Q&A: HOT TEA Talks Installation Art, His Scope Miami Project

by Andy SmithPosted on

Looking toward Hi-Fructose’s 14th year in publishing, the atrium at SCOPE Miami Beach (Dec. 4-9) will host three installation projects from the HOT TEA, Okuda San Miguel, and AJ Fosik. In the below Q&A, we talked to one of those artists, HOT TEA, about the evolution of his installation practice, traveling the world, and what he plans for the fair.

Hi-Fructose: Tell me about when you first transitioned from graffiti art to using colored yarn. What called you to this material?
The very first transition was like learning how to write for the first time: It was frustrating and the first experiments were based purely on what I saw on a walk through the city (Minneapolis). I tried a few attempts without anything really peaking my interest. I then walked by a fence and very crudely spelled out HOTTEA on the fence. From that small fence piece that looked like chicken scratch I evolved it into complex isometric designs created on the computer and installed on the fence.

This was all very exciting for me because it felt like there was infinite ways to manipulate this material. I began being inspired by vacant spaces and creating site specific installations with yarn within those spaces. From those I was inspired to create my hanging installations which are still being elaborated on to this day. In fact all aspects of my work are constantly growing. It feels amazing to have found a material that keeps me inspired and constantly thinking of new ideas.

The core inspiration behind this material is my Grandmother Socorro who taught me how to knit was I was 4 or 5 years old. It’s a memory that came back to me when I was looking for a new material after I stopped using spray paint illegally.

HF: Your installations and public art have only become more elaborate and global during the past few years. Can you tell me what you learned from sharing your work across different countries?
Humility. I feel very fortunate to make a living doing what I love. Traveling and seeing what people have to go through just to make a living breaks my heart. Even though there is so much heartbreak, there is also a lot of up-lifting memories that are made while traveling. Seeing and experiencing the spirit of people to keep pushing through is very inspiring. It reminds me to not take things for granted and that what I have worked very hard for can be gone in a moment.

HF: How are you able to create intimacy between a piece and the viewer, no matter the setting?
It’s not really something that I try and do. I create pieces that have a deep meaning for me. The majority of my pieces are based off of memories that have made a major impact on my life. When I present my work I am presenting a part of myself. I create an experience that evokes subconscious memories from myself and I think that those ideas can be sensed by others viewing my work. Often people will associate my work with a time and place because of the powerful memory they have of the piece. Over time they will experience that space again without my work, their subconscious brings back that experience. The initial memory that the installation is about is now creating new memories for others. It is something that naturally happens between the viewer and my work.

HF: Can you give any hint about what you’ll be working on for this SCOPE Miami Beach project, in particular?
It is inspired by what gives everything around us life.

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