Tag Archives: Sculpture

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: 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.

Inside the Artist’s Studio with Brittany Rea

My interest in art started before my memories truly do. I was raised in Branchburg, NJ, a small town in Northern Central New Jersey. Growing up I had incredibly supportive parents and a slew of amazing art teachers who showed me the importance and allure of art. I have since spent most of my post-high school life moving throughout New York State and had a short stay in California for an artist residency at the Sonoma Community Center.

Photo Credit: bridget Hagen, 2016

Photo Credit: bridget Hagen, 2016

Art has been one of the few constants in my life, though its meaning in my life has evolved over the years. Growing up I enjoyed drawing mostly in pastel, which led to painting, which led to going to art school. I took classes as a high school student at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City and attended a vocational school where I spent many hours of my day in a classroom specially focused on graphic design and fine art. I attended Pratt at Munson-Williams-Proctor Art Institute for Art Education which would lead me directly to my dream school, Pratt Art Institute. While at PrattMWP I took my first ceramics wheel class, which changed my entire path. The mesmerizing and meditative qualities of clay instantly captivated me. My professor, Bryan McGrath, encouraged me to apply to the New York State College of Ceramics at Alfred University, one of the top ceramics schools in the country. I started at Alfred the following semester. Here, I also found a love for sculpture, specifically creating room installations, and clay and sculpture were my concentrations for the remainder of my higher education, continuing all the while with a minor in Art Education.

Healing Memory 2013

Healing Memory 2013

As Above, So Below 2013

As Above, So Below 2013

Upon graduation, I began working at the Creative Studios of the Memorial Art Gallery in Rochester, NY and began working as the Production Assistant for my former professor and immense talent, Kala Stein. While her assistant, Kala was hired as the Ceramics Director at the Sonoma Community Center in Sonoma, California. She encouraged me to apply for the technician position, and  through this application I was offered a six month artist residency at Sonoma Ceramics, where my more recognizable jewelry design style and work was born.

Photo Credit Nicoletta Camerin

Photo Credit Nicoletta Camerin

I had been working with a jeweler, Marisa Krol of Interstellar Lovecraft, while in Rochester prior to my residency, working to learn the basics of jewelry making. I had always been interested in making jewelry, and grew up creating simple pieces for my family and myself. Ironically enough, I was enrolled in a Small Metals class while at PrattMWP but decided to continue on with another ceramics class instead- just shows how things can come full circle! While I was in Sonoma I decide to try my hand at making wearable clay jewelry.

Then v. Now

Then v. Now

This original work was based off of sketches I was doing from rocks and shells I had found while in Maine at Haystack Mountain School of Craft working as a Studio Assistant to David Eichelberger. These first pieces were not the strongest, but I felt I was onto something, so I persisted.

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Using Nichrome Wire to make small attachments and simple adornments on my jewelry designs, I continued to push this idea further by layering the thin wire and playing with the negative/positive space it created. I started using Cassius Clay, a cone 5 clay that fires black, to contrast the use of the chrome-colored wire.

Nicoletta Camerin

Nicoletta Camerin

Wanting to continue with this method of making but also having an urge to work larger, I began making hundreds of these small, pendant-like pieces to create an installation.

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intro|spectate 2016

intro|spectate 2016

intro|spectate, Self + Sonder, and 10 Suggestions are collections of work by Brittany Rea with a central focus on introspection and the inadvertent impact we have on those around us. The object-hood of this work is one facet of its existence while the awareness of self and the unidentified other are consequential.

Through the use of vitreous black clay embellished with delicately crafted metallic wire, Rea exemplifies the idea of inherent beauty. The use of open space invites the viewer to look beyond the materiality of the objects to further examine their abstract significance. The duality of intro|spectate creates two experiences: one of material, one of spectator.

This exhibition is about reflection brought by looking and seeing, both within and without and is the culmination of Rea’s time spent as the Resident Artist at the Sonoma Community Center.“ (Artist Statement from exit show)

intro|spectate (detail)

intro|spectate (detail)

intro|spectate (detail)

intro|spectate (detail)

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Upon returning to Rochester I was offered a residency at the Adorned Studios – joining the amazing forces of Interstellar Lovecraft and Inner Loop Design Co.

