Tag Archives: Sculpture

Meet the Artist in Residence: Sam Rathbun

Sam Rathbun, artist in residence at Main Street Arts during the month of February 2019, is working in one of our two studio spaces on our second floor. We asked Sam some questions about her work and studio practice:

Sam Rathbun

Sam Rathbun

Q: Please you tell us about your background.
I grew up on a multi-generational farm in Naples, NY. After graduating high school, I pursued a degree in international development from Tulane University, however after taking a required drawing class, I dropped my major and transferred to SUNY New Paltz where I received my BFA in painting and drawing. I currently work at Salem Art Works (SAW), an artist residency, sculpture park, and community arts hub on the border of NY and Vermont.

Heimlich, paint, ink, muslin. Variable dimensions. 2016

Heimlich, paint, ink, muslin. Variable dimensions. 2016

Q: How would you describe your work?
In school I focused almost exclusively on painting and drawing and developed a method of utilizing drawn interiors to examine the boundaries of memory and perception. A few months after graduating I participated in a residency at SAW where I began working three dimensionally. During the first week of my residency, my family’s oldest barn caught fire and completely burnt down. This event changed the trajectory of both my subject matter and material use.

Currently, my work concerns processes of production, manufacturing, transportation, and marketing of goods, particularly those rooted in agriculture. I’ve found a reservoir of absurdity while examining my own ignorance as a consumer, especially considering I was raised by production.

Recently, I have limited myself to ink drawings when working two-dimensionally, but have no material restrictions when working sculpturally — although I do have a fondness for gummy materials like beeswax and rubber.

Once We Carried. Used conveyor belts, re-used and new elevator bolts, 11" x 25" x 6 ". Salem Art Works, 2017

Once We Carried. Used conveyor belts, re-used and new elevator bolts, 11″ x 25″ x 6 “. Salem Art Works, 2017

Q: What is your process for creating a work of art?
Research and play compose the foundation of my work. I latch onto bits of information that I read, hear, or see and store them until I find one or more complementary components. I think finding the link between these seemingly exclusive ideas or materials is the soul of my practice.

 Memory Merchandise. Fabricated steel, cast iron, paint, 14’ x 20’6” x 12’9”. Franconia Sculpture Park, MN, 2017

Memory Merchandise. Fabricated steel, cast iron, paint, 14’ x 20’6” x 12’9”. Franconia Sculpture Park, MN, 2017

Q: Who is your favorite artist?
Currently I’m really into the work of Janine Antoni. I’m most interested in her process. She’s able to transform rudimentary, visceral actions into poetry. Viewers see her sculptures as remnants of a transformation and are left to imagine the steps in between. Other artists who are constant sources of inspiration are Martín Ramírez, Mika Rottenberg, and Ambera Wellmann. Ramírez’s drawings are a testament to his need to make work and both Rottenberg and Wellmann share this absurdist humor that I obsess over.

Janine Antoni: Eureka. Bathtub, lard, soap, and Dorian, 1993

Janine Antoni: Eureka. Bathtub, lard, soap, and Dorian, 1993

Q: Who inspires you?
Within the past two years, I’ve noticed how integral reading is to my practice. Two of the most influential books that I reference are the Poetics of Space by Gaston Bachelard and The Jungle by Upton Sinclair. The project I’ll be working on at MSA was almost entirely conceived from a paragraph in the Jungle where Sinclair describes why slaughter houses were built vertically. Animals would walk up a ramp to the top floor and by the time their bodies came back to ground level they were completely transformed, packaged, and ready to ship.

Creamery. Ink on paper , 36.5" x 95", 2018

Creamery. Ink on paper , 36.5″ x 95″, 2018

Q: What type of music do you listen to?
I will try pretty much any type of music. I’m looking at my recently played songs and I have everything from FIDLAR to Erykah Badu. I also listen to podcasts and audiobooks while I work– I just started Murakamis, Kafka on The Shore.

Q: What are your goals for this residency?
I made several large wooden frames that roughly represent the layout of factories where raw goods are transformed. During my residency I anticipate creating ink drawings to hang within the framework. I also hope to add to this installation by creating a space to hold several glass and latex sculptures.

Water rehab "grassholes", Ink on paper. 36.5" x 93", 2018

Water rehab “grassholes”, Ink on paper. 36.5″ x 93″, 2018

Q: What’s next for you?
I anticipate working as Salem Art Works for another season as the Young Artist Coordinator and using my winter to participate in more residencies.

Q: Where else can we find you?
My website is www.samrathbun.com and I just started an Instagram: @sathbun.

Inside the Artist’s Studio with Jim Garmhausen: Processing The Artist’s Process

A few years ago I made a rather large shift in my artmaking process. I’ve been a working artist for the last 20 years, starting with cartooning, for weekly papers; then painting and drawing, on flat surfaces like canvas, wood, metal, and glass. Ultimately I’d work on walls, in the form of murals. As I progressed in my studio work, I began incorporating collage, using ephemera, vintage book pages, old wall paper and the like; and occasionally attached found objects, like a bottlecap, a flattened piece of metal, or a run of rusty nail heads, to whatever surface I was working on.

baby-bearman

A page from my weekly comic strip, “Dreamland,” from the early 2000s.

