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Grace Linderholm on the Year of Shitty Art

by Cassidy George

on March, 2016

Grace Linderholm on the Year of Shitty Art

Name: Grace Linderholm
Age: 21
From: Lafayette, California

Reason you moved to New York: Unfortunate ambivalence towards where I went to college.

Historic trajectory with art?

Painted on International Women's Day.

Painted on International Women’s Day.

I’ve only really started making art in the past two years. I painted as a kid, but I came here expecting to be a pre-med student.
Medium of Preference?

It’s always paint. I wish it wasn’t, because I think paint is dying, but I was taught to make art with paint. I learned to love it. Complacency is a big part of making art for me. That being said, I’m currently trying to diversify into sculpture.

In the past you’ve mentioned to me that you’re often unhappy with your work, which inhibits your ability to create. I can’t help but wonder if this is because you evaluate your artwork (and all artwork) with a certain depth that most other viewers lack. I assume that, for you, “Good Art” has to meet some kind of criteria, or have some degree of significance or importance? 

Look, the idea of “Good Art” is almost– almost– moot. I could write you 95 theses and nail them to a church door about the nature of art in our big, ugly, beautiful imperialistic and capitalist world, but suffice to say, I think you have to decide who your audience is before you can say what “good art” is to them. Someone out there is going to like what you’re doing, and a big wave of voices is going to hate it. If you make art for an intended audience, what’s the difference between your point and a product?You have to set your own criteria, and ask what the audience for that criteria is. Then you have to evaluate your own work. You have to see what makes it worthwhile. Is it beautiful or horrible in the ways you want, aesthetically? Is it new? Do you care if it’s new?


@momsxxl , 18 w ago

 I do think that good art is made by good ideas, and good ideas always feel significant. You can see them, they’re always visible. The current art market deals in revelation– how you can make something that will reveal its true intentions  like a girl in a cake halfway through. My personal criteria for art is that it is evocative and empathetic in some way. There’s some moral claim to realist aesthetic beauty, to fauvist colors, I feel like, that I haven’t been able to shake. Widening wealth gaps means that not everyone can access the language of modern art. I know that’s debatable, like, the internet exists, ok, and of course that’s always been true since the avant-garde got going, but you know what? It’s kind of shitty, it just is.

Leather and Wood, born Feb 24, 2016.

Leather and Wood, born Feb 24, 2016.


Good art as a concept isn’t universal to everyone; “Good Art” will always only matter to a group of people with certain tastes, but. But. Where’s the space for immediacy?  How do you make something revelational that isn’t jerking itself off? No one cares about people’s tastes if there isn’t money to back them. In case it hasn’t become clear, I haven’t really decided my audience, but I don’t think my ideas have developed far enough to communicate what I want. I want my art to be incisive. I want to find realist art that feels necessary.

 Do you find that your sense of ethics affects the way you view art?

It doesn’t, really. I let most art wash over me; ethics are present in all art, it’s all a part of looking.

Should all of us be paying more attention to the question of ethics in artistic output?

You do, kids, whether you realize it or not. What the fuck is an unethical piece of art? Like, lets go through five million examples. If you evaluate for the chain of money, for the institution of art itself as exclusionary and racist and sexist and fetishizing, just about the whole history of western art is unethical. If you look at a Robert Mapplethorpe picture and recoil at some dude’s giant dick, you should be asking yourself why. His pictures of bondage are a respectful exercise in trust. His pictures of black men are entirely fetishizing. So which is worse? Whistler or Mapplethorpe?

Mapplethrope, Untitled (Bondage), 1973.

Everyone evaluates art with their personal moral priorities just the same as their aesthetic ones. I know I said that you have to pick your criteria, and my criteria for ethical art is that on some level- any level of reading- it prescribes you to be more compassionate to your fellow humans. Every work has a highest-order goal in mind. You have to find the goal. Most really good art, in my opinion, spends its time looking for justice. The Power Rangers could be really good art.

Restorative ethics are kind of having their moment right now– not that I think ethics should be a moment– but places like the Whitney and the Brooklyn Museum are doing great stuff. Everyone should practice caring about people different from themselves, which is to say, everyone.


On a lighter note, tell us about the Renegade pants you painted ! 

Grace in the Trouser Snake pants.

Now is the time to contradict myself a bunch. Every so often, I get incredibly tired of trying to make Good Art. My feeling of moral responsibility and like, intellectual impotence gets super old. So I’m trying to give myself space to make Bad Art. Like, really, truly, Bad Art. Not even like, Creed and Korn Bad Art, but art that looks juvenile. Art that doesn’t care about itself.Face painting is wonderful. Etsy-esque fruit painted on old jeans are soothing. I want to have no concern, just immediacy, with topics that are free from potential evil. So. Shitty, shitty art. That way, even if things turn out looking ok, I don’t have to care about it. Shit Art is failure-free. Not to get on my soap-box (again), but with the idea that art is held accountable all the time comes the pressure for young artists to always be fully-formed.

Detail of the pants.

Detail of the pants.




There’s no room for the garbage we’re all bound to produce in our twenties, or during our beginnings and our growing pains.

When I made the pants, I basically followed my bliss and then sat down and tried to assess if the highest prescription of my idea was harmful. And then I slapped some paint around while watching It’s Always Sunny for two days straight.

It’s the year of shitty art, tell your friends.

Ideal song to listen to while strutting down Bowery in your Renegade pants?
 Ramblin’ Man by the Melvins. 100%.

You can see more of Grace’s work here.

Gallery images taken from a collaborative painting between Grace Linderholm and Jose Altamirano.


Posted by Cassidy George

on March, 2016