From the Studio

thoughts on art and process in action from a contemporary artist

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Hidden Processes

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display sketchMy sketches are always like this- rough, scribbly, and somehow they work the best for me- loose enough for me to imagine different details.  But until the other  even the loosest sketch of the physical part of my Endangered Languages piece weren’t jelling enough for any sketch to make me happy.

I had been hitting a major wall with the work and it was keeping me up at night for weeks as I tossed image after image and idea after idea in my head.  Two days ago I had a great conversation with a friend that helped me break through.  He has helped me document my work in video and photography but more importantly he is always  a great person to brainstorm with (there are two pieces we’ve thought out together that I think need to be made as collaborative works).

The thing is the process is so often in the mind.  I visualize and discard so much before I start making these days.  Now without having physically built anything, I suddenly have a pretty clear picture of the finished piece.  Now that it’s there I can sketch and mock up and I can start building like a maniac.  I’m going to build a mock-up for size and relationship to the body before I build the main object.  I want to get the height and tilt angle that way.  It should recall natural history museum displays… but with some unexpected twists in action.

Another thing hidden (besides things in my brain) is the thoughts and concepts behind the work.  You will notice I don’t tend to explain my concepts here.  I have them, usually intensely thought out (what some people would consider over-thought out), but I want the concept to be experienced and seen and heard, not just explained before people see the actual work.  I want them to walk up and discover it, not come in with a thesis on it.  There is also a sort of delicacy in certain stages of creation, where if you explain too much (especially to the wrong people at the wrong time) it leeches the life out of it in your mind, or it kills your drive to make it.

At the same time, I love revealing the physical process.  I like to show the beauty and madness of the actual objects-in-progress and the physical experience of making the thing rather than explain everything up front.

You’ll notice the Academy of Sciences sticker in my sketchbook.  I went with my daughter after school to get a look at the display cases, both old and new.  When I go into a museums or place with the intent to take notes I always put the ticket or sticker or write the place at the top.  Sometimes the page is otherwise blank.


Written by Mary Corey March

November 22, 2014 at 12:59 am

Speak a few languages?

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Thank you so much to the people who contributed to this piece.  It will be part of a collaborative International show called “Telephone, recalled” taking place in France and the US:

É c o l e S u p é r i e u r e d e s B e a u x – A
r t s T A L M
Angers – 15/11 > 15/12/12
C e n t r e N a t i o n a l É d i t i o n A r t I
m a g e
Chatou – 29/09 > 24/02/13
C A P C M u s é e d ‘ A r t C o n t e m p o r
a i n
Bordeaux – 15/11 > 16/12/12
T h e E m i l y H a r v e y F o u n d a t i o n
New York – 15/11 > 24/11/12
S a n F r a n c i s c o A r t I n s t i t u t e
San Francisco – 20/11 > 06/12/12


Other artists are enacting our pieces as described over the telephone and we are enacting theirs.  All of us are also enacting pieces from the original 1969 show.  This is where I need your help! 

I will be enacting a Mel Bochner piece.  It involves an international game of telephone of sorts.I call someone in another country, say France.  I read a text to them.  They write it down in English, then call the next person in a different country (say Italy) and read the text over the phone in French.  The Italian repeats the process, calling someone in a different country.  It repeats about 4 times, ending i an English-speaking country until the last person calls me again and I write the last version down in English.  The texts will be displayed in the gallery.

So if you are in another country… how many languages can you understand and write down?  Would you be willing to take a call from a stranger, write what they say in their language down, call another stranger and say it in your own language?

If so please contact me as soon as possible!

Written by Mary Corey March

November 12, 2012 at 11:56 am