From the Studio

thoughts on art and process in action from a contemporary artist

Archive for the ‘personal’ Category

Visualizing Process

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On a different note, I’m realizing that the way I work is rare (at least in art school).  I didn’t realize that my visual imagination was such a rare thing.  When someone describes something they are thinking of doing to me, my brain can picture it, suggest tweaks or materials, really see it and poke at it like a working model.  That’s how I make my own work.

Mind you, you absolutely do need to play around with the actual materials and test things in material, but I can go through so many ideas in my brain before I even get there and have a pretty good idea of how they will look and feel and work.  Sometimes I need a blank space the size of what I’m working on to picture things in (or better, a specific space that generates the piece). You never know how people will interact with a piece until they begin though, which is perhaps part of the attraction of interactive and participatory work for me.  I like things which challenge and surprise me.

The thing that I found strange is that when I ask for help poking at ideas for a new piece that is still mostly in my mind within a critique context I get radio silence.  I’ll bring in a material and describe what I want to do with it.  No one else can picture what I’m describing. Other visual artists.  This was a surprise, but it’s been pretty consistent.  I’ve learned that other  people who can picture in that kind of detail are the exception, not the rule.  I had never thought of it as any special skill or talent, but I’m starting to think it must be.


Written by Mary Corey March

December 4, 2013 at 12:29 am

Posted in art, personal

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


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In other fantastic and inspirational news, I just had a really wonderful studio visit with Michelle Grabner.  It is so great to meet more people in the art world who are community/education/ and *gasp* Art oriented rather than commercially or ego-oriented, and so great to see that attitude towards art  getting a voice (she’s one of the Whitney Biennial’s curators).

Her talk last night cheered me right out of my slump and got me back into the studio in an excited way (I will always keep working, but it’s different when you’re electrified).  Her commitment to and patience with “saying yes” to art is impressive.  She is very generous in her spirit- opening her home to artists, creating spaces where artists can show and experiment without commercial pressures… it’s encouraging.

I love her weaving/drawings and the meditative quality to her work.  I feel like there is a lot of common ground there.  Also, her comments on one of my paintings gave me new steam to finish it.  I would love to work with her.

Written by Mary Corey March

November 23, 2013 at 5:17 am

Posted in art, artists, personal

Let it go

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let it goThe latest two in the “Write me for Art” project.  It’s coming along in stolen moments, but it is coming.

The writing is from responses to questions I asked sent in to me by hand or mail in each person’s own writing.  If you want to participate, follow the link.

The other half of this project is computer-mediated.

Written by Mary Corey March

August 20, 2013 at 10:35 am

kitty in process

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kittyToday’s dyeing for the next Identity Tapestry.  50-some blues and greens so far today.

Because kitties LOVE to “help”.

For the cat-allergic: I shooed her away pretty quickly and she only sat on the two skeins, but I just had to get the picture.

Written by Mary Corey March

August 17, 2013 at 2:15 am

and unrelated but entertaining…

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This fantastic photo was taken of us by Brandon Stanton of HONY last week in Central Park.  Incredible shot.  My little family is amazing and I’m incredibly fortunate.  Also in case you were wondering I love fun clothes (especially in NYC), the rabbit ears belong to and were placed by my daughter (and worn in style by my man) and the doll is Cecile “the most beautiful doll in the whole store” in my daughter’s eyes.

This is a HONY image of me and my husband and daughter taken by Brandon Stanton.

Today’s discovery was the reason why a hawk in Central Park silently swooped right over my head (by inches) while I was pushing my daughter on a swing and landed in a tree opposite.  The hat.  It’s the one I was wearing in that picture and I had been wearing it the day before but forgotten.  Small, bird-shaped and feathery.  It must have looked like I had Lunch perched on my head, but he realized at the last minute and didn’t grab it.  Take note, those of you with pet birds.

And now back to the studio…

Written by Mary Corey March

August 2, 2013 at 9:10 am

Posted in personal

listening to the materials

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Continuing updates on this project which involves hand-embroidering responses to personal questions I (mostly) receive in the mail.

This is about the actual size.  It’s funny, but it takes such a short time to start to feel acquainted with a person’s writing when you are paying this close attention to it.  You’re on your third “e” and you think, yes, that’s how their “e” goes.  It’s such an intimate exercise, but with people I may never have seen.  In this case I was told the story by my nurse friend who left an envelope for responses at the hospital, because the writer told her.  What came before this response was a series of losses and tragedy and this was the first healing moment following them.

As painstaking and time-consuming as this project is and will be, I’m already loving it.  It’s funny, it will be viewed as “obsessive” work, but in the balance for me it isn’t.  It’s meditation.  More, such work has a practical place for me.  I travel.  When I am traveling, this fits into a tiny bag.  I can work and not waste the time.  I also have a fairly serious back injury that puts me out of commission periodically.  When I can’t stand (I’m never supposed to sit), I can do work like this.  Mind you, when the back isn’t bad I can dance (including performance seasons) and climb, etc., just not sit.  Still, it’s important to plan work that I can do lying down so that I’m never wasting time I could be doing work.  My other projects tend towards a larger scale.

As I’m embroidering these responses I’m letting other parts of the piece unfold in my mind.  I wanted the computer-text versus hand text, but I needed to know why my subconscious needed it to be embroidery too.  Today the reason the contrast text must be machine embroidery in a commercial font became clearer.   It’s that illusion of intimacy, careful attention, personal touch, etc. that the machine embroidery is offering, and failing at.  Next to the real thing I suspect it will be so obviously a completely different thing as to be alien. If it were just printed text on paper or text on a screen it would lack that offered illusion.

