From the Studio

thoughts on art and process in action from a contemporary artist

Posts Tagged ‘creation

Identity Tapestry to show in Switzerland

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vkz_ueber20unsFrom the first iterations of Identity Tapestry I’ve been wanting to create it both in a museum space and in another language.  I’m pleased to announce that this May I’ll be doing both!  Identity Tapestry will be up as part of the upcoming show “Identity” for four months starting this May at the Vögele Cultural Center in Pfäffikon (just outside Zurich).

I will be flying out for the install and I’m incredibly excited.  Any iteration demands a look at which statements to include or leave or if new ones ought to be added, especially in a new area or situation. In this case the language use should be especially interesting because there are essentially two languages at work there: High German and Swiss German.  One is the official language which is used for nearly all text, the other is the language of intimate conversations and the inside of one’s own head.  Apparently it is only recently that the Swiss-German language has appeared in text, and then mostly in text messages, and only to very intimate friends.  How I approach these languages and navigate translations will add new levels of complexity to the piece.  Thankfully the curatorial staff is wonderful and I have a local Zurich-raised person who is willing to consult with me on language as well.

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Filling Out

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spectrum5

The hard part with this kind of thing is knowing when to stop.  At this point I’m happy with the materials.  I could keep going forever, but right now there is enough material to fill the space I am using twice.   The idea is to provide the variety and let the participants determine the color balance of the piece in their selections.  This does make me think I want to do some themed work with dyes that do focus on a specific color range, but the project hasn’t presented itself yet.

The rest of the parts for the installation are coming along… but this is the fun part.

*note* There are more blues in the final set than are showing- arrangement of the curve was a little off so they are hiding under each other while the greens/teals are spread thin… but I am prioritizing making the piece over documenting the process perfectly.

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Spectrum

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silk spectrumHere’s a peek into my dyeing  in progress for the Living Guestbook installation.

When I’m dyeing for an installation I find it helpful to lay out the spectrum of color as I go.  In cases like this one where I want a fairly balanced spectrum this is especially helpful.  So far this is the spectrum the dyeing I’ve done yields.  Looking at this the holes become more obvious.  Also, different from dyeing for Identity Tapestry is that need to keep the spectrum lighter and not go too far into darks or the writing won’t show as well.

eggsThis prompted a return to the fabric store for a few lighter bases to start from. They really look easter-egg to me all together like this, but I’m using them for their potential for over-dyeing and the way they fit into the whole.

Yes, I could do everything starting at a base of white, but I find over-dyeing yields much richer colors.  Also in the case of many of these fabrics, the weave already had two different colors (the warp might be blue and the weft gold, giving it a color-change look).Tthat’s something I can’t do dyeing over plain white fabric, but if I over-dye it, changes in both colors come through.  That again adds a layer of depth to the colors I’m working with. I can also always go back and over-dye again as many times as I like, giving me even more layers of color coming through, especially when I use techniques that dye unevenly.

You can really see the depth in the colors when you look closely at a given strip of fabric.

***Update*** spectrum after today’s work:

spectrum2Still a bit to go, but loving it so far.

Written by marycoreymarch

September 25, 2014 at 11:56 pm

Living Guestbook- Materials

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MATERIALSThese are some of the materials for my next installation.  The swatches at the bottom are some dye, starch and ink tests.  Each of these base colors (including the white) will be over-dyed in small strips for the piece.  If I don’t get the color variety I want with these base colors in the first few rounds of dyeing, I’ll go  back into the process with more fabric.

The physical format will be similar to Dream Blanket and Transparency: a weaving with the empty warp, structured with a grid of weft, with the main weft made out of strips of this fabric.  Visitors to this collector’s home will be invited to respond to questions about memory, impressions and experience.  They will then get to write these on a strip of dyed dupioni silk that has been starched for structure and to better take the ink.

Visually I made the piece to fit the rustic quality of their vacation home in Vermont.  It will even include existing objects from the house and grounds.  I really love work like this.  Working to specific spaces like the theater and this home is wonderful.  I like making a piece in a way I might not have thought of without the constraints or benefits of a certain goal and space, or without the interaction of other people involved.  I enjoy collaborative work, and I consider working with a curator, institution or collector to be another form of collaboration.

I’m looking forward to this piece!

stopping points

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There are many times when if one has trail mix, water and caffeine on hand one can keep working for hours on end with only quick pit stops.

And then there are moments one needs the skill of catching… when the brushwork is getting too frantic, when you’re starting to get lazy about mixing new colors because you just want to press through, when the cuts are getting sloppy… or in the case of last night the blade on the dremel is starting to get out of your hands.  Tired, frustrated, too much adrenaline, not enough food or sleep, or just sensory overload.  You have to learn to step outside yourself and STOP.  Sometimes some deep breaths, a meal break or similar will give you a few more hours after that.  Sometimes you can ride the ragged edge and put the frenzied energy to work (though not with power tools I think, but a frenzied expressionist piece?  Absolutely).

