Meet the Artist in Residence: Maliya Travers-Crumb

Maliya Travers-Crumb, artist in residence at Main Street Arts, during the month of August 2018, is working in one of our two studio spaces on our second floor. We asked Maliya some questions about her work and studio practice:

image8

Q: Tell us about your background. I grew up in Avon, NY outside of Rochester. My mother is a quilter so our house was full of fabric and craft supplies for me to experiment with.  I was always making something or other, attempting to make my own clothes or scribbling in my sketch book. I currently work as an administrator for the University of Rochester Urgent Care system. I spend most of my free time making pottery.

 Q: What was your experience like at art school? I’ve always been a big reader and literature is an integral aspect of my practice. I studied English and studio art at Oberlin College as an undergrad and did a lot of conceptual work. I went back to school and got a second bachelor’s degree in illustration from RIT where I specialized in digital techniques. It was at RIT that I rediscovered ceramics and it was sort of the missing piece in rounding out the way that I think about and approach my art.

image5


Q: How would you describe your work?
I mostly make pottery, but my work is very informed by my background in illustration. I like to think of clay as a different kind of canvas, and I really enjoy pairing flat  drawings with more dimensional forms. I work primarily with graphic black and white painting which helps to create a sense of continuity between my work. My illustrative style gives me the freedom to go in a lot of different directions with the pottery I create. I gravitate toward simpler forms which I paint in a whimsical style with a lot of cats and other creatures.

image4

Q: What is your process for creating art? I had hand surgery about 6 months ago, which has significantly impacted my process and how I make art. I had a repetitive strain injury to the sagittal band on my dominant hand, which was very painful and made it almost impossible to hold a pen. I couldn’t make art for a year and a half and I refer to it as my personal dark ages. Making art is very tied into my sense of self.  When I wasn’t able to throw or draw, I thought about art constantly. What I would make, what I would change when I was able to get back into the studio. I thought more intellectually about form, about making intentional art rather than just working intuitively. Although the process was inarguably terrible, the shift in my art since being able to make again has definitely been a positive one. In a time where throwing on the wheel is something that has come more into vogue, it’s interesting for me to focus on something different and how I can approach a fresh type of making. How does creating multiples affect the preciousness of an object? How does this change if you add in more of the decorative arts? What does a piece from a mold need in order to be its own unique work of art? 

image3

Q: Do you collect anything?
 I’m really into strange natural bits of detritus and decay. I have a collection of pinned beetles, shells, little animal bones, pressed flowers, and rocks. There is something very satisfying about tiny things.
Q: Who is your favorite artist and why?
I have always loved fairy tales, and am particularly drawn to the work of Arthur Rackham and Edmund Dulac. I also love the graphic style of Aubrey Beardsley, his drawings for Le Morte d’Arthur are strongly influential to my own work.
image6

Q: Who inspires you and why?
 
Reading has always been something that I go to when I need inspiration or comfort. Audiobooks have been the perfect tie in to how I create art. I love fantasy and storytelling, and something about listening to stories when I work helps me to create narratives within my own pieces. Anything by Neil Gaiman is on the list, but particularly Neverwhere which he narrates himself. I also love the Series of Unfortunate Events, which I didn’t originally like as much until I started listening to them narrated by Tim Curry who is over the top hilarious and amazing. My all time favorite will always be the Harry Potter audiobooks, which were an enormous part of my childhood and my development as a person.
image2
Q: What are your goals for this residency? My goal for this residency is to create a new practice of mold making with a focus on form and function. I’m looking forward to having the chance to spread out a little in this space and maybe create some larger pieces. I didn’t study ceramics in school, so I’m excited to learn more of the technical aspects of the process. I will be firing a kiln for the first time during my residency!  (With a little help from previous artist in  residence  Zoey Murphy Houser so I don’t melt anything J).
image7 

Q: Where else can we find you?
Instragram: @mtcpottery

Inside the Artist’s Studio: Momoko Takeshita Keane

Ceramic artist Momoko Takeshita Keane

Ceramic artist Momoko Takeshita Keane

The real heart of ceramics for me is simply the effect of fire on clay.

