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Interview: Bea Hurd

"Deflation of the Flesh" by Bea Hurd

1)Could you introduce yourself? Where are you from and where did you study art? When did you first take interest in becoming an artist?

My name is Bea Hurd, and I am a 23-year-old artist from Salt Lake City, UT. I studied art at the University of Utah where I majored in Sculpture Intermedia and minored in Drawing/Painting. I think my interest in art has always been there. Once I was able to hold a crayon I was constantly drawing, painting, and making. Having noticed, my parents enrolled me in art centric schools starting in elementary school. It was high school, having been in a college credit art class, where I decided to commit to art as my career and livelihood.

"It Was Their Third Cup of Coffee" by Bea Hurd

2) Could you talk about your piece titled, "It Was Their Third Cup of Coffee?" What does the title mean, and what does the poem mean? What is the shrine made for? Why does a white plaster cast of a hand holding a roll of paper towel come out of a leather shoe? Does it take inspiration from shamanistic or cultures or Judeo-Christian religions that make shrines or ancestral rituals? Do the Starbucks cups replace the candles? What is the significance of this substitution?

“It Was Their Cup of Coffee” is about my experience working a full-time retail position, at Target, while struggling to maintain my own creative practice and livelihood. Having realized the physical and time demands of retail work, I understood the near impossibility of maintaining my own individual self and creativity amongst this reality. Having given up the fight to separate myself from my retail work, I created a shrine to show both my nonconsensual fusion with the identity of “retail worker”, and shine light on the capitalist demands of Target. The plaster cast hand is actually holding a can- which to me spoke as a tongue and cheek way of turning the work into a weapon/call to action. The shrine is inspired by religious practices that use shrines as way of worship. I aimed to create a piece that spoke to the all communing aesthetic of target- felt through both the customers and workers. One that demands loyalty and energy. The Starbucks cups act as a holder for monetary donations to the shrine. Having become common culture to buy a Starbucks as you shop at target, the cups work to parallel the purchasing and consuming of Starbucks as both paying tithing and the consuming of the body of Christ. All working to preface Target as a place of worship.

"A Home and a Temple" by Bea Hurd

3) What is your piece titled, "A Home and a Temple" about? Why are the tables and furniture made of edible biscuits and crackers? What is the significance of the Swedish fish coming out of the drainage of the faucet? If furniture can be edible in a delicious fashion, is that a metaphor for an imagined paradise of pleasure and abundance? Why is this piece titled "A Home And A Temple?"

“A home and a Table” is about my relationship to food seen through my history of eating disorders. The Piece is meant to express my conflicting relationship to the foods that were most prominent in the heights of my disorder. Creating a home and temple from the foods, I create a warm and worship-oriented feeling. Though with the act of preserving the real foods, the show exposes evidence of decay, mold, and releases an unpleasant odor. The show expresses a manic and unhinged feeling. One that teeters on the cusp of craft and insanity, which is how eating disorders always felt to me.

"Your Tongue is a Tool for Sewing" by Bea Hurd

4) What is your piece titled "Your Tongue Is a Tool for Sewing" about? Why should one take up space, refuse to move, and play a game of chicken that one will "always win?" Was this piece or series intended to be presented in an internet art or meme-like fashion? What makes internet art art as opposed to traditional art that takes up space, cannot be readily duplicated via copy-pasting, and does not consist of pixels or binary code?

Your Tongue is a Tool for sewing is a book of poetic prose that takes inspiration from the interconnections between my relation to my body and to food. The book is meant to accompany my show “A Home and a table”, as each poem within the book references some material or object found within the show. With this piece, I wanted to interact with language in the same materially oriented fashion that I approached the various foods and materials found within my show.

"Strip, Sear, and Suckle" by Bea Hurd

4) What is your sculpture titled, "Strip, Sear, and Suckle" about? What is the body-suite made of? What kind of feelings or experiences did you intend with the piece for either yourself as the artist or the audience?

“Strip, Sear, Suckle” is about my experience as an openly queer person living within the conservative suburbia of West Jordan Utah. The piece was meant to take my feeling of exposure and consumption and express them via a surrealist nightmare- where I am put in the place of eggs and bacon for breakfast.

5) What is the "Deflation of the Flesh" sculpture about? It has a quilt-like quality and a coat-like appearance. What are the new possibilities with the convergence of fashion design and wearable art?

“Deflation of Flesh” is meant to pull focus to the act of hand sewing the balloons. Through this intimate and laborious process over 6 months, the stiches in one way yield the balloons useless for their original function, while creating an unexpected new purpose- a coat textile. The coat was ideated through experimentation with balloons, where I discovered that sewing them together yielded a texture and look similar to a quilted blanket. Through this reference- of a warm and cozy blanket quilted by grandma- in comparison with the skin like visceral nature of the quilt, an unhinged manic energy is created.