I’m getting glimmers of arrangement ideas but I’m going to wait until I have a lot more of them and have them alongside the machine ones.  I’m done with this idea that conceptual artists (or ANY contemporary artist) must have fully conceived and practically written a paper on the artwork before they even touch the material.  Bullshit.  Visual artists work with visuals and materials.  In the process of working with a medium it talks back to you.  It’s a conversation… or it should be.  I’m listening as well as talking. 

Written by Mary Corey March

August 2, 2013 at 8:52 am

Graduate Open Studios

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studioGraduate Open Studios at SFAI is just around the corner.  Come see what me and everyone else is working on.

April 20, 12:00–5:00 pm

Map (you want to take the entrance on 22nd St, not 3rd St.)  It’s on the Second floor and includes all bays with orange doors.  I am in studio C7.  It’s in bay C (one of the nearer bays on the left, studio is in the back right corner).

If you come visit you may well find yourself incorporated into an artwork.  I usually use Open Studios events for their steady stream of people who can feed into my work, so I am often alternating between hosting my studio and actually working.  Also, I can’t stand being in my workspace looking at anything unfinished without working on something!

Identity Tapestry at Wisdom 2.0

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fortunate2It was really interesting to see another very specific group of people people doing this piece.  The Wisdom 2.0  conference has a very clear culture which Identity Tapestry rendered into a collective portrait.

There were patterns I had never seen before happening.  Some things I expected (that the “learning was never important to me” statement would remain blank for example).  Other things were unusual and I wouldn’t have thought of.  The statement “I have never left this country” was the only other blank.  “I enjoy my own company” was mobbed, where in all other cases it has been nearly empty.  Some other popular ones were “I like to lead” “I like to follow a good leader”, “I make time to play”, “I love to travel” and “I am spiritual”.  People in this setting also did a lot more reading ahead and watching others before they began to do it for themselves.

It went well and had all the effects I have come to expect- joy, tears, people loving it, people thinking about their connection to others, evaluating their own lives and relationships, discovering new things about their friends and lovers… it was all there.  Some lovely moments happened too- a newly engaged couple learning new things about each other, for example.

The new thing for me was the number of people who did it who  were connected to nonprofits or large corporations.  ….so now I have new things to consider.  To what extent do I reproduce the piece, and how and for whom?  I have more people asking for it than I can handle unless this single piece was all I did full time.  Where is the line between Art and business?  How much can it be reproduced before it loses it’s effect, or would it?  What about my other artwork?  What about digital versions?  Other versions?  There is a running joke that you aren’t a real contemporary artist until you have a team of assistants helping you make your work. There are a lot of questions I need to carefully consider.   I need to decide how I feel about all of it.

I will be posting more images to my website when things settle down a little.  It occurs to me that there is so much new work that’s in progress that isn’t there on the website yet.  I work out concepts and processes slowly, over months, and then work the physical part like a maniac when I have everything right.  The interactive works need a lot of testing and re-testing on friends and strangers before I’m ready to create the real version.  I am currently working through two new interactive pieces, two binary drawing/weavings and one painting. groupThe paintings and weaving you’ve seen bits of here, but the interactive work will stay closeted until it’s ready to interact.

On a side note there are two finished Identity Tapestries languishing in storage.  I can’t wait until they all have good homes where people are able to see them daily.

Written by Mary Corey March

February 24, 2013 at 10:35 am

piling it up

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from "The Bridge"- first Installation piece.  In this case a performance piece.

from “The Bridge”- first Installation piece. In this case a performance piece.

I’ve gone dark lately because I’ve been scrambling to finish the NEXT iteration of Identity Tapestry.  I didn’t expect another so soon.  I need to start saying no.  I’m building a larger one (around 18′) for the Wisdom 2.0 summit (How can we live with greater presence, meaning, and mindfulness in the technology age?).  It’s relevant to me and the piece really fits- connections between people, mindfulness/meditative experience, human contact, data visualization of human connections… there’s a lot of commonality there.

So… I’m smack in the middle of doing this new one (100 colors of yarn dyed, 80 some posts made, statement selection, etc.).

In the meantime I’m taking some very interesting classes that are giving me new perspective on my process and the concepts I’m working with.

Thoughts (notes to self):

I am fascinated by our relationship to data. What we choose to collect, what we ignore, what data says about us, what it fails to say.  How hard it is to visualize data of complicated systems or human beings (which are in a way complicated systems).  How much the question and framing of the question and the questioner affects the answer (something I’ve been aware of since childhood with my anthropologist and sociologist parents).

I am starting to wonder if my work process really is a hidden endurance performance art.  I did one piece in undergrad that exposed the process of creating an installation the was all about that.  Now the visible part is the participants creating the work- which becomes a kind of performance, but the hours that I spend making the component parts… it’s almost an endurance piece in itself.


On another note, my grandfather died on Friday.  An extremely full life, with so much positive effect on the world, well lived.  New York Times article/obituary, Boston Globe Obituary.  The NYT article leaves out one of the MA degrees and his medical degree, both leave out his knighthood.  Neither attempts to categorize his awards.  For me, his mad pace of walking, his skiing on his 93rd birthday, and his love of his lilies and vegetable garden are what I think of when I remember him.

This and many other things have made the past few weeks a bit of a roller coaster, but the preciousness of life and love and one’s work… they are brought right into the foreground.

Written by Mary Corey March

February 14, 2013 at 1:56 am