Looking back, I realize I was pushing the 2D form to its limit. At the time, I felt increasingly frustrated, even fed up, with my work. As a self-taught artist, I was keenly aware of my limitations, and although I pushed myself hard to improve, there was something about my work that had me feeling like I was falling short of my intentions.

My studio, until this past year, was located about ten miles outside of Ithaca, NY, where I live. A woodworker had bought a former chicken farm with a large barn for processing chickens, and a number of outbuildings. He renovated the barn, creating workspaces for artists, and set up his own woodshop at the ground floor level.

The amount of studio space I found myself with (about 1000 square feet) allowed me to work at a large scale, on rolls of paper and canvas dropcloths meant for housepainters. As a former cartoonist, used to confining my work to small boxes, this was liberating. The barn itself was full of treasures that deepened my interest in both vintage items and the esthetics of aged materials. It also put me in proximity to a host of woodcutting tools that fascinated and intimidated me, and so I avoided them for my first few years at the studio, until my interest overcame my fear.

I grew up around tools, in a sort of DIY, middle-income household. That was a time (not so long ago), when things were only thrown away when they could no longer be fixed. I wore hand-me-down clothes that my mother sewed patches on, and played with hand-me-down toys that my brothers had broken and repaired. This mentality extended to the house itself. My father was a capable, if unimaginative, carpenter. He had a Sears table-mounted saw he’d use for projects around the house. I remember the loud whir of the motor, and the high pitched whine of the blade, as he guided a piece of wood along the cut line, his fingers inches from the blur of sharktooth metal serrations. I’d wait, captivated and afraid, for the engine to cut down, and the blade to slow and finally stop, after each cut, and exhale only when his fingers were fully away from the saw.

Despite my interest in his skillset, my father chose not to pass it on to me. He made halfhearted attempts to include me (I could press the “on” button for the table saw) but never really followed through, with either instruction or encouragement. In retrospect it would have been a wonderful way to bond with a man I ended up hardly knowing. It could be that his intention, in not taking me under his wing, was to preserve that distance.

Anything my father did with me, when I was a kid, was halfhearted. We both loved baseball, for example, but he rarely got his own glove out. I don’t remember him showing up for my baseball games, or taking me to Cooperstown, which I would have loved to visit. I don’t think he disliked me. I think it’s possible he was afraid of me. I was a sensitive kid, aware and creative and emotional and easily hurt. Probably something like he was, when he was a kid. His father, an imperious, pull-yourself-up-by-your-bootstraps, self-made success, didn’t know what to do with him, and (according to my father) mercilessly drove him to be something he wasn’t. I think when my father was faced with the same dynamic, he shrunk from it. How could he teach me anything, without pushing me to be more of a “man” about it? That was something he didn’t want to face, in himself, or in me.

Whatever his intentions, I internalized his lack of interest in teaching me as an indication of my built-in unworthiness of that information. I was the sensitive kid in a closed-mouth family, who merited both special handling and extra concern. In short, my sensitivity, my lack of being a “typical” boy energetically, left me feeling damaged and inferior, and afraid to show my lack of “male” knowledge.

So, as an adult, when faced with questions about car repair, or carpentry, or some other technical issue, I found I could not admit that I had no idea. Rather, I’d scramble to find a way to cover up my lack of knowledge. I had a hidden, unexamined terror of being “found out:” I can’t fix cars, or roofs, or boilers, or lawnmower engines. Sadly, I realized I would never be that guy fixing the classic car on the driveway Saturday morning, with the wife inside making waffles for the kids. In fact, I turned out to be the guy inside making the waffles, while my (now ex) wife fixed whatever car we had.

Hitting a wall as a 2D artist coincided with working in a space loaded with both vintage materials (old windows and hardware and indecipherable machine parts and more) and tools intended for the express purpose of reshaping wood. It took a while, but I eventually worked up my courage to ask for access to the woodshop, and instruction in how to not lose any fingers. Though it was sometimes difficult for me, I learned to say “I have no idea,” and ask for help. The results were immediate and empowering.

For my first project in the woodshop, I gathered foot high sections of raw cut trunk wood. Using a reciprocating saw, I cut off edges and rounded the “top” as well as I could, until I had a sort of fat domed plug, sitting on a flat base. Which I further rounded and smoothed with an orbital sander. Once I had a relatively consistent surface, I used an electric woodcarving chisel to bring out details: eyes and mouth and teeth, cheekbones, and the parentheses of cheek muscles around the mouth. Nose and ears I left for the moment. Finding these forms in the wood, bringing them out, working and sanding them, was an epiphany. I found myself lost in the small repetitions of bringing out details.  I let the overall face and form appear organically, choosing to sketch out only the simplest indications before carving: where the eyes would be, what space they’d need, and the same with the mouth; where would the nose fit; and the placement of cheekbones, brows and forehead.

GIAF_Rolling-Smoker

“Rolling Smoker”

My carving method, right from the outset, was intuitive, similar to I how work in my sketchbooks. I start with eyes, usually, and fill in around them, letting the face take shape according to whatever my emotional/intuitive response indicates. Using this technique with wood was exhilarating. Finding a simple competency with tools furthered that feeling, and began to heal old wounds, even as, Gepetto-like, I brought new forms into being.