Last night I quit cold-working the glass face an hour early.   Glass, power tools and sleep deprivation are not a good mix.   What’s more the intense energy of creation tends to drive one to work faster in such a moment, to push harder just to get through things.  That is the moment to catch oneself.  Thankfully I did and went home.  Otherwise I’m fairly sure I would have caused either my piece or myself harm in that last hour.  As it is we are both fine.

Stopping at the right point not just for the work, but for oneself  is one of the essential skills of an artist.  It’s not something that gets addressed by many teachers, but I doubt you’d find many successful artists who lack it.

Written by marycoreymarch

May 4, 2010 at 10:35 pm

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Kiln survival

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unmolding the glass head

I’ve just un-molded the head and thankfully things went more or less alright in the kiln.  The defects that happened are in places where they don’t matter (under the hair line).  No fractures, no breaks.  There are a few discolorations inside the face, possibly from stray material in the broken glass I used.  In future I’ll know not to use glass someone else has broken- unknowns are too likely.

A trace of carbon, probably from some wax trapped in a small corner caused some discoloration on the tip of the mask’s bird-tail (seen in the photo).

Still-= the parts that matter are clear.  I was expecting and even hoping for a little distortion in the image, so bubbles are fine.  I was actually planning to warp the images I projected.  I’m waiting to see how much the glass warps the image before I start though.

She came out well.

One thought I’m having is that even if I sandblast the areas besides the mask and eyes it may still be too transparent and too clear rather than white.  I might get a better effect if I used a thin layer of oil with wax medium worked into the skin.  Have to see how well (or if) it will hold though.  I imagine that once it’s sandblasted the surface will take wax nicely.  It would give it a little more opacity without going opaque and a more skin-like texture.

Written by marycoreymarch

April 23, 2010 at 9:28 pm

Chance and Excellence

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Inspector (first stage from chance)

So Wednesday night I learned that not getting my piece into last week’s firing was actually a blessing in disguise.  The temperature regulator on the kiln broke, and so what was supposed to be 500 degrees became over 1200.  Oops.  I never did like electric kilns.  I like to see the cones.  Everything in there died, including the flower pots used to hold the glass that flows into the molds.

An element of chance indeed.

I have what many people would consider diametrically opposed methods of being.  Anyone who knows me outside of any work I do knows me as a bit forgetful, messy, whimsical, bizarre, playful… while people who know me from any work I do or classes I take (same thing really) will tell you that I’m a perfectionist, always planning, exacting to a degree, always double-checking, assessing, always on time, etc.   Except when I’m experimenting… and then the feathers (or wax or dye) tend to fly and one had best stand back.

On the one hand I want things to work the best way possible.  I want to know how everything works and make it work better.  I want to do the best job I can… and I take it all VERY seriously.  Doing anything by halves?  Forget it.   …and so generally most people look at me like I’m insane when I describe an idea I haven’t yet done or they are watching a piece in progress.  In the case of some pieces, if they are looking at a finished work and they understand what went into it, doubly so.  “Do you torture yourself on purpose?”  I feel that one must always pursue excellence as much as possible.  People of similar mind seem to be the only ones who don’t look at me like I’m mad.

At the same time, I’m a believer in riding chaos, and that one must let go of the work as one is working.  Holding on too tight to work either stunts it or kills it.  As precise as one can be nothing is certain and the flexibility to allow the unexpected creates space for new things.  There are things one can learn from chance that one can learn no other way.   Letting go, getting messy, throwing things at the wall to see if they stick.  How else to expand oneself but to explore the unknown?  If the entirety of one’s work and process is too safe, too understood I feel that it dies.

I best love work that is a response to something outside myself- it becomes an exploration of understanding.  I best love processes that I am discovering as I go.  I love the challenge in not knowing what is coming next and knowing that I will have to deal with changes.  I do love visceral work, but it almost feels too easy no matter how lovely the result- like singing or improvisational dancing  (most of the Sculpted Canvas series are very much that).  I could do many such pieces in the time it takes me to do one of the other sort of piece… but I somehow I am most caught by the work that really pushes me.

At the same time, I do tons of tests in discovering a new process, try to think of how things can go wrong, and overbuild on the careful side.  In the case of the face that is now in the kiln (and may never come out of alive) I did a backup mold weeks ago (not a complete copy, but a good start) because my ceramics experience taught me just how fickle kilns can be.  Experimentation is perhaps the line between chance and excellence.  In experimentation we are exploring the unknown, but also cataloging what we learn in order to pursue new levels of excellence (as well as all kinds of other new things).

Again- I best like the combination.  The Scales piece included over a thousand small, fast paintings as part of a larger, more methodical work.  The Identity Tapestry involved experimenting with color- dying several hundred different colors of yarn and learning as I went how to produce specific color variations.  Both pieces also involved the viewers as participants in creating the work; which took whatever order I have laid out and submitted it to the changes of the audience.  It is amazing to watch your artwork finished by hundreds of people.  The entirety of the Exquisite Corps Project was a study in chance, response and interaction.  And since Dada “Starting From Chance” is nearly an official process… one I make a point to do when I feel too methodical.

As always, I believe in a fine line between seeming contradictions- tightrope-walking a paradoxical line between methodical order, experimentation and chance.

Written by marycoreymarch

April 10, 2010 at 1:23 am