NT: It's pretty clear your work has been inspired by graffiti and graphic design...
Grucella: Yeah, I like the comic, graphic and cartoon attributes. It took a while for that style to come back to me, but I like the really illustrated stuff compared to the realistic portraits.
How were you first inspired by street art?
I grew up in Southern California and was surrounded by subcultures who were speaking through it and I was really drawn to it. I wouldn't call myself a street artist by any means, but I definitely use it in my work. It really walks the line between lowbrow and highbrow, male and female, commercial and academia.
What inspired the concept for this show?
My relationships. It's based on interactions I've had with people -- familial, friendships, romantic relationships. Certain people have different ideas about groups in society and how we fit into deviant subcultures that might be untrue, but you can only speak for yourself on how you perceive the world and how it perceives you. This style of art came from people wanting a voice saying, "I'm here. I count." If you boil down that message, it's saying we all count and we all matter.
What brought you to this juxtaposition of realistic portraits paired with the illustrations?
There's a bridge between this fantasy world that is in your mind with what's in reality. The whole message behind the work is that what I'm saying to you, you will only comprehend to a certain degree because it's in my head and whatever another person will perceive is only part of it and people judge each other based on that. The graphics are a great bridge visually to bring that across.
Do you feel like you've hit your stride now that you've been working on this theme for the last few months?
I keep working at it, thinking that I've hit it, but it's just been a continual process. I'm really happy with the pieces in this show and the way the graphics have meshed. The pieces feel tight.
Why did you decide to pair the bright colors with the dark personal statements as if the subjects are advertising these private emotions?
It's just that. We all have baggage that is in our head that no one really talks about because they are so personal. You think about it and you deal with it and I think why not put it out there like a giant diary of some sort.
"Between Conversations" will be at Squeeze from Jan. 6 through Feb. 11.