Meet 2015 SOAPBOX Featured Artist Xaviera Simmons. Check out Cedar (A), a special edition print by Xaviera, available for preorder now.
Image: Performance still from Xaviera Simmons: Underscore, commissioned by The Aldrich Museum Of Contemporary Art, 2013
What is your bio, in six words or less?
Photography, Performance, Video, Sound, Sculpture and Installation.
What is your neighborhood and what do you love most about it?
I live in Williamsburg, Brooklyn and in upstate New York. But my heart is always also in California—LA and the landscape there.
I travel a good amount so home is wherever I go. I have lived in Williamsburg for a good long while and I think I love its proximity to the water. I love being reminded that we live on an Island. Any connection to natural spaces are the most fulfilling spaces for me.
What inspired you to support The Laundromat Project?
I am proud of the work that The LP does. It’s so vital to our worldwide community that creativity is sparked and nurtured on all levels and everyday. I have seen The LP grow and mature in so many phenomenal ways and I admire the projects that are being fostered as a result of The LP. It’s just cool.
Could you tell us a little bit about the print you’ve chosen for The LP edition?
Cedar (A) is a work I produced in 2009. It’s a part of a larger body of work involving characters in landscapes with record album covers as one of the focal points in the work. I like to think of this body of work as a layered image where inside of the image there is an opportunity to contemplate the photograph as a whole as well as the individual components that make up the image.
Contemplating the landscape that houses the character and the character inside of the landscape and finally the image/portrait that the character holds. How do these layers resonate with the viewer? Have we seen characters like this before? I try and make things I have never seen before and also to think about non-linear narrative and characters developed in relation to various landscapes.
What’s your favorite sound, texture, or color?
The sound of the ocean anywhere. The sound of the birds who surround my home upstate who sing all day long and there are a lot of them. The sounds made by the amazing DJ’s on a night out in NYC.
I love all textures and all colors because they give me information that I can use in my work.
Do you have any upcoming shows or exhibitions scheduled?
I do and I am really excited about them. Here are a few below:
Soundwork (Frieze NY)
Sculptural and photographic work (No Longer Empty)
Large scale sculptural installation and large scale photographic work (Pérez Art Museum Miami)
Please tell us about an artist, curator, activist, or project that has influenced you.
I am a big fan of Naomi Beckwith, Thelma Golden, Isolde Brielmaier, Connie Butler, the great Helen Molesworth and Trevor Schoonmaker as far as curators go. Although I have worked with so many great ones.
There are too many artists to even begin to answer that question. I love looking at art all the time. For me art is design, and it’s fashion, and it’s architecture, and sound, and food, it’s the landscape and theater and cinema. It’s all over and it touches everything.
As far as projects go.. Hmm, that’s also tough for me to narrow down. I can’t say a singular one. I don’t generally think in terms of favorites…Although I am very impressed by Toni Morrison or John Ashbery’s projects of writing the same way that I am influenced by Neil Young, Kanye West’s or Nina Simone’s projects of music production. I’m no good at narrowing down favorites.
Anything else you want to tell us?
I try to be a thankful person all day long.
ABOUT THE ARTIST
Xaviera Simmons’s body of work spans photography, performance, video, sound, sculpture and installation. She defines her studio practice, which is rooted in an ongoing investigation of experience, memory, abstraction, present and future histories-specifically shifting notions surrounding landscape, character development and formal processes, as cyclical rather than linear. In other words, Simmons is committed equally to the examination of different artistic modes and processes; for example, she may dedicate part of a year to photography, another part to performance, and other parts to installation, video, and sound works-keeping her practice in constant and consistent rotation, shift, and engagement.
Simmons received her BFA from Bard College (2004) after spending two years on a walking pilgrimage retracing the Trans Atlantic Slave Trade with Buddhist Monks. She completed the Whitney Museum’s Independent Study Program in Studio Art (2005) while simultaneously completing a two-year actor-training conservatory with The Maggie Flanigan Studio. Simmons has exhibited nationally and internationally where major exhibitions and performances include: The Museum of Modern Art, MoMA PS1, The Studio Museum In Harlem, The Contemporary Arts Museum Houston, The Public Art Fund, The Sculpture Center, The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum; David Castillo Gallery and The Savannah College Of Art and Design among many others.
Selected upcoming solo and group exhibitions for 2015 include a commissioned sound work for the 2015 iteration of Frieze, NY along with the exhibitions Accumulations, Light Work Syracuse, Foto, Annin Arts, London, Number 16, Kemper Museum Of Art, Kansas City, Radical Presence, Yerba Buena Center For The Arts, San Francisco, Where Do We Migrate To, Vamlands Museum, Sweden and When The Stars Begin To Fall, ICA Boston among many many others. Her works are in major museum and private collections including Deutsche Bank, UBS, The Guggenheim Museum, The Agnes Gund Art Collection, The Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, The Studio Museum in Harlem, MOCA Miami, The Nasher Museum Of Art at Duke University and The Perez Art Museum, Miami. Simmons is the recipient of significant and numerous awards including a 2015 Recipient of a Foundation for Contemporary Art Grants To Artists Award for Visual Art.