Category Archives: Artist in Residence

Meet the Artist in Residence: Kelly Clare

Kelly Clare is one of the current artists in residence at Main Street Arts. She will be working out one of the studio spaces in the gallery during the months of January and February 2018. We asked Kelly a few questions about her work and studio practice. 

Kelly Clare

Kelly Clare

Q: Tell us about your background
Right now I live in Benzie County, the smallest county in Michigan. It has only one full stoplight. Midwinter, there’s a frozen turkey bowling tournament on the ice, right out on the lake. I studied both creative writing and art at Knox College in Galesburg, Illinois, where there is also a lot of ice, but more stoplights, and an incredibly generous group of faculty and students. I spent the last year there as a Post Baccalaureate Fellow managing a letterpress shop.

tork, woodblock, 2 x 3, 2017

tork, woodblock, 2 x 3, 2017

Q: How would you describe your work?
Most of my work pursues a longer predicament. In thinking about language, for example, I often struggle with its collective nature—how can I use “carpet” when senators are suggesting “carpet bombing”; what do I do when the thing I love is used in both impossibly kind and impossibly cruel ways, and what is my responsibility as a participant in this human project.

from RAW DREADFUL CRAZE, 2016, an installation. Each word of a speech given by then potential Republican nominee Ted Cruz was affixed to a pin. Over the course of a few days, participants were asked to reorder words, allowed to reinstall and possibly salvage the language anywhere they’d like.

from RAW DREADFUL CRAZE, 2016, an installation. Each word of a speech given by then potential Republican nominee Ted Cruz was affixed to a pin. Over the course of a few days, participants were asked to reorder words, allowed to reinstall and possibly salvage the language anywhere they’d like.

08_Clare

At the same time, words have a physical, tangible echo to them when they’re spoken, drawn, molded out of lead, poured out in pancake batter. We absorb their vibrations, eat them as crackers, rearrange them so please gets to be elapse and asleep. There’s something playful there, but also almost holy. A pile of pretzels gets to be wheat and salt—miraculously harvested, ground up, cooked in giant ovens, packaged and shipped worldwide—but at the same time spells out I was and I was / whirling feathers, either bird — / Every hunger / is first century, lines from “Keats is Coughing” by Marianne Boruch. The shape gets to be two things, many things, at once.

Thank you, Grace Paley, installation, 2017

Thank you, Grace Paley, installation, 2017

To my mind, a lot of my work is built on a sort of serious play. Often, even when I’m not thinking about language, about the anagram, I’m invoking that sort of endless possible undo and redo in whatever medium I’m holding onto—printmaking, the essay, installations, sculpture, fibers, drawing, the poem. And I think, as an artist, I’m still getting my legs. I hope to spend most of my life getting my hands dirty like this.

here’s to you, charlotte the sky, 2017

here’s to you, charlotte the sky, 2017

Q: What is your process for creating a work of art?
I don’t know if I have a single, stable process. I show up, I think, mostly, or I try to. Some of my work functions in response to some long, articulable thought, something I can point to and say this anchorable fact is what I’ve been circling around all this time. Some of my work, especially more recent sculptures and drawings, come from impulse. Which isn’t to say they’re not deeply grounded in experience and gathered thought, but they’re much harder to talk about. I can tell you what paint, what sweater, what piece of wood, where the dirt came from, and I could sit with you for a very long time sorting through what the piece is doing successfully or unsuccessfully. I think there is more than one way to cross a river, and sometimes you’re tunneling underneath.

you wouldn't stop glowing, 2017

you wouldn’t stop glowing, 2017

Q: Who are your favorite artists and why?
The list is very long, and includes just as many writers as artists. Mary Ruefle, Eula Biss, and Marilynne Robinson have all been essential in shaping how I think of the world—there’s this thoroughness, integrity, and sometimes delight there in those essays and novels. And I have loved too many poets to name. Ralph Angel, Marianne Boruch, Heather Christle, Carl Phillips. James Tate. C.D. Wright. I feel like I’m writing a thank you note and forgetting everyone. I mean, I wouldn’t be myself without a whole summer of just reading Carole Maso. Or the time I’ve spent listening to Lorrie Moore, Don Delilo, Grace Paley. Not to mention my incredible friends and the faculty I’ve worked with.

straggler, 2016

straggler, 2016

It’s the same with artists. I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about Jen Bervin and Ann Hamilton’s respective bodies of work, their longer thoughts. I love Nina Katchadourian, Sarah Sze, Jessica Stockholder. I love Pedro Reyes piece, Palas por Pistolas, which I think is a brilliant instance of material transformation. The Fluxus movement and Rirkrit Tiravanija’s pad thai. Doris Salcedo, and Cathy Park Hong’s essay responding to her retrospective.

Everyone I gravitate towards thinks along different lines, but throughout there’s a longer, insistent pressure in their work, even when it’s incredibly playful. And I often think of them speaking to each other, across discipline, time, distance, movement. If you asked, I would draw you a little map.

The Work Is / The New York Times, 2015. Print project encompassing the entirety of one copy of the October 11, 2015 edition of the New York Times. After blackout poems were made from the news articles, the newspaper itself was shredded and remade into over 90 small booklets. Each booklet was printed with the blackout poems.

The Work Is / The New York Times, 2015. Print project encompassing the entirety of one copy of the October 11, 2015 edition of the New York Times. After blackout poems were made from the news articles, the newspaper itself was shredded and remade into over 90 small booklets. Each booklet was printed with the blackout poems.

