A Quick Miami Art Week Q&A with Visual Arts Alumna Laini Nemett

Thursday Dec 1st, 2016

Blog > A Quick Miami Art Week Q&A with Visual Arts Alumna Laini Nemett

Laini Nemett’s (2002 YoungArts Winner in Visual Arts) painting "Knockdown center” is on view in the YoungArts Gallery as part of the exhibition “When We Were Young,” featuring contemporary masterworks from the early years of the renowned JPMorgan Chase Art Collection paired with newly created works by four YoungArts Visual Arts alumni from across the country.

Please share a personal YoungArts memory with us.
YoungArts was about 15 years ago for me, so my time there feels like a wild blur. I still have a sweet memory of the first time J. Seward Johnson brought our whole group together and spoke to us about his career and what it was like to be a professional artist. I remember being amazed at everything he had been through, and everything he had accomplished in his life. We all sat around in total awe of this figure, but he was also very down to Earth and approachable. His enthusiasm for the idea of play is something that I still think about to this day.

Can you tell us a little about your current art practice please?
In my current work I combine collage, painting, and photography to create new environments. I merge structural details from different locations, and collapse time and different spatial planes into one composition that feels believable, yet may not be architecturally sound. To construct these places I typically build small cardboard models that become the reference point for my large scale paintings. 

Which work from the JPMorgan Chase collection did you choose to create your response piece to, and why?
It was hard to choose just one piece from this collection, but the one that resonated with me most in terms of my own work was Kenzo Okada's Ise. I felt a kinship with his compositional sensibility, and I read his abstract painting similarly to how I navigate urban environments. I was also drawn to Berenice Abbott's Multiple Beams of Light from a Source. Her fascination with the way light bounces off a surface is similarly often what first excites me about a scene and makes me begin a painting.

Can you tell us more about the new work you created for “When We Were Young?”
I used Okada's composition as a starting point for my painting, and took my own imagery from a building with a central skylight that reflected off of metal beams, which reminded me of Abbott's prism light study. I collapsed indoor and outdoor scenes into one view that referenced the composition of Okada's Ise. For instance, I used the triangular joint of the metal trusses on the left of my painting to mimic the large triangle entering the left edge of Okada's canvas (and to allude to Abbott's prism). The large blue skylight in the top center referred to Okada's white central square. The angles of light and shadow on the ground in my painting was informed by the geometry of the bottom third of his work. As a nod to the Japanese sensibility and thoughtful attention to form, I considered each compositional line and shape while making this response piece. 

What are you looking forward to the most for Art Basel Miami Beach 2016?
I am excited to see Untitled, which I've heard awesome things about for the past few years, and NADA. NADA is always one of my favorite fairs during Armory Week in New York and I imagine there is just as interesting work at its Miami Beach location. I'm most looking forward to being surprised by work I'm not expecting, which is always the goal for these fairs. 

To see Laini's work, please join us through December 4th on the YoungArts Campus or visit her website.