Covered and Uncovered

selected works by Kayla Cloonan

Covered and Uncovered, pieces 1-4 // Swarm, pieces 5-9

Asymmetric Magazine: Tell us about your series Swarm and Covered and Uncovered.
Kayla Cloonan: Covered and Uncovered is the reconciliation of work throughout my last two years in college. It was early in the development of my artist voice, when I began to recognize the patterns of my obsession with mark-making and experimentation with surfaces and materials. I reflected on my fixation with covering and uncovering prior layers, often masking the entirety of the initial image. This history both seen and unseen still fascinates me into current work. The series Swarm developed later with a continued fixation with layers of history, this time exploring the potential of an all-over aesthetic of clutter and overlapping layers with no single vantage point. The series also was a challenge for playing more heavily with color.

AM: How do they compare to each other as well as your other work?
KC: As with these two series, all my work is connected by a constant exploration of the potential for materials, surfaces and shape, line and color. I often work on multiple series at a time, each of them talking to each other in different ways. My work is derivative; drawings come from paintings, paintings from drawings, and so on, and so forth. I always keep a constant play between happenstance and refinement.

AM: What is your biggest inspiration?
KC: I am inspired visually and emotionally by the world around me. I am obsessed with colors, shapes and textures. My work evolves from a state of play, experimentation with materials and surfaces and then later visual and tactile refinement through layering, sewing, etc. My history as a photographer gave me the framework for how I observe the world around me and all of the colors and shapes appear and reappear throughout the surfaces of my paintings. These narratives appear more literally in my performance and installation work, where I encourage viewers to analyze, explore and open their senses.

AM: What role does Los Angeles play in your work?
KC: Since I moved here, Los Angeles has been a source of energy and inspiration in my work. The bustle, people, buildings, noise, smells and action of the city feeds my curiosity. LA is a constant fuel for my artistic spirit.

AM: We love your layering and use of mixed media! Can you tell us a bit about your process for creating a new piece and choosing materials?
KC: In my studio, I always foster an environment of playfulness. I make no preliminary sketches or planning, nor do I prescribe or name work before it is finished. I start with a surface or material that sparks my curiosity, search through my paints, pencils, pastels, inks and work with little direction but basic color palette. I view work in progress as unfinished, and I allow an anything goes approach, allowing myself to freely manipulate and play with the possibilities of the work. As I develop a series, I continue to refine the layers, isolating shapes and redefining surface. I collect strange paints and mediums, recycle and cannibalize older unfinished works and save scraps of old paintings and drawings for later collages. Nothing is precious until it feels done. Only upon completion of the work do I analyze them through writing and through writing develop titles and further tie together visual relationships.



Nothing is precious until it feels done.



AM: What themes do you typically pursue in your work?
KC: How do I even begin? I am fascinated by the history of mistake–human mistake. Themes in my work are often chaos bent into harmony; past marks become hidden, torn surfaces mend with sewing. Surfaces, to me, are like possibilities–open palettes for receiving energy. My work captures a moment of jumbled thoughts, an inkling of insanity among sobriety, a glimpse at insecurity among structure. It comes from somewhere deep inside, from a spot barely accessible, from a memory long repressed, from a feeling long-since felt. It attacks in built-up anger and refines in apologies and excuses. An attempt at transforming mistakes into constructive usefulness. A deliberate lack of perfection–the visual feed-through of earlier layers–that is what the work is about; a reflection of humanity and my experience in it's day-to-day grind.

AM: What music is currently inspiring you?
KC: Coming from an instrumental background, I am inspired by many genres of music. My current musical obsession is with many EDM bands, particularity lounge music, or as I like to call it, instrumental collage. I always have music on in my studio and work in flow with the rhythms.

AM: What can we expect to see from you next?
KC: I have a few series in progress right now, ranging in size. One of which is a series which began with a collection of fabric swatches I found while doing a residency in Chattanooga, TN. I've also been experimenting with old color photos from past projects, responding to pre-existing marks and cutting out and sewing the surfaces. As far as future projects go, I have an installation piece in development with altered books. And I'm still ironing out the possibilities for an interactive show somewhere in LA.

Kayla Cloonan is an LA-based abstract artist. You can find more of her work at


Posted on May 17, 2017 .