Tag Archives: Book Artist

Meet the Artist in Residence: Matt Simon

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

Matt Simon

Matt Simon

Q: Tell us about your background.
I’m from Denver, Colorado, and lived in various neighborhoods around the city growing up. I didn’t really make much art in grade school (I had two art classes during those twelve years), and ended up getting into art pretty much on accident — I actually applied to a bunch of engineering schools, but ended up choosing Oberlin for financial reasons.

Still, I entered college with the intent of majoring in physics. I sat next to the painting professor at a first-year orientation event, and she encouraged me to take a class with her since I’d always had a vague interest in making more art but hadn’t really acted on it. I did so my second semester, and during a class field trip to the Cleveland Museum of Art first saw the painting Lot’s Wife by Anselm Kiefer, and was enamored with its scale and textural aptitude. But during another trip to the museum with some friends during commencement week at the end of the year, the painting’s emotional weight hit me. I had to figure out how Kiefer was able to provoke such a strong reaction through an image, and I was hooked.

Lot's Wife - Anselm Kiefer

“Lot’s Wife” by Anselm Kiefer

Q: How would you describe your work?
I think the best descriptor of my work is tactile — I love creating textures that make you want to touch them, and have slowly figured out various material processes that result in ones I’ve integrated into many of my pieces. My favorite one is probably a mixture of acrylic, sand, clay, and iron oxide, which dries thick and claylike, but much more sturdy due to the acrylic and sand; this can be seen most plainly in my book, Weathering.

how the stars did fall

how the stars did fall

My longest-running subject material is the mythology of the American West, which has a long and complex history I’m still working to understand more completely. I feel a deep affinity for the landscape of that region, especially in Colorado and New Mexico. But at the same time, that affinity is enabled by the genocide and displacement of the indigenous peoples who lived there. I draw on that tension as inspiration for my work.

the child the father

the child the father

Q: What is your process for creating a work of art?
Most of my work begins textually, often from written sources on the West and the period of westward expansion. I find imagery or stories in these which I draw from to create preliminary ideas for pieces. A couple of my favorite textual sources for this kind of working are Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee by Dee Brown and Cormac McCarthy’s Blood Meridian.

Once I have that initial idea, I’ll try to figure out which medium best suits the idea, whether it be one of my usual assortment of book, painting, sculpture, or print, or some combination of those. I’ll occasionally make a more formal sketch of something, like on a small canvas before moving to a large one, but often I’d rather just jump in with the idea and follow where it takes me as I work the image over and over. I find my choice of mediums fairly forgiving since I can usually just add more material over the last layer if I want to change something, which helps this approach.

Weathering (page 2)

Weathering (page 2)

Q: Do you collect anything?
I like to collect natural materials, especially rocks and plants, and some of my pieces even end up incorporating them. My favorites are the ones I have that remind me of Colorado and New Mexico.

Q: Who is your favorite artist and why?
I have a hard time picking favorites, so I’d say there’s a three way tie: I’ve already talked about Anselm Kiefer, but I also love the work of Doris Salcedo, whose sculptures always have a level of detail that seems completely impossible, and Kathe Kollwitz — I don’t know of anyone who can create more depth in black space. I’d be happy to be one-tenth as good at that.

Kindersterben - Kathe Kollwitz (My copy)

“Kindersterben” by Kathe Kollwitz

Q: What type of music do you listen to? How does music affect your artwork?
I mostly listen to things in the vicinity of indie, folk, and bluegrass, with some hip-hop/rap in there as well. I often end up playing music that feels like it suits the piece I’m working on, so I sometimes will listen to an album or even a single song on repeat if I’m really focusing in on that correlation.

Q: What are your goals for this residency? Tell us about your current projects.
I love making large-scale works, but unfortunately studio space where I live, in Seattle, is expensive, prohibitively so for a space big enough to do works of that size. So I’m planning on taking full advantage of the space I’ll have for the month and working on some good-sized pieces. I’m going to try making a book at least the same size as my largest so far (2×3’), or maybe even bigger!

Weathering (page 5)

Weathering (page 5)

Q: What’s next for you?
I plan on starting to apply for MFA programs in the next year or two. It’s a little intimidating how many incredibly skilled artists are competing for admission (especially for the well-funded ones), so I want to get to a place where I feel more confident in my portfolio first.

Q: Where else can we find you?
You can visit my website, and I recently succumb to making an art-specific Instagram, which you can find at @mattsimonart.

Inside the Artist’s Studio with KaKeART Collaborations

Born in Rochester NY and Prague Czechoslovakia the KaKeART partnership began in graduate school at the Rochester Institute of Technology, where Tatana Kellner and Ann Kalmbach met  in the printmaking studio as exiles from the painting department. After graduate school, they arrived in Rosendale to help form the Women’s Studio Workshop, a not for profit artists’ workspace in 1974.

