10 Questions: Stefan Abrams

Manayunk, digital archival print, dimensions variable

10 Questions is a recurring feature that asks artists and other cultural figures about their work, lives, and personal insights into the contemporary art world.

Stefan Abrams is a Philadelphia-based artist and professor in Moore College of Art and Design‘s Photography and Digital Arts Department. He is part of the group exhibition 99 Days at The Philadelphia Photo Arts Center on view through February 23.

1. Where are you finding ideas for your work these days?

More and more my ideas come through working itself.  I rarely produce projects anymore in which I conceive of an idea and then execute the project.  My working method is much more organic and reflective than it was when I was a student.

2. What’s your art-world pet peeve?

I hate the idea that using new technologies in work automatically implies new ideas.

3. Who is an artist that you think hasn’t received enough recognition?

Unfortunately, I think me 😦

4. What’s your favorite place to see art?

These days it is anywhere but on my computer.

5. What’s the last show to surprise you?  Why?

Roy Lichtenstein : Still Lifes at Gagosian from a couple years ago took me by surprise.  I have always been mildly interested in Lichtenstein’s work, but have not spent too much time looking at it.  I also haven’t looked seriously at painting for a while.  But that show was incredible.  Beautiful, inventive, smart, simple.  Really stunning.

6. What’s the weirdest thing you ever saw happen in a museum or gallery?

Years ago when the Whitney had the Charles Ray retrospective the artist had filled some metal cubes with black printer ink, all the way to the brim.  It seemed like a smart joke both on the minimalist cube and on people who touch art that they are not supposed to.  There were quite a few elegant looking visitors with black ink on their fingers.

7. What’s the worst piece of art you’ve ever made?

Pretty much every painting I ever made.

8. What’s the last great book you read?

The Elementary Particles by Michel Houellebecq.  I really loved it.  The New York Times called it a “deeply repugnant read.”

9. What’s your guilty pleasure?

Design blogs.  I have wasted way too much time looking at design and furniture blogs.  It is pure visual eye candy.

10. What’s an idea for a work of art that you’ve thought about making but never will?

In 1986 in Philadelphia there was a garbage strike that lasted twenty days.  I would like to make a hyper-realistic sculpture of an enormous mound of trash exactly accurate to some photo of the period.  It would have to be permanently installed on a Philadelphia street, and heavy enough to never be accidentally removed.  I think it speaks to the artificial nature of our existence, and the thin line that separates us from utter chaos, and to what happens when basic communication breaks down.

About Stefan:

Stefan Abrams is a Philadelphia-based artist who works primarily in the medium of photography. Born in South Africa, Stefan received a BA in History and Literature from the University of Vermont and his MFA in Photography at Tyler School of Art. A former member of Vox Populi,  Stefan has received two Pennsylvania Council of the Arts fellowships and has exhibited locally, nationally, and internationally.


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