Sacha Baumann is an artist and designer living and working in Los Angeles.

art school

I keep thinking about something Kehinde Wiley said during the Q&A portion of his LACMA talk last week. Someone asked about his process in the studio. He explained that he had 3 studios (New York, Hong Kong, and ?-- I forget) and that although each was different, all of the spaces were quite large to accommodate the scope of creating a painting.  After the "street casting" there are staged photographs with lighting and props, digital manipulation, under painting and painting. It's a long, intense process with many people involved--at this point in his career is able to keep a sizable staff of assistants who work on every step of creation. As he said, "I'm not going to paint background flowers all day long."

This line and the flip way he said it got a laugh from the audience. And kind of made me cringe.

Why not paint flowers all day long? Are the flowers not of value in the piece, contributing to it's success? And if you don't want to paint them, why have them in the painting to begin with? Are they purely superfluous decoration?

I'm over-analyzing a glib comment, but ultimately not as a critique of Wiley's work, but a question for my own. I want every element to be important to the piece as a whole. Each piece deserves my attention in equal measure.