GIAF_Jack-The-Extractor

“Jack The Extractor”

Working intuitively, rather than from a blueprint, also meant problem solving: I don’t have the wood mass to carve a nose out of the initial block, so what do I do? Searching around for items that might serve: an old doorknob, a heavy bolt, smaller pieces of wood. In the process of looking, I might find other interesting objects that don’t quite fit the purpose, but call to be used anyway. A heavy rusted hook or eyebolt would present itself, ask to be included, and I’d search for ways to do so. Which opened my process up to greater incorporation of found objects. My age-old fascination with wheels led me to fix them to the base of the heads, creating ungainly rolling toy-like things. Later I’d create pull toys, a more stable kind of vehicle, tested by my son at multiple speeds.

GIAFpulltoys

Two of the first pull toys I created.

Simple train cars of old barn wood and caster wheels served as display surfaces for smaller works, including porcelain head, soft-bodied dolls I created with the help of my mother in law’s sartorial skills, a first for me, in that I handed over the creation of a specific part of my pieces to someone else. My work was becoming more collaborative, more open. I wasn’t closed off in my studio all the time. People walking through the woodshop could see my process, give feedback, ask questions, or be asked questions, about tools, or potential solutions.

In short, I was alive with the process of coming up with ideas and bringing them into being. This new direction in my art brought in another great passion: collecting. I’ve always loved rummaging through antique, second-hand, and salvage stores. Now I had a reason (excuse) to do so: finding materials for art-making. Sometimes I’d look for a specific something to fill a need, like more caster wheels, or a small box to be used as a drawer in a cabinet. Or I’d find something that I simply loved the look of, that would be placed in my studio to provide inspiration.

Jim Garmhausen

Livery Cabinet, found object sculpture

The cabinets in this show, which I’ve written about on my website, came out of my fascination with old medicine cabinets, and my habit of collecting ornate, crumbling gilt frames. They also served as display cases for the many small kitsch items I collect. Art was no longer about making something to fit in a frame. It had jumped beyond that form, out of a specific discipline, and into something more like the messy coherence of life. I was, and am, thrilled.

The results, when introduced to the world, were immediate. My first 3D pieces were accepted into the Governor’s Island Art Fair, in NYC, and one was selected by uber-artist Greg “Craola” Simpkins to be shown in the Surreal Salon 9 exhibition at Baton Rouge Gallery. There was also a clear uptick in interest on social media. It was gratifying that this new path didn’t just feel good personally, but led to work that was well-received.

So what is my process? It’s hard to explain, as it varies from piece to piece. Usually it starts with free-sketching, in my sketchbooks. I draw whatever is asking to be drawn, that moment. I take different turns, when I’m stuck. Removing a body that does nothing for the head that sits on it, and replacing it with wheels, turning it into a bizarre vehicle or robotic/cyborgian rolling thing. My guiding principle is how it makes me feel. If it doesn’t make me smile, I’m not going to translate it in wood. I don’t worry too much about how it will be received. My in-process work often has the feel of an inside joke. I’m laughing, but I have no idea if anyone else will, ultimately. I find that keeping potential responses to my work out of my head and workspace is vital to creating something, well, vital.

Part of being an artist is facing the question: what does your work mean? The answers to that question, in conversations and interviews, in artist statements, and within myself, have changed as I’ve gotten older (in both time and life experience). I’m beginning to understand that my work (like any art) is self-exploration, and for me that means going back into my childhood, and family history, using forms and objects as archaelogical indicators. I’m piecing together the mystery of who I am. This is a lifelong process, which, of course, promises a lifetime of art-making. Passions always have roots. My passions for art, for history and collecting, for old toys, for vintage materials, for the visible effects of aging on items, all are based in deep, often unexplored parts of myself.

pulltoytrain

A five car pull toy train.

It might be cliche-ish to say it, but my art really is about me, and my life. I sometimes feel like more of a medium than a creator, and the spirit I’m communicating with is my own. It’s a powerful process, and thankfully, a very enjoyable one. Life has intervened on my art career, recently. I’ve undergone a lot of changes. My father died, two years ago, and my mother has pancreatic cancer. I broke my wrist, limiting my ability to work. My 16 year old daughter moved out, after a blowup. I lost my studio. And, worst and hardest of all, my marriage ended suddenly, due to (this will take more explanation that I can offer here, but you’re welcome to visit my blog for the more complete story) my coming out as gay, which has of course led to seismic changes to my entire universe.

There has been little time, space or energy for art, but it is calling me again, more and more insistently. I’m interested to see what comes out, when I get back to work. Changes come in the slightest shades or the greatest shifts, and it is my job as an artist to guide rather than steer that process, and not to overly influence it with what I think I should be doing. Having the chance to examine the last few years of production is a bit like examining the rings on a tree stump, or the different shades of layers of rock on an eroding cliff face. It is a record of me, set down in ways that words cannot. And I’m looking forward to the next chapter.


Jim Garmhausen is one of seven artists featured in the exhibition Perception of Time at Main Street Arts. The exhibition can be previewed on the gallery’s Artsy page. Perception of Time runs through February 15, 2019.

 

Meet the Artist in Residence: Jamie Moriarty

Jamie Moriarty, artist in residence at Main Street Arts during the month of January 2019, is working in one of our two studio spaces on our second floor. We asked Jamie some questions about her work and studio practice:

Artist Jamie Moriarty

Artist Jamie Moriarty

Q: Please tell us about your background:
I’ve lived in Florida most my life. I started out with film photography in high school and then moved to digital photography and photoshop. However, once I got to college I started painting and sculpting which is when I really started to make artwork. I got my associate’s degree at the State College of Florida where I had access to a wonderful ceramics studio. After graduating I decided to go to New College of Florida. All of the sudden I found myself without clay and a kiln and that’s the moment that my art started to take off in a whole new direction.

