La Santa e Gloriosa Carne by Ed Fraga
Agnus Dei, mixed media by Ed Fraga
Book of Experience Found, Oil paint on digital photos, Ed Fraga
Today our interview is with Ed Fraga who is a painter living and working in Detroit Michigan Who I have known for many years. I have always found a powerful coming together of a high level of craft, constant inquiry, and compelling content that makes Ed's work a place I keep returning for more.
Ed where are the places you keep going back to for inspiration over the years?
The places I go back to are my childhood. The older I get the more I retreat to the place where all art comes from for me which is “innocence” - memories are forever etched in all of our minds and souls. The memories of play and dreams are most alive when we are children. Our imaginations early in life have not yet been tainted by reality, i.e. survival. I continually seek out the poetry of William Blake. His “Songs of Innocence” inspired an entire two years worth of work in 2007 – 2009. I strongly recommend everyone read them, especially “little boy lost” and “little boy found.”
What do you hope that your paintings will do for the people that live with them?
Inspire. When I make a work of art I think of it as some form of talisman – an abject with magical powers. Just as tribal priests in primitive cultures are the messengers of spiritual wisdom to their people so are artists today. When I am making art I am mindful that I am communicating to people of my time of what it means to be alive today. The world as I see it is in my work. The finished art is like a mirror that I can hold up to the world to show how I see my surroundings.
Is there an incident that you can recount when one of your pieces of art had some kind of dramatic effect on a persons life?
It is hard to answer that because once the art leaves I usually don't hear from those who own it. I often have collectors of my work tell me they love the painting but it is usually nothing more. I can answer the question in reverse by saying that having a painting of mine in a museum has changed my life. I never thought when I became an artist that I would have museums own my work. The feeling is amazing. Going to the Detroit Institute of Arts and seeing my painting hanging next to Frank Stella and Martin Puryear is still an overwhelming experience. I was especially proudest when before my father died he and my mother got to see the painting hanging in the museum. The best part of it was the museum took down a Picasso to replace it with my painting. I love to tell that story. Picasso went to storage as my painting went up on the museum wall.
If you were to lose your eyes sight, (heaven forbid) how would you proceed with your life in the arts?
I have thought of that before. In fact I know a friend who is an artist and is losing his eye sight. I even thought how perhaps life would not be over. My favorite artist Louise
Bourgeois would say that, “the art exists because of emotions and ideas” and I agree. I think as artists we live inside our heads and many times I visualize a work in my mind before I bring it to life. I could see taking an idea and having others implement it by way of your instructions. Artists do it all the time when they are commissioned to do a work. They have to depend on the talents of others. I do believe that they best art is idea based.
Who are the artists working today whose work that you admire?
Martin Puryear, Matthew Barney, Kiki Smith, Julian Galan
What do you love most about living in Detroit?
It's home. I have tried living in New York and Chicago at different times in my life but Detroit gives me what I need – space, time, money (affordable). I like working outside the center of the art world. I like being forgotten, left out, marginalized. I am fine with doing my work and feeling the work is the most important thing and nothing else. Success is a funny word and means many things to many people. Success to me means having the space and time to think, imagine, and bring ideas to life. Hopefully there will be those interested in the work you do, but as I get older I know the reality is that you may be the only one who really cares and that is fine with me and should be.
You have been granted the option to take one piece of art from any major museum in the country, what piece of art do you take home with you?
The Crucifixion: Last Judgement by Jan van Eyck at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, N.Y., N.Y.
Thank you Ed and we look forward to keeping an eye on where your journey will take you next.