" it’s a freedom that I enjoy and it helps me to stay excited, motivated, and generative,
because I am not stacked in thinking one way or working in one way."
Mobile Music Maker, 2020
KE ZHANG: My first question for you is that most of your works are publications, but you also make installations, so I wonder what your opinions are about interdisciplinary?
AGUILAR MADELEINE: That’s a good question! I think for me, it’s the most generative way to work, especially because I like to work quickly, and I like to work intuitively with playing to figure out how to make things. So given the freedom to study interdisciplinary, because going to SAIC, has been amazing for me, as it allowed me to learn many different “languages” of working, that’s how it feels to me, I am being able to work in many different “languages”, and it helps me to get a better idea of what I am trying to say. So yeah, it’s a freedom that I enjoy and it helps me to stay excited, motivated, and generative. Because I am not stacked in thinking one way or working in one way.
how about that weather?
Luteboy in time
KE ZHANG: Yeah, Totally agree! Can we also talk a little bit about material choices? For example, your publication, Interior/Exterior, utilizes a very unique semi-transparent paper. I wonder how you choose your materials when you do publications or prints?
AGUILAR MADELEINE: I worked at the service bureau at SAIC, which is the on-campus digital output center, so it helps me to be in a space where I can physically handle many different types of paper and experiment with many different print methods, so for me, those choices are very important, especially with that book (Interior/Exterior). I couldn’t figure out how to arrange the content, and originally it was going to be postcards or a book composed of regular paper, but visually it wouldn't be read right on regular paper. So with the vellum paper (a semi-transparent paper, used for a variety of purposes including tracing, technical drawings, plans, and blueprints), it was really amazing because you sort of see the window behind the window, and it also presents the color more vibrant, which make it feels more like you are looking at a real window. I like that.
Models for the Departure
KE ZHANG: because you also make music, I wonder how you interpret the relationship between your music and your book/print/publications? Like you made an album (Ox-Bow), and you also made a print (The deer walked tentatively up the hill), at the same time. Do you think both art forms have something in common?
AGUILAR MADELEINE: For me, it’s more about the process. So the way that I make music is not really sitting down and writing a song. I start recording before I even know what the song's gonna be about. So it’s more about the process of figuring out a song through the making of it. And also letting the song be a record of my time and my experience, either reflecting on a moment or in the moment of making a song. Because it’s time-based, it has the ability to capture time. In addition, I feel music also has the ability to capture emotion and experience in a way that other things don’t. So thinking about its relationship to my work, I’ve learned a lot by making music. Music is something that I am constantly doing and I never try to make really “perfect stuff, ” I just make a lot. So that has taught me a lot in my making process, to the point where now I feel like I make art a lot more like I make music. Because in the past I was trying to get to that same place of making music where it’s quick and where I do it leads me to the next thing. So yeah, for me, it’s a lot about the process.
KE ZHANG: And my next question would be that you are a teaching assistant for a lot of classes, so I wonder if the communication with other students influences your creative process or bring some elements into your work.
AGUILAR MADELEINE: Yeah totally. I love TA (being a teaching assistant)! Mostly because of getting to know the students, I‘m always very moved by the works that I’ve seen in class, and it’s really exciting to me to be a part of that process of helping someone to figure out the thing that they are really excited about, and helping them figure out how to make it real. It’s really moving to see so many different types of work and so many different ways of expressing ideas. I love to know people’s styles and interests. It’s all very exciting to me!
But yeah, in terms of how it affects my practice, the most recent example is that I ended up collaborating with someone in the class that I TAed for, which is Amy. I just loved the way that she drew, and I felt that we had a sort of connection, in terms of our visual language and the things that we like to draw, so I ended up inviting her to cooperate on this mirror, which was a really impactful experience for me to work with somebody else to make something because it turns out that we have very different ways of making even though we have very similar interests and styles! So it’s interesting for me to know somebody else’s practice and respond to that in the way that she works, and to see the way she responds to me in the way I work, and find a way to work together.
The deer walked tentatively up the hill, screenprint, 2019
KE ZHANG: Yeah, It’s our class (Comics: summer residency)! And my last question is that does Chicago as a city influence your practice to some degree as you live in Chicago?
AGUILAR MADELEINE: Yes. I grew up in Chicago, so it’s the city I'm familiar with, and I lived all over the places within the city and suburbs. However, I think I’ve been impacted by, specifically the programs, art, and music programs that Chicago has offered, which is very influential to me as a student. And most of them are free! Specifically for communities who don’t have as much access as us (art school students). I did Marwen, which is a free art program, and I took amazing classes with amazing teachers there, who also teach at SAIC. So it’s like a mini SAIC before I went to SAIC. So I learned so much by working with a lot of mediums, doing a lot of different things including animation and drawings. Then I did Girls-Up-Chicago, which is a music program for girls and gender non-conforming and transgender youth, where they teach how to play instruments. You form a band and you perform at a venue in Chicago. Those two programs are very influential to me. First, because they gave me skills to be able to express myself in different ways, but also I ended up going back to those programs as a volunteer (TA), so it’s programs that I am still involved with to this day. And growing up around these Chicago Art Community has been impactful to me, even though I'm not interested in showing in galleries, I feel like the community itself, the people who are around. Art is more than just on the wall, it’s the people who made it and who support each other’s practice. There are a lot of artists running in Chicago, and people just have spaces in their homes or apartments. So just being around that growing up is influential, which also makes me know that I can make something in this city as well. So one of my goals is to start a small press, and that’s something I am working towards. But it’s just nice to know that there is a community of people in the city that are doing the same thing like the Chicago Infects and the Chicago Artist Book Fair. So there are a lot of things in the city, a lot of resources, and a lot of good people.
INTERVIEWER: KE ZHANG
CURATOR: KE ZHANG, WANTONG YAO
EDITOR: WANTONG YAO, KE ZHANG
GRAPHIC DESIGNER: YUXUAN WEI
Madeleine Aguilar tells stories, builds archives, maps spaces, constructs furniture, records histories, organizes data, catalogs objects, prints publications, creates frameworks, collects imagery, acquires trades, ties knots, repurposes materials, imitates structures, utilizes chance, plays instruments, follows intuition, prompts participation, guides observation, leaves evidence, develops routines, takes walks, breaks habits, and makes lists.