Monday Artist Feature - Keren Toledano

What do you make/create? What's your medium?
I make abstract paintings and textural collages. I literally use everything I can get my hands on. Lately I've been making collages with used RFID paper and discarded canvas. I love making work that stands off the substrate--work that really breaks the fourth wall, that plane that separates the audience from the story.

What inspires you?
I love forlorn places weathered by time--shipwrecked vessels and abandoned places, attics stuffed with forgotten things. You can feel time in their gritty outsides, the accumulation of dust and decay. And yet they remain. They remind me not of the fragility of life but its resilience.

Who is your audience/ideal eyes for your work?
People who want to stay and linger, get lost in a piece, its multitude of layers and fibers. I want people to see and hear stories in my work. I am a writer, and when I make each piece I tell stories in my head. Every composition is a tale told in the absence of language. My collage collection, GRIT, is inspired by a short story I'm currently writing about a man who takes a job at an abandoned lighthouse. It may or may not be a ghost story. I haven't decided. Maybe in the end it doesn't matter. Maybe every tale is a little bit haunted. We are always speaking of things that came before us--yet refuse to die, the things that make us human because they have always been true about people. We like to think of ourselves as special, our time as unique. But we are tiny specks in the span of history. Perhaps we could all be a bit more humble. 

What do you try to achieve or tell your audience with your art?
I want people to slow down a little, and consider what lies beneath the surface of things--the layers, the history. We should buy things because of their substance, not surface. And I'm not just talking about art and clothing. I'm talking about our views of the world. We are as trendy in our thinking as we are in our sneakers. We are slowly learning to be more conscious of where and how our products are made. We should take the same responsibility for our ideas. We should crash test them more, see if we believe in their substance, or just the trendy image they afford.
What led you to where you are now?
I had writers block five years ago and I needed an outlet to tell my stories. The more I tried to write, the worse my writers block would become. So I started painting, to move away from words without abandoning the story.
Advice for up and coming artists and young creatives?
Just make as much stuff as you can, in as many different styles. Don't hold yourself from the start to a specific idea or process. Be aware of what others are making, but don't be too beholden to it. You can always curate a website or collection. There is a different between the free creativity of your studio practice, and the curation you offer your audience. Also, hire a professional photographer to shoot your images. It makes all the difference, especially when asking people to invest money in a piece they haven't seen in person.
What music do you listen to when you create and who inspires you the most?
Radiohead, Sigur Ros, Blonde Redhead, Lali Puna - music with an ambient soul. Music that literally melts all around you. I've always been a fan of Frankenthaler. I love how she wasn't afraid to paint very large, that she considered her body to be her main tool. She literally danced across those giant swathes of canvas. She didn't use brushes. Her body was her brush. I was a ballet dancer when I was younger. That always spoke to me.

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