A thoughtful look at "Pathways" from the Metro Times and contributor Andrew Klein, available here:
Here's an excerpt: Pathway: Consistency and Change isn't just about how and why we make art; it makes a strong case for art as a legitimate method of communication. In the interviews, some artists aren't so eloquent and not terribly animated, but what we see and hear are honest accounts of personal growth that make for fascinating accompaniments to the displayed art. It connects the audience to the artists on a human level. ....
Some words about the show courtesy of Michael Hodges of the Detroit News, available here: http://www.detnews.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20080221/ENT05/802210434
Thursday, February 21, 2008
Exhibit shows MFA students' growth
Michael H. Hodges / The Detroit News
Cutting-edge art from Master of Fine Arts candidates around town takes over the University of Michigan's Work:Detroit Gallery in an exhibition, through March 22, titled "Pathways -- Consistency and Change." Continuing its mission to bring the Ann Arbor and Detroit art worlds together, "Pathways" highlights 15 artists from four distinguished institutions: Wayne State University, Eastern Michigan University, the Cranbrook Academy of Art and the University of Michigan.
What particularly intrigued Work:Detroit director of exhibitions Nick Sousanis was the way the artists' works morph over time.
"The whole premise was to watch people's evolution," he says, "which I think is as interesting a piece of art as the artworks themselves." To this end, Sousanis created a short video in which each artist explains, in two or three minutes, the trajectory of his or her work -- offering unexpected insight into what's on the walls or hanging from the ceiling.
Among the works is an intriguing video by Cranbrook ceramic artist Katie Caron.
Projected onto a small pool of water in a dark room, "Animation #7" -- a stop-motion animation work -- features a luminous, "creepy-crawly thing," in Sousanis' words, "that manages to be quite primordial."
Equally compelling are the family portraits by EMU's Gypsy Schindler, which are life-size and highly realistic. They are painted on suspended sheets of plastic, and encountering them is a bit like bumping into a hologram or a surprisingly vivid ghost right in the middle of the room.
Thursday, February 14, 2008
An ongoing series of dialogues among makers of creative work
Join us Wednesday, February 20, 2008 from 6:30 pm to 8 pm for a conversation with participants from the current exhibition “Pathways.”
About the exhibition: In “Pathways,” MFA candidates from the University of Michigan, Cranbrook Academy of Art, Eastern Michigan University, and Wayne State University exhibit work together at the new UM Detroit Center School of Art & Design exhibition space, Work : Detroit, in a juried exhibition focusing on the theme of consistency and change.
In addition to showcasing current work from each of the artist-designers, the exhibition also includes interviews tracing the evolution of each individual’s work from undergraduate experiences, to post-graduate experiences, to current work from graduate school. These interviews, displayed on DVD at the gallery, allow visitors to see how threads of work have developed, and how new paths have been explored and adopted or abandoned, all offering insight into the creative process.
The “Intersections” Dialogue Series offers a unique opportunity to participate in a dialogue with makers of creative work and contribute to the new discoveries that emerge along the way.
Featured exhibitors include:
Katie Caron (Cranbrook), Tim Eads (Cranbrook), Charles Fairbanks (UM), Robin Grice (UM), Anna So Young Han (Cranbrook), Jessica Harvey (Cranbrook), Megan Heeres (Cranbrook), Nicole Marroquin (UM), Leyla Munteanu (WSU), Seth Papac (Cranbrook), Gypsy Schindler (EMU), Mark Sengbusch (Cranbrook), Adrienne Vetter (UM), Sadie Wilcox (UM), and Xueni Zhang (EMU).
Pathways runs 9 February – 22 March 2007
Hours Tuesday – Saturday 10am to 5pm
Work : Detroit Gallery, 3663 Woodward Ave., Detroit, MI 48201
Reception Desk: 313 593-0527
Exhibition and artist information: http://www.pathwaysumdetroit.blogspot.com
Wednesday, February 13, 2008
Consistency and Change
When we encounter a solitary work from an artist and are moved, engaged, provoked – struck by it, it is of course by what we see or experience directly. But, its power to touch us springs largely from what we don’t see, the depth that lies behind the work, the experience that went into it – that thing that we see is only the tip of the iceberg.
Every work is an accumulation of experience, resting squarely on the shoulders of the journey of creation that the maker has traveled. It’s a journey of twists and turns, jagged edges and smooth expanses, forking paths that split apart and long and winding roads that return together – a river flowing to the sea, lightning arcing from sky to earth.
From the perspective of the present looking past, this course of development, this evolution of idea and approach, is one of consistent patterns punctuated with dramatic changes. These pathways traveled are shaped by new ventures attempted – some continued while others abandoned, and some threads once left behind picked up all over again. What seems disparate and disconnected one day may play a significant and essential role another, as these strands are woven together on the artist’s loom.
The journey is not some tightly laid-out design, some perfectly ordered crystal, nor is it random and chaotic. Rather it’s a delicate balance between planning and circumstance. Each decision necessarily eliminates potential pathways, yet in doing so brings forth into existence new possibilities branching ever outward.
Bearing witness to the journey not only sheds light on that single piece, allowing for deeper understanding of the work, but what a fascinating, rich work that journey is in and of itself! It’s a living, breathing construction of mixed and time-based media. In “Pathways,” as we look at those who’ve journeyed some distance, know too, that these are not end points. They’re more akin to marks on a closet door recording a child’s changing height. Some time hence, these serve as reminders of where we’ve been and how much we’ve grown along the way. What unfolds for these individuals on this continuing journey – a dance between intent and accident – is and will be something to behold.
Director of Exhibitions, Work : Detroit
February 9, 2008
Tuesday, February 5, 2008
Long Life, 2007
Paper and thread
Seven Ropes, 2007
(Both Suspended nearby)
My name is Xueni Zhang, and I’m from China. My creation process is like the goddess Nüwa of ancient China, who created people with her hands. I use my hands to mold and build pieces out of my life story – always what I see, I feel, I think, and I experience with the people that I love the best, and the events that make my life splendid and full of joy. I use paper as the main material for all my work, because it is organic, it comes originally from a living thing, and it shares qualities with human beings. In my work I explore the potential of paper, using paper art techniques to give life to my personal experience.
My early work was focused on traditional graphic design. I did a lot of work on books, posters, and so on. Since I came to EMU, little by little, I changed my concentration to paper art. I have been fascinated by Chinese paper art since I was a little girl, so naturally I like using paper art techniques with my work. My advisors introduced Hollander’s (in Ann Arbor) to me, it’s a great store and also a school with a lot of beautiful paper and paper art workshop. They also showed me a lot of work made by paper artists. I think one of my biggest achievements I made since I came here, there was a way, a new language, to communicate with people through my work. I’m from China, and there are quite some elements in my work that can be identified of Chinese origin. I want to share my culture with people who are not from China.
My study as a graduate student at EMU helps me find a new language to better communicate.
ICU Dialogue, 2008
My name is Sadie Wilcox. I’m originally from Western Massachusetts, and I joined the graduate program at the School of Art & Design in the fall of 2005.
Although I’ve always done art throughout my life, from my teenage years on, I was not an undergrad an art major; I was studying international relations, international politics. So I always thought of my creative practice as something I did outside of the rest of my life. I’d come home from work and I’d work on my creative practice at home. And it wasn’t until I was injured and in physical therapy, and I wasn’t able to work, that I began to shift into a more serious pursuit of my visual arts practice. So it was a kind of unexpected change. But I was eager to pursue it, and I spent several years, