New York

Jarrod Beck visited by Nick Naber

I met with Jarrod on a rainy windy Wednesday, right before Thanksgiving. We headed to Governors Island together on a small ferry, taking in the views of Lower Manhattan and the approaching Island. Jarrod is in residency on the island through the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council (LMCC) Process Space 2014 Residency.  His space is littered with work, text, and small sculptures. In a lot of ways his studio is a complete installation in itself. You can feel the artists’ presence there, working intensely day and night.

Tell me a bit about this Lower Manhattan Cultural Council space here on Governors Island.

When you go to these residencies you go with a project in mind, but the reality of a residency is that you’re not alone, you’re going to go to make this project in the context of other people making things, in a place you may or may not be familiar with. I’ve been living in New York City since 2000 but in the last 5 years I have been traveling intensively–to make installations, participate in residencies and to collaborate–around the US and around the world. I came back to New York in a big way this summer, with 30,000 lbs. rubber that became Uplift, a public installation on view through next summer in Sara Roosevelt Park in the Lower East side. It’s been great to grow roots here again with the LMCC, an organization that has supported me since 2008, and to do it in this particular space, Building 110 on Governors Island, because of the other artists I’m in residence with, because of this view of downtown. I see this place as both part of New York and not part of it. It was its protector, but now it sits under its immense shadow. It’s an island swimming, against the current, on its way to the big island.

My neighbors (here at LMCC) are Will Rawls–a choreographer and performance artist, Brendan Fernandes–a dancer, making video works, Jean-Marie Casbarian makes these haunting photographic pieces rooted in her emotions, Leah Raintree traces of the environment of the forces at play with and against us, there are playwrights, architects, painters here. All of these ways of making are represented and they each are a part of my larger practice. The diversity of the ways of making here have helped me develop my project, Falls. This is a safe nest to take risks in. The version of Falls I’m working on here is called Fallt, the fall that comes after Falls alphabetically and a fall with an end to it, Falltstarted with three stories, and one of those stories is about watching the Twin towers fall. It’s been humbling to make work in the face of my view of that area of downtown.

You make work as a solo artist but you also work collaboratively. Do you think your collaborative nature comes from your architecture background?

I think that my education as an architect was training me to be a genius, a Frank Lloyd Wright, a singular director who has a vision that a lot of other people are expected to construct. Not all of students of architecture are going to be starchitects. My experiences of making architecture and working as an exhibition designer have been beautifully collaborative. The projects I’ve built, especially those with the Guggenheim Museum, were amazing because everyone I worked with was inclusive, open with their research and expertise and they all were artists or loved artists. We were all on the same side trying to make a curatorial vision into a space that could be entered. And doing that in a genius building that Wright designed at 1071 5th Avenue. We were always saying,“Let’s try it.”

The collaborative side of my practice also stems from my desire to teach, because education should be a kind of collaboration. I need the time in my studio alone, to sit in the dirty pit I’ve built for myself and to draw and build myself out of it. But sometimes you have to go out into the light, right? I began searching out ways to make installations at universities so that I could work large, work without commercial pressures but mostly to get and give some of that university energy. I love building installations with students participating. And I think they get a lot out of seeing someone juxtapose different ways of making, like take etched copper plates prepared for printmaking, and casting plaster into them. With Balance, created at Universidad de Venezuela, I came in with an idea to build drawings of existing murals on campus, which were under siege. Each of those drawings was the first push–the students or people from the community took ownership and made the project relevant to their place. In that Caracas the participants had to show me (and did, so generously) the ways they understood their city at that moment. We all see things differently and if you can have a voice and express that, it can inspire a reason to make something.

The Falls project is a different kind of collaboration. Players come and go, but each of them is an equal partner while we are making the work. I made a version of Falls in Provincetown last winter with Mark Louque. I am more of a builder and Mark’s brain thinks through sound. I have always wanted to work with a sound artist and the project came at a time for Mark when he was trying all of these different ways to expand from his life. We are both very hands on, good producers and ready to be spontaneous. We were both ready to fall in to something. Regardless of who comes up with the ideas, I feel that in these projects everyone is an author.

You did a project at the Rauschenberg Residency in Captiva where you allowed people to walk on a work, and then the project was changed. Can you talk about that collaboration a bit more?

 That island is incredibly special because you are occupying the spaces in which Rauschenberg lived and worked. My studio was where he chose to die–these are spiritual spaces–and I was definitely affected by the energy he left in that space. I was with an amazing group there and the staff are so generous with their time and materials. We were given open access to all things Bob. I made prints with the last rolls of paper that Rauschenberg didn’t get to. I can’t express how much that meant to me. There’s a desire to be respectful of the place, but it’s not a museum, it’s a studio. He made like a motherfucker, and you can feel it, the energy was palpable.

There’s a building on the campus called the Fish house–it feels like a satellite because it sits out on the water.  It’s not used during the residency for someone to live in, it’s an open-to-everyone space. You can go there anytime, take a nap or go have a conversation with someone, or be there to see the sunrise. It is this temple and sanctuary for everyone.  I was working on a project with all of the left over plexiglass on campus, all the old plexi from framed works, and the plexi he used as hurricane windows. I needed a dimension to adhere to give all of these different sized pieces a format. I had become especially attuned to the planks on the pier on the way out to the Fish House and one day I just leaped into the decision to cut the plexi to this dimension. Josh and Matt from the residency cut it and I screen printed it made this big plexiglass piece called Unprotected that I showed at the Bemis Center later that summer. At first I thought I would install the piece on the pier, but that would mean a lot of screwing into the pier, and I didn’t like the idea of that. The other part of that was we were a pilot year and they were in the process of renovating. There was this slight polishing that needed to happen and that’s why there was all this plexiglass, and paper around, and why the pier walk was wonky. The pier walk was going to be lost; it’s probably already been taken out, they will probably put in that plastic wood stuff to replace it. This piece could only have existed in that moment, and I wanted to capture that. I was doing way too many things there, I just couldn’t stop, I’m sure everyone that goes there has this experience, you want to be a printmaker, a poet and you want to make paintings. You want to dance, and swim and eat and drive around in golf cart hunting coconuts. Art is life out there. Towards the end of the residency I began planning one last gesture to our time at Captiva. Some kind of grand erasure. But I wasn’t sure when I was going to be able to do the project.

