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Meet Andrea Burgay

@ her studio in Brooklyn, NY


Tell us about yourself & how you became an artist

I deconstruct and paint with paper, making collage-based reconstructions of experiences and memories in my Brooklyn, NY studio. Originally from Syracuse, NY, my early interest in art was shaped by craft books, art classes, and as a teenager, hunting thrift stores and basements for interesting things to make art with. I also spent a lot of time reading and looking at art in books, which had a big impact on my love of paper media and collage. I moved to NYC in 2005 to study at the School of Visual Arts, and have been making and showing work ever since.

Andrea Burgay artist

What is your art addressing? What kind of message do you want to convey through your art?

The works explore cycles of life, deterioration and decay, while finding possibilities of hope and beauty within these. Compositions and forms that communicate entropy and loss are juxtaposed with contrasting rhythm and movement, expressing a relationship between the unavoidable pain of life and the constant potential for transformation and change. The material used in the work, collected unwanted paper ephemera, similarly conveys the sense of redemption for the obsolete—giving something undervalued a new life. I want to convey the possibility of finding beauty even in the most overlooked of places, and the potential for transformation within physical objects, and within our lives.

 Andrea Burgay artist

What kind of emotions do you want to stir in your audience?

The works communicate fragility, deterioration, decay, destruction, loss and pain, but always alongside hope and rebirth. I think of my explorations of these themes as a cathartic offering, a potential map towards healing for others, through making visible the topics that we look away from or are difficult to express.

“The works communicate fragility, deterioration, decay, destruction, loss and pain, but always alongside hope and rebirth.”

What is your creative process?

I organize palettes of fragments to integrate into the works. There are images, colors and textures collected from found and collected books, magazines, posters and other printed matter. There are also personal materials from my archive—old drawings from notebooks, saved collage clippings, found wallpaper samples and hand-painted papers. I create the work through a continual process of connective actions—arranging and attaching materials—followed by a series of destructive actions—cutting, tearing or obscuring elements. The compositions are developed through a great deal of arranging and rearranging. Randomness and chance play into the process, pieces often move around and find their own positions.

Andrea Burgay artist

3 words to describe yourself as an artist

Free, raw, open

Your go-to music for when you're working?

Nick Cave, Patti Smith and older stuff by Bruce Springsteen. The Velvet Underground and Howlin’ Wolf. There is so much. I like songs that evoke raw feeling. I’ve often thought that i want each of my pieces to function like a song, to create energy through rhythm and intensity.

Favorite color?

I really don’t have a favorite, it’s all about how they’re combined.


Do you have a routine or ritual for when you're working?

I pick up a large coffee on my way to the studio and that’s pretty much it. I sometimes jump right into a work in progress, or I might start with a small piece to warm up before starting on a large piece. I like to have a lot of works in various stages to move around while I’m in the studio. And aside from that, non-stop music and podcasts and I can stay there forever.

Where / When / How do you get inspired?

I collect sources of inspiration across many aspects of life and eventually form these into different series. My Ruins and Neighborhood series are inspired by the compositions of torn and weathered posters layered on construction scaffolding. My Requiems series uses personal photos from my past as the starting point for works exploring emotion and memory. The color, texture, faded paper or title of each book and magazine that I use in my Fictions series is in itself the inspiration for the piece. I have a new series in mind based on specific songs, though that is actually an influence that cuts across much of my work.

 Andrea Burgay artist Andrea Burgay artist

What makes you happy?

Making and showing my work and seeing it connect to others is extremely satisfying. Having the space and time to think and work also make me very happy. I love drinking coffee; especially good coffee and I really like drinking coffee at the ocean. I love travel and exploring new places, live music, good food, searching through used book stores, the list goes on…

What impact does living in New York have on you?

I’ve been living here for almost 19 years and the city never disappoints with the amount of experiences that are just a train ride away, so much inspiration everywhere. The visual experience of walking the city, of so many different things coming up against each other, has had a definite impact on the way that I think and the way that I work—older architecture, new construction, torn down structures, abandoned lots, billboards and advertising, deteriorated layered posters, graffiti, colors, people, so many different people—the past butting up against the present. And from my first experiences at SVA, when we visited our teachers’ homes and studios, I cannot overstate how important it has been to me to have had relationships with the innumerable intensely dedicated artists that live and work here.

Andrea Burgay artist

How has your art changed throughout your career?

Deterioration and decay have been consistent themes within my work, explored first in my series Human Nature, with works that reveal the similarities between the structures and organs of the human body with forms found throughout the natural world. In this series, biological and natural imagery are combined in collages and fabric sculptures. Over time, these themes have become more directly embodied within the work through processes that amplify deterioration and the aged qualities of materials, conveying a sense that the works have weathered the passage of time. While I previously worked on both collages and sculptures within each series, these approaches have converged into sculptural collages.

Andrea Burgay artist

What do you want people to know about you or your art that we haven't asked?

I am the founder and editor of Cut Me Up, a participatory collage magazine presenting a curated selection of artworks in each issue, intended for readers to deconstruct and transform into new artworks in response to curatorial calls addressing contemporary issues. The newly created responses form the content of the next issue. Cut Me Up continues my interest in cycles of destruction and transformation, as each issue is consumed by the creation of the next. The project also creates an ongoing dialogue between artists visually responding to each other’s work, without having to translate ideas into verbal or written language. Find out more at cutmeupmagazine.com. 



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