Liv Molho: Get weird, don’t be precious, there’s no such thing as bad art.
An interview with artist Liv Molho
I am 22. I just graduated from Brandeis University with high honors in studio art.
Did you always plan on studying art?
I didn’t go to school thinking I would be studying art. My grandma is a painter and I’ve been painting my whole life, but growing up in a society where we’re told being an artist isn’t lucrative threw me off. I came to school thinking I’d be a business major. By sophomore year I was like ‘This sucks. I hate this. I’m not happy,’ so I reevaluated and realized the things I’ve always loved are politics and art so I double majored in politics and art.
How would you describe your style?
I used to use the words “impressionism” and “fauvism” a lot because those were the words that were thrown at me in academia. I’ve sort of realized in my last year that it is hard to find categories to put things in without feeling like you are just boxing yourself into an academic expectation. I’m very, very focused on color and I don’t really see that ever changing.
Can you explain your process?
Learning art in an academic space is really helpful, but we are all taught how to make art the same way…. planning, sketching, underpainting, painting over that, painting over that. I have the most success when I am making the big decisions in the moment, which was hard for me because it doesn’t comply with the way that you’re expected to make artwork, especially when your grades are based on that process.
What is your favorite thing to paint?
I have always been fascinated by faces. The face really lends itself to the way that I use color. Skin is something that has so many colors in it, but you don’t necessarily see all of those colors unless you’re looking for them, so I use my work as an opportunity to look for those colors. I find it really easy to express emotion when I am painting faces because when you’re looking at a face you’re connecting with it. Painting faces is an easy way to share how I see color, through a mode that is so emotional and immediately based in connection.
Where does your fascination with color stem from?
I, as a person, am loud. I talk really loud, I laugh really loud, I move my body a lot, I wear a lot of colors. Throughout my life, I have been told to tone it down, or been made to feel self conscious about how loud and colorful I am. I learned a lot about myself through my art and I was able to reclaim and share myself through my artwork. I often take subject matter that is mundane and recognizable, such as bodies doing everyday things, in order to start a comfortable baseline, but then making that subject feel loud and overwhelming and exciting through color and brushstroke and texture. That is how I hope to go throughout my own life — making things mundane feel colorful and exciting.
What is your favorite piece you have created?
That’s a hard question. One of my favorite pieces is “Chaos… Everywhere.” Initially, I was attempting to go out of my comfort zone and I decided I was not going to paint faces or figures. I hated it so much. Hating a piece is liberating because now you can do whatever the f*ck you want because you have nothing to lose. There is so much freedom in hating what you are creating because you are no longer afraid to mess it up. This started out as one of the pieces I had planned the most, and ended up becoming one of the most spontaneous pieces I have ever done and I think that is why it is one of my favorites. There are all of these serendipitous moments that you just can’t get when you plan.
Who inspires you?
David Hockney, David Park, and Ernst Ludwig Kirchner. They all use color and brushstroke in interesting ways.
Covid-19 is obviously changing the way we interact with art. What do you think the art world is going to look like?
My work was chosen to be exhibited in a virtual gallery a couple of months ago. I feel conflicted because I think art, when viewed virtually, loses a lot of its details. There is so much detail in the paint that I feel like you can’t get the full picture unless you’re staring at in person. But, at the same time, so much of the art we view, we view on Instagram. Social media has given us a new perspective on art. It has made art so much more accessible. Fine art was only ever interesting to the people who could afford to learn about it, and afford to buy it, but now it is something that everyone can access and enjoy. Online galleries are the natural next step and Covid-19 has only given us more of a reason to explore that sooner. I believe seeing art in person is the best way to see art, but I’d rather have more people viewing and appreciating art online, rather than less people seeing art the “right” way. Online galleries allow more people to see art, which generates more ideas and therefore more art.
What advice can you give to other artists?
Don’t take your art too seriously. A big challenge I have, and see other people have, is not doing something weird because they’re worried it’ll ruin the painting. I’m a super sentimental person and usually I hate my art while I’m making it, so when I finally like it I’m scared to do something that might ruin it. But, when I do something crazy, it always makes it better, more interesting, and it’s always where I learn the most. My main advice is don’t be afraid to get weird. Lastly, everyone is an artist. You can draw and you can paint, but you’ve been told that your art doesn’t qualify as good art. Everyone is an artist and what people decide is valuable is all based in academics. It’s always been the artist versus the art historian. From the beginning of time, the historian picks what goes into the museum, quantifies what is valuable, shapes how we see art, but every type of person has always been making every kind of art. We don’t know what is going to be valued in the future.
Get weird, don’t be precious, there is no such thing as bad art.