Artist Statement

Holly Eskew | Agora Interview

When I consider the affect art manifests, I am reminded of the power of people — people asking questions, shifting perspectives, seeking new means of expression — the power of art. It is my belief that life is enriched by a collaboration of creative minds. Projects that will allow me to communicate and contribute to the “collective imagination” is one of the primary aims of my artistic expression and thus, essential to my life. I am continually inspired by the world around me and feel compelled to share this inspiration with others through film, performance, installation, painting, poetry and photography. These types of mediums afford the chance to create art that beguile the senses, emotions and intellect. For this reason, I am particularly drawn to film/video since it provides an outlet of opportunity in which to reflect on our society, at the same time, it may also bring the expertise of many artists together to serve a single story or vision, to transport the audience to a new world, or perhaps a new state of mind.

Performance Artists like Karen Finley and I share as many similarities as we do differences. Finley is known as the hero of free-speech. I am a free-speech advocate. Finley takes her inspiration from the desperation of others’ real-life scenarios. I draw mine from personal experiences. Finley employs a particular speech pattern and angry tone to convey her outrage over assaults on women. My performances, Pumping Blood!, Something Is Happening (un_speakable), My Tongue, One Red Cloud 10 USA and my Damn Dot poem orate her practice. Both the frantic speed in which Finley delivers her dialogue and the sexual undercurrents ever present in her performances are specific mechanisms weaved into my work. Furthermore, the external environment (the site at which her art is conceived, created, viewed and performed) is an important feature in the composition and reception of her work. Likewise, in each gesture that I create, these same intricate components are considered.

Something Is Happening ~ un_speakable
link: photographic embodiment on flickr

During Finley’s live performance in the show Eclectic Circus at the Limelight NYC, it is often difficult to comprehend every word she spews. Still, she is able to portray angst and communicate sexual innuendo distinctly through her repetitive vocal tone. For this reason, I chose to re-stage the affect of Finley’s performance inside the Mandeville Courtyard at UCSD (2008) during a reading of my own poem, One Red Cloud 10 USA. Naturally, in the final production there were linguistic differences between us. Finley is “dirty, dishy, and disgusting” in her dialogue. Her heavy colloquial usage compares to the way I use obscure words to give meaning. Finley’s improper English resonates loudly with her audience, while my approach echos the silence.

Where she says:

…Ooh I just can’t stop think’en about the schmegma…I’m gonna crack that ass now—I got my fist in your spine, I’m gonna put my arm in that rump roast baby—up the crack of your ass…

I say:

…whose skin goes a tinge pink, I think, from drooling the butter balls atop his sausage ship—it’s viscous tip expunged at the tap of my turgid tongue crushed onto his iron riven priapism, driven as daft and fast as the steed noir sweats to eschew the mad spray tooling its mist … crass morass pain in the rain.

link: written poem
link: Chancellors research scholarship

One striking feature which developed in the act of adopting Finley’s powerful vocal style as my own (for the reading of One Red Cloud 10 USA) was that Finley’s dialectic approach worked to bring the poem life! In addition to Finley, other performance artists have influenced my work. Teching Hsieh’s One Year Performance 1980-1981 is recognized for how technical challenges for my time-based project(s) were handled. For example, his approach to compressing massive amounts of footage into short time-spans was researched prior to making Apples to Apples, In Abeyance and Bedding Walls :: folding floors ~ Orangenality. Hence, how the apples build-up and how the oranges compact through space and time is directly linked to Hsieh’s own time-based work and thus, Hsieh’s creative influence is evident.

Both Nikki Taylor and Cindy Sherman’s work influenced my photographic embodiment and as such, their work compares with my own still life photographs In Abeyance, Can You Hear Me Now and Bedding Walls :: folding floors. Although I did not allow myself to become absorbed by any cult, or submerge myself into any cultures different from my own, (nor even come close to pretending that I was someone other than me,) I did apply their mindset to my general practice. In other words, the candid shots typical of Taylor’s work were combined with the staged effect of Sherman’s movie-stills. Ultimately, both artists’ body of work guided my decisions on how best to capture performance art on film.

