Tag Archives: Artist

Meet the Artist in Residence: Nick LaTona

Nick LaTona is one of our current artists in residence at Main Street Arts. He is working on sculptures and artist books during the months of May and June, 2017. We asked him a few questions about his artwork and studio practice.

Nick LaTona, artist in residence (May/June, 2017)

Nick LaTona, artist in residence (May/June, 2017)

Q: Tell us about yourself A: My name is Nicholas LaTona and I am from Churchville, NY. I currently work at Highland Hospital, Strong Memorial hospital and Entercom Communications. I’ve always been interested in the arts as far back as I can remember. When I was a junior in high school, I started to become invested in the arts and from there I attended college at SUNY Fredonia where I received my BFA. I was always indecisive about concentrating in a specific area but in my junior year is when I began concentrating specifically in sculpture. It took me 5 years to graduate because into the end of my junior year, I decided to have duel major in both sculpture and public relations.

Installation from a residency at The Yards in Rochester

Installation from a residency at The Yards in Rochester

Q: Tell us about your work A: Through the years in college I was exposed to many materials and was specifically drawn to Plaster, Wax, Copper, and Paper. Since graduating my work has drifted more towards using Paper, thread and pigment.

April 19th, artist book

“April 19th”, artist book about a day that changed my life

Q: What inspires you in the studio? A: I draw my inspiration from the medical experiences I’ve been exposed to. I find this helps me process what I’ve seen or have been through personally. This is what I have been concentrating on the past year. I also work on different pieces inspired by everyday experiences and various media I am introduced to.

Inside Nick's studio at Main Street Arts

Inside Nick’s studio at Main Street Arts

Q: What is the most useful tool in your studio? A: The most useful tool(s) in my studio would have to be my cutting board, x-acto knife and ruler. I use those tools the most and they are the most essential tools to have with me. I collect all scrap paper and strands of thread whenever and wherever I can.  I do this so when I make paper I can recycle these bits and pieces and reuse them to make sheets of paper.

Q: Who are some of your favorite artists? A: Felix Gonzalez-Torres and Maggie Taylor. I draw inspiration from many artists, but these two in particular inspired me the moment I discovered their work and they continue to inspire me to this day. Gonzalez-Torres works minimalistic but his works speak powerfully while focusing on activism. Taylor’s work is more focused on surrealism, creating fantasy and dream-like images that are manipulated in Photoshop. I am very inspired by the local artists in Rochester I have had the opportunity to work with or meet. Everyone is exploring great concepts and you learn different ways to see what’s around you and interrupt. This has helped me tremendously through my work by offering positive feedback and motivation.

1992–2016, artist book

“1992–2016″, artist book

Q: Any advice for other artists? A: If I were to give another artist advice, it would be to double the amount of time you think it will take for you to complete work and to allow things to change as you progress through a piece. Everything I have made to this day has changed from my original intent to the finished piece.

Q: Where can we see more of your work? A: You can check out my work on Instagram @Nick_l.art


Are you an artist looking for new opportunities? Apply for a residency at Main Street Arts. Artists in residence will 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: May 31, 2017 for a residency in July, August, September 2017.

Meet the Artist in Residence: Sam Bogner

Sam Bogner is one of our current artists in residence at Main Street Arts. She is working on celestial sculptures and extra terrestrial relics during the month of May, 2017. We asked her a few questions about her artwork and studio practice.

Sam Bogner, artist in residence

Sam Bogner, artist in residence (May 2017)

Q: Tell us about your background.
A: I am originally from Cleveland but I am currently living in Jersey City, NJ. I earned my BFA in Sculpture and Expanded Media at the Cleveland Institute of Art. This coming fall I’ll begin my graduate work at Rutgers University, where I’ll be studying archives and librarianship.

Q: Tell us about your work.
A: My work is almost always object based, but includes a range in size from miniature sculpture to large scale installation. My material range is also very broad and changes from project to project. I want to tease out sci-fi camp qualities from the material I’m using over any specific medium. My work stems from science fiction’s relationship to science—how as humans we have a cycle of wonder and inspiration, which leads to exploration and discovery. It is so enveloped in pop-culture that we can’t help but confront it. My work embodies the same visual language of classic sci-fi films. Campy effects are used in my installations and objects to create an other worldly experience—one that asks the viewer to suspend belief, to wonder where humanity can go, and what waits to be discovered in the cosmos.

