Off The Cost Features



PACE TAYLOR

Published on May 16, 2020 by Brittany Vega

Pace Taylor is a non-binary trans artist based in Portland, OR. They are emotionally preoccupied with Tenderness (and who it is afforded to). Through large-format soft pastel drawings and intimate graphte and cut paper drawings, they invite thier viewers to be interrupted, to be held by another's language.

Pace recieved their BFA in Digital Arts from University of Oregon in 2015. They have exhibited a number of times regionally, including at Disjecta and Weiden + Kennedy Gallery.








“PlaceBecomingFeeling.jpg”

“ForgetMe.jpg”

“Before.jpg”

Brittany Vega: How would you describe the subject of your work?

Pace Taylor: It’s about contextualization. As people, and especially as queer people, we’re often confronted with these moments when the ideas we hold about ourselves get challenged through interacting with others. We get to hold ourselves with someone else’s language, and then we can choose how to re-align ourselves. So, my work is about the active pursuit of understanding oneself (not necessarily accepting), and I do that through images of queer people and the liminal worlds we build.

I often reference old photos of assumed queers that I come across in online archives. Often, the subjects are without names, as is the person behind the camera. I can’t know if there was any romance in the moment the subjects were sharing, but I do find myself projecting. I like to think that through my drawings I’m bringing these folks into present day, and they can be honest about who they are. No assumptions needed.


BV: In your work, overlapping hands are accentuated and figures are puzzled together with color blocking and crisscrossing contours. The works that contain more than one figure do recognize a body’s proximity to another in this way, capturing a sensual distance or closeness without defining specific relationships, location, or time. What does this way of editing allow for in terms of world-building for those figures or even yourself?

PT: We’re constantly relating to each other, consciously or not, and as a person moving through the world with pretty severe social anxiety, I find myself tuning into those connections with some extremity. That anxiety casts a fog over much of my memory and when I do recall moments of intense feeling, they exist in some sort of transitory space, somewhere in the periphery. Nothing really feels real, except for the emotion. And I do like what that means for the subjects from old photos because what happens is that when I draw them, they get to live in this kind of forever place outside of time. I am bringing them into the present, but my experience of time isn’t so linear!

And as for the nebulous relationships these subjects have, I’m not purposefully trying to make them confusing, but it is important to me that they can be interpreted in a range of ways. There is a really exceptional kind of platonic closeness I’ve experienced with queer people that feels just as important as any romantic relationship, and I think it’s essential that those connections are represented as well.


BV: That ambiguity is a powerful tool here! The titles also evoke a moment in storytelling, whether that is personal or fiction. How do you arrive at titles for your work? And what role does titling have for your work?

PT: I wish I had something profound to say about how I arrive at the titles, but often I’m just sitting at my desk after completing the piece trying to string words together! I get really emotional when the imagery is complete because I get to step into these little moments, right alongside the subjects, and I try to sit in those feelings and extract whatever words feel right. As an Aries, it’s pretty safe to say that a lot of what I do is impulse-based!

I will say that all of these subjects and the environments they inhabit are in community with each other. Sometimes it’s the same person or people in different pieces, spanning time and space, living out one of their many lives (which queer folks often have). Viewing it this way, it’s really easy to keep a consistent tone, but perhaps that’s because the language I use and the images I create are just extensions of my own melancholy.

I also don’t really see the work as complete until they have titles. The effort it takes to name a concept or feeling solidifies my experience making it as well as gives the viewer an easy and hopefully relatable entry point to whatever the feeling is I’m going for.







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BV: I’m glad you bring this up because I definitely think we art folk could speak more to the role of feeling while making. Would you say another subject of your work is emotional connection itself?

PT: Sure, I think that would be appropriate. I’d feel a little silly assuming that all of my audience is going to walk away from my work with a specific emotion, but I think feeling something is inescapable — good, bad, or indifferent. So if emotional connection is a subject, I think that just means that the viewer is implicated in the piece; they’re a part of it by bringing their identity or experience to the image.


BV: Who or what is influencing your process right now?

PT: I’ve been reading Derek Jarman’s Modern Nature on and off for the past couple of months and there’s a melancholy in its pages that is feeding me right now. Jarman tracks his days in a journal format, and much of his time is spent alone, tending to his garden and taking note of how his body is coping with AIDS. I feel myself connecting deeply with that slowness and the weight of something terrible beyond your control in contrast to the beauty of a garden unfolding into the warm months and seemingly unshakeable memories of intimate connections. It’s also a good reminder that it’s okay to take it day by day and to listen to your body and what it needs for the moment.


BV: Do you create goals within your practice? And are there personal habits or tips you follow that help you maintain them?

PT: My goals feel really nebulous. I’ve never been much of a planner so a lot of what I think of as goals are more just kind of vague ideas of a conceptual or visual direction I’d like to move in. Unless a deadline is approaching (for a show or event, etc) and then I’m very goal-oriented! Although, I do tend to create long-term goals for myself that always sit in the back of my mind, and I find that having a few points on your mental horizon can keep you moving in the right direction.

As for habits and tips, before the pandemic, I had a relatively consistent studio schedule, which I really think is the key to a sustainable practice, at least for me. Just showing up was paramount especially if I was struggling with ideas or felt stagnant. I’m also a big believer in taking a walk or getting some air to help make yourself a bit more receptive to ideas. I’m lucky enough that my studio is just under an hour walk from my home, so coupling that long walk with studio time really gets me going.


BV: I think we started this conversation right at the beginning of quarantine? Now that we are well into it, how is that impacting your ability to make work?

PT: The biggest change has been accessing my studio space. Luckily, the building is still open, but with it being four floors of artists coming in and out, I decided to work from home about a month ago, and it’s just been a bit of an adjustment. My output is definitely less and the content has changed as well. Everything feels smaller and tighter and darker and less focused. I’m trying to explore that shift a bit and treat it with the same care as I would my normal work, but it’s a challenge. I’m also dealing with a lot of feelings of shame and guilt for not being able to keep a consistent daily practice going, which I think a lot of creatives are struggling with right now. Ultimately though, I’m humbled to be part of a community of artists and makers who are doing what they can to keep people’s spirits up and donate their time and skills to support others.







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IMAGE LIST




1. Feeling, becoming Place. Place, becoming Feeling.
Soft pastel and graphite on paper.
60" L x 30" W x 10.5" H
2017


2. “Forget Me.” “Never.”
Soft pastel and graphite on paper
50" x 36”
2020


3. How many times have we been here before…
Soft pastel and graphite on paper
30" x 22”
2020


4. The Mirror World seems a dangerous place
Soft pastel and graphite on paper
22" x 30”
2020


5. Everything on the menu looked wrong
Soft pastel and graphite on paper
22" x 30” 2020


6. Loving Addendum .o1
Cut paper and graphite
9" x 12”
2020


7. Loving Addendum .o4
Cut paper and graphite
7" x 11”
2020


8. Don’t worry,” they said. “they’ll forget about us in the morning.” And then they kissed me.
Soft pastel and graphite on paper
22" x 30”
2019


9. To Kiss Again After So Long.
Soft pastel and graphite on paper
22" x 30”
2019





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