From the Studio

thoughts on art and process in action from a contemporary artist

Archive for the ‘materials’ Category

New Love

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IMG_4546I finally tried printmaking and I’m in love.  This semester I have a graduate level class with a master printer and printmaking has me.

I have a lot of mediums under my belt, variously considered art or craft or industry depending on the time period and who you ask and I always want to learn new ones.  For my grad program I decided not to add to that list without good reason.  That said, printmaking makes so much sense to so much of what I am working with that when this class came up in my last semester I had to have it.  It is a technology bridge between handmade and digital.  It is multiplicity with variation,  I can print on fabric.  I can digitally etch or cut a plate at Techshop and then bring it in and print on it, or continue to work it by hand.

I decided to restrict myself to a simple idea- the weave and the grid, the digital/binary and the organic (part of my fascination with weaving is that it is both an ancient craft and the basis for binary computing).  Every plate will be some version of this and I intend to start layering those plates.  Inside that there is so much I can do!  The two plates I have so far are a “Broken Grid” laser-etched (the black and white image here) and a hand-carved woodblock of a loose and dissolving plain-weave. The joyful discovery of today was that after printing on canvas (to paint on/sew through later) I can use the plate again on paper and get the texture of the canvas cloth in the paper print.  I’m loving the layers possible with this.   I also came up with a new idea of how to use sewing in the printing process which I haven’t yet seen.

I’ve got two laser-cutter dates this week and PLANS.

The other thing I love about the printmaking experience?  It’s community based.  Much like a ceramics studio, printmaking takes multiple sets of hands and people pooling resources to have it work.  The atmosphere is relaxed, congenial, supportive, and questioning in a positive way.  It isn’t every artist for themselves, it’s a place where people are helping each other make art.  I really missed that.  It happens in other disciplines through collaborative work, but it’s palpable in both ceramics and printmaking, and getting my hands achy with tools and sticky with ink feels like coming home.

Written by Mary Corey March

February 15, 2014 at 11:22 am

Pulse Project

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pulse

If you are wondering what you are looking at, it is my newest Interactive and Participatory piece and my first proper sound installation as shown at The LAB, SAn Francisco in the recent show Cubic (Sounds)2.

Visitors are invited to place a finger on the pulse sensor to have their pulse taken. This triggers the audio aspect of the piece: a story of a San Francisco Moment recorded from someone in San Francisco whose pulse matches theirs. The sound of the story is played by a the flask of Bay salt water using a vibrating piezo plate to convert it into a speaker.  The grey material is cotton cloth sculpted in a rough impression of San Francisco topography with a few major streets embroidered in red.

In the end the project worked and was well received.  I’m sorry to say that during most of the opening it was almost impossible to hear though.  Even when I made an exception for the opening and added a conventional speaker under the table to compete with the sound from the other sound installations in the echoing space it was too quiet once the room was full of talking people.  Still, for the rest of the show and at the beginning and end of the opening you could hear it and it ran beautifully.

This is a piece I would love to re-work and do again in a quieter space.  In a quiet space the flask of water speaks to you quietly, but audibly- intimately.

 

 

Written by Mary Corey March

December 8, 2013 at 10:31 am

Pulse Project

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I’m finishing up my sound installation.  componantsI can already see a richer, deeper version of this piece.

The base of this one was a very elegant instant hack.  I got one of my daughter’s clear play dough (not the brand, but the thing) containers where the dough had dried out utterly and cleaned it out and did some strategic trimming.  Perfect!  it looks like it was made for a base.  I was able to use some of the vellum from my other project as a diffuser for the base as well (which will also disguise the wires).  So fast, so perfectly neat.IMG_3778

The audio files are all converted and ready.  The pulse meter has been a bit on the evil side and we’re replacing it with a new one which should arrive today.  The air does not have a pulse of 220.

On the whole, so far so good.The show is open to the public Wednesday at the Lab with the actual opening on Thursday evening.

Written by Mary Corey March

December 4, 2013 at 12:19 am

Collecting Stories

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An interesting venture indeed.  So I’m determined to not just ask friends (easy), but it was clear early on that this was a much more difficult kind of participation than I’ve ever asked from people before.

I’ve been going around the city on my normal rounds- the yarn store, the playground with my daughter, the cafes, the hardware store, art supply store, etc. and collecting stories about “an SF moment” from people in and around those places for the sound piece City Pulse (San Francisco) going up in the LAB.  Thepiece involves collecting little San Francisco Moment stories from people in the city. I then take their pulse and

I left the story collection towards the end because I was more worried about the technical and sculptural aspects of the piece and I thought the participatory part would be easier.  No.

tools tools fabricThe microphone looked like a taser to some people- very threatening.  The pulse meter seems to be equally threatening- medical devices are just scary.  This is a huge barrier if handled badly.  I almost wan to crochet them little wooly jumpers to make them more approachable.  Something about fabric instantly tools fabricdisarms and comforts cold technical devices.  I started carrying both these and my extra batteries in a little transparent cloth bag and that actually seemed to help (transparent process, softer, easier to get to quickly, etc.).