UHO, Destination Moon, detail at dusk  2016 Varying sizes between 18” and 12’  Installation; Mylar, fabric, video, various color-changing lights, resin

UHO, Destination Moon, detail at dusk (2016) Varying sizes between 18” and 12’
Installation; Mylar, fabric, video, various color-changing lights, resin

Q: How would you describe your studio practice?
A: My studio practice is primarily research based. I spend a lot of time making an archive for myself of images, experiences, video, material, pop culture phenomena, etc. I also make a lot of models and plans for work that I don’t have the time or space to make, but maybe someday will realize it. There is something precious about this work for me, I can keep changing it and evolving it over years and when the opportunity strikes, it is ready and waiting. On residency though, I have time to make physical objects based on my research. I rarely have a direct plan, an artwork like this references bits of my archive, but often is directly involved in the experience of the material I’m using.

Sam Bogner, at work in her studio

Sam Bogner, at work in her studio

Q: What is your most useful tool in the studio?
The internet. Its an addiction. When I don’t have the time to re-visit a museum or library, it can fill the void. I don’t keep a traditional sketchbook, rather a large mess of files of interesting things I find. At any given moment I have 20 tabs of things that I want to search into more.

Q: Who are your favorite artists and why?
A: I am always interested in the works of Laurie Anderson, Isa Genzken, Lucio Fontana’s sculptures, Marsha Cottrell, Sarah Sze, Pipilotti Rist, Mike Kelley.

My favorites change a lot, lately I’ve been obsessed with the Instagram feeds of Laura Catherine Soto, Esther Ruiz, Stephanie Sarley. Their range of material, texture, and experience are what keep me coming back to their work.

Giant Sediment from Juni River Delta, Planet Hjl  (2015) 8”–28”  Sculpture; Foam, paint, glitter

Giant Sediment from Juni River Delta, Planet Hjl (2015) 8”–28”, foam, paint, glitter

Q: What do you hope to accomplish during your time here?
A: I am working on a series of space rock formations based on NASA and SETI images. I am also continuing to make a series of extra terrestrial relics.

Q: Where else can we find you?
On instagram @samb0gner and at www.sambognerart.com


Are you an artist looking for new opportunities? Apply for a residency at Main Street Arts. Artists in residence will 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: May 31, 2017 for a residency in July, August, September 2017.

Meet the Artist in Residence: Kara Lynn Cox

Kara Cox is one of our current artists in residence, she’s working in one of our two studio spaces during the month of April 2017. We asked her a few questions about her work, life, and more:

Kara Cox in her studio at Main Street Arts

Kara Cox in her studio at Main Street Arts

Q: To start this off, tell us about your background. 
I am from Rochester, New York, but currently live in Yonkers. This move was accompanied by my studies at SUNY Purchase for my BFA in Painting and Drawing. I have been keeping track of my studio hours, and guesstimate I’m around 3091 hours at this point. (I’ve been keeping strict track of my studio hours starting at the rough estimate of 3000).

I sort of have a day job… I wear many hats. Currently I am a Listings Editor for Artcritical, and have published writing with them as well. I’m also a studio assistant to various artists, and I will often freelance odd jobs. This is the only way I could support my nomadic studio life style and still have a place to live in New York City!

"Interference Blue" (Acrylic paint, house paint, on canvas)

“Interference Blue” (Acrylic paint, house paint, on canvas)

Q: How would you describe your work? 
My preferred medium is acrylic (painting). I also draw realistic portraits of people and dogs, but I don’t consider it part of my practice. As of late I think the paintings operate in the liminal space between abstraction and realism. They are rooted in their abstract formal elements, but are contingent on the structure inherent to photography (and physical objects/subjects of the reference photographs).

I’m really interested in how perception influences each of our individual experiences. The paintings have addressed this in their formal properties, such as hyper-gloss, or slightly differing colors. These formal decisions require the viewer to physically walk around the painting, as it is never fixated in a single moment.

Q: What is your process for creating a work of art?
First my paintings start with my environment. 
My recent body of work originated from my attention to objects and surfaces that were easily dismissed or quite often devoid of monetary value. These quotidian objects felt deeply important to me; such as dirt piles, cracks in the sidewalks, or scuffs in the wall. I would then extract a pattern using Adobe Illustrator- either re drawing sections or using the program’s algorithms for selecting an element of the photograph and create a multitude of black stencils to project onto the surface of the painting. I think about the projection as if it were a grid…something to build off of and mold the image.

Still using this process I now think of my paintings as an exploration in perception, between subconsciously choosing what is brought to the foreground of my attention in an environment, and the way this information is translated through a digital lens.

