5 Questions profiles SAIC students and faculty at work, in the school and beyond. This month, Paula Calvo spoke with Elnaz Javani, a second-year Master of Fine Arts student in Fiber and Material Studies.
What are some of the materials that you work with?
My work is done mostly with fabric for its resemblance to the body. Fabric can be molded, lacerated, torn, wrinkled, shapeless, and sewn in the way of skin. It bears the marks of its experiences and is feminine in its sensitivity and refinement. I love the aspect of handling the materials and the play of how it feels in my hands; it is a very tactile experience. As such, I explore what the material will do naturally on its own, but also experiment with ways in which I can enhance its potential, such as its surface quality. I enjoy the challenge of getting the material to do what I want it to do.
What was the most inspiring or influential exhibition you’ve seen in the last six months?
I usually go to the Art Institute of Chicago. I don’t go to galleries much. I think museums are more inspiring and they are more comforting, encouraging. Last week I was at the Art Institute to see El Greco’s Apostle St. James the Less painting. It was spectacular; it was even more so in person. Using typically dark, moody colors. I fell in love with the way he painted those hands.
Your artist statement describes an interest and approach to “things that offend you.” What would those “things” be and how are they reflected in your work?
My fears: fear of silence, forgetting things, fear of rejection, involvement, and dependency. I fear the predatory quality of people, asking me for more than I can give. Fear of violence, game, red, fear of words. Fear of the unconscious. My fears keep me in the studio, working and exorcising fear. I have to reassure myself again and again; all the time, how I can conquer fear. The fears are those “things” that I’m trying to find the answers to in my work.
Your work is also focused on creating an environment for the viewer. Is there an artist whose environment-based works you would
By saying “environment,” I mean to create a space or an environment for that viewer to become immersed in the work, so that they become part of the environment of work and are able to experience it on their own terms. There are so many artists, for example, Mona Hatoum — I think her works truly represent it in the best way.
What are five words you would use to describe yourself to someone you’ve just met?
Passionate, innovative, stubborn, sensitive, care-so-much.
Learn more about Elnaz’s work at her website: elnazjavani.com