"Tilt-Axis Accelerometer" Oil on panel; 5x5 in; 2018

“Tilt-Axis Accelerometer” Oil on panel; 5×5 in; 2018

Q: How would you describe your work?
My first love is sculpture, but I’ve been focused more on painting as of late. Most of my portfolio consists of interactive sculptures. Either via a sensor, button, or other mechanism, the artwork is activated and altered in order to talk about the ways in which we interact with technology and how such interactions influence us. I started out in this genre with simple buttons and relays, but I’ve been expanding into more complex programming. Recently, I’ve been working a lot with computer vision, the field that deals with getting computers to understand and interpret visual images.

"Finger Study No. 3" PLA, MDF, micro servo, Arduino nano, LED, potentiometer, circuitry; 9x4x3.5 in; 2018; When dial is turned, the finger bends.

“Finger Study No. 3″ PLA, MDF, micro servo, Arduino nano, LED, potentiometer, circuitry; 9x4x3.5 in; 2018; When dial is turned, the finger bends.

Q: What is the most useful tool in your studio?
I feel somewhat compelled to say a computer, but they never really work so I’d have to go with my speakers or headphones. As my medium changes, I’m always listening to music or an audiobook.

Q: What type of music do you listen to and how does music affect your artwork?
That being said, I love listening to rap, jazz, indie, instrumentals, and everything in between. When I get bored of music I listen to informative non-fiction audiobooks. I find that music helps to keep me on a certain pace or in the right mind set. Although I love audiobooks, they make me work much slower.

"Camera Module" Oil on canvas; 34x28 in; 2018.

“Camera Module” Oil on canvas; 34×28 in; 2018.

Q: What is your process for creating a work of art?
I envy the days when I would just start painting out of the blue. Now, my process starts out very conceptually, I have a very good idea of my end product before I begin creating. My paintings start out with very meticulous reference photos, you really don’t see my hand until you get up close. However, it’s my programming works that wind up changing a lot throughout the process, but that is mostly due to the learning process.

IMG_20180108_182344

Paintings in progress in Jamie’s studio

Q: What was your experience like at art school?
I’ve really been struggling with the way that art school has altered my practice. The school I am at is more of a liberal arts college and the art program is firmly rooted in the world of academia. I have become so conditioned to think primarily about the conceptual that aesthetics is always optional and expression weakens the idea. The worst part is that you don’t realizes the changes that happen until they become damaging. I’ve been trying to unlearn some these constraints in order to go back to a more natural process of creation.

"RPi Zero Camera Module" Oil on canvas; 36x11.75 in; 2018.

“RPi Zero Camera Module” Oil on canvas; 36×11.75 in; 2018.

Q: What are your goals for this residency?
I’ve been animating my sculptures with electronic components for quite some time, but my paintings have remained the same. My goal for this residency is to find new ways of making my two dimensional works more interactive.

photo of taking photo

Q: What’s next for you?
I will be graduating this spring and after that I plan to move to a bigger city and focus on making work outside of the academic environment. I plan to get my master’s but I want to spend more time discovering myself as an artist first.

Q: Where else can we find you?
My website is jamiemoriarty.com and my Instagram is @jamie_michelle_moriarty. All my fun and frustration in the process gets posted to my Instagram account.

Meet the Artist in Residence: Siena Hancock

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

Artist working during residency in Iceland

Artist working during residency in Iceland

Q: Tell us about your background.
I am from Massachusetts, currently I live in Malden which is where I was born but moved around a lot as a child so it is hard to say what my exact origins are. As a kid I was always artistic but didn’t realize what I wanted to do with that until I went to art school and discovered sculpture. I went to school in Boston at Massachusetts College of Art and Design, where I majored in glass. Since graduating in 2016, I have spent a great deal of time traveling. I backpacked through Europe one summer and this past spring I spent three months at a residency in Iceland. When I’m not traveling, I work for a fabrication studio in Boston that specializes in creating glass sculpture for a variety of clients: fine-artists, architectural projects, and public monuments.

venus

Venus of Raudsokkreyfingin, papier-mâché, 6′x6.5′x4.5′, 2018

Q: How would you describe your work?
My work is an interdisciplinary, socially-engaged practice which strives to be a conversation between people, place, and media. It is based in process, the process of craft and research, and by marrying these ideas I create sculpture and installation that seeks to educate viewers and illuminate the state of our world and women’s place within it.

Q: What is your process for making a work of art?
I tend to start with research for my larger projects, using texts and online resources to inform my work. From there I will start to develop a visual map of how to present my findings in artistic form. I work in a large variety of materials, usually they are connected to craft traditions, but I have been starting to experiment more with found objects and new media.

Nibble

NibbleBreast, white chocolate & artist’s body, 14″x12″x6″, 2015

Q: Who are your favorite artists?
I have a very long list of artistic influences including: Lynda Benglis, Eva Hesse, Faith Wilding, Louise Bourgeois, Cindy Sherman, Victoria Sin, Doreen Garner, Sarah Lucas, Carolee Schneemann, Annie Sprinkle, and Yayoi Kusama. All of them are amazing women artists that have done so much to push the boundaries of art.

