Aleah Chapin

Aleah Chapin

Aleah Chapin is one of a kind. The artist from Washington State, who currently lives and works in Brooklyn, calls a woman’s body a map of her journey through life. She makes sure to capture that map accurately in her portraits, work which will either shock you, take your breath away … or both. Experience her work for yourself.

Transcript

Sandi: Welcome to another edition of Conversations with Creative Women. I’m Sandi Klein. I have no doubt, that after today’s conversation with artist Aleah Chapin, you’ll want to experience her work up close and personal, because, her combination of intimacy and natural realism will either take your breath away, or shock you.

Born in 1986, Aleah grew up on Whidbey Island, which is north of Seattle. She began painting as a child. She got her BFA from Cornish College of the Arts in 2009 and MFA three years later from the New York Academy of Arts. That same year, 2012, Aleah became the first American woman artist, and the youngest, to win first place in the BP Portrait Award Exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery in London. Her award winning painting, Auntie, is a nude portrait of a family friend who the artist has known forever. It was the first in the Auntie’s project, a series of large scale portraits of women who have been part of her life since birth. The work, says Aleah, examines her personal history through the people who have shaped it, and brings the beauty of realistic physiques rarely shown in our culture.

The portraits challenge the aging process. How the years impact our bodies and minds and how we’re supposed to behave at a certain age. She calls a woman’s body a map of her journey through life. She makes sure to capture that map accurately, even if it turns heads or raises eyebrows. Breasts droop, stomachs sag, thighs dimple.

Aleah’s work is liberating, controversial, empowering, humanizing, playful and beautiful. I couldn’t be more excited to talk to with her today.

Aleah, welcome.

Aleah: Thank you. It’s wonderful to be here.

Sandi: Even though you live and paint in Brooklyn, the subjects of your pictures are almost exclusively the older women of Whidbey Island. Being close and connected is one thing, painting them as they age is another. How did that evolve? Let me just say on my behalf, that I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t want to be out there in all my glory.

Aleah: [Laughing] Yeah, well, I think these wonderful women who I grew up around are a kind of particular type of person, who are more comfortable being nude than most women are. That’s something that I think I discovered later, actually, as I was painting them and realized so many people were like I could never do that. That was a lot of the reason why I wanted to paint them in the first place.

Sandi: But, how did that evolve? I mean, did you, you didn’t think, you know I think I want to paint these women who are so special to me in the nude.

Aleah: It started in graduate school. At the New York Academy. I was at a point where I didn’t really know what I wanted to do.

Sandi: Artistically.

Aleah: Artistically. I just decided to start at the very beginning. Like the very basics and just paint the people that I knew and people that I cared about and kind of see what happened from there. That was the beginning of it. A very, very simple way. I wasn’t really thinking that other people were going to see them besides my classmates.

Sandi: Hmm

Aleah: I really wasn’t sure what their reaction would be. I wasn’t really trying to think about the reaction, I just knew that I needed to do these paintings. Everything that has happened since then has been such a surprise.

Sandi: [Laughing]

Aleah: A wild, wild journey.

Sandi: Amazing, right.

Aleah: Yeah.

Sandi: So, what did you do? You take their photographs and then paint them from the photographs?

Aleah: Yeah. Yeah. The original, the first photoshoot, with I think I had about thirteen women, we were outside. It was August, so it’s good weather.

Sandi: Mm Hmm

Aleah: We just sort of played. I feel like during these photo shoots, it’s a lot of, it’s a collaboration between myself and the people that I’m painting. I’m not telling them a specific to do. I really want this energy and the life to come from them and what’s happening at the moment. Their reaction to the space and each other. We began just sort of playing around.

Sandi: Did they all know each other?

Aleah: Yeah. They’ve all known each other for quite a long time.

Sandi: So this was okay. There was that in common.

Aleah: Yeah.

Sandi: There was a comfort zone among them.

Aleah: Exactly.

Sandi: At the very least, clothed.

Aleah: [Laughing] Yeah.

Sandi: Because they had a history among them.

Aleah: Yeah.

Sandi: I need to know how this process began. Then it was we’re going to go out into this field and everybody strip.

Aleah: Yeah. [Laughing]

Sandi: No kidding. [Laughing] One painting of yours, a rather large portrait, which is called It Was the Sound of Their Feet.

