An Interview with MAP Imprint Artist Nathan Danilowicz by Cara Ober

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After holding its second annual IMPRINT competition, Maryland Art Place announced the 2013 winner: Nathan Danilowicz, a Los Angeles-based artist. The program was launched in 2012 to feature one contemporary artist through the sale of a limited edition of an inkjet print. Prints are sold through MAP and once the sales reach the edition of 100, they will no longer be available. (Quaternity #1286, 5×5″ is pictured at the top.)

Danilowicz’s pen and ink piece selected from MAP’s juried call is part of his Quaternities series, a body of work that includes over 1300, 3 X 3 inch, daily, geometric drawings. The images act as mandalas, or Sanskrit circles, and signify ritual and spiritual meaning for the artist. Danilowicz’s additional sculptures and paintings are all inspired by this series of small drawings.

Although it may seem strange for an LA-based artist to exhibit in Baltimore, Danilowicz has local connections. He earned a BFA from MICA in 2002 before moving on to receive an MFA from the University of California, LA in 2007. Since that time, Danilowicz’s career has progressed steadily upwards. He was a MacDowell Colony Fellow in 2009, with solo exhibits at RAID Projects, Latned Atsär, and Crisp London/Los Angeles. Numerous group exhibitions include shows the Hammer Museum, Torrance Art Museum, and Cal State University’s Luckman Gallery.

Danilowicz_Nathan_02Jel Yf Nrt Siamd, 2012, 30×24″

While at MICA, the artist studied art history and theory with T.J. Demos as well as poetry with John Yau. He has worked as a studio assistant for Jason Rhoades and later for Mike Kelley. More recently, he has collaborated on text/image projects with writer and theorist Lawrence Rickels as well as fiction writer Brian Evenson.

The annual IMPRINT series was launched last spring at MAP’s Out of Order benefit, but the edition will remain available for purchase for a year and featured in an online archive. Danilowicz’s print will be up at tomorrow’s Under 500 Fundraising Event at MAP, along with small affordable works by sixty local artists. After participating for close to a year as a MAP IMPRINT artist, Danilowicz agreed to have a discussion with Bmoreart about his work, the program, and the direction his career has followed since leaving MICA.

Danilowicz_Nathan_16 |>PURIOCTN, 2012, 18×18″

Cara Ober: How did you come to be aware of the Maryland Art Place Imprint Competition?

Nathan Danilowicz: I saw a posting for it on Facebook. Despite my mixed feelings about participating on that website, I do get a lot of my news from it, and that’s also where I learn about a lot of opportunities such as the IMPRINT competition. That being said, I generally keep an eye on what is happening in the Baltimore art scene. Since I lived in Baltimore for about 5 years, I still have friends who live there and MAP has had a strong presence in that city for a long time, so they deserve one’s attention.

CO: Since you’ve graduated from MICA with a BFA in 2002, what have you been doing and where?

ND: Right after MICA I moved to Miami and got into the art scene there. I know some artists who went to Miami’s New World magnet school for art. A lot of those kids move to Baltimore to do get their undergrad degrees at MICA. I ended up working for Frederic Snitzer gallery and I was in Miami for the first Art Basel Miami Beach. After living in Miami for a year I moved back home to focus on my grad school applications, to kind of fill out my portfolio.

I had applied to grad school during my final year at MICA but I was only accepted to one program, a creative writing program, but I didn’t really want to go there, so I waited. I had always wanted to move out west and I really liked UCLA’s program and faculty, so I decided to apply there. In the meantime, I moved back to Baltimore while I was waiting to hear back from the schools that I had applied to. I was working at the Baltimore Museum of Art on the grounds crew, and one day I got a call on my cell phone from Chris Burden and he asked me if I wanted to attend UCLA. I said yes.

Danilowicz_Nathan_11Chapel Series, Installation at MacDowell Colony, 2008, variable

Danilowicz_Nathan_12Jdeso-PTLF, 2012, 48×75″

CO: A decade later – do you have any advice for current MICA students or recent BFA graduates?

ND: Well, that’s a tough question because there are so many disciplines at MICA and everyone has different goals and aspirations. In general I would say be persistent and just keep exploring and making work. Also if you want to get anywhere you have to participate in the broader discussion and be a bit social. That does not come easy to a lot of artists, certainly not to me, but the idea that someone will stumble upon your brilliant work and come knocking on your door, well it doesn’t really work that way…. unless you’re Henry Darger, but then you’re already dead. Although that is not to say that just making art isn’t fulfilling enough. You don’t have to have a public profile if you don’t want one. It’s about doing what makes you happy. If you don’t feel comfortable going to all of the various social engagements, don’t go. Don’t put yourself through that.

CO: After you were chosen as the MAP Imprint Artist, how did this affect your career? What did the process entail?

ND: That remains to be seen. So far it has increased the exposure of my work in Baltimore, and MAP has made some sales of my prints, so that is good. MAP has a lot of programming so there is always a reason to go there. These kind of things- shows, awards, editions, events, residencies, are all notches on the belt. It may take months or even years for the bigger returns to come. That’s another thing for young people to remember- the relationships you build today might be fruitful many years down the road. A student who curates a show at one of the small galleries at MICA may one day be a gallerist or a museum director. Someone who bought one of my prints may buy one of my paintings a few years from now. Or maybe a writer, such as you, Cara, will come along and want to write about my work or interview me. One thing leads to another and it’s good to keep that in perspective and not expect the world to come to you all at once. Challenging work takes a long time to understand, and it may not be embraced until much later, but it’s usually the better work and the more fulfilling experience.

Danilowicz_Nathan_04Sugseh Arynbthi, 2012, 70×59″

CO: Aww thanks! Was the experience of working with MAP a positive one? What are your opinions or reactions to the partnership?

ND: Working with MAP was great. They are really professional. The process was pretty streamlined and fluid. We discussed printing methods, sizes, edition size, pricing, all the boring details, but it was a really pleasant experience. It was the kind of thing where you could tell that they were working just as hard as you to complete the project.

CO: What are you currently working on in your studio and what are your upcoming projects or shows?

ND: I am working on large paintings. All of my paintings are based on my smaller drawings. It’s become very self-referrential, or all-internal as I like to refer to it. In fact, I recently completed a painting that is based on the drawing that MAP used for the edition. It turned out really great. I have some group shows coming up, a benefit auction at the Santa Monica Museum of Art, and just today I learned that the latest edition of New American Paintings is on the newsstands, so to speak, and my work will be featured inside. It’s issue #109 Pacific Coast. I’m excited about that.

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