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Cultivate Featured Artist: Justin Fondrie

The Cultivate Curatorial Board is excited to share the work of Justin Fondrie

Justin shares his work and process in our interview below.

Learn more about the Cultivate Featured artist series below.

Learn more about Justin on his:

Briefly describe your work or share your artist statement

The faces you see come from a leaked database called The Xinjiang Police Files. A region in southern Xinjiang, China is predominantly inhabited by the Uyghur people. In

2018, these regions were ordered to photograph a substantial share of the population

as part of biometric data collection. A collection of 2,884 leaked photographs surfaced

of Uyghur people who are/were in a re-education camp or detention center. Since the

images were taken in 2018 the status of each detainee is unknown.

Each cyanotype uses an original source image taken of each person when the biometric data was being collected. The ID photo is printed onto handmade newspaper. The newspaper acts as an ever-changing medium symbolizing the revolving door of headlines of what people remember and what gets published. A cyanotype is a time- based process mirroring the time-based process of newspaper headlines. Much like a human life the newspaper, cyanotype chemistry, and image of each person will change over time and will eventually fade away. A reminder of the temporality of life and the fragile nature of our existence.

blue screenprint of man facing camera
"Turghunjan Tursun", 2022, Cyanotype on Handmade Newspaper, 9"x5.5". Image Courtesy of the Artist

How do you go about beginning a new piece? Do you have it planned or is it more spontaneous?

When I begin a new piece, I spend days or weeks researching. Most of my work

is based on current events and forms of appropriation. I make sure I know as

much as I can about a given topic that my work is based on before creating. Once

I have reached a sufficient level of research the creating of a new piece begins.

That process usually relies on weeks of experimentation, trial and error, and

failure before any piece becomes finalized.

blue screenprint of man looking at camera
"Eziz Hesen", 2022, Cyanotype on Handmade Newspaper, 9"x5.5". Image Courtesy of Artist

What is a barrier that you, as an artist, overcame?

As an artist and educator, it becomes difficult to create work and building a

community within a diverse student body. I have to make sure I am equally

attentive to both my artwork, the community, and maintain personal

relationships within that community.

What is your go-to music when you're working on art?

This is a tough one to answer. I feel I am all over the board depending on my

mood. Sometimes I listen to no music. Other days I am listening to a wide range

of rap/hip-hop or heavy metal music.

What do you strive for as an artist? What form of recognition is important for you?

I strive to make a greater connection with communities through my artwork. It is important to me to not only make work, but to share it. The more people that can see and interact with my art the better. I do not want to make artwork that only I look at. I am also aware that not everyone will appreciate or like looking at my artwork. That is why community is also important to me. It is great to know your audience and who will enjoy the artwork. If people do not like it there are other works of art to look at and enjoy. I strongly believe that art has the power to heal and create change through sparking conversations. I feel the most successful and recognized when a fellow survivor of assault can find even a moment of solace through my work. Art should be a sanctuary - a place of refuge and safety for those creating and viewing. I think we have really strayed from this by getting caught up in the constant criticism and I am striving to get back to the sanctuary of creating.

blue screenprint of man facing camera
"Ablimit Omer", 2022, Cyanotype on Handmade Newspaper, 9"x5.5". Image Courtesy of the Artist

What advice would you share for artists? Share something that you have learned along the way.

My advice for artists is, learn to love the word “no.” The majority of shows,

grants, publications, or residencies I apply for I hear the word “no.” No should

not be a word that tells an artist to give up. The word should be embraced and a

reminder that not everyone will like your work. A juror/curator might have a

different vision for the exhibition. That does not mean you are talented. The art

world is tough and multiple attempts must be made before success can happen.

What is a work of art that is an inspiration to you?

There are several artworks that inspire me, like many other artists. One series

that continues to resonate with me are the “Seagram Murals” by Mark Rothko. It

thinks tie Seagram Murals are a great reminder to hold true to who you are and

make the work you want to make. Don’t confirm to person, institution, or

commission what is perceived to be a better opportunity.

blue screenprint of young man facing camera
"Bumeryem Tursun", 2022, Cyanotype on Handmade Newspaper, 9"x5.5". Image Courtesy of the Artist

Who are three working artists that you love and would recommend?


Cultivate Artists

A curated collection of emerging and mid-career artists. The featured artist program at Cultivate serves to share the artist's work and process with the community, inviting them to understand how and why an artist creates the work they do, to market and promote artists, and to connect artists to each other and to our network of curators, artists, and gallery owners.

These artists are curated together and represent the work that we exhibit at Cultivate. The artists are selected in January and June, and scheduled out for the six-month period. If you are interested in being one of Cultivate featured artists, please visit our open call for submissions.

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