Q: What are your goals for this residency?
I have a few threads I’ve been working on lately, playing with tactility and language, and I hope to stage an installation or two. I would like to continue my reading, drawing, and writing practices, but more than anything else I’m going to try to give myself permission to throw my efforts into serious play, into following the idea, the object, wherever it takes me. To listen in, and hard.

sprint / spring, 2017

sprint / spring, 2017

Q: What’s next for you?
After another summer in Northern Michigan, I hope to settle into an MFA program, fingers crossed.

 Q: Where else can we find you?
kellyclare.weebly.com


Kelly is leading two workshops during her residency at Main Street Arts: paper marbling on Saturday, January 20  and Japanese stab binding on Saturday, February 17. Sign up through the online gallery shop

Meet the Artist in Residence: Jane Waggoner Deschner 

Jane Waggoner Deschner

Q: Tell us about your background.
I grew up in Lawrence, Kansas, and moved to Montana 40 years ago. At the University of Kansas I studied urban geography (the only spatially-based social science). All my life I’d made things but being an artist scared me. After a few years in Montana I enrolled in an art class at the university. Over the next 7 years and through a divorce, I earned a second BA, this time in art. Photomontage emerged as my medium. In 2000 I decided I wanted to make “better” art so applied to and was accepted at Vermont College of Fine Arts, a low residency MFA program. Though it was a challenge to get from one obscure location to another twice a year, it was the perfect program for me. I earned my MFA in 2002 and my medium became the vernacular photograph.

Q: How would you describe your work?
When vernacular photographs became my medium at the end of grad school, I made large archival photo prints from scanned snapshots (anonymous family photographs) manipulated in Photoshop.

"from the underneath series (beach, sailboat)" 2007, 17 x 28 inches, archival print

“from the underneath series (beach, sailboat)”
2007, 17 x 28 inches, archival print

In 2007, fatigued by hours at the keyboard, I began hand-embroidering quotes into studio portraits. Adding famous persons’ words to vernacular images, I could ventriloquize thoughts my aging, maternal (increasingly opinionated) self wanted to express.

"from the maxim series (Wayne, pony, girl)" 2007, 7 x 5 inches, hand-embroidered found photograph collection of Marcie Rae McDade

“from the maxim series (Wayne, pony, girl)”
2007, 7 x 5 inches, hand-embroidered found photograph
collection of Marcie Rae McDade

Later I also added illustrative drawings and collaged images to my work.

"from the symbol series (Superman, goofy boy)" 2009, 11 x 12 inches, hand-embroidered found photographs

“from the symbol series (Superman, goofy boy)”
2009, 11 x 12 inches, hand-embroidered found photographs

"from the resilience series (Horne, I'm me)" 2011, 17 x 23 inches, hand-embroidered found photographs

“from the resilience series (Horne, I’m me)”
2011, 17 x 23 inches, hand-embroidered found photographs
collection of Tom Jones

Stitching by hand is a laborious, time-consuming process that provides me a satisfying, meditative intimacy with these mechanically-captured moments of unknown people’s lives.

"from the maxim series (Leger, beautiful)" front & back views 2011, 10 x 8 inches, hand-embroidered found studio portrait

“from the maxim series (Leger, beautiful)”
front & back views
2011, 10 x 8 inches, hand-embroidered found studio portrait

"from the vanitas series (Madonna)" 2016, 18 x 25 inches, hand-embroidered found photographs

“from the vanitas series (Madonna)”
2016, 18 x 25 inches, hand-embroidered found photographs, glass beads and holy cards

Q: What is your process for creating a work of art?
I’ve amassed an archive of ±65,000 vernacular photos, mostly snapshots and studio portraits, but some news photos and movie promo shots. I collect quotes from famous and ordinary people. I start with either a photo I’m attracted to or a quotation (or image) that resonates with me, then find its counterpart. I scan the photo then typeset the words or make a drawing in Photoshop. I tape the printed pattern over the photo; then poke holes that I later stitch through. 

Q: Do you have a job other than making art? 
I have lots of jobs and all are art-related. I also work as an exhibition installer, graphic designer, photographer, instructor, curator and picture framer.

Q: What are your goals for this residency?
WHAT: Since fall 2015 the primary thing I’ve been working on is a combinatorial project, “Remember me: a collective narrative in found words and photographs.”  “Remember me” integrates vernacular photographs with statements culled from family/friend-written obituaries.

To date, I’ve completed over #350 separate anecdotal pieces,

"Remember me: a collective narrative in found words and photogrphs" 2015–2017, sampling of pieces

“Remember me: a collective narrative in found words and photogrphs”
2015–2017, sampling of anecdotal pieces

a dozen group “motto” pieces,

"Remember me: motto (Golden Rule, Mike, Isabel, Jose, Ruth)" 2017, 14 x 20 inches, hand-embroidered Muralcraft Studios proofs

“Remember me: motto (Golden Rule, Mike, Isabel, Jose, Ruth)”
2017, 14 x 20 inches, hand-embroidered Muralcraft Studios proofs

and an “avid” diptych.

"Remember me (avid)" diptych 2017, each piece 25 x 31 inches, hand-embroidered studio proofs

“Remember me (avid)” diptych
2017, each piece 25 x 31 inches, hand-embroidered studio proofs

"Remember me (avid)" detail

“Remember me (avid)” detail

I’m currently working on a new piece to add to my “garment series,” an adult-size bowling shirt of stitched together snapshots that will be embroidered with #300 nicknames.

"from the garment series (t-shirt, school kids)" 2012, 19 x 22 x 2 inches, hand-embroidered found school portraits

“from the garment series (t-shirt, school kids)”
2012, 19 x 25 x 2 inches, hand-embroidered found school portraits

WHY: Obituaries and vernacular photographs have much in common. Both synopsize universal human experiences — loving, living, making and keeping memories ­— and were created for personal use. While each is unique, they are generic as virtually everyone has the same life goals, aspirations, accomplishments, hopes, dreams, desires.  Hand-embroidering text into photos intimately merges the two. The photos “read” the texts and vice versa, teasing pretension, tragi-comedy and profound truths about the human condition from sentimental artifacts.