Aleah: Mm Hmm

Sandi: First of all, I need you to describe that painting, and tell me how that evolved.

Aleah: That was a very, very interesting moment where they were just getting very, very playful. I can’t remember exactly what stage of the photoshoot this was, but they were just in a very, very playful phase. They were actually literally playing this game the little kids play. Where you make a tunnel with each other’s legs and then all crawl through. This painting is, there’s nine women and there’s eight of them that are standing and one is crawling through all of their legs. It’s, to me, this very, very playful joyful silly strange kind of dramatic moment that happened. Immediately when I saw it I just knew I had to do something with it. It took a couple years to actually do this painting, but once I did, I felt like it was the right time.

Sandi: It was not planned.

Aleah: Yeah. Exactly.

Sandi: That really seemed so natural.

Aleah: Because it is.

Sandi: Because it is.

Aleah: [Laughing] Which is exactly why I love using a camera is because you can capture those natural moments that aren’t forced and there’s so much life and joy that happens in the moment that we don’t always take the moment to recognize that. I feel like when you photograph something, and then once you spend a hundred plus hours painting it, there’s that just intensity of intentionality there. It brings a lot of focus to things we don’t normally pay attention to.

Sandi: Did you try to marry the women with the landscape?

Aleah: Yeah. A little bit. The landscape in that one is from my head. Most of them are from my imagination, even though I will photograph outside.

Sandi: And your memory too?

Aleah: And my memory. Yeah.

Sandi: Mm Hmm

Aleah: Memory and imagination just sort of piece together.

Sandi: Mm Hmm

Aleah: I don’t always know what’s going to happen in the environment around them before I paint them, and sometimes they will have environment, sometimes they won’t have one. The painting sort of tells me what it needs as I’m painting it.

Sandi: Let’s go back to Auntie. You said, Auntie, I want to paint you.

Aleah: Yeah.

Sandi: Naked.

Aleah: Yeah. [Laughing]

Sandi: And she said.

Aleah: And she said yes.

Sandi: And she said yes. Not you’re nuts.

Aleah: [Laughing] But also, not knowing that it would turn into what it was. We absolutely didn’t know that everything, all of this would have happened.

Sandi: That that was going to win you one hell of a prestigious award.

Aleah: I didn’t. I was just hoping to get into the show. I had no absolutely no idea that it would even be. Get in or even win. It was a really incredible big thing to happen.

Sandi: Were you encouraged to apply for this competition by your professors at New York Academy of Art?

Aleah: I don’t think so. It was just a competition I had known about for a long time. I just.

Sandi: And felt confident enough in your

Aleah: I guess I did. I felt like it was the right time.

Sandi: There were 2100 other contestants.

Aleah: Yeah.

Sandi: That’s huge.

Aleah: I know.

Sandi: Do you ever stand back and say I can’t believe this?

Aleah: Oh Yeah. Yeah. Absolutely. Actually, I have that painting right now in my studio because it’s one that I’ve kept and I’m going to keep. Forever. I haven’t actually had it in my studio since before I shipped it.

Sandi: Mm Hmm

Aleah: I just got it in last week. It is still shocking to me that this painting of this woman that I’ve known my entire life. Totally naked, was hanging in National Portrait Gallery. And actually effected people in such a real way.

Sandi: Mm Hmm

Aleah: All of the world. It’s been incredible.

Sandi: You’ve got a lot of power. In spite of the fact that didn’t a critic call your work “repellent”?

Aleah: Yeah. Yeah. That’s hard.

Sandi: It is hard.

Aleah: But that comes along with it.

Sandi: Do you find yourself having to defend your choices? Of work?

Aleah: Well, people won’t say those things to my face. I guess I don’t necessarily need to defend it. When, I feel like, with criticism like that it actually makes me want to work harder.

Sandi: Mm Hmm

Aleah: Make these paintings because they’re obviously things that, as a culture we need to look at. We need to think about. If someone’s going to call a natural real human body grotesque, then that’s

Sandi: Pathetic, isn’t it.

Aleah: That’s a good word. Yeah. That’s just not right and I feel like it pushes me to continue this work.

Sandi: If you’re just joining us, my guest today is realist portrait painter Aleah Chapin. You can see her work on her website, obviously. That’s Aleah, (A-L-E-A-H), Chapin, (C-H-A-P-I-N) dot com.  (Aleahchapin.com). For an artist like you, is the goal to sell Auntie to me? Would you expect me to hang that portrait in my living room?

