I first met Liene Bosquê while she was working on her installation Suspended Memories at Point of Contact Gallery in The Nancy Cantor Warehouse at Syracuse University. She took time out of the installation to talk to my graphics and communications class about her work as an artist. Bosquê is a Brooklyn-based artist originally from Sao Paulo, Brazil.
She started her training in Brazil where she majored in architecture and also received a BFA. She then went on, spending time on a specialized program in Portugal before moving to Chicago to work on her MFA in Fiber and Material Arts. She didn’t do a lot of gallery exhibitions during graduate school, only starting after she moved to New York.
When she first came to New York, she obtained several residencies, that allotted her free studio space for 2 years. Afterwards, she moved to 56 Bogart, but was located in the center of the building with no windows or natural light. The second year, she moved into a shared space with 3 other artists and tall windows. 56 Bogart is a large 4-story warehouse that was remodeled in 2005 and converted into artist lofts and gallery spaces.
Liene’s work focuses a lot on mold making, her favorite medium, but she is always experimenting with different mediums and techniques that she incorporates with her work. In regards to mold making for her sculptures, she spotlights the idea of the positive and the negative where in the mold is a negative space and the object after its creation, becomes positive space. She is also interested in how the materials experience multiple state changes during the mold making process. For example, with plaster, it comes as a powder, then water is added to create a liquid, and after it dries in the mold, it becomes a solid.
When working in these different mediums, space often becomes an issue. For her project at Syracuse University, she needed to rent out a kiln from a Williamsburg ceramic studio to complete her vision for modified Syracuse China plates. Afterwards, the installations are often stored at her studio space in crates piled high up to the ceiling. Because of the site-specific nature of many of her works, they don’t always transition well into a different space. There is more of a powerful relation to the space for some pieces. Other times only certain aspects can be used, but the works can have a life outside of the original space being reincorporated into new installations. Sculpture does not sell as easily as other works either, so mainly, her work is made for the sake of making, with grants and residencies supplementing her income. Periodically, collectors have purchased work, mainly in Lisbon and Sao Paulo.
With Liene’s work, due to the lack of salability, she mainly works with non-profit galleries and museums. Periodically, she is invited by curators who have done studio visits or seen her work through her artist residencies, but this may take some time for them to reach out to her, sometimes over a year. For the most part, she is constantly submitting for exhibition opportunities as well as writing grants and applying for residencies at least twice a month. When asked how much time is spent doing applications, she stated “more than the fun part of making stuff…about 50/50 doing art and doing administration.” After a moment, she corrected herself “60 percent work and 40 percent art.” Bosquê is responsible for managing all of her own administrative work, personal marketing through facebook and other social media, and updating her website. This sometimes leaves her with little time to experiment with new mold making processes, the downfall of a DIY approach, a necessity nonetheless.
For the most part, non-profits or artist run spaces do not offer any stipend or supplement expenses, but commercial galleries will on occasion. One of her biggest hurdles is transporting her work, which can become very costly. She also needs to hire helpers with certain projects. She pondered whether “it is worth it to pay to work” in the case of her art. She tries to avoid shows with no budget, unless they’re particularly important and/or she is using light and easy to commute works that can go on the subway or fit in a cab.
Bosquê supplements her income by teaching sculpture classes part time at a local arts center in Brooklyn. Her part time work allows her to have more studio time to work on what she loves doing, making art. One of the most interesting points she brought up in our interview was the lack of community that she experienced at 56 Bogart. While there are many artists and gallery spaces, she never has the opportunity to interact with her studio neighbors except at big events like Bushwick Open Studios. The downfall of that though, is that when there are big events at the warehouse, she is usually there showing off her own studio space, and is unable to leave to check out anything else.
One area that she has found a strong sense of community with is New York Foundation for the Arts (NYFA). NYFA offers an Immigrant Artist Mentoring program, where she started out since she was an immigrant from Brazil, and worked her way up to becoming a mentor to other immigrant artists. She has really enjoyed the experience working with artists who are coming to live and work in the US for the first time and also help for them to continue doing art even though their transition might be tough. Bosquê continues to enjoy making art, helping others make their own art, and tackling any challenge that she may face.
Image credit: Point of Contact Gallery
By Anna Kovach