"Remember me (JMT [MA])" 2017, 9 x 7 inches, hand-embroidered found studio portrait

“Remember me (JMT [MA])”
2017, 9 x 7 inches, hand-embroidered found studio portrait
“She was a woman who had seen 98 years of changes, but a woman becoming President was the one change she realized she would never be able to witness.”

This project, ultimately, intimately, illustrates our collective narrative. And in so doing, importantly reminds us, in this acrimonious age, of our commonalities. 

GOAL: To continue exploring the possibilities—following the tangents—I keep discovering as I expand this project (which continues to bring me joy everyday). 

Q: Who inspires you and why?
I’m continually inspired (and heartened) by the anonymous people I see in the photos I’ve collected and whose anecdotes I’ve found in obituaries.

Q: What type of music do you listen to? How does music affect your artwork?
I don’t listen to music when I work. When I made photomontages, I would distract my conscious mind by listening to TV soap operas (“General Hospital” and “One Life to Live”). These days while I poke holes or stitch, I find serial shows to stream. Having ongoing characters and story lines allows me to follow the “action” by only occasionally looking up at the screen. Also I’m still in the story when my mind wanders. I’m down to the last three episodes of “Prisoner in Cell Block H,” a 692-episode Australian soap opera from the early 1980s that takes place in a women’s prison. It’s wonderful!

H

Q: What was your experience like at art school?
Grad school changed my art life. The Montana city I live in just recently exceeded 100,000 inhabitants and continues to be the largest city for 500 miles in any direction. For art and culture, it’s an isolating place to be from. VCFA is a low-residency, self-directed program in which both the faculty and the students come from across the US twice a year for an intense week. My horizons expanded, both personally and professionally. I learned to think more critically and, as a result, came out making better art. The ways I was taught to think and learn continue to serve me well. “Remember me” in many ways circles back to the combinatorial collaborative project I did as my senior thesis exhibit, “The Anchor Project.”

Q: Do you collect anything?
My most extensive collection is found photographs. They sit around my studio in ±100 6 qt. plastic storage boxes; ±50 3” looseleaf notebooks; 34 4” x 6” photo albums; and various stacks, piles and boxes. Every day I write anecdotes I find in obits on 3 x 5 inch index cards. I now have some great ones from all 50 US states and most Canadian provinces.

I also collect found pencils, poultry wishbones, Dia de los Muertos artifacts, desiccant packets, run-over bottle caps, pressed souvenir pennies, McDonald’s collectable glass mugs (Batman Forever and Flintstones) and have a growing number of my own artworks in the storage closet.

Dia

Dia de los Muertos collection

Q: What is the most useful tool in your studio?
My two pairs of eyeglasses (trifocals and computer glasses). But I couldn’t make art without my 27” iMac, photo scanner, laser printer, Scotch Magic tape and homemade hole poker.

Q: What advice would you give to other artists?
The best advice I ever received was midway through grad school when one of my advisors said, “When you know why you choose the images you choose, you can choose more and better.”

Q: What’s next for you?
“Remember me” will be the centerpiece in a solo exhibition of my work with found photos at the University of Michigan–Dearborn in 2018. I’m exploring book possibilities and looking for other exhibition opportunities.

Q: Where else can we find you?
www.janedeschner.com www.facebook.com/jane.deschner www.facebook.com/janewaggonerdeschner/ www.instagram.com/janedeschner1/

Meet the Artist in Residence: Sonja Petermann

SP Photo

Sonja Petermann

Tell us about your background
I live in St. Louis, MO, where I’m from. I received my B.F.A. with concentrations in printmaking and drawing from Ohio Wesleyan University. Since moving back to St. Louis, I’ve worked at multiple local print shops, including the Firecracker Press and Island Press.

Petermann_Sonja_05

“Blankets” by Sonja Petermann

How would you describe your work?
My work is quite perceptual and I rarely use color, save for the hue of the paper. Typically, I work from the figure, often within an architectural framework. By prioritizing interesting composition and mark-making more than realistic rendering, I am able to bring out intense contrast and textures for a more expressive piece.

At work in the studio at Main Street Arts

At work in the studio at Main Street Arts

What is your process for creating a work of art?
It’s hard for me to determine exactly where my process begins because my life and my work are constantly influencing each other. Even though my work is not highly conceptual, topics I studied in school or am generally curious about often find their way into my creative process. I read, journal, sketch, and take photos in preparation for my projects. Though I think a lot about my subject matter and compositions, I really let myself go when I begin to work on a new piece or edition. This way I can react to the piece as it evolves and avoid becoming close-minded when things go in a different direction. In addition, I usually have multiple pieces in progress at the same time. It’s a great way to continue making, even if you’re stuck.

Drawing in progress in the studio at Main Street Arts

Drawing in progress in the studio at Main Street Arts

What is the most useful tool in your studio?
Paper! Paper is amazing.

4. Kat on the Boardwalk

“Kat on the Boardwalk” (a work in progress)

What are your goals for this residency?
Currently, I am exploring collagraph, one of many print processes. In the beginning, I’ll explore which materials and tools make which marks and tones. The print above is an example of what collagraph can look like (this piece is a work in progress). Once I have refined my methods, I will begin printing a series of prints relating to memory. My goal is to finish this series.

What’s next for you?
After this residency, I will return to St. Louis where I have a job waiting for me as well as a space I hope to turn into a studio. Still, I will continue applying to residency programs.

