By Phoebe de Croisset

How One Working Model Finds Time for Art

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You recently graduated from NYU – congratulations! Can you tell us a bit about your education and arts training?

I graduated this past August from NYU’s Gallatin School of Individualized Studies. I had to take summer classes to receive my diploma as I had also been modeling full time. I graduated two months behind my class – but better late than never!

Are you still working on projects? How do you carve out the time between modeling jobs, or is it more organic than that? 

Now that I am out of school, I sadly no longer have a studio to work in! Many of my usual materials are off limits due to the confines of my tiny apartment and the fact that there’s no real ventilation or storage space. But I am always working on things. I have a desk at home, and it’s easy to find time to make things. It’s my way of unwinding and sorting through the day, which I think all people do in some way – even after a busy day. I am not much of a TV person… I actually just got a tiny TV in the apartment but have only watched the Olympics and the presidential debates. Making things relaxes me.

You have written about exploring form through drawing. Do you still draw? Do you have a favorite drawing?

Yes! Drawing is and always will be one of my greatest pleasures. I do it a little bit every day it helps me solve things that words sometimes cannot. I think my favorite drawings are from the first adult figure drawing class I took. My mom, an incredible artist herself, asked her teacher if I could sit in on his nude drawing class. I was probably twelve. It was the first time I ever saw a naked man in my life – balls and all. He looked like a skinny weathered hippie Santa Claus. The drawings are so shaky and timid but it was the first time I was able to solve and understand something I had never seen before by drawing it. I stayed in that class until I moved to New York.

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You have discussed your dyslexia, and the safety that drawing brought you because it had nothing to do with words. Do you consider your learning disability an advantage to your creative strengths in that way?

I think having a learning disability forces me to solve things outside the assumed box. I am constantly questioning things before they are even presented. I can relate it only to the feeling of going around the classroom in 1st grade when everyone knew how to read and each kid read a paragraph from the same book. I would count how many kids were in front of me – totally ignoring the actual story – and focus instead on finding my paragraph to make sure I wouldn’t be embarrassed botching a word I couldn’t follow or pronounce. I feel like I still have that first grader in my head – but I’m less scared of being embarrassed!

Describe your receipt series.

The receipt series comes from the intimacy in the excess of everyday things. To me, receipts stand as a commonly shared piece of excess among most people. They pile up in your purse, you shove them in a binder for when you eventually file your taxes, or pretend they will be useful to return an impulse buy. But I realized they are so much more than that. They are evidence. A diary of sorts. Where you were at a certain time, what you bought… it’s a portrait of the person.

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Do you consider your day job to be artistic? That is, do you think there is potential for creative exploration in modeling, and the fashion industry in general?

I think it can be. It’s always refreshing when you get a crew of people who want to compose an image, create a feeling, and build a world. Models are so often the canvas for the creative, but we also move and we speak and we have ideas and when they are heard and taken into account, the world becomes that more real and the image that much fuller.

What do you think is your most important role as an artist at this current age that we are in  -especially given the fast pace of media and social media in particular? Are you concerned with making that is relevant and lasting?

I don’t ever want to make something that I don’t feel connected to – whether or not someone else thinks it’s cool or relevant is not the point. If someone is excited or curious about something I make, I am grateful, but that isn’t what fuels the making. It’s all temporary anyway. Nothing is precious.

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Who is your greatest artistic mentor? 

I would say my mom, who always encouraged making, exploring, messing up, getting bruised and scratched and coming home to wash it off and do it all over again. She is the most creative, strong, gladiator warrior fairy princess woman. I would be nowhere without her!

Any new realms of art you would like to explore in the future?

I am very interested in textiles. There is such a history to the craft, and knowing nothing about it makes me crave it even more!

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