Aleah: The goal was never to sell any of them actually. I didn’t think that I wouldn’t, but I just wasn’t thinking about that.

Sandi: Mm Hmm

Aleah: Actually, I made a very conscious decision during graduate school that I wasn’t going to think about selling anything. I knew that it was my only opportunity because as soon as I was out, I was going to have to

Sandi: You’re out. When you’re out, you’re out.

Aleah: Figure it out.

Sandi: Yeah. Uh Huh.

Aleah: So, I made a very conscious decision to just paint what I wanted to paint and not think would this look good in someone’s house. Would someone want to buy this? I actually thought the opposite. I really thought that no one was going to want to buy these paintings and yet they did. I’m incredibly fortunate to be able to just paint fulltime right now and have my own studio and live in New York. It’s been very surreal and wonderful.

Sandi: Give me the contrast of that. If you were not that “lucky”, I use the term in quotes. What would you be doing?

Aleah: Either teaching, although teaching jobs are very hard to get as well

Sandi: I would think.

Aleah: In New York.

Sandi: Uh Huh

Aleah: I was a barista. I made coffee for seven Years. Maybe I would be doing that.

Sandi: Wow.

Aleah: And painting at night.

Sandi: Uh Huh.

Aleah: I’d probably be making coffee and painting at night.

Sandi: You’re young.

Aleah: Twenty-eight.

Sandi: Would you consider yourself an anomaly in the art world? Based on your age?

Aleah: Yeah. [Laughing] It’s weird to say that, but Yeah. It’s all a lot harder than I thought it was. Growing up I sort of had this unrealistic idea, that just, belief that of course it’s going to work out somehow. I also knew how hard it was going to be but I just somehow knew that if I worked hard enough.

Sandi: It would work out.

Aleah: It would work out, and yet now I look back and I think how did I ever think that?

Sandi: You mean, you’re stunned at your own naivety?

Aleah: Yeah, exactly. I’m just stunned at how I just sort of had this blind optimism that it would work.

Sandi: I also have to assume that you knew you were talented.

Aleah: My teacher said I was good.

Sandi: Mm Hmm

Aleah: When I was younger, but

Sandi: You didn’t believe in yourself?

Aleah: I did, but I always struggled also because it was never good enough. That still happens.

Sandi: Mm Hmm. I bet.

Aleah: I think it has to always happen. Because, that’s how you get better. So, Yeah, I knew that this was the thing that I loved to do. Absolutely. That I got a lot out of emotionally and spiritually and just, I got so much out it. I knew it was something that I really wanted to do. I knew that it was something that I could do.

Sandi: Mm Hmm

Aleah: But it was also something that I could see, and still can see, how far I need to go and how far I can go. So I’m going to continue.

Sandi: What do you mean need to go?

Aleah: Just.

Sandi: Stretch yourself?

Aleah: Stretch myself. Yeah. I never feel like I’m completely there. Which, I feel like is a good thing.

Sandi: I agree.

Aleah: It could be too much, but I feel like I can always go somewhere with it, I can always go further.

Sandi: But you’re easy on yourself.

Aleah: Yeah. I’ll pat myself on the back.

Sandi: Excellent.

Aleah: When I need to. [Laughing]

Sandi: Excellent. Excellent.

Aleah: Yeah.

Sandi: I want to talk about some of your works. Jumanji and Gwen.

Aleah: Mm Hmm

Sandi: Now, that’s really an interesting portrait also. It’s a mother and a daughter.

Aleah: Yeah.

Sandi: Obviously, nude.

Aleah: Yeah.

Sandi: Standing next to each other, and the contrast is really stunning between the two women. The paintings really speak out. Whether you, one likes them or doesn’t like them.

Aleah: Mm Hmm

Sandi: That’s so the case, don’t you feel?

Aleah: I hope so.

Sandi: That they talk to you.

Aleah: Yeah.

Sandi: These women, without necessarily even having to do much. Just talk to you.

Aleah: That’s something I’ve discovered is that simplicity says a lot.

Sandi: Mm Hmm

Aleah: In that particular painting, it is a mother and a daughter. They’re standing there looking at us, their arms around each other. It’s a very, very simple painting and yet, for me, it was just incredible painting to do. Partially because I’ve known them my whole life.