Unprotected, 2013

Unprotected, 2013

I think collaboration is a beautiful thing, but I don’t do it all the time. When I get into certain rhythms, I need to follow those and be by myself to process the work. But one of the last mornings I got up early and decided to put my own projects aside for a moment and make this event happen. I wanted to do some sort of performance. I felt this need to collaborate with the group, but I needed to do it in a quiet and private way. I had not been collaborating as much during my time there, even though that is the idea of the residency, and that has always been the focus of the place. I was focused on my own work.  I wanted to make this gesture and give something to the other ten people that were there.  I got up really early; I stapled paper to the pier. Jim Hodges watched me, but also in his poetic way knew to let me do it in my own space, even though the paper kept flying up and out of my hands and into the ocean. It was the last day and we were having a meeting in the Fish house and basically to get there, everyone had to walk on this white paper.  People did different things when they approached, they noticed if they got their feet wet they could make more of a mark, some people ran up and down it, others rode their bikes on it, it was beautiful––so Rauschenberg to make a tire print. It was solemn, it was white paper, everything at the residency is white (almost too much white). They painted the house I was staying in grey and it was this huge upset, because everything has to be white. In a lot of ways it was a gesture toward that. It had this ridiculousness to it, which is important to my work, there is always something that looks a little funny or a little frail or shouldn’t be there.  With this work the wind would take the paper and I would have to go swimming into the bay to retrieve it. I kept that paper, I kept those prints, I don’t know why. I don’t know what I will do with them.  That piece is about that moment, but looking back on it, the zone of time when people aren’t sure what is going on, I love that moment. That’s the moment I make for.

Can you talk about the role of story, or mystery that happens in your work? Could you talk about that moment more?

In Caracas I was showing them a drawing, and I told them we were going to make a project with all of this discarded furniture that had enclosed part of the architectural school, this kind of slowly aggregating barricade in a UNESCO-protected building.  And there is this moment where they don’t believe you, they think you’re crazy or they don’t really understand you.  At Rauschenberg I was dealing with people in the arts and they know the artist life, they are more comfortable not knowing the intent of the project, looking closely for clues, trusting that they are in the supportive hands of an artist.  And they make a story from that. I want all of my work to have that. I have a huge story behind all of these things. I am constantly talking to myself, that’s what all this text is (points out his studio), I don’t usually show this in a gallery situation but it’s a big part of my sketchbooks and studio space. It’s out a lot more then usual in this space on the island.  The story is not so obvious when you look at my work but I offer it freely when asked, but my first desire is to present materials and situations that grab you, that link up to some memory that you have, or some relationship you have with a material. A deep emotion that sits with you but doesn’t isn’t always visually and materially manifested for you. I want the viewer to start there, there is very little magic in my work, it’s pretty straightforward. I don’t think it works with everyone, but I know it works with some people and that’s great. I realized this when I built an installation for the LMCC Swing Space program 6 years ago, there were hundreds of people that came through that space, and some of them were looking for the Bodies exhibit, because it was at South Street Seaport at the time. A lot of people didn’t get it but ten people out of all those people got the installation, I mean, they connected to it. They had an experience, and we had an experience together in it. It was a huge space, 3,000 sq ft. It was like being inside my head, it was insanity.  The ten people came in over the few months and we connected and they connected with something in the work and told me about it. It was important because it made me realize that’s the kind of artist I want to be, I’m not sure I want to make experiences for only ten people, but I definitely care more that ten people connect with it then a quantity of people seeing it. I want that kind of engagement with the work, I want to make opportunities for that kind of engagement to happen. It may not be a gallery, sometimes it is, and I love to show in a gallery, its great to have that focus. Its in performance, its in plays, the collaborative performance stuff I started to call processions, because they have this sort of walk that goes with them, and if you walk long enough together, something is going to happen. I have been setting up these walks with people, and sometimes we build things, and other times we are just walking and talking. And not talking.


We should be walking now! As humans we evolved as we walked, and we talk while we walk, there is this essential thing in that locomotion even more than drawing (which I think is essential too). It’s so beautiful when people walk together. There is something about your energy, your blood is pumping you’re in motion and there are different things coming out of you. I just had this walk in Italy with the Siena Art Institute, two weeks ago it was a 9-hour walk from Siena to where a symposium called Territori was happening in Colle di Val d’Elsa. These three students said, “Yea, we’ll get up at 5 am and walk with you,” I didn’t expect anyone to participate; I thought it was going to just be me and I was ready for that. I thought, “Ok, we’re not going to have this big discussion,” but then it just happens. With each person, I had this moment where we had this deep connection, where intimate things were shared. One was about the end of a relationship; the other about being an architect.  It was incredible. I would never have gotten that experience if I were standing in front of a drawing in a gallery. I like to stand in front of drawings in galleries, and I do have great experiences there but the walk kind of speeds things up, it’s also a reason to spend 9 hours with somebody.

Walking is an architectural thing, moving through space and how space affects people.

I think about that a lot, who I am, who I started as. I am still an architect in a way. I’m an architect in the way that I make work and approach the world. I’m not capturing a story, not telling you the story. I am putting you in this environment and asking you to give something too.  That’s the kind of architecture I wanted to make, I realized that if I called myself an artist and operated as an artist I would have more opportunities to do that on more intimate scales, that I could build myself. My ideas weren’t ready for a million dollars; they would have been thrown out if they were for a lobby of a skyscraper. I need to approach my work this way.  I think of the work I make now as architecture, its not always habitable but I see myself making habitable space in the future. And also making a drawing or something that doesn’t have a use. There is freedom in that.

 Is space/place the impetus for most of your work?

 Before I left for Provincetown, the first time, in 2011, I had been making drawings in New York that were about New York, the streets of New York and the broken pieces of the city everywhere. I was collecting stuff off the street like broken glass and plexiglass, and I would take it to the studio and trace the breaks over and over again. They were super laborious drawings but they created this time for me to contemplate that break, the break in the glass and all that a break references. I would wear the break down and I would change the line, it was a slow way to change the resultant forms that the lines built up to.