Q: Where is your favorite place to view art?
MassMOCA in North Adams, MA is one of my all time favorite places to view art. The museum is made up of several industrial size buildings and this allows artists to create large-scale installations. I go to see most of the shows and they always make a huge impact, partially due to the space.

dmc

DMC, blown glass, clay/cement, LED, sand, cast glass, mirror, mylar, plaster, installation space: 12′x15′, 2016

Q: What are your goals for this residency?
I am working on several projects that all fall under the umbrella of research I have been conducting using feminist sci-fi texts which depict utopias. I am investigating what is a feminist utopia and how one can be formed, more specifically I am interested in learning what other women think this could mean and creating an audio record of their thoughts. This is an ongoing project I began in Iceland. In addition to this, I am creating sci-fi feminist action figures. I’ll also be doing some ceramic work with molds and experimenting with site-specific installation using found objects.

thefall_detail

Detail from recent installation: The Fall (from Vogue), magazine, mirror, mylar, mirrored blown-glass, and mono-filament, 2018

Q: What’s next?
It’s hard to say…I am interested in applying for MFA programs in a year or so. I’m working with a friend in Boston on curating some all-female shows in the area and hope to do more residencies. I may end up going to Italy in the spring for work.

Q: Where can we find you?
My website is sienajhancock.com.

Inside the Artist’s Studio: Momoko Takeshita Keane

Ceramic artist Momoko Takeshita Keane

Ceramic artist Momoko Takeshita Keane

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Meet the Artist in Residence: Ari Norris

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

Ari Norris

Ari Norris

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

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

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

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

Norris' bust of Gary Casteel

Ari Norris’ bust of Gary Casteel, bronze 2016

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

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

Clarence Zylman/Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy, oil clay

Clarence Zylman/Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy, oil clay

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

"the (g)rad stuff" at Backspace Gallery

“the (g)rad stuff” at Backspace Gallery

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

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

Acrylic on cast resin

Acrylic on cast resin, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Intaglio print on laser cut embossing

Intaglio print on laser cut embossing

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

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

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

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

Inside the Artist’s Studio with June Szabo

Most of my work begins with the natural world, often in a particular landscape. Sometimes a place finds me and sometimes I look for a location that illustrates the idea I am working on. I spend many hours exploring and researching the history and geology that formed the place I have chosen. I find myself making comparisons and creating metaphors between the events that shaped the land and the actions that shape our lives.

Artist June Szabo

Artist June Szabo

Picture2

Inspiration

To understand what each place has to teach me, I write about the connections I make in poetry and prose. The following contemplation on the purpose of scars was a comparison between glacial formations (scars on the land) and the scars that we carry.

Relics of Our Story – Mendon
June B W Szabo

Considering the damage we do to ourselves and others;
I looked to the landscape to ponder the purpose of scars.
Above and below the surface is a record of events that have left a lasting impression:
Kettles, kames and eskers, are divots, knobs and welts,
caverns, caves and sinkholes are mania and despair.
Forgotten and remembered these marks and inklings are the relics of our story,
scars and impressions resolved and unresolved.
When we stop scratching, scraping and digging like a glacier,
our wounds begin to heal.

"Relics of our Story – Mendon"

“Relics of our Story – Mendon”

The process I use to create my sculpture is also a metaphor for a connection between nature and human behavior. The layers of wood, which give my forms depth and dimension, reflect growth in nature and the layering of the earth. Wood sculptures are formed by cutting and stacking lumber, which is joined with glue, clamps and wooden dowels. Each layer in a landscape sculpture represents an elevation on a topographical map.

Work in progress

Work in progress

Work in progress

Work in progress

In addition to wood sculptures, such as the one seen in Land & Sea, I also weave. Weaving creates thousands of connections and intersections. I warp my loom with copper wire and weave panels that are folded, pleated and bent into three dimensional forms. These bonds are sometimes unseen, but necessary for the final woven product to exist. They are a metaphor for the connections that hold our earth together.

Weaving

Weaving

Weaving

Weaving

For me each process has come to represent and illustrate the interrelated, interdependence of all things.

Comparison is the estimation of similarities and differences. Metaphor suggests a likeness as we speak about one thing as if it were another. My sculptures are reflections on questions that occur to me as I consider our place in the world. They take the shape of landscapes and natural forms. They may include an area that covers inches or hundreds of miles. The sculptures are not exact replicas of a particular place or thing, but partial abstractions representing ideas that surface as I consider each place and how it was created. They are comparisons between the forces and forms found in nature to human inclination and behavior.


June Szabo is one of 28 artists featured in “Land & Sea”, a national juried exhibition of landscapes and seascapes juried by Deirdre Aureden, director of programs and special projects at the Schweinfurth Art Center in Auburn, NY. The exhibition runs through June 29, 2018.

From The Director: Art From a Dream State

Similar to the four artists included in this exhibition, I also make artwork that floats in the realm of dreams and a questioning of reality. Many of the exhibitions that we have here (selfishly) relate to my own studio practice or ideas that I am personally interested in and it is because I find these things so interesting that I choose to share them with you through our exhibition programming.