Sandi: Mm Hmm

Aleah: Jumanji was my first friend in preschool. I’ve also painted Jumanji for Years. Probably in high school I would draw her. We would draw together also. It was very personal to me. But also seeing her and her mother next to each other and their similarities and how all of us kids. I’m just calling us kids.

Sandi: Mm Hmm

Aleah: This generation.

Sandi: Mm Hmm

Aleah: Are kind of moving up to kind of get to the age where our parents were when they had us. There’s this very interesting parallel.

Sandi: There are ties that bind. Despite the fact that they’re of two different generations, it doesn’t necessarily matter.

Aleah: Yeah.

Sandi: The connection’s very strong even though the women are just staring out at us. I think one has her arm draped around the other.

Aleah: Yeah.

Sandi: Yeah. I want to know how you do handle the criticism.

Aleah: First of all, I try not to read it too much.

Sandi: Mm Hmm

Aleah: I try not to read either things. Good things, bad things. I definitely read some stuff, but try not to let that rule my life.

Sandi: As in reviews?

Aleah: Yeah. Reviews and comments. You can’t avoid them, but

Sandi: I’m asking you the question, and I’m not letting you finish, but there must be tremendous positive reinforcement as in you have shows and galleries.

Aleah: Um Hmm

Sandi: Your work is huge. Physically large.

Aleah: Yeah.

Sandi: It must me unbelievable to walk into a space and see these huge portraits on the wall. Even for you.

Aleah: Yes. Sometimes I walk into my studio and I’m like, wow. These are pretty big. [Laughing]

Sandi: [Laughing] How’s that for understatement?

Aleah: [Laughing] Something that has been really incredible has been getting emails from people all over the world. I think, that is one of the things that has kept me going. Kept me strong against the criticism, the negative criticism that happens.

Sandi: Mm Hmm

Aleah: Is just getting these really personal emails from people all over the world telling me how the work has effected them in a very human real way. What more can you ask for as a creative person? Or as a person, to be able to impact.

Sandi: What an impact you’re having. Yes, your work is very impactful. What about your subjects? Have any of them regretted doing this? I was also reading about social media, and the internet for them. Who would think that my sagging breasts and rolled stomach are going to be everywhere?

Aleah: [Laughing]

Sandi: Google you, and those women are in your face.

Aleah: Yeah.

Sandi: You know?

Aleah: They are very, very, very brave women. When it all started, as I said, we didn’t expect this. None of us expected it to be anything that it is now. Since then, most of the models still pose for me. They know that it’s going to be on social media. And Google.

Sandi: Um Hmm

Aleah: And all over. I honestly don’t know how they do it. They’re incredibly brave. I’m very, very fortunate to have them.

Sandi: Well, they’ve become famous.

Aleah: [Laughing] Yeah.

Sandi: Even though I don’t know your name, I certainly recognize the wrinkles. It’s the fact that we just, this is what happens. We get older.

Aleah: Mm Hmm

Sandi: That’s the natural progression.

Aleah: Yeah.

Sandi: How we have fought this. It’s not new to my generation. It’s not new to your generation. Hopefully you’re providing, how’s this, a public service, in addition to your

Aleah: I hope so.

Sandi: Your artistic ability?

Aleah: I hope so.

Sandi: You’re not only doing older women. I think of the woman who’s very, very pregnant with a tattoo.

Aleah: Mm Hmm

Sandi: So, that your stomach, [Stomach, Laughing]

Aleah: [Laughing]

Sandi: Your subjects now span generations.

Aleah: Yeah.

Sandi: Which obviously to you was this natural transition, right?

Aleah: Yeah.

Sandi: I just don’t want to paint women only of a certain age.

Aleah: Yeah. Exactly. I wanted. I realized that this sort of issue of beauty and expectations is not only of a certain age. I feel like women of that age have been invisible, so this is definitely something that I feel like needs to be seen. Also, I mean, women my age and me personally. I’ve struggled with body image. I know that I’m definitely not alone in that. I want to paint people and real people.

Sandi: Mm Hmm

Aleah: In every age.

Sandi: Mm Hmm. Has anybody every turned you down?

Aleah: Yeah, I’ve had some people, some people say no. I try to let people offer. I’ve had some people offer as well, which is really wonderful when they offer to pose for me.

