Abby Junge is a full-time artist, mother and recovering perfectionist, which is why she claims to have fallen in love with linoleum. #printmaking #motherartist #womenartist #artistinterview #artistquote

Abby Junge is a full-time artist, mother, and recovering perfectionist, which is why she claims to have fallen in love with linoleum.

According to Abby, linoleum is unforgiving: a wrong cut, and well, its cut. And so, through her process of letting go she has arrived to the work in progress that she is today, as well as her fun-loving yet vulnerable art.

Abby Junge is no serious artist, but seriously believes that taking life less seriously is an important part of her art, which comes with laughing at herself, and at life. It all is just very funny, and she says that with the utmost seriousness possible.

Artist Abby Junge

Carrie: When did you first realize the importance of art in your life?

I always had creation in my life, it was not until MUUUUUUUCH later that i had the balls/guts/ovaries to call myself an artist. When I was 6, I remember cutting up my barbies clothes to  make new ones, and converting our little red wagon into race cars (fitted with water holder, creative corner, and scarf area). I also remodeled part of the roof in my building into my future home. I was of course not allowed to go up there, but of course I did, with knives, scissors and glue.

Almost religiously, my mom would take us on Sundays to a museum. We would walk around and were very much encouraged to walk at our own pace and stop ONLY in front of things that made us feel anything. My favorite piece ever, was James Turell’s Red Room. I would stay in that room until everyone else got hungry, and I used to say that “When I’m old, I’ll build a room like that in my house.” 

I’m still waiting for me to be old.

Carrie: How would you describe your art?

Fun, in an introspective painful and cynical kind of way. But not heavy at all.

Carrie: What does your workspace look like? 

So messy, but I am the boss of my mess and know where everything is; it’s also great to challenge myself on how small of an area of the table I can work. But when I’m stuck, I clean. And it feels nice. The mess comes from not enough time to clean between the waves of ideas. 

Putting My Demons to Sleep

Carrie: Can you describe your artistic process to readers? For example, do you follow the same pattern and track when you develop an artwork from idea to product?

I am full of ideas, as my studio is full of materials that gave me ideas. I don’t have enough hours in the day for all my ideas. And often I’ll wake up in the middle of the night and take a picture of the black ceiling, and scribble on that blackness, and send it to my whats app group with myself (a place where I keep notes). These are very bad sketches with very unclear letters. But it works. 

Once there’s an idea, it will never come out how it was intended and it will always morph on its way to the end. I am not so ordered as to have a 10 step plan. I have an end plan and no map to get there. And the road is filled with happy mistakes, unhappy mistakes, aha moments, and starting from scratch moments.

Carrie: What do you hope viewers take from your artwork?

A witty smile. Every single time. Is that a lot to ask?

Carrie: What do you wish you knew that you now know about your creative process?

Can I list them? 

  • That inspiration is a wave.
  • That procrastination is oh so necessary, it’s actually a crucial part of the process.
  • That anything and everything will look like sh*t before it looks great (I’m sure there’s a professional artist term for that).
  • That I AM an artist just for the simple reason that: I create art.
  • And that nobody will run to me and offer me to have an exhibition in MOMA, or anywhere, you have to hustle. Big time.
  • You (I) must wear all the hats in the beginning. It’s hard to interchange them and respect each different hat.

Happiness Islands 1

Carrie: What strategies do you use to help yourself when you feel “stuck?”

Like I said before, I clean. Start with my desk, my studio, move onto my living room, girls rooms, eventually by this time something will give, and if not I turn on a “bad acting show” and just sit at my desk. It will come.

Carrie:  What has been one hurdle you’ve overcome as a creative and how did you navigate that problem? 

Can we say it out loud? I faked it till I believed it myself. My biggest hurdle was me. At first, I printed business cards that said I’m an artist AND a designer, a designer being my comfort zone. And when I introduced myself i would say, “Hi, I’m Abby, I’m a renowned graphic designer with multiple biennale prizes for social posters, and artist”. I just really wanted to be an artist.

I guess I’m lucky I enjoy the thrill of the fear, so I veeeery slowly push myself to edges of discomfort, and dance on that line for much longer than I need to, and then eventually push myself to cross it. So even though it takes me an unnecessarily long time, I’ll get there.

Rock Goddess

Carrie:  Tell us about your upcoming show!

This is very exciting (of course).

Maybe I could break it up into : background, technical, subject.

It all started with a ticket to Mexico. I’m long due for a family visit. And since we decided that I would go alone (big deal for a mother of 3, two of those being twins of 2.5 years old) I would make it a work opportunity.

So after many, many, many, many, no thank you’s I found a ceramic artist. We began pingponging and had agreed to do a joint exhibition. But after a few meetings she decided she will be my curator, and this will be my solo exhibition. 

The subject is my identity as a Mexican. 

I’m proud and happy second generation Mexican.  Which means I am genetically Polish/Lithuanian, but still, I am Mexican. Even though I have now lived almost 20 years in Israel, and only 12 in Mexico, and only a mere 6 in New York… I am Mexican. Music wise, Mexican, food wise, oh so Mexican, colorwise, Mexican. You get the idea. 

And yet on the streets, to a Mexican I am not a Mexican. 

Mexico, whom I love, is a classist place. This feeling of wanting to belong except where I don’t want to belong is tiring, and this led me to look at a culturally separated Mexico, the bubble shall we say of where I grew up, and the other bubbles of different levels where others grew up.

Always taking a different stance between being accepted, accepting and refusing acceptance.

When ceramics are leather hard, they can be carved pretty much like linoleum. So that began a fun journey of experimentation that ended in imprinting carved linoleums into ceramic.

The most wonderful part is that when I normally carve linoleum, I think in 2D, on/off, black/white. But here, suddenly I am working in 3D, every gauge movement will be imprinted on the ceramics and just on a technical level alone, that has been exhilarating. 


Carrie: What is one creative resource you can’t live without?

My brain? I’d hate to say Instagram. I think instagram is just a good procrastinating tool. Nope, I’ll stay with my brain as an answer. It never stops, for better or worse. 

Carrie: Who/what inspires you?

Many individual people for many individual acts in themselves. And I have to say it, I’m damned proud of myself and of what I’ve achieved. Ugh that sounds so cocky. But I really am. I inspire me, but I also tire myself, so that’s balanced out.

Carrie:  What does the word artist mean to you? 

It’s not about the paint strokes. It’s about saying to the world: I made this, and this is worth your time to look at. And then doing all the legwork to make that happen, meaning you believed in you enough to make it happen, because like we’ve all heard in the museum, “I could have splattered some paint on a canvas as well!”

Right, but did you?

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