A native of Charlotte's sister city of Wroclaw, Poland, artist Maja Godlewska is an associate professor of art at UNC Charlotte - and is preparing for a six-month Fulbright teaching scholarship at the Academy of Fine Arts in Wroclaw (her alma mater). Her work can be seen in the Duke Energy Center and the UNC Charlotte Center City Building Gallery.
Q. Can you talk about the title of your latest show - "On Tigers and Puttis" - which was at The New Gallery of Modern Art in uptown this fall?
I wanted the title to be humorous and intriguing, and those choices were almost idiosyncratic. When I create a piece, I often search for patterns and intriguing compositions in different cultures. There are hidden tigers in the work. Puttis are more obvious because they come from Baroque, from Tiepolo and from my research.
Q. You often explore clouds in your work. Can you explain why?
We look at clouds and they are in a state of creation all the time. I am interested in form and formlessness in nature and in art. Clouds are at once well formed and formless, and we want to see them as recognizable states, but they aren't. When I work with them, I transform them into a recognizable state, in a way.
Q. Talk about the ink drawings of Asian women who appear in the background of some of your work.
I've been interested in erotic art at one point, so those motifs go back to that work. You cannot talk about physical beauty without looking at erotic art. Some of the figures were inspired by illustrations of Kama Sutras and some by Japanese erotic drawings.
Q. How has your work changed?
It fluctuates. When you think about visual culture, it fluctuates. In the New Gallery of Modern Art exhibit, I used chalk paint that I bring from Poland. It used to be used for painting walls, but no one wants to use it because it is unstable and has a chalky surface, and latex paint has replaced it. But in the Communist times, it appeared in those basic few colors that people had to choose from. There was a strange lime green, and a peach and blue, a pink and a white. ... In this work, I was more playful than ever.