Where else can we find you?
Instagram is the best bet: @sonjapetermann . I have a Facebook account, but I rarely use it these days. Website coming soon!

 

Meet the Artist in Residence: Amber Roach

Amber Roach is one of our current artists in residence at Main Street Arts. She is working on printmaking and oil painting in during the months of November and December 2017. We asked Amber a few questions about her artwork and studio practice. 

Amber Roach

Amber Roach

Q: Tell us about your background.
I was born and raised in Syracuse, New York. I graduated from Syracuse University with a BFA in illustration.

Q: How would you describe your work?
My preferred medium is relief printmaking. However, I wouldn’t confine myself to only using a printmaking process when making a piece. If I feel it would be enhance by painting or drawing I’ll work in a more mixed media fashion. I would describe my work as graphic yet textural.

Prints by Amber Roach

Prints by Amber Roach

Q: What is your process for creating a work of art?
Once I’ve decided on a subject matter I start out with very loose thumb nail sketches. After I feel I’ve gotten a decent composition I’ll transfer my drawing to the block and redraw it with more detail. I carve the block and do about a dozen test prints to figure out which colors to use.

Q: What are your goals for this residency?
For this first month, I want to fine tune my portfolio and create more pieces that are cohesive with my current body of work. Primarily I’ve been making linocut pieces. For the second month, I want to get back into oil painting.

Amber Roach working in her studio at Main Street Arts

Amber Roach working in her studio at Main Street Arts

Q: What is the most useful tool in your studio?
My glass palette.

Q: Who is your favorite artist and why?
My favorite contemporary painter is Kent Williams because of his use of color and the way he captures the figure. My favorite contemporary printmaker is Kathleen Neeley — I admire her style and the characters she creates.

Q: How do you promote your work?
Mostly through my Instagram but I’ll also send out mailers to art directors.

Print by Amber Roach

Print by Amber Roach

Q: What’s next for you?
After this I will probably be planning a move to New York or hunting down another residency.

Q: Where else can we find you?
Instagram: @amberleighroach
My website: www.amberroach.com
Etsy: www.etsy.com/shop/amberroachart


Are you an artist looking for new opportunities? Apply for a residency at Main Street Arts. Artists in residence have 24-hour access to a large studio on our second floor (with great natural light), the option to show work in the gallery, and the opportunity to teach paid workshops. Housing is available. Submissions are reviewed and residencies awarded quarterly. Upcoming deadline: November 30, 2017 for a residency in January, February or March 2018.

Meet the Artist in Residence: Renee Valenti

Renee Valenti is one of our current artists in residence at Main Street Arts. During the month of October, 2017, she will be working on a series of abstract paintings and immersing herself in art history books. We asked Renee a few questions about her artwork and studio practice. 

Renee Valenti

Renee Valenti

Q: Tell us a little bit about your background.
I’m originally from a town right outside of New Haven, CT but I’ve been living in Brooklyn for the greater part of the past fifteen years. I’ve been making visual art for the past ten, after making a switch out of performing art and theater. I decided to make the change and went to Pratt for my undergrad and finished my masters last year from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago’s low-residency program. I feel that I still often draw from storytelling, the theatrical, or cinematic in my work; and I often like to work in series until something is finished for me.

"fuckin, fuck", oil on canvas, 2017

Renee Valenti: “fuckin, fuck”, oil on canvas, 2017

Q: How would you describe your work?
Painting is the largest part of my studio practice and I also do a lot of photography. Most of the time I would take the photos that I was using for my figure paintings, as well. My painting had primarily been figurative or the spaces people occupy, but then last year I started turning toward abstraction. I just couldn’t carry the heaviness in the narratives that were in the paintings from 2015-16 and I also just didn’t have any ideas in my head! I was feeling mentally spent but also just needed to get back into the paint. So one day just started making without the photo imagery. However, then another narrative started emerging for me within these abstract paintings; which still very much have a place of body within them.

My photography has been a continued investigation of portraits of friends, bikers, communities, and empty hotel rooms. I started driving to nearby towns and staying in hotels while living briefly in the mid-west in 2014. As a way to combat the solitude I was experiencing while living there, I started to photograph these spaces—investigating the comfort within transient places devoid of personal memory. Recently, I started a project of landscape photos down Route 66.

Images by Renee Valenti: The Chateau Royale, Lake Geneva,WI (left) Photo 9; (right) Photo 8: ghosts of ashtrays and whiskeys

Image by Renee Valenti: "Gas station, entering New Mexico—off Route 66", digital photo, 2016

Image by Renee Valenti: “Gas station, entering New Mexico—off Route 66″, digital photo, 2016

Q: What is your process for creating a work or art?
That’s a big question and it varies. Sometimes I watch a lot of movies and that inspires me aesthetically; filmmakers like David Lynch, Wong Kar Wai, Fellini, and Pedro Almodóvar. Usually it takes me a minute to do all the background work before beginning a new series. Whether that’s going to the library to do research on a photo project or walking around the city or being or getting into a head space to feel out what the inspiration for the paintings is/are. Sometimes it’s just walking in the woods a lot. I need meditative time for sure. But then once it takes off I can kind of hit the ground running after that until a stop comes and then it maybe things need a minute to refresh.

Q: What is the most useful tool in your studio?
I’m going to say my speakers, or my phone speakers. I always have something on, whether it’s music or a podcast, or talk radio or something. That kind of gets me going or keeps me going. You spend a lot of time alone in your studio too, so it breaks up your own voice or lets me get deeper into it within the making.

Q: What type of music do you listen to? How does music affect your artwork?
Everything from Beethoven to Best Coast to Led Zeppelin, to Santigold. It runs the gamut.

