Geneva Costa may have been born and raised on a farm in Montana, but we’re just going to go ahead and call her one of Sioux Falls’ own. Having called both the East and West Coast her home, Costa is now living back in Sioux Falls with her husband Brogan [Green Dream Screen Printing] and two cats. Having known Costa for several years, I was delighted for the chance to delve more deeply into her process. Costa uses oil paints to create photorealistic works, and more recently, using that process to distort the reality of her subject matter. Autobiographical in nature, Costa remains inspired through gender, politics and current affairs. Her persistence in achieving her goals has always been a great inspiration, as is her dedication to keeping her concepts challenging and engaging. I wish her immense luck with her goal of spreading her artwork around the nation. See her work at genevacosta.com ~Hannah
How would you describe your work/style?
My work is photorealistic; I deal with the human body. Lately, I’ve been focusing on female nudes and female identity, or obfuscation of that identity. So, my painting style is definitely photorealism, but I skew it. I’ve been obfuscating the faces of the figures that I work with.
What media do you mainly work with?
Painting, oil paint. That’s basically my focus.
What is a style or medium you’re NOT comfortable with?
I would say that I definitely identify more as a 2D artist than a 3D artist. It’s not necessarily that I’m not comfortable with 3D art, it’s that I know I excel more with 2-Dimensional art than with 3-Dimensional art. I haven’t been educated on 3D art as much as I have focused on 2D. As much as I would love to do more work with wood, and welding, I focus all my time on painting.
When did you begin working on your art?
I began working as an artist, I would say, right when I graduated from high school and when I went into college.
What did you do before the print shop?
Basically right out of undergrad, I moved to Sioux Falls and started teaching middle school art. Then I moved to New York and worked in a gallery in the Chelsea district. Then moved back here and taught high school art. Then I moved to LA and got my MFA and was teaching undergrads during the same time. Now I’m back in Sioux Falls and teaching K-12. We just started [Green Dream] this past July. So, it’s only been half a year, really. It’s good to get perspective from all over.
What are some great successes from your past?
I would say my biggest successes are when I would apply to a gallery show and get a solo show. When I get a solo show, that’s a success, but it’s always good to gather rejections, too. If you aren’t trying to get your artwork out there, you’re not going to get it out there. Anytime that you do get some kind of response to your work is always a success. It’s just statistics, too. If you send out so many applications, the majority are going to come back rejections. As long as you know that, then you’re not going to get down about it. I mean, all artists get rejected. I have a t-shirt that has a rejection letter to Andy Warhol from the MOMA, that he tried to get his work into MOMA and they rejected it.
What are some fears that you’ve come across?
As I get older, because I’m a visual artist, maybe, anything happening to not being able to use my limbs, or eyesight going; that’s a fear. Other than that, I’m not really afraid. I just keep making work. And again with rejection, you’re not really afraid of it after being a practicing artist for so long.
You’ve mentioned the gallery in LA, are there any others with your work that have really stuck out to you?
There was a great gallery I was in up in the cities, the Burnsville Performing Arts Center. It’s kind of like the Washington Pavilion, but it’s in Burnsville and they have a really big and nice gallery there. I had a two person show, so that was nice that I got to display my big works. So, that’s always nice when you make really big canvases, and there’s a space to display them. I had a solo show down in Kansas City at a gallery; that was also nice. Currently, I have work displayed at Lois Lambert Gallery, and on their website. They actually have pictures of all the different paintings I have there right now. You can click on them and see more. I don’t have all of them on my website, yet. I usually like to wait until after the show.
Other than your website, where can people find your work?
Instagram. It’s geneva_costa. I do have a Facebook site, it’s Geneva Costa. Google’s a wonderful thing. Just google my name, and anything that I’ve been online with should pop up. But Instagram is where I post the most of and more current. It’s amazing what social media can actually do.
What advice would you give to other artists? What have been the most important things that you’ve learned through your artistic journey?
Other than the advice with the rejection letters, like it’s always good to collect your rejection letters, and don’t get deterred from that. Keep making your work, keep putting it out there. The best advice that I ever received was not to follow that whole routine of “Oh, I can only create when I’m inspired.” If you schedule it out and say, alright, this is the times I’m going to go get up on this day, and work in the studio from 9 to 5. I’m going to create, and just do that. Even if you’re not inspired, you might be able to go back to your sketch book and look at, you know, the five pages of ideas that you have. Start on one of those. Just do it, and if it doesn’t work out, at least you were creating, and it might lead to something else. I’m a big fan of just scheduling and doing it, then seeing what happens. You have to make yourself work.
Having a gallery deadline is probably the most…any time you have a deadline that you have to meet, that really lights a fire. As long as you have a deadline, or set a deadline for something, you can get a lot of work made.
What are some things that you’re aiming for in the future?
My goal is to just keep creating work, and have that work shown. Once I’m done creating it, the whole reason I created it is visual. I want somebody to look at it. I would like to get into galleries that I haven’t shown in before. I try to get more spread out throughout the nation, and not just this region, or the LA region. Tying to get work shown elsewhere is the big goal. A lot of the things that I talk about in my work were being challenged even before the current election. It’s just now they’re being more challenged. So, it’s just an ongoing conversation in my art. I really do feel it’s important to get it out there. Unfortunately, in 2017 we’re talking about the same stuff they were talking about in the 60’s. It has to still be talked about, and keep talking about it.