I took that process to Provincetown. It was a 7-month residency and within 24 hours of arriving I had my worktable set up and I just drew like crazy. I would get up early (5 or 6am) and I would draw, draw, draw and at 4 in the afternoon I would say, “I should probably go outside because it’s this beautiful day.” Before arriving I didn’t know that Provincetown was more than a small port town. It’s mostly the Cape Cod National seashore. I began going on runs and walks and experiencing the landscape. I had been drawing all day and I’d get out there and I’d be searching for lines and tracing things with my eyes.  Noticing the landscape I thought, “my drawings need to get bigger,” they were already around 8 foot long, but they didn’t have bigness to them, I wanted more expanse. I started paying more attention to where I was. There is this amazing thing called the breakwater, which is this stacked boulder dike that connects the west end of town to the beach. I was amazed, it was 100 years old the year I was there.  It’s not nature, it’s so completely manmade, but it’s unquestionably of the environment. I wanted to make work like that. Someone took all these boulders and put them in the sea. Fit them together. And so many people and I could walk on them, to get somewhere, to experience the place. I learned later that during the height of the HIV epidemic so many people asked for their ashes to be scattered there. I mean, who need the Spiral Jetty? I tried many ways to make work about it, or with it. I ended up doing one of the first walks as part of that. I’d be on the breakwater, or on the beach, staring at the ocean and into the horizon and then eventually those experiences began coming into the work. I had figured something out with those lines in those drawings, and I remember thinking––it was Thanksgiving, and I had made more drawings in 2 months then I’d made in the previous 3 years. And while I’m obsessed with quantity–the ways thousands of line can bundle to make a form, or slices of mining conveyor belts can stack to make a cross section of the earth–my work is about an experience, about an experience of some essential quality of a place. The light in Provincetown was incredible. I knew that I could take the next 5 months and make more drawings, more drawings then anyone has ever made, or I could want shift it a bit, and let this place come in a little more rather than sticking with this path that I knew and was really about New York. The broken things were so much bigger, and slower on the cape. I just started to make these huge drawings and every other thing would fail, at one point I was mixing plaster in bags and throwing them into the ocean. Doing these dumb things in order to figure out what man’s place is in this landscape and Provincetown is a great place to test it because it’s pretty small, you can run most of it. I made this huge drawing calledTerminal Moraine (2012), which is over 20 feet long, made of dusted charcoal and a plaster horizon that was this big breakthrough because it was a drawing but it was also an installation. It was spiritual and emotional; people stood in front of it and started crying. They got it. The audience in Provincetown is so special, artists, poets, playwrights, and lovers. Maybe I’m a junkie for this emotional outlay but I want to make that, I want to make those types of experiences. Because, I am an architect and I look at site and program I try to find a story I am interested in and go from there. The Provincetown project was a moment that I was reminded to be humble and let this big powerful thing come into the work.

Terminal Moraine   (2012)

Terminal Moraine (2012)

Can you tell me more about the project you are working on here?

 It’s like throwing bags of plaster into the ocean; I’m kind of at that stage with it right now.Falls, now Fallt, started with three stories. I used to work with and had an intimate relationship with a sculptor named Glen Seator who fell off his house in Vinegar Hill and died in 2002. In 2003 I had another friend Patrick who attempted to kill his wife and jumped to his death from his fire escape. This was in the East Village, and he died from injuries from the fall. Finally, thinking about 9/11 and the people who decided to jump out of the windows of the twin towers. I’m replaying the moment of watching the towers fall from a spot on Second Avenue, actually, not far from the current site of Uplift. It takes those three falls and tries to make sense of them.

I think about Glen and Patrick specifically, because they were important to me in my life and I lost them in ways that are hard for me to comprehend. Glen was an artist, who had a design element to his work, and I left my job as an architect to be a manager for one of his public art projects. I never went back to architecture. He showed me what you could do as an artist through public projects. I met Patrick at the Art Students League and we were printmakers together. In addition to our weekly etching class with Sylvie Covey, we only had a few moments with one another, but one of them was when he asked to draw my portrait. It’s such an intimate connection [having your portrait drawn] to have with someone, a totally sweet guy and something bad happened to him in his head. The third experience that Fallt touches on is the events of 9/11. I was living here, had been for just over a year, and I was supposed to fly on the 12th to go work for Glen but I didn’t end up leaving. Trying to process that day, a lot of people lost people that they knew, I didn’t but I feel the need to process it. Sometimes this project has been specifically about these stories. I did a project at the Institute Cervantes in 2011 where I wrote a play that was mostly about Patrick’s story and built an installation for it to be performed in. The play had six scenes; it was directed by Bill Oliver, that were based on moments from Patrick’s last month alive. In Provincetown with Mark Louque, Falls became more abstract and more about the idea of a body falling from great heights, about falling in love—what that means, a power dynamic between two people.  I want to figure out a way to express gravity. I’m thinking about how you could architecturalize the feeling of your stomach dropping. Falls, as we showed it at the Hudson Walker gallery at the Fine Arts Work Center consisted of a series of drawings in space with many layers that we moved through and acted on, we made marks on them and that became the artwork, the thing people saw when they entered the gallery later in the evening.

On Governors Island I am trying to bring Fallt into more of a walk. What happened in Provincetown was intimate. It was between Mark and I. It was a project for one another and less so for the people that live there. I want to bring the project back to a larger group and into a larger public. To do that I’m writing as much as I can and printing it and putting it on the floor. I’m pacing the studio. I’ve created a landscape that I walk over and on everyday, and from time to time excavate from it. I recently made a project for the Time Equities Art In Buildings program on West 10th street. It is this small window showroom space; you can see it 24 hours a day but you cannot get into the space. On the two windows I placed text that was pulled from this (pointing to the floor) that was kind of the first time that the text was shown so prominently in my work. I chose two portions that dealt with unraveling, a scene of two people taking apart their furniture thread by thread and the second window, facing the street was about two people standing at a fence looking into the horizon.

 This text has strayed from those specific stories; I think it might be recited during a walk. I’ve learned from this installation that people will act as they will act and sometimes they will see the text, just like I have these days where I have to do something else, I can’t look at these words and at what they mean for one more second. Sometimes it’s the last 5 minutes before the ferry and I write and then I go home and write all night and print it out and put it in here. The text is driving me crazy, I’ve also started to–because I was homeless for most of the fall–make little models of studios and apartments.

I’ve been living out of hotels for a lot of the fall, and at one point when I was not in NY I was going crazy without a workspace. I just started drawing and these forms kept coming out that are slick and monolithic, I don’t know where they are coming from and I don’t know what they mean. They are these kind of shields, they have nothing to do with the heavy layered, laden, works I’ve been making these past few years. I started making tons of folded paper forms, out of the note pads and stationery they shove in the drawers of your room at a business hotel. When I came back to the island in the morning it spurred these things that you’re seeing around, hovering over the floor. They are macquettes for sculpture but they have become their own thing, pieces in their own right. I like that they hover over the text pieces. This is kind of a city, my city, I feel very placed, in all of this dirty chaos. I don’t think I’ll ever have text on the ground in a project because its too direct a translation for me. I can’t describe the relationship between the museum board pieces and the text yet. They are so opposite of one another but I have a feeling that eventually they will come together and I’ll see what was happening at the same time. The tension between them is perfect. In times of stress it’s good to go back to things you know. I know dry pigment and how to cut and score cardboard. So that’s what I do when the text is too tangled. I’m also getting ready for a residency at Dieu Donné Papermill and these paper sculptures have been great for thinking about that because I want to make mammoth pieces of paper that are a piece, not paper to draw on but paper that is the piece. I want them to be huge, I want to build breaks into them so that they have a performative moment in them and then they dry and exist forever. I’ve been putting this museum board through the wringer, soaking it with ink and solutions of pigment and acrylic. I’m also scoring it, they aren’t in plane anymore and they are bending. They have a crispness but they also look like they’ve been in a flood. And maybe that’s a way I think a great fall would be like. I moment you decided to step into the air, the feel of that decision and the air against your skin and the wet and overwhelming sensation, the push on your organs when you realize what you’ve done. When you are about to hit the thing that finally stops you.


