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Artist, Musician & Writer Exhibition & Interview

Gregory Lee Euclide is an artist and teacher living in the Twin Cities of Minnesota. He has a B.F.A. and B.A.E. Secondary Art Education (K-12) from the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh. Exhibitions of his work have appeared at a variety of places including Loring Park Art Festival, Lanesboro Wine Company, and many cafés and establishments throughout the Twin Cities and Wisconsin.

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Karen Kopacz: The word CARBON appears in your work from time to time. How does it relate to the overall theme of your work? Is it a way to illustrate what is at the core of the life force?

Gregory Euclide: I use the elements and graphics that are associated with atomic structures to bring awareness to the material that exists on such a microscopic level that we do not think about it on a regular basis. The fact that we are all made of mostly the same material is the only thing that truly binds us to each other. In the past one might have said... "that is incorrect, all people want freedom and love." But, in a time where right and wrong can not be addressed or applied to a collective, we are left with our individual opinions, which creates a huge divide between individuals existing together as a society. So, the word "carbon" eludes to a bigger issue of common ground and what does it mean if we are only bound by our matter?

KK: Are the numbers and letters that appear in your work representative of specific mathematical equations? If so, are these equations of a different theme for each piece, or the same theme repeated in a variety of ways?

GE: The numbers and letter take on two different functions. The first being that of equations that actually exist. I get those from high school physics books and from biology books that I bought at used book stores. In the start I tried to make the equations match the work, but then I realized that at any given moment all equations are being carried out. So, the importance of specific equations fitting with specific works is little to me. The other numbers and letters relate to equations that exist because of our involvement in the world. They are random relationships between objects and throughout time. Example: As I leave my house each morning I make a path in space towards the mail box or my car. My feet touch the earth at different locations, my locomotion is different, and the time in which I make that path is different each day. One could map that out over time and created a record of my leaving the house. They could create a complex map relationships between my first step location. They could map my time of day along a different line. One could measure the relationship between my heartbeats and the number of steps; Or the level of humidity to the time of day. There are infinite relationships to be made... Oh I forgot I should not say that... Once in a critique I said that and a man told me that there are only a finite number of things on earth, therefore there can only be finite amount of relationships. He's might be wrong in 50 years.

KK: In the piece that has the numbers "12.01115" overlaid onto a woman wearing a turtleneck, there are some circles painted behind her head. Is there any symbolic reference to the placement of these circles? Does it represent a halo or chakra, or is the circle placement coincidental?

GE: I used to have a huge interest in symbolism, and it really shaped the way I approach a work. Everything in the work needs to be there with reason. I let the weight of a visual stand for a series of ideas or concepts. In this case, and many others, I took a painting and cut it up into four sections and made four new works from it. The idea is really beautiful. One painting about the seemingly random nature of our surroundings becomes a random background. The object itself becomes what the surface intended to reproduce.
I have this really funny book about a expressionist painter called "The Day of the Painter." I was so moved by how funny it was I read it aloud to my classes. It is about this painter who lives by the ocean. He paints these huge canvases and then spends hours ripping them into smaller ones. The wording in the book reads like a Saturday Night Live skit where Mike Meyers pretends to be a Chinese entertainment executive who is trying to make "American television shows." The text reads "You can see he is not an ordinary painter. He is a big word... TWO big words... he is an Abstract Expressionist! This means he can throw paint on the canvas." The book goes one to explain how an art dealer flies in each day and buys a painting (which looks like all the others), pays the artist a large sum of money, and takes off. The painter then throws all the other paintings into the ocean. It is without a doubt the most sarcastic and funny book I have ever read. The reason I mention it..... is because now that I have read that book, I feel like that painter when I cut larger paintings into smaller ones.

KK: Does 111 mean anything to you?

GE:I could think of all sorts of witty responses, but I am afraid if you are looking or a specific answer... then no... 111 means nothing more to me than a set amount, a mathematical place holder that can not be attained on this earth, an abstract useful in creating more abstracts. I know that it holds the place on the periodic table of elements for a substance without a name, which was discovered in the '90s. Unununium.

KK: Have you ever studied Quantum Physics?

GE: This question, for me, is deeper than a simple yes or no. It addresses the issue of knowing and wanting to know. I believe experience is more important than knowledge. There is a battle in my work between that which is known and that which is unknown or perceptually missed. When it comes down to it, one will never know everything. I view information as an infinite line, the ray. Our whole life we travel on that line, but that is not the only ray that exists. Imagine a baseline from which a series of rays rise. Each of those rays is a different aspect to life. There are many people who "WORK" their whole life gaining knowledge. They trade in experience for knowledge.
My student/friend David Andree, who poses a wonderfully profound question with his work, put it best when he asked "are we better off?" Now that we have computers, satellites, capitalism, electricity. What did we give up? I am not advocating ignorance, maybe all I am saying is that it is a beautiful place to be when you know understanding and wanting are moths trying to reach the moon.