Sandi: Does there have to be some kind of connection that you feel towards your subject? Obviously you knew these women from Washington State. But, what if I walked in to your studio?

Aleah: I feel like I have to know them.

Sandi: Have a sense of them.

Aleah: Yeah.  Have a sense of them. There’s, when I’m painting them, I’m not only trying to make it accurate and make it realistic but I’m also trying to get a sense of who they are. Sort of a feeling of who they are. I feel like I have to know them.

Sandi: Of course.

Aleah: Know them a little bit.

Sandi: If you’re just joining us, my guest today is Aleah Chapin, realist portrait artist. Is that how you like to be defined?

Aleah: Yeah. In any way, but Yeah, probably realist.

Sandi: What’s the process like? You are going to paint me, I pose in your studio, or are we, maybe we’ll go outside?

Aleah: Well, outside is the best, but in New York City in January.

Sandi: Yeah, that’s limiting. [Laughing]

Aleah: [Laughing]

Sandi: Although no one would probably look twice.

Aleah: [Laughing]

Sandi: If we were on some bridge, and I was naked whatever but, go ahead?

Aleah: So.

Sandi: Take us through because I’m not an artist.

Aleah: I’ll take many, many, many photographs. Let’s say a hundred to five hundred photos.

Sandi: And you do the shooting?

Aleah: Yeah. Yeah. Absolutely.

Sandi: So it’s just me and you.

Aleah: Yeah.

Sandi: Mm Hmm

Aleah: Or, it could be a whole group of people that I’m photographing together.

Sandi: Right, but you’re

Aleah: I’m the only photographer, and that’s really important to me because I want the model to be reacting to me and because it’s me who’s going to be painting them. With the Auntie’s, they watched me grow up so I feel like their reaction and their body language, it’s all very, very subtle. I feel like that is going to be different if they were posing in front of someone they didn’t know. Some stranger.

Sandi: Of course.

Aleah: Would be very different than posing in front of me. So, I’ll take many photographs. I will just sort of look through them and see which, see what pops out. I’m so surprised sometimes. That’s why I love the cameras because I get these moments that are so completely them, but in ways that I wouldn’t have necessarily noticed or seen. I try to look for those moments. Something that speaks to me.

Sandi: Mm Hmm

Aleah: Then, I just dive right in to the big painting. I’m fairly impatient so I don’t like to do studies. I’m just so excited about the painting that I just want to get to doing the big painting. With paint, I’ll just sort of do a drawing of the figure. Sometimes, with these larger paintings, I’ll do maybe like a 1×1 foot grid to get all nine figures on the canvas in the right place. Then I can really focus on the specifics of them. I’ll do an underpainting in this really wonderful color that’s called Cinellia-brown-pink. It is this sort of intense yellow/green color. Kind of an intense moss.

Sandi: Mm Hmm

Aleah: I’ll do an underpainting in that and let that dry. The underpainting is pretty loose and pretty simple. Then I just dive right in with color. Fairly small brushes as well. Just layer after layer after layer after layer and maybe six weeks later there’s a painting. I feel like I know when it’s done.

Sandi: Mm Hmm

Aleah: When it’s sort of breathing.

Sandi: Huh!

Aleah: It’s not like I literally see it breathe,

Sandi: I get it.

Aleah: It has this sort of life to it that is beyond the paint on canvas. Each painting tricks me actually. At a point. There’s this point where everything’s on there. The colors are all genuinely right. There isn’t any bit of white canvas left. So, I feel like it’s done, but I just know that it’s not. I have to push it further. Sort of blindly. I’m like blindly pushing it further to see what magic can kind of come through with the paint.

Sandi: You know you’re not quite there yet.

Aleah: Yeah. I know I’m not there yet, but I can’t see what it needs, so I have to just trust that if I keep discovering. Keep looking. Keep working with the paint that that will come in. I think it’s just the magic of oil paint. This incredible luminosity that you get.

Sandi: Yes.

Aleah: When you get many, many layers on top of each other. It’s also, slightly different subject, but they’re very realistic paintings. Some people have wondered, and I have wondered in the past, like why not just take a photograph. I feel like there’s this incredible intentionality that comes when you’re spending so many weeks and so many hours on one body. You’re going over it with tiny, maybe quarter inch brushes, the whole body just has this incredible energy to it.

Sandi: Vibrancy?

