Untitled by Odessa Straub
Odessa Straub

Somewhere along the way, “millennial” became a dirty word, or at least a tainted one—shorthand for lethargy, entitlement and fecklessness. All the while, young female artists were getting to work. A Women’s Thing spoke to six millennial artists on coming of age at the turn of the century and their own stock-taking of their careers thus far.

“There is freedom in recognizing what being young means: travelling, not yet having a family that depends on you to be predictable and to stop working at midnight.”

Odessa Straub is a multi-media artist in the broadest sense, working in latex, leather, cord, plexiglass and steel cables, not to mention paint. Her exhibitions have been just as varied—Berlin and Naples to Los Angeles and New York, to name a few. Straub lives and works in Brooklyn.

What does age mean to you?

Odessa Straub: I have been forgetting what my age is for about five years now. I have to start with 1989 and do a bit of finger math. I’ve hit the benchmark of being out of school and am now just enjoying the experience of being a young adult.

I imagine myself as an old lady all the time. I think it keeps me from worrying about getting older. I also regularly remind myself that I am young in order to lift some of the pressure that I put on myself. There is freedom in recognizing what being young means: traveling, not yet having a family that depends on you to be predictable and to stop working at midnight. I think it’s normal to experience the instabilities that I do at my age, but I doubt whether advancing in age is a factor in quelling insecurities and expectations. I’m getting better at waking up and creating a positive experience for myself, and I hope that I will continue to get better at it.

What do you do outside of the studio to feed your creative energy?

Odessa Straub: I have things that I do that anchor me and give me joy besides my work. I have a roof garden on my mom’s roof that I tend to, I have plants and two cats in my home/studio that I care for— these things give me perspective and help me to be more caring towards myself.

I try to treat myself in a nurturing way as much as possible. When I’m at a very busy point with my work I find that taking the time to walk outside and experience things that are inspiring and pleasurable is just as important as the time I spend working. I’ve been very fortunate to be able to work making my paintings and sculptures and to support myself doing it. It has been a struggle at times, and working other jobs while making art can be exhausting.

My work is a part of my identity and a huge grounding factor in my life. It gives me purpose and resolve, so my drive to do it is stronger than any other desires I have on a day-to-day basis. I am always trying to keep up with acting on my ideas; the physical is always lagging behind the conceptual, so in a way, it feels like I will always be chasing something.

For more in this series, check out Art in the Age of Instagram: Reisha Perlmutter.