Conversation with the Artist: Sweetieboosh
Conversation with the Artist: Sweetieboosh
All images courtesy of the artist. Please do not use without permission.
Sweetieboosh is a mixed media artist in Long Beach, California, who is known for using discarded hunting mounts, furs, beads, sequins, and a wide range of other found objects to create magical, otherworldly, and captivating sculptures. Join us as Sweetieboosh talks us through the emotional process of making art and the narratives that drive her work forward.
MoB: Who are you, what do you do, and why do you do it?
The first object I made was a Pomo-style basket in a high school art course. The course was called native crafts and it had a profound impact on me. I collected willow branches and spent hours weaving strands of leaves around the branches. I remember the relaxing nature and connection to the process of weaving.
Perhaps this question is the perfect springboard for my artwork and of my purpose. I am someone who thinks about existentialism and its relationship to spiritual practices and beliefs, generally connected to indigenous cultures. Reverence.
I am interested in making work that elevates material and process beyond expectation. Beach trash, leather, beads, sequins, and almost anything else at my disposal can be manipulated and re-interpreted to beautify or break down an object’s form. I am passionate about ﬁnding new media to work with and creating bodies of work that are unique and open to interpretation. The result is art that surprises, seduces and sometimes unsettles the viewers relationship to any given piece. I am interested in blurring the line between ﬁne art and craft, and examining my own cultural experience in the process.
I attended Michigan State University for my BFA in studio art, focusing on ceramics. The duality in clay as a medium was alluring. The immediate feedback of clay with the forced surrender to the firing process was a duality I enjoyed engaging in. I studied abroad in Mexico and South Africa and then completed a Masters in ceramics in California. By this time, I was incorporating found materials and using liquid slip to sculpt forms, which turned into installations. I started focusing more on the history, story, and craftsmanship of the materials I was drawn to. I began collecting trash at the beach, pulling parts out of dumpsters, attending estate sales and I continue this process today.
I am intensely focused on making all types of things. In grad school, I lived in my car so I could spend every hour of every day in the studio. If you visit me today, there are two chairs in my home and the rest of the space is dedicated to projects. It is part of my mind that is always engaged. My purpose in life is to make things whether in the public eye or private.
MoB: What are the themes you explore in your work? What kinds of stories or things are you thinking about when creating your art?
Currently, as a subject, I am mesmerized by animals, from seeing animals as a child in Yellowstone, or on safari in Tanzania. Human relationships with animals are riddled with dualities.
The work itself is laced with symbolism yet this is not something I feel obligated to share or point out. I want the viewer to be captivated, to feel joy, delight, to connect to the moment, and for a minute be free of their own struggle. I enjoy providing the viewer with hidden materials, where they are staring at something, and then suddenly, they realize how I have reassembled something so familiar to them, and all the nostalgia comes flooding to the surface. My personal relationship to the materials, process, content, and outcome is a sacred personal path.
Repurposing is an act I delight in. The armatures I use have been damaged, and I give them a second life. The challenge or ease of seeing a material or object that can be reimagined reflects my own personality. Striving to see the good (heart) in others, no matter the act, or dilemma they may be caught in. To have grace towards human karmic scenarios, and myself is a constant narrative in my life and symbolically reflected in my work.
MoB: What are your inspirations and muses?
On a personal level, nothing and everything all at once, if you can understand that. Feelings inspire me and more specifically feeling overwhelmed by one’s own feelings. The studio has always provided a safe space for me to let feelings out, examine and process them, without judgment or denial.
My creative process is heavily material-driven. It is hard to shut down the possibilities train in the brain. Everything I see has some type of possibility. I enjoy estate sales for inspiration. Looking through the veil to see the remnants of a person’s material existence fascinates me.
MoB: Do you have any upcoming projects, concepts, and new work we should look out for?
I participate in The Other Art Fair as well as Start Up Art Fair, in California, New York and Texas. I will be participating May 20-23 at the Other Art Fair in Dallas this year.
- Heather Kahn