Aleah: Vibrancy because there’s been a human intentionality and a human touch. All over the whole body. That just, for me, makes it so much more than a photograph. Even when it does get extremely realistic, it’s that paint. Each brush stroke is a human stroke and it’s piled on top of another brush stroke, another brush stroke, another brush stroke. That just weave together and create this life.

Sandi: Why are your paintings so large?

Aleah: I want them to be larger than life.

Sandi: Huh. Mm Hmm

Aleah: I want the people to be larger than life. When they’re smaller than life, for me, I just can’t quite get into the personality of the flesh as much. The personality of the skin and body. Something about larger than life, and they are all about double life-size now. They’ve gotten a little bit bigger. They’re also so much more in your face. They’re more intimate and they’re also more intense.

Sandi: That’s an interesting combination. There’s an intimacy, despite the fact that they’re so big.

Aleah: Yeah. Yeah. You’re very up close to them.

Sandi: Right.

Aleah: When you’re standing in front of a painting and it’s life-size, it will appear smaller because you’re standing a couple of feet away from it. There’s something happens when the body is just so much bigger than you.

Sandi: Mm Hmm

Aleah: Also, when I’m painting it, I can almost get into an abstract kind of mind set. Say, I’m painting a torso, there’s moments when I’m not thinking I’m painting a torso. I’m just sort of playing with paint and dancing with paint.

Sandi: Mm Hmm

Aleah: I really love paint. That’s another huge part of it. That happens the best, for me, when it’s about life or double life-size.

Sandi: Have you painted women who you don’t know?

Aleah: No.

Sandi: Would you?

Aleah: Yeah. I’m definitely moving towards not having to have known them forever anymore. I’ve painted people that I don’t know as well. In school, I’ve definitely painted many models who I don’t know.

Sandi: Of course.

Aleah: Yeah. From life. Yeah, I’m definitely open to a lot of different things right now. I kind of want to see what would happen if I did paint someone that I

Sandi: Mm Hmm

Aleah: Wasn’t so familiar with.

Sandi: That you didn’t necessarily have a connection to.

Aleah: Yeah.

Sandi: I wonder if that would work the same for you, kind of physiologically. There’s no sense of history.

Aleah: Yeah.

Sandi: And if that makes a difference.

Aleah: I’m not really sure if it would or not. Then again, when I’m painting someone, I’m spending so much time with their image, that by the end I feel like I actually know then in a totally different way.

Sandi: I bet.

Aleah: So who knows what would happen.

Sandi: I also read, that you may be [Laughing] tackling men.

Aleah: I’m exploring gender. Which includes men and many others. There’s a whole spectrum of gender.

Sandi: You mean like transgender?

Aleah: Yeah. And gender neutral.

Sandi: Gender neutral.

Aleah: It’s something that is pretty close to me at the moment because of some friends

Sandi: Mm Hmm

Aleah: And family

Sandi: Mm Hmm

Aleah: It’s something that I’m exploring.

Sandi: But just to do a job on men for a second. Could you paint the men who had the same impact your life as these women? Who have the same history with you? Do you think if you approached so and so, Auntie’s husband, son?

Aleah: [Laughing]. You know, I’m not really sure. It’s um …

Sandi: Would you want to?

Aleah: Yeah, I’m interested, but I guess less so than women. I can’t exactly pinpoint why.

Sandi: Mm Hmm

Aleah: Perhaps because I can relate because I’m a female.

Sandi: But also, what a tough road we have to hoe in terms of visualized images of what we’re supposed to look like and how dismissed we are.

Aleah: Yeah.

Sandi: Because we don’t look like that. You’ve studied the wrinkles. You’ve painted women who have had mastectomies.

Aleah: Mm Hmm

Sandi: I’m going to have wrinkles and I’m going to have dimples and that’s just a fact of life.

Aleah: And a beautiful thing to paint. [Laughing]

Sandi: Do people agree with you?

Aleah: I think some do, Yeah. I think that, for me, I start to see the beauty even more when I’m painting something that we don’t normally see as beautiful. Some people told me that they get that. That, the paintings can sort of help them see that beauty that they didn’t think about before.

Sandi: Mm Hmm

Aleah: I definitely. That’s a huge part of the painting for me.

Sandi: How much of your time is spend working on exhibits and exhibitions and getting into galleries? Is that kind of an onerous part of the biz that you would rather be in your studio?