The technique I use to form my ceramic sculpture is called coil building. Slender ropes of clay called coils are wound in a spiral, and pinched one upon another, to build the desired shape.
"Embrace" (left) and "Fissure" (right) by Momoko Takeshita Keane

“Embrace” (left) and “Fissure” (right) by Momoko Takeshita Keane

Then the work is fired in a Japanese-style kiln called an anagama that is heated by burning wood. It is the effects of this burning wood on the clay — and how it brings out the inherent qualities of the clay — that is the essence of my work.
Momoko's work, alongside other artists' work, loaded into the kiln (left); and work outside of the kiln after it has been fired.

Momoko’s work, alongside other artists’ work, loaded into the kiln (left); and work outside of the kiln after it has been fired.

The mouth of the anagma kiln (left); stoking the fire with wood (right)

The mouth of the anagama kiln (left); stoking the fire with wood (right)

I studied ceramics originally in the ancient kiln town of Shigaraki, Japan, but there weren’t so many opportunities there for me as a woman at that time to do wood-firing. After moving to Ithaca, I began to fire in the anagama that Fred Herbst runs at Corning Community College. The colors and effects on the clay from this kiln are more than I could have expected. Much of my work has been born there including the series called Embrace that has been accepted in many international ceramic competitions.

"In Praise of Nature" runs through July 31, 2018 on the second floor at Main Street Arts in Clifton Springs.

“In Praise of Nature” runs through July 31, 2018 on the second floor at Main Street Arts in Clifton Springs.

I am so pleased to have had the chance to exhibit this work at the Main Street Arts gallery.

In Praise of Nature, an exhibition featuring wood-fired ceramic sculpture by Momoko Takeshita Keane, runs through July 31, 2018 on the second floor at Main Street Arts. Work from the exhibition can be previewed and purchased on the Main Street Arts Artsy page.

Meet the Artist in Residence: Ari Norris

Ari Norris, artist in residence at Main Street Arts, during the month of July 2018, is working in one of our two studio spaces on our second floor. We asked Ari some questions about his work and studio practice:

Ari Norris

Ari Norris

Q:Tell us about your background.
I’m the son of two art educators, from Muskegon, Michigan. I grew up watching both of my parent’s studio practices and helping along  when I could; it made the decision to pursue a career in art an easier choice than I’m sure a lot of other kids had it. We joke now that I was really just doomed from the beginning.

Large scale collaborative piece by Timothy Norris and Patti Opel, w/ two T. Norris pieces to left.

Large scale collaborative piece by Timothy Norris and Patti Opel,  two T Norris pieces to left.

More recently, I apprenticed with Gary Casteel for two summers (2016, 2017) in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania; learning how to sculpt figuratively with oil clay, equally picking up the trade of commission-based bronze. Thankfully resulting in some public work of my own.

Norris' bust of Gary Casteel

Ari Norris’ bust of Gary Casteel, bronze 2016

Coming up in a few months, we will be dedicating a life-size bronze sculpture of Clarence Zylman, a fellow Muskegonite, in November 2018, in Muskegon, MI.

Zylman was given the title of the “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy,” by the U.S. Army, during his service in World War II. The song had already been released by the time of Zylman’s enlistment, though he inevitably lived the role that the hit song had immortalized, and the Army publicly recognized him for that.

Clarence Zylman/Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy, oil clay

Clarence Zylman/Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy, oil clay

I am currently in the summer before my final year at Northern Illinois University, finishing up a BFA degree. Jose Jimenez, a fellow sculpture student, and I, run an independent space on campus named Backspace Gallery. I’ve lucked out and gotten great campus employment as well, at both the Jack Olson Gallery here, and the NIU Art Museum.

