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Cassie Suche

Artist: Cassie Suche
Photographer: Electrify

I’ve Never Seen Math as Separate From Art

We caught up with Calgary-based artist Cassie Suche for some delicious eats at Tandoori Grill in Nelson, BC and dove into her artistic process so that we can learn more about her new mural, “Vanishing Point”.

What influences/inspires you as an artist, and what themes can we expect to find in your work?

I am really interested in natural patterns and manufactured patterns. So, I’m really interested in the comparisons between tech and nature and where we see instances of repetition and pattern in both. I think there are really interesting comparisons and contrasts between both tech and nature. The main themes you can find in my work are geometry, mathematics, and pattern repetition. Recently I’ve also been noticing a lot of transitions and gradients cropping up in my work. I often work with instances of incremental change and that’s kind of what drives a lot of the aesthetics of my work.

That sounds a bit mathematical!

Definitely! I like math, and I have never been afraid of it. I think it’s interesting that it’s a common thought pattern that the sciences and the arts are separate because I’ve never seen math as separate from art.

Are there certain techniques or tools you use when creating your artwork?

Yeah! I actually love making my own tools, it’s one of my favourite things. A lot of my work I make my own stencils, or my own stamps, and I like working in an orderly way that brings in something organic. Working with materials or working with organic matter in an orderly way, so if you look at my work you can often see that underneath there’s an underlying grid or pattern. You can see how it’s made; that’s my M.O. I have a hard time working very intuitively. Some people can go all free form and they “feel” like this colour should go here, but for me, that process irks me. But their work doesn’t irk me! That type of work can be really beautiful. I just have a hard time doing that myself.

Tell us about the piece you are creating in Nelson!

It’s a pretty playful piece; bright colours, so it can have a lot of longevity. And the shape of the wall, I think it was Amber (NIMF curator) who first suggested I have it wrap around the corner and I thought that was a super cool idea, so I kind of worked with that as my initial criteria. It’s really interesting, because when you look at the wall there’s the mountains in the back, so I think depending on the season it’s going to be quite bright and stand out because of the yellows, purples, and pinks. The mural is always going to contrast whether it’s snowy and grey in the back or lush and green. But yeah, it’s cool since there are no hard lines on the edge of the artwork (well there are but they aren’t straight and rectangular). I think it’s going to be really interesting as a shape sitting on the wall, rather than so much of an image, it’s more of a growing form on the wall, wrapping around it. I’m quite excited about this one. I’m really enjoying it so far!

Does painting a mural differ from creating artworks in your studio, in terms of artistic process, subject matter, and leaving the piece behind in a public space? Why/why not?

Yeah! It definitely does. I’d say the first thing that makes a big difference is the scale. So, when you’re working at a scale that’s bigger than yourself, it’s a lot more physically involved, and I think it’s a more immersive experience to create that kind of work. You’re kind of climbing on it, over it, and around it, so that’s really great. The other thing is, it’s in “its” place, so, it’s made for it wherever it’s going, so it’s kind of a specialized piece that way. And knowing it’s in public, there are a few things that make it different from studio work. For one, colour-wise, you want it to last, so you want to use bright, inviting colours and really take the surroundings into consideration. What’s going to make sense there? What’s the context of the building and the place it’s in? There are a lot of other factors you bring in when you are doing a site-specific, public piece of art. But definitely, scale is an important one. There’s a lot of really fun stuff you can do when you’re making something super big.

Have you got any examples of other pieces you’ve done where you had to get involved physically with the wall?

Yeah totally! I think you get involved with every piece. Like, the texture of it, you just really get to know it. You’re around it. It’s just a different relationship to the work when it’s bigger than you. I always think with murals and public art, it’s not you and the work; it’s always a team that has put it together. You work with building owners, festival coordinators, and lots and lots of other people. So it’s more of a collective project, than just you, your pen and your paper.

Rumour has it that you’ve been involved with Calgary’s BUMP festival; how does that “behind the scenes” work compare to participating in a festival as an artist?

So I was a project coordinator for BUMP last year, which involved all sorts of stuff; whatever needed to be done, I was doing it! It felt really good to build something in my community and to facilitate other artists and support the arts—which I care about a lot— so that was really rewarding. And for me at this moment in my career, I want to dedicate most of my time to making, so it also feels really good to step away and focus on making art (like I’m doing right now at this festival).

There are always people who say they “don’t understand art” or “don’t know how to look at it”. What advice would you give to those who need/want some guidance with experiencing artwork?

I would say there is no right way or wrong way to interpret art and it shouldn’t feel like you have to “get it”. If something speaks to you, then fuck yeah! It doesn’t have to be an exclusive thing. If you like something, you can just like it. Don’t overthink it! And if you don’t like it, that’s fine too.

You can find “Vanishing Point” behind CIBC Wood Gundy, across the street from Oso Negro (you can’t miss it, it wraps around the side of the building!)

Interviewer: Ingrid Love – 2019

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