An ongoing series of mini Q&As with some of L.A.’s most active and eclectic contemporary artists, introducing themselves to you in their own words. This week it’s painter, adventurer and environmental sustainability activist Danielle Eubank, who recently secured funding to complete her mission to paint all the world’s major oceans and seas. She’ll be traveling to Antarctica in February.
L.A. WEEKLY: When did you first know you were an artist?
DANIELLE EUBANK: I’m not sure there was ever a moment when I said to myself, “Hey! I’m an artist!” but I do remember the moment I decided that I wanted to be an artist. More specifically, I wanted to be Michelangelo. When I was 8 years old my family lived in Europe for half a year. I remember seeing Michelangelo’s paintings in the Sistine Chapel and thinking (with my 8-year-old brain), “How does he paint like that? I want to be him.” Eventually I worked it out that I couldn’t actually turn into him, but becoming an artist was close enough.
What is your short answer to people who ask what your work is about?
I want my art to make people think and feel. Some of my works are emotion-evoking, and others are a way of getting people to really look at water. Really observing and thinking about our oceans is going to turn into deeper caring and preservation of them.
What would you be doing if you weren’t an artist?
I would be playing second base for the Dodgers. Just kidding. If I weren’t an artist, I would be working 100 percent of the time trying to help our planet. It is imperative that we preserve Earth’s fragile ecosystem in land, air and water. We all use and depend on water, for example, for sustenance, agriculture, fishing, industry and, critically, to help regulate our climate. I love technology (old and new) and science — especially when it is helping the environment, preserving clean water and sustaining biodiversity.
Did you go to art school? Why/Why not?
I didn’t go to art school. I have broad interests. I love all art forms: dance, music, performance, sculpture and image-making from all disciplines throughout the world. I also love math, biology, history, language and horticulture. When I was coming out of high school and thinking about furthering my education, I wasn’t ready to stop studying all those fabulous subjects and I considered myself an academic first and foremost. I decided to go to UCLA, where I earned my B.A. and MFA from the UCLA School of Arts and Architecture.
When is/was your current/most recent/next show or project?
I will sail to Antarctica in February 2019 to paint the Southern Ocean, which will culminate a 20-year project to sail and paint all the oceans on the planet to help raise awareness about the plight of our oceans. The project is called One Artist Five Oceans. I began my quest to paint the Earth’s five major oceans in 2001 and since then I’ve traveled over 30,000 miles on sea, painted more than 200 bodies of water, and painted water in 22 countries. I want to use this project to forward our public conversation about how climate change threatens our seas and what we can do, in our own lives, to support the environment. If you are interested in helping me bring awareness to a broader audience about the state of our oceans, go to oneartistfiveoceans.com.
What artist, living or dead, would you most like to show with?
I would love to show with Gerhard Richter and Barbara Hepworth. I love both their work! They both do something that I particularly admire — explore that “line” between abstraction and realism. Perhaps it is more apparent in Richter’s work, as his approach is more binary, but I see it in Hepworth’s art, too. I wouldn’t need to show with them, although that would be pretty cool. Just attending an exhibition of their work together would be incredible!
Do you listen to music while you work? If so, what?
Absolutely! First I listen to international news for a couple hours. Then when I’m good and caught up I switch to music. I’m a big alt-rock fan and lately I’ve been listening to a lot of Nothing But Thieves and The Amazons. I love John Coltrane. And when I need a pick-me-up, nothing does it like Ella Fitzgerald.
Website and social media handles, please!
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