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On the Spotlight: Emma Fineman

* Authors Note: I discovered Emma Fineman, an artist, and adventurist, through the inspiring world of Instagram. After spending one too many hours searching her pictures and website I was beyond intrigued and knew I needed to know more. Emma is a creator who has artistry in her blood and such is reflected not only in her paintings but her photography as well. She seeks adventures and travels coast-to-coast capturing moments with her camera and paintbrush. Upon reading Emma’s answers to my questions, one can feel her passion and inspiring energy through each of her words. I hope you all enjoy learning about Emma as much as I did!

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1.    Do you find there is a crossover between your photography and your art?

Photography has always been a part of my painting practice. Recently I have been doing a series of photographic collaborations that have allowed me to articulate some of the concepts that I have been thinking about with painting. The photographic images I create because of this, often share a similar narrative quality to my paintings.

 2.    What is your favorite collection/piece you have done? Why?

I have been working on a collaborative series with my boyfriend and some other friends of mine. In this series, I utilized various everyday objects to distort planes of space creating semi-surreal narratives. I have worked with milk, flour, silk, and charcoal for the series and have been pretty excited about the results. This series has produced many images that I am very excited to rework into a body of paintings.

 3.    Who or What is the biggest source of inspiration for your work?

Artists and life are. There are many amazing painters that I am looking most of whom are contemporary like Lars Elling, Adrien Ghenie, Sangram Majumdar, and Karim Hamid. As well as many futurist and surrealist art and films of the 20’s 30’s and 40’s including the amazing film Meshes of the Afternoon 1943 by Maya Deren. I am also heavily influenced by the ongoing stream of imagery that I see on my phone on a daily basis. There are so many talented artists and makers on Instagram alone, and having such easy access to such a wealth of imagery keeps my brain bubbling with new ideas all the time.

 4.    Where did you love for art stem from?

My interest in painting comes from being in a family with a long history of painters, my mom, her dad, my dad’s mom etc. My interest in photography has come from my friends and mostly my boyfriend Samuel Hylton. He has taught me a great deal about the mechanics of the camera, and how to articulate my ideas through photo.

 5.    What is your favorite medium to work with?

Can I say all that let me get my hands dirty? If I had to pick one it would be oil painting, but I really feel that my work is influenced by allowing myself to try many different and seemingly unrelated media, as a way of refining the relationship between my mental and mobile functions. Artists like Alphonse Mucha, Leonardo Da Vinci, and Rembrandt have taught me that there is no reason to limit your creative mind to one media and that it is very possible to stretch your craft to any form you are so inspired by. It is a matter of commitment and hard work within that media that will allow you to become a master.

 6.    You are an ‘adventure seeker’ what is the greatest adventure you have been on? How has that inspire your work?

My junior year of undergrad, I took the whole year to study abroad. I did three separate courses with three different schools and it was amazing. It was the most epic and challenging year of my life and I learned more in that one-year then pretty much every year before it. It has influenced me greatly as a person, and as far as my work goes, it taught me how to be ambitious and fearless and challenged me to go big. After that year was finished I felt encouraged to try many of the things that I was afraid to and the scale of my work went way up.

7.    Describe the process of producing art in one word.

Just that, “process” that is the most fundamental word in any form of art making. “Process” is exactly what its all about.

 8.    How has being an artist changed you as a person?

I have been one my whole life so I can’t really say it has changed me since I don’t know any different. From as far back as I can remember I knew this was my passion and my family is full of artists so it was very easy for me to become immersed in art making. I would say that being someone in the creative field opens your mind up to the idea of possibilities. Making art means making ideas and learning that things have a limitless potential of ways that they can be created. I have always been told that there are no mistakes in art and that anything can be art as long as someone says it is. I loved that from the moment I heard it because the effect is that you can do anything you can think of. That way of looking at life is quite inspiring to me.

9.    If you have a studio in which you work, what is your favorite part of it? If not where do you work best/in what setting?

I have a beautiful studio in my house, which I built with my parents and it is large, full of natural light and has the sexiest movable walls in it. They allow me to make many different paintings and look at lots of images on them at the same time. I LOVE that. ‘

10. What is the most incredible part of being able to work and paint in cities around world?

Travel, in general, provides a way of learning that is so different than any other kind. In my experience going to foreign places has given me an opportunity to learn a great deal about both the place as well as myself. As an artist that is a huge gift and being able to paint while processing those experiences is just the most amazing thing.

 11. Do you have any advice for an aspiring artist?

 Read the book Steal Like an Artist. Acknowledge the fact that you do not work in a vacuum and that influences are great and even better if there are many. It is important that we allow ourselves to follow our inspiration and not be discouraged, but also that we find ways to make our work our own. I think seeing something and being compelled to make art because of it is fantastic, the ownership and real artistry comes into play when you work that idea into a direction that is different and more uniquely yours. This has been a hard lesson and one that I am still learning, but it is one of the most important ones there is to learn. Also, never be discouraged that you won’t make any money at it. You won’t make any money or a life worth living for yourself doing something you hate so why not push yourself really hard to excel at what you love. It’s all possible, some things just take a little more effort.

 12. Lastly where do you hope to see yourself in the next 3 years?

My hope is to be either enrolled in a grad school program or to already have received my MFA degree. I have just applied to some schools and have interviews this coming week so fingers crossed! I am also working on launching my clothing line Weft + Hide and I would love for that to be thriving and selling nationally (even globally) in the next three years.

Emma Fineman


 Paintings: emmafineman.com

Photography: emma-fineman.squarespace.com

Instagram: @emmafineman


Words by Hannah D. // Photography Courtesy of  Emma Fineman

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