"Snack Box" by Bea Hurd

6) What is the "Snack Box" sculpture about? Why do you choose to use candies and/or cereals as opposed to real fruits and vegetables as raw physical materials or symbolic materials for your work? Candies and snacks often imitate the taste or the flavor of the real fruits or vegetables. Why do you think this is the case? Why not just eat the real thing? Is there greater pleasure in the mimetic approach to life and the performance of reality than reality itself?

“Snack Box” is meant to be a silly exploration of junk foods. The piece focuses on foods prominent to my diet in the heat of my eating disorder. I used the creation of this piece to take the foods that usually hold traumatic memories, and give them a new light-hearted playful energy. The position of the table, meant to be like a person bent over in prayer, is my way of showing a coming to piece with the foods I am working with.

"Kitchen Set" by Bea Hurd

7) What is the "Kitchen Set" sculpture about? Does the work take on a sexual quality? What is the purpose of anthropomorphic designs of the furniture?

“Kitchen Set” is meant to mimic my experience of being an openly lesbian women in South Jordan, Utah, a conservative suburbia. The table represents a femme lesbian, while the chair is a butch. The piece is a tongue in cheek way of placing my life experience within the social standards of an American suburb.

"Kid's Meal" by Bea Hurd

8) What is "Kid's Meal" about? Why the headless or faceless nude sculpture of a woman with ample breasts? According to Freud, people have sexual desire from when they were babies, called infantile sexuality, and sexual desire is main driving force or motivation in the formation of the human psyche.

Kid’s meal” takes sexuality and puts it in an innocent child-like perspective. When imagining a child being served their mac and cheese on this plate, sexuality is taken from a dirty scandalous place, into a more explorative, childish place of curiosity.

"Melodramatic Me" by Bea Hurd

9) What is "Melodramatic Me" about? Did you turn a sculpture of your head into a melting concoction of different flavors like a candy or cocktail? Was this purely for visual pleasure or was there a deeper meaning behind this piece?

“Melodramatic Me” was created during the peak of Covid isolation and is mean to express my emotional state during that point. It is one of my least metaphorical/cloaked pieces. It simply is mean to show my exhaustion, sadness, and self-induced melodrama during that period of time.

10) Edibility. Flavors. Sexuality. Desire. You appear to sublimate your frustrations and desires rooted in sexuality into a higher form of artistic expression and activity through your work that deals with edible things. Do you agree with this observation? Any comments?

I would definitely agree with this comment. My work almost exclusively deals with the intersections of food, sexuality, and my body. I work best in manners that involve repetitive time-consuming actions. By working with foods, which for most of my life have been an all-consuming presence, for months on end, I have created a system to not only talk to and make sense of my preoccupation, but come to peace with it. In my mind, the materials that I work with, for one way or another, have occupied my mind negativity for years. So, in a rather simple yet beautiful action, I choose to allow them to consume me one more time- though now I am in control, and with them, I have chosen to create art. I found for years, when I notice body or weight anxiety, I would binge eat as a stress relief or distraction, from both disordered thoughts and everyday stress. While my work is meant to look crazed, manic, and wild, its creation brings me peace.

11) Can we constantly consume without end or is there an end or a limit to our consumption? Do we need to let out as much as we let in? Is there a limit to the bandwidth of desire and consumption on the visual level, which may potentially deprive deeper meaning from an endless amount of work expressing these topics? What do you think about the saying by Buddha - that to be happy one must let go of desire? Or are you a firm believer in desire, sexuality, materiality, the flesh, and youthfulness, even as these things never last (as of now, at least)? How will your art change in the future, when you age? Or do you plan on growing new body parts in the laboratory to keep yourself young?

While I obviously can see the wisdom in what Buddha says, I am a firm believer to not ignore or shame ourselves for our primal desires- I think lust, gluttony, materiality, and childishness are not bad or good- they are just part of us. With my art, I create an outlet for my to express and explore my most primal urges and desires. Sure there is a limit I suppose, to my expression of this certain train of thought, I think I may be inching towards it though still find some twinges to explore such a universally felt experience of desire. I do not entirely know how my art will change. I do realize the clear influence my youth has on my work, and allow for life to change the directions I take. I suppose, with age will come new and different primal desires.

12) Who are some of your favorite artists? How have they influenced you?

Right now I really love the work of Bridget Moser, Wayne Thiebaud, Andrea Fraiser, Olivia Gatewood, and Janine Antoni. They all have inspired me in a variety of ways. I think the most significant would be showing me the never ending limit of materially, and to always stay weird.

13) Where do you see yourself in the next 5 years? What are your dreams and goals for the future?

My main dream for the future is to receive my MFA. I plan on moving out of Utah within that time frame to follow my education and new art scene. I think my biggest dream is to just keep creating. With how young I am, I haven’t the slightest clue what my art will look like then, but I do hope it continues to exist and be created.

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