February 28, 2014

Spotlight: Lindsay Bottos

Lindsay Bottos' art reads like a diary – whether it be hers or yours.

Lindsay Bottos's face might look familiar. In January, she posted a project on Tumblr about the anonymous messages she received and subsequently found herself on places like Buzzfeed and Good Morning America. Lindsay wasn't expecting this kind of reaction, but it plays into a phenomena that's present in much of her work. Lindsay's art - from photography to embroidery - is highly personal, but has the ability to resonate with a large audience. I initially took notice of Lindsay's work after her "I don't really miss you" project popped up on my dashboard. The scenes she recreated through stitches and pictures on embroidery hoops reminded me of a summer I had spent with a boy that ended poorly. I can't be the only one who feels this way about Lindsay's art – her 'Anonymous' project inspired countless girls to post their own selfies despite the backlash they might receive from it. Outside of her work, Lindsay is a senior at MICA where she co-runs a feminist collective I wish I could join and runs an Etsy shop. I talked to her about her art acting as a kind of diary, her favorite things to do in Baltimore, and her dream musician to work for (one of them is THE LE SIGH favorite Frankie Cosmos).

THE LE SIGH: I first became interested in your work when I saw your 'I don't really miss you' series on Tumblr around a year ago. Can you speak a little about that project in particular?

Lindsay Bottos: Sure - that project was a combination of journaled thoughts and mementos about someone who I had cared about that had disappeared from my life. It was the first project I used embroidery for and I was exploring the relationship of text and embroidery to photography. The series was actually purchased by a local gallery and is a part of their permanent collection which is pretty rad!

TLS: What I noticed about your art is that it seems to tell a very personal story but still is highly relatable for anyone who comes across it. What have you noticed about people's reactions to your work?

LB: My work has always been deeply personal and I relate it a lot to the songs I was writing when I used to play music. I've gotten literally thousands of e-mails and messages from people who really connect with my work which is both really awesome and really weird. It's kind of like having your diary published in a way; it's really nerve-racking but also very freeing. I think sometimes my work means more to some people than it does to me which is a strange feeling, but I really appreciate all of the feedback I receive and feel very humbled when I hear my work has made someone feel less alone.

TLS: Your pieces also show off a wide variety of skills from photography to embroidery - when did you pick up each of them? Was there a certain "type" of art you got into first? 

LB: Color film photography is the medium I work in the most and the one that I've ben doing the longest. Since coming to MICA, I've tried to use the resources available to me to learn as much as possible and explore different mediums and different ways of working. For my thesis, I'll be doing an installation that incorporates photography, fibers, text, and found objects. I definitely have favorite mediums but I also try not to be limited by them.

TLS: In the last month, your "Anonymous" series attracted a lot of attention. What was it like seeing your work being covered on such a large scale?

LB: Really weird. to be honest! I'm really grateful for the visibility my work gained, but it's really surreal watching yourself on Good Morning America and listening to the media discuss what they think your work is about. So many mainstream media sources completely missed that the project was about the way women are disproportionately harassed online, which was the main point I was trying to address. Overall though, I think the project started some interesting discussions and I've received so much support! Hopefully the visibility it helped me gain will open up some opportunities for me (fingers crossed)!

TLS: In addition to your art, you also run a feminist collective at MICA - what is that position like and what has the collective been up to? 

LB: I co-run the collective with a few of my friends and we're currently working on a lot! Right now we're putting a zine together of the club members' work and planning a gallery show at the end of the semester. We're also teaming up with MICA's burlesque club to do an open forum about harassment and I've been in contact with one of the Charm City Roller Girls to collaborate with them. Once it gets warm out, we're also planning on learning how to skate!

TLS: On the topic of MICA, what are some of your favorite things to do in Baltimore? 

LB: Probably going to basement shows and hanging out with friends. That's a pretty boring answer! There's a really good farmers market and this place called the book thing that gives away free books right by my house too. When it's warm out, my favorite thing to do is to go swim in one of the reservoirs or small rivers outside of the city. I mostly like hanging out with my partner or a small group of friends and being outside.

TLS: I saw in your Etsy store you have a show poster you made for Spoonboy. Who would be your dream artist to do work for?

LB: David (Spoonboy) is a friend of mine; that's why I was hosting his merch, but if I had to pick a living musical artist/band, I would definitely say Mount Eerie. I've been really into Frankie Cosmos lately too. If I had to pick a fine artist though, it would be Tracey Emin.

TLS: I know this is probably a dreaded question (since it was for me around this time last year) but since you're graduating from MICA this year, what are your plans for after graduation?

LB: I want to take a year to really focus on my work and my Etsy and maybe do some traveling before I jump into a "career." I also have been thinking about getting back into music. I've had some offers from publications, including Bitch and Seventeen, to pitch some articles, so I'd also really like to work on doing some freelance writing and see where that takes me. I guess I just really want to focus on what I love doing and see where I can go with it!

Check out more of Lindsay's art here.

Written by Emily Thompson