Aleah: Yeah. I would always rather be in my studio. But I’m very lucky in that I have a really wonderful gallery. Flowers Gallery.

Sandi: Which is Manhattan?

Aleah: Which is in Chelsea in New York.

Sandi: And do they also?

Aleah: And in London.

Sandi: Yeah. I was going to say, and do they have a branch, for lack of a better word.

Aleah: They’re from London. They’ve been there since 1970.

Sandi: And they solicited you?

Aleah: Yeah. We met through my graduate school. Since then, it’s just been this amazing experience. They’re, they’ve been very supportive and wonderful.

Sandi: Are you working on a current exhibit and how does that work?

Aleah: I just finished a show there. I had a solo show in London at their.

Sandi: At the Flowers Gallery.

Aleah: At Flowers Gallery in London.

Sandi: Of your nudes.

Aleah: Of the nudes, Yeah. Multi-generational.

Sandi: Mm Hmm

Aleah: That was a really wonderful experience to do. Now, I’m actually working towards a show in a Year in LA at Gusford Gallery, that’s actually not Flowers Gallery but it’s a really new wonderful new gallery that

Sandi: You’re free to exhibit at other galleries.

Aleah: Yeah.

Sandi: It’s not that you’re “under contract”.

Aleah; I have a contract and I have a relationship with Flowers.

Sandi: Um Hmm

Aleah: That I see as being long term and I really appreciate. But, I do have freedom too.

Sandi: And you can take your paintings that have been exhibited at a show at Flowers and take them to LA, or they want all new work?

Aleah: I want to do all new work. It’s going to be all new work.

Sandi: What’s all new work entail? How many paintings do they want?

Aleah: I’m not exactly sure how many I’m going to do yet.

Sandi: That’s up to you?

Aleah: Yeah, it’s up to me. I have a Year. I think that’s up to me. Probably the size of their space and

Sandi: Mm Hmm While that’s very exciting, is it also neurosis producing? Like, Oh my gosh.

Aleah: It can be very scary.

Sandi: Yeah. Scary. That’s a good word. You were saying paintings average six weeks although it could be longer. Do you just feel like it’s time to make the doughnuts? [Laughing]

Aleah: [Laughing] It can be very scary and difficult sometimes to know that I have to produce a certain amount of work.

Sandi: Mm Hmm

Aleah: I also love having an end to work towards. A project to work towards. It actually really inspires me and pushing me in the studio.

Sandi: Mm Hmm

Aleah: If I do have a deadline. Even if it is a year from now. I makes me very excited and inspired because I can sort of imagine. What would this space look like? What paintings do I want to have together? What images and what individuals do I want to together? What kind of conversations can happen?

Sandi: Mm Hmm

Aleah: I love creating work for a specific show. Creating a body of work that speaks together and comes together.

Sandi: One final question. Would you ever pose for you?

Aleah: [Laughing] Probably. Someday. It’s a very hard question. The reason why I haven’t done it yet. First of all, it’s scary. But that wouldn’t completely stop me, but a lot of female artists, their thing is their own bodies. I guess, I’m just not quite. That’s just not what I’m wanting to explore right now. I’m wanting to explore the female body in general, without it being myself.

Sandi: Mm Hmm

Aleah: I don’t have a complete answer why I haven’t done it yet. But I know that it will be something I will do when the time is right.

Sandi: So, how’s this? When that happens, you let me know, and you’ll come back.

Aleah: Okay.

Sandi: And we’ll talk about that.

Aleah: Yeah. Talk about my experience.

Sandi: Is that a plan?

Aleah: That sounds great.

Sandi: Okay. Aleah. Thank you so much for joining me today.

Aleah: Thank you so much for having me. It’s been wonderful.

Sandi: And once again Aleah’s website is aleahchapin.com and you can also go to flowersgallery.com and see your work there as well.

Aleah: Yep.

Sandi: Join us for another edition of Conversations with Creative Women. I’m Sandi Klein.

Sandi Klein
Sandi Klein
Veteran radio newscaster, Sandi Klein, has been “in the business” for 30 years; 20 as an anchor at 1010 WINS in New York City. In addition to hosting several public affairs programs, she was the co-host of “Arts Alive from the Algonquin,” a 52-week series broadcast Sunday afternoon from Manhattan’s famous Algonquin Hotel.
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