From the Studio

thoughts on art and process in action from a contemporary artist

Archive for the ‘art’ Category

I’ve lost my dear friend and collaborator

leave a comment »

Dan at my wedding

taken by John Adams at my wedding in 2007

Today I am reeling from a terrible loss.  My friend and collaborator, Dan Garcia was one of those lost on the Conception diving boat this labor day weekend.  He and his partner Yulia were among my nearest and dearest friends for the past twenty years.

Since this is my art blog I will tell you especially about Dan, my most frequent and closest collaborator.  Dan documented and helped with so much of my work over the years.  He was incredible to brainstorm anything with, but his specialties were photography and tech. In particular he collaborated with me on Cultural Fabric Breathes Still and Access by working with me to design the tech aspects, and building the code and hardware to make the artworks happen. There are other people I have collaborated on tech with, but he and I made fireworks when we worked.

He was himself a talented photographer and light sculpture artist- making the movement and shifting of LED lighting look more organic and natural than anything I’ve seen.  He created an open source LED lighting platform (FAST LED) that anyone can use- from Disney and Cirque du Soleil , Artists, Burning Man projects, to everyday hobbyists.

He was so passionate about art, especially interactive art.  So passionate about supporting art and making it happen.  He worked on various Burning Man projects including Syzygryd, which was an interactive sound, light and fire piece he did with Ardent Artists (formerly Interpretive Arson and Ardent Heavy Industries). He was just that person always looking to see how he could help, and his enthusiasm and smile were infectious.  For his professional career, he was a masterful programmer and code ninja, and he worked with my husband, following him to two different companies so they could work together.  The two of them were also a fantastic team.

For the last two years he was recovering from the loss of another dear friend, and had only just been starting to do art again beginning with Access a few months ago.  Last weekend I was over for dinner and he showed me the first art piece he had made on his own since her death.  He told me working with me helped him break through to making art again.   It’s hard to imagine never working together again.

It’s hard to believe he’s gone. He and Yulia were the sort of people who touch and light up so many lives, who welcomed and supported such a large community.  We are all absolutely shattered by this.

Another reminder to appreciate the people you love, not put off brilliant ideas for building things together for some future date, and to make time for those extra moments with them.

4968247731_08c882eb53_b

Syzygryd (taken by me in 2010)

Written by Mary Corey March

September 5, 2019 at 12:03 am

Installing at MOT (Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo)

leave a comment »

The unsung heroes of the art world include museum installation staff. They are often accomplished artists in their own right, and with large projects like these, they are indispensable.  MOT‘s team was fantastic.  We had a few hiccups (one of which was that humidity in Japan caused my print to wrinkle), but they are saving the day and making my work look its best.

I cannot tell you how great it is to have such careful, dedicated, clever folks to entrust my work to.

Throughout everything the exhibition curator Kasumi and another curator,  Uta (who is assisting me with translation and helping me personally) have been amazing in helping me create my vision in their space.  The museum space itself is amazing.  I only wish I’d had more lead time to do even more (especially with all that vertical space!!!)  I can’t wait to see everything after participation!

On a more personal note, one of the many new medications for CFS/ME that I am using is helping tremendously with my energy levels and recovery rates.  This meant I was able to do this install so much more easily and made this trip so much better.

 

 

 

Knee Deep in Rainbows

with one comment

I’ve been busy.

Finished Access Box (one of 60+)
Finished correct size (not yet glued down)

 

Internals for the Access reader box
Internals for the Access card reader box

Access is nearly ready for action, thanks to the programing and hardware design of my friend and collaborator Daniel Garcia and the help of my three lovely studio assistants who have been sanding away at the 60+ boxes I printed on the 3D printer.

Access will have its first run of interaction at Intel’s conference in Portland, Oregon this May, where I will also be presenting a talk on intersections and empathy.