Installation shot from Dream State (pictured: "Isle of Wight" by Lin Price and "The Dream" by Carrianne Hendrickson)

Installation shot from the exhibition (pictured: “Isle of Wight” by Lin Price and “The Dream” by Carrianne Hendrickson)

The notion of the dream state is a never ending source of inspiration and it can be both the object and the subject of an artwork. We rarely give ourselves the opportunity to let our dreams inform our waking life but much can be gained by doing so. Our subconscious mind is often holding the answers to questions that we have been asking ourselves. It is able to offer a glimpse into a personal truth or a hint at finding some kind of greater understanding. The goal in engaging with your dreams, at least for me, is to build a stronger connection between the conscious mind and the subconscious mind. The closer in proximity these two can be, the closer we are to realizing the benefits of dreaming.

Dream State, installation shot

“Dream State”, installation shot

The idea for this exhibition came after a studio visit with Lin Price in Ithaca. I was drawn in to her work when I first saw it in a solo exhibition at Axom Gallery two years ago. When I was talking to her about the prospect of being in an exhibition, I began to think about the sculptures of Carrianne Hendrickson—we had recently begun showing several of Carrianne’s figurative pieces in our gallery shop. Lin had one painting in particular that reminded me of a specific piece I had seen by Carrianne. It was one of the paintings shown in the exhibition at Axom Gallery.

These two pieces in particular (one of Lin’s and one of Carrianne’s) are the reason this show came together. Left: She Only Flies at Nite by Lin Price / Right: Sculptural teapot by Carrianne Hendrickson

While they are not included in the exhibition, these two pieces in particular are the reason this show came together. Left: She Only Flies at Nite by Lin Price / Right: Sculptural teapot by Carrianne Hendrickson

The moment I realized that these two artists in particular belonged in a show together was like a revelation. Two people who probably wouldn’t be in an exhibition together but desperately needed to be! One working in oil paint the other in clay, yet both traveling along the same cerebral path.

From my studio visit with Lin Price in Ithaca, NY

From my studio visit with Lin Price in Ithaca, NY

Lin’s work was a perfect fit for an exhibition called “Dream State”. Her paintings often feature a human figure engaging in some sort of mysterious activity in a nondescript environment. The colorful fields and atmospheres lend themselves to the notion of a dream or at least to a time and place that may not actually exist. Other of her paintings that do not include a figure still somehow evoke that same feeling. A feeling that something might happen or is happening just around the corner, out of frame and out of sight.

Sculptural vessels by Carrianne Hendrickson in the Dream State exhibition

Sculptural vessels by Carrianne Hendrickson in the Dream State exhibition

Carrianne’s sculptures are often layered in symbolism. Sometimes referencing known stories, other times referencing the inner world of the artist herself. To me, they often seem to suggest the moment of realization that things are not quite right. The idea that perhaps, I am sleeping and the world I am currently experiencing is in fact a dream. Examples from pieces in the exhibition include: blank stares from eyes whose head is balancing a bird’s nest, the closed eyes of a dreamer covered in snakes on a yellow striped couch, and the existence of goblins or human/animal hybrids.

Once Lin and Carrianne were secured for inclusion, I then set my sights on finding other artists to bring in to the exhibition and make it more comprehensive.

Left: From my studio visit with Matt Duquette in Buffalo, NY; Right: "The Space In Between" by Matt Duquette

Left: From my studio visit with Matt Duquette in Buffalo, NY; Right: “The Space In Between” by Matt Duquette

I was drawn in by his paintings of chickens. They have an otherworldly feeling to them but are still so relatable because of their subject matter. The paintings of Matt Duquette are often based on dreams and at least one painting in this exhibition was based on a guided meditation session.  Each of the paintings in the exhibition have the same cool, dark color palette. The atmospheric quality of these paintings presents us with situations and we have no idea how we got there. For the most part, there is no other point of reference, just a blue/black void and a light source to accompany the owls and human figures. I get the feeling that these scenes or visions are plucked right from a dream. They tell us something but that “something” is veiled and different for each of us.

Bill Finger's work from the alumni exhibition at RIT

Bill Finger’s work from the alumni exhibition at Rochester Institute of Technology

I saw some of Bill Finger’s photographic triptychs in circular mats at RIT in October of 2016 and was an instant fan. His photographs are a constructed reality running in tandem with the one we live. Whether based on actual places or totally made up, these images have a feeling like trying to recall a dream. You can remember the place and where things were but something seems off. Each of his photographs chosen for this exhibition keep us in an augmented reality where we are unsure what is possible or impossible.

Desert House (Night), a photograph by Bill Finger

Desert House (Night), a photograph by Bill Finger

Imagery that relates to a house or home comes into play throughout this exhibition. Houses, room interiors, nests, these are all familiar images and are all references to places of comfort which are needed to be engaged in sleep. These places become a jumping off point to engage in something that might be unfamiliar or at times, disconcerting. While we have no say in the matter of sleeping, some of us have the ability to recall and consider our dreams. Perhaps not in the way of figuring out the meaning of the dream itself, but to see how the dream may relate to things transpiring in our everyday lives. My hope is that this exhibition can serve as a reminder of how important it is to dream and that we all might begin to look inward in an effort to gain a greater understanding of who we are and how we relate to the world. I know it has for me.


See Dream State at Main Street Arts through this Friday, February 16, 2018. You can also preview some of the work on Artsy: Artsy.net/mainstreetarts.

