In this episode, I interview Soledad Arias, an artist in New York who works as a medical interpreter. Originally from Buenos Aires, Argentina, Soledad has lived in NYC for almost 20 years. Being bilingual, her life, artwork, and (luckily) her job revolve around language. She is interested in exploring the human condition through the medium of speech.
At a time when words seem to be thrown around blindly, accelerated by the speed of social media, Arias reminds us of the importance of empathy, practicing emotional listening, and that meaning and specificity still matter.
The 8th episode of Not a Hobby features Cathy Fairbanks, an artist living and working in Los Angeles who truly sees herself as having a dual career as a nurse and an artist.
She primarily works in sculpture, specifically ceramics. But her work doesn’t really look like traditional ceramics — they kind of morph into wonky-yet-delicate assemblages with materials like papier-mâché.
The seventh episode of Not A Hobby features Houston artist Tommy Gregory. As a sculptor and curator, he is a relentless advocate for having the public engage with art. Though his own work might not be so public-friendly, dealing with topics like sex and religion, he continues to champion public art and tirelessly organizes exhibitions across Texas. After getting his MFA from UTSA, he landed a job at the City of San Antonio as their public art specialist. He then moved to Houston to be the project manager for public art at the Houston Arts Alliance. Currently, he’s the public art program curator and interim director at the Houston Airport Systems.
“I never looked at art as a job…it just seemed like something that just happened.”
If you are in San Antonio, make sure to check out his latest co-organized exhibition “Referendum” at Flight Gallery. See more work by Tommy Gregory on his website.
The sixth episode of Not A Hobby features Rahul Mitra. He was born in Hyderabad, India, and lives in Houston. His work is heavily drawing based – mostly black ink on paper – through which he’s created his own visual vocabulary. He sees his work much like notes and his drawings like an extension of his handwriting. Rahul is also a scientist. He is the program director at The Center for RNA Interference and Non-Coding RNAs at the MD Anderson Cancer Research Center in Houston. RNA, or ribonucleic acid, is one of the three major biological macromolecules that are essential for all known forms of life. They are the messenger between our DNA and the ability to produce proteins. A non-coding RNA is a RNA molecule that is not translating between DNA and protein production. So the idea is to introduce non-coding RNA into cells to disrupt production of particular proteins and whatever gene expression they trigger or suppress. Thus non-coding RNA can be targets to treat cancer.
All of this is to say that Rahul is pretty with it – looking at things on such a molecular level, testing out theories that might never come to fruition and all the while looking at society as a whole understanding how external forces can influence us on the microscopic level.
“There is commercial success, success as seen by your peers, or success as you see yourself. And I think, as an Artist, you should fail in all of them to be successful.”
The fifth episode of Not A Hobby is a little different than the previous interviews – my guest is Dirk Rathke, an artist living and working in Berlin, Germany, and he does not have a full time job that he balances with his art career. But I wanted to interview him anyway because I feel like there’s a fascination among the artist community in the U.S. that longingly looks to their European colleagues. There is a sense that the funding and general support from the European governments for their artists is much more generous, so that the artists are able to focus full-time on their art career without having to take second (or even third) jobs.
Dirk is a painter and has lived in Berlin for quite some time. He was in Houston for an exhibition recently and I wanted to ask him some frank questions about what the artist assistance situation is really like in Germany. You’ll be surprised how familiar it all sounds despite, some glaring differences.
“It’s a little bit like a game; you can have good luck or bad luck, and it’s difficult to push your luck.”
I launched a new podcast on Glasstire called Not A Hobby, which features interviews with artists who balance a full-time job and an art career. For these people, being an artist is not just a something you do in your leisure time.
Episode 1 features an interview with Solomon Kane. He’s an artist who has lived in Houston all of his life and has had one of the most unusual jobs for someone in the art world – he’s been a police officer for the last 25 years.