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ART SMART: AN INTERVIEW WITH QUINN GOMEZ-HEITZEBERG
Fresno Famous: As part of ICCA, which had space at H Street and now Corridor 2122, you've been involved in the "collective" Fresno art scene for some time. What motivates you to work in a group like the ICCA, as opposed to individually?
Quinn Gomez-Heitzberg: The initial involvement was for financial reasons. It's easier to find a large space that can be shared by several artists than to find an affordable single studio. That being said, there was no real hesitation for us to come together as a group. As soon as we had the space it became more than just a way to make the rent. Corridor is the same way. Now that we have an exhibition space, there is a real desire to work on collaborative projects and find ways for what we do to inform each other's work.
FF: Has working in a collective environment influenced your work? How?
QGH: ICCA motivated me to make work in the first place. At the time ICCA came about, I was focused on art history and criticism, so I had planned to just keep a desk and hang around and write while people made art. But being down there started me thinking about what I could do with my own studio space.
FF: What do you think it was that made you want to become an artist?
QGH: I grew up with art. Both my parents have made and taught art my entire life. I think I started my own studio practice because I realized that I could. I have always thought about art, but needed to make the commitment to being an artist.
FF: What disciplines did you begin with? Aside from you parents, what have been your biggest influences?
QGH: My formal education was in anthropology. I have never taken studio art classes, although I have studied quite a bit of art history and theory. Although it may sound a bit cliché, my biggest artistic influence is Marcel Duchamp. The way he used his audience's expectations to subvert the meaning of art has a lot to do with how I approach my own work.
FF: For last Art Hop, someone at Corridor did an installation of a voting booth. There are very few installation artists in Fresno; what draws you to the medium?
QGH: Actually, that was Edward Lund's piece. But my work was also an installation. I'm interested in the immersive qualities of installation art. The experience of being within a work of art and interacting with it allows a different connection to the ideas presented. When you move through an installation you become implicated in what is going on. You must consider your own role in the work rather than being a passive viewer.
FF: How would you describe this month's exhibit, "Rollback"? What was the inspiration?
QGH: The idea for "Rollback" came from an NPR show on "The Power of Wal-Mart." A caller was describing the lobby where vendors wait to see Wal-Mart buyers. Apparently, the space consists of rows of metal folding chairs and a receptionist's desk. The idea that the world's largest corporation would exercise their power over their vendors in such a blatant an unnecessary way was intriguing to me. The more I read about Wal-Mart, the more I wanted to do a piece on them. But the idea of the lobby full of folding chairs has been my main inspiration.
FF: In your description of the exhibit, it says that "Rollback addresses our reliance on corporate power." What exactly do you mean by "reliance on corporate power?"
QGH: I mean that our economy, and all our livelihoods are dependant on large corporations staying profitable. We may not like Wal-Mart, or McDonalds, or any other corporation, but they are so entrenched in our economic system that their failure would damage countless other businesses and institutions. I am not trying to present judgments about whether corporations are good or bad, but I do hope people will be more mindful about what they are supporting when they go shopping.
FF: What role do you think art should play in social activism? The Voting Booth work, Ed Lund's last exhibition, seemed to be an overt call for political action.
QGH: I think there is a role for art to provide information about social issues in different formats and in different media. It is one thing to read about something in the paper, but to experience it through an installation or to see it illustrated through a photograph allows you to understand it in a different way. I don't think art should beat you over the head with an agenda. I think ambiguity is an important element. I would rather have the audience work something out in their own time than tell them what to think.
FF: Besides installations, what other media do you work in?
QGH: I also work in digital photography. I will be showing photos at Corridor in January along with Yumi Kinoshita, another ICCA founder.
FF: Is there anything else you'd like us to know about yourself or your work?
QGH: I'm sure there is, but I think I've said enough already.