What happens in the studio shouldn't always stay in the studio. Studio Visit Q+A is a new weekly series that profiles artists in their studios. We ask them questions, they provide answers, and then we have a nice discussion about their work. This week: Tempe artist and educator Peter Bugg.
When flipping through a magazine, we most likely don't consider the details from page to page. The work of Tempe artist Peter Bugg carefully focuses on these intricacies present on the page. His cut paper work has always focused on images we consume, such as celebrity tabloids or fashion editorials. He treats these figures present in cover stories and advertisements as revered icons, like characters from famous novels. The magazine becomes more than a consumable item -- he acknowledges its status as an artifact of our times.
Since 2012, Bugg has been working on a series of cut paper works called Paring. Selections from this body of work have recently been on display locally at Halt Gallery and Vision Gallery. Paring began after he had been cutting up magazines and found himself drawn to a particular pattern in an image. "I saw it and I really liked it," said Bugg, "I thought, well what could I do with that?" After cutting out inside this particular pattern, Bugg discovered that the opposite side of the page could be just as compelling as the front.
High-end fashion magazines proved to be an inspiring source for Bugg. "I just go through the magazines and find really strong patterns, either in the fabric that the people are wearing or in the background and I cut out the patterns." Some pages have models and patterns on both the front and back, making for an optical mindfuck that collapses the human form with decorative pattern. Other pages pair images on the front with text on the back, which often creates an interesting juxtaposition. Bugg, however, is not as interested in the instances where an ornate pattern clashes with an ad for skin care.
Bugg has experimented with several different methods for displaying his cut paper work, and his most recent discovery is lucite, more commonly known as acrylic. His smaller magazine works become objects that are precious artifacts. Light shining through them creates a shadow that allows the viewer to see the pattern. When traveling around the object the mounted page has a mirror effect, providing a new dimensionality to the still image. For larger works, Bugg prefers to simply use nails. The magazine page hangs delicately, highlighting its fragility and impermanence.
In his home studio, Bugg has stacks of these magazine cutouts in various stages of completion. Some are simpler and can be accomplished in a shorter period of time, but some require countless hours, patience, and diligence. There are several complicated ones that Bugg plans to complete over the coming summer while listening to podcasts and binge-watching television.
Bugg is also continuing to work on his Equal Scouts project that won a Good 'N Plenty Grant from SMoCA last year. The project awards Eagle Scouts who disagree with Boy Scouts of America's rules against homosexual leaders with a Human Rights Campaign badge. Bugg is continuing to contact Eagle Scouts in support of the project and is in the process of getting more badges produced.
Tell us about your work in haiku format. Innumerable Expensive fashion mags and Honed X-acto blades
What artist(s) are you really into right now? I'm inspired by ASU graduate student Dani Godreau's cut paper work, I've been a big fan of Christian Marclays' "The Clock" since I first saw it in 2010, and I just saw Andy Warhol's Silver Clouds at the PAM and really loved the simplicity in that installation.
What are you reading? E-mails from students and YouTube comments. Luckily, I occasionally get some pretty good links from both sources that lead me to visual nourishment.
What's the last TV show, film, or video you watched? I've been going back and forth between House of Cards and Hart of Dixie when Frank Underwood gets too dark.
If you could collaborate with any artist, alive or dead, who would it be and why? I'm not sure. Maybe the Beastie Boys. I know they weren't/aren't visual artists, but they were such trailblazers for music as well as style and they seemed to do a good job of using the fame they achieved at a relatively young age to eventually support important causes they believed in.
What was the last exhibition you saw and what did you think of it? I just saw Andy Warhol at the Phoenix Art Museum and really loved parts of that show. It was nice to see the the popular imagery in person, but some of the rarer pieces were also good to give context to the more famous work.
Jeff Koons or Marina Abramović and why? Jeff Koons by default. In 2010 I went to MOMA to see "The Artist is Present" and she wasn't, I'm still not over the false advertising.
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What's the best advice you've ever received? "Learn to eat a pizza without burning the roof of your mouth." - from my dad.
What are you currently working on? More magazine cutouts - Parings - and my Equal Scouts project.
What's your most valued tool as an artist? My eyesight.