Additional Studio Images:

From the Basement of Polly Shindler

A studio visit and discussion with Keith Hoffman

 Polly Shindler (b.1977, New Haven, CT) received her B.A. in History from The University of Massachusetts and her M.F.A. in Painting from Pratt Institute.  Her recent shows include “Aggro Crag” at BOSI Contemporary, “MsBehavior” at Artbridge’s Drawing Room, and “Black Foliage” at Nudashank in Baltimore. Curatorial projects include “One and Done” and “Future Folk Pt. 1 & 2” in Brookyn, NY.  Polly was named one of “30 Artists to Watch in 2012” by NY Arts Magazine and attended the Vermont Studio Center in

 Studio visit on May 28, 2014 in Bushwick, Brooklyn, New York.

I met Polly Shindler at her Pratt studio in 2011. She was one of the first artists to make an impression on my fresh-to-New-York curiosity and naivety, yet she did not remember me when I contacted her for another studio visit.

 I emailed Polly last month, in May 2014, after watching her career and work develop over the past three years. In that time, we have both graduated from our respective, and respected, MFA programs. We are both trying to balance studio practice with real life and still reflecting on the MFA experience.

 I visited Polly in her studio on May 28, 2014 as she was preparing for the Bushwick Open Studios. Her walls were filled with whimsical and playful acrylic abstractions and nonsensical text pieces with phrases such as “horse feathers,” “word salad,” and “SMART!” I immediately noticed the range of working styles and depth of exploration. In the vast limitlessness of abstract painting, much like a storage basement, Polly is able to excavate joyful relics, shiny, pretty things, and masterful renditions. Polly and I continued to talk for about 45 minutes, below is a transcription of our conversation.

Polly Shindler: You live here right?

Keith Hoffman: Yes, I live in the Lower East Side.

 PS: I have a question about how we know each other? Is it Nick Naber, maybe?

 KH: I was going to explain…I moved to NYC a year before going back to school. I visited all the open studios and MFA shows and your open studios at Pratt. You were one of the first artists that I reacted to in a strong and positive way.

 PS: Aww, wow!

 KH: But, yes I do know Nick. And that is a coincidence. I met Nick while installing a show. I was working for the artist; he was working for the gallery. We have kept in contact and he asked me to join this project, The Coastal Post, wherein we do interviews and studio visits with artists outside of our immediate social/professional circles. The project seems to be wrapped in the MFA experience as contributors and participants all have, or are earning, MFAs. So, when I was deciding whom to interview, I thought about going full circle, so to speak, and returning to your work. And I do love your work!

 PS: Thank you!

KH: So tell me about the beginning of your MFA experience. What brought you to the point of applying to school?

PS: I was working at an art store right next to the Yale School of Art. I saw a lot of art there. And I used to do more architectural work…a lot of building and trains. After working at the store for so long and seeing all these art students come and go, I thought, “I’m gonna do this! I want to do this for real.” So I applied to a bunch of places and got into Pratt. And I went to Pratt.

 KH: So that is when you moved to NY? For school?

 PS: Yes! I never wanted to live in New York, but I thought this is what I want to do, so I should probably be here.

 KH: Do you still want to be here [in New York]?

 PS: It ebbs and flows, you know. About this time last year, I thought, “life is too hard here.”  But my circumstances changed, for the better, and now I think, “Where am I going to go?” I loved living in Austin TX, but I got nothing from it. It’s a beautiful place to live, but people aren’t … and I feel like this is making it work. I’m obviously not making a living off of this [art], but I work 3-4 days a week. I have a job for that reason. I don’t have a conscious thought while I’m there. Our lives can be so solitary in the studio, at home, I’m glad I have a job where I am forced to talk to people. And be nice to them. It is good for my brain to be social. You don’t realize that being around all these people is different thanengaging [with them].

 KH: Are you still social with your classmates [from Pratt]?

 PS: Yeah, I mean…I see them more than anyone else. These [studio mates] are my best friends. We have a really nice ah…I talk to Will [Hutnick] everyday! We are like bookends. We are both in relationships but I still feel like he is my other half. We share part of the same brain.

KH: And has he [Will] has shared this studio with you the entire time?

 PS: Yes, he found the spot. A couple people have come and gone but its pretty much that same group of us. But a lot of people have left NYC. Some people have that “I-can’t-make-it-work-here” thing. “I can’t work a real job and still do this [art].”

 KH: It doesn’t seem sustainable at first, but you learn your ways. I’ve been less interested in showing my work in the climate and scene of what is going on today. I’m more about creating a space to show work rather that altering my work to fit into someone else’s space. I’m uncompromising with my work, so that is why I am building these other projects, creating space and involving/inviting artists that I respect and want to collaborate with. That has been my focus since graduating. And I am interested in supporting other artists.

 PS: I go back and forth. I love curating. But I have to decide where I want my energies. Will and I have curated a few shows and I love that. But I have to be in a certain mindset. I learn so much. So I guess I’m not so much in my little world.

 KH: Are there any recent shows that you have really liked or that you have thought about a lot?

 PS: I went to an art crit group and I was introduced to 10 new artists. This woman, MegAtkinson blew my mind. It is text-based work; her palette is really cool. Will and I always have this show in our heads, a roster that we keep adding to. And she just got put on it. I’d love to see her…There is that part of you that wants to show someone something awesome. I haven’t seen something like that, her touch, in a long time. But I don’t get out to shows as much as I should.

 KH: Do you feel bad about it? Why?

 PS: Yes, because I feel selfish…for wanting to work on my own things and not wanting to go out. The last big show I went to was Volta - a couple months ago. I loved some things I saw. I am now obsessed with Paul Wapers. Oh my god! I just think he is phenomenal. I just want to eat it. His work is so good. And what I love about it is that it is representational, but in a very sort of absurd way.

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 KH: There is a lot of pressure to see as many shows [art exhibitions] as possible. And there is a lot of judgment for what you didn’t see. But you must decide your saturation point. You quickly realize that seeing every show eats your time and doesn’t always help with the working process.