The Adorned Studio -I'm pictured with Amber Dutcher of Inner Loop Design Co (center) and Marisa Krol of Interstellar Lovecraft (right) photo credit Arielle Ferraro

The Adorned Studio -I’m pictured with Amber Dutcher of Inner Loop Design Co (center) and Marisa Krol of Interstellar Lovecraft (right) photo credit Arielle Ferraro

At this time I found that a lack of easy access to kilns would drastically alter my studio process, so I started to delve further into metal fabrication.

Screen Shot 2017-03-11 at 2.07.04 AM

Screen Shot 2017-03-11 at 12.51.43 AM

This is when I started to push my ideas as a designer, and started using more quality materials such as sterling silver. Even with this new process, I wanted to maintain the aesthetic of the work I was making in California, so I began using polymer clay.

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This material was easily malleable meaning I could form it to be seamless within my designs, and I didn’t have to wait for a kiln to cool, so the turnover time was incredible!

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I could start and finish a piece in one day – never before was that a possibility with clay.

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Polymer was a great material to use for a time, but I wanted to continue to grow and use more sophisticated, quality materials.

Screen Shot 2017-03-11 at 12.46.02 AM

I started incorporating gemstones into my work, and am continuing to push this further. In the past few months I’ve enjoyed using my work for a greater good.

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(JBOS Series – Proceeds go to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation and a breast cancer survivor)

I started to make lines devoted to specific causes with proceeds being donated to different foundations and causes.

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One Collective Heart (Proceeds are divided and donated to the Americans Civil Liberties Union, National Endowment for the Arts, and the Natural Resource Defense Council).

I hope to continue pushing my abilities, and using my work for the betterment of those and that which surround me. I am currently moving into a new studio situation and am looking forward to the inspiration new beginnings can bring!

Photo credit Bridget Hagen 2016

Photo credit Bridget Hagen 2016

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Stop by Main Street Arts to see Brittany’s jewelry in our gallery shop. Visit Brittany’s website at www.brittanyrea.com and follow Brittany on Instagram @rea.designs to see her artwork, process, and even some travel photos! Find Brittany on Facebook at www.facebook.com/brittanyreajewelryandart.

Take a look at our previous Inside the Artist’s Studio blog post by local artist Andy Reddout.

Meet the Artist in Residence: Jacquelyn O’Brien

Jacquelyn O’Brien is an artist in residence at Main Street Arts. She’s working in one of our two studio spaces during the months of January–February 2017 (you can stop by the gallery to see her studio and works in progress). We asked Jacquelyn a few questions about her artwork, life, and more:

Jacquelyn O'Brien in her residency studio

Jacquelyn O’Brien in her residency studio

Q: To start this off, tell us a little about your background.

A: I’ve always been a visual person and art appreciator. I’m in love with the visual world and the work it produces. I got my undergraduate degree at the University at Buffalo State College in Sculpture, did a residency in Belle, MO between degrees, and then went to graduate school at the Rochester Institute of Technology, earning a degree in Studio Arts Sculpture. I am the oldest of five children and grew up in a single parent home with my mom. I think this is what made me a feminist. Being my mothers daughter has made me the way I am, being raised by a strong, independent woman.

Jacquelyn O'Brien, "Glitter Queen", cedar, glitter, yarn, 3' x 4', 2016.

Jacquelyn O’Brien, “Glitter Queen”, cedar, glitter, yarn, 3′ x 4′, 2016.

Jacquelyn O'Brien, "Influence Each Other", 3' x 3', cedar, yarn, fiber, 2016.

Jacquelyn O’Brien, “Influence Each Other”, 3′ x 3′, cedar, yarn, fiber, 2016.

Q: How would you describe your work?

A: I would describe my work as being a blending and multiplicity of materials. I combine materials that are traditionally “masculine” or “feminine”, harkening to the mixing of gender identifications in our current culture. My work uses the influence of color, weight, scale, gesture, politics, and materiality.

