Inspiration from Travel and Being Curious: An Interview with Erin Palovick

Erin Palovick is an Atlanta-based visual and performance artists featured at WonderRoot’s “The Gathering”, where her four part “Glossary of a Shrine” is displayed. Palovick’s work is subtly fortified with her experiences and interpretations from travel and experiences that are divine and transcendent in nature.

Palovick’s work, whether making marks on paper, sounds in space, or moments within a performance, is an antithesis between the grace of the spirit, and the destructive nature that can also exist in the same breath; often awakening ethereal, and penetrating rigidity in moments of stillness.

Throughout the interview it is clear that her work is a process of learning and unlearning as a way of discovery. In conversation, Palovick explains what inspires her work and how the nature of her work is driven by curiosity.



NAYA CLARK: I’ve been doing some research and I saw that you grew up in Marietta. Where did you go to school to study art?

ERIN PALOVICK: I went to Georgia State [University], and graduated in 2010. I got a BFA in concentration in drawing and painting. My work has kind of chimed into a lot of other things, but I usually do return to drawing and painting.

CLARK: In addition to drawing and painting you also do performance art. How does that differ from visual art and printmaking?

PALOVICK: In a lot of ways. I think what ends up happening is I am working on a performance is that I bring in other people so it becomes more of a conversation. With drawing and painting, its sort of all in my head, and it’s very personal. So with a performance I always bring in other collaborators which is a lot of fun. It’s kind of different stepping out of myself, and then on top of that when I’m actually performing, that’s a whole different experience as well, because I’m interacting with the audience and their influence changes whatever I thought I might experience. There’s a lot more up to chance. When I’m in my studio and when I’m drawing and painting, I have a lot more control.

CLARK: Whereas you can’t control other people’s reactions in live time.

PALOVICK: Exactly, it’s so different.

CLARK: What’s the difference in the planning and presentation experience, because of course there’s a different planning process when you’re doing a performance piece versus when you have work hanging in a gallery.

PALOVICK: With the performance there’s I would say a lot more planning ahead of time. I think most of my performances are all talk beforehand, and then the performance itself, we let it be what it is in the moment so that it is unrehearsed and so it could actually be a true feeling and reaction to whatever happens within the space. But it is a whole lot of planning going into it, whereas for a gallery opening when I’m presenting my work, that work has already been done so opening for something that I’ve worked on paper is so different because leading up to it is where it’s at whereas a performance, it’s just the beginning.  

CLARK:What’s the difference in the type of messages that you want to portray in your visual work versus the performance based pieces? What type of conversations do you want to stir up?

PALOVICK: That’s a good question. Every one is a different conversation. I think that performance, not that in painting there’s not a narrative, but there’s not a start, middle and end. It’s a little more about the feeling that you’re faced with. I would say that that’s true of both performance and looking at a painting. And then those feelings then become the conversation. It’s hard to speak on it as a whole because each one is so different and comes from a  different place. I do think that they’re kind of similar in that way, which I don’t know if I’ve made that connection before.

CLARK: As you know, the gathering is an exhibit of art from femmes, women, and non binary people. What does that mean for you. Particularly in healing in the femme community. What does healing through art mean for you?

PALOVICK: I thought a lot about what healing means to me when I was making that work that’s in the gallery. [Glossary of a Shrine] When I made the work, I was actually living in Japan and the purpose of spending so much time in Japan was to heal. I was making work there, but I was thinking a lot about what that meant to me and when I wasn’t working, I was exploring Tokyo. Whenever I would go out on my own just to explore without anyone helping me along. I was experiencing it blindly. Shrines and temples, these things that in my culture, I’m not really experiencing. I kind of had to make my own understanding of what they meant to me and I almost would create a new vocabulary. I didn’t know what all the symbolism was.

CLARK: Right because if you’re not walking around with a tour guide, what kind of context do you have behind it?

PALOVICK: Right, so I ended up just kind of making my own and making it personal to me. Like ‘Oh, when I see this one thing, this is what it makes me think of, and that’s the reminder that I’m going to take from it.’, So when I was making the work, I tried to bring that into it. These piece these little elements of what I was experiencing, but I don’t know exactly what they meant, but I made my own way, and I think that’s true of most any way of healing. You can be given a book of spells and follow this recipe, but until you make it your own it’s not going to have any power.

CLARK: That’s a good way to put it. What type of element do you think femme artists bring to art and healing form a more masculine take on art?

PALOVICK: Well, I think there’s a thoughtfulness in artwork, and a caring that I think can be felt.

Clark: You mentioned that you studied in Japan, and I read that you studied in Florence, Italy. I wanted to know how that impacted your art in Italy.

PALOVICK: I was in school when I went over there, and for me, I was really absorbed in the art history of that experience in terms of my studies, it was all classical. I think in foundation, it really impacted me, but I was young. I think I was 19 or 20, so I don’t think that I had a voice when I was there in terms of what I wanted to make in the world and what I wanted to say, but I got some really amazing classical experience and I think that’s where real intense appreciation for history and culture came from. How it impacted my own practice is kind of hard to say. It feels so long ago.

CLARK: Elaborate a little more on your pieces from the Gathering. Your process for those pieces and what they mean for you personally.

PALOVICK: The works, I would call them drawings. They’re different from some of the more experimental painting that I’ve been doing. The work for me still fells surreal and dreamy almost. What I would start with are these objects in mind, objects that I saw all the time in Japan, that I didn’t know what they were or what they meant and I just brought pieces of those objects into these drawings and I put them on a white background so there’s nothing else to see, but to look at an abstract object floating. So that’s all you have to work with. I brought objects into the installation as well. I made a yarn installation to go with it. To give the idea of an object I would see in temples, but I abstracted it. It looks nothing like that. The piece, to me, feel more like a memory of an object or an experience than the actual objects themselves. Just getting back to how I made it very personal.

CLARK:Lastly, I just wanted to ask what it means for you to be involved with WonderRoot and what we’re doing with The Gathering.

PALOVICK: It means a lot to me. A couple of years ago I was in the Walthall Fellowship and something about that experience. I mentioned that before when I was in Italy I didn’t really have my artistic voice quite yet. I found a lot of it when I was in that fellowship. That was a really special time so I feel really connected to WonderRoot.

CLARK: Along those lines, what’s something that you found in the process of finding your artistic voice that you would advise other artists to focus on?

PALOVICK: There’s never an end goal, or say, an answer. I think I’m alway just kind of posing questions to myself and letting those questions direct me. I get questions and answers and I move in one way that feels that it might be an answer, but there really never is and I think every project completes the fact, but it also opens up a million others.  

CLARK: So would you say to let questions guide you as opposed to always trying to find the solution, and then do art based on that solution, but do art moreso based on the questions that you’ve developed?

PALOVICK: I think that’s a great way to kind of sum it up, yeah. There’s just always going to be something else. Just be curious.


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