Sacramento, CA 95814
We’re no longer basking in the information age: We’re steeping in the information-overload age. San Francisco-based collage artist Hilary Pecis is cognizant of this, and it’s undeniable in her work. In Reconfigure, an exhibition of her current series, she pieces together barrages of images all sourced via Internet searches, which comment on capitalism and nudge at attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder. The California College of the Arts alumna’s work has gallery representation in San Francisco and Italy, has been dubbed by Juxtapoz magazine as “progressive and innovative,” and is a recipient of SF Weekly’s Masterminds grant. But in the end, she just wants to make her folks proud.
You showed at Fools Foundation in 2005. Was that the last time you were in Sacramento?
No, I usually visit Sacramento at least twice a year, because although I only lived there for five years, I made a lot of friends. So I try to keep in contact, and more and more of those friends are having children, and I find myself out there to visit new babies or go to weddings or things like that.
PBS’ Secret City inspired you early on to become an artist? I remember that show. How did it affect you?
Oh, you do? Oh my gosh, I always feel like I must be talking about an imaginary show, because no one has seen it (laughs). Growing up, we didn’t have a whole lot of money, but there was always a lot of art supplies around. … You could send in photos of your drawings, and if yours was really good, he would show it on air. Every once in a while, my mom would send in my drawings, and it would never make it on the air. But it was really exciting to see other children’s drawings as something that was obtainable. But I think the other thing that was exciting was that it demystified the process of drawing.
You’re work is detailed, frenetic and ADHD-induced as a whole, but zooming in, it seems meditative. What’s your mental state when you’re creating?
I would completely agree with what you’re saying about it being meditative, and I think that probably the pleasure I get from it is rearranging the images that I’m using [for the collage]. The process of it, yes, is very meditative.
What about that manic quality of it? It’s been tagged as post-apocalyptic, but some of it just looks like present-day Times Square.
I think some of the references to the “post-apocalyptic” is the more desolate landscapes that I’ve made in the past, but with the current collages I’m making … I think of them more as referencing media culture that we interact with every day—the Internet and television, and pretty much anything with an interface or just information that’s always being thrown at you whether it’s on billboards or ads. … We take in a lot more information than specifically calculated for us to take in or than we realize. So we can navigate pop-up windows on a computer or advertisements, because we’re pretty accustomed to it.
On both arms you have full-sleeve tattoos, which reminds me of your work, actually, because there’s so much information on them.
(Laughs.) It’s always just too much! I think that’s oftentimes the theme. But, to be honest, from a young age I wanted to have them. It always just felt more natural to have them on. It’s almost ridiculous to say, but it’s almost like having clothes on all the time, and I just felt a lot more comfortable with [the tattoos].
You received the SF Weekly’s Mastermind grant, which is cool, because it makes me want to call you a master, and also the Murphy and Cadogan Fellowship. How does that make you feel?
(Laughs.) I have to say, it almost makes me feel like an impostor with both of those, because I was just so excited just to have the recognition. But I really want my parents to be proud of me, so each time anything happens, I am happy that my parents can see that somebody’s recognized me. But the impostor thing: Sometimes I feel like I’m going to be found out. Like maybe these people had beer goggles on and got tricked into giving me this grant. It feels really good, but sometimes it feels like somebody else should have it. But I shouldn’t say that stuff: It’s really flattering to get anything, and I’m really, really grateful for those.