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Studio Visit - Eriko Tsogo

Studio Visit - Eriko Tsogo

Studio Visit - Eriko Tsogo

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Studio Visit

Eriko Tsogo

Eriko Tsogo is a Mongolian American artist based in Denver, CO. She is also a DACA recipient born in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia. In her work, Tsogo chronicles the metaphysical pilgrimage of a marginal heroine as they travel through the kaleidoscopic labyrinth of time, space and nature. This character is in part biographical as Tsogo seeks to transform the viewer’s perception of the immigrant journey through empowering and empathetic imagery. Read on to learn more about her inspiring practice.

 

Q.

Tell us about yourself and how you came to be an artist.

A.

My name is Eriko Tsogo. I am a Mongolian American cross-disciplinary artist, art management professional, immigrant rights activist, and DACA recipient born on the steppes of Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, and grew up in Budapest, Hungary during the downfall of Communism.

Born into an art family, art and creativity has always been my stable of life. My father, Tsogo Mijid, is an accomplished Mongolian artist. I take after him. My father was my first art teacher and introduction into the art world. Becoming an artist never felt like a choice for me, it was more a habit of necessity; a natural inclination. I immigrated to the United States my family at the age of 8. I am an alumni of Denver School of the Arts (2008), having attained my B.F.A (2012) from the School of the Museum of Fine Arts Boston and Tufts University. I am based in Denver and mindscape Mongolia but live bi-coastally in the US.

I have had numerous art shows, curatorial projects and artist residencies throughout the United States including Superfine DC, Saatchi’s The Other Art Fair Brooklyn, and "I Stand With Immigrants" program at the 2019 Miami Art Basel. In 2018, I founded the “International Yurt Art Residency Program” an artist-in-residence program focused on facilitating artist exchange between Colorado and Mongolia. I believe in social justice through the arts, having created the “Dream Yurt” and “Sole Patchwork of Life” civic engagement project series and apparel collections dedicated to promoting kinship across our differences while eradicating social barriers through the power of art and community.

Alongside my art practice, I have worked as the Creative Director at the Mongolian Culture and Heritage Center of Colorado since 2012, having served as Commissioner for the Office of Denver Cultural Affairs and Arts & Venues under Mayor B. Hancock since 2019. I am an author of two art books. My first animated short film entitled “Tears of the Sky” premiered at the 2019 Colorado Dragon Film Festival.

In 2019, I was one of twenty international Mongolian artists selected to be part of “Contemporary Mongolian Art Biennial: Innovating Tradition” at the The World Bank in Washington DC. My interactive art installation “Mongovoo” was selected for permanent exhibition at the Meow Wolf Museum in Denver due for fabrication in 2021.

Q.

Describe your work in three words

A.

Psychological, Grotesque, Binary.

Q.

What is your creative process?

A.

Tappan is featuring my “Wrong Women, Myths From Sky” art series. This series consists of mostly mixed media artworks in two dimensions sized 12.5 inches by 18.5 inches and larger works sized 18 inches by 24 inches. Depending on when and how inspiration strikes me, the artworks take anywhere from a few days to two weeks to complete. I employ mixed media and printmaking techniques for this series.

My creative process consists of binary play using both stream of consciousness and concept driven planning, drafting and drawing. I first think in stream of consciousness writing, text informs form. I love writing; I have been journaling since a young age. I usually know titles of my artworks before I have a composition in mind.

My artistic process derives from a balance of intuitive and concept driven method of experimental creation. In my drawings, I seek to create visual tension through automatic and intended mark making. I like to fuse binary concepts and techniques of representation, from contrasting languages of wet and dry textures, precision and chaos, into stimulatory layers as to create conceptual proximity between forces of opposition and displacement.

I experience my artistic production as an act of creative play between subject and object, and aim for a convulsive spontaneity in the journey of their creation. Similarly, I express my ideas through cross-disciplinary mediums of painting, writing, installation, and multimedia forms.

My work is about history and tradition, identity censorship, mythology, folklore, dreams, spirituality, death, and nature set in contemplative scenarios that transform into symbolic allegories for socio-political issues. Within these (psychological mind) spaces, where the fragments of memory, dreams, and the residues of formative experience intermingle with contemporary mythology – I present a space for the renegotiation of identity and the realignment of desire.

My art acts as a transparent extension to my life and my perpetual search to identify and empower through the power of empathy and inspiration.

Eriko Tsogo says

“Artists are speakers and documenters of their time, therefore on a subconscious level, my work irrevocably is influences by the modern times I live in. I take visual and concept inspiration from modern and pop culture, sometimes through humor as pun. My artworks act as criticism of modern culture addressing such political subjects of immigration and gender identity.”

Eriko Tsogo
Eriko Tsogo

Q.

What draws you to drawing / mixed media work?

A.

I like both drawing and painting and practice both conversely. I love drawing for its hard surface and reliability for precision and control. I love painting and mixed media for its fluidity, play and tenacity for chance, dance and loss of control. “Wrong Women, Myths from Sky” is a drawing series but I have been incorporating more painting elements in my recent works for Tappan.

Q.

Where do you draw inspiration from?

A.

I take muse at the moment of disagreement, from the uncomfortable space and create by the call of my ancestor spirits. My art is birthed out of a mix of pain, inspiration and personal experiences derived from the collective human condition. I find it most inspirational to be uncomfortable. Through line, I try to present a guide in how one can remedy/transform the soul from suffering to resilience and authentic personal self empowerment.

