Number Interviews: David Onri Anderson

By Jesse Butcher

David Onri Anderson

David Onri Anderson was born in 1993 in Nashville, TN. He graduated from Watkins College of Art, Design & Film in the spring of 2016. Currently he is a co­curator in an artist-­run gallery called mild climate, and he teaches art to young people. He maintains a daily studio practice in the Wedgewood-Houston arts district where many paintings and objects are constantly fluctuating as artwork and living residue. He also plays music in a band called Onri.

Number: How do you navigate your personal studio process?

David Onri Anderson: My personal studio process is what I like to think of as a time when my experiences throughout days of doing work, meeting people, running in to rules/bureaucracy, and experiencing nature create questions or an energy that I can’t seem to articulate with words, and then process through the act of making or being creative with materials.

Is your practice mostly intuitive, theory-based, or some combination of the two?

My studio process I would say is mostly intuitive, but does involve pressing ideas that take affect on me. Currently I am reading a book called Tales of Tibet in which several contemporary Tibetan writers seek to reclaim their inheritance of their Tibetan culture through writing new stories that bridge the gap between now and before the Tibetans were being oppressed by Chinese culture. Painting is a process I find to be the most immediate even if it isn’t resolved in that one sitting, I can deal with ideas that seem overwhelming or out of reach without having conclusions.

When are you certain a work or painting is complete?

I know when a painting is done once it seems like something beyond what I intended or preconceived. Almost as if another hand had made it other than mine.

How do you negotiate your curatorial process in conjunction with your personal process for mild climate? Are they separate institutions?

The curatorial process for mild climate involves finding artists whom I feel represent a creative output in Tennessee that is progressive in a manner that is relevant to Tennessee’s growth as a community, artistic destination, and a source of influence for other communities trying to exist creatively and still be within their own unique personality as a city/state.

David Onri 2

We are looking to show art that is fresh and contemporary in a sense but still true to its environment. I don’t want Nashville to be a shitty version of New York or Los Angeles, I want Nashville to be the best version of itself and represent what its own art is, finding out what that is very difficult I think.

My personal process is similar in a way that I’m trying to do the same thing for myself, trying to be true to the environment and community around me as I make work. But when working with other artists I have to lend myself to trusting them and the other co-curators of mild climate which are my fellow friends and co-curators Mika Agari, Jessica Clay, and Zack Rafuls. We have the opportunity to show an artist from New York or LA or Vancouver in the same room as one of our local Tennessean artists and in this situation we can set up a dialogue that connects our community values but also create a vocabulary of contemporary languages that can be seen broadly as an artistic evolution.

What books, records and movies are influencing your practice at this time?

 Tales of Tibet: Sky Burials, Wind Horses, and Prayer Wheels. I am reading through Kerry James Marshall’s retrospective book. Also reading the retrospective book of Agnes Martin. Conquest of the Useless by Werner Herzog

Been listening to a lot of music these days a few of them are: Mississippi John Hurt, Guitar, Sunkissed, Komeda, Stereolab, Woody Guthrie, Pram, Julian Lynch, Cos, Deerhoof, Quasimoto, Herbie Hancock, Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers, Cocteau Twins, and Funkadelic,

Movies I’ve been watching: Stroszek by Herzog. Simplicity, a semi-well-made art documentary. Been watching a lot of nature documentaries, and currently re-watching the Twin Peaks series with my girlfriend McKay.