The piece involves a series of statements about Access with “Yes” and “No” buttons with card readers to log responses.  The statements cover all kinds of access based on education, physicality, finances, background, race, gender, age, sexual orientation, culture, social elements, etc. Like Identity Tapestry, specific statements are selected and phrased to focus on the _intersections_ so that one statement may cover different kinds of people’s specific access challenges.

Each visitor will have an access card (image below) to use in including their own access story into the piece. I made these softer and more tactile with an eye to giving them the approachability, uniqueness and comfort people find in my yarn to set against the more impersonal electronic devices.  The color of the card will determine the color shown in the data visualizations for the piece.  They go from statement to statement, scan their card, and then select “Yes” or “No” for each of the sixty statements.

Cards for the Access piece

In this first iteration,  the data visualizations will be on large monitors on either side of the piece, but future iterations will likely use project mapping or combinations of screens and projection mapping.  I have the advantage of knowing the specific group for this particular piece in advance and knowing everyone should have no trouble accessing the piece.  In future more public interactions though, the goal is to make the piece accessible to participants who do not speak English, or who are blind or wheelchair bound.  The fonts were already selected based on being better for those with dyslexia.

In the meantime I am working on a very special (and HUGE) version of Identity Tapestry which will include maps for the Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo (MOT). The show (Wandering, Mapping) will open on August 4th and run until October 20th, 2019. The piece will also feature a companion wall of responses on local, Tokyo paper I have hand-dyed alongside the yarn.

My studio helpers have been my hands through much of the dyeing process, and all of the measuring and winding and they’ve been wonderful.  I am looking forward to seeing everything up and installed!

 

Transitions- continuing my art through illness

leave a comment »

empty studio

The corner of my empty studio

Since becoming sick with ME/CFS, I have had a lot to contend with and it has changed my practice.  I have limited energy, and I have to spend it wisely.  I have only minutes at a time of standing, walking, holding my head upright, etc. before I need to take a rest.  Then again, my practice changed a great deal when I became pregnant, and it turned out to be the best thing that ever happened to my art (I did the first Identity Tapestry while pregnant and it brought me into Installation).  The main effect is that I have to pace myself, and think through everything many times before I make the effort of _making_.  I suspect it will generate more thoughtful new work. I also have new reserves of patience, and new understanding to feed my empathy.

Right before I got sick I had come to an inflection point in my work where I knew I would have to start hiring assistants to complete large projects, but I was dragging my feet.  For those not familiar with how art at a certain scale of production goes, this is pretty normal and has a long history reaching back to the studios of the famous Renaissance painters and before.  Even without being sick, I needed to accept that I now needed assistants.

For the three shows I did in the first year of my illness, I relied on the help of an awesome network of friends and my husband (who even learned how to dye wool!) to help me do my work.  They were my hands. They got me through the installations at the Contemporary Jewish Museum, The San Jose Museum of Quilts and Textiles and at the Marjory Barrack Museum.  Initially it was hard to conceive of hiring strangers to come into my home in the vulnerable state I was in, given that I had already resisted it before. I wasn’t ready then.

At the same time I became sick, we realized we had to do major repairs to the foundation of our house, and it became a huge remodel complete with moving out.  After I did the museum shows that year, I buckled down to the task of packing and purging the house… again with the help of my amazing friends.  My outside studio space was unreachable for me (and not wheelchair accessible even if I had the energy to work after driving there and parking) and essentially became expensive storage while I hoped I got better.  I turned down some shows and applied to nothing while I used all my energy to move house.

Today I am a little better overall.  The house is moved into a temporary space, and I finally let go of my studio of 14 years.  The new studio and shop space I will have in our house will be an absolute dream though, and I can’t wait.  In the meantime, I have use of our temporary garage and have set up the studio there, complete with a chair that supports my neck and torso so I can sit up longer.

Now that I have the moving hurdle done, I am back to exciting new projects!  This spring I will be doing a new participatory installation that I have been thinking about since 2014 and am super excited about: Access.  There is also another installation in another country coming up in the summer which I can’t wait to do.  Details will follow when everything is confirmed, dried and dusted.