There are several issues that performance artist Marina Abramovic and I share. Unity between body and soul is one of them. The way Abramovic explores the relationship between performer and audience is yet another. Still, the manner in which we approach these subjects are very different. The way Abramovic deals with pain and loss is by cutting and poking herself, or by intentionally putting herself in situations that have the potential for pain. Often she exposes her naked body while performing. For example, the scene where she takes the head of a human skull and repetitively pulls it in and away from her naked breast is her way of communicating difficult emotions. I explore pain by showing the after effects of death. Hence, no clothes are removed and no external bleeding gets depicted in my performances Pumping Blood!, NakedMy Tongue, Something Is Happening (un_speakable) and yet there’s little doubt that internal wounds are just as present as in Abramovic’s work. In this same vein, Touching the Inside and For My Master may be compared to her erotic tendencies, while more subtle approaches were created for my naked clown performance, aka Orangenality.

Many other Performance Artists have reached to influence my art, but it was Karen Finley’s bold method that impressed me the most. Marina Abramovic in the way that she approached social issues, and equally impressive were the aesthetically pleasing photographs which both Cindy Sherman and Nikki Taylor worked to produce. Therefore, the tools these artists provided me proved to be invaluable. Fundamentally, these artists will continue to influence many other people in their creation of Performance Art. Personally, for my own work, I am grateful for each and every one of them.

As a filmmaker, my area of concentration at this moment has to do with sound and so I’m drawn to the work of Mungo Thomson and Matthew Ritchie. The most important part of Thomson’s work as it relates to my own, has to do with the way that he recorded whales and then sped up the tape only to discover that they sounded like chirping birds. Next, he recorded chirping birds then slowed down the tape only to discover they sounded like whales. This aspect of sound is of great interest to me and their work encouraged me to experiment with these same concepts. Comparatively, this kind of affect is explored in my videos Pumping Blood!, Resonance, Swings and My Mother’s Dream as sound tools. In other words, by using sound as a performance to propel the type of narrative continuity that both Thomson and Ritchie achieved, I was able to play with the idea of an ‘echo’ in my work. To this degree, the way Ritchie uses sound as the primary element for his narrative movement was particularly inspiring. Specifically, how he used Christopher Walken’s voice clips to tell a story which somehow turned into a 3D Marx’s head sculpted into a semi-city scape. That attempt to represent the entire universe with its structures of knowledge and belief that we use to understand and visualize it was clearly a feat! After all, the narrative thread that leads to human consciousness not only flirts in the realm of ideas, (between moments of seduction in relation to art,) but its complex composition and temporality depend on the moment factual turns to emotion. For Ritchie and Thomson, this point of convergence gets played with by articulating the narrative as something made to be informationally loaded. The design essentially exists as a whole mechanism in the existence of time and effectively creates the sense that energy is not contained in the image itself, rather, the durational response is found with the very ideas of social organization (of the city and of the environment) where such sprawling of works stand as a narrative structure–formed by an aesthetic point of view–and in the end become the device of exchange.


(a) In Abeyance
(b) In Abeyance
(c) In Abeyance
link to written short story: “In Abeyance

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Location: 1883 School House | Encinitas, California ~ Historical Society
Music Artist: Pink Floyd, Another Brick In The Wall


Lumalin Films

Sound of Suicide Postponement
Under the Shadow*



My Tongue
You Do Not Know Paris

Misc sketch work:
Small Oranges
Tumbling Wisdom
Remembering Is Not The Same As



On The Nature Of Human Skin

On The Nature Of Human Skin
Memorial for UCSD Martyr – Vietnam War Protester: George Winne Jr.

Social Architectures | The Invisible Shape of University Past

George Winne Jr.’s Memorial | On The Nature Of Human Skin
“In God’s Name, End the War” | “I believe in God and hereafter
~ I will see you there.”
George Wynne Jr.(1946-1970)

follow project: An Inconvenient Art
★Read (artist’s response) after seeing my project:George Winne Jr.
Virginia Maksymowicz | Sculptor (5 months ago)
What a surprise for me to come across these photos! The bricks did not belong to George Winne. I made this clay sculpture in 1976 when I was a grad student in Visual Arts at UCSD. The other sculpture in the memorial grove is by Michael Todd, who used to be on the faculty. I am delighted that the sculpture has been cared for over these many years.
Virginia Maksymowicz