Inside Kara's studio

Inside Kara’s studio

Q: What are your goals for this residency? 
I would like to utilize my time at this residency to produce a few new paintings, but also attempt to create a few short animations. I’ve been interested in making work about our perception of the immediate/physical world and how it is changed by our relationship to the digital/non-physical. I think exploring moments of quietness through extensive labor and the tedium of drawing them out frame by frame will allow me to respond in reverence to these dwindling moments of subtlety and stillness. I’m also interested in how a video might possess an unsalable quality, or have a veil of egalitarianism in its accessible/sharable aspects.

I’ve learned it is better to set very mild goals on a residency. This allows room for exploring new routes and ideas that may be unique to the experience, instead of shrouding new developments with an aggressive or unforgiving goal, mislabeled as productivity. I think some of the quietest, unsuspecting moments in our lives are the ones that fuel progress the most, and it is important to remain open to them.

KaraCox2_web

Kara at work in her studio

Q: What is the most useful tool in your studio?
Hands down it would be my projector. Runner up is my computer. I’ve developed a real attachment to working this way, and these devices have really shaped my visual language.

Q: Who is your favorite artist and why? 
I would say Trevor Paglen with his investigation into data collection and mass surveillance, and Hope Gangloff with her incredible color relationships are equally tied in first place for me. Runner-ups might be Sarah Sze, Agnes Martin, Donald Judd, and Dan Flavin.

Q: What type of music do you listen to? How does music affect your artwork?
I listen to so many kinds of music, but I find that I listen infrequently. I think listening to music while working discourages mindfulness, so very rarely will I listen while I’m painting. I think it is important to be fully present in activities (which is probably encouraged by my interest in our relationship to the digital).

Yellow Sun (Acrylic paint, house paint, on canvas)

Yellow Sun (Acrylic paint, house paint, on canvas)

Q: What’s next for you?
I’m going to head back to New York, and try to wear fewer hats. I’d like to stop freelancing, and find a consistent part time or full time job. I’ve already found a very small studio to rent for a few months, so I plan on slowing down on the nomadic residency life style for now. Other than that, as long as I can keep making and seeing artwork… I’m a happy camper.

Q: Where else can we find you? 
I can be found on Instagram at karalynn_cox, website at karalynncox.com, and email at karalynncox@gmail.com


Are you an artist looking for new opportunities? Apply for a residency at Main Street Arts. Artists in residence will 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: May 31, 2017 for a residency in July, August, September 2017.

Meet the Artist in Residence: Stacey Rowe

Stacey Rowe is one of our current artists in residence, she’s working in one of our two studio spaces during the month of April 2017. We asked her a few questions about her work, life, and more:

Stacey Rowe in her studio at Main Street Arts

Stacey Rowe in her studio at Main Street Arts

Q: Tell us about your background.

A: I moved from the Syracuse area to Rochester to attend college at Nazareth. I have a B.S. in Studio Art and an M.S. in Art Therapy. I think I started painting on canvas around the age of fourteen. I work as a freelance writer and public relations/ marketing consultant. I’m also the editor-at-large at (585) magazine. The flexibility allows me to do a residency like this.

Q: How would you describe your work?

A: I paint in acrylic and I’d describe my work as colorful, humorous, and often layered with symbolism.

Q: What is your process for creating a work of art? 

A: I’m very cerebral about it. Meaning: I tend to think more than sketch when I’m planning a piece. I’ll jot down lists of ideas and go about researching. Then, I’ll sketch right on the canvas and start painting. There are usually one or two improvisational items that happen once I get into it, so it’s good that paint is such a forgiving medium!

Some of the Pantone People Series

Some of the Pantone People Series

Q: What are your goals for this residency?  

A: I currently have three pages of ideas for the Pantone People series. These are smaller square works (6” x 6”) typically featuring a celebrity with some sort of creative play on the Pantone color swatch name. I’d like to put a dent in that list and also work on some larger pieces that will feature some of the funny animal characters I have created. I’m also going to teach a workshop on April 15. We’re going to have fun!

Q: What is the most useful tool in your studio? 

A: I’ve been using “The Masters Brush Cleaner and Preserver” for years and it really is the best. I once left paint on a relatively new brush overnight and this totally saved it. It’s also great for reshaping and conditioning brushes.

Q: Do you collect anything? 

