From the series "Zebras" by Nina Lodico, appearing in Volume 2 of Winter Tangerine Review

Amanda Silberling, Managing Editor: In Winter Tangerine interviews, we've developed a bit of a tradition where we ask each interviewee to leave a question for the next interviewee. So, to begin, here's your question from Steven Labadessa: Where do you see the line between autobiography and fiction in your artwork?

Nina Lodico, Volume 2 Art Contributor: Over the years, and to this day I still feel I am creating my own style in my work. However, something I have come to realize is that my personal life experiences are very present in my art practice. I would say both fiction and fact are in my work. Visually, the work may be something that comes from a fantasy perspective, but the context of the work comes from a personal view that can be relatable to my viewers.

AS: How would you characterize your style?

NL: I would say my style is the exact opposite of my personality. I'm very optimistic and really only like to see the best in life, while my work touches on a much deeper level. I like to work in the way of surprising my viewers. Making them realize they wouldn't think I created the work because once the playful aspect is taken out, I touch on much more serious and personal issues.

AS: In "Zebras," which is forthcoming in WTR, this "style" is very much represented-- you depict someone painted as a zebra doing very normal, everyday things alone. What made you pick a zebra, as opposed to any other animal?

NL: The zebra is known as a power animal. An animal of balance and individuality. And although an animal of individuality, it can still be a part of it's herd and stand out even if it looks like the rest. The zebra is meant to be a surrogate. To symbolize this aspect of solitude and vulnerability. And yet feeling okay with feeling aloneness and vulnerable in our society today.

AS: In both "Zebras" and "Body Hands," the other piece of yours forthcoming in WTR, a painted body is featured. What's the actual act of painting a body before taking a picture like? Any funny incidents?

NL: For Body Hands, I painted myself. It was the first time I actually worked with paint on the body. I didn't really know what I was doing or how I should even apply the paint on my body. So I just went with the flow, squirted the black paint onto my hands, and then applied it as if it was lotion. After I did that, I realized it probably wasn't the smartest idea because I was clogging my pores. But then I remembered I was doing it for art. And I'll do anything to create work I feel needs to be created. For Zebras, I had to reexamine my situation because there was more detail that needed to be looked at. Something fun I did with my models was make a dance video while we were painted as zebras to warm up before we shot because it would get cold.

AS: Ha, that sounds like fun. This question was actually brought up by a staff member: What made you choose to use the color black?

NL: That is a question I have gotten asked a lot because it brings up many racial issues. Although, when I created that work, I didn't think of that... Which can be a good thing and a bad thing. The reason why I used black was because this work is based upon feeling uncomfortable. When I thought about what made me feel uncomfortable, it was people touching me in places where I don't want to be touched. So originally the color black was used to make the hands stand out because they are my own hands. So I needed on contrast between my hands and a color.

AS: I can definitely see that-- When I first saw it, I interpreted the color black to be like a silhouette. To my understanding, there's a big difference between the time it takes to set up a scene to be photographed, and to actually take the photograph. How long does it normally take you to set a scene, and if there is such a contrast in time, how can that impact your work?

NL: It definitely takes a lot longer for me to set up my scenes than to take the photograph. Because I am very involved in my work; I am the only who sets everything up and most of the time the subject being used. When I worked on Zebras, it took 2 hours just to paint the body because the white would need to dry before I could put the stripes on. Depending on what I am shooting and what materials are being used, it usually takes anywhere from 1-4 hours to set up and then about 30 minutes or less to get the shot I want.

AS: What exactly does "setting up" entail?

NL: For example, with Body Hands and Zebras, I start with making sure my camera, lens, and battery are all ready to go. I need to have enough paint to make sure I cover the body. If I am working in a certain room in my house or someone else's home I am borrowing for the day... I'll need to rearrange some things around so I have a very minimal space to work in.

AS: What's it like working with models?

NL: Working with models is extremely difficult. Especially if I am trying to convey a certain act or emotion and he or she doesn't see what I am envisioning. For most of my fine art work that I do make, I usually use myself. In Zebras, some of the images I am in and some are my best friend. I've tried to use models and make my work, but as for now, I stick with myself.

AS: Moving on, how did you find an interest in art? Do you work in other disciplines besides photography?

NL: I started out as a classical music major in my community college before transferring to CSULB. After two years of realizing music is more of a hobby, I took my first film photography class and fell in love with it. Once I saw my first photograph appear in the developer, I knew I could do this the rest of my life, making art. It doesn't matter whether I am poor or rich-- it makes me unconditionally happy in life and I have the motivation to do well. Besides photography, the past year I have started to work with video and installation, and incorporate classical music into my work. So that everything I've studied and have had an interest in, is always a part of my work.

AS: In what ways have you combined these disciplines in your work?

NL: Mainly with my video work, the content of the videos are a continuation from my photographs. The audio is a combination of a narration with a contrasting sound piece that either works with it or against it, depending on whether or not I want to create tension with my viewers. With installation and photographs, that varies... Depending on what I am working on.

AS: Photography and film are fairly new artistic fields, due to the growth of technology. What do you think about the influence of technology on art?

NL: I think the advancement in equipment has it's pros and cons. I do not think drawing and painting will ever go away just because we have digital cameras that can take photographs and video. It has created opportunity to really see what truly talented people can do with the topnotch equipment. But then again, I find it more fascinating what people can do with the least amount of equipment and still being able to create something that may be even better than something someone did with something that costs thousands and thousands of dollars.

AS: To wrap things up like we started, leave a question for our next interviewee.

NL: If there were no limitations with money and a place to create, what is the work you'd want to create and why?

 To see more of Nina's work, subscribe to Winter Tangerine Review.