photos for STACKEDD (c) Tina Ballew, Debbie Harry (c) CREEM MAGAZINE
Amanda Manitach is no stranger to the pages of STACKEDD. We happily featured her work last year when she debuted her Whiskey Helps series, which went on to spawn a line of merchandise. Ms. Manitach was flexible as ever when we asked her to catch up with us and portray the one and only Debbie Harry in our Spring shoot.
Special thanks to Twilight Gallery for the jewels!
MDL: Since we last featured you Whiskey Helps has become a brand- How did that process start and how has it impacted your latest work?
AM:It started as an image—a piece of art—and by popular demand was replicated as actual clothing people wear. It’s one of those accidental, ouroboric instances of life imitating art…that was imitating life. Maybe the whole thing is gesamtkunstwerk now. Currently, I’m working on my large, hand-drawn wallpaper pieces for some upcoming exhibits and not focused so much on Whiskey Helps, but the whole brand/t-shirt design/business aspect of it did get me thinking more about how people relate to text-based art and the intersection where language, fashion, and identity meet (aka on one’s chest).
MDL:What type of person is repping the brand on their chest? Have you run into someone on the street wearing your work? What was that like? How are you striking a balance with the commercial aspects of your work versus art for art’s sake?
AM: Everyone. I don’t think there’s a type. There’s almost nothing more banal than wearing some saying on your shirt (that somebody else made up). But I like that. That banality is the kind of thing that makes you realize just how similar most humans are, our humor, our desires, our coping mechanisms. We share so much. I haven’t run into my shirts on the street yet, but I see it popping up on strangers social media, which is funny. Is there really such a thing as a split between commerce and some kind of pure artmaking these days? I just spent the past few days cruising the Armory art fairs, so maybe my vision is a little blurry at the moment.
MDL:Since your work is based on strong statements, I’d imagine it’s provoked many an interesting conversation-What is the strongest reaction you’ve experienced to either your merch or visual work?
AM:”Shut Up I Wear Heels Bigger Than Your Dick” (merch or drawings) gets the biggest response from both men and women. Women love it. Dudes, for the most part, are absolutely compelled to defend their penis size, which cracks me. My first, really big wallpaper drawing was “Vices” that showed at Out of Sight during the Seattle Art Fair last summer. A lot of people jokingly would ask if I’d actually tried some of those things, then were shocked when I confirm that these are actually my vices. Not like I do them all the time, obviously! How exhausting.
MDL:Your latest pieces are gigantic. They certainly will be impossible to ignore. Can you talk a little about the process of translation when you start working with those proportions?
AM: I love going bigger and bigger. There’s something athletic about working at that size, something sexual. The mark-making literally becomes a kind of frottage—rubbing against the paper, leaving my traces. Most of the time with those big pieces, I lay the paper on the floor and am on my hands and knees drawing, smudging, wiping.
MDL: You’re about to be shown in some major places, tell us where folx can see your work in 2016.
AM: I’m super excited to have work included in “Northwest Art Now” at Tacoma Art Museum: May 14—August 21. I have a big solo show of new work at Roq La Rue Gallery that will run August 4th—August 27th. Also, later this spring, I’ll have a short film included in the 13 Chambers anthology that’s coming out, co-produced by Aktionsart and Smarthouse Creative. Thirteen female artists and filmmakers were invited to occupy a different room in a hundred-year-old printing building that was turned into an elementary school decades ago. For my film, I made an eggplant bleed!