Spotlight On: Chloe Friedlein

Chloe is an artist studying in the BFA program at PSU who contributed to Pathos Literary Magazine in the Spring 2018 edition, including the cover art. We asked her some questions about her artistic processes and her current projects.

Fight or Flight

Q: Where do you draw inspiration from?

A: I think that there is a misconception when it comes to artistic “inspiration.” Very seldom is an artist struck with an idea or a method of making something that fits the idea of what most people consider to be inspiration.

As an artist, I embark on this thing called artistic research. This practice is a means of observation and study that allows the artist to constantly be thinking about and considering them-self and the world around them—and what they have to say about it. Personally, I draw on my experiences and my relationships with others—particularly survivors of gun violence—when making.

On October 1st, 2015, I survived a mass shooting. Experiencing this tragedy and living with the subsequent trauma that accompanied it drastically changed me and my artistic practice.

My work has become inherently process oriented. When starting a piece-if it’s an etching, monotype or drawing—I allow myself to explore the surface in ways that feel instinctive and natural. My physical movements echo the large overarching emotions that consume me, and then fine details layered on top of this larger visual expression are indicative of meditation and self reflection.

Q: What do you do about creative blocks?

A: Creative blocks are inevitable, even with the practice of artistic research. I often find that switching mediums or methods of working help me break through creative blocks. So as a printmaker, I may switch to drawing or oil painting, or even conceptual sculpture for a brief period. This often frees up my mind to think about printmaking in a different way–or I just eventually miss it so much that I travel back to it instinctively.

Q: What projects are you currently working on?

A: I am currently developing my senior BFA project, which is a collaboration between myself and a group of gun violence survivors. I am conducting interviews with people, and from these interviews I am constructing a variety of etched abstract portraits that echo who these survivors are and their experiences.

I am also applying for several grants and awards that will allow me to travel and collect stories and collaborate on these works face to face.

A side project to this is an anonymous book of confessions from survivors of gun violence centered on the question: “If I could tell (the world, my mom, my children, my neighbor, America, etc.) anything, I would tell them…”. This can take the form a poetry, a collage, drawings, anything that feels natural to the specific individual is welcome.

Q: What are your goals?

A: My big, life-long goal is to help start difficult conversations about gun sense and affect positive change in our community.

Although right now, I’m focused on graduating with my BFA and applying to MFA programs. Ideally, I’d love to teach once finishing an MFA, as well as continue my own artistic practice and advocacy efforts. I’ve always had a desire to help foster a love of art in others and one of the ways I can accomplish that is through teaching.

Q: Do you have any advice for other artists?

A: Don’t stop making art.

It is easy to look at what other artists, or your peers are doing and feel the weight of imposter syndrome–to feel as though we might not belong or aren’t good enough. I think that it is important for us to remember that all artists, especially those of us in school, are constantly learning and growing. It is totally okay and completely human to not have it figured out.

These feelings can drive us to quit making art and pursue another field of study, or they can help foster growth and further our artistic practice.