 PS:  Or it works against it! One thing that really helped me in school was writing about shows and not just seeing them. I had a couple classes that I had to review shows. It helped me to see … what people see right away. The first thing you must answer is, “what is the space like?” Then, describe things without judging them. Then, you can talk about what is working, what is not working, etc. As far as being critical in grad school, I wanted people to…well, at first I wanted everyone to just love everything I do…but after a while you need someone to kick your ass a little bit. I felt like, besides a professor, no one would really say anything. After a few weeks I thought “Really! Is no one going to say anything? Cuz’ this looks like a hundred things I’ve seen before.”

 KH: What would you like people to address when discussing your work?

 PS: I like when people tell me what they see. It helps me hone down. Because so much of what I do it intuitive. A lot of times there is a plan but then things happen. Different things happen while you are painting. But my work was much more cut-and-dry when I was in school, now I’m doing everything.

 KH: Because your work has changed a lot?

 PS: Yes, it used to be much more thematically concise. Like Oh! Everything in here in a color, and has gold leaf, and it’s a strong symbol. And now everything is all over the place. Because you can’t do the same thing for too long. I don’t want to be the one-trick pony. I don’t want to be “that gold leaf girl.” But I want to do everything that is in my brain.

KH: How quickly do you work?

 PS: Very fast. Extremely fast. I can’t start a painting and leave the studio until I know where it is going. I’ll do three paintings in a day. I might paint over them in a year.

KH: Is this your set-up for the [upcoming] open studios?

 PS: I’ll probably change it around. It will be salon style, but I can’t show everything. I did a residency in Vermont this last year and I decided to work really large, which was great, but now the paintings are just rolled and in the closet. I’ll show as much as I can!

 KH: Are you mixing many materials?

 PS: They are all acrylic! And I use spray paint, glitter paint, varnish. I stopped using oil long ago. I need things to dry quickly. I may use oil bar or oil stick here or there. But I don’t have the patience for oil anymore.

KH: Do you ever paint representationally?

 PS: It’s not really where my interests lie. I really am so interested in seeing what paint can do…and mixing paint and getting the right viscosity is so fun for me. Having to deal with anything else besides that is… Well, this [pointing] is the first thing that I’ve painted that isreal. I feel like…why not? They are more absurd. But I like when art is funny. I want something to be winking at me a little bit. And why not? If it came to me and its funny andcould look cool. Not because its brilliant or creative, but because it’s just stupid. And that’s what I like about it.

 KH: In a painting like this, are there many compositions that have been reworked? Is that what I can see in the texture?

 PS: Yes, that has been a lot of different paintings. This is just where is it right now. It might be different in a year. I have documentation of this but it might change.

KH: When do you say a painting is done?

 PS: I say a painting is done, but I never know. If I say it’s done, it means…it is done for right now. I might look at it in the future and be like, “what was I thinking?”

 KH: Are any of the works in series? Or just “one-offs”?

 PS: You know… I make them in series. I made these [pointing] all around the same time. But I like them all together [as a group]. They are sillier together. And this one [pointing] is sort of Saved by the Bell. Do you notice how everything looks like Saved By the Bell with floating geometry, pop colors and gradients? Or Squiggle Vision where everything in squiggly and jumpy?

 KH: Yes, of course I know the Saved by the Bell look, which appropriately indicates my age. And leads me to my final question… How old are you?

 PS: I’m 37…So that is that! That is my story!

KH: Thank you!


Additional Images:

Melissa Murray

I visited Melissa Murray at her studio in Bushwick after the rush of Open Studios. Melissa graduated from the University of Texas in 2012. Our time in Austin barely over-lapped and she now lives and works in Brooklyn. Murray’s work can be playful and irreverent. One of her wearable works is composed of two headless My Little Ponies burnt together bottoms-up and tails out; a decorative fleur de lis of symmetrical fountains of shiny, brightly-colored, fake hair. These are on equal footing with Murray’s other works, which are incredibly earnest. American Snakeskin (2014) is a painting on a six-foot long, skinny handmade stretcher that vulnerably bows inward suggesting a slight waist. It’s shown with the long sheet of bubble-wrap that was used to print the texture onto its surface. The bubble-wrap, displayed in front of the painting, is still caked with paint as if it has just been peeled away. Murray schooled me on these, and her other hyper processed-based paintings, and various object-based installations created from the mass of found material filling up her studio. 

There’s so much going on in this space. I see a salt rock lamp, wrinkled velvet, sunglasses with frog-hand earpieces, parts of old shoes and toys, and piles of broken CD’s. There’s also all that storage out-of-reach and above our heads.

Yeah all my good work is up there [Laughs].

What’s the most important thing you keep around you in the studio? What are you looking at right now?

Lately reading has been especially important for my process—even more than looking at other visual art. For the past year I keep returning to Kathy Acker’s Blood and Guts in High School and Testo Junkie by Beatriz Preciado. Both are radical texts that explore bold ways of living. They turn a key for me with rebellious funky free, queer people cutting up the world, cutting up their bodies, and being a diaper for the day’s residuals. Transgression functions as a creative tool for me and as an end point in my process. Demolishing what’s a “good painting” and recovering the shrapnel. The work comes from a lot of moments in the studio with this sort of neurosis—of re-working and re-stretching along with trashing, breaking, splurging, seducing, and cleansing material. The bravery and that sort of method are backed by those inspirations, and reading is a huge part of that. I’m currently working on an homage to Kathy Acker—an installation to blow up her dream map for a large space—manipulating the sequence so the text and drawings can be entered like a painting, i.e. through a relation to the body and to seeing.

Are you writing or using text in any of your works now?

I’m composing a textual component to be read by Siri to accompany this assemblage. In my mind, this piece is definitely a sort of cyborg. There’s a rinky-dink watering can from a thrift store paired with a vibrator holder that I purchased from a BDSM yard sale, and both sit atop a studio bucket and blanket. The form could be androgynous—with an element of Mother Nature, a phallic-looking spout, and squirting. 

Mostly, these objects just went together. The holder fit perfectly into the handle of the watering can. And this particular holder is made of clear plastic so it looks like a representation of water. There’s a tension between this fluid material and its container. To me containers are like contexts. They both mold and define content through their framing. Here, I’m confusing the relationship so it’s no longer clear what’s controlling what.

The lightness feels narrative to me—like a dream. I don’t want it to feel too much like a prop, but I definitely think there’s something childish about it—play fantasy. It’s a new territory I’ve been getting into.Fantasy and dreams are great source material because you’re collaborating with your subconscious. I wouldn’t say that I have directly created anything based on my dreams, but I’m looking for this certain fluidity in my work that relates to that level of processing.

You’re using a lot of abject found and trash materials. Does this relate to your reading of Acker?