Inside the Artist’s Studio with Richard Rockford

The artist, taking in the exhibition

The artist, taking in the exhibition

My association with Main Street Arts begins with the show, Sacred Curiosities, running October 13–November 17 at the Clifton Springs, NY gallery. Though the title sounds a bit awkward and mysterious, it is actually quite on the mark.

Since time began some humans have had deep feelings for certain objects, shapes, colors, and “special” things either natural or man made. Archeologists delight in finding certain very special objects among the utilitarian tools of the ancients. There is a longstanding delight in the “cabinet of curiosities” known all over Europe for hundreds of years. Religions literally worship relics, remnants, and anything touched by a deity or saint. And let’s not forget the artifact crowded shelves of any room used by Dr. Sigmund Freud.

"Todd", found signage that was cut and reimagined, 43 inches square.

“Todd”, found signage that was cut and reimagined, 43 inches square. Included in the exhibition.

For at least a couple of centuries, and expanding rapidly in the very modern age, artists have become great purveyors of objects. From 18th century tromp l’oeil to portraits posed with special toys and accessories, to 20th century Pop Art, collage, found art, and all manner of objects used in and as art (THE urinal!), artists most certainly have found “things” sacred or curious. It is entirely possible today to assemble a massive and fine quality (not to mention important and delightful) collection of art with signage, common objects, dolls, flags, toys, etc as the media and/or the theme. We are so in tune with messages and possessing “things” that the public can now relate to any bits of typography, campaign buttons, newspaper, and ephemera that artists employ.

A crushed steel channel with welded support remnants. This is a crowning example of found metal art. It is completely as found, with no patina alteration, but mounted very professionally. It suggests a tall, elegant figure, flowing garments, and clearly mimics what a sculptor would create in abstract casting. It evokes such issues as "Why create when you can find things like this?", as well as, "It's not art, it's just a coincidence"… and it easily suggests a sacred or curious thing.

A crushed steel channel with welded support remnants. This is a crowning example of found metal art. It is completely as found, with no patina alteration, but mounted very professionally. It suggests a tall, elegant figure, flowing garments, and clearly mimics what a sculptor would create in abstract casting. It evokes such issues as “Why create when you can find things like this?”, as well as, “It’s not art, it’s just a coincidence”… and it easily suggests a sacred or curious thing.

Artists have learned a myriad of ways to work with objects and milk them for all aspects of value, curiosity, form, patina, and most importantly, symbolism. Not only have artists used existing objects and materials, they have learned to make objects or images that mimic, mock, or play off of special objects. One can now collect genuine outsider art or one can purchase what looks like outsider art from many contemporary artists. It is certainly obvious that one function of art is to MAKE us consider an object as sacred or curious by the mere fact of presenting it as art—forcing the viewer to try and see these aspects when they are presented in gallery or studio venues, framed or mounted to push the notion.

Tape wrapped "Depression" baseballs. Despite the lowly look of these spheres, they have high "emotional content" as well as creativity, patina galore, and many attributes far beyond a utility object.

Tape wrapped “Depression” baseballs. Despite the lowly look of these spheres, they have high “emotional content” as well as creativity, patina galore, and many attributes far beyond a utility object.

A good question to ponder is how or when an object becomes art, or at least when it gains sacred or curious force. Let’s use an object I have a lot of connections with. There are people who collect and value baseballs with team, player, or game associations. These items can be worth many thousands as the fame and rarity of the autograph rise. As art or objects for the sophisticated, they are lacking almost all value. Some people collect such spheres for the age, style, and patina they demonstrate. Now we are crossing from “baseball” collector value to historic and aesthetic value. The right bunch of these aged brown balls can certainly be an artistic and curious matter.

Tape wrapped "Depression" baseballs.

Tape wrapped “Depression” baseballs.

I have collected and used many baseballs in my art because they have great age, color, and patina. Going even further, I collect a type of baseball that has very special meaning. If any object can be curious and sacred to me, these are the ones. I refer to the electrical or friction tape wrapped balls, mostly from the Great Depression. They are all creative in origin, delightful to look at, and though some might pay highly for them, they are usually found for under a dollar at flea markets and garage sales. However, they go way beyond the value of most ephemera when you consider what I call “emotional content”. This quality exists only in some special objects. It is distinct from great beauty, form, patina. It is similar to the feelings evoked by any toy or doll showing great wear, but with these baseballs it goes even further. Each tape wrapped ball was a desperate move by one child or a group to renew a valuable thing as it decayed. They saved the all important sphere by finding tape, working out how to wrap it (my collection has many styles of this “make do” effort), and only then can play resume. Each one is a monument to poverty, creativity, childhood, and cooperation. With slight effort, one can see them as curious, emotional, and for some, sacred.

Certain “found” or at least “unaltered” objects also fuel the debate about artistic validity. I have worked for years promoting found items and it was often done with a degree of shame. The questions always arose—”I did not MAKE this, so how can I be an artist or take credit for it?”…”How can I join a show of highly talented art makers when I do not have those skills myself?”. How can I defend elevating simple findings to the status of art—curious or sacred—without offering a rationale for my lack of skilled artistic efforts?  Do I have to put others down to justify myself? In the war between makers and finders there is the battle of genuine vs. made up, unique vs. copied from others, exploring our material culture vs. the studio hermit. The answer lies in the process and sincerity of the person as well as the simple result. Does the “product” come from serious efforts to bring forth a worthy work?  Is the talent (for finding or making) put to good use? Are the pieces found or made excellent in design, form, color, and do they produce enjoyment, thought, debate?  All of these are valid on both sides.