Cunt Cushions by Jacquelyn O'Brien

Cunt Cushions by Jacquelyn O’Brien

Fabrics in Jacquelyn's residency studio

Fabrics in Jacquelyn’s residency studio

Materials for Jacquelyn's embroidered hoops

Materials for Jacquelyn’s embroidered hoops

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

A: My process varies depending on what I’m working on to fulfill the individual needs of each piece. If I’m casting concrete, my process requires more planning in the way of mold making, supplies, armatures, and calculating weight. As a result, I would sketch in a very detailed way, with schematics and details that would help me efficiently create a piece. If I’m making a fabric work, like an embroidery or cunt cushion, I can take more risks and employ more off-the-cuff choices. I always do a small, messy sketch of what I’m thinking about and where I want the work to go before any piece is made. I also like to pin samples of materials on my cork board to see them all together.

Preparatory materials in Jacquelyn's residency studio

Preparatory materials in Jacquelyn’s residency studio

Preparatory materials in Jacquelyn's residency studio

Preparatory materials in Jacquelyn’s residency studio

Q: What are your goals for this residency? 

A: My goal for this residency is to focus on the more time consuming, lighter work that contributes to my heavier, bigger work. I’m working on three large embroideries that have political content stitched upon them. I am in process of constructing a 4×4 foot embroidery that requires me to build out a custom hoop, so that will be an interesting new endeavor!

Jacquelyn at work in her residency studio

Jacquelyn at work in her residency studio

Q: What’s next for you?

A: I’m the founder of a group called the Politits Art Coalition and we have a lot coming up in the next few months. In March, the PAC is showing their work at Gallery Q on College Street in Rochester. Then we’re curating a Women’s Work show in the same month at The Yards Collaborative Art Space. We’re having a show at The Yards featuring work by the six members of the PAC in April as well. Also, I will have a solo show this summer! Stay tuned for dates and locations.

Jacquelyn and Carolina

Jacquelyn and her studio helper Carolina

Q: Where can we find you?

A: You can find my work on my website www.jacquelynmarieobrien.com. You can also find me on Facebook at Jacquelyn O’Brien : Art, on Etsy as AFeministKillJoy, and on Instagram @dogmomm. If you’re looking to see my work in person it is always up at Dichotomy Rochester, located at The Yards. There is a changing display with work for sale. You can email me at jacquelynmarieobrien@gmail.com.


Embroidered hoops by Jacquelyn O'Brien

Embroidered hoops by Jacquelyn O’Brien

Rude Embroidery Workshop with Jacquelyn O’Brien
Saturday, February 18th, 12pm–3pm | $35 per person

Create your own sassy embroideries with fiber artist Jacquelyn O’Brien! In this workshop you’ll play with colored embroidery floss, funky beads, fun fabrics, and fringe to make four-inch “rude embroideries”. 

No need to be polite in this workshop, your rude embroidery can say what you really want to say! Laugh and have a good time while stitching out your innermost thoughts and feelings. 

Call, email, or visit our website to reserve your spot.
(315) 462-0210 | mstreetarts@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.

Inside the Artist’s Studio with Werner Sun: Redbud Reconsidered

Werner’s artwork is on view in our juried exhibition “Small Works 2016”. His work is available for purchase in our Online Gallery Shop:
store.mainstreetartsgallery.com


I am an abstract artist from Ithaca, NY and I work with digital prints, drawings, and other paper materials that I cut and fold into three-dimensional patterns. I started making these paper sculptures about five years ago. At the time I was experimenting with digital photographic compositions, but I wanted them to be more than just pixels on a computer screen; I wanted to work with them as physical objects. These folded sculptures are my way of establishing a kind of intimacy with my images.

Werner Sun in his studio.

Werner Sun in his studio.

Below, I show the process I used for a recent wall sculpture (18″ x 24″ x 2″) called Redbud Reconsidered. This piece began with a photograph I took of a redbud tree in my yard on a sunny October day, when the leaves were a brilliant shade of gold.

Source photograph for Redbud Reconsidered.

Source photograph for Redbud Reconsidered.

Then, I brought this image into Photoshop and combined it with some abstracted floating shapes derived from a different photograph.

