Working in his sunlit Ridgewood studio, Angel Otero (b.1981) produces three or four new oil paintings on glass each day. After drying, he scrapes the paintings off the glass (creating “oil skins”) and applies them to large, resin-coated canvases. The process results in the rippled, semi-abstract paintings that characterize the artist’s signature style. Otero stumbled upon this unusual technique while at the Art Institute of Chicago, where he saved scraps of dried oil paint and collaged them on to canvas in an effort to save money. “I didn’t have the courage to throw [the scraps] away because oil paint is very expensive and I was dead broke,” he remarks.
Raised by his art-loving mom, Abdi Farah (b. 1987) was introduced to the arts at an early age. Growing up in Baltimore, a city with a rich artistic and cultural presence, he recalls being around art all the time. Farah remembers visiting art galleries and institutions such as the Walters Art Museum (formerly the Walters Art Gallery) and the Baltimore Museum of Art. His earliest memories of making art are when he went to work with his mom, a college professor and sat in a quiet corner to draw with markers and crayons. “I grew up always drawing,” he says. “That’s kind of who I was.” This love of drawing manifested into a skill and passion that led him to attend the George Washington Carver Center for Arts and Technology High School, where he focused on studio art. It wasn’t until he won the NAACP ACT-SO Gold Medal in painting that he realized how much artistic talent he had, and that he could be an artist for a living. Prior to this realization, Farah was certain he was going to play professional basketball, a huge part of his adolescence. “My buddies and I worshipped it,” he says.
Processing Stephen Burks
Back in 2007, long before Stephen Burks: Man Made was even an inkling in our minds, we featured a profile of the internationally acclaimed industrial designer in our magazine, Studio. Not only that, but the profile was illustrated with an image of his Part Occasional Tables, 2007, which are currently on view in the Museum of Arts & Design Global Africa Project exhibition. A prescient profile? Perhaps!