"White Noise", oil on canvas, 2016

“White Noise”, oil on canvas, 2016

Q: Where are your favorite places to see artwork?
Out in the world. I feel like some of the best art is all around us. Then Museums and galleries of course, depending on the show. The one thing about living in New York is that a lot comes through there, so you get to see a lot of great work up close and in person.

Q: What are your goals for this residency?
I plan on working on the series of abstract paintings that have been in process. I’m also planning on just bringing a lot of art history books and digging into those. I’m really looking forward to having a whole month to work there.

"Winter", oil on canvas, 2017

“Winter”, oil on canvas, 2017

Q: What’s next for you?
We’ll see! I’m looking for an exhibition space for these paintings sometime next year and to complete my Route 66 project. That’s the immediate future, art-wise.

Q: Where else can we find you?
http://reneevalenti.com/home.html
https://www.instagram.com/photoslag/
https://www.facebook.com/renee.valenti.9


Renee is teaching a workshop on Saturday, October 14 from 12 to 3 p.m. at Main Street Arts. Her Paint As Material worksop will examine the versatility of paint with a focus on experimentation within the medium. Sign up on our website to reserve your spot!

 

Meet the Artist in Residence: Ali Herrmann

Ali Herrmann is one of our current artists in residence at Main Street Arts. During the month of September, 2017, she will be working on mixed-media encaustic paintings featuring female icons and role models. We asked Ali a few questions about her artwork and studio practice. 

Ali Herrmann

Ali Herrmann

Q:  Tell us about your background
I live in the Berkshires; travel around upstate NY and Hudson River Valley selling my work at markets, fairs, and events.  I have been making art since a very young age—coloring books and a box of Crayola crayons were always my go to.  I went to Colgate University to pursue geology, but after not being satisfied with my choice in college and the academic requirements surrounding the school, I decided to switch majors, transfer, and convinced my geology professor to write a recommendation for application to Bennington College.  My intent was to focus on ceramics and painting, but as it turned out, fell in love with printmaking and continued to pursue painting. I’ve always maintained a multimedia approach to my work, even to this day.  In addition to making art, I teach classes in bookmaking and encaustic painting, bringing my techniques, knowledge and shared experiences to each class.

Encaustic Landscape with Trees

Encaustic Landscape with Trees

Q:  How would you describe your work?
My work is painting with a multi-media approach, using inks, papers, paint, encaustic wax, found object…the idea dictates the medium of choice. I often use multiple things in one painting, hence why I say ‘multi-media.’  Subject matter is typically botanical and nature oriented, in ways that I tend to personify it’s beauty.  There’s a graphic design element to my work, which is a trickle down effect from the very graphic-illustrative nature contributed by college printmaking techniques.

At work in the studio at Main Street Arts

At work in the studio at Main Street Arts

Q:  What is your process for creating a work of art?
My day typically starts around 7:25 am,  getting up with my built in alarm clock, then I head for coffee and journal writing.  It takes me a good hour to fully ‘wake up’ in the morning, even after I’ve gotten out of bed, so I’ve learned this is a good time to let out the thoughts, dreams, ideas, and mental clutter into my journals.  After that, depending on the weather, I may head to the studio or go for a walk/jog.  If I head to the studio, I am likely to turn on the hot plate and slowly start heating up my encaustic paints.  While I’m waiting for the materials to liquify to working state, I clean off the work surface from the day before, prep paper collage materials I think I may want to use, and organize my workspace…much like decluttering my mind in the morning journals. When the materials are ready, I begin with a meditative layering and heat setting process with the wax, developing a surface upon which to work.  Encaustic works in layers, so this medium suits me particularly well, given that I utilize a multi-media approach to other paint processes.  Some of the pieces take days or weeks, while others may be done in a few hours…the elements and working properties of the wax dictate the direction, so it’s an experience of being both in control at times and letting go.

Uma: B. Kiddo, 6” x 6” panel encaustic, 2017

Uma: B. Kiddo, 6” x 6” panel encaustic, 2017

Q:  What are your goals for this residency?
My goal for this residency is to create a body of work that uses portraiture as subject matter, particularly women icons and role models.  I anticipate creating 100 6”x6” encaustic portraits of women, using illustrative drawings, paper collage techniques, writings, and encaustic wax.  Portraiture is almost a big diversion from my typical work in encaustic, since I tend to be more focussed on incorporating color abstraction and illustrative narratives using symbols of plants, trees, and sailboats. However, working with the more illustrative pieces in my tree series, where I embed text, I felt a sense of empowerment through the text and it led me to want to personify a strong women icon series.  And with everything going on in the world of current events/politics, I personally find this a perfect time to explore this series. Also interesting is the idea of ‘icons’, since the history of encaustic was predominantly a process of preserving pieces, such as the face masks from the Fayum wedding portraits, so in a sense, I feel as if I am bringing my love and knowledge of encaustic full circle. Going back to the beginnings and root of why this medium gained attention, while bringing attention to modern day women.

A collection of small, handmade sketchbooks

A collection of small, handmade sketchbooks

Q:  Do you collect anything?
I have a fascination for collecting ‘objects of containment’, yes this needs defining.  For a long time, I used to collect sketchbooks and they would sit on a shelf, pristine blank books, waiting and wanting to be used, but at the time, I was out of college and focused on a day job, completely unrelated to anything artistic.  The blank books became a thing of admiration, a collection of sorts: pretty covers, sizes, different bindings.  Once I took a course on different bookmaking techniques and realized how ordinary these were, I started using them to sketch, paint, & write while I made more fun books to eventually use.  While I do have a collection of sketchbooks I’ve made, it’s more for demonstrations and teaching purposes, but they do get used!  Additionally, I have other objects of containment, ranging from a modern, funky purse collection to old wooden boxes: rice boxes, tea boxes, cheese boxes, wine boxes, pencil boxes, and shelf boxes.

