From the Studio

thoughts on art and process in action from a contemporary artist

Archive for the ‘personal’ Category

Magnolia Editions

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So today my tutorial professor Mildred Howard took us to visit Magnolia Editions in Oakland.  She really goes above and beyond.  What an incredible space!  There were notable artworks both carefully displayed in the lobby and scattered, hung, tucked and neatly filed all over the place.  Don Farnsworth gave us a tour and struck me as just the sort of person who would get along nicely with the various engineer, rocket scientist, neuroscientist, etc. set of my friends who build crazy things in their spare time.

IMG_4618The thing that clenched that impression (besides his knowledge of the human-eye/brain, color, etc.) was the studio-made coffee roaster.  It’s a re-purposed barbeque with a little motor for a rotator to turn the little cage for the beans.  We roasted them while he talked about the fine art of coffee-roasting, cooled them over an inverted house fan over a screen, and then he stamped and filled bags for us.  Things like this reassure me about the art world.  I’m glad I’m not the only geek here.

Magnolia has all kinds of incredible toys I want to play with- a huge laser etcher/cutter that has eye-beam spotting (senses dots on your material to better line things up).  They have a print shop, paper making studio, a large scale watercolor printer… so many things.  Especially interesting to me is that they also have everything (including the knowledge and skills) for designing large scale digitally designed tapestries like the Pae White piece that blew my mind at the art fair in LA (a smaller version of this).  It turned out the Magnolia folks did it with her and everything is printed on the largest loom of this kind in Belgium. Something about soft flexible, untreated fabric looking like metal just does it for me.  That it’s in the weave, not any application on the surface.

Anyway- a HUGE printer (more than half the size of my living room huge) that prints on a wide variety of surfaces.  While we were there they printed a new piece that will be used for Imagery Winery’s new label (it is an award-winning winery which commissions artists to do their wine labels.  The surface of the piece itself was layers of laser-etching, then building up the surface and finally printing over the relief.  Wonderful stuff.

Chuck Close’s work features heavily at the studio as they work out processes together (currently tiles for a New York subway installation).   He actually called while we were there and asked us over speakerphone if we really wanted to be artists.  When we said yes, he said “Keep the faith”.  🙂

The whole atmosphere was really a delight.  I would love to come back there with a project to do with them and their lovely toys.

On a side note they were doing exactly what I was doing all day yesterday- using the laser cutter as part of the printmaking process.  Something that seemed like a natural move to me, one I was not at all surprised to hear that others have already been doing.

Written by Mary Corey March

February 21, 2014 at 10:45 am

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

Winter Play

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IMG_4049It’s too easy to forget while immersed in the incredibly serious and surprisingly rigid world of educated art practice and commentary how important it is to PLAY.

During the holiday I made a snow woman (the little one is my daughter’s snow-child and the space alien thing is my husband’s).  The simple act of making something purely for the fun of it brought back all kinds of creative ecstasy that I’ve been missing in the studio.  I had an hour and a half of freezing fingers and smiles until the snow got too soft and wet and I had to leave it alone and let the detail go.  That feeling of having to be almost physically torn away from one’s work… it’s been missing.

Making something for the joy of making, even knowing it will melt tomorrow- this feeling must not be forgotten.

Mind you- I love intellectual exercise too.  I love delving into concepts and history and experimenting with ideas and thinking about how to get the participant/viewer to reach certain points… but it’s not the same as simply playing and finding out what will happen.

Play is important.







Written by Mary Corey March

January 8, 2014 at 11:48 pm

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