Faye Orlove's latest project aims to challenge the art world status quo via collaborations, workshops, and "pink stuff with Drake's face on it."
Hollywood-based Faye Orlove is a digital genius. Since moving to Los Angeles from Boston four years ago, she has co-created alternative DIY webpaper Fvck the Media, directed animated music videos for Mitski, Downtown Boys, and Potty Mouth, and illustrated thousands of pieces of pictorial evidence of her undying devotion to celebrity culture. Her debut illustration book "Shrine," released last year, was an ode to idol worship that featured drawings of everyone from Courtney Love to Scott Disick.
It makes sense that Orlove would want to live in the eye of California's celebrity capital . But if there's one thing Orlove pays closer attention to than the selfies of Kardashian-Jenners with 60 million Instagram followers, it's the voices of marginalized people who inform selfie-culture (and culture at large) from the sidelines. It's these that she seeks to amplify through her next project: an IRL art gallery and community space that she's currently funding through Kickstarter. "Junior High" continues in the tradition of entrepreneurial young people dedicated to making space for other disenfranchised groups to be seen, heard, and crucially, financially rewarded. As Orlove states on her Kickstarter, "it'll be for everyone who ever felt the art world was too expensive, too male saturated, too white, and too inaccessible." The space itself will be equally diverse, offering everything from community workshops for low-income local kids to necessary merch like feminist underwear by Me and You or "pink stuff with Drake's face on it." We talked to Orlove about bringing the new frontier of art from your iPhone to the streets of Hollywood.
What motivated you to launch this project?
Since I was younger, I've always wanted to have a venue or a gallery for art and music that I care about and that I think is underrepresented. For the past couple of years, I've been looking for places to volunteer in L.A. that help teen girls through art. There really weren't any besides Girls Rock Camp, which I do volunteer at, and it's the most amazing program of all time. But I'm not a musician, so I always felt like I had more to contribute. I couldn't find something that gave me the capacity to help the universe as it exists, so I thought I would make one. It feels important because I've been in Los Angeles for almost four years now. Venues are hard to come by — it's such a driving city so you don't really walk around and bump into people. You really have to cultivate a community intentionally. Every venue I did come across was very dude-heavy or run by promoters. It doesn't feel like a very safe space for people like me.
Why do you think it is important that marginalized voices in art take up physical space and not just digital space?
There are a million incredible collectives out there that are doing a lot on social media to unite marginalized voices, which I think is equally as important. One of my favorites has a campaign going right now about taking up digital space by leaving reviews for work by people of color, to emphasize how important it is to have that space taken up. I think both digital and physical visibility are equally important. I'm just a more tactile person — I'm not a huge online shopper, I like feeling the environment and the ambiance and being surrounded by warm, vibrant colors. I think it's just as important as taking up digital space — to have a real environment to go to and feel comfortable in.
What are you looking for in contributing artists? Are they people you already have relationships with?
I have two friends that I'm working with for the first two installations that I want to do. One is Tyler Hicks, who runs Color Study Zine along with Arin Hayes. It's a beautiful collection of art by women and men of color in Los Angeles. For the second edition I'm going to help them get it printed and we're going to have a gallery show. The other is my friend Natalie who has a wonderful zine coming out featuring portraits of women by women, so we're going to do a gallery show for that. But after those two, I'm hoping to meet new people. There's always email and Instagram. It sounds weird, but on Instagram you can just really tell whether you're going to get along with someone. You can really read someone's vibe. The easiest way is just to shoot me a DM, or send an email if you want to be involved with a show. I really want it to be a community space — I have a million ideas, but that's not as fun as working with other people.
How can young people, especially those who don't even have credit cards, help out without contributing financially?
Exactly, I've had a bunch of emails from people in high school saying that they live in L.A. and are available but who literally don't have credit cards. I've had a lot of people reach out who can't offer any money right now, but are willing to intern or help paint. There are just so many facets to this project right now, and I'm still securing the location. As soon as I get a physical space, which I'm very close to doing, I'll totally have people come by to help paint and set up furniture from IKEA. I just have nothing for a volunteer to do right now unless they're an expert at applying for grants — which I do have people working on, but it's not really a high school thing!
Are there any specific pieces you're most excited to see displayed in the gallery?
I'm really excited about this retail shop I want to put together. I've been really inspired by my friend Adi Rajkovic, who started Sunday Los Angeles. It's the most amazing space — it's so warm and inviting, and they have a shop set up. I want to do a similar thing, because all of our friends make artwork, they're turning out keychains and candles and stuff. It would be incredible to have a space to retail them in as opposed to just shopping for everything online. That's what I'm most excited about — setting up this retail space, and having people wander in from across the street, saying, 'What is this stuff?' I want to help artists be able to live off their art. When I was younger and making stuff out of clay or whatever, my mom would always say, 'You could sell this.' I'm like, 'In what world is someone going to buy this?' But it's true — I've sold a ton of artwork. It's powerful to see your stuff in an actual retail setting and to have people you don't know interested in it. It feels great.
Text Hannah Ongley