New Things

One on One : Awol Erizku, Fine Artist

Jun 07, 2012

How long have you been a professional photographer?
I guess, technically, five years, but I’ve been working out of my studio for the past two years.

How did you find your studio space?
It was through a good friend, but I was fortunate to – it was kind of right place, right time kind of thing, you know; me and a friend were looking for a studio space. Jack Wu, who owns this shop, has a bar in Midtown, was looking for an artist to design an instillation for the penthouse, and so I guess it was just one of those things where things lined up. They had this space and they didn’t know what to do with it, and I was looking for a studio space, so they just offered it to me.

Tell me a little about yourself?
I’m an artist. I’m a New Yorker. I make work. Oh, I like making sculptures and taking photographs sometimes. I like ready-made objects, or ready-made sculptures, for that matter. I like all black objects; I like a lot of things all black everything. I just saw this awesome Phantom and it was matte black and even the mascot was all black, too, and I was just like, “I like that.” Anytime really I see all black matte cars, I don’t know, I’m just taken aback by them. I really want one of those, when I get a car, haha.

Do you have any mentors?
I’ve had a few mentors in my life, but right now I look up to my little sisters. They have been my inspiration for the last couple of years. They are so on point with what they’re doing in their careers, and then they’re all Ivy-League girls, and I think them pushing each other kind of influences me to push myself even more; it motivates me. So, yeah, my sisters. I don’t know if they’re mentors, but I do look up to or look down to look up to them.

Does a gallery represent you?
Sarah Hasted and Joe Kraeutler, of Hasted Kraeutler Gallery in Chelsea, represent me at the moment. I’m having my first solo show there on June 14th, actually.

How do your parents feel about your being a
For a while they were a little skeptical. I mean, they knew that I could make pictures but as a fine artist, they’re still try¬ing to get a hold of it, like, “What do you mean you can take a photo of someone and consider it art?” But I think they’re warming up to it, and they don’t mind it. Thy use me when they want.

Tell me the best experience you have had so far be¬cause of your gift.
I think, best experience right now was doing a Q&A with Glenn Fuhrman, the Founder of The FLAG Art Foundation, amongst the three hundred other things he does, and a group of young students at The FLAG Arts Foundation, a couple of months ago. I can’t explain what that means to me. I was one of those kids who would’ve been in that crowd during high school. Thanks to Glenn, I had the privilege to share the little bit of knowledge I’ve accumulated as a prac¬ticing young artist to a young bright bunch from the Harlem Children Zone.

Where do you see yourself in the next ten years?
Oh man, big questions. I don’t know where I’ll be in ten years, but where I would like to be is hopefully – I’ve been in a Whitney bi-annual – a MoMa show, hopefully traveling the world showing my work. I don’t leave the city that much, so hopefully I’m traveling with someone I admire, you know.