While she may boast the attributes of being both female and an artist, 29-year-old New York-based artist Alice Lancaster is most definitely not a ‘female artist’. PETRIe contributor Erin Kelleher sits down with her to find out why - and to discuss the inspiration behind feminism and vaginas.
Erin Kelleher: As a woman that writes, I often get grouped into the realm of the ‘female writer’. How do you feel about being called a ‘female artist?’
Alice Lancaster: Although I consider myself a feminist, I don’t like the idea of segregating male and female artists the way a lot of women have been doing in recent years. We are all equal and separating ourselves from male artists in terms of shows only pushes us further away from being treated as equals. I much prefer simply being called an artist, no precursor attached.
EK: I just saw the Egon Schiele exhibition at the Neue Galerie in New York. Are you a fan of Schiele’s work?
AL: I love Schiele’s work. I haven’t seen the show yet, but it’s on my list of things to do.
EK: Do you create male nudes as well as female? (I’ve seen your Cock Painting, but I’m talking full male nudes).
AL: Men’s bodies are so boxy. I’m reminded here of a scene in Seinfeld where Jerry and Elaine are discussing the male physique. Elaine contends that male bodies are purely utilitarian - “like a Jeep.” I suppose that painting a male figure would be a good way to challenge myself, but I am content painting females for now.
EK: What is your favourite medium to work with?
AL: Until recently, I always used acrylic paint. When I started using oils, I would treat it like acrylic. I wouldn’t want the different colours to touch and I didn’t have the patience to wait for the paint to dry. It’s been challenging, but I’ve learned to work with it the way it’s supposed to be used and now I love it.
EK: What are some projects that you’ve been working on recently? Do you have any upcoming shows or projects that you’re excited about?
AL: I was recently asked by Lyndsey Butler, owner of VEDA, a store that specialises in amazing leather-wear, to hand-paint five leather jackets. I decided to paint portraits of people I find inspiring, like Joan Didion, Patti Smith, and Frida Kahlo (and the others will be men, I promise).
EK: Who inspires you?
AL: Niki de Saint Phalle, Willem de Kooning, Richard Diebenkorn, Cecily Brown, and, recently, fellow New York artist, Eddie Martinez. I’m obsessed with Philip Glass - I listen to him everyday. I also listen to a lot of Blood Orange. Dev Hynes is so talented and one of the nicest people I know. I don’t know how to read yet, so I can’t name any favourite authors, but I’m working on it.
EK: How would you define your artistic style?
AL: Erotic and linear.
EK: Where do you see yourself in 20 years?
AL: In a five-story townhouse with a brood of lizards somewhere in New York City.
Words: Erin Kelleher
Photography: Sam Evans-Butler
Styling: Alison Marie Isbell
Artist: Alice Lancaster