Eric Fischl is an internationally acclaimed American painter and sculptor. His artwork is represented in many distinguished museums throughout the world and has been featured in over one thousand publications. His extraordinary achievements throughout his career have made him one of the most influential figurative painters of the late 20th and early 21st centuries.Fischl’s paintings, sculptures, drawings and prints have been the subject of numerous solo and major group exhibitions and his work is represented in many museums, as well as prestigious private and corporate collections, including The Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Whitney Museum of American Art, The Museum of Modem Art in New York City, The Museum ofEric Fischl is also the founder, President and lead curator for America: Now and Here. This multi-disciplinary exhibition of 150 of some of Americaís most celebrated visual artists, musicians, poets, playwrights, and filmmakers is designed to spark a national conversation about American identity through the arts. The project launched on May 5th, 2011 in Kansas City before traveling to Detroit and Chicago. Eric Fischl is a Fellow at both the American Academy of Arts and Letters and the American Academy of Arts and Science. He lives and works in Sag Harbor, NY with his wife, the painter April Gornik.

Fischl is President of the Guild Hall Academy, East Hampton. Mia Funk is honored to have been chosen to be the inaugural artist participating in the Fischl Gornik residency and to be conducting interviews, artworks and community art initiatives with Guild Hall Academy, Sag Harbor Cinema Arts Center, and other initiatives founded by April Gornik and Eric Fischl.

These are excerpts from a 10,000 word interview which is being shared with our network of university and national literary magazines.

ERIC FISCHL

The whole thing is to get them to feel like no matter where their background is from, the difficulty they have in their personal lives, the isolation that they feel in relationship to that, that within the art community they are embraced, they are welcomed. All they have to do is just keep getting better at it, but the community is there. I think that something we’re all looking for is where we belong.

But you know the unfortunate thing about the world we live, the modern world that we live in, regarding art, is that it’s all about us. I wish in a way that we lived in a time when it wasn’t about us. That understanding the world didn’t go through the individual’s eyes, through the individual’s heart. That we were all connected to something that was outside of ourselves that we applied ourselves to.

Much art today is not connecting seeing to feeling. And that’s the big problem. It’s connecting seeing to seeing, and it’s also connecting the already seen to seeing. Usually, the artist is the one who is gifted to see first. Everyone witnesses, but the artist sees at the same time they witness. And it is the seeing that is the order of understanding. And so what you’re getting now is a lot of artists that are receiving already seen things. They’ve already organized. And they’re taking it, and they’re reorganizing it. Maybe as a formal exercise, but not something that is transformative.

I like looking at young artists’ work... To me, the greatest pleasure in connecting with a young painter is you look at their work, and you can show them in a simple way that you see everything that they’re doing; that you see when they’re inspired, afraid, lazy and confused. That without knowing them at all, you can look at the thing they’re presenting you, and you can say, ‘Well, see here, you couldn’t figure this out at all. And over here, you are like this gave you the greatest pleasure you’ve ever had in your life.’ And watch these kids go, ‘How can you see that?’ And then gradually realize that, in fact, it’s a language. You’re communicating, and everything you put into a painting can be brought out of a painting by somebody who is literate in painting. And to me, that’s a great pleasure because it shows them that they will be seen. They will be understood. They will be felt and that they have to take that very seriously... It is also make them feel like they belong to a larger world. They fit into it.