Interview with Amanda Visell

Previous Next

[Amanda Visell opens her Drift solo exhibition, featuring 100+ driftwood sculptures, at Iam8bit in Echo Park on Friday 2.14.  She was kind enough to share her thoughts about her new spot on the Oregon Coast and what its like working with the fantastic shapes the sea provides.]

You and Michelle Valigura recently moved from Los Angeles to the Oregon coast. How has the change of scenery been?

Like that moment in Avatar when he takes off in his new blue body.

The concept of using drift wood seems to flow naturally from your new location, literally right on the beach.  Was this an obvious ‘duh’ moment or is there more to it?

I had a plan of moving there and working on a few book ideas that I haven’t had time to pounce on. One thing I was gonna work on was painting the same scene every day. I thought that was a super funny contrast to what I normally do. I had no intentions of going all in on anything seriously, but all these amazing shapes showing up every day were irresistible. Eventually I had made enough sculptures that when I looked around the house I realized I’m actually doing this.

Drift feels like a very different show for you. While you’re well-known for wood sculptures, you’ve previously shaped/cut the wood and painted it with your signature dry brush technique.  Can you talk a little about the process for this new body of work?

Half of the process is finding and treating the wood, that’s the most exciting part. Did you know wood is heavy? Especially when it’s wet. 

Did you consider adding color to the pieces rather than sticking to the more or less natural brown color you’re using for the deco?

Nothing is painted. It’s dried and natural or burned. All of the unique elements comes from the wood itself. 

It seems like working with drift wood changes the sculpting approach from one of shaping wood to working with what the ocean provides. Did you let the shapes come to you or did you have a mental list of the shapes you needed for particular ideas? Has this new way of working been challenging?

Stock piling with intentions I guess. You’re right half of the approach is kinda falling in love with a chunk and making something from it. Like as opposed to a sketchbook of sculptures I want to make. It all happened organically. 

Your dogs—June and Manly—are always by your side. What do they make of your new wood friends?

The dogs are completely indifferent. They are insanely into looking for driftwood though. It’s dungeness crab season right now and Manly likes to walk a mile or so with a huge crab claw in his mouth if he can find one. 

When you and Michelle were in LA, the two of you released resin toys quite regularly. Can collectors expect more resin figures soon? Or are you going all-wood now 🙂

Oh I’m all over the place. I keep saying I’m a driftwood artist because it makes me giggle. It is actually true though!

This is almost an obligatory question…Any plans for vinyl art toys on the horizon?

I honestly can’t remember if I have anything in production right now but I’m sure something will be released within the year.

Finally, what are your favorite and least favorite things to eat?

Last night I had noodles covered in 5 spice. One bite actually. I can’t handle 5 spice. Artichoke everything is wonderful.

[Check out the show preview and if you’re going to the opening, don’t forget the free RSVP.]

Drift || Amanda Visell
Opening: Friday, February 14th 2020 (7:30 – 10 PM)

2147 W. Sunset Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90026