Featured Artist: Leighann Hoffman

Name: Leighann Hoffman

Age: 22

Hometown: Parsippany, NJ

Current town: Parsippany, NJ

Job description: Multidisciplinary Fine Artist, Sculptor

Bio: Born and raised in New Jersey, graduate of Parsippany Hills Highschool. Recently recieved BFA, from The University of the Arts in Philadelphia PA in May 2012.

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What are you working on/ describe your work.

My current works in progress revolve around developing creative solutions to repair and renovate damages around the home. Upon graduating from school and having to move, I inherited the bottom floor of my parents home to turn into my living area, as well as studio. I finally have things in just about the right order, except for the bathroom, which is the most damaged… little fixtures are missing, like to hold your tooth brush or soap, as well as the toilet paper dispenser. Im currently carving embellished replacement fixtures out of high density foam. While I’ve been sticking to remodeling indoors, I’m waiting for warm weather to start taking this idea of fixing the broken outdoors as well as installing in unusual settings outside of the gallery.

I’ve always had a fondness for visually pleasing art that serves some sort of purpose; I enjoy making pieces that are not only interesting to the eye, but are functional or interactive. I’m open when it comes to concept and design and materials, I’ve never liked to be tied down to anything artistically. I do, however, tend to favor simpler materials to make more complex objects… cardboard (including garbage picked pizza boxes for a project once… they turned into an armchair.) Crocheted yarn and other fabrics and fibers  (I focused on crocheted elements for my last show.) Foam. Garbage picked or thrifted items… I like to repurpose things. Most of my work is made in the third dimension, but I do lean toward 2D work in the form of printmaking as well. I’ve been trained and enjoy working in all departments, animation and other medias including working with sound, film, and photography, as well as sculpture and its many subdivisions, even graphic design and photography.

What’s your art background / when did you begin really focusing on art?

I cannot remember a time where art was not a part of my life. I remember my art teacher in kindergarten, Mrs. Stein. I even remember specific projects we had to do. Honestly, art class is probably what I remember most, even in preschool, because it was and is always what I’ve enjoyed the most. I had dreams of being an author and a photographer as a child, and I was always hands on- I was, and still, am the more DIY kind of girl. My mother would take me to paint ceramics when I was little, as well as art museums and broadway plays; these experiences made an impact and continued to follow me for the rest of my life. I was known amongst my friends as the artistic one, and I took as many art classes in school that was possible to take. Even when it came to working, it was art related, be it helping to run things at Let’s Create, A Children’s Art Studio, or helping established artists run craft and face painting stations for picnics and fairs.

High school is when I really started to blossom and be more involved and into my work, not only focusing on making visually strong pieces, but conceptually. Art is what I excelled at, and when it came time to start really thinking about going to college, I just couldn’t see myself doing and wouldn’t be happy doing anything else… I also couldn’t see myself going to the typical frat ridden college campus. Art school was the way to go, and I started to really concentrate on my art portfolio class and I made sure to make my schedule my senior year of high school minimal academically. I had one academic class, English. I filled the rest of my classes up with various classes in the art department… painting, drawing, art portfolio, studio art… Then I got accepted to Uarts, and gained a whole new perspective on art and learned so much. Once you go to art school- that becomes your life. You start to breathe, eat and sleep art. Well. Not so much sleeping was getting done… but you get the picture.

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What’s been happening in your life/ what’s next for you?

I graduated from UArts with a BFA, this past May 2012 and since then I have been filling my time with creating work for my portfolio outside of being a student. I’ve been on the hunt for any entry level job that requires a BFA. I’ve been building an inventory of crocheted goods like bikinis and boots and other miscellaneous things in bulk so that I can start up my online store(s) and start vending at flea markets and other road shows. In the meantime though, to make some cash, I’ve been doing all sorts of freelance work. I often am approached with ideas that customers just don’t know how to execute and I’m commissioned to get the job done. For example, the last piece I worked on for someone was a customized “Flying V” guitar body. This project opened up a whole world of ideas for me and introduced me to a pretty profitable market.

As for what’s next… I’ll continue to do what I’m doing and hopefully someone will contact me about any of the positions I’ve applied for.

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Describe your current state of mind / what’s inspiring you?

My mind is all over the place. And I’m gathering inspiration from all over the place. I’ve been dreaming about the summer, and it’s warm weather and being able to go outside and do things and just touch the Earth. I’ve been taking the elements into account a lot lately. My sign is Cancer, and I’ve always found myself to be a water baby and it definitely comes into play with some of my work. I’ve also been intrigued by minerals lately… fascinated by how beautiful and smart mother nature is all on her own. Natural designs are mind blowing. I’ve also caught the love bug, and learning a new person brings forth so much inspiration and motivation. I’m learning more about myself through him and I’m in a great mind frame lately. Every bump in the road I’ve encountered lately has found a way to work it’s self out and I feel very stress free, which makes it easier to let my mind wander and absorb.

