NATASHA WHEAT | not only is this woman an impeccable artist, but she is also a soon to be mother, and a gorgeous one at that! We had the pleasure of getting to know Natasha a bit and delve a little deeper into what makes her such a creative and unique individual.
Check out her interview and a quick photo log of her styling our Mal Pais Duster Dress below :
PHOTOGRAPHY || ALEXA MILLER
ART || NATASHA WHEAT
Hey Natasha! Give us a quick introduction of yourself.
I am an artist and designer who lives and works in Los Angeles.
How would you describe your style of art?
Sometimes they are literal interventions, like collaborating with chefs who run illegal supper clubs to make taste based works at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago. Project Grow was a bigger project where I put together a team to create an urban farm and arts atelier at a factory where people with developmental disabilities were previously doing sweat shop labor. We built this space with pygmy goats, chickens, ducks, a textile a ceramics studio, and eventually it spun off into other more ongoing non-profit programs. Or sometimes the works are more formal, like a series of recent paintings done in bone char and resin that appear to be minimal geometric black paintings/forms and reference head wear from the Catholic Church. I also have a design practice. I work in ceramic on a series of forms called Citizens, with the idea that they are better Citizens for a better world. And I designed and produced an eponymous fine jewelry collection that focused on No White Diamonds. So, combating and calling into question the belief that whiteness and purity (the 3 Cs of diamonds are Cut, Clarity and Color) are what make fine jewelry valuable or beautiful, I worked with dark stones full of carbon inclusions. and unusual cuts. I am attracted to making works that can appear beautiful and dumb, almost as decor, and break into environments that don't always engage with intellectualism or subversive works, but then function as Trojan horses.
As you pursue your career as an artist and soon to be mother, how do you see your life transforming in these next couple months?
I am really enjoying slowing down and being present. I just took a break from studio production for the first time ever. I am working on an anarchist children's book that I illustrated about an oppressive circle who is eventually overthrown by many tiny circles, done completely in Sumi ink. I feel my audience expanding as my world expands and I am totally embracing that. Making toys and light fixtures for the nursery, and writing/illustrating the book. I made the ceramics for our house and designed most of the furniture. We are building a cool world for the little guy to come into.
How did you end up making your passion of art work as a career? If it wasn’t art, what would you envision yourself doing?
It is really all I have ever done. I have had passing fantasies of doing radical women's health work, or architecture, or working for the forestry, but then realized that an art practice can encompass all of that.
So you grew up in Venice, California -- what about Venice/California kept you here throughout adulthood, and now wanting to raise a family there?
I grew up in a very different West Side than exists today. The world I grew up in was very fun - endless beach days, and our apartment block off Ocean Park was a maze of alleys, and kids that all played and skated together. It was blue collar, rent control apartments, sandals, beat up vans, skateboarding, DIY ramps, and it felt very separate from the world that existed in the "North Side" of Santa Monica. I stayed in the Oakwood neighborhood of Venice in High School which was pretty wild back then, skated the Venice pavilions, and we hitch hiked around LA as teens. I moved to the hills of Echo Park when I was in my late teens, then away for Art School at SAIC, and lived in Chicago, Portland, San Francisco, New York, and then landed back in Venice for a moment when we returned to LA. Sadly, the beautiful wildness that once was has been squeezed out of that hood by unregulated development and the tech business.
My husband and I just landed in West Adams; we bought a witchy French Normandy/Castle house from 1927, that feels very old LA. It is still West enough for us to get to the Ocean in 20 minutes, and have the marine breeze pass through, but we are next to DTLA and can get to the East Side to see friends really quickly, and we are a couple of minutes from our studio in Culver City. Our house has tall white arches and feels like a monastery. We took a long time finding it, and felt like the space we committed to needed to be unique enough, and LA ish enough to justify living back here.
What is your favorite music to make art to?
I work in silence if it is early on in the work. Getting it done work lately has been older music from Central America, 70s Ruben Blades, Chicha (Cumbia from Peru), Notorious B.I.G is on heavy rotation. I dig Ibrahim Ferrer for mellowing out and slow Cuban jams.
What’s your favorite music for dancing?
Soul but also Goth Night.
Where do you cultivate your creativity when making new art? What inspires you?
I am really drawn to natural forms, especially watching the social orders of nature.
Describe your favorite place to travel.
My mother is from Panama and my husband Jim and I go back to Central America often. I love Costa Rica, Panama, Mexico and can imagine us living in those places for part of the year. I am a sucker for swimming in the sea and warmth pretty much anywhere. I also dig how familial and less stressful the warm weather places seem to be.
What about the OZMA brand do you like most?
I love that OZMA is made of natural fabrics, as I don't wear synthetics. Also, it is comprised of basic sculptural silhouettes, but made so that you can be active in it, with elastic waists and simple pull on closures. When I travel I bring a ton of it, and I have been so grateful for OZMA throughout my pregnancy. I haven't actually bought any maternity clothes and have been wearing the silk shorts and pants, apron tops, and the Mal Pais Duster dress.
If you could have coffee with any inspiring female who would it be, and why?
The list is long but Eva Hesse would definitely be on it. Her work and her resilience as a female in a male dominated sculptural world are fueling. Or any Gutai artists. I would love to do studio visits and talk to all of the great female sculptors throughout history whose practices I am never going to know about because the system didn't promote or archive those works.
What is the best book you've read lately?
So many natural birth books. I just re-read Spiritual Midwifery and Ina May's Guide to Childbirth, and a somatic healing book called Waking the Tiger that talks about the primal responses of the body. The Tomi Ungerer children's book The Three Robbers is my favorite this Summer so far. It is an illustrated tale of three bandits in matching outfits with great hats, who are accumulating jewels and wealth/general plundering. Then one day they kidnap a stage coach with nothing but a little orphan girl in it. She asks them what their plan is with all their riches, and they wind up building this sort of utopian orphan commune that looks like their outfits, and the children stay there a build them houses, and raise their children there.
How do you decompress?
Usually in water.
At what time in your life did you first feel your passion starting to take form?
My mom was a folk artist and we made things all day long at home as a child. I think my interests started connecting with the larger world in my late teens early 20s. I spent my teens oil painting, and my 20s trying not to make objects. Now I am all over the place.