Natale Adgnot is an abstract artist currently living and working in Brooklyn. After a career including stints at Christie’s in New York and Chanel in Paris, she decided to fully focus her practice on sculpture. Her work is influenced by she her background in haute couture and graphic design and inspired by the science of perception.
How has your upbringing influenced you as an artist today?
I was raised in the heart of the United States in an environment that was fairly homogeneous. I was vaguely aware from a very young age that there was so much more out there. By the time I was a teenager, my curiosity about how other people live and think became quite insistent, but with no outlet. This frustration was the driving force behind my attraction to art.
Finally, once I was in my twenties and armed with a degree in graphic design, I moved to Paris where I ended up spending almost a decade before settling in Brooklyn. Having experienced the adventure of living abroad once, I couldn’t resist doing it again between 2015 and 2018 when I lived in Tokyo. To this day, I am moved and thrilled by people and places that are foreign to me. Even after a decade here (and even after seeing much of the world) New York feels magic.
The fact that I didn’t know anyone too different from myself for most of my childhood has, ironically, been a gift. It has allowed me to stay fascinated with a vast array of people and places that each represent their own truths, legends, cultures and stereotypes. Perhaps most importantly, it has inoculated me against the tragedy of being blasé.
What challenges have you found pursuing a creative career? How did you overcome them?
Sometimes you have to take the winding road to get where you want to go. I didn’t take the straight path to being an artist (like getting an MFA, for example), but I’ve found that most of the experiences that seemed unrelated at the time have in fact become the foundation of my studio practice.
My career has been a play in three acts. I started out as a graphic designer/art director which was a compromise. I wanted to get a degree in studio art, but job prospects were better in design, so I chose the latter. Years later, while living in Paris, I went back to school to learn fashion and worked in haute couture before coming back to the US and teaching at FIT. Finally, in 2014, my dream of working full time in the studio became a reality.
Instead of feeling like I had wasted all that time in the “wrong” career, I discovered that my graphic designer’s eye gave me an edge in terms of pattern and composition. My experience making crazy sculptural garments and accessories by hand for the runways in Paris informed my gravitation to a sculptural medium. And the accumulated years of being a professional employee have made me a dedicated and effective full-time artist.
How has your work evolved over time?
My work has always been graphic and hard-edged. That’s the common thread running through everything from my drawings to my paintings and sculptures. The sensuality of life in France has given me a love of form and texture while the stark aesthetic of Japanese minimalism really fed into my graphic tendencies. I’m sure that my exposure to Japan will forever inform my work.
What stories or messages do you wish to tell through your creations?
The story that underlies all of my work is that there is more than meets the eye. This relates back to my conviction that no one person, culture or ideology holds the absolute truth. Stereotyping and other cognitive biases are quickly upended when inspected from multiple angles.
Do you have any particular goals for the future, what’s next?
Like everyone else in this moment in time, my goals have become much more short-term. I want to get through the pandemic with lessons learned. I want to build on what I’ve done with my series “Drawings in Three Dimensions.” And I want to cultivate gratitude for what I have right this minute.
FRONTRUNNER online forum: @NataleAdgnot