The Stephanie Armbruster Interview

Published On February 10, 2012 | By Kymbo Slice | Interviews, The Arts
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Hottie boombalottie Stephanie Armbruster is participating in the most recent batch of PCA‘s solo exhibits, which open tonight and run until April 22. We here at NakYouOut are a big fan of her work, so we decided to ask her about her upcoming show, titled “Hungry Ghosts”, the inspiration behind her work and her recent transition between studios. Here’s what this very interesting, creative and talented lady had to say.

This isn’t Stephanie’s first rodeo, as she’s participated in many exhibits throughout the years. Her last solo show, “In Search of Something More” at 709 Penn Gallery was very Pittsburgh-inspired, “a reckless commentary inspired by the absurdities of urban life, random encounters and the tension of the city in a state of flux”. She also recently had some pieces on display at Future Tenant during the last gallery crawl as part of the Brew House exhibit, “Distillate“.

“In many ways, I feel that this new series has finally allowed me to articulate an overarching theme that has always been present within my work. As I consider the evolution of my portfolio over time, these notions of memory and transition have always been present. The narrative of the work changes over time as my interests change, yet each image elaborates on this sense of a moment frozen in time.” And times are a changin’ for Ms. Armbruster, as she recently moved studios and finds herself in a very transitional period at the moment. “Having a studio in Braddock for almost five years was very influential to my work. The experiences that I had there and my impression of that place are things that I’ll continue to carry with me as my studio practice evolves. For me, Braddock is such a visual city. Much of my time there was spent working in the studio at night, taking in the sights and sounds of the mill. Being from the Cleveland area originally, Braddock reminded me of the industrial neighborhoods near home. I am always fascinated by cities and neighborhoods in transition. While I had many practical reasons for moving my studio, there is a part of me that will always miss UnSmoke Systems in Braddock.”

Stephanie attributes her participation in the Flight School fellowship program as a pivotal artistic undertaking. “Participating in the Flight School fellowship program was a great experience. I’m honored to be part of such a talented group of creative people and I am happy to see this kind of network forming in Pittsburgh. While my professional practice certainly benefited from the program workshops, I think the most valuable part of the experience for me was networking – the connections that I formed with other artists and professionals. The Creative Capital weekend retreat was one of the best experiences I’ve ever had and I’m thrilled that there are now connections between Creative Capital and the Pittsburgh arts community. I can’t recommend the Flight School fellowship program enough.”

In her most recent project, “Hungry Ghosts” Stephanie finds herself exploring the realm of transition, uncertainty, memory and experiences you can’t quite put into words. “The subject of these paintings is something that we cannot speak about. In Buddhist folklore, the hungry ghosts are spectral creatures that roam the Earth, tormented by cravings that they can never satisfy. These hungry ghosts cannot be seen, but their presence can be felt.” She experiments with layering, wax and graphite to create her latest collection. “The transitory nature of memory speaks to the ephemeral nature of encaustic as a medium. Each gestural mark is created by reworking layers of material – wax and graphite – scraped from the works themselves to then be reintroduced back into the surfaces of the paintings. Like layers of memory, certain elements become obscured, while others are exposed, rising ominously to the surface as if paused between actions. A series of moments frozen in time as experiences transition into memory.”

To me, Hungry Ghosts has a very melancholic tone, which surfaces as she describes the concept for the exhibit. “We live through our experiences, moment to moment, chasing them, trying to capture them and hold on to them like hungry ghosts – but all we are ever left with are memories.” Girlfriend, I think you could also do quite well as a poet.

Check out her show and 9 others tonight at the opening reception, which runs from 5:30 to 8PM at the Pittsburgh Center for the Arts, 6300 Fifth Avenue. See yous there!

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