Jana Cariddi’s show Mac n’ Sleeze is currently on display at Gallery Espresso through June 29. Cariddi’s work is a blend of sharp humor, rambunctious creativity, and explosively fun color. We chatted with her to find out more about her process, her unique work, and her plans for the future. Click here to see more of Cariddi’s artwork.
SAI: Can you tell me about the title Mac n’ Sleeze? Where did that come from and what does it mean?
Jana Cariddi: “Mac n’ Sleeze” just seemed natural. It was the first show title that came to mind, and the [other] titles I brainstormed just didn’t seem to top it. I really wanted a fun show title that represented the quirkiness and nostalgic presence of my work.
SAI: What is your process like? How, when, and where do you create your artworks?
Cariddi: With my drawings, my process is very spontaneous. I rarely use a pencil. I typically just pick up a pen and start drawing; I’m often daydreaming at the same time. It’s a very relaxed and playful process, which is important because I want the drawings to have that playful nature.
My painting process is much more regimented, as my drawings are usually blueprints for larger paintings. The painting process is very methodical and quite obsessive (as far as flat painting techniques and hard edges go). It’s amazing how much easier it is to ‘color in the lines’ with markers than paint. You’d be surprised. I had tons of sketchbooks filled with drawings lying around and then I realized that the drawings themselves could be pieces on their own; they don’t need to sit lonely and unseen in the sketchbook until I decide to translate them into paint.
SAI: Where do you draw inspiration from?
Cariddi: I draw inspiration from so many things. I’m really into 90’s culture, such as 90’s cartoons and caboodle makeup kits. I’m also inspired by random weird junk like toe socks, Bratz dolls, horror movies, abandoned places, prize boxes (like the kind your 1st grade teacher had), gas station toys, punk music, lip smackers, various trinkets, pickles, sleepovers, vending machines, and poodles.. This list could go on forever.
SAI: You’ve said that this body of work is centered around a dialogue between memories and current experiences. Can you speak a bit about that and what memories or experiences have informed the work specifically? How are you translating them into these wild, colorful creatures and scenes?
Cariddi: It’s sort of like a stream of consciousness. When you are working from a stream of consciousness, you are inherently going to have memory and experience pop up in the work. My work is connecting themes such as heartbreak, eating disorders, and self-mutilation with contrary themes such as having a great time eating pizza with your best friend, or playing on swing sets, or kissing the right person. I suppose I’m trying to mend the dark and light into something digestible and relatable–something broken but fabulous. Humor is an important tool when trying to mend these themes. I love humor.
SAI: Your illustrations seem to me like what Lisa Frank might have made if the brand was based on sarcastic nihilism. There’s this sardonic feminism about your artworks–you’re taking objects traditionally associated with femininity (lipstick, hearts, hip hugger bell bottoms, unicorns) and placing them into environments with bloody razor blades, amputated limbs and syringes. Are these works a form of social commentary?
Cariddi: That’s a great metaphor! I love it! I suppose they are a form of social commentary. I’m mixing all these fragmented ideas together into a soup where there are delicious ingredients as well as sour, unpleasant ingredients. If I made work with just hearts, rainbows, and unicorns I feel that might be boring and very idealistic. The darker symbolism in the work is more of a reflection of my sadness and anger that I’m trying to laugh at for a minute.
SAI: What’s next for you?
Cariddi: I actually just moved to New Orleans yesterday! I am hoping to acquire a studio here and just make the best work that I can. As of right now, I’m not really interested in trying to become that “famous contemporary artist.” I just want to make (and show) awesome work and have a good time. Of course I will be working my butt off with serving jobs, etc. But I am hoping to save up and get my masters within the next 5-6 years so I can teach at a college level.