Q:  Where are your favorite places to see artwork?
While I enjoy going to a gallery or museum to see work, I really never want to make a full day of it or spend a lot of time in them.  There is a silent, sterile quality that somehow ‘quiets’ the art for me.  I believe this is because I am a process oriented person.  I like to see work in progress, the sketches, the inner brainchild workings, the silly notes, and the processes involved in making work.  The two places I really enjoy to see art are in peoples homes or artist studios.  I think there’s a real intimacy seeing what people collect and how they display it in their environment.  As for artist studios, you get to see the raw and visceral experience of being engaged in the process.

Six, 6x6 inch panels in progress

Six, 6×6 inch panels in progress

Q:  Do you collect artwork?
I think artists always collect artwork.  My collection started in college, where I exchanged a few etchings and monoprints with other printmakers.  Having an affinity for pottery and coffee, I have always loved collecting mugs, though the functional, everyday use aspect of it never made me think I was ‘collecting art’, but rather, creating a collection of enjoyment.  My first purchase that actually made me feel like I was buying art ‘to collect’ was a small portrait piece I found in a boutique type gift shop in Asheville, NC ironically during a pottery visit in 2003.  I saw this lovely portrait and it reminded me of myself: haircut, red background (at the time I had a red Jeep wrangler), seeming poignant, isolated, alone, but having this ingrained presence that could light up a room.  I kept looking at it; however, did not buy it that moment because I thought: why would I want to buy a portrait?   Of who? Of someone I didn’t know?… and so continued on my journey around Asheville.  When my trip reached it’s end, I found myself racing back to the store in the early morning, hoping they would be open, because I simply needed my this piece in my life, regardless of who this person was in the portrait.  I think I even floored the shop owner when I said, ‘I need that’.  She was so excited for the artist, to be selling a piece of their work, but it was more than a sale or a purchase, I somehow connected with that piece in a way that went beyond the imagery, so it became needing it in my life, not simply wanting it.

Since then, I have collected etchings from an artist in New Hampshire, and tiny paintings from artists based in Portland, OR.  Overall, I can say that all the work has a very illustrative feel, despite some being whimsical paintings and others being detailed bug/botanical prints…they all have images of birds, bugs, botany, with the artists personal vision/flair. Artists include: Cori Dantini, Michele Maule, Rachel Austin, J. Ann Eldridge  

Q:  What is the most useful tool in your studio?
The most useful tool is the most unattractive, bright yellow, mundane looking tool: an automotive bond application/spreading tool, but it has a great name…the Dynatron!  While I do love a palette knife, I find this tool in my car, my purse, in the kitchen, and yes, all over the studio for all media, so it is the most purposeful.  Life changing actually!

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In the studio at Main Street Arts

Q:  What’s next for you?
When I return home, I hope have a full schedule teaching classes in encaustic and bookmaking, head into autumn’s beauty, and ready myself for the winter market/vending season.

Q:  Where else can we find you?
On my webiste, www.aliherrmann.com, on Instagram, @aliherrmann, on Facebook, and on my blog, www.aliherrmann.blogspot.com.

Ali is teaching an encaustic collage workshop  on Saturday, September 16 from 12 to 3 p.m. at Main Street Arts. Sign up on our website to reserve your spot!

Meet the Artist in Residence: Mandy Ranck

Mandy Ranck is one of our current artists in residence at Main Street Arts. During the months of September and October, 2017, she will be working on both sculptural and functional bodies of ceramic work. We asked Mandy a few questions about her artwork and studio practice. 

Mandy Ranck

Mandy Ranck

Q: Tell us a little bit about your background.
I grew up in Lewisburg, WV, a small town in southern West Virginia. I’ve always been a maker, never giving may hands a break. Throughout my life I’ve been interested in knitting, baking, drawing and photography. I earned my BFA in ceramics from West Virginia University. I’ve apprenticed, taught both children and adults, and worked as a production potter. Since moving to New York I’ve been working as a studio potter and sculptor.  

"adventure", 2016, Mandy Ranck

adventure, mixed media, 2016

Q: How do you describe your work?
I create both sculptural and functional ceramic pieces that portray stylized versions of pastoral life. I do this by creating animal and plant life as viewed through a child’s, mind recalled by an adult. My main objective when I create a piece is to encourage the viewer to feel engaged and experience a child-like excitement. Whimsy has always been a part of my aesthetic and clay illustration has given me the perfect means to share my narrative.

storm, mixed media, 2016

storm, mixed media, 2016

bowls, terra-cotta, 2017

bowls, terra-cotta, 2017

Q: What is your process from creating a work or art?
My process almost always begins with drawing. Next I find textures, patterns and colors that really interest me. I am always collecting (photographing and cutting out) interesting designs.  Then I usually search for photos or drawings of objects that I’d like to creatively recreate or inspire me. After all that, I just start making.

sketches

sketches

Q: What are your goals for this residency?  
While working at Main Street Arts, I would like to create a cohesive body of work, focusing primarily on dioramas. I would like to continue to use clay as my primary medium, but also explore using ink, wire, wood, paint and paper. I’d like to continue to grow as an artist by experimenting with new forms and ideas. Texture and line are meaningful to me, along with the shadows and negative space they create. I have an appreciation for layers and depth, and I want to continue to explore different ways to use them.