A: Now that I’m older, I’m reducing my “Hoarders-Lite” tendencies. It’s tough because as an artsy person, it’s very easy to accumulate a lot of useless stuff! When I was a kid, I collected anything and everything – rocks, coins, different kinds of toys, and stuffed animals. I had a run on snowglobes for a bit. They’ve been in a few of my paintings. Since my father relocated, I only have one left and it’s kind of a relief. I still grab shells on beach trips and display them in a nice jar upon my return. I do have a few coins I’ve saved from my travels. I’d eventually like to see those in some form of jewelry. French Polynesian currency is particularly eye-catching.

"Goodbye Special Friend" is a painting I did for my graduate thesis in 2000. It features the only snowglobe I have left from the collection.

“Goodbye Special Friend” is a painting I did for my graduate thesis in 2000. It features the only snowglobe I have left from the collection.

Q: Who is your favorite artist and why? 

A: It’s so hard to pick just one here. I love Gustav Klimt for his gorgeous pattern work and all of that gold leaf. I love Andy Warhol for his pop sensibility. I love Frida Kahlo for her ability to tell a story through imagery. And, of course, there’s the king of color – Henri Matisse.

Q: Who are your favorite local artists? 

A: I was incredibly happy that my college painting and illustration professor, Kathy Calderwood, had a show at RoCo last spring. It was great to see so many of her new paintings in a show. Lately, I’ve been interested in the work of Edie Small (Edith Lunt Small). She had a very intriguing piece in the RoCo member show in December. I’m always interested in what Sarah Rutherford and Andrea Durfee are doing because they are such incredibly skilled and powerful artists. I like what Shawn Dunwoody has done with street art and neighborhood beautification the past several years. He has fantastic energy and an ability to engage young artists and the general public. I’m also drawn to some abstract artists because their work is so different from my own – Brian O’Neill (who also does hyper-realistic work), Nate Hodge, and Bill Judkins – to name a few.

Nena Sanchez Gallery in Curaçao

Nena Sanchez Gallery in Curaçao

Q: Where are your favorite places to see artwork? 

A: Anytime I travel, I seem to wind up in a museum. I also love seeing the street art in other countries. Aside from the obvious choice (France), one of my favorite art destinations was Curaçao. In addition to the Kura Hulanda Slave Museum, I visited the Nena Sanchez and Serena Janet Israel galleries. The art community is very strong there. The architecture, floating market, and beach drinks aren’t too shabby, either!

Inside my studio at Main Street Arts

Inside my studio at Main Street Arts

Q: What advice would you give to other artists? 

A: There are going to be people who tell you to grow up and get a real job. Don’t listen to that noise. Yes, find something to pay your bills, but don’t give up on your passion.

Q: Who inspires you and why? 

A: I consider myself to be pretty fortunate that a very strong, intelligent, creative, and independent mother raised me. Naturally, I’m drawn to likeminded individuals. Many people inspire me and I’m very lucky to know such a diverse group of creatives in both my personal and professional life.

Q: How do you promote your artwork? 

A: I look for show opportunities and I use social media (primarily Instagram and my personal Facebook account) to get the word out. I’m often following up with people (a.k.a. nagging them) who express interest in a piece after a show comes down. I’m also planning on getting an Etsy or some kind of online shop going soon. I set an account up years ago but never had the time to figure it all out.

Stacey Rowe working in her studio at Main Street Arts as Snappy the turtle supervises.

Stacey Rowe working in her studio at Main Street Arts as Snappy the turtle supervises.

Q: What type of music do you listen to? How does music affect your artwork? 

A: I will listen to pretty much anything except country, but I have to be careful that it’s not too funky – I’ll get distracted and won’t get anything done!

Q: What’s next for you? 

I’m working on getting some work in a few galleries outside of New York because I have family in Florida and several friends who have moved out of state. I figure it might make for a good excuse to visit!

Q: Where else can we find you?

A: My websiteTwitter & Instagram


Are you an artist looking for new opportunities? Apply for a residency at Main Street Arts. Artists in residence will 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: May 31, 2017 for a residency in July, August, September 2017.

 

Inside the Artist’s Studio with Rachel Cordaro

“Leave room for inspiration and the mood to create will present itself.”

~Rachel Cordaro

Artist Rachel Cordaro Photography by Katie Finnerty

Artist Rachel Cordaro Photography by Katie Finnerty

Hi! I’m Rachel Cordaro, a Rochester NY native- born and raised. I grew up with great encouraging artistic parents. I am the youngest of three hilariously endearing siblings. I have been an artist my whole life. Dabbling in art shows I decided to make it a permanent career in 2010. I am best known for my vibrant and cheerful floral paintings using acrylics on canvas as well as my hand crochet neck ruffs! Most recently I am taking my career to the next level as I have been pursuing the textile world! Putting my floral prints on pillows, tablecloths and other home fabrics!

