I am honored to introduce the latest handmade zipper pouch collaboration with Albuquerque artist Robyn A. Frank. I had been admiring Robyn's work since I learned about her a year ago, and I particularly admire her flawless use of color. The collaboration between Foxly Handmade + Robyn A. Frank will launch on July 24th with a selection of four pouches.
Here's a sneak preview of the new collection! Email subscribers, watch your inbox for the full reveal soon!
Jen: Tell us about yourself!
Robyn: First, I want to acknowledge the occupied indigenous land we call Albuquerque from where I write these words, from where I live, and create art. The closest Pueblos being Sandia, and Isleta. The Tiwa name for the Sandia Pueblo isTuf Shur Tia. The Tiwa name for the Isleta Pueblo is Shiewhibak. I want to acknowledge the original peoples of New Mexico — Pueblo, Diné, and Apache, to uplift, honor, and speak the traditional names of the land and people to remind this community and all other visitors that these peoples did, and do still exist. Without their committed stewardship, we would not be enjoying this place today. Thank you.
I was born and lived in Tampa, Florida until I was 18. I moved to Brooklyn and earned a BFA in Printmaking from Pratt Institute. After graduating, I became a professional fine art fabricator, making work for world-renowned artists including Takashi Murakami, Y.Z. Kami, and Dennis McNett. During my time with Murakami, I learned about operationalizing an art practice — we worked within project schedules and defined production budgets; while honing highly specialized fabrication techniques. Then, the financial collapse happens, and in response to slowing work, I began a career in business operations, translating that administrative experience into working on the operations side of creative companies. I went on to hone a speciality in human resources / people operations and a quick 8-ish years later was leading the People Operations department at a global product design agency. This life was taking me farther and farther away from art making. The more I succeeded in this career, the less I could access myself-as-artist. I knew that my next chapter was going to be outside of New York. After many visits to New Mexico, my husband and I fell in love with Albuquerque and moved here at the start of 2019. So far, it’s been an incredibly nourishing experience, and we’re so grateful to be a part of the lands called New Mexico.
J: What is your earliest artistic/creative memory?
R: Earliest artistic memory would have to be the time in kindergarten when our teacher brought in a dead octopus and we painted it purple. (Remember, I grew up in Florida, it feels necessary to remind us of that at this moment.) I remember feeling the squishy tentacles and suckers, the slick lavender paint sliding between my fingers and all of the classmates squealing with some mixture of delight and disgust. A more conventional capital-A formidable art-memory was falling in love with the work of Kandinsky and later Picasso, sometime in middle school, so when I was 12-ish. My mom studied painting so we had a lot of nice books in the house with big bright reproductions. I was making paintings inspired by their work or studies reproducing their work in sketchbooks with markers to learn more about composition, color, line, etc.
J: Why do you create?
R: I create art as somewhat a personal necessity. It’s how I digest or process — externalize internalized thoughts, emotions, concepts of myself, who I was told I could be, and instead, choose who I want to be. It’s how I manifest the most aspirational aspects of myself, give space to the parts that need healing. I think that coping through art making, learning about myself and the world through art making has been in my life always, and the times where I’ve lost that practice, or not given it priority or space, is when I feel the least like myself.
J: What inspires your work?
R: My work is a celebration of change. Thinking about change as a cyclical duality of creation and loss. Compositions create a sense of space or place that is both physical and emotional. Where the past, present, and future assemblages of our self culminate an expanse of possibility. I use allegory to tell these stories. Reoccurring symbols include the circle, resembling a sun or moon, the self, a path that is forever becoming; the wavy line, an energetic manifestation of emotions and emotionality, evoking uncertainty and discovery contained within each moment; the rectangle within a rectangle as the ego or self-narrative that exists within a larger societal narrative. I draw further inspiration from New Mexico’s big sky, varied hues, and cloud shapes relate to the activity of transition, both emotional and physical; a stage of vast possibility.
I’m excited for this collaboration because I hope creating functional personal objects that offer this sense of respite could be that gentle reminder to slow down and listen. Listen to yourself, others, to be present.
J: Describe your process for creating the artwork for the pouches. What mediums do you use?
R: This collection was created digitally using an iPad, Adobe drawing tools, and finished in Photoshop. This is how I typically start all of my work — though some sketches go on to become paintings, these drawings became the fabric used in the Foxly pouch collection.
To speak to the process in my paintings — I work on wood panels because I begin panel prep with power sanding. Throughout the painting process, I hand sand the surface to minimize brushstrokes and texture. I use Golden fluid acrylics, a loose and high-pigment-paint product that allows me to achieve rich, opaque and flat color fields. More recent pieces have gradients and more open color fields made of many layers of different colors. These shapes are masked as soft brushy gradients are built up. It’s sort of a controlled but spontaneous energy. Finally, all pieces are varnished with a golden polymer UVLS varnish system in a satin finish. This protects them from losing their color for years to come and unifies the surface sheen. Each varnish pass is applied by brush and takes usually a day to cure, and takes around 7-8 passes to get to the final look. Between varnish passes, I pick out little flecks of dust with a dull exacto and a q tip. It’s tedious but serves the piece in the end.
J: What has been your most rewarding artistic creation so far?
R: The ongoing (and new to me) process of cultivating an audience for my work. Like I can make work and not share it. But the burgeoning conversation with others about my work has helped me trust myself more when making, which has been so valuable, like a seed and water. I think for the people who know me best, they see specific parts of myself or my development in certain compositions, and I hope that for folks I don’t know as well, it’s an opportunity for deeper connection between us or deeper connection to themselves, or their experiences.
J: What projects do you hope to pursue next?
R: I have some ideas for new paintings to get to, and a couple of exhibitions in the wings, though they may be moved around due to continued COVID-19 response. And generally find a meaningful way to both build an audience while also supporting the BLM movement, and to use social channels to amplify BIPOC, LGBTQA+ voices, artists, and makers.