In “Write Me for Art” it’s so approachable, so soft.  I generally give them to people after they’ve seen me embroidering for a few minutes.  Then I can explain the project to someone clearly interested already.  This one is so much less visual at this stage that it’s harder to get people to engage.  Getting participation becomes and art form in itself.

It’s funny, so far the stories seem to circle around the Haight, the Castro, and random naked men (even when I’m taking the stories in other places).  There is something about the Castro and the Haight that say SF more than anywhere else.

I’m excited about getting the piece all together and seeing it up and running.  This is so different from other work I’ve done in terms of materials, but very close to the heart of my work generally.

…and for tonight, more embroidering a landscape of San Francisco!

And for tonight… more

Written by Mary Corey March

November 30, 2013 at 8:23 am

Write me for Art, floating…

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french letters Life in the studio goes well!  I had hit a bit of a slump, but getting these actually in the air the other day to see what they felt like was a great step.  Once I work out some technical kinks (heavier paper, attachment methods, different adhesive to hold together the envelopes…) it will just be a matter of doing it.  The embroidery continues and I will continue collecting responses for “Write me for Art” until the the new year.

All is going well for this project and I have decided that it will be my MFA thesis show piece at the Vernasage show this coming May.

Speaking of shows, I will be in a sound art show at the Lab during the first week of December, opening is on Thursday the 5th.  I haven’t shown you this piece in progress yet, but perhaps you’ll get a peek soon.

 

Written by Mary Corey March

November 23, 2013 at 5:12 am

machine text

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machine testsRound three of the machine tests for “Write me for Art” has finally yielded some results I’m happy with!  More, I did some sample parts for covering/framing the machine embroidery to give it the commercial, generic, electronic device (+ voyeur?)  feel I’m after.  This half of the piece I’m now very pleased with and I feel like I can keep going from here knowing what I want to do.

Yesterday I was still really wrestling with how I wanted to install the hand-embroidered work.  I met with another fantastic lady and got some great feedback.  It’s funny how it’s rarely a case of someone offering a suggestion that I then take- never that I can remember.  It’s more that when certain people can’t connect with a piece or aren’t seeing what I want to pull off it tells me where I need to connect, lean, etc.  Sometimes it’s just explaining the piece to a new person and the way you need to explain it to them (as that person rather than some other person) helps concentrate what you’re really after and guides you to a better method.

In this case I knew I wanted people to be surrounded in the space by the handwritten ones.  I wanted them to have a presence like a crowd of people.  I wanted you to walk through them and encounter them, look them in the eye, look again, not see the writing until you found a new angle.  I’d been wrestling with how that would happen.  Now I think I found a way to do that.  The exact detail of how I physically attach the written part to the forms I want is still in the air, but I’m nearly there.  With fiber, every method has history and symbolism.  Just doing the most practical physical method may not be the way (though it could be).  I have to think of the connotations of different methods and their visual impacts.

Written by Mary Corey March

October 17, 2013 at 3:56 am

social fabric

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photo(7)Write Me for Art continues… I tested out a new fabric for the machine text today.  Or tried to.  Funny how sewing machines can cause sudden fits of swearing.  Embroidery machines are another level of complex, and therefore a lot more obnoxious (especially when many different people work on them and do who knows what to them each day).  That said, I think the fabric is a perfect fit for the project.  Second round of text-size adjustments.  I still don’t have single correctly printed statement yet, but I think I’ve found the right size, embroidery method and fabric.  Whew!

Mail for the project trickling in most days.  I love it.  There is something so wonderful about getting actual, physical mail.   I have postcode-stamps from New York, San Francisco, Vermont, Portland Maine, Iowa, Chicago, and France.  So far just French and English, but I’m hoping some of my Spanish ones come back (I did  some instructions in Spanish and handed out a fair few.  I think I should make a Chinese one for passing out here because That would cover the three most spoken languages in SF. So many statements!

One thing that has surprised me is the similar feelings that people chose to share- even with less than fifty so far there are some distinct trends.  The hand embroidery goes slower now that the semester has started but I’m pretty pleased with the results so far.

In other news it seems like I have an exciting commission piece coming up in the summer- a new Particapatory Installation that will take place over the course of years.  So exciting!  It’s wonderful when you are so on the same page with someone that you don’t even have to ask the question “am I willing to sacrifice my artistic integrity here?”  Something I tend to say No to as a rule.  I’m flexible and good at fitting ideas into harmony with mine, but outright against I won’t do.  This project is exciting enough to be a little distracting, but knowing it will be there waiting for me in the Spring is a wonderful feeling.

Written by Mary Corey March

October 7, 2013 at 9:01 am