My home studio! Photography by Kate Finnerty

My home studio! Photography by Kate Finnerty

What makes me tick!??
I am extremely passionate about what I do. I have a super supportive husband and family. Rochester makes me feel inspired to do what I do. It is truly a platform for entrepreneurs and a rich art community. Painting and textile work for me is therapeutic and fulfilling. There is no better feeling than expressing what is inside of me onto canvas and creating for the world to see.

My favorite part of what I do is having the luxury to be the BOSS!! I work best that way. I can create at my leisure and it is fantastic. Also I love that my husband Cordell and I are both artists so we can be on the same page.

Magnolias are one of my favorite flowers to paint. "Flower Market" Original Painting by Rachel Cordaro. Photography by Katie Finnerty

Magnolias are one of my favorite flowers to paint. “Flower Market” Original Painting by Rachel Cordaro. Photography by Katie Finnerty

Artist Rachel Cordaro Photography by Hannah Betts

Artist Rachel Cordaro Photography by Hannah Betts


Stop by Main Street Arts to see Rachel Cordaro’s paintings and neck ruff in the gallery. Visit Rachel’s website at www.rachelcordaro.com and follow her on Instagram @rachelcordaroart

Take a look at our previous Inside the Artist’s Studio blog post by Jessie Marianacci Valone of jmv ceramics.

Inside the Artist’s Studio with Jeanne Beck: Coming Home Through Creating

www.jeannebeck.com

Jeanne Beck at work in her studio in Rochester, NY’s Hungerford Building

It seems to me my whole life has been a slow, steady evolution of coming home to myself. I suspect a lot of women of my generation feel that way. My earlier life didn’t offer a lot of stimulation or opportunity to study music or dance or art, all of which interested me greatly, but I did read voraciously. I fantasized about writing novels and started writing short stories at age 12, but then I became absorbed in teen-age concerns. I turned to keeping a journal, which I wrote in faithfully from 7-12th grade. I’ve done personal journaling in some form for most of my life and have a storage box filled with composition notebooks and more recently, sketchbooks too.

Book of the Ancients 6, 18" x 18", mixed media collage, gold leaf, acrylic paint. Cut, collaged, screen-printed and stenciled.

Book of the Ancients 6, 18″ x 18″, mixed media collage, gold leaf, acrylic paint. Cut, collaged, screen-printed and stenciled.

When I decided at mid-life to become a visual artist, I made a total commitment to it. Lose, win or draw, I have invested myself fully in my own creative potential. And, as a result, this midlife adventure has become the most passionate, committed period of my life. Since I began exploring visual art, I have been drawn to combine more than one medium or techniques, as well as create multi-layered surfaces.

The Writing in Air pieces utilize a variety of processes and techniques to create a dimensional , cut and manipulated surface that suggests  cursive handwriting. Purchased by SUNY Geneseo for MacVittie Student Union.

The Writing in Air pieces utilize a variety of processes and techniques to create a dimensional , cut and manipulated surface that suggests cursive handwriting. Purchased by SUNY Geneseo for MacVittie Student Union.

Melding media and techniques to express a concept drives most of my choices. So I might stitch thread structures and dip them in paper pulp, for example. Layering and combining materials and methods is a fluid process and varies with each new idea. I like to envision my pieces accumulating layers over time and bearing the marks of use and age to build their own personal history.

Distressing the leafed surface with layers of acrylic paints and screen printed texts creates a patina of aging. Private collection, Boston, MA.

Distressing the leafed surface with layers of acrylic paints and screen printed texts creates a patina of aging. Private collection, Boston, MA.

Seemingly random numbers cut in fiberglass screening punctuate the aged surface of this piece. They are a list of street numbers from the houses where I've lived over the course of my life. They are as I remember them, but I have no idea whether the memories are accurate. Purchased by SUNY Geneseo for MacVittie Student Union.

Seemingly random numbers cut in fiberglass screening punctuate the aged surface of this piece. They are a list of street numbers from the houses where I’ve lived over the course of my life. They are as I remember them, but I have no idea whether the memories are accurate. Purchased by SUNY Geneseo for MacVittie Student Union.

I am drawn to aged surfaces and tend to try to and create them in whatever medium or technique I’m using. Rust, decay, and layers peeling away attract me. They also relate to my interests in memory and aging and what happens to personal histories over time.