No, but abjection is kind of funny. It makes me think of ugliness, an attraction to ugliness, or an attractive ugliness. I definitely relate to that, but more in a process way. I have a hoarder’s mentality. For so long, I’ve been collecting so many things for reasons that I can’t put into words. I don’t feel like my final products are ugly, but maybe some people think they are. Mostly I see the trash materials I find and use as unique, and energized in a certain way by the action that’s happened to them and the life they’ve had on the street.

More than abjection, works like the white stretcher is where i left you (2014) are more built up in a residue of memory. This was my ex-girlfriend’s blanket from her childhood. I was using it as a comforter, and then I brought it into the studio. It has emotional value to me so cutting it open was a sacrifice. I want the viewer to feel that, and I thought about adding writing like a Tracey Emin quilt. Instead, I’ve softly rubbed in a thin layer of white paint onto everything. I’ve just touched the surface of it barely with a brush. I don’t know if this is the final action.

It’s funny because when I found the blanket in her closet, I was like, “Really?” It’s such a ridiculous object. It’s not even real tie-dye, it’s printed. It’s wannabe tie-dye, and it’s not even good printed tie-dye. It just has this awkward low-fidelity quality. It’s cheesy like doodling your name and tracing around it until it fills the page. I guess that’s sort of abject.

But when I cut into that comforter, I took out the batting or lining (that cottony, in-between layer). I discovered that over the years the color from the printed, outer fabric had come off onto the batting inside and made this faded rainbow stain. Originally, it was white batting so it took years to come to this specific state, but it just happened. And it’s charged because of that.

It’s a similar kind of attraction I have to the crushed cans and CDs I collect from the street. The ones I usually gather are pretty messed up so they’ve had this life. Even though they’re quick for me to just pick up, it actually took a long time for them to come to look like that.

In opposition to these works that exhibit a sort of passive accretion, a lot of your materials look violently slashed and flayed. Are they deconstructive?

Its not just about violence and aggression, but action. In school, I made a series of installations playing on simple cause and effect processes. There’s a performative element in all of my work that relates to moments where I want to make the process more obvious and explicit. I want the pieces to be put into a more direct relationship with the viewer’s body. When you see that kind of rip, its very visceral. So hopefully they can feel the action—the cutting, and the peeling.

Some pieces only use objects. But many works directly quote the means of traditional painting and play with that—with a lot of exposed stretcher bars, painting on wall-bound objects (like the pillows), or stretching unusual objects for your paintings’ surfaces. How are you playing with theory in these?

I feel like that line can be a little tired on it’s own, but at the same time I am also obsessed with painting. But really my thought process was never limited to painting so I never felt like there was a line to cross in the first place. It’s kind of like that moment when you are reading a book and you realize that you can skip ahead—that nothing is stopping you and you don’t have to read that chapter. Sometimes I’m OCD and I have to read everything all the way through, but sometimes I can skip ahead and realize that things can change.

This reminds me of what I love about Mike Kelley. He made some huge, theatrical installations that are touching on so much, but in a really, direct and simple way. There’s nothing forced—it’s just air fresheners spraying old stuffed animals (Deodorized Central Mass with Satellites, 1991-1999); it’s Beyonce and this weird song. That’s it, and so much more. It’s really brave.

Your wearables seem to operate like that, and highlight that sort of directness.

Yeah, they’re sort of intuitive one-offs, “bling” objects on a chain. But there’s something exciting about the necklaces in that they’re potentially going to travel on a body and create a dialogue with the environment and the people around them instead of being stuck in a gallery or unseen in the studio. There was something freeing about making them originally, because they could exist just purely as fashion objects.

And on real bodies and real, narrative people, they mix with the traits of the wearer.

All of the necklaces I’m making are really gaudy and they’re pretty hard to miss. If you are wearing one, you’re really obviously wearing one. So in that sense, they can change what a person is feeling or thinking about. There is something about how costume can initiate a character. My ideal wearer is my friend, Beau. When he would wear the necklaces, he’d kind of throw them around, make outfits around them, and send me photos of them. They activated his energy—made him look at the world and think, “Hey, this necklace would look really good on that dirty payphone!” That’s what’s exciting to me—it’s not necessarily that deep, but its just playful and cool to see that the work can be fun and activated—and collaborative.

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Additional image:

Kristin Walsh visited by Kelly McCafferty

I met Kristin Walsh in October of 2013 when we both attended a month long residency at Wassaic Artist Residency in upstate New York.  We were both assigned to live in a house affectionately called the Lodge.  We bonded over the disastrous state of the communal kitchen, and a mutual love for Canal Plastics, the Pittsburgh band, Black Moth Super Rainbow, dogs (particularly our own), Sirius Radio and vegetarian cuisine.  I dragged her to yoga class and forced her to drink Harney & Sons tea and she liked it.

When we met, she was making mirrored objects that were shown in installations with digital images projected onto their surfaces and the walls surrounding them.  She was also making sculptures that were then photographed and only shown as photographs.  I liked her and her work immediately.

Kristin Walsh moved to NYC in June from Charlotte, North Carolina.  She lives in Chinatown and her studio is in Red Hook, Brooklyn.  She was born in Emerald Isle, North Carolina.  She attended the University of North Carolina at Charlotte at graduated with her BFA in 2013.  She has attended residencies at The Wassaic Artist Residency, the Vermont Studio Center and Grin City.  She has exhibited solo exhibitions of her work in the past at Visual Art Space in Raleigh, NC and has two upcoming shows in 2015 at 50/50 in Kansas City and Salisbury University in Maryland.   She is in the process of applying for grad school and we talked about how her work has changed since receiving her BFA, the process of moving to NYC, her recent residency at Vermont Studio Center, her upcoming shows and the struggle to make a perfect object.

Kelly McCafferty:  Your studio is really organized. It looks great.

Kristin Walsh:  It was a good cleaning deadline for me because it was not looking good in here.

Everything was really dusty and you feel dirty when you walk in here.

KM: How many pieces are you working on right now? Four?

KW: Mainly.  This black trophy sculpture is the only one that is finished.  All the rest aren’t finished.  These two taller ones— I think I am going to change the way they look.  I want to utilize the plastic’s ability to bend in a way that I am not right now. 

KM: Working on multiple pieces at once is different for you.

KW: I know.  Really different, normally I work intensely on one thing and finish it, then super intense on another.  I am trying to change the way I work.  Speed is a huge issue for me. 

When I first started making these new forms I was frustrated with how I would have this idea that seemed simple but it would take me so long to make it.  And it would be frustrating.  I have to get it out and move on.  Now I have been trying to get it to the point where it is almost finished and the rest is just maintenance or logistics.  I can utilize a new idea without wasting my time, even though I’m going to have to go back later and fix all the issues.  So I’m trying to rotate and that is why there are five or six trophies here that I am currently working on.

