Athena LaTocha

(Born Anchorage, Alaska. Lives and works in Peekskill, NY)

I see residencies as a wonderful resource for artists to take advantage of more often that many do.I have always believed and have always felt that your environment has a very strong influence on how you think, how you respond, your development as a human and your understanding in relation to the larger world, which includes humans. How else do you have that opportunity or the capability of that kind of full immersion into a place, a culture, a history and stories of place? It creates opportunities for new experiences and personal growth. 

My mind keeps thinking about human capacity and human endeavor and the beauty and trauma. I feel like I’m constantly flexing or vacillating between these extremes. The beauty of who we are and what we can do and the horror and harm of what we have done and what we can do. 

I can’t tell you how important it is to develop into your practice some kind of a system or structure that allows for play. It can open up tremendous opportunities for your own work and vision, challenging you in ways that you might not be ready for or anticipate. I wouldn’t be doing what I’ve been doing for the past 10 years if it wasn’t for taking a serious break in my own practice of working in oil painting and going into some serious sessions of play which led me to fully abandon oil painting, throwing myself into this whole new realm. I was looking for ways to work quietly. The evolution started looking a little bit at rice paper. It wasn’t until I started playing on photo paper that has this resin coating that things really took off. It was like a wildfire. I couldn’t stop it. It was like coming home again. 

Everything we spoke about in our original “Conversation”(which failed to record), resonated for days. It still resonates now. There’s this overarching and lingering sensation of what was evoked in the conversation. I think a lot of it goes back to human experience, not just cultural, the social political but how a lot of that is wrapped up in the psychology of the studio. We talked about history and place, growing up in Alaska. We talked about working in black and white and the move to color which happened in the New Orleans residency. It was an opportunity to really reflect on where the practice comes from and how it develops in that studio environment, the only place where it could develop.

–Conversation on January 5, 2021

Listen to our conversation here:


Selected Image from the Collection:

LaTocha, Athena, Murderers Creek, 2018-2019, Ink and earth on paper, lead, steel, wood, Overall: 44 x 84 x 39 in.