Interview with Leah Rosenberg via In the Make: Studio Visits with West Coast Artists
“I am interested in philosophies around generosity and gift giving, perhaps because of the inherent impossibility of generosity and the failures that prevail in attempts to make artwork with the intention of generosity.
As I continued to bring cakes to class, I paid attention to the response. I started to think about what cake does and if painting can do that— can a painting be generous? I was also thinking a lot about the different aspects of consumption involved with cake and painting. With cake there is an end— it gets eaten or it rots. There is no end to a painting. It hangs on the wall for constant judgment.
…my conception of existence— that we are made up of concretions and layers of experiences: sorrows, joys, pains, loves, fears, hopes. All of these come together in my work, in a record of personal experience that is intended for all to share even though much of it remains hidden, sealed within the process of its own making. I apply incremental layers of paint as part of my daily routine: as I go to or return from work, or in the moments between making dinner and eating it, or before going to bed. I used to have a process of selecting colors based on personal systems, sometimes referring to the text of a book that I am reading or the lyrics of a song, reflecting shared meals, or bits of conversations overheard. Now, the process of selecting colors has become more of a personal exercise that relies on intuition, rather than referencing anything in particular. The stripes and the layers in my work are a kind of calendar: a registration of time and effort, an index of days and experience, rather than a full-blown autobiography.
What are your biggest challenges to creating art and how do you deal with them? How do you navigate the art world?
Time and confidence. The art world can get so competitive, so I try to remember that there is room for everyone. I stay working, and let people know that I’m working on stuff.
What are you most proud of?
Tough question. I guess I am proud when I accomplish something. When I realize I am making something that I have been thinking about for a while and I then find a way to put it out in the world.
What do you want your work to do?
To engage people. Make them happy. For it to continuously feed them in a way, I guess. And that I learn something new in the process of me making it.”