Interview with Contemporary Artist Andres Serrano: Staying Alive While Puzzling His Way Through the Pandemic with ARTXPUZZLES: Puzzles With Purpose

Andres Serrano, America (Jewel-Joy Stevens, America’s Little Yankee Miss), 2003 Jigsaw Puzzle Size: 19.75 x 28 in. 1000 Jigsaw Puzzle Pieces, ESKA Premium Board, Gloss Finish. Unlimited Collector Edition (2020) produced by Art X Puzzles for the benefit of COVID-19 Artist Relief organizations and dedicated to gallerist Yvon Lambert. Level: Challenging Signature Details: Original Artwork: America (Jewel-Joy Stevens, America’s Little Yankee Miss), 2003 Chromogenic print, 24 × 20 in (61 × 50.8 cm) Image: Courtesy of the artist and Nathalie Obadia Gallery. Courtesy of the artist and ARTXPUZZLES:PUZZLES WITH PURPOSE.

By NOAH BECKER, February 2021

NOAH BECKER: Can you tell us how you came to ARTXPUZZLES: Puzzles with Purpose in 2020?

Your artwork titled America (Jewel-Joy Stevens, America’s Little Yankee Miss) is your selected artwork image from your America Series which was transformed to a jigsaw puzzle, can you speak to this decision for this work to be created into a special Collector Edition Jigsaw Puzzle, and your experience yourself puzzling it together? 

ANDRES SERRANO: I selected this artwork as my contribution to the Collector Edition Jigsaw Puzzle because it’s an image of hope and resolve. It’s the resolve of a little girl to win the title America’s Little Yankee Miss and the hope for a better future. It’s a strong image, one of my favorite from the America Series. I knew it would make a good puzzle. That, and the Pimp I used on the cover of “America and Other Work by Andres Serrano” published by Taschen. 

NB: Your influential America Series 2003, continues over the years to be noted by top art critics and writers for your powerful and impactful imagery, as you produced an incredible body of work that manages to place each person within the wider American community, without losing sight of their individuality. Can you speak to us briefly about the creative process in producing this important series, and will we by chance see a new America Series in 2021?  

AS: I started working on “America” shortly after Sept.11th. The attack on America made me think about what it means to be an “American.” I spent three years on the series (2001-2004) and did over a hundred portraits of people from all walks of life. Among those I photographed for the series were two firefighters who had been digging through the World Trade Center rubble for months, an FBI agent in a Hazmat suit, an airline pilot, a postal worker, soldiers, police officers, celebrities like Snoop Dogg, Ethan Hawke, Arthur Miller and Anna Nicole Smith, a mother and child on welfare, a shirtless homeless man with an American flag bandana around his neck, a Mexican migrant worker and Donald Trump.      

 Andres Serrano, America (Jewel-Joy Stevens, America’s Little Yankee Miss) 2003

Jigsaw puzzle produced by ARTXPUZZLES based on the Serrano photograph, America (Jewel-Joy Stevens, America’s Little Yankee Miss) 2003  


NB: Your thoughts on "individuality" in our current times during the COVID19 pandemic ... 2021? Have you continued to work through the pandemic? 

AS: What I mostly worked on in the year of Covid was staying alive. You might think it strange to refer to surviving Covid 19 as work but it was. We had to take certain precautions and make sacrifices to stay safe. It was and continues to be work. Those of us who have gone through it unscathed are lucky compared to those who have died or been compromised by the virus.  

NB: Stunning color, form and composition in combination with a willingness to tackle the big issues at work in contemporary society makes your artwork accessible to a broad range of audiences. The America Series continues to timelessly engage viewers, so how did you feel creating a collector edition jigsaw puzzle and placing it in the hands of many people, art collectors, art lovers and puzzle enthusiasts around the world in 2020/2021?

AS: I love placing my work in different places. In addition to this puzzle I did a collection for Supreme a couple of years ago. My work was also used for two Metallica albums, “Load” and “Reload.”

I look forward to being able to create and use existing works for other projects. I’d love to do stained glass windows for a church for instance. I’m open to working with the right people.

NB: Do you have any upcoming projects you want to speak about?

AS: I’ve been working on a couple of things that are still works in progress. I don’t like to talk much about things that are still works in progress. I don’t like to talk about things before they’re finished. 

NB: We all want to know…. will you do another collector jigsaw puzzle from this series and/or any other series,  will we see more puzzling in the future? 

AS: I hope to do a lot of puzzling in the future! WM 

 

Noah Becker

Noah Becker shows his paintings internationally. A visual artist, saxophonist and the publisher and founding editor of Whitehot Magazine, Becker has also written freelance articles for many other major magazines. Becker's writing has appeared in The Guardian, VICE, Garage, Art in America, Interview Magazine, Canadian Art and the Huffington Post. He has also written texts for major artist monographs published by Rizzoli and Hatje Cantz. Becker directed the New York art documentary New York is Now (2010) viewable on Youtube. 

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