Thursday, August 20, 2009


Guest post by Kate Bechak

Emily Laychak wears her heart on her sleeve, sticks paintings on the wall and sculptures on the floor, and creates the distinct impression that she once drew a deep breath and then didn't exhale until a great golden aura filtered out of her pores and crystallized around her. In short, she's an inspirational person to meet. She's currently curating the show GRRLS GRRLS GRRLS! with work by Stephanie Woods and others, previously mentioned in this blog as part of Unblurred. The show will run at Garfield Artworks until August 29th, and her band Rock Rifle will open for Jessica Hopper and Katie Stelmanis this Friday at 6:30. I interviewed her via email:

What is your biggest challenge as an artist?
Money! And this is coming from an artist who works primarily with garbage, literally. Most of my materials are free. If you want to live under a roof and eat, you have to work, but being an artist is a fulltime job in itself. It takes a lot of time and energy to make art and organize shows, but one doesn't necessarily make money. I took off work a lot in the month leading up to the show-- and I have done that before, getting ready for shows, because I have needed the time to work on them -- and the consequence is being poor.
I do have a job in art, at Pittsburgh Children's Museum, but minimum wage requires you to work pretty much fulltime to live, and if you're working full time, you have no time to make your own art. Either you chose to have time for your creative self and barely make rent, or you live financially comfortably and exhaustedly watch television after work until bedtime. But that’s not a challenge specific to artists though, is it? That’s the challenge all people face as people: what are we living for?

Has working at the children’s museum affected what you think about artistic development?

Working at the children's museum is an eye-opening experience because I see firsthand how hard adults have to work to be creative and how often they stifle the natural creativity of their offspring. Children are a big influence in my art because we intuitively create -- we just see things, that’s all, and have ideas. I watch parents tell their kids what colors to pick for a project, for example, or even encourage their kids to copy from another kid's ideas. It’s pretty crazy. Kids do not need help to be creative, it’s really raw.

How well do you think our educational system arms artists with the tools they need to develop their work?

Art and creativity are underappreciated. When budgets are cut, what’s the first to go? My little brother’s elementary school doesn’t have art and music classes anymore! Of course they maintain gym classes and sports teams. This makes sense because what will the working adults watch on TV if we aren't training our children to be football players?

What is it about girls?

Well, girls aren't being trained for the NFL-- but I'm just using football as an example to illustrate a bigger point. Girls are disadvantaged all over the place. The history we learn in school is dangerously misleading, it leaves out many people who have contributed a great deal and keeps a whole lot of people from believing in their potential in every subject.

Do you see an intersection between your work as a fine artist and as a musical performer?

I make art and music because I have ideas. That is really all there is to it. I see things, hear things and then make them new things. I think that everyone could do this in one way or another if they were encouraged to, but they are not, and they lose it. I consider myself monumentally blessed to have this freedom. I want everyone to have this, whatever form their own ideas come in, to have the freedom to make them real and to share with other people. I especially want this for girls because girls are the most oppressed people there are, throughout all places and time.

Anyway, it’s really scary to share ideas because no one is asking for them. Of course, no one even knows about your ideas except for you, so why would they want them? But wouldn't it be great if a girl, instead of needing a diamond or cute shoes, if she needed her very own song, that she personally wrote, to sing?


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stephanie said...

I am so proud of our show and very happy to see that Emily got interviewed about it. She really is an inspirational person and the best friend a girl could ask for.

with love--steph