STACZA LIPINSKI works at a long, wooden table in a long, barbell-shaped apartment in a three-flat on Chicago’s South Side. She has an impressive collection of scissors, but she cuts the pieces of her large-scale paper constructions with X-Acto blades. Sometimes, she works in a closet-sized studio at the back of the apartment, which overlooks an alley that is frequented by cats, stray and otherwise. At least one such cat has made its way into the apartment and never left, growing to a rather alarming size and developing a penchant for moving furniture with his head. Other times she works in the living room at the other end of the apartment, making intricate gouache paintings while her husband writes lesson plans and her son dances.
Her work has been exhibited at Noyes Cultural Arts Center (2005), Las Manos Gallery (2006), the Evanston Art Center (2006 and 2007), Hyde Park Art Center (2007), Artworks in Cincinnati (2008), and the Elmhurst Art Museum (2009).
Stacza will be showing Dregs, along with other work at Gallery 175, located at 175 West Jackson, in downtown Chicago. There will be an opening reception December 2, 2011 from 5-7pm. The show will be up until the end of January.
How many children do you have? Boys? Girls?
One very energetic boy, Albrecht Dode Lipinski.
3 years, 5 months.
I love asking this question of all interviewees. How much sleep do you generally get? Are you good about setting your own reasonable bedtime, or do you carve out downtime, social time, creative time from sleep?
Now I get between 7 and 8 hours a night. For about the first 18 months of Dode’s life I didn’t get more than 3-4 hours in a row. I do not compromise a good night’s sleep to work in the studio. I am no good without sleep.
Where were you in your career when your son was born?
I have no idea how to measure this. I was mostly showing my installations in local spaces. I think I will be an “emerging” artist at least into my sixties.
How much time do you currently devote to creating work? How are you managing to stay viable as an artist?
I try to work in my studio every day during Dode’s nap. A precious hour and a half. Sometimes 2. A recent development is that Dode is going to preschool so I get to work in my closet sized studio in the back of my apartment for some serious making.
Mothers often feel as though they are torn between motherhood and the part of them that misses doing, being or having something else. Can you speak about this a little?
I feel that this is the one of the toughest parts of parenthood. For me, I often think about what I should be doing, making, or learning to be a better artist while I am playing cars or Thomas the Tank Engine. I have three years of Art in America to read. I have missed many art openings. I rarely get to the MCA. I can’t remember names of artists. One thing that has helped me is knowing artists who have grown children. They are evidence that everything is temporary and you can have a family and be an artist. Just not always at the same time.
Has being a mother changed your creative approach or point of view?
I kind of wish it had changed my approach. Most of my work is fairly labor intensive and it has been for years. Before Dode I worked about 30 hours or more a week in my studio. Now I work about 6 hours a week if I am lucky. The scale of my work has gotten smaller, the materials simpler, and my expectations more realistic.
How do you stimulate Dode's artistic side or love of art?
My philosophy with Dode’s interest in art is to just try to say, “Yes” anytime Dode asks to paint, use PlayDoh, dance, sing, or tell a story. I try to have lots of materials available and easily accessible, so we can make something on the spur of the moment. Sometimes it gets messy, but everything is washable.
How would you feel about Dode choosing a career in the arts?
Great! I just hope he chooses something that inspires him.
Biggest piece of advice for driven artist moms?
If you are driven, you don’t need my advice.