Creative inspiration from Brooklyn: An interview with the Keeper of the Golden Duck
We’ve been told that the beautiful borough of Brooklyn has more writers per square inch than anywhere else in the world. While that might or might not be literally true, it’s a fact that Brooklyn is an artistic powerhouse.
One of our favorite authors from Brooklyn, Cibele Vieira, also happens to be one of our favorite Blurb authors. We got in touch with her recently to explore her book, The Duck’s Diaries.
By way of introduction, what inspires you, artistically?
“I am inspired by art and by life and its complexities, from the social to the economic aspects of it.”
What makes Brooklyn a good place to live and make art?
“I love Brooklyn. I am originally from Brazil and have lived in Manhattan and Ann Arbor, Michigan as well. I found being an artist in Brooklyn to be easiest, in that you have a big art community, so you don’t feel weird or dislocated and you’re close to Manhattan and its major galleries and museums. My studio is in Bushwick and every year we have a big open studio weekend and it’s inspiring and comforting to be part of it.”
Can you share with us the background of the Golden Duck?
“Each year for the past five years I’ve chosen a color and created a project around it. The exploration of each color became an exercise to develop formal concepts.
In 2011 I decided to work with the color gold and was having a hard time figuring what would be my subject and what it would convey. Most of my color projects are studio-oriented, but at that time I had just had a baby and was tired of being indoors. So when my son’s duck-shaped bathtub sprung a leak, I decided to paint it gold. As I did it, that ordinary object became so gorgeous that I needed to set it free. So we took it to the East River and the chase started… Now after more than 12 adventures, it seems that the duck has become a simple (but bigger) metaphor for our pursuits in life.”
So what did you see as the next step?
“In the beginning, the idea was just to make wall installations of the photographs that would grow with the duck’s adventures, but the stories were so interesting that people wanted to hear more and more about it. So I started to write them down and the idea of making a book came naturally. I love to make books and have made several in the past, from albums to artist books. I decided to write it like field notes, easy to read with the images.”
Why did you choose Blurb for your book-making project?
“I have worked with Blurb before and I have always liked the print quality. At this time I looked around, taking into account sizes and of course pricing and Blurb fit the best. I love Blurb’s square book format.”
Let us in to your book-making process. Did anything surprise you?
“What surprised me was how easily it came together. My process is very organic. It usually takes me some time to come up with a concept, but this time it seemed that when I sat down to organize it, all the pieces were there. And after I finished, of course like everybody that commits to make a book, I was so anxious to see it. Blurb works so fast that I had the book in my hands in three days! Love it.”
How hard was the photo curation process?
“By now I have more than 5,000 images of the duck’s adventures, but incredibly it wasn’t that difficult to choose them. I think because I’ve spent so much time making my wall installations and I am so used to telling the duck’s stories that I kind of knew which images fit, in terms of both composition and content.”
Can you describe the reaction to The Duck’s Diaries?
“I made the The Duck’s Diaries as part of the whole “Chasing The Golden Duck” project. I think it grounds the project and gives it more depth. The book format also allows it to be viewed outside the ‘white cube’ of the gallery, which it is fantastic because it can reach a broader audience.
All the feedback that I’ve gotten has been very enthusiastic. I have friends that bought extra ones to give to other friends and that feels very good.”
Do you have any other projects you're working on? What's next?
“Yes, I am working on my first NY solo show, which is coming up next year and I’m also planning new projects on the colors blue and red. You can keep in touch with what’s coming on my website: www.cibelevieira.com.”
Thanks so much, Cibele, and we’ll be looking forward to see what you do next. Here’s to Brooklyn—and the artistic spirit.