the City of Oakland, and of course, coffee. Contact us here with the subject “Call for Artists” if you want to apply!
As curator and Creative Director here at The Crown, I do a series of interviews with our artists so that everyone can hear what inspires them. The coffee industry is comprised of people with multifarious passions, and during my time as a coffee professional I have encountered people steeped in disciplines as disparate as music composition and astrophysics. It only seems fair to give time to one group I have met most frequently in the coffee industry: visual artists. So join us for an exploration of the natural world, Bay Area culture, and our favorite beverage with the resident artists at The Crown Gallery.
Holly Bobisuthi is a California Artist & metal smith exploring the intersections of ritual, history, and self image through her interactive sculptures, adornments, and installations. She prioritizes the physical, human experience in wearable work that is fine art with a strong grounding in craftsmanship.
Holly is having an Artist’s Reception on Friday, May 13th from 1pm to 4pm at The Crown!
(all photos by Holly Bobisuthi)
Evan Gilman: When did you start making art? Was there a first medium you fell in love with?
Holly Bobisuthi: I honestly can’t remember not making art. There’s a Polaroid on my parents’ fridge of me, at maybe 2 years old, in yellow footie pajamas at an easel dipping a Barbie into paint so I can use her as a paintbrush. Iconic. I worked with a lot of different mediums until I found fine art metalsmithing at 17 and really found my self. It allows me to be creative and also exercise the technical, engineer side of my brain.
EG: Getting into the flow of making art is a very specific feeling. Can you describe the feeling you get when you have creative inspiration?
HB: Focused, happy, completely unaware of time. The problem with being a full time artist is that you have to create every day flow state. If I’m feeling it on a drawing day I will ride the wave as long as possible so I can bank ideas to build on less creative days. A lot of my work is incredibly tedious and repetitive to make and that work while not especially creative but has its own joy. Each little fish or fly is cut and shaped by hand but I only had to come up with the veil concept once, for example.
EG: Does coffee influence your art or the way you make it?
HB: I definitely use it as a motivational reward! If I’m having a frustrating work day I’ll promise myself a walk to the Crown if I can stay focused for two hours. Truly though, the day doesn’t start until I’ve brewed my home cup and put on eyeliner.
EG: Cafes have been central to many art movements; what are your favorite cafes in the Bay Area that function as meeting places for artists?
HB: Honestly, the Crown! It’s one block from my studio, it’s delicious, and it’s a beautiful space. Coloso used to be a key spot as well. Tarocco in Berkeley is new on the scene and fast becoming a great place to run into another arts person.
EG: Do you have any current projects you’re working on that you’re particularly excited about?
HB: Oh yes. I’m very interested in the way sound interacts with the body right now, and I started wood carving recently. The new show I’m working on is large carved, wooden drum sculptures and other pieces that create sounds while being worn. Exploring the way we can fill space sonically as well as visually and utilizing sound as a metaphor for the more ethereal spirit.
EG: You’ve spoken a little to me about the beginnings of your work in Santa Cruz – can you tell us more about your origin story?
HB: It’s just the standard redwood forest, homeschool, hippie, Californian story. Tale as old as…we’ll at least the 60’s. Besides all the natural disasters it was pretty idyllic. Though even the disasters were formative to my sense of self sufficiency.
EG: Your work involves the spiritual inhabiting the material world. Can you tell us more about the origins of this idea?
HB: It’s sort of a two part idea to me. First, the world is obviously alive. Plants and animals of course but also the inanimate, in its way. I think the made world has its own life, a form of emotional permeability. Our memories and feelings can be absorbed by objects. So that when we make objects with care, love and intention they have that spirit in them.
EG: Speaking of spirits inhabiting objects; time to get wacky. Say you were an inanimate object, what kind of thing would you be?
HB: Some kind of adornment, probably a headdress. An object of cultural communication certainly.
EG: What was the best part about showing at The Crown?
HB: It’s the first solo show I’ve had where I live in a number of years. My main representation, Recspec Gallery, is in Austin so I mostly show there. It’s been really cool for my friends and family to be able to see an install fully fleshed out rather than the in-progress pieces they usually see.
EG: What’s your go-to coffee drink?
HB: What do you think that says about your personality? A cappuccino unless it’s hot and then i get an iced mocha. Which I think means I’m ready to work until I’m ready to luxuriate.
EG: Anything you’d like to add or promote?
HB: The work in this show is available through recspec-gallery.com. You can find more of my work on my website hollybobisuthi.com. I’d love to encourage people to visit me at my studio 481 25th St. in Oakland on Saturdays from 1-5pm as well. You can walk over after you get a coffee at the Crown!
EG: Thank you!