KK: In most of the subject matter in the works that I have seen of yours, either a woman or a bird is represented. Is there any particular reason why you have chosen bird as opposed to cat?

GE: The bird is a symbol for Nature. I suppose it could be a sheep or a cat, but I have a true affection for the bird. It has nothing to do with freedom, or some symbolic notion of the birds ability to fly. I actually enjoy the bird the most when it hops on the ground, tilting its head and eating seed. I think of the complexity of the finch, and its life. And I stand before it like I did at the Segrada Familia in Barcelona, or like I might before the Hoover Dam.
There is more happening inside that finch than science can calculate and yet there it is, hoping, heart-beating, eating leftovers. I met a woman who did her doctorate on the specific properties of the birds lower intestines. It only reinforced my feelings.
Another thing is that I am simply amazed by the lineage that allowed that bird to be where it is at now. Millions of years of diagrams. A flowchart the length of the skies.

KK: Do you feel that your work attempts to explain or bring to the forefront, the core essentials of "the wonders of life" as we scientifically understand them? Or do you feel that your process is more about exploring your own understanding of "the wonders of life"? For example, do you ever find that in the process of painting equations and diagrams, that you have an epiphany about the workings of life and/or the Universe?

GE: I know musicians tap into something. If you see the saxophonist hitting it, you hear it in the music. The same thing applies with art. At certain moments I feel I am standing before an ocean or under the stars or watching a bird. I am not attempting to answer anything in my work. I would be pretty arrogant to created works that claimed to contain answers to the wonders of life. I know action, reaction, and the desire I have to maneuver my actions in a way which would allow for me to live in an anti-violent society (maybe that is called compassion, or love).

KK: I am currently working on theories about how telepathy works, in response to a dream in which I was "given the code" for how it works. (Essentially, I was given the answer - but not the equation.) I also spend a lot of time drawing diagrams of how I think the Universe (macro) and self (micro) work. I then began to casually study Quantum Physics and noticed, again, that there were similarities - the most surprising being that I had drawn almost exact replicas of quarks, without ever having known what they were. When I saw your work on the wall at Coffee News on Grand Avenue in St. Paul, I saw some similar patterns to the drawings that I have done. Do you have any thoughts or comments on telepathy and/or insights about micro vs. macro - self in relation to the Universe, OR micro vs. macro - atoms in relation to the self or object?

GE: I feel there are three major relationships that exist. Those are the micro, the macro, and the familiar. The micro being that which is too small for us to see or notice (atoms, quarks, particles). The familiar is that which we are aware of (hand, clock, car). The Macro is the micro and the all that is familiar. It is the sum of the interactions between all that is familiar (psychology, physics, philosophy).
I have also noticed how the smallest things known resemble the largest things known. It is as though the material we concern our selves with is just a point on a line that extents infinitely in both directions. I suppose it is similar to only being able to see green light. Many other light waves exist which you can't detect so you pay them no mind.
It seems natural to me that if you place a billion minds of the same species in a confined environment that something described as telepathy may happen. If it does exist, I am not impressed by its usefulness or practicality.

KK: In one of your pieces, there is a textual references to "natural noise". In another work the word "silent" appears. How does the concept of noise (or lack thereof) come into play into your work? Is this a reference to the vibration or noise of energy?

GE: I think of sound as being physical like a pulse or a vibration. It is happening all the time, bending our air and creating motion. Music has always been the most important source of inspiration. Bands like Spectrum, E.A.R., Labradford, Jessamine, Windy & Carl have always spoken deeply to me. They are approaching sound in a completely different way.
"Natural Noise" is sound that comes about through no influence, it simply exists because of motion, because of the Alberta Clipper, or the pull of the moon. Those sounds are important to me. One hears an ocean and you know that is how the sea sounded in 1200 A.D.
"Silent" refers to the moment when there is perceived stillness. (Standing in the middle of a snow covered street, under a street-lamp, at 3 in the morning.)
Noise in general is one of the countless things that exist but we can not see. So as a painter it is important for me to create noise in vision. To bring awareness to that which is not seen either through symbols or through layers and repetition.
I sometimes lightheartedly wonder about the noise levels on the planet. Are they rising? They must be, due to more people and more machines. And if noise is vibration, then there is more general movement in the atmosphere. What does that do, if anything, to weather or pressure levels? It is a mirthful question like that that interests me.

KK: What influences have helped shape your vision of bringing physics, mathematics and art together? Did one precede the other?

GE: Seeing the wrist of a dancer/friend move through space. Walking with my father in the forest. I believe it is about observing and knowing how complex that which you are observing really is. When you understand the degree of the complexities, your relationship with objects change.
The poet Li Bai wrote "a single shape keeps changing, a million things go on and on" That is life, beautifully worded. I would like my paintings to be life, beautifully viewed.

What do you think about crop circles?

GE: To tell you the truth... I don't think about them or how they are made. I suppose in that respect crop circles and twinkies enjoy the reflexive property.

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