CA+T Interview with Mik Gaspay
Interviewed via E-Mail
October 18, 2013

Matthew Andrews, CA+T Interviewer
Mik Gaspay, Artist

[Editor’s note: All ellipses are original.]

Matthew Andrews: How did you get started in art (e.g., as a child, in school)?

Mik Gaspay: My mom taught me my first art lessons ... she's a closet artist. When we moved to the US, she enrolled me in summer art classes (cheap child care).

MA: What is your creative process when beginning a piece (mental and physical)?

MG: I like to shop.  I wander around places like The Home Depot, Target, Best Buy, Costco, $1 dollar stores. I think the ambivalence I feel towards these sites begins to bring out ideas for me. I begin to think about the systems that connect people and the material goods being sold ... where the goods are manufactured ... who buys them ... the workers stocking the goods. (My Lola [grandmother] worked at a Walmart for five years after retiring from teaching thirty years at a public school in Manila ... ironically or sadly, she made more money in five years working at Walmart than teaching for thirty years.) The complexities that these stores present are ripe for ideas and the relationships I am interested in sussing out and translating into my work.

MA: You work within various mediums, including found objects, painting, and sculpture. Does your creative process differ by medium? How so or how not?

MG: My process only differs through the execution of the medium. I let the concept dictate the choice of media ...  I choose the material/medium by what I feel conveys an idea the best.  

MA: How did you come up with the idea of your piece Pacific Fleet?

MG: I am into Science Fiction ... I was reading the works of Sci-Fi writer Octavia Butler at the time and had just traveled to Tikal, Guatemala while I was thinking about and making this piece.  I was interested in creating futuristic landscapes that illustrate alternate futures or alternate universes.  I was imagining the ruins of the US Navy's Pacific Fleet being uncovered and the Navy men in white discovering what possibly could have been their ship.  I imagined that they time traveled there ... either from a past or alternate future time. I had also been looking at the work of Casper David Friedrich and thought of his "Wanderer above the Sea of Fog" piece when thinking of Pacific Fleet

MA: How did you come up with the idea of your piece I Heart Arizona?

MG: I wanted to create a painting that functioned like a document ... I was interested in the nonsensical merchandise floating around the internet at the time that spewed hateful propaganda. Arizona Senate Bill 1070 was recently passed at that time [2010], and I was irritated that such a xenophobic law was passed. Creating a literal translation of these weird bumper stickers was a meditation on fear.

MA: Many of your paintings, such as Pacific Fleet, appear photorealistic. Could you speak about this?

MG: I try to paint photorealistic, but it always looks flat.  But I have just accepted that I can't paint that way and ultimately [that] works better for me since I could just use a camera for the photoreal look. When I paint I feel I revert to all the techniques I picked up through random how to paint books my mom owned.

I was interested in trying to paint as close to the photo references to convey a sense of realism to mimic historical paintings. 

MA: What inspires you and why?

MG: Not sure if I have a singular inspiration ... sometimes I feel compelled to obsessively clean my car and then I feel inspired to work on art projects.  Traveling always inspires me.