Most of the scattered  images on this piece refer to The Palmer Method of Cursive Handwriting instruction. Once  a part of elementary school curriculum, cursive handwriting  has become almost obsolete.

Most of the scattered images on this piece refer to The Palmer Method of Cursive Handwriting instruction. Once a part of elementary school curriculum, cursive handwriting has become almost obsolete.

The earliest concept for my current series of language-inspired pieces started in 2007. I had done extensive research on Etruscan and other forms of ancient writing remnants and the marks  intrigued me as visual elements. Then my focus shifted to an interest in 19th and 20th century found journals, diaries and bits of cursive writing.

This work lists all the names of the teachers I can remember from my elementary school in Pittsburgh, PA. Book of the Ancients 9: Bethel Park Elementary, won a prestigious 2013 Niche Award.

This work lists all the names of the teachers I can remember from my elementary school in Pittsburgh, PA. Book of the Ancients 9: Bethel Park Elementary, won a prestigious 2013 Niche Award.

Green World IIMy metallic leaf series began in 2011 with the idea of “fluttering pages.” The exploration of ancient texts and languages to gather ideas for this series led me to an unexpected realization, “ancient” is a relative term. To someone entering adulthood today, the 1950’s and 60’s seem ancient. Amused by that recognition, the first works in this series focus on remembered bits from my childhood. We often refer to ‘turning a page’, ‘ getting on the same page’, ‘starting a new or closing an old chapter of our lives’ in our everyday conversations. These pieces offer a visual take on such ideas.

Green World II is a new organically-inspired, dimensional  work with layered kozo fibers over a  richly textured, painted surface.

Green World II is a new organically-inspired, dimensional work with layered kozo fibers over a richly textured, painted surface.

The pages series still doesn’t feel finished and I will continue to work on new ideas. However, I am also working on a new series of organic, two and three-dimensional works using handmade paper, pulp and wire armatures.

You can see more of Jeanne’s work in our current exhibition, Solid Gold, or visit her website: www.jeannebeck.com.

Check out our previous Inside the Artist’s Studio blog post by artist Colleen Pendry.

Inside the Artist’s Studio with Sarah Sutton

Interstice Series on the way to Main Street Arts to be installed!

Interstice Series on the way to Main Street Arts to be installed!

I am originally from the central Appalachian mountain region in northeastern Pennsylvania. My ancestors on both sides were immigrant coal miners from Eastern Europe. The area I grew up in now rests over flooded and burning mines and is surrounded by abandoned coal breakers and shake piles. This industrial world that had once meant so much for so many people was, to me, a dead metaphorall around and underneath memeanwhile life went on.

fire-in-a-coal-mine-under-centralia-pa-irish-640x480

This intermeshing of worlds and realities continues to inspire me. I am specifically interested in how people internalize and pass on socio-historical traumas through generations, such as the Knox coalmine disaster in 1959. In a single day, illegal mining broke through the riverbed, wiping out the local anthracite coal mining industry. Decades later the consequences of that single day are still palpable- in the landscape as well as in the people who once inhabited it. Through the paintings in this body of work, I create a visual language that depicts the complexity of perceptionhow historical and internal experiences interweave and intertwine.

In this blog entry I am going to explore three thoughts on representation and abstraction and address how I see these categories as changing in the digital age; a conversation that greatly affects my work.

1. Excess and Overload as Abstraction

Typically, abstraction has been associated with reduction or abbreviationreducing something to its “essence”. However, I am interested in a different kind of abstraction. When there is an overload of information as with media saturation we do not process a “whole” or “essence” at all. The sheer quantity of images and objects creates a type of pattern-based processing, making it more difficult to focus on individual components and promoting more of a time-based processing. This is explained by Jeffrey Rian in the article, The Generation Game:

 A child born into the electronic age learns his or her way into the world under the influence of disembodied voices and images, piecing together a world in collage pattern that absorbs ‘everywheres’ and everywhens’ into a cacophonous present. With electronics, sensory life is made more complicated because of the abundance of unrelated sounds and images… Experiencing free floating and unanalyzed images, which are integrated as tactile experiences, may offer a level of familiarity, or low level stimulus that engenders a variety of memories…

-Jeffrey Rian (The Generation Game)

Wall of thoughts and inspiration

Wall of thoughts and inspiration

2. The Visibility of the Invisible

Spaces that once only existed as imaginary are all over the Internetfrom hidden corners of the Amazon, live broadcasts of acts of terrorism, webcams of outer space, to videos of surgeries showing the intricacies of the internal body.