★ ★Research Note:

Stuart Collection at UCSD:
Terry Allen | Trees
Stuart Collection | The Silent Tree
Herbert’s hippopotamus | [videorecording]
Hippopotamus ~ Marcuse & Revolution in Paradise

Virginia Maksymowicz

高 艺 ~ Gao Yi

Chinese Calligraphy | ucsd
My Chinese name was given to me by Professor Huai Li.
She said my first name means “high” or “shooting high” and my last name means “art” or “skill.”
Chinese Calligraphy | ucsd
Chinese Calligraphy | final project

Follow project: 高 艺 ~ Gao Yi

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Filed under: Documentary films, Film, Performance Art, Performance Art videos, Poetry, Short Story
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ACTIVISM & Free Speech Gestures

The Guardian
(ACLU | Eskew | Dominguez)
Saving UCSD
March 4th Protests

Muir TV ~segments created & produced by Holly Eskew:

Michael Trigilio

Small Oranges

Michael Trigilio Interview | Part I Muir TV

Muir TV

Michael Trigilio Interview | Muir TV

Ricardo Dominguez

Small Oranges

Ricardo Dominguez Interview | Muir TV

Tristan Newcomb

Small Oranges

Tristan Newcomb Interview | Muir TV

Holly Eskew

Small Oranges

Holly Eskew Interview | Muir TV


One Pixel At A Time ()

One Pixel Video

Web presence:

Holly Eskew – IMDb
Holly Eskew – Withoutabox
Twitter: @HollySQ

My blog: While Ivy Naps

While Ivy Naps on USTREAM



Contact Holly on LinkedIn

the Behance Network

HollySQ on


6 thoughts on “Artist Statement

  1. Holly

    Looked over your work and saw your interview…you did a great job..congrats on your newfound ambition for the arts…keep up the good work..maybe I will see you in Vancouver when I am in town for threunion..thanks for sharing the site with me..i was thinking of doing word press with my book…how do you like it

    Scott Glabb

    • Hi Scott,

      Glad you enjoyed the site, it was fun to put together since word press is a dream to work with . . . I think you’ll find it easy to use and I would recommend it for your book. When you put it online, please lmk I’ld love to check it out 🙂 btw say hello to everyone for me at our reunion, I’ll be in school so won’t be able to attend.

  2. hi Holly, the web site for my apex roofing isnt up yet but that will be up by next week i hope. i really like your new site here. i am interested in the film titled naked, interesting, what was the thought behind this one, i was at a riverside last summer to spread the ashes of a high school buddy and i found this one very interesting cuase it brought back the thoughts and feelings of that day along the river

    • Hi Brett, looking forward to seeing your new site too!! As for the “Naked” performance, the prompt was to go out in public and perform naked. Naturally, being naked doesn’t always mean that you are ‘nude’. Since my father died I have felt very naked in this world, as I didn’t realize the bubble he kept me safe inside. He was my protector and when he passed my whole world changed. He was also the glue in our family and we suffered a great upheaval after he died. I still cry from missing him . . . his smile and love!!! Sorry to hear you have recently experienced the same emotion. The only comfort I suppose is that the emotion is universal, and for this reason, I think, the video “Naked” touched you?

  3. Holly – very impressive! You have a definite knack for this, and you’re not even doing it for a living! Best of luck wtih the contunued development of your talents. Where did you go to school for premed?

    • Hi Brian, Thanks for your words of encouragement, always appreciated :)~ I started premed at Grossmont and had taken my hard science prereq’s i.e., chemistry, physiology, anatomy etc., . . . the moment that changed it all, happened in one of my lab sections, after I couldn’t kill and dissect an animal that we had raised. My teacher told me I’d better re-think my major (ha!) Further, in my sociology class we read a story about this nurse who witnessed her first amputation (an arm being removed) and the way she wrote was so graphic that I literally got sick to my stomach. I didn’t like that feeling. And finally, I realized that I’d have to get comfortable with death and I’m not so sure that would work well for me; my spirit is too sensitive for such things. Nevertheless, the scientific aspect, in terms of research, still interests me :)~

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