Manipulated photograph for Redbud Reconsidered.

Manipulated photograph for Redbud Reconsidered.

At this point, I made a 12″ x 16″ archival inkjet print of the image. Instead of folding the print itself (as I usually do), I decided to overlay some patterns made from plain white paper. Below, you can see the folded elements being constructed and then arranged on the print.

Constructing the folded paper elements.

Constructing the folded paper elements.

Sculptural folded paper patterns.

Sculptural folded paper patterns.

Folded paper elements with manipulated photograph.

Folded paper elements with manipulated photograph.

In playing around with the composition, I couldn’t get the proportions quite right. So, I reprinted the image in a larger size and added pencil drawings on top. I also introduced a second, smaller version of the folded pattern to soften the visual rhythm. Finally, I mounted the new print and the folded elements on a 18″ x 24″ x 1.5″ wooden board (painted black), and I coated all the exposed paper with protective acrylic varnish. The finished piece is shown below.

Redbud Reconsidered, full view from front.

Redbud Reconsidered, full view from front.

Redbud Reconsidered, detail view.

Redbud Reconsidered, detail view.

Redbud Reconsidered, detail view.

Redbud Reconsidered, detail view.

Redbud Reconsidered, side view.

Redbud Reconsidered, side view.

A consistent theme in my work has been the use of patterns to transform my visual materials. I am a particle physicist by training, and I’m fascinated by how people figure things out, how our brains can come up with new knowledge by teasing out patterns from a sea of data. So, in a way, my artistic process mirrors my scientific process. In Redbud Reconsidered, I’m treating the source image as data to be understood, and the alterations I’ve made by hand — the pencil drawings and folded paper — grow out of a close examination of the material. These superimposed patterns therefore serve as a lasting record of my own curiosity.


Stop by Main Street Arts to see Werner’s work in our current exhibition “Small Works 2016” (juried by Bleu Cease, Executive Director/Curator of RoCo; exhibition runs through January 6th). Werner’s work is available in our Online Gallery Shop: store.mainstreetartsgallery.com. Visit his website at www.wernersun.com and follow him on Instagram @wernersun.

Take a look at our previous Inside the Artist’s Studio blog post by painter Kathryn E. Noska.

Inside the Artist’s Studio with Muhammad I. Aslam

Muhammad’s artwork is on view in our juried exhibition “Small Works 2016”. His work is available for purchase in our Online Gallery Shop:
store.mainstreetartsgallery.com


I would like to take a moment to discuss my process as it relates to my imagery and use of symbolism. My work functions mostly on the allegorical level – the figure is used as an icon; the meaning often suggested through the use of additional parts, pose, as well as palette. The starting point for much of my work is with a single word or a phrase. Much like an author I employ word bubbles, branching off into synonyms  (a thesaurus is heavily employed in this phase). This is often where the title of a piece is locked down as the word that best encompasses the conceptual structure of a work emerges.

Muhammad Aslam, "Opacare I", cast resin, mixed media, 13" x 16" x 5", 2016.

Muhammad Aslam, “Opacare I”, cast resin, mixed media, 13″ x 16″ x 5″, 2016.

While the word bubbles develop the imagery begins to form in my head. In the case of “Opacare I” I began with the concept of “dusk”. That quickly moved to wanting to personify my perception of that particular point of day. Moving in to the symbolism of the word I formed a mental map of what the piece should encompass. Given that twilight is the fading of sunlight hours into the nocturnal it seemed most appropriate to represent elements of both within the work. To this end the bird skulls came into play.

The crow, a bird of the day, is given the central position just above the figure’s head. Here the skull is slightly enlarged as a nod to the prominence of day in the lives of most human beings. It is typically the hours where one is most active as well as feels the most secure. The owl, a bird of the night, takes the left side of the figure suspended in a configuration of three. Crows in addition to owls are often taken as icons of wisdom as well as change. Dusk can be taken as a time of competition, metaphorically this may represent the moment where the end of a phase (or the entirety) of one’s life yields insight.

