Interview with Sandy Ewen, by Hillaree Hamblin

Submitted by STintern1 on Tue, Dec 11th at 7:40 pm

Hello everyone!  As many of you know, our current exhibition, Projection & Amplification by multimedia artist Sandy Ewen closes this Friday, December 14th.  Join us for a closing reception beginning at 8pm featuring Sandy's collaborative performance group, Architects of Cinema.


Born in Toronto, Canada, Sandy received a Bachelor of Architecture from the University of Texas at Austin in 2008.  Since then, this busy lady has continued to pursue her interests in architecture as well as her musical and visual projects.  A well known member of Houston's experimental music scene, Ewen has recently been focusing on her visual art, frequently presenting it alongside her musical performances.


Recently, Sandy graciously took some time out of her busy schedule to answer a few questions for us regarding her exhibition and artistic practice.


Read on to find out more about this multi-talented lady and come on out and join us for one last performance beginning at 8pm on December 14th!


Q: You graduated with an architecture degree from UT, does your background in architecture influence your work?


A: I am attuned to the spatial layout of my work. My work with projection lives in three-dimensional space, and I feel that my architectural background has enhanced my ability to map out the best places for projectors, screens, dancers, sound & audience in my project Architects of Cinema with Y.E.Torres & Chris Nelson. Additionally, architecture school and the practice of architecture have taught me how to conceptualize and realize projects with clarity and professionalism.  


Q: What do you like best about the experimental music scene in Houston?  How does it differ from Austin?


A: I love the diversity of the music here. Houston has a fantastic improvisational music community and a killer noise scene. I performed at Dead Audio festival last night, it was great to see all the local and touring noise acts (it was a 10-hour long show). I've also been fortunate to play with the improvised music scene in Houston. I am continually amazed by the improv community, it seems to me like an international social sculpture….a few people in every city who all know each other and collaborate. I was in Mexico city about 2 weeks ago with fellow Houstonians David Dove & Damon Smith for some performances, and last week we had 3 Mexico City musicians in town for performances here.


Austin is more a rock music town. Austin has a lot of great experimental rock bands and the noise scene there seems to be growing. The New Music Co-Op in Austin presents a lot of "new music" or contemporary classical pieces. I am very happy to be bringing some of my favorite Austin musicians to Houston to perform at Spacetaker. I have been performing with The Weird Weeds since 2004 and we've just released our 5th album. Plutonium Farmers are a fantastic. I'm excited to hear Nick Hennies' compositions.



Q: What will you be creating during your residency at 14 Pews?


A: I brought Keith Rowe to perform in a trio with Damon Smith (bass) and myself. Keith worked with an ensemble of mine and we performed Scratch Orchestra pieces.  The other 14 Pews project was Architects of Cinema - we put together a kaleidoscopic array of slide & video projectors, screens and sound. It was great - we hope to do something similarly epic at the Fresh Arts closing on December 14th.



Q: Can you tell us a little more about Projection & Amplification?


A: It is a presentation of slide projections and digital enlargements of micro-collages. The slides are mostly hand-made constructions of plastic fused with other materials like paint, feathers & fibers. Over the past year, I have experimented with different methods of printing slides, and I realized that if I digitally captured & enlarged the slides, they didn't actually need to be shaped like slides or fit into a projector. I created the term Micro-collage to describe these tiny assemblages that I make which are designed to be magnified.


Q: What message do you hope to get across to the audience? 


A: I hope to open up people’s eyes & ears to the beauty of small things.



Q: Are there any future projects you’re looking forward to?


A: I am going to try melting lollipops and other candies. I want to start working with videos by myself. I am relying on some very talented friends of mine - Jonathan Jindra & Chris Nelson - for my video making needs and I want to start doing more by myself.



Q: Who or what has been most influential in your work?


A: Thermodynamics and physics shape my work. I have compositional control but I like to see what the materials want to do. When I start making a slide or micro-collage, I have goals & ideas, but the physical properties of the materials always have the final say.



 Q: What do you find are the most rewarding & challenging parts of having a healthy art career in Houston?

A: The community of musicians and other artists keeps me sane, and having to juggle art, music and life with a full time architecture job drives me insane. I don't know that my art/music career is healthy.


Q: Do you have any advice for young artists?


A: Finishing projects is more important than starting them. Commit to deadlines and manage your time. You get more done if you're busy all the time. Collaborate with others, schedule practices and meetings. The momentum of the group brings everyone forward even if individuals might feel overwhelmed.


For more information about Sandy, visit her Fresh Arts Profile or contact her at

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PO BOX 66494
Houston, TX 77266-6494


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