NH Depass is an American contemporary artist who uses classical techniques like hand sewing and carpentry while incorporating digital graphics and printing to create works that disturb historical and cultural timelines.
Explore the wonderful works from the incredibly gifted Artis in our newest feature!
NH Depass is an artist from New Orleans, Louisiana. In his work there is disjuncture between old and new: a tension between craft and digital innovation.
Depass uses classical techniques like hand sewing and carpentry while incorporating digital graphics and printing to create works that disturb historical and cultural timelines.
In 2021, his work was featured in the solo exhibition Form Destroyer at Thierry Goldberg Gallery in New York City.
He has exhibited in group exhibitions at The Pit, Los Angeles; Public Gallery, London; GYNP Gallery, Berlin; and the Ogden Museum of Southern Art, New Orleans.
In 2021, he was awarded “1st” place in the Louisiana Contemporary exhibition at the Ogden Museum of Southern art.
We asked NH a couple of questions:
The above artwork is a self portrait. I read that you create objects that allow us to reimagine the way we see and think about things. Inanimate objects made to portray an individual. So are the sculptures of Elisabeth, Keith, Emma and the others portraits depicting people you know? Does the sculpture reflect the person through association?
As for the Self Portrait, I chose to depict myself as a drawing desk.
I wanted the decorations and aesthetic decisions to feel like they were pulled from a childhood bedroom, so that it could reflect both the five year old me and the thirty year old me.
I believed that the perfect drawing desk would contain everything necessary to sit down and begin work, including the atmosphere and inspiration, a shortcut to the perfect moment where things come out easily.
This idealized drawing desk could also smell nice and house a mirror, for those inclined to craft a more traditional self-portrait.
These sculptures are people I know. A couple of years ago, I decided to drastically draw back the subject matter of my work and slowly grow it outward again, starting with those closest to me.
I wanted to make portraits of the individuals that were constants in my life and interacted with on a daily basis.
I chose not to depict them how they look, but more so how they feel, and naturally came to what you describe as a “sculpture through association”.
Through the collection of items and aesthetic choices in the sculptures, I sought to capture the idiosyncrasies and unique personality of the individual, allowing one to construct an image and idea of them in their mind.
Drawings, installations, furniture, sewing, digital, sculptures you are quite the multifaceted artist. Tell me what did you work on first?
Anything you want to try out next?
I first began drawing, and that seems to be a constant thread throughout all of my work.
I suppose many of the sculptures I have been making could simply be seen as elaborate ways to display drawings.
Traditionally when I am thinking about a project, I start with the idea of what I want to make and find the medium/materials that best suit that body of work.
In working that way, I end up trying out a lot of different materials and techniques. I think more truthfully, however, I like to make things as difficult as possible for myself..
You have an insta account but I checked and you don’t post very often. Why is that?
I wanted to say “digital anxiety”, but that might imply that I don’t have anxiety offline.. I’m working on it!
Can you tell us a bit about your other project Spider and the bottle? Is it still something you are working on, or is the project on ice? I checked the Insta account and it's been inactive for 3 years.
Spider and The Bottle is the umbrella for a great friendship and an outlet for our creative undertakings. We are always working on something, but the form changes.
More recently, we filmed a music video for the “Spider” half of “Spider and The Bottle”
If I were to ask a magic 8-ball if Spider and The Bottle were going to continue in some form, i'm sure it would read - “Outlook Good”.
You are presently doing a residency at the Joan Mitchell Center in New Orleans for local and national visual artists, how is that coming along? They offer one to five month residencies, how long will you be staying and can you tell us a little on what you will be working on?
I will have been working at the Joan Mitchell Center for five months, when the residency concludes in February.
While in residence, I am working on a series of fictional, fishing bumper stickers that I am sewing and quilting at a large scale - 27 x 96 inches.
I am also planning a series of sculptures that will accompany these fabric works, comprising a larger show about fishing in South Louisiana.
Do you work on more than one artwork at the time or is there a set process you follow when in the studio?
I’ve come to terms with the fact that I can only work on one thing at a time, if I want to do that one thing well.
Luckily with the work I do however, I am often waiting for materials to arrive, glue to dry or some gap in time that I can use to place my attention elsewhere, and get the ball rolling on another piece.
Where do you live and work? What is your studio like? Do you prefer working alone or when someone is around?
I live and work in New Orleans, Louisiana. “Dusty” is the first word that comes to mind when describing my studio.
It is in the back of an older, raw, warehouse space. I would like to think most would deem the space as having “character”.
Someone started an urban garden/farm outside, so as of late, there are a couple of little goats I can hear through my window, which I find comforting.
I prefer to work alone, but in the vicinity of other people making things. Moving back to New Orleans from New York City, I was worried I would be isolated in my studio setting, but fortunately I'm surrounded by some really talented people working in a range of mediums.
What would you say are the top 5 songs you have been listening to most lately when working? If you have Spotify what top 5 songs does it list?
Sligo River Blues - John Fahey
Love and Doubt - Hawk Alert
Tower of Song - Leonard Cohen
Church Bells Blues (1927) - Luke Jordan
Amore - Ryuichi Sakamoto
When you were at school, was it already obvious that you would end up as an artist? Was your surrounding supportive?
In many ways yes, but not necessarily so clear. I was originally interested in music, and producing music digitally.
I want to say I was doing that from the ages of thirteen through nineteen.
I began transitioning back to visual art in my early twenties, which was something I had always done, it had just not been my primary focus until then.
It was at that point that I decided to enroll in art school, and haven’t changed course since.
Is anyone else in your family artistically inclined?
Yes, especially my Grandmothers. They did a lot to facilitate my exposure to art and experimentation with art materials from a young age.
They both sew beautifully, one was well known for beading gowns in New Orleans, and the other has produced a number of beautifully rendered portraits.
My Mother designs clothing, my Brother is a traditional leather craftsman, and my Father is an artist with a 7-iron from 140 yards out.
What one good advice would you give the younger you if you could?
I would teach my younger self to take pause, breathe, and look with perspective.
What are your plans for 2022?
I am planning on finishing my next solo show that I will be showing with my gallery, Thierry Goldberg, in New York. Outside of that, fishing with my brother and running along the river.
2021 Group Exhibition - Ogden Museum of Southern Art - Louisiana Contemporary - New Orleans, LA
2021 Solo Exhibition - Thierry Goldberg - Form Destroyer - New York City, NY
2021 - 1st place: Louisiana Contemporary 2021 - Ogden Museum of Southern Art
2021 - Joan Mitchell Foundation Residency - New Orleans, LA
2020 - Group Exhibition - Public Gallery - No Time Like The Present - London, UK
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