Ohioan Bianca Fields (@beeyonkerz) is currently based in Kansas City producing her psychedelic creations. Fields’ figurative work shows us vivid, textured incarnations of our childhood television favourites, people, and monkeys. Her deep and wild brushwork (a mark-making the artist refers to as “grotesque”) is hugely stimulating for her viewer: a “visceral response” that makes me wonder if this is what watching telly on LSD looks like.
Fields’ works are built up using oil, acrylic, and spray paints, “revealing” textures rather than “building” them. Her sculptural work, “constructed to fall apart or spill out”, has the same sense of pent-up energetic potential as her paintings. One has the feeling that Fields’ portraits are moments away from squirming around on their canvas, or exploding, flinging lurid goo across the room in the process.
It started from a place of wanting to talk about the “what if’s?” and “why nots?”
Shortly before her Chashama Artist’s Residency, Bianca spoke to us at Art Plugged about her career, inspirations, and the “what ifs” of our childhood cartoon heroes.
Q: First thing’s first, introduce yourself! What do you make, how do you work?
Hello! My name is Bianca Fields and I am an artist living and working in Kansas City, MO. I am originally from Cleveland, OH, and have been living in Kansas City a bit over a year with a studio practice in the city. I make paintings! I would consider my process of making paintings physical, and reliant on a constant process of revealing. The work is agitatedly painted, with thick, bodily brush strokes, using oil, acrylic, and spray paint. My paintings distort and beautify my subject, using luscious, drippy and grotesque mark making; attempting to provoke a visceral response.
I identify strongly as an extrovert, pulling from the people and circumstances around me to create work. I commandeer whatever I can get my hands on – an interaction, an object, a character from a beloved TV show – then alter it to reflect back on my surroundings.
Q: What would you say your artistic background is? How long have you been working?
I graduated from the Cleveland Institute of art in 2019. As a fine arts major, I was granted a studio space and accessibility to that space pretty much whenever I needed. I think it was just a few weeks prior to BFA exams that it hit me that I would need a space immediately once I relocated to Kansas City. That makes it about 5 years fully dedicated to my craft.
Q: Are there key themes in your work?
I’d like to think so. I think it started from a place of wanting to talk about the “what if’s?” and “why nots?” in cartoons and tapping into the cliches of my childhood experiences. Now, I’m feeling more of a rhythmic pattern of creating paintings that are touching the topic of painting itself, humor and irony through mental conflicts, and brief moments/expressions. For me as a painter, imagining the feeling of having a conversation or conflict with yourself in your mind results in the aggressive and over dramaticized rendering in my current work.
I’ve also started to work more with just material, and creating objects in my studio that are constructed to fall apart or spill out. I love the concept of the moment seconds before a particular thing erupts or no longer contains. It shows a beautiful, contemplative vulnerability. I plan to expand this process of making in sculptural work.
Q: What is your favourite piece you’ve created?
That surprisingly isn’t a difficult thing to decide. Over time, I’ve learned how to separate my idea of what I find compelling about my work, versus what aesthetic qualities it carries that almost tricks my mind into thinking it’s beautiful. Post Ghost, created in 2018 still to this very day is revealing something to me. I think it is a very ugly painting. Creating that painting taught me a new language of looking and seeing paintings. I can almost still hear the ringing noise that it made in my mind after completing it.
Q: Who are your biggest inspirations?
Alex Da Corte, Joyce Pensato, Kevin Beasley and Dana Schutz
These are all artists that have works that I accidently stumbled on in person, prior to knowing about… their work needs to be experienced in person.
Q: What’s next for you?
In March of earlier this year, I was accepted into the Chashama ( Cha North) Artist’s Residency Program, in Pine Plains, New York for the month of September. I’m honored to be a part of the program and I have continued to keep my hands full until the intensive begins.
Q: How do you strike the balance between being an artist and being your own salesperson?
It’s difficult. No one ever taught me how to do this in school, and maybe it isn’t the institute’s job. I initially felt myself being extremely awkward when discussing my work as a commodity. I would always go to my mother for help, and she would always give me this super confused look and respond, “It’s your money that you’ve worked for.”
Once I was out of school and had to teach myself how to research for shows, residency programs, studio spaces, art stores, etc., I immediately started feeling the impact of time being invested into my craft. Now, I understand this as simply investing in myself. I am still learning how to keep these two worlds separate; as they are two different modes of working. However, the most important component will always be to make work and to have a jolly time in the process.
Q: Social Media as a tool for artists – pro or anti?
Pro. I know how draining the internet can be. It’s like borrowing fun from the future.
Social media is trying to help you, I think. As an active social media user, I constantly have to remind myself that I want people to know that I exist. I think one of the most cancerous battles that artists face (including myself) in their motivation to create is community. People, especially other artists want to know what you’re up to and what new discoveries you’ve made. They will talk to you, give you feedback, applaud you and keep you included. Just continue to remember who you are, and why you create.
Q: What are you angry about right now?
I find myself hesitant to immediately react to issues such as these in a written document, or even on social media. I can say it is a beautiful cacophony of words, thoughts, actions, and behaviors. In the context of everything happening right now, it’s very difficult to pinpoint. It’s definitely transformative for my community and I. Right now, I’ll blame my anger on time. I feel as if I don’t even have the time at this point to fully sit with my emotions. It’s exhausting. My family is exhausted.
The pandemic has also directly affected me and my day job. I’ve learned time management and consuming information in a bit of a new way. I am still slowly walking myself through this slow process and learning how to be patient.