One of the best ways to understand artists and their work is to see them in their element, their “habitat” as it were. In our new video series, “Habitat,” created in collaboration with ARTnews, and shot by artist Robin Cameron and filmmaker Wilson Cameron, we go inside the spaces where up-and-coming artists are engaged in the creative process and talk to them about what they’re making and the ideas behind the work. In our first installment, we dropped in on the painter Eric N. Mack in his Bronx studio.
Eric N. Mack has been pushing his painting into strange new territories over the past few years. In many pieces, Mack applies oil, acrylic, and bits of detritus—like, say, fashion-magazine pages, posters, or the odd orange peel—to pieces of fabric, which he then hangs using ropes and rods, stretching his works out into space. Sometimes he conjures whole installations, shambolic pieces that verge on architecture and that are gingerly balanced, precariously beautiful. They allude to private, personal histories, the kind of stories that transpire in places that are just out of sight. “I want the work to be slippery,” he says in this interview at his South Bronx studio. “I want it to be kind of itchy to people in terms of the definition.” A graduate of the politically engaged Cooper Union and Yale University’s M.F.A. program, Mack had work in MoMA PS1’s “Greater New York” exhibition last year, and he currently has a solo show at the Albright-Knox Gallery in Buffalo, on view through June 18.