What’s your addiction? Candace Hopkins enjoys creating works based on struggles within our society. Her focus has mainly been addiction and body image. Read her interview on her oil & water addiction series of paintings below.
I think society has a problem with self medicating in general. We need pills to make us feel better, beer after a long day, lipstick to make us feel prettier. All of these things are just used to cover and avoid problems we need to deal with in our lives.
How long have you been painting?
I have been creating art my entire life but never seriously got into painting until 2008 when I took my first undergraduate painting class and began to learn color theory.
How long did it take for you to find your current or favorite style of painting?
When I first started painting I focused a lot on realism and worked primarily in oil. It took me two years and several months of ‘bad’ work mixed in with ‘good’ work to really let lose and quit thinking so much. Once i quit using my brain so much to analyze everything I finally let it start coming from my heart and really feeling what I am doing. It made a huge impact on my current painting style.
You said you lived and traveled in Asia this past year, what places did you visit?
I taught English in Korea and met many foreigners passing through from different countries while I was there. Some were very talented artists. One in particular was a female from China who taught me traditional Chinese painting techniques. My experiences were very rewarding. When I was not working in Korea I traveled to Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan, Japan, and the Philippines.
What did you enjoy the most about your visit?
I liked the feeling of freedom I got from traveling primarily alone. I met so many interesting people and saw so many things. Something about traveling alone is euphoric to me. The worst experience I had was being yelled at by a man in Taiwan who was telling me to get out of his country. It was hard looking different at times, but it really put a lot of things into perspective for me.
Is there a specific country you have visited that has had a significant role in your work?
While in Korea I worked with a group called Justice for North Korea. I would paint for them in the streets and raise awareness and funds to help people flee North Korea or teach defectors. There is a tension around this issue that I feel will be associated with later works.
Did you gain any new insights about art in Asia?
I did! Traditional Chinese painting is very meticulous and thought out. The process in which they make beautiful works is beautiful in itself. You must also have a very steady hand!
What made you move to San Francisco?
I have always loved San Francisco. When I first visited i got such a wonderful free spirited vibe that I’ve been searching for my entire life. San Francisco is the closest I have ever felt to home. I am very lucky because there is also a great art community here.
What do you think about the art scene and the art environment in the Bay?
I like the art scene here in the bay. You can really get a starving artist feel sometimes. I love how a lot of people seems to be happy just creating and making enough to live. I’ve met some great people here. I am very thankful!
We love your addiction series and completely agree with you when you say “The notion that there is one specific formula to correct or manage a diagnosed disorder is unrealistic and serpentine.” Many of us fall into one of the categories but is there a specific event or someone who inspired this addiction series?
Honestly, I am a drinker. I love to drink. Originally I did the beer cans as a joke because I was fed up of thinking so much about what I was going to create next. I woke up after a long night and thought ‘ok, lets try this!’ I created what I thought was a funny work about the cause of my great night and bad hangover. I brought it to be critiqued and the response was much better than I expected. From there I was able to play with all kinds of ideas.
We love beer! Is Bud Light your favorite?
I am not a fan of Bud Light, although it was my beer of choice in college. It wasn’t until I started traveling around California and other parts of the US I discovered many, many other kinds of beer!
Or is it based on contemporary society as a whole?
I think society has a problem with self medicating in general. We need pills to make us feel better, beer after a long day, lipstick to make us feel prettier. All of these things are just used to cover and avoid problems we need to deal with in our lives. I think society as a whole has the worst problem with legalized substances like alcohol and prescription medication. If it is legal, many people refuse to acknowledge the fact that they have a problem.
What has traveling taught you in regards to addictions in American versus those of other places?
American addictions are no worse or better than any other countries addictions. You may not be able to find LSD in Korea, but you might be stepping over a drunk, passed out business man in the morning on your way to work. People will always find a way to cope, even if its sniffing markers.
What addiction does Toielt represent?
The toilet piece is actually a reflection of my struggles with bulimia. I always seemed to be going back. It is not a substance, but in a way I felt like crack addict might feel with the inability to stop and all the frustrations and guilt that came along with it.
Your photography is also about addiction; what is the message you are trying to get across to your viewers?
There is a lot of helplessness and chance involved in addiction. I attempted to reflect this by using multiple exposures, different frames, and moving the paper around during the exposure process. The other half or the photography is based on body image.