After the advent of photography, painting began to explore the notion of the “unknown”internal worlds, complex and amoebic states, and images of the “otherworldly and surreal”. Since almost everything can be “seen” online, it has become more and more difficult to imagine the “unknown” as a singular image.

In my work, painting becomes a way to envision relationships that are seemingly impossible to imagine (even and especially on the internet), because they involve time, different perceptual and sensory information, and the subjective. Ultimately, I am interested in making an image that captures how internal experience and memories are projected onto the external worldwhich becomes personal and involves both recognizable and non-recognizable imagery.

Supplies in the studio

Supplies in the studio

3. Legibility of Illegible

In his book, Six Stories from the End of Representation, James Elkins contrasts the use of the blur in art to what it means in astronomy. Where artists often intentionally blur to obscure an image, astronomers look at skies full of blurs that have never been seen “in focus”. In fact, the paradigm of being “in focus” or legible vs. “out of focus” or illegible does not apply when looking at the sky, as sharpening can cause a loss of information. By moving pixels closer together or turning the lens to focus on one area, contours and shapes that exist in the spaces in between are lost. In this case, the quality of being out of focus leaves the register of human perception all together, and clarity does not necessarily mean seeing something better. I am interested in the paradox of making information less legible, less recognizable, and less reliant on gestalt principles in order to expand on ways of seeing.

 

See our previous post: A Studio Visit with Sarah Sutton

Inside The Artist’s Studio with Samantha Stumpf: Process and Perspective

I’ve recently been  working on tableware for Main Street Arts, exclusively for their new online gallery shop.  I have always enjoyed eating off of handmade dinnerware, it is part of my everyday routine. Each day I get to choose my mug for coffee, my bowl for yogurt and my portion controlled plate for dinner. I enjoy sharing these rituals  with the people who made these pieces.

My kitchen cabinets

In preparing myself for this project, I thought back to a time before I was a ceramic artist. I grew up with mass produced dinnerware that was bland and stackable. My parents dislike the fact that I have mismatched dinnerware; unstackable and chaotic. So, to this day I keep a single place setting of handmade dishes at their house just for when I visit!

I wanted the  series I was making for Main Street Arts to be used everyday and I wanted it to be fun and playful.

Getting started…

To be fair, there are a few mass produced manufacturers that I really do love for what they are.  One of my favorite mass produced dishware manufacturers, which influenced this dinnerware for the gallery is Austrian Gmundner Keramik Ware.

geflammt_mix1

Austrian Gmundner Keramik Ware

I ate off their  everydayware when I worked for potters at Lyon Clay Studio during the start of my ceramic career.  I loved the simplicity of the forms and the fluidity of the brush work. I have always loved mark making and it has been a huge part of my own functional ware.

Main Street Arts dinnerware

Main Street Arts Signature Tableware Series

Soon, you be able to purchase this exclusive series of everyday tableware from the Main Street Arts online gallery shop. Keep following this blog series as well as their social media for updates!

Part One: Inside the Artist’s Studio with Samantha Stumpf: Ongoing Inspiration
Part Three: Inside the Artist’s Studio with Samantha Stumpf: A Little Bit of Process…

Inside The Artist’s Studio with Samantha Stumpf: Ongoing Inspiration

Hello, and thank you for checking out my first Inside The Artist’s Studio blog post on the Main Street Arts blog!

I would like to introduce myself…

talking about pots

talking about pots

I am originally from Baltimore Maryland and started working with clay in high school. I was instantly hooked to the material’s responsiveness  to the sense of touch. I knew that I wanted to continue my exploration of this material in college and completed my BFA at Cleveland Institute of Art in 2003. After completing my degree, I worked for local potters in Baltimore until moving to Rochester to complete my MFA in Ceramics at Rochester Institute of Technology, School for American Crafts. After my experience at RIT I began teaching and making work at the Lorton Arts Workhouse in Lorton, Virginia. Then in 2009 I became a resident artist at Genesee Center for Arts and Education which brought me back to Rochester where I continued to make work and teach. After my residency  experience  at Genesee Center I decided to stay in the Rochester area. I have a private studio located in the Susan B. area, downtown. I also currently teach at Genesee Community College, Studio Sales (Avon) and the Genesee Center.