To pull this together a bit more a headdress, very loosely referencing a dream catcher was constructed. This served a function purpose of giving the skulls a place to attach to but also gave the piece an air of the pseudo religious and regal, albeit the regality of the vanishingly small segment of time sunset represents. The headdress itself is attached in a rather unrealistic way, as is most of the head gear in my work, with the intent of heightening the surreal flavor of the piece.

Of course, at this point outside of some words, loose scribbles on scrap paper, and notions of varying focus in my head – none of the piece exists. This is the part of the process where a project often dies, my interest faded, or it is filed away to attempt later. In addition, while everything I have described thus far sounds rather specific, the final imagery almost always varies quite a bit from the original idea. What works well on paper does not translate well into three dimensions in many cases. Once I actually decide I would like to sculpt a piece it is simply a matter of deciding what the piece should be made of (oil or water based clays, Sculpey, etc…).

The very start of a sculpt. Loose, fast, not much care for anything else.

The very start of a sculpt. Loose, fast, not much care for anything else.

The choice is merely what is appropriate for the piece. For “Opacare I” I chose Monster Clay; an oil based clay with what I find to be excellent handling properties. Once the armature was constructed (a simple brass tube affixed to a base), sculpting begins in earnest. I prefer to start very fast, keeping a loose hand, not paying much attention to overall accuracy, nor using any tools. It is here where the feel of the piece as well as any immediate edits are established. I eventually slow down, introduce tools, and then gradually refine the piece.

Left: How much of the figure to use is experiment with. Right: The final composition is established. Refining starts in earnest.

Left: How much of the figure to use is experiment with. Right: The final composition is established. Refining starts in earnest.

Naturally, an oil based clay sculpture needs to be molded then cast if one intends to keep it.  was a fairly straight forward mold. The interest came from the resin selected to cast her in. A semi-translucent resin was my material of choice. The idea centered on the notion of layering up translucent airbrush colors over the surface to give the piece a depth in color that may otherwise turn out bit flat. With the first set of mostly successful casts the color palette was considered. I initially opted for a color scheme heavily favoring pinks, blues, and purples layered over a wash of violet then scarlet. Testing this on the seconds (castings not quite up to snuff), the pink proved a bit overpowering. The final piece introduced a bit more of a bone color while retaining the same scheme.

Left: Firs two pulls from a silicone mold. Right: Initial paint test, base, and headdress fitting using one of the seconds.

Left: First two pulls from a silicone mold. Right: Initial paint test, base, and headdress fitting using one of the seconds.

The seconds were then used to test fit and experiment with ways of attaching the headdress and skulls. The more or less final piece assembled, it appeared something was missing. Ultimately, I opted to construct two thin tree branches, both made of Sculpey (to save time on molding then casting), and attached them to the back of the figure. This unexpected addition provided the missing element to the work while providing a nice visual to further tie the figure to the natural element found in the bird skulls. Given that twilight, crows, and owls all also symbolize death in certain traditions the branches were given a white color.

Left: Final paint job, but something is missing. At this stage I had experimented with using feathers. Right: Near final piece.

Left: Final paint job, but something is missing. At this stage I had experimented with using feathers. Right: Near final piece.

Outside of some spot checking, a sculpture is finished at this stage. From the point it is presented on it, to some degree, ceases to be completely mine. As each viewer encounters the work it is liked, or disliked, and assigned meanings that often have nothing to do with anything I saw or intended for the piece. This phase it typically the most rewarding. On occasion one or two individuals may ask for the thought processes behind my art, or I may have the artist statement on hand, or write a blog, but I find I mostly prefer to stay silent and let the viewer take in the piece and converse with it on its own terms.

Gallery visitors view Muhammad's sculpture in Small Works 2016

Gallery visitors view Muhammad’s sculpture in Small Works 2016


Stop by Main Street Arts to see Muhammad’s work in our current exhibition “Small Works 2016” (juried by Bleu Cease, Executive Director/Curator of RoCo; exhibition runs through January 6th). Muhammad’s work is available in our Online Gallery Shop: store.mainstreetartsgallery.com. Visit his website at http://aslamfineart.tumblr.com and follow him on Instagram @miaslam_.

