For our bi-weekly feature here at Quiet Lunch, we caught up to date with Darryl Westly, a painter and mixed media artist who currently lives in Chinatown, NYC.
J+A: Hi Darryl, it’s good to see you, it looks like you have been busy! Can you tell us what is exciting to you as a working artist right now?
DW: You too! I would say Social media in general – I believe we are going through a sea change on par with the invention of the telegraph 200 years ago. Social networks are redefining the world and the way we see ourselves. The closest comparison I can make is the functioning of democracy in ancient Athens – anyone with a phone and an internet connection has the ability to voice an opinion and be heard and I think that’s incredible.
J+A: Yes! It is amazing to see this amount of participation domestically and on a global scale within a democracy and this leads us right into the next question: What makes NYC attractive to you? We all know Frank Sinatra loved this city but we are sure the rent was much cheaper back then…
DW: I grew up in Chicago and I would say that New York has a premium pace and a certain mobility that is unique. My parents are originally both from New York but moved to Chicago due to my father being offered a job as a reporter. Being that I moved here, my appreciation for this city grows as I spend more time here and I definitely have become attached to the pace through moving between Brooklyn and Manhattan variously.
J+A: We definitely get you on that! If you had the option of living anywhere would you move/what makes you engage with your community?
DW: I love New York, and I’m happy to call it my home. During the month of October, I was granted an opportunity to travel to Lebanon and participate in BAR: Beirut Art Residency. It was my first trip outside of North America and the experience was beyond anything I could have imagined.
In America it is really difficult not to view the world through the lens of mass media- whether it be CNN, FOX or (insert preferred news source here) the stories and perspective we reserve are often influenced by agents rooted within bias. Xenophobia, in regards to the middle east, is extremely real! Especially as you look at the events of this past week. Our country is definitely divided on its understanding of the world beyond our edges of the Pacific and Atlantic. As an artist, I see myself as having a role in building connections with people, the past, and present. Whether with their values, experiences, or beliefs.
This concept of a collective consciousness fueled by a shared will is both the foundation of our civilization and suggested by our national mantra: ”united we stand divided we fall”. This essentially is what makes America different. As I see it right now New York City is possibly the most “united” of states in my ethos than any other place in the US, and that is influencing me heavily on pursuing residencies or flat out moving elsewhere. Chinatown is a melting pot of cultures and I definitely feel at home here.
J+A: Our next Question has more to do with your digital experiences. As our virtual and physical life becomes more intertwined do you see your work branching out of its physical realm?
DW: Definitely. I don’t adhere to the notion of painting in the strict historical sense of the physical application of placing a pigment onto an object nor the process of translating mimetic ideas through the innovation of cultural iconography. I understand my own process of painting as conceptual one that exists somewhere between the two.
New technology holds the most potential for creating new forms of representation and I find myself particularly inspired by the thought of conjoining augmented/virtual reality experiences into social networks. As of right now, I have a couple of projects in mind that I am planning to execute later throughout the year.
J+A: From your current work we can definitely imagine a VR world based on your imagery, with that said. Do you see your work shifting or changing in any way with our current political situation?
DW: Yes, and it has.
For me personally, the past month has been a time to reflect more broadly on the issues that face America and its citizens both within the world and abroad. It seems a lot of the political and social baggage our country has carried over the years is beginning to find its way into the mainstream through #hashtags political movements, laws and foreign policy. The legend of American exceptionalism and the reality of current of events has a created a steep contrast between the dream and reality of what this country really represents throughout the world today.
J+A: We’re coming to an end here but it’s been really great catching up with you Darryl! here is the last question: We know you’ve been in New York—Chinatown—for a while, but you’re originally from Chicago. Does Chicago have it’s own Pizza Rats, or are the slices too heavy for them to carry?
DW: Haha, Yes! The beauty of Chicago pizza is that for an enterprising rat I’m sure a single slice of deep dish pizza can double as a both a meal and a one bedroom apt. These are some thick slices I am talking about. Purely Chicago.
You can stay up to date with Westly’s work on Instagram @darrylwestly
Follow us for more artists we know bi-weekly @JaredxAlannah on Instagram and right m**f**in here,
and stay up to date on all the new projects Darryl has up his sleeve.