Habitat is a weekly series that visits with artists in their workspaces.
This week’s studio: Natalie Frank, East Williamsburg, Brooklyn. “As a high schooler in Texas, I got in trouble for bringing nude studies of men into the classroom,” Frank told me when I visited her earlier this week. And so, at 15, she decided to head to the Slade School of Fine Art in London, which was a formative experience. “Slade has a special place in my heart,” she said.
The Texas-born, New York–based artist has been in East Williamsburg for nine years, and her current studio for five. “It was very rough when I first started working here, people would not come out for studio visits,” she said. “Now there’s Roberta’s and juice bars. A lot has changed.” Frank keeps typical office hours at her studio and listens to a wide variety of music while she works. Her list: “Wagner, Mozart, Beethoven, Bruckner, Taylor Swift—not embarrassed!—Bob Dylan, Van Morrison, Lyle Lovett, Mavis Staples. I’m drawn to music with narrative. It helps me zone out a little so I’m able to work a little more intuitively”
She counts women such as Linda Nochlin, Paula Rego, Elizabeth Sackler, and Rhona Hoffman as major inspirations. “A really important touchstone for me through the years have been mentors—mostly women who have supported me and my work, encouraging its development in often unexpected and highly personal ways,” Frank said. “Their examples have shown me how vital it is to go after what you want, in every way, and to always, always have a strong voice.”
Coming up, Frank will exhibit with Rhona Hoffman at Expo Chicago later this month and the ADAA Art Show in March. On September 11, Frank will debut paintings created with paper-pulp from her workspace residency at Dieu Donné in New York. “Natalie Frank: The Brothers Grimm,” originally shown at the Drawing Center in SoHo, is currently on view at the Blanton Museum of Art, in Austin, Texas, until November 15. In April 2016, the show will travel to the Art Museum at the University of Kentucky and Frank will have a solo exhibition at ACME in Los Angeles. Currently, Frank is experimenting with new materials in the studio and preparing more drawings for an anthology of fairytales to be released next year. Below, Frank shows us around her studio and shares some insight into her process.
ALL PHOTOS: KATHERINE MCMAHON