Take a look at our previous Inside the Artist’s Studio blog post by painter Stacey Rowe.

Inside the Artist’s Studio with Richard Harvey

Richard’s artwork is on view in our juried exhibition “Small Works 2016”. His work is available for purchase in our Online Gallery Shop:
store.mainstreetartsgallery.com


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ARTIST STATEMENT: As a figurative artist, I explore the psychological and emotive potential of the human face and figure in a contemporary expressionistic style. My work diversifies across a broad range of two and three-dimensional media including digital and mixed media collage, encaustic painting, digital photography, and mixed media figurative sculpture. My work often draws on both my graphic design background and my interest in primal expression found in ancient or indigenous cultural artifacts.

“Divided We Fall”, Mixed Media 3D Sculpture

I created a political figurative sculpture by bringing together found objects to reflect the fractured tone of our election and the need to heal divisions.  

Found Objects: a rusted tin 3D form used as the face; black coated split steel plate form for the body; 2 small torn, decorative USA flags; red and blue acrylic paint.: I painted a 12×12 inch wood panel white and glued one USA flag in strips to the panel beneath the black steel plate. I screwed the rusty face form to the panel through the side flanges and glued the second USA flag to the face form. I added red and blue acrylic paint to the eyes along with additional red and blue paint to the steel body form. I accented the body with white metal spray and lastly protected it with a coating of clear acrylic spray.

"Divided We Fall" Mixed Media Sculpture

“Divided We Fall”
Mixed Media Sculpture

“Revealed”Digital Print with Encaustic Wax Over Painting, Enhanced Digital Print

“Revealed” was created in Photoshop Software on an iMac computer.  

Process: Before I begin to create imaging on my Mac computer, I first scan all the imaging elements into the computer before I assemble and collage the final print. These elements include digital photographs, drawings and other scanned objects used for special effects. One important process in Photoshop is called “layers”. These are separate pieces of art that float above one another, and I can work on each layer independently. When the image is completed I print the image on archival digital paper with an ink jet printer, and I over-paint the print with encaustic wax, and other media. Rather than making limited editions of one print, I create variants of pieces that interest me, thus each print becomes one of a kind. Main elements of the piece “Revealed” include a photograph taken in Holland showing layers of worn, deteriorating and peeling paper on a large public wall in which the subject matter was not wholly recognizable. The defaced image represents a visual expression of the psychological state of mind.

"Revealed" Enhanced Digital Print

“Revealed”
Enhanced Digital Print

Richard Harvey's artwork in Small Works 2016

Richard Harvey’s artwork in Small Works 2016


Stop by Main Street Arts to see Richard’s work in our current exhibition “Small Works 2016” (juried by Bleu Cease, Executive Director/Curator of RoCo; exhibition runs through January 6th). Richard’s work is available in our Online Gallery Shop: store.mainstreetartsgallery.com.

Take a look at our previous Inside the Artist’s Studio blog post by ceramic artist Rachel Donner.

Inside the Artist’s Studio with Jerry Alonzo: Learning New Stuff

Feeling energized, having just returned from two weeks in Colorado at Anderson Ranch Arts Center.  I drove out from Geneseo, NY and caught up with friends along the way.

James and Gail

James and Gail

I went there to spend time with a sculptor whose work I greatly admire, James Surls.

The course was “Critical Dialog in Sculpture”  which is exactly what the six of us did most of the time.  I’ll remember James’ intro on day one.  It was intended to quickly dispatch the let’s learn from the master mentality and did.  It went something like this “It makes no difference how we as artists got into this sculpture studio; front door, back door or bathroom window.  We are all here, all artists, so let’s get to work.”  We talked about our work, his work and each others’.  What we do, why and how we do it, and what’s next.

With Melissa and Richard

With Melissa and Richard

In the off hours my classmates (all of whom worked in metal) moved various projects forward.

Gail and Joyce

Carmen

Being a wood guy in a metals studio, it took me a few days to figure out how to benefit from all the metal working expertise  around me.  The studio coordinator taught me the basics of cutting steel with a plasma torch and how to press it into a bowl form.

