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5 Minutes with Franklin Ayzenberg

This month AucArt welcomes guest curator, designer and social activist Franklin Ayzenberg. Their show, FROM HEAVEN, welcomes 6 brand new artists to the AucArt roster who explore elements of fantasy through design, fashion and works on paper.

Where are you from originally? Has this had an impact on your work today?

I’m from Pasadena. I grew up about 5 minutes from the Gamble House — craftsman style architecture was a huge part of my childhood. Greene and Greene were the first designers I knew about so the Arts and Crafts movement has impacted my taste in a permanent way. 

How did Playground Studio come about? (Can you tell us more about what it is)

Playground Studio is an archive of my design work. Right now I am focused on growing as a designer because I didn’t go to art school and only started designing furniture a year ago. I have a long way to go before I’d launch a website and start production. Everything I put up online is a 3D render, but I am actually working with a woodworker right now and should have my first collection of one of one pieces done by Summer 2021.

What did you want to be when you grew up?

I wanted to be a drummer until I was in high school. When I was 16 I got really into music production and wanted to score movies and commercials. It actually wasn’t until my sophomore year of college that I became interested in fine art. 

Favourite material to work with?

Resin.

Something you cannot live without?

My Apple Pencil. 

Where is “home” for you?

New York

Describe your aesthetic in 3 words

Postmodern gothic minimalism!

Most unexpected source of inspiration?

Tik-tok

Highlight of your career so far?

I’m not sure I have a career yet — but being able to help Precious Okoyomon with their show for the Luma Tower in Arles, France was the best two weeks of my life.

Tell us about one of your most challenging pieces of work to complete?

I dug a 300 year old dead root out of the ground near Yosemite last summer and it took me 4 whole days to grind the bark off. I’m still not done with the piece. At the time I thought it would end up being a chair, but I’m honestly not sure what to do with it. I know it’ll come to me at some point though. 

The most inspiring person you’ve ever met?

Bruno Hugounenq. Bruno is a furniture maker and sculptor who has lived in the south of France his whole life. He’s a true craftsman and I feel lucky to know him.

Best and worst piece of advice you’ve been given?

The best advice I ever got was to not be concerned with conventional methods of education. I’ve always resisted school. It just doesn’t work for me. I learn better as an apprentice or intern — and there’s no shame in that. The worst advice I ever got was that I should go to art school if I want to be an artist. 

Tell us one thing few people know about you?

I named myself after Frank Ghery, Frank Lloyd Wright, and Aretha Franklin.

What are you reading at the moment?

I’m reading a book called Detransition Baby by Torrey Peters. She is my favorite writer. Her short story CisWorld changed my life.

 

Prized possession?

My Star of David necklace.

If you were to leave a mark on the world what would it be?

I just want to exist, and that alone feels like a mark to me. When I was growing up, I didn’t know trans people existed. If I can exist, and be trans, and have a few people know about those two things combined — that’s enough for me to feel like I did something that mattered. 

Which artists are you drawn to at the moment?

I’m drawn to each artist I put in this show! Alison Veit is someone I really admire. I love how Alison created this sand/plaster material. Artists that double as material researchers are my favorite kind. 

What kind of artwork do you like to surround yourself with/be in the company of?

Anything that feels childlike, with lots of color. I’m in between places right now but I usually have an Aya Takano print in my room, as well as an original color pencil drawing by Gitte Moller. My apartment is my playground. I have these 10 of these storage stools from a kindergarten website that are made to look like tree trunks. At my old place I had them stacked to look like a log was in my living room.

What advice would you give to someone purchasing their first artwork?

Don’t worry about who made it or what anyone else is going to think. If you love it, you need it. 

What are you enjoying about the art world currently?

I think it’s great how many artists are sharing their process through social media outlets like Tik Tok. Material researchers, like myself, have been using Tik tok to do genuine research and it’s been a game changer. 

I just want to exist, and that alone feels like a mark to me. When I was growing up, I didn’t know trans people existed. If I can exist, and be trans, and have a few people know about those two things combined — that’s enough for me to feel like I did something that mattered.

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