I’ve probably thrown away like 15.  I’ll just start them and be like, “No.”  Just get rid of it.  In the past I would see it to the end and then say, “No.”  It is better that I am deciding how I feel about the form early, because I can’t change that.  I can change the surface but the form is there to stay.  I’ll do that and then and leave it for a while and then see if I feel like it is worth pursuing further.

KM: Yeah, since you moved in to this studio in July how many pieces have you completed?

KW: I brought nothing.

KM: Ok. You started from scratch?

KW: I started from scratch.   Before I left, I had a show and when I applied for the show I applied with my previous work.  I had 13 pieces, and I proposed to make it 30 pieces because it was a big space.  I applied for it and months went by.  I got the show and it was in Raleigh.  I went to Vermont Studio Center and I decided I would make everything for the show at Vermont.  That was all I was going to do.

You know, I’m making that stuff and I’m just dying.  I’m just so sick of it. 

KM:  Well that is a very different residency experience too than the one we had where you went in there not knowing.  You just wanted to make stuff but you didn’t have an agenda.  But when you go to a residency and you know you have to make something for a show I feel like it changes your experience of it because you can’t do what you want.

KW:I loved Vermont Studio center, definitely my favorite residency.  I had a great time and I met so many like awesome people but the work I was making there was not fulfilling to me.  I had a tight schedule.  There is no exploration left in those.  I’m good at that technique and I can do it fast. Now.

KM: That might be something that happens to you a lot though because your brain moves quicker than the work does.

KW: Yeah, it takes so long to make objects sometimes.  That happens all the time.  I’m just like, “God, kill me if I have to sand this thing for one more day.”  I’m so sick of it.  But in the end that work actually reached the potential that I wanted it to reach and it would have been a mistake to not bring it there.  It would have been a waste if I didn’t push it that far.  But it still was not fun for me to do.  I’m glad I did it and I think it was good.  I changed the way I thought that month.  It changed me that when I went there my life was one way and I came back and I was like I’m moving to New York.  I think it was with me doing this stuff that I wasn’t into actually made me want to change a lot of stuff about my work.  I think it was a fruitful month for me.

KM: What is your schedule like? Do you work in the studio 7 days a week?

KW: Yes.  Well, I have a couple of deadlines.  I have two solo shows that open in January and February.  Applications for grad school are due January 15th. 

KM: Let’s talk about this new work a little bit.  When did you make the first one in this series?

KW: Umm, September?  I had all these ideas about it at first that I ended up abandoning one by one and the first of those ideas was that I wasn’t going to use any color that wasn’t of the material I was using.

KM: What is the material?

KW: Bondo.  I was selecting materials based on their color.  Also there is epoxy paste mixed with sand in it and concrete. It has a little bit of plaster too.

KM: And how heavy is that?

KW: That part is light because it is mostly epoxy.  You can feel.  This stuff is cool.  I like it.  It is low toxin.  Low odor.  Basically I use this like I would use fiberglass before—I switched over from that.  Which is good, because that is terrible for you.  It doesn’t really smell—it has a light hair dye smell.  It is epoxy dough.  It is like clay kind of.  But it hardens with heat.  I use wood to make barricades around them, put a heater in the box and it will dry in 30 minutes.  But it is lightweight.  It can float on water. 

KM: Is it hard to get a flat smooth edge with it?

KW: it is pretty hard yeah.  It is like this one is all like just fingery texture.  I just left it how I applied it.

KM: I think that works, it is interesting.  It is referencing clay and the mark of your hand. It almost looks like licorice or taffy or something.  The original idea was the colors of the material would determine the colors of the final thing?

KW: Yeah, I abandoned that pretty quickly.  I abandoned that with this black one because originally the black one was white and one thing that happens when you sand is that it dulls out the color because the texture is rough.

KM: The color is now made with paint?

KW: Originally the black one was white and I exposed the edges as yellow.  It was low contrast and I was disappointed.  I wanted it to be bright.  And when you are mixing the dough it looks bright but when you sand it dulls out.  The color is mixed in with powdered pigment.  I thought it would be super bright.  I have no control after I apply the layers.  How it looks, that’s how it looks.  I didn’t work on it again for three weeks and then I thought, I’m going to throw it away but then I decided, no, I’m going to paint on it and see if it is better, and it was.  At that point I decided to abandon the rule that I set for myself that I wasn’t going to apply color.  Which was sort of stupid and who cares about that.  I stopped doing that. 

KM: How did you arrive at these structures?  Where did the idea come from and what do they mean to you?

KW: Well, I was thinking a lot about any object’s ability to hold sentimental value—to change the memory of an event just by its’ association and I settled on this as a literal symbol of that—trophies referencing an event as a positive thing.  I wanted to formally represent the same generic event over and over.  All of the trophies are going to have these generic emblems.

I don’t want them to represent any specific event.  It is not like a sports trophy or something.  But just the notion of the trophy as a placeholder for an event and the form of the trophy becomes irregular and different with each one, like bent or kind of uneven or eroding.  Me grinding away exposing their layers act as an artifact to the event, the forms functioning as a point of resistance for perception.

KM: How your memory of it changes over time?

KW: It’s ability to, yes.  Even though I’m making literal trophies, I’m thinking of any object as a trophy.  Not everyday is your birthday, have you ever heard that expression?  Like to say that when you think about your life, you aren’t thinking about the 90% of the time.  The trophies are formally all different but they are all representing the same situation.  I am trying to make them irregular in different ways.  Like this one is uneven.  And this one is, you know, bent.  Another material that I really like is green edged plexiglass.  It doesn’t look like it there, because of the paper.  It looks like glass.  I am forefronting that tension between visibility and invisibility.  But it is definitely something that I have worked with before and it does closely tie with my other work in a weird way.  I’m still picking a symbol and applying content on that symbol.

KM: You are also neutralizing that symbol in a way.  With the mirrored objects you made in the past, it becomes about what they reflect, not what they really are.  With this new work, it is a symbol of an event, but you have taken away the event. 

KW:  Yeah, I guess I want them all to be vessels for some sort of content that is not implied in the form of the object itself.  This is one of the first things I’ve made where I don’t know how it is going to be at the end.  I just don’t know how it is going to look.

KM: Did you ever win any trophies or do you have any personal connections to the idea of a trophy?

KW: No, I am not a sports person.  My little brother was the sports person.  I think I do have some trophies.  I played rec basketball when I was younger.  I was actually going to try to get them when I go home for Thanksgiving.  In the beginning I wanted to make a mold of a really big trophy and cast it in rubber so that it was a puddle.  But I don’t even know if I want to do that anymore.  Beyond that, I don’t feel like I need the actual trophies to make the work.  They aren’t important. 

