ELEVEN SIX WOMEN: THERESA DRAPKIN
We have the honor of featuring New York artist: Theresa Drapkin in our latest story as well as showcasing a curated collection of her works in our Kingston Retail store. Using hard, saturated pastel on handmade textural papers Theresa uniquely captures: "figures, florals, limbs, pops of stripes and color, and flashes of sea and sky" that reflect and are inspired by our Spring 2022 Knitwear collection. We capture Theresa at her beautiful, light-filled Kingston, NY Studio in the converted Fuller building and talk: artist process, life upstate, being a creative Mama and what her favorite collection pieces are.
Can you share with us your creative background and path to be becoming an artist?
Growing up, I always loved art. I did a lot of collage—assembling various ephemera into one composition. When it comes to painting, I am actually self-taught. Although I received a masters of fine art from Pratt Institute, the program was a combination of graphic design and writing, not painting! For one of my assignments I began illustrating, and then kind of picked up this way of working with pastel. For many years, I’d create art late at night - from 10 pm - 2 am. After having kids, that changed quite a bit! I’ve been showing now for about 8 years and am represented by the Willard Gallery in Portland, Maine.
Theresa is wearing the AIMEE CARDI styled with her own dress.
What inspires your beautiful still life work?
Small fleeting moments. Light on the sill, a hand gesture, ripe fruit, shadows, flowers plucked from the garden, slouchy stripes.
Theresa is wearing the JESSA SWEATER DRESS layered over her own pants.
Can you share your artist process and approach?
My process harks back to my love of collage and my background in graphic design. I study and observe interiors, textiles, body movements, fruit, flora, and objects, and then literally piece those inspirations together to create an original composition.
One of the biggest misconceptions about my art is the medium - I only use hard pastel. I subvert their use by color blocking rather than blending, creating very graphic, almost velvety pieces.
The paper I source is from a local nonprofit, Women’s Studio Workshop, in Rosendale, NY and is handmade — a combination of cotton and abaca (pre-processed inner bark from the stems of a banana plant!) — with natural deckles. It’s luxurious and organic. I’m attracted to natural materials that are inherently imperfect. That is probably one of the reasons I am drawn to working in unfixed pastel - parts of the surface remain workable and never fully set. I read a disclaimer somewhere Imperfections add to the appeal of the piece. I’m stuck on that.
Theresa is wearing the DALA DRESS in rosso layered over her own jeans.
What brought you Upstate NY full time and what do you love about the lifestyle?
Nearly a decade ago my husband and I moved upstate from NYC. Until the pandemic, I worked for a nonprofit in the city and commuted a few days a week, making art in my spare time, and Michael opened a wine shop in Kingston: Kingston wine co.
Hiking in the Catskills, exploring nearby towns and getting to know the really vibrant community of small business owners have all been special parts of our lifestyle here. I like using my hands outside - foraging flowers, raking nature paths on our property, shoveling snow!
I also love to find vintage and antique frames at local antique shops - framing my art this way adds another layer of depth and history to the pieces. An upcoming show in Kingston at Clove and Creek will feature art exclusively in antique frames.
Did the pandemic influence or shape your work?
The lack of adequate childcare combined with a corporate leaning day job that grew increasingly stressful oddly enabled me to finally commit to being an artist and designer full time. While the past few years have been completely unpredictable, my process has become more methodical, and more a reflection of my domestic life.
Polina Barskaya, Billie Zangewa, Mary Cassat and Alex Coleville all come to mind as inspirations for this stage of my artwork, pieces based on photographs I took of my children during the pandemic.
Theresa is wearing the ISLA STRIPE CARDI styled with the LEA SKIRT from past season.
As a mama of two young girls can you see them being influenced or inspired by your art work?
The girls accompany me to the studio pretty regularly, but to be honest, their favorite thing to do is ride the elevator!
Kidding aside, I've taken both girls many times to Dia Beacon and Art Omi. We just saw Calder at MoMA.
They've been the subjects of a lot of my paintings and they recognize themselves in the simple lines, and recall the memories that are depicted, which is one of the ways that art can be so transportive.
Theresa is wearing the MIA TUNIC with the AMELIA PANT.
What does the ELEVEN SIX brand mean to you?
All of my Eleven Six pieces are so luxuriously wearable - my wardrobe staples. For me, Eleven Six carries some kind of eternal weight - the Peruvian knitters, the heritage material, Catherine raising two little ones and running a business and choosing to look completely put together, and wanting others to feel the same way.
What are your favorite ELEVEN SIX knitwear piece(s) from the current Spring collection?
I’m a huge fan of layering dresses over jeans, so the Dala dress in rosso is a fave, I wear it unbelted and casual, and if I’m going to dinner match it with a red lip. I’ve never met a stripe I didn’t love, so the Isla Stripe Cardi is my spring knit pick. If you run into me, I will be wearing this! If I had more guts I’d wear the Mila crochet bikini all summer. However, I did take the plunge for the Mia tunic and matching Amelia pant. If I’ve learned anything from Catherine, it’s that a monochrome look is always amazing.