In two weeks, Artist Fellows Andy Diaz Hope and Laurel Roth present the culminating exhibition of their yearlong fellowship featuring the display of their monumental tapestry triptych, The Conflicts. This Valentine’s Day, Hope and Roth share the secret behind their success in love and art.
As you may or may not know, in addition to collaborating in our careers, we are also a couple—life partners, domestic partners, however you want to label it. We have been romantically linked for 10 years and we have partnered on creative projects for nine. We met while working together to help with a friend’s large-scale art project, so you could say that we've collaborated in art even longer than in love.
The Conflicts has been our most intellectually immersive partnership to date. Other projects, such as the Reflection Engine, required more physical endurance, which taught us how to support each other after weeks of sleep deprivation and how to be kind during our alternating tantrums.
The tapestries required a much deeper, cooperative thought process, as each took the better part of a year to complete. Allegory of the Monoceros, the first tapestry, was a perfect vehicle for combining the foci of our individual work—Andy's work often revolves around humanity's impact on itself, while Laurel's work explores humanity's impact on nature.
Allegory of the Infinite Mortal, while tending more towards Andy's navel-gazing introspection, had lots of interesting anthropological and biological research, which kept Laurel engaged as well.
Allegory of the Prisoner's Dilemma, completed during our fellowship at the de Young, was the most fluid collaboration yet, when the neurons finally seemed to begin to form pathways across the empty space between our individual brains. Like the story of the Tower of Babel depicted in the tapestry, communication and cooperation are key to both our professional and personal success.
Working together, we provide each other with a sounding board to bounce ideas off of, which often fuels a creative spark that returns each idea with several new ones attached. We brainstorm together, research together, and create together, only occasionally separating to concentrate on organizing a concept so as to better communicate it to the other. We also act as each other’s editor, questioning an idea’s relevance to a current project, examining directions the other might be taking, forcing ourselves to defend new concepts, all of which make our practice more rigorous. In this way we can create things together that neither could have attempted alone. Plus, we genuinely like and respect one another, otherwise none of this would be possible.
In regard to our collaborative work, we are often asked to explain precisely who does what. Some viewers want to break down the piece and attribute each element to the individual who made it. But we hope that's not possible, that our individual egos don't interfere too much with the process of creating something bigger than ourselves. In that spirit, we co-wrote this blog post, leaving it up to you, dear reader, to guess whose hand penned each sentence or paragraph.