During her time at Sarah Lawrence, too, Howard worked for the Brooklyn Rail and formed a close working relationship with publisher Phong Bui. “I consider my time at the Rail a big part of my art education. Phong taught two classes to us while I was there, on Cubism and on ways of portraying the figure, and has always been so supportive and knowledgeable,” recounts Howard.
Now in her second year of the MFA program at Columbia University, Howard usually gets to the studio by 9:00 am and leaves around midnight, having a packed schedule for the intensive program and studio practice. Her influences in art are varied, but have a through-line of the personal, the temporal, and the political. “In terms of dead people, I look to Matisse, Cezanne, Picasso, Bonnard, Van Gogh, Vuillard. Even some Renaissance paintings, Boticelli’s ‘Spring’ is in many ways my favorite painting,” she explains, also mentioning books she’s reading lately like The Circle by Dave Eggers and Taive Selasi’s Ghana Must Go.
People she’s been exposed to through the program at Columbia, too, have proven to be invaluable resources in her process. Among instructors, mentors, or visiting artists coming to her studio, she counts Chitra Ganesh, Sanford Biggers, Dana Shutz, Elizabeth Peyton, Shirin Neshat, Tomas Vu and Gregory Amenoff as some of her key influencers. Howard works primarily in oils, but has experimented with various printmaking techniques, as well. “I’m always running around in scale, I think because you get a different feeling from different people,” Howard explains. “But conceptually and formally it may be good for me to work in one scale, and it is just gesturally great to work in a large scale as I often do, although everything gets more expensive.”
She most often works either from photographs or having her subjects sit for her, depending on the person and their level of comfort in an art studio setting. “I always work from photographs I’ve taken myself. I feel that with found photos, I can travel less in terms of how I paint them,” Howard elaborates. “So I will usually take 200 or 300 photos of a person in 5 or 6 different poses, and work from there.” One can readily see in her works interjections of the personal and symbolic with the incorporation patterns and mementos, and recently spliced in Facebook or Instagram excerpts.
For more information and images visit her website.
Featured image: Top: Inside the studio, Bottom: Liz Perez in progress. Photo credit: Audrey Irving