"the (g)rad stuff" at Backspace Gallery

“the (g)rad stuff” at Backspace Gallery

 Q: How would you describe your work?
The current body of work I’ve been building at NIU has partly stemmed from an area artist’s interview I had read; never before had I been hit with such an ego in writing before, and it helped realize some similarities I saw growing in myself.

It really encouraged me to try and deflate this prevalent machismo attitude, that I’m sure all of us can imagine in some iteration. The artist’s work that I was responding to was very much about “man’s work”/construction, so adopting similar materials and language was the starting point. The first pieces utilized realistically rendered, impotently sagging, cast resin hammers that I made.

Acrylic on cast resin

Acrylic on cast resin, 2017

Q: What is your process for creating a work of art?
Lately, trying to find my own balance between technology and tradition has been changing my process immensely. While I have been finding ways to incorporate digital fabrication, dually burying the technological aspects by hand-skills has been changing the ways I make anything now.

I am constantly battling myself when questioning, “does one approach visibly outweigh the other?” Because for whatever reason, I have this pre-conceived idea that using new technology feels like I’m cheating in some way – and that’s one way I think the work thankfully combats my own ego.

Laser cut and painted wood, aluminum, cast resin, acrylic sheet, mounted on aluminum composite panel

Laser cut and painted wood, aluminum rod, cast resin, oil, acrylic sheet, mounted on aluminum composite panel, 2018

I want my work to stay informed dually by current topics, and art history, without hitting the viewer over the head with either sources, for lack of a better euphemism. The hammer, and objects in general, have already been long immortalized by Joseph Kosuth,  Magrite, and many others, so it’s not exactly doing anything new on that front.

Finding ways to converse with, and utilize these established and familiar motifs, I think is what part of my overarching motivation in art making could likely be.

Jennifer Mannebach, an artist who recently exhibited at Jack Olson Gallery, and is an NIU Alumni herself, titled a piece, “A Means of Asserting While Also Giving the Slip.” That’s been resonating with me for a few months now, as each new object I work on, is both trying to emulate the source material, but also show the viewer that it is an impersonation.

Q: What are your goals for this residency?
As I mentioned before, I have been working around the clock on the Bugle Boy Sculpture. In the days before I leave Dekalb, IL, for Clifton Springs, NY, the clay figure will be going to a special arts foundry for bronze casting over the next several months, and I will be able to get some short term separation from it. The residency at Main Street Arts is coming at a perfect time, and I am really thankful to have been selected.

During the residency, I will be switching gears from working mostly  three-dimensionally, to focus on printmaking. I’ve been trying to make a connection from embossing as a flat, absent image on paper, to clear epoxy castings of objects, both being so ghost-like.

Intaglio print on laser cut embossing

Intaglio print on laser cut embossing

Q: What is your most useful tool in your studio?
Razor blade/Box cutter; I think I even prefer them over the smaller X-Acto knives. Mike Rea, the sculpture professor here at NIU, has shown me some really precise moves with a blade for framing/woodworking. Using a razor with the resin work I’ve been doing is great too, I’d rather shave flashing down with a blade than try to sand it and breath in all that dust. Cannot beat the replaceability either.

Q: Do you collect artwork?
When it’s reasonably priced, I try to! Since moving here to Dekalb, IL, I’ve been trying to collect work from retired NIU faculty. I think the fact that they are largely pre-internet, the amount of information sellers can find is more limited, so the price can be closer to what a student can afford. Not to mention the thrill of stepping into an area Goodwill or some other thrift store, and finding something with a name that is recognizable, but that’s rare.

Q: What’s next for you?
I have two public sculpture dedications in the months following the residency, and college will be back in full swing as well. During all of this, I will be getting my applications prepared for grad school, and getting ready for the Spring BFA show. Ready to let the chips fall where they may!

Q: Where else can we find you?
arinorris.wixsite.com/home
Facebook
Instagram