I went to visit my grandparents and I was walking around and I saw this trophy store and I was like, “Hey, do you guys have any trophy parts that you don’t want?”  And they gave me this little basketball trophy.  That is my only trophy here.

This is arbitrary but I watched this movie called Brooklyn Castle. Have you ever seen it?  It’s a documentary—it’s good, I definitely recommend it.  It is on Netflix.  But it is about these kids who go to a middle school in Williamsburg and they are poor and predominantly black and they have this awesome chess team and the teachers put forth the effort.  They all put in so much time after school and they do all this fundraising to travel and sustain the chess team and it is a big thing for them.  It is cool to be on the chess team and they are good and they win all these nationals.   Kids leave better schools to come play chess for that school.  Anyways, they just talk about the trophy like it is this Holy Grail.  When I watched that is when I first realized that the trophy is a great symbol for projected emotion. It is one of the only objects that doesn’t have a function.  Even when you have a sentimental object like your movie ticket stub—it still has a function.  It is for you to get into the movie.  You bought it because you had to.  A trophy has no function at all.  It is a thing that you look at and you feel emotion and the way the kids thought about it, I just started thinking about it. 

KM: What strikes me about that, for regular people that aren’t artists or art collectors it is one of the only pieces of art they might have in their home.

KW: Yeah, by it is kind of amazing that a normal person would even want that.

It has no value, art objects.  I thought that was an interesting symbol for generating memory.  I settled on it.  I didn’t know what I was trying to do, but I was trying to work around those themes.  Then I made this little trophy that I ended up throwing away.  I started the trophies and I just settled on it.  A lot of potential.  I still feel like I can make like 10 more.  A lot of times I’m struggling for ideas because I’ll have an idea and I’ll feel like I demonstrated that entire idea really well in one work.  And past that, I just need quantity.  I find an image, it is striking, and I need more.  It is not about saying something different.  It is about the power of multiples.  I’ll try to think of ideas that are reinforcing the one that is the main thing and that is where I have trouble.  But this is not like that at all.  I feel like each one that I have the idea to make is working towards what I want.  And I’m not really running out because the form is so endless. 

KM: It is weird how monument forms, like these, and grave markers as objects don’t change over time, but other everyday objects have designs that change.

KW: I had this very distressing thought, maybe a week ago—and I’m trying hard to get away from arbitrary aesthetics.  I want to ask myself is this doing something other than making me happy.  I feel like I can say yes.  With the mirrored stuff, I was asking myself that and I said yes, it is not arbitrary and so I can keep it.  But I had this thought last week that maybe they should look exactly like trophies.  Maybe they should be foil and plastic or whatever.  I got some of that stuff and I made this one like that.  Just a column and I hated it so much.  Even a choice to not make an aesthetic choice is an aesthetic choice because the way the trophies normally look is aestheticized.  That is kind of a trend in art and in sculpture now too.  That kind of material—sparkly.  It felt wrong.  Yeah, I know I’m making an aesthetic choice by aesthetics adhering to the guidelines that trophies adhere to.  But it still felt like I was making someone’s student contemporary sculpture.

KM:   There is something weird and cool about you are making these trophies out of non-trophy materials. 

KW: I think that while I was applying it, I wanted it to be lumpy.  That was the generator of content for this trophy.  I wanted it to be lumpy and I wanted it to be not symmetrical.  I wouldn’t call that arbitrary.  

KM: I think that is a good impulse to go with something that feels opposing to the form itself.

KW: I think that is what these are kind of about.  They are opposing all the normal formalities of a trophy—that they are commemorating a specific event that happened on this day and you are remembering it.  You won.  But these are not anything.  They are just there.

KM: How do you feel about the pressure on young artists to work in multiple mediums?

KW: It pisses me off, honestly.  And it sucks that sculpture is lumped in with video and performance.  On what planet does me being able to fabricate an object make me a performer?  Why is it like that?   The object is not going anywhere.  No one is going to stop making objects.  It is frustrating for me because I like video work.  I think video work is great.  I like painting too, but I’m not going to go paint a painting.  I have ideas for videos but at the end of day, I’m sanding for nine hours a day.  That is what I do.  I can’t.  It’s not the way my brain works.

KM:  I think another big difference about this work and your other work is…I think before you wanted to make these perfect objects that almost looked like you hadn’t made them.  Someone had come upon them.  A machine had made them.  Or a factory had made them.  They were perfect.  The edges were perfect.  Everything was about seamlessness.  That is the way it had to be if they were combining with those other mediums.  Photography makes you scrutinize things more.  Projecting video makes you aware of the edges.  And now you are embracing this idea of putting yourself into it.  It’s not made by a machine.  It’s made by you. 

KW: It makes me happy that you say that because that is something that I wanted to get away from.  It is just stressful.  I don’t have the tools to make perfect objects.  I am just doing it with my hands.  That is one of the things that made me spend so much time on things.  I had to make it perfect.  It wasn’t a fruitful way to spend my time.  I read this short story while I was moving.  I was already thinking about these things, but it really summed it up.  Do you know the Whitechapel gallery series of books?  The one on objects is a great book if you ever decide to explore that.  The short story is by Terry Eagleton, it’s like a paragraph and it is talking about this guy who had the opportunity to make the perfect world and made it really smooth but kept slipping and falling.  It sounds corny but it was good. I’m making it sound bad.  Then he finds out that actual perfection is in the friction.

For a while it was hard for me to make the conscious choice to let flaws stay.  That bothered me.  It is not better for me to just leave stuff crappy.  That is not the answer, to just not fix the things.  But it is to change my notion of perfection to something different.  And that is what I am trying to do.  Not to expect less of myself, just to change a little bit. 

KM:  That is really good. 

KW: I think the past year has been big for me.  This is my second year out of school.  My first year out of school, I felt like it was beneficial for me to stay in the school mind set in order to produce the same amount of work I made at school.  I didn’t want to lose momentum.  I even adhered to the semester schedule.  Just to make artificial deadlines because I do operate well under time pressure.  To create deadlines, obviously I didn’t need to clean and put down linoleum floor for you to come but it was good.  I wanted to do it.  Why not?  I was adhering to that school schedule.  I was still spending time with people who were in school and talking to my professors all the time.  I still talk to them, but they are not here.  And I felt like it was not a bad thing for me to try to keep my momentum.  No one makes the same work as they did in undergrad forever.  That is not good.  That is one of the reasons I felt I didn’t want to go straight to grad school because I felt like I hadn’t gotten far enough away from that work.  I was working in acrylic in undergrad at the end.  I hadn’t even made any major change after school.  It wasn’t like I had changed my practice over to a life practice.  I feel when I moved here, it finally happened.