In the meantime, it’s time to take the leap and hire some assistants.  Whatever my condition, my work will continue.

Identity Tapestry at the Marjorie Barrick Museum

with 3 comments

Beautifulsm

I am pleased to announce that The Marjorie Barrick Museum in Las Vegas has commissioned Identity Tapestry #12 as part of a community initiative in Healing Through Art in the wake of the shooting there.  It will be on display in the West Gallery from February 2 – May 12, 2018. From there it becomes part of the permanent collection. 

I will also be speaking in an artist panel on “Art with Social Purpose” hosted by Nevada Humanities on May 4th, 7PM at The Writers Block in downtown Las Vegas.

I have been happy to prove to myself, with this third installation in a museum since I became so ill with CFS/ME that I am now in a specialized wheelchair outside the house, that I can still work productively as an artist.  This has been thanks to the support of friends, family and assistants.

Almost ten years ago now my process and my work went through a serious change with pregnancy and the birth of my daughter.  There were “limitations” that made me use different materials and ways of working, and they prompted the shift to Particaptory Installation.   That work has lifted my art and my career as an artist.

This is another shift, and it is already teaching me a lot that I can put into my work and practice.  I fully expect it will continue to lift my work.

Natural Dyeing for Sukkah Project

leave a comment »

I’ve been invited to inhabit the Sukkah at the Contemporary Jewish Museum (San Francisco) on October 8th for one day of the holiday of Sukkot.  They invited six artists to each take a day to create an open studio or installation project inside the frame of the Sukkah.  I decided to take the opportunity to do a new Participatory Installation piece within that frame entitled Refuge of Leaves.

Process

These are photos of the dyeing process for this new project.  These are the first three batches, using pomegranate dye, rhubarb dye and artichoke dye.  Each dye changes depending on if I scour the paper first, or if I add a mordant, or if I add iron.  I did every combination on four kinds of paper to get a wider variety.

As I’m going, I allow the paper to show some marks- wrinkles, the mark of the iron, irregularities, etc.  Showing their history, that they have been through something, a difficult process that may even damage them seemed like a perfect parallel to individuals seeking refuge, to people who had a story to tell.

About the Piece

Traditionally a Sukkah is a symbolic ritual space of refuge in the wilderness created for the holiday of Sukkot in the Jewish faith and tradition. “Refuge of Leaves” creates a Sukkah as a space for reflection where people from many backgrounds can reflect on and share their personal experiences of refuge from “wildernesses”, whether physical or metaphorical. As a Sukkah it symbolizes a liminal space of safety within the wilderness between worlds.

I followed traditional aspects of the Sukkah in using natural plant-based materials in the form of a variety of papers from different places and times, including papyrus as well as paper that could be put through a modern printer.  These are for participants to write responses to their choice of prompts on the subject of refuge.  I am hand-dyeing the papers with natural dyes to mimic the color range of plants one might build a traditional sukkah from. The dyeing processes also makes each piece of paper individual in color and texture, just like the people writing their responses.

The word “leaves” in the title functions in a number of ways.  The individual leaves of paper in a larger book, the plant leaves that form a traditional Sukkah, and the nature of a this kind of refuge as a temporary shelter (not a home) that eventually requires one to leave.  The structure is very literally a refuge made of leaves that each participant leaves behind.

As part of this project I will be there from 10AM until 4PM to discuss my work and facilitate the process.  Please join me.

in-process on “Between the Lines (Experience Exchange)”

leave a comment »

sprectrum-side These are the first set of “pages” for participants in Between the Lines (Experience Exchange) to write on.  The materials are translucent acrylics on vellum with bookbinding thread sewn into the tops to tie them into the structure.

The piece was commissioned by the College of the Redwoods for their annual Book of the Year celebration.  This year’s book is Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates.

The structure of the piece is a large sculpture created a s a physical framing of some of the book’s core concepts  (I saw them, but also based  on interviews with the author, reviews, and discussions with other people).  The questions also derive from the book, and will ask participants to respond with their own related experiences.

img_9745-2