Ahead of her stop at Samuel Lynne Galleries Saturday night for the opening reception of Buddha Goes Punk, Miami-based artist Metis Atash tells us what inspires her to create her pieces, which contain up to 24,000 Swarovski crystals, and weave her love of fashion and pop art from the 1970s and ’80s with her spiritual beliefs.
Dallas Observer: How did Buddha Goes Punk end up being your first show in Dallas?
Metis Atash: I’ve been told for a while that Dallas would be a place where my pieces would be received very well. I was very excited when the gallery approached me and asked me to collaborate. JD Miller [the gallery’s co-founder] very much lives his life according to the same ethics and beliefs I do. So, there was no doubt in my mind that this was the right collaboration and the right person to start my endeavors in Dallas. I’ve been approached by several people saying Dallas would be a wonderful market for me.
As a self-taught artist, how did you get started?
Well, I made a career in corporate finance business and relations consulting, which is basically consulting companies on the stock exchange. That’s my bread and butter. The art came after I came to Miami [Atash was born in Romania and raised in Germany] with a collection of furniture pieces. This eventually evolved more and more into sculptures and fine art. And I’ve been creating art over the past seven to 10 years.
What’s your process for creating these intricate Buddhas?
I start with a drawing, and then create all the clay molds, which are eventually turned into fiberglass. And then I paint them. Everything is hand painted. Every piece is pretty much one-of-a-kind due to the unique imagery, and every single item has its own identity. Once the pieces are painted, [the crystals] are hand placed on each Buddha. I am very hands-on in the process. I mean, obviously with 90 sculptures over the past few months, I’d need probably 550 hands to be able to do everything by myself. But every step, every process, has to go through my hands. There is no doubt about that.
How long have you worked on the pieces in Buddha Goes Punk, and how would you describe the exhibit?
I work on quite a few Buddhas at the same time, which is not always dedicated specifically to one batch, or one collection. I’ve worked on nearly 90 Buddha since last October, but have worked on the punk Buddhas for the past three to four months. [The exhibit] is not one specific collection. Some pieces are inspired by fashion, which is pretty much how I got started. I drew inspiration from fashion and haute couture houses such as Chanel, Balmain, Valentino and so on. Other pieces are purely inspired by contemporary pop artists from the ’70s and ’80s such as Warhol, Keith Haring or Damien Hirst. It’s a marriage of [art and fashion], which coexist anyway. Because fashion is inspired by art and art is inspired by fashion.
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What was your first Buddha design?
I used to make very large, 5- to 6-foot buddhas painted with automotive paint, with very few Swarovski crystals. But my first covered in as many crystals [such as the ones in the exhibit] was very simple. It was a pink and black Buddha that had a peace sign on the back. And that was it. And then another two or three after that had the yin yang and ohm signs in greens and blues. After that, they became more and more sophisticated and detailed and more conceptual.
It’s the most identification I have with my personal spiritual life and beliefs. [Buddhism] is everything I live by and believe in. It’s the closest to my heart – what I feel and what I believe in.
Samuel Lynne Gallery is located at 1105 Dragon St. The opening reception for Buddha Goes Punk is from 5-8 p.m. Saturday, May 13. The exhibit runs through June 24. Admission is free. For more info, visit samuellynne.com.