Starting with a scrapbook page (c1940) that has been stripped of many postings, I heavily embellished its importance with positioning, color, and shadow box framing. A perfect example of elevating the ephemeral so it is considered as an art object.

Starting with a scrapbook page (c1940) that has been stripped of many postings, I heavily embellished its importance with positioning, color, and shadow box framing. A perfect example of elevating the ephemeral so it is considered as an art object.

Looking at results—the “it is what it is”—is surely an OK way to pass judgment in most cases. If you see it as art, if it evokes feelings about it’s beauty, thoughts about it’s challenges, then it passes muster. Where things get really confusing is when found or existing things are manipulated to make an art object. In other words, what do we value in between a found scrap metal sculpture and a fine oil painting? In this gap we find the too clever, the welded old tools, the patina of found wood, the assemblages, and the old doll head novelties, and so on.  Once again, I am shamed to be among the group that employs old things to create evocative art. Partly because I am way better than some of the horrors I see, partly because I am not nearly as good as some that I envy. And the answer lies in a certain generosity of spirit. Unless done with savage insincerity (“I crank out this crap just to make money”), all of it is creative, all of it has some audience, all of it teaches us to compare and contrast to find the best we like. “Sacred Curiosities”—anything that intrigues us, creates feelings of awe, evokes the dark and light of cultures, and impresses us as special objects–is all to the good, worth making, worth looking at, worth living with.

You can see more of my work on my website, www.richardrockford.viewbook.com


Four of Richard Rockford’s found object pieces are included in “Sacred Curiosities” at Main Street Arts. The exhibition runs through November 17, 2017.

Inside the Artist’s Studio with Jacquie Germanow

 

Me in my studio with chisel and wood form

Me in my studio with chisel and wood form

My work process is highly intuitive and relies on an interactive dialogue with the materials at my hand and the possibilities in my head.  I use the energetic/magnetic variety of materials—sometimes, at the edge of existence—to resurrect a visual metaphor in sculpture. The work often progresses through many iterations before being realized for exhibit.

When I was finding my path to becoming an artist, I read a book by Carl Jung that resonated within me:

The artist has at all times been the instrument and spokesman of the spirit of her age. Their work can only be partly understood in terms of personal psychology. Consciously or unconsciously, artists give form to the nature and values of their time, which in turn form them.

I knew it was my path, and because of that I have always seen my role as a conduit for translating universal energy into material conversations.

Positive clay forms waiting to be cast into plaster/silica molds

Positive clay forms waiting to be cast into plaster/silica molds

I love the connecting conversation that my work provokes and enjoy the feedback. Yet, getting ready to show work is always stressful for me. The dialogue shifts from a uniquely personal and nourishing one to a very public and hence “judgey”arena that I know is important as a vital gift to humanity. Visual art is quiet for the artist, for the viewer and patron.  If we are receptive, it makes a connecting vibration in our hearts.

I was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, to English parents who escaped from China just before the Japanese invaded. I became a US citizen when I was 14 very aware of the toll WWII had on my family and my parents homeland. Encouraged by my mother’s artist soul, I have been making art ever since I can remember, and I am particularly struck by memories of sculpting sand on the beaches of the Jersey shore.

The artist at work

Ready to work

My fascination with how things work and the seductive forms and
colors of nature led me into science culminating in a pre med BS. Physics, philosophy, and religion were part of this liberal arts study and they turned my mind from scientific deduction to an inductive formulating mind set that artists use to build work. The excitement of making art was like receiving a lightning strike. Could I dare to do this for my life’s work? I went west to study art in Utah never realizing how the geology would impact my visual acuity. I received an MFA in Sculpture there.

If I have a style, it is by default. I am told my work is recognizable, but I do not aspire to a style. I do trust my dreams, revelations, visions, my capacity to synthesize, and find meaning in the ordinary. Each work bubbles up and percolates. Execution is usually much more arduous than I tend to anticipate because I am magnetized by a large palette of materials. Alas, Inspiration is a command. (Agnes Martin) I take the afore seriously and gratefully.  

Mold loaded with glass and ready for kiln

Mold loaded with glass and ready for kiln

Perhaps by pulling together such disparate forms and  textures into unity, I give credence to connection, heart and memory in a world caught by divisiveness and discord. The space between forms has always spoken to me as a synapse  of forces.  The spiral, a symbol of change,  seems to keep surfacing in my sculpture and painting.  

The most challenging aspect of making my work is how to attach one material to another so that it reads as a whole, seamless impulse.

photo 3

The inclusion of glass and showing my paintings has been the biggest change in the last 20 years.  They all address timeless themes, but in very different ways.  I really enjoy how they inform each other and me.

My sculptures are beautiful maquettes for public spaces.  Wouldn’t it be great to see that happen! “My work is a tether that loops around  the invisible, the chaos, the quiet; always seeking the structure of the sublime.  Without it I am adrift in the in between.”

Visit my website to see more of my work: www.jagvisualart.com.  You can also find me on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.  

www.jagvisualart.com


Stop by Main Street Arts to see four of Jacquie’s sculptures included in “Sacred Curiosities”. The exhibition runs through November 17, 2017.