I draw much influence from juxtaposing life moments that challenge the social and metaphysical margins of the seen and unseen worlds. I am intrigued by the ugly, the strange, the wrong, the unknown. I have a habit of consciously or sometimes subconsciously placing myself between polar, extreme experiences where I absorb, store and draw an infinite amount of unique inspirations, themes and images from.

Q.

When do you make your best work?

A.

I make my best work after having experiences intense, averse or extreme experiences, stimulations, and emotions such as periods of sadness. I am most inspired to express creatively after these moments. Or when my sprit is clogged and I need to purge, reflect. I love working at night when the world is sleeping. Once the faucet is on, I hibernate from society, from social life and create nonstop.

Q.

What influence does living in Denver have on your work?

A.

Denver was the first American city I immigrated to with my family back in 1999. Denver will always be my American hometown, the place that stores all my growing pains. I am currently based in Denver but live bicoastal. I have serious wanderlust and enjoy traveling, seeking novel inspiration from new lands, people and cultures.

Colorado has strong influences of nature energy, family, community, and familiarity for me. Weather wise, Colorado is very reminiscent to my country Mongolia. Colorado has special connection to Mongolia - Ulaanbaatar and Denver are Sister Cities which is a big reason why many Mongolian immigrants gravitate towards Denver.

In moving forward with my life and career, I seek expansion away from the familiar and comfortable. My nomadic spirit seeks to grow out of Denver, to expand my wings globally.

Q.

What influence does modern culture have on your work?

A.

Artists are speakers and documenters of their time, therefore on a subconscious level, my work irrevocably is influences by the modern times I live in. I take visual and concept inspiration from modern and pop culture, sometimes through humor as pun. My artworks act as criticism of modern culture addressing such political subjects of immigration and gender identity.

My identity as a first generation Mongolian American migrant allows a life of duality where opposing values and norms of Eastern and Western spiritual and social traditions constantly clash and fuse – creating a marginal periphery of absent power origin. My ever-revolving dual identity as a first generation Mongolian American nomadic voyeur profoundly shapes my artistic process. I am interested in expressing the embattled emotional middle space of the marginal person devoid of identity. I seek to explore the conflicting psycho-spiritual, cultural and disjointed effects of globalization on marginalized identities; one who perpetually lives both in war and peace within two worlds, in both of which more or less a stranger.

Q.

What is your relationship with social media?

A.

I don’t have a relationship with social media. I still have a very archaic method of marketing myself in person as an artist. Sometimes I wonder how easy things could be if I had social media, but there is an element of visibility and over expose that I don’t feel comfortable sharing as a private person. For me, there has been a cloud of mysticism surrounding the subject for a long time. I fear the other side of social media and don’t want to conform to it, but also see the success others have in having social media. I think it’s a matter of finding comfortable median between sharing oneself socially and being able to detach from your public persona. At the root of it, I fear the paranoia of the “like and rejection” game of upkeep. I want my second self to sell me. My defiance against social media is a form of self preservation. I am grateful that Tappan can represent me.

Eriko Tsogo

Q.

What messages or emotions do you hope to convey to your audience?

A.

My artworks act as biographical expose, portraying the universal psychological inner journey of the marginal identity. I seek to help transform the lives of others through the power of art, film and social practices by way of education, empathy, inspiration, advocacy and empowerment. In helping others, I heal myself.

My art is birthed out of a mix of pain and personal experiences derived from the collective human condition. Through line, I aspire to lift the viewer. My art seeks to awaken the consciousness and eradicate/transform borders – connecting people to ideas and stories where they can mirror themselves and transcend into formless dimension. I seek to present a holistic visual guide in how one can remedy the soul from that of suffering to resilience and authentic personal self-empowerment. My art is an extension of my life and my perpetual curiosity to identify by way of education, empathy, inspiration, advocacy and empowerment.

Q.

Who are some contemporaries or figures in art history who have influenced you?

A.

I am a child of Surrealism, Abstract Expressionism, Structuralism and Extremism. There are too many figures to name who I draw influence from. Some which are Salvador Dali, Frida Kahlo, Kandinsky, Miro, Chagall, Louise Bourgeois, Jacques Lacan, Derrida, Saussure, Luis Bunuel, Alejandro Jodorowsky, Sergei Parajanov, akira kurosawa, Abbas Kiarostami, Marina Abramovic, Ai Weiwei, Zhang Huan, Nam June Paik, Wangechi Mutu, Buddhist Thangka paintings, my father Tsogo Mijid.

Q.

Are there any quotes or mantras that you particularly connect with?

A.

“Start where you are, Use what you have, Do what you can.”
“The Wound is the Place Where the Light Enters You”
“Nothing ever goes away until it has taught us what we need to know.”
“When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be.”

Q.

What do you listen to when creating?

A.

Buddhist mantras, podcasts, music, films, audiobooks, documentaries and docu-series.

Q.

What makes you laugh?

A.

Taking oneself too seriously. Death, drama. Mr. Bean. My family. The feeling of novelty brings me most joy.

Q.

What makes you nervous?

A.

Monotony, sedentary lifestyle. Uncertainty, politics, America, bondage, lack for an alternative.

Q.

What makes you excited about the future?

A.

My hope for humanity and compassion propels me. I am the last of the fast vanishing nomadic Mongol ethnicity.

I see my future on a global scale outside of America. I seek to spread my wings. I look forward to a time when the current Covid pandemic has resolved itself and for society to resume anew, better. I am excited to travel the world in the next decade and learn from experiential wisdom. I look forward to the day I can return to my country Mongolia, to pay homage to my ancestors and heal the deep inner void. I look forward to the experience of motherhood and to start my own family. As I evolve in personhood, I am eager to see how it transfers and evolves my art practice.

Beyond that, to perpetually survive and thrive.




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