Plasma torch

Press

While I’m used to coaxing and persuading wood to do certain things,  I found that torch cutting with lots of sparks flying and pressing (way too gentle a word) steel into submission was a lot of fun.  I completed a quick piece I called “Offering and Receiving”.

Offering and Receiving

Offering and Receiving

I brought home to my studio a larger 12″ bowl with only a vague plan for it.  A few days after returning to Geneseo I was thinking about a friend who is ill and how a jolly piece might serve as a spirit lifter.  I decided to make this bowl into a table into which words of greeting, good wishes and encouragement could be collected and shared.  I  plan to donate it to an auction supporting medical research in my friends honor.

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Stop by Main Street Arts to see Jerry Alonzo’s sculptures in our current exhibition House and Home (runs through August 19). View his work online at www.jerryalonzo.com

Take a look at our previous Inside the Artist’s Studio blog post by painter Susan Stuart.

Meet the Artist in Residence: James Mikhel Emerson

James Mikhel Emerson is an artist in residence at Main Street Arts! He’s working in one of our two studio spaces during the month of August 2016 (you can stop by the gallery to see his studio and work in progress). We asked James a few questions about his artwork, life, and more:

Artist in residence James Mikhel Emerson

Artist in residence James Mikhel Emerson in his studio at Main Street Arts

Q: Where are you from?

A: I’m from a real small town called Candler, in the heartland. It’s actually an unincorporated borough, just like one that I passed real close to Clifton Springs.

"The Totem Can Project" by James Mikhel Emerson

“The Totem Can Project” by James Mikhel Emerson

Q: How long have you been making artwork?

A: I’ve been making art my whole life. Both of my parents were artist craftsmen, so I started very early in clay and paint. Later, I moved to New York City and studied traditional drawing, painting, and advanced mixed media at the Art Students League in Manhattan.

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Q: How would you describe your work? What is your preferred medium and your typical subject matter?

A: Primitive Surrealism is a term I like. I work with concepts and styles that extend across generations; things that humans can relate to regardless of time and place.

Somebody else just asked me what my preferred medium is, and I’ve been thinking about it. It’s sculpture when coupled with drawing and painting. I usually draw to absorb and explore different styles, and then sort of port that over into sculptures through a lot of different means.

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Q: Do you collect artwork?

A: I do, very occasionally. I have a couple of very cool prints, a coke bottle, some small stone objects, and a wooden piece of a new alphabet created by a great artist, Esteban Patiño. I also have a small collection of artwork that I found around NYC over the years, which was created by #FAF and #FreeArtsMovement artists. Some of it’s good stuff.

Q: Where are your favorite places to see artwork?

A: Good question. My favorite places are anywhere art doesn’t normally occur, so outside of galleries, museums, etc. I have participated in the #FAF as I mentioned before, and have left a bunch of small sculptures in public places for people to find and to hold, so I get a kick when I find other artists doing that as well.

A recent public sculpture by James in Riverside Park South in Manhattan

A recent public sculpture by James in Riverside Park South in Manhattan

Q: What are your goals for this residency? Tell us about your current projects.

A: Right now I am working on a new series of paintings and sculptures which use old visual language to present contemporary life. I’m using a bunch of styles to create contemporary symbols and representational imagery with which to talk about the world we live in.

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Q: What advice would you give to other artists?

A: Seek the deeper function of art. Ask “What does art do for us humans, why do we keep creating it?” It is a question that is as old as us and is absolutely relevant today. See how far you can go to find your answer.

Q: What’s next for you? 

A: I think I’m gonna drive over to New York to the Wassaic Project. There are some folks over there that I’m hoping to see.

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Q: Where else can we find you?

A: You can see more of my artwork at www.jamesmikhel.com. I’m also on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram as @JamesMikhel.


Sign up for a Social Media for Artists Workshop with James Mikhel Emerson! In this workshop, James will discuss different social media platforms and strategies for creating platform-specific content. Increase your reach and get your work in front of collectors, galleries, and more! Saturday, August 20, 2016 from 12-3pm. $25 per person. Call, email, or stop in to sign up today.

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. Submissions are reviewed and awarded on an ongoing basis.