Abstraction is a process or concept; it’s not a style.
But a lot of people think of it as a style. They think if they don’t recognize it, it must be abstract, which is just not true. A Jackson Pollock painting, once you’re familiar with it, is a familiar object. It’s like how a foreign language sounds like noise or cacophonous nothing because you don’t speak it. But once you know the language, then it’s full of information and poetry.
I grew up in the world of art that produced the conventions of what we call “modern art,” and so those languages are part of the information that I have. Hopefully I’ve managed to give my own spin on the appearance of the things I create, the concerns that are particular to me.
How do politics impact you as an artist?
You’re born a human being first. That you become an artist is how you decide to live and work with the world. Politics are just the way that human beings grapple with the world.
Do you work on one piece at a time?I don’t do anything one thing at a time, whether it’s thinking or reading. My world probably looks chaotic to people. I’m not a single-idea person.
The media tends to classify artists. We like labels.If you name something, you think you’ve pretty much done your job of identifying it. But a man falling in the water and a man diving in to set an Olympic record are quite different.
– Melvin Edwards, interview Surface magazine