Scene Around Rosendale Cover

Scene Around Rosendale , 1982

Being interested in making our art more accessible to the public, we began publishing artists’ books in 1979, beginning with Scene Around Rosendale , a series of postcards of historic, contemporary and generic pastoral images readily found in local shops.

Scene Around Rosendale 2011

Scene Around Rosendale ,2011

We re-visited this theme again in 2001 and 2010, being interested in how our town has changed, while maintaing it’s essential character, as a town that grew up around cement mining industry.

My 9 Migraine Cures

My 9 Migraine Cures, 1987

Our collaboration has been pretty consistent over the decades. The impetus can be anything, a personal experience My Nine Migraine Cures, chance encounter, an article read, or a word spoken.

Your Co-worker Could Be A Space Alien

Your Co-worker Could Be A Space Alien, 1985

Your Co-Worker Could be A Space Alien  was based on a tabloid article given to us by a friend.  Since then we have have worked together on 16 artists’ books and numerous installation projects.

Pistol Pistil cover

Pistol Pistil, 1997

Pistol Pistil 2

Pistol Pistil

Because Tatana immigrated to USA from Prague, some of the subtleties of language have fascinated her, which lead to Pistol/Pistil: Botanical Ballistics. We printed the book while being artists-in-residence at the University of Southern Maine. The students were encouraged to assist and observe our process of negotiating the linguistic terms, printing sequences, and color choices.

Domestic Policy, silkscreen on handmade paper 2005

Domestic Policy, silkscreen on handmade paper 2005

Collaboration is a fascinating, rewarding and sometimes frustrating process, but in the end you learn a lot about yourself and your collaborator.

Shoot 1

Shoot to Kill, 1997

Around the same time as Pistol/Pistil, the hotel in our neighborhood opened a police shooting range. We collected the abandoned targets and gathered them into a book Shoot to Kill, where each target is paired with a word. The entire text: DID YOU EVER WONDER WHY POLICE TARGETS ARE TORSOS? is subtitled SHOOT TO KILL.
Here we debated at length if to include the word black, in the end deciding not to, since one of the targets we found was not a silhouette, but a fully clothed figure.

Shoot to Kill

Shoot to Kill, installed on the Wallkill Valley Rail Trail, August 2015

In the summer of 2015, in the context of ‘black lives matter’ movement, we installed the targets on a rail trail, as part of a public art festival.

The Golden Rule

The Golden Rule, 2015

Our latest collaboration was The Golden Rule, an installation and an artist’s book. Both of these are are meditations on the unending quest to fulfill the golden rule. We lettered the text from 13 different religions on the rail trail. As the trail was biked, ran or walked on, the text slowly disappeared. In the book, the reader is confronted with a blind embossing of the text in one of the original languages, followed by handwritten, slowly dissolving translation. Only after leafing through to the next page is one able to read the tenet. This is contrasted with newspaper clippings of petty crime and punishment.

Ann Kalmbach and Tatana Kellner collaborate as KaKeART to produce humorous and politically charged works ranging from postcards, artists’ books and public interventions. They are also co-founders of Women’s Studio Workshop.

Stop by Main Street Arts to see their artwork in our current exhibition, Ink and Paper (runs through Friday, March 25). Take a look at our previous Inside the Artist’s Studio blog post by artist Nick Marshall.

Inside the Artist’s Studio with Candace Hicks

1

My studio is starting to look like a depot for packing materials. I have had a lot of work out lately, and it’s all come back at the same time. These boxes held wooden boxes with illusionistic rooms inside.

Cloud illusion 2

The rooms are constructed so that the cloud that floats back and forth appears to shrink and grow as it traverses the room.  These photos were taken without the fish-eye lens that smoothes the illusion.  A room that is smaller on one side with a sloped floor is known as an Ames room.

Cloud illusion

A miniature servo attached to a wheel pulls the cloud back and forth.

Inside Ames

With the fish-eye lens in place the room looks straight.  Many years ago I made comic strips starring a cloud.  Not just any cloud! This was a thought cloud, the sort that normally appears in comics.  In my comic strips the thought cloud was the character.  In my Ames room sculptures, the cloud has returned and paces like a bored prisoner.

8605121_orig

654880_orig

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Here I’m adding a separate battery pack for the lights.  Soon it will be time to repack them and ship them to the next exhibit.

View Candace’s artwork online at www.candacehicks.com. Stop by Main Street Arts to see her artwork in our current exhibition, Ink and Paper. The exhibition is up through Friday, March 25. Take a look at our previous Inside the Artist’s Studio blog post by printmaker and book artist Jenna Rodriguez.