From the Studio

thoughts on art and process in action from a contemporary artist

Process- helpers and observers

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I’ve learned more about my processes this time around… because this time I had an audience.

Trying different arrangements of labels in a 5' x 5' space as well as different placements fo the basket.  This particular arrangement was rejected, and the basket reworked in shape.  The random things I use to help during a process are evident in the child's chair and icecream maker.So far, with the exception of the first time when I didn’t need to build a wall I have had lots of help with each iteration of Identity Tapestry.  People helping me wind 300 balls of yarn, curators who have wall panels built for me, family and friends with tools and trucks and extra hands for transporting parts of the walls and building them.  This installation is not a one-person job.

This time the main person helping was either going to be there for a week in my house or not there at all.  …and so I had an constant observer to my process.

I never realized that I couldn’t have someone who was actually paying attention to my process in the room while I did certain things.  Winding yarn-no problem!   I have happily thrown yarn-winding parties.  Having someone anywhere in the house while I was sculpting?  No way.  I had to chase him out of the house.   Arranging labels was only slightly less private.

I feel the same way about painting, but the studio space is different.  Everyone is working on their own thing and headphones-in is an accepted Do Not Disturb sign.  People come up for air once and a while and look for other people who are also up for air (stretching, eating, cleaning, waiting for gesso to dry…).  There is a sort of signal when other artists in the studio will take their headphones out, put down the brush and be open to discussion, critique and ideas. I like being in an open studio space instead of a solo room for just this reason- people when you want them, a bubble of music when you are working.

Other artists know not to stand right behind your shoulder while you work or ask you questions while you are working.  I have no idea how artists don’t have fits during documentaries on their work (perhaps they edit that out, though I have seen a few cases where they did not).

Mind you… when I teach I hover over students, and when I was a student I was hovered over, but in that context it didn’t bother me.  I was there to learn and I was paying them to teach me and they needed to be right there to do that.

Now?  No.  My studio is mainly a painting space and I do fiber, sculpture and digital work at home.  Alone.  It was an intense learning experience to discover just how sensitive I was about intrusions while working on what I would call “touch” art. When the way I move or feel affects what is coming out of my hands the wrong music playlist can be disastrous.  A person?  Impossible.

So… perhaps I have more Hermit Artist in me than I realized.  At the same time… I could absolutely not do most of this without the support of other people, and I am grateful to have them.


Written by marycoreymarch

September 27, 2011 at 9:05 am

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