Gail Stoicheff has made quite the name for herself thanks to her beautiful, experimental oil and tie-dye pieces. Inspired by cultural mythologies, her most recent exhibition, Little Miss Strange takes a deeper look into collective cultural mythologies. Looking to the Oracle of Delphi as an inspiration, Gail has created psychedelic art that will leave you mesmerized.
Catch Gail’s exhibition at NYC’s Catinca Tabacaru Gallery from April 27 through the end of May.
We recently sat down with Gail to chat art, inspiration, and mythology. This is what she had to say:
What drew you to mythology and what inspired you to incorporate it into your art?
My father’s side of the family is Greek, so as a child I felt extremely connected to Greek stories and characters… I was really infatuated with them. They were made even more real because my family was interested in astronomy, and many of the myths are tied to astronomical counterparts that you can just look up in the sky and see. As a kid, when presented with something fantastical that you can actually observe, it’s very magical… and it still is. When I think about how in the past, people observed the Milky Way every clear night (since there was no light pollution hiding it), it’s no wonder they created wild tales and characters. It took a while for me to allow mythology to influence my work — I had relegated it to childhood and thought that it had been done-to-death… but then I woke up. The story never changes: nothing is old, nothing is new, everything is now.
What collective cultural mythologies have you explored in the past and what sets Little Miss Strange apart from them?
When I first began incorporating imagery in my (up until then) abstract work, I was thinking a lot about collective myths that, relative to Greek mythology, are more modern, cult-of-personality type stuff: JFK, Putin, characters like that. Specifically I was interested in how these people might be vessels for collective feelings: aspiration, danger, etc. Then I started thinking more about bringing my own history into my work — enter Greek mythology. Little Miss Strange is the first show in the gallery that has fully embraced it as a starting point. My work feels like my own now.
What inspired you about the Oracle of Delphi and how does it translate into your exhibition?
The Oracle was a fascinating woman… or rather a series of women. Her story has its origins in mythology, but in practice she was a series of human women who hung out in a cave in the Temple of Apollo. It’s speculated that hallucinogenic gases emanated from deep in the cave and that her elaborate epic poetry-cum-prophecy was actually tripped-out psychedelic stream-of-consciousness. Kings, heads-of-state, all the important leaders of the day, came to her for advice and absolutely did what she said. She was more influential than the gods.
I’ve been working with some tie-dyeing and color removal processes for a while that look very mysterious and sometimes trippy; when I realized I wanted to think about the Oracle for this show it just made perfect sense — she’s an early psychonaut, a weirdo on LSD… and I mean that as a compliment.
How does the social and political climate impact your art?
One of the most important things I came to understand early on is that all art is a representation of its time. It has “now” in it, like it or not. However, I don’t think it’s possible to say how it impacts in any clear visual way… maybe years from now it will become apparent.
How do you see the art world changing?
I think people are getting exhausted by huge cavernous spaces and concrete floors and perfect walls… I know I am. I think there will be a shift in interest to more intimate and idiosyncratic spaces: out of the way places, creaky wood floors, old wallpaper, weirdness.
I fully support a return of weirdness into the art world. Of course, it never left in art itself, but it doesn’t have much place in the extreme professionalism of the art world as it now exists.
What was the last thing that made you laugh?
Humanity. I mean, Ricky Gervais’ stand-up show, but also just humanity in general is good for laughs every single day.
What was the last thing that made you cry?
Missing people that I love.
Where do you feel the happiest?
Anywhere, anytime I look at my dog, Sam. Pure joy.