This interview is a gift from friends who responded to an email request to submit questions about my work. The questions are listed as they were received and come from friends in six cities on three continents.
Adrian Salpeter, Los Angeles
What do you think sets your work apart from other artists exploring similar themes and media?
Color, Color, Color. The number and intensity of the colors I use gives each painting its own aura. Although many artists also use geometry, eroticism, and reference antiquity, I think the difference with my paintings comes from how I utilize color.
Lisa Tremain, Los Angeles
Color, shape, and image all play together in your work. How do you listen to each one and bring them together in any given piece?
My current practice is to first find an image that speaks to me. Then I find a pattern and pulverize it. I then recreate the image on the canvas and draw the pulverized pattern on top of it. Finally I either choose at random or intuit the colors I then paint with.
Annie Sprinkle, Ph.D., San Francisco
You are very sexy. You have a lot of ecstasy energy around you. How does that relate to your work? Are you an ecosexual? And how does that relate to your work? Do you plan to explore ecosexuality more in your work?
My mission statement is “I want to inspire.” My work is meant to excite! I do consider myself an ecosexual; my wallpapered dumpster project is all about the practice of loving the environment and inspiring people to view dumpsters as works of art. If this is accomplished, consciousness has been raised. Environmental activism does not have to be ugly, utilitarian, or simply images of landfills; in fact, it needs to be relentlessly glorious so that people will be inspired to take action. The more exciting we make ecosex the better; everyone will come back wanting more.
Amy Woloszyn, San Francisco
I am really excited about your geometric creations and how they've reinvented your vibrant and sexy images. I'm curious where these geometric patterns come from and how they've become one of the tricks in your bag.
My current body of work is created from traditional patchwork quilt units that are cut up and collaged into non-repetitive forms. Patterns have been pulverized, so the objects can mysteriously come in and out of the geometry.
Margaret Zamos-Monteith, New York
What first inspired you to wallpaper the dumpsters and where was your first dumpster completed?
I worked in the film industry as a set decorator and scenic painter. I collected wallpaper from various shoots. I was trying to figure out how to use this material when I was asked to participate in an installation at the port of Los Angeles. I worked in a forty-foot container for an entire week. The quantity of goods imported through the port of L.A. is astounding. The containers were all earth-toned so I wanted to disrupt this mono-tonality by wallpapering one with a baroque pattern. Then a few weeks later a friend let me wallpaper his studio dumpster. That’s how it began.
Thinking about your painting of the Pietà and your recent work in the Judson Memorial Chapel, do religious themes play a part in your work and if so, how?
I am not necessarily interested in religious themes. For me, the only theme is unconditional love.
Your fencing images are really alive and beautiful. I wonder: did you ever fence?
I did not, but when I moved to Rome I met some female fencers and went to my first fencing competition. Fencing is beautiful. It also helps me understand why some women want to go to war.
Michelle Rogers, New York
How would you describe the different aspects of your practice and how do you think they relate to each other?
I often describe my work as stylistically promiscuous. The different aspects of my practice are painting, drawing, sculpture, installation, urban intervention, and environmental activism. I think that junk jewelry mandalas, wallpapered dumpsters, traditional patchwork quilt units (pulverized) and eroticism have something in common. I would like to keep spelunking.
Jonathan Turner, Rome
Why is it more attractive to "decorate" a receptacle for rubbish, hence to highlight it and make its existence and use more obvious, than to leave it as it is in its boring, unassuming, utilitarian form, which essentially camouflages it as part of its urban setting? In your eyes, as the wallpapered dumpster gradually becomes dirty, torn and damaged over time, is this blight or progressive beauty?
The simple twist of wallpapering a dumpster turns it into a work of art. I feel if this can happen anything is possible. This can raise consciousness. In my eyes, the ephemeral nature of this project delights me. I want it to fall apart and become messy. As it deteriorates it becomes an environmental rally cry.
Owen Mundy, Berlin
You often use materials in your work that are not only designed to "improve" the surface of our bodies and our dwellings, but are specifically feminine. While often things like jewelry and wallpaper are considered to add value to the surfaces they adorn, you seem to be playing with the actual value of things, like dumpsters, as well as the perceived idea of value in general. Could you talk about this in you work?
I take objects that are meant to feminize and bestow value and manipulate their meaning, investigating what it means to feminize and to commodify. By manipulating objects that are associated with the feminine and the precious I interrogate the process by which objects are gendered and valued.
Michael Maize, Los Angeles
What role has your art had in the development of your psyche? What role do you think it has in the development of the public (viewer)'s psyche (individuals and the collective culture)?
My art and my psyche are synonymous. I feel no responsibility for the viewer’s or public’s psyche.
Julie Lequin, Paris
How does your life in Rome change your work?
Being neighbors with Bernini, Michelangelo, Caravaggio, among others, I feel challenged to create meaningful, great work. And the language barrier helps to keep me from being distracted by the world outside of my studio practice.
Patrick Gallagher, Rome
Your paintings are infused with a cacophony of bold, vibrant and energetic colors, yet they all seemingly meld into one harmonious and moving image. Do you plan and plot your color selections or is it just your artistic, innate instinct that tells you where and what color to paint?
Although I have studied color extensively, I have always been able to mix color intuitively. Sometimes I select colors randomly from color-aid swatches and go from there. Lately though I have been more trusting of my instincts.
Carlos Dews, Rome
What exists on the line where two plains of color touch?
Spirit. My dear friend Aleeki Jones showed me the symbol for union, which is two intersecting circles. She said that in this intersection a third space is created in which spirit exits. I am relentlessly trying to do the same.
Mike Robinson, New York
Ms. Finley, in many of your portraits, actually in the majority of your recent work---Pietà, the Olympic Fencers series, your Panty Girls, etcetera, the protagonists are seemingly subjugated behind the axioms of Euclidian geometry, creating a surreal stained glass effect with a requisite nod to Cubism, which requires a new and more involved way of looking at art. My question, out of total ignorance of the mechanics involved, is how do you manage to bring out the dynamic and vibrant nature of your subjects---seemingly encompassed and camouflaged by mathematics?
Jazz comes to mind in response to your question. I think the dynamism comes from the combination of pulverizing pattern, relentless composition, eroticism, myth, color, and form.
Katherine Helen Fisher, Beijing
Sometimes creating a stimulating yet safe environment in which you work is the most important part of the process. How do you create fertile ground for your work? How do you cultivate art? How do you mine for ideas? How do you sprout an idea? Explain to us your version of photosynthesis.
I learned by walking the Camino de Santiago that I can make art in any circumstance.
Sung Uni Lee, New York
What is your notion of the artist? Why do you think that the profession is important to the world?
Artists are prophets, bringing into the world a reality of a previously unimagined future.
Eli Rarey, Los Angeles
Do you consider your work to fall into the category of erotica?
Do you think people view your work differently if they know you are female?
Do you believe in God, and if so is this expressed in your paintings?
Eugene the Poogene, New York
I ask you what haunts me. I don't know what kind of image or persona I give off, but I live my life in fear and fear of failure. Looking like an idiot horrifies me, and it keeps me from doing all the things I want to in life. How do you know your shit is good?
All I know is that my shit is getting better.
When are you proud of your work?
Every time I finish a painting.
When you are not, how can you even present it knowing yourself that you could have done better?
I don’t present it if I am not proud of it.