home, mixed media, 2017

home, mixed media, 2017

mugs, terra-cotta, 2017

mugs, terra-cotta, 2017

Q: What is the most useful tool in your studio?
I’m always finding new things that will add interesting texture to my work, make the building process easier, and help me create unique pieces. I use every clay and kitchen tool imaginable, make stamps and use screw heads to decorate. However, I use two tools daily; a microscopic needle tool that helps me draw through layers of colored clay and a small bamboo stick.  Neither of them are high tech, but I tend to panic when I loose them.

cook, mixed media, 2017

cook, mixed media, 2017

Q: Do you collect anything?
I collect mugs and yarn. Over the years I’ve collected untold amounts of both. I tend to gravitate towards mugs when I’m looking and other ceramic artist’s work. Nothing more comforting than a good cup of coffee out of a nice mug.  I like yarn because of the never ending array of color and texture it holds.

jars, terra-cotta, 2017

jars, terra-cotta, 2017

Q: What advice would you give to other artists?
Don’t be afraid to make mistakes and be open to constructive criticism.  Try to be involved in as many shows as you can and create a presence online.  Listen to other artists and ask them for advice. Most importantly, continue to create. 

Q: Where else can we find you?
Throughout the year I participate in several craft and art shows.  I have the upcoming events listed on my webpage.  I  also have work for sale at the Burchfield Penney gift shop in Buffalo, NY.

You can also find me on my website, www.mandyranck.com and on Instagram @mandylranck

Mandy is teaching a ceramic diorama workshop on Saturday, September 23 and 30 from 12 to 3 p.m. at Main Street Arts. Sign up on our website to reserve your spot!

Meet the Artist in Residence: Hunter Zelner

Hunter Zelner is one of our current artists in residence at Main Street Arts. During the month of August, 2017, she will be exploring the notion of place and memory through small landscape paintings while also continuing a series of figure-based works. We asked Hunter a few questions about her artwork and studio practice. 

Hunter Zelner

Hunter Zelner

Q: Tell us about your background.
I am Arizona born and raised and have spent my life there save for a brief stint in Oregon. I don’t remember a time when I wasn’t tinkering, making, and more specifically painting. I was fortunate to have an arts high school in the area so I went there. Once I hit college I scrambled through just about every major known to man and in the end received my degree in Art History at ASU. I joke but in all seriousness I was the queen of overrides and managed to take mostly studio classes and still ended up with an Art History degree.

Zelner_Hunter02

Wolf Skin, oil on canvas, 28in x 56in

Q: How would you describe your work?
Depicting the dichotomy of visceral meat, a still unmoving form surrounding humanity within has been the primary interest of my work.

Early on in my artistic career a teacher asked the students “Have you ever seen a dead body?” That question stuck with me. She went on to explain that as a figurative painter the trick is to put a person behind the eyes. I want to paint a shell with a person behind the eyes. For this reason I primarily paint people I know. I have worked in metal sculpture, oil painting, acrylic painting, and most recently taxidermy. I always go back to oil paint.

Zelner_Hunter01

Sister Ursuline, oil on canvas, 18in x 36in

Q: What is your process for creating a work of art?
I am a very structured painter…sometimes to my chagrin. I typically come up with a concept, research until I can’t see straight, put the basics together in Photoshop to work out the kinks, grid my surface, underpaint, and then finally get to actually laying on the final image.

Q: What are your goals for the residency?
Like most people coming to the residency I want time and space to work. Life is wonderful but also full of so many distractions. I am looking forward to building better and more consistent work habits.

Currently I am working on a departure from my otherwise figurative work. It’s a series about place and memory but in short paintings of parking lots, alley, stairs, empty pool, etc. at night. I am curious about taking time to document otherwise transitionary places that I might forget. Beyond that, I am planning two larger figurative pieces, and some portraits for the time I am at the residency.

Landscape

Landscape, oil on canvas, 5in x 7in

Q: Do you collect anything?
Yes, I have always been a collector. I like a bit of clutter when I paint and in my life as a whole. I collect a lot of random things but some of my larger collections include mounted insects, antique and vintage ephemera, and wall art. At this point I am actually running out of wall space at home.

Tucker, oil on panel, 12in x 48in

Tucker, oil on panel, 12in x 48in

Q: What advice would you give to other artists?
Lean into your mistakes. As a representational artist I have spent a lot of time fighting the standard of being a human photocopier. There are people with the innate ability to duplicate exactly what they see or those who have spent years learning old masters’ methods. Some of my favorite artists work that way, nothing against it but you are the only one who can “make” exactly like you and the mistakes you make are yours. Fight the urge to start over or cover them and try making them part of your work.

Hunter Zelner in her studio at Main Street Arts

Hunter Zelner in her studio at Main Street Arts

Q: What’s next for you?
After the residency I will be applying for a MFA in Painting. I am glad I took time between Undergraduate and Graduate School but am ready to be immersed again… hense my applying to the residency.

Q: Where else can we find you?https://www.instagram.com/hunterzelner/
http://www.hunterzelner.com/


Hunter is teaching a workshop on painting hands (something many painters struggle with!) on Saturday, August 19 from 12 to 3 p.m. at Main Street Arts. Sign up on our website to reserve your spot!

Meet the Artist in Residence: Emily Long

Emily Long is one of our current artists in residence at Main Street Arts. During the month of August, 2017, she will be exploring new mediums and working on a series that explores the idea that everything is fluid and connected—finding commonalities and relationships between ourselves and our surrounding that inevitably confirm our greater humanity. We asked Emily a few questions about her artwork and studio practice. 

Emily Long

Emily Long

Q: Tell us a little bit about your background.
I was born and raised in Staten Island, New York. At an early age I was enrolled in multiple art programs at my local cultural center, Snug Harbor and was constantly creating things at home thanks to the support of my parents. I was fortunate enough to be accepted into an art focused high school in New York City and continued my interest in visual arts and museum studies in undergrad at Fashion Institute of Technology. Beyond creating my own art, I am passionate about art education and currently work for the New York Historical Society (NYHS) and Smithsonian Cooper Hewitt Design Museum.

