Michael Harding: You have known Drew for many years along with Mario Sorrenti and Robbie Fimmano who photographed ‘Alchemy’. Do you think having those close relationships with creative teams throughout your career helped you develop as an artist? Did you know early on what realms of the industry and artists you wanted to establish yourself with?
Bob Recine: Well, to begin, I entered the fashion world as a hairdresser with only the intention of art. Although I have and do experience many facets of our profession, I prefer the realm of Transcendence. All fruitful relationships and teams develop you as a collaborator — that is what we really do: creative collaboration through these close relationships.
MH: What inspired you to create a new vision for some of your ‘Alchemy’ hair sculptures with Drew Jarrett and Lauren Isabeau?
BR: Things and ideas always take their meaning from the people you apply them to. I never really look for inspiration. I live inspired and stimulated toward newer spheres of what beauty is, within myself. Both Drew and Lauren are very close to me; so these solid concepts take on their own colors of meaning.
MH: I feel the story has a beautiful melancholy to it, a feeling of isolation which would of course make sense during the period in which it was photographed in. Was it your intention to create something reflective of the times we are currently in?
BR: It’s current in the sense that I have used all the black plastic bags from the corner store to envision reflective light, shape, and form. To my magic roses I’ve nurtured and grown in our garden that atop Lauren’s head, they commune into some apparition on the sun-drenched sidewalk — or as graffiti-ed city ornaments wrapped in paper, the corks of drink as a crown, and hearts and eyes. Quarantine forces a magic melancholy.
MH: When you collaborated with Mario Sorrenti and Robbie Fimmano on ‘Alchemy of Beauty’ everything was photographed in a more controlled environment, but with Drew it was the opposite. Did you set out to work in this way from the start, or was it something that evolved naturally throughout the process?
BR: Every collaborator or photographer is really your compass. Some need certain disciplines of you to complete their result — but all are individual. Drew, as a collaborator, is so spontaneous and curious. So his image is always in a state of his own interpretation of time, light, and motion. I’m attuned to that, so it creates possibilities.
MH: I was very excited to see the iconic matchstick headpiece included in the Alt States story. Where do your sources of inspiration come from when your envisioning hair art? Is there a different approach used when larger scale work is produced?
BR: An idea is used on any scale; it’s just formed to its subject, whether that be a person, material, or space. The matchsticks were part of a series done after the concept of ‘vice’, like cigarettes, guns, dice and the like for their geometrical properties — not as representations of what they actually are. That’s what attracts the senses primarily; but form and shape are my true sources, not the obvious bric-a-brac I might be known for.
MH: Is this project the first time you’ve collaborated with your partner Lauren artistically? It must be exciting working together as Lauren herself creates poetry, using visual mediums, so I’m assuming there must be a great creative energy between the both. Is collaborating together something you had to approach differently to your personal life together?
BR: Yes, of course we create in our life together — both consciously and unconsciously. The story, itself, in nature is so intimately imbued and a complete reflection of our relationship.
MH: Drew mentioned you are currently working on a new series of work for an upcoming show. Would you be able to shed a little light on what it is your working on?
BR: I’m always moving toward what is next in expression for me. I don’t differentiate between presentations or studio work — they are just a part of my adventure into myself, an ontology, and my never-ending quest into the mystery and power of beauty. So there are always new things in my studio that are in evolution or, should I say, in the alchemy of beauty.