April 5th – 28th

Mixed media collage portraits by Chicopee artist Jason Antaya.

“What will happen?” is a common contemporary sentiment. This question can often feel constant, keeping us projected into possible futures, preventing us from enjoying the present, leading to anxiety and depression. We can all relate to these feelings, whether we feel them intensely or as brief glancing blows. Antaya’s recent collection of portraits was created with the intent of depicting this uncertainty and raw emotion in visual form. The fragmented nature of mixed-media collage with vintage, worn, and weathered materials is the ideal medium to express this current condition.

Opening Reception Thursday, April 5th 5-8pm, during Amherst Arts Night Plus. There will be an Artist Reception and DIY Collage with Jason, Saturday, April 21st, 4:30-7:30pm.

About Jason Antaya:
Jason works primarily in mixed media collage. Vintage papers, road maps, and weathered text are featured heavily in his work. He studied Visual Arts at Holyoke Community College from 2008-2011 and was studio assistant to Holyoke artist and professor Dean Nimmer. Jason cites Andrew Myers and Paul Cristina among his artistic influences. He continues to pursue his dream of creating unique, thoughtful pieces that intrigue and invite the viewer to ponder the process and intent. His work has been in local exhibitions in Holyoke, and Agawam, and increasingly further afield in New York, North Carolina, Laguna Beach, and Palm Springs. He lives in Chicopee, MA.

Image: detail from What Will Happen?“, mixed media, 16×20”, 2018, by Jason Antaya

Q&A with Jason

How old were you when you created your first artwork?
Well, I can’t remember my first but a truly memorable one was when I was five years old. My class and I glued colored tissue paper balls onto a Styrofoam cup to use as an ornament. I guess that was my first collage piece and I still have it and we use it as our Xmas tree topper!

When did you know you wanted to be an artist?  
I guess I’ve always known but never had the self confidence to take it seriously until 10 years ago or so. I am colorblind (red/green) and have always been nervous and uncomfortable to use and mix colors. It wasn’t until around 2007 when my wife encouraged me to go back to school and take a drawing class. I have always been drawing ever since I can remember but never thought I was good enough and didn’t take it seriously. It wasn’t until those classes at HCC that my mind was opened to other mediums like painting and collage. I met some great instructors and my life changed after that. I got into some group exhibitions and was fortunate enough to help out my former teacher/fantastic artist and friend, Dean Nimmer in his studio for a brief time. I realized that I needed to make art to be an artist, not a degree or someone telling me I wasn’t good enough. My dream is to create art full-time as I juggle various part-time jobs.

Why did you choose your medium?   
Collage is the most fun and inspiring for me for numerous reasons. I love the materials and the process for starters. I tend to incorporate lots of vintage paper and text in my work and my wife Annie and I go to all the area flea markets and look for source material for my work. I love to repurpose and give these ephemera new life as I appreciate the craftsmanship and font styles of text from the past. Finding paper that is yellowed and stained is like finding gold for me. There is a layering process in collage that is necessary to create depth and to generate interest to the viewer. I have covered up many mistakes and changed my mind numerous times after finding something else works better. 

Which artists do you admire?  
I admire any person that is creative and likes to express themselves in such a manner that is both unique and inspiring. I would say that my work is influenced by more modern contemporary artists than the old masters. Some of my favorites are Guillermo Kuitca, Matthew Cusick, Andrew Myers and more recently Paul Cristina. All of their work is completely different from one another but I admire not only the art they create but the work ethic and process in which they create. When I go to a museum or exhibition, I really like to observe the work AND the presentation. How is it framed or matted? Is it a glossy or matte finish? I take mental notes and try to incorporate those observations into my own work.

Where do you work?  
I work in my cat’s bathroom! Lol I have a little studio in a spare bedroom in our apartment and that happens to be where our kitten Ziti’s litter box is housed. Most of the time my studio is filled with ripped and cut paper scattered on various tables and my desk. Its a messy process but I have things pretty organized for my needs. A bigger studio would definitely be beneficial in the future for working on larger pieces and one without a cat toilet!

Any advice to emerging artists?  
Make LOTS of art!! Try to get enough work for a series and get critiqued whenever possible as a fresh set of objective eyes can help tremendously. Work on developing your own style and try to visit local art museums and galleries to gather inspiration. Even if you don’t necessarily like the work you might get inspired by the presentation or the building it is being shown in! I love architecture especially old Victorian and Art Deco structures. Most importantly, make the art that YOU want to make. Don’t make what you think people want to see. Get involved with artist opportunities and don’t be afraid to show your creations in a public setting.