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Is any of your work political?

I wouldn’t necessarily say my work touches political topics, but rather social topics at times…. which I guess sometimes social topics can overlap political. My comments on these topics usually stray from the political and bring forth human insight that hasn’t been tarnished by the government, or argues the government. I see things how they are and I have my opinions and I don’t force them on others and I don’t allow them to be scewed by what I see on the news, some things are just basic instinct and shouldn’t be challenged. I have a perspective and I put it out there. If you want to percieve  the issue I’m touching as political… well hey it’s a free world, but I’ll tell you now, politics will never be something I try to speak on.

What is one of the biggest challenges you face as an artist?

Knowing that there is a large chance that what I absolutely love doing, the only thing I can imagine doing, really may not be the most fruitful path for my bank account. And although that scares me sometimes, I’m alright with it. I don’t need to be rich, just happy. But I do need to survive. The art world is competitive, but I’m willing to compete. Sometimes the part that really hurts is not being able to afford supplies to carry out a design, but I’m good at scrapping and I usually can find cheaper ways of figuring out what I need to do. It’s a concern but not something that will ever make me hesitate to do what I love.

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Has the meaning of your work changed over time?

My work is constantly changing. I work with many different themes and concepts but I noticed over time, with growing up and going through many crazy life experiences my work has grown and taken on new directions. Prior to 2008 my work would hold ties to what I saw for my future, things I wanted for myself, I would concentrate on things that were popular at the time. Anything would intrigue me and there was no consistant flow to my pieces.

And then, on Halloween 2008, my whole life changed. My older brother was killed in an accident on his motorcycle. I was 18 at the time and he was only 21. Before that day I never thought I would be looking back on the days of mine and my brothers childhood. I never thought I would have to worry about forgetting my brother and out memories together, because as far as I knew we had many years of making more memories. That’s when my work turned. Art becme more therapudic than ever and my work started to reveal how terribly I wished to hold on to my childhood. That’s the one thing I wish I could get back besides my brother himself. I only had my brother for my childhood, and I don’t get to have him with me as an adult. I wish I could reverse time and never grow up. I guess you could say I have a little bit of a “Peter Pan Syndrome,”  but my work now, is a way of working through never getting that era of my life back.

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What are you listening to these days? 

I’m on that Lissie grind. She’s really really great. I suggest you give that lady listen… currently have her track  “Everywhere I Go” playing on repeat. Also Mumford and Sons. Rogue Wave. Florence and the Machine. Passion Pit. And my main man, Drake.

I also must shamelessly promote my college roommate freshman year, Sky Barbarick, AKA. NOOSA – a great girl with great talent and truly going places, she’s even been mentioned multiple times by Perez Hilton. Check her out —>    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TXaezgbE-Zg

And must also shamelessly promote my good friend,

Angelo DePuma —> http://angelodepuma.bandcamp.com/track/beautiful-raw-cut

What is your ideal job?

One of the main reasons I chose art as a career, and my major specifically (Multidisciplinary Fine Arts, with a emphasis in sculpture) was so that I wouldn’t have to be tied down to one job forever. There are so many things that I would love to do and that my degree says I’m qualified for. I would love to work for the Jim Hensen Company making Puppets. I would love to customize the interior and exterior of cars. I would love to take photos for National Geographic. I want to make furniture and build houses. I want to be a children’s book author. I’m not positive what my “ideal job” is, I just know I want to make things for the rest of my life.

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Favorite artists and why/ people in your field whom you most admire:

Orly Genger is a favorite. She makes these massive installations out of crocheted yarn. I’ve always been fascinated with things that were oversized or miniture, and the size of her work is overwhelming. I love working with yarn and crochet hooks and needles. It’s such a kitchy grandma  technique and medium- theres a bit of a challenge in transforming the stereotype of the technique, I like the challenge and it’s really awesome to see yourself make something out of nothing. When you crochet, you start with nothing but a spool of string and you watch something grow as it passes through your hands… it’s a really great feeling. Orly Genger is a total inspiration.

What are you reading? Neil Gaiman is a great read. Anything by Neil Gaiman. He’s the creator of productions like Coraline. He also spoke at my graduation and his speech was phenomenal. It’s actually being published this May, and is titled “Make Good Art.”  I’m currently reading his “American Gods” and “Anansi Boys.”  On deck for my vacation to Mexico next month is JK Rowling’s “The Casual Vacancy”

Your website(s): www.leighannhoffman.com

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