landscapes

Landscapes

I enjoy making both sculptural and functional work. Most of my sculptural work focuses on the forms of action and reaction that occur in natural environment. A sense of simultaneous deconstruction and construction—such as what occurs when a mountain slowly weathers or the way that water erodes a stream bed. Given the primary influence of nature, these pieces can be seen as metaphoric landscapes. I create these clay pieces by exploiting the responsiveness of the clay. I push, pull, and tear the clay in an attempt to create a physical dialogue between myself and the material.

work in progress

Work in progress (for the Main Street Arts online gallery shop)

On the other hand, my functional work is fun and fresh with an attention to detail. I use a wide range of glazes for my color palette and then layer the surface with unique hand painted brush marks. These marks are very fluid and intuitive. I enjoy layering glazes and washes to create contrasts within the glaze surface. I love to use my functional work everyday. I would want you as well to use it everyday. All of my functional works are food, dishwasher, microwave and oven safe.

Look for my Signature Tableware Series in the Main Street Arts Online Gallery Shop soon!

Part Two: Inside the Artist’s Studio with Samantha Stumpf: Process and Perspective
Part Three: Inside the Artist’s Studio with Samantha Stumpf: A Little Bit of Process…

Inside the Artist’s Studio with Peter Pincus: Cracks in the Foundation

Last week I was visited by critic and blog writer Jason.  Sleep, In Spite of the Storm piqued Jason’s interest, so he traveled seven hours to see the show and get down to business.

Jason was able to find the all the technical flaws in my work, as if directly accessing my thoughts.  Some were obvious, though others were nearly invisible.  Jason was the first person to outwardly fixate on those sorts of details.  That fixation, which I celebrate for its clarity and honesty, prompted the following blog post.

The vase on the left leans.  Can you see it?  I do every time I look.

The vase on the left leans. Can you see it? I do every time I look.

An alternate view of the urns in the exhibition

Sorry for the re-post, but these urns also lean. I have to show them in this order, because if I flip them the lean becomes more obvious. I’ve since figured out how to avoid this problem in future works, but these will always remind me.

Makers suffer from the desire to do their best given their mental and physical potential.  Luckily, the mind and hand get better.  But in the wake of learning, there will always be concrete reminders of imperfections and failures in the objects produced.  Here-in lies the two most important questions to the longevity of an artistic career:  When is it appropriate to hold yourself accountable to your flaws?  When is it harmful to do so?

My work is usually misunderstood because of its relative visual refinement.  It is a celebration of color and composition as much as an autobiographical statement through the porcelain vessel, not a celebration of a flashy process or technique.  Having said that, I’ve developed a technique to make possible the aesthetic I’m after and that technique has its inherent limitations and flaws.  When I am alone in my studio, those flaws are the things that slowly eat away at my confidence, pride, and overall emotional stability.

White gold luster is such a pain for me.  It often drips on the raw porcelain and then takes a miracle to remove if I can.  Jason and I talked about this issue for a while

White gold luster is such a pain for me. It often drips on the raw porcelain and then takes a miracle to remove if I can. Jason and I talked about this issue for a while

Sometimes the seams between colors spread.  I assume it is a result of expansion and tension in the kiln.  It is only an eye sore, not a structural thing.  But it irritates me more than any other problem I have.  I stress about it every day.

Sometimes the seams between colors spread. I assume it is a result of expansion and tension in the kiln. It is only an eye sore, not a structural thing. But it irritates me more than any other problem I have. I stress about it every day.

And then the show happens.  All of the things that keep me up at night are not generally noticed.  I’m found enthusiastic but cautious, imagining that I had somehow escaped the public guillotine!!  The successes of the show walk out the door with the crowd and the failures remain with me.  This is unhealthy.

This post isn’t meant to stir depression.  Quite the opposite in fact.  Jason’s ability to personify my conscience gave me the ability to better define the meaning of artistic engagement.  It is not my job to be perfect.  That is the job of industry.  It is my job to engage the material as a soulful pursuit, and yes to achieve the goals I set, but not to drown in small details while missing the big picture.

All of this comes at a time when I announce my new job as Visiting Professor of Ceramics at RIT.  That appointment carries the responsibility of this type of honesty.  If you make things, I guarantee you’ve had the same feelings that are expressed above.  If you want to do this for a living, you must rise above them and enjoy what you do.  Because there is no such thing as a flawless piece of handmade work.  And if there is, would you really want to be it’s author?

Part One: Inside the Artist’s Studio: Introducing Peter Pincus
Part Two: Inside the Artist’s Studio with Peter Pincus: How Long is a Long Time?
Part Three: Inside the Artist’s Studio with Peter Pincus: Centerpiece