Q: How would you describe your work?
My art is fluid. I am interested in exploring the relationship between one’s self and their surroundings. A majority of these works are illustrated with watercolor but I am always excited to add a new medium into my work.

Work by Emily Long, water color and ink

“Raw Synergy Recognize Symmetry”, Emily Long

Q: What is your process for creating a work of art?
For every piece my process is a little different depending on how much time I am able to give myself to create. Some days I will jump right into a watercolor illustration. Other days I will spend hours researching symbols and their significance; taking notes on how they can be added into a work.

Q: What is the most useful tool in your studio?
My primary medium is watercolor, naturally my paintbrushes are my most used and useful tool in my studio.

Emily working in her studio at Main Street Arts

Emily working in her studio at Main Street Arts

Q: Who is your favorite artist and why?
Choosing a favorite artist feels like telling one’s children who the favorite is. With that said, I love Margaret Macdonald Mackintosh for her fearless use of multiple mediums and line use, Gustav Klimt for his use of gold, and Georgia O’Keeffe for her composition and abstraction. My favorite local artist was my childhood neighbor, Andrea Phillips.

Q: What advice would you give other artists?
Just keep working. Don’t be afraid to “waste” your materials or become upset if you create something you do not like. You have to get the “bad” art out before the masterpiece.

EmilyLong_2Pieces

Work by Emily Long: NY Time Dime (left), and Majority Too Big to Ignore (right)

Q: What are your goals for this residency?
I have had a recent interest in working with gesso and printmaking. I am excited to experiment with new mediums and making my work more sculptural while at Main Street Arts Residency. Recent projects have been inspired by folklore and myths. I plan to explore these themes with the exploration of new mediums.  

Q: What’s next for you?
In the fall, I will return to work at the museum. As for my art, I will be turning an old office space into my studio, where I hope to spend most of my free time.

Q: Where else can we find you?
On my website: emilysarahlong.com and on Instagram.


Emily is teaching a crocheted cacti gardens amigurumi workshop on Saturday, August 12 from 12 to 3 p.m. at Main Street Arts. Amigurumi is the Japanese art of crocheting small stuffed creatures/objects. Sign up on our website to reserve your spot!

Meet The Artist in Residence: Noah Estrella

Noah Estrella is one of our current artists in residence at Main Street Arts. He is working on studio photography and portraiture during the month of July, 2017. We asked him a few questions about his artwork and studio practice.

Noah Estrella, self portrait

Noah Estrella, self portrait

Q: Tell us a little bit about your background.
I was born and raised in the Finger Lakes. I developed an early interest in visual art from my parents and grandmother. I was actively creative through my adolescence, for a source of play and experimentation. I still look at creativity in that way, but I began taking it more seriously in my 20s. I enrolled at Finger Lakes Community College at the age of 21 to understand more about art. It is still a learning process to me, and very experimental, but studying it verified my desire to pursue it as a lifestyle.

Q: How would you describe your work?
My primary medium is through digital photography. I still play around a lot with drawing, and I do have a love for the written word, but photography is the most pleasurable for me. I am very fascinated with how visual art can reflect humanity, and as a result the majority of my work is portraiture. I think the human form, and the face, can provide us with a huge amount of information and emotion. A look on someones face, the environment, the lighting, etc. this could strongly reveal what is going on in our world.

Photo of Noah capturing a self portrait   Self Portrait

Photo of Noah capturing a self portrait                        Self Portrait

Q: What is your process for creating a work of art?
I’d like to say that I plan, and occasionally I do. But it’s usually intuitive and experimental, maybe focusing in on one idea/theme. I tend to contact friends to schedule shoots, keeping in mind the location and their outfit. Sometimes it is informal, just spending time with them and taking photographs, other times it is planning a specific idea. From there I spend a lot of time using editing software, and my goal is to always produce the strongest pieces from photoshoots, and see how they can relate to other photographs, or stand alone.

Photograph by Noah Estrella

Photograph by Noah Estrella

Q: Do you collect anything?
I have a lot of keepsake objects that were gifted to me by friends. Usually things that connect to a memory, person, or event. I think there is something special in how objects can be symbols, not just the historical context of the symbolism of an object, but what they personally mean to you. They can also be great props in photoshoots.

Q: Who is your favorite artist and why? Who are your favorite local artists?
I’ve noticed that I find the most inspiration in a lot of female artists. Frida Kahlo was a huge inspiration to me from a very young age, her work is personal and emotional, speaking to identity and society. And the entire body of work by the artist Ana Mendieta was a huge eye opener to me; her works are intense and almost threatening/dangerous to the patriarchal interpretation of fine art.
Locally, I’m very intrigued by the immersive artist Colleen Buzzard, I was surprised and glad to find a thinker like that in Rochester. I’m also hugely inspired by Lacey McKinney, my former professor, the elusive aspects of style in her portrait work are personally profound to my interest in human identity.

Photos in the studio

Photos in the studio

Q: What are your goals for this residency? Tell us about your current projects.
I always feel I’m getting pulled in quite a few different directions. I intend on using this time to further experiment (with style and contextual meaning), play with lighting (ie. How is it effective/ineffective), and continue to grow. I’m really interested in using portraiture to further understand the dynamic aspect of identity in society (both internal and external, self and other).

Work from Noah's residency

Work from Noah’s residency

Q: Where else can we find you?
I recently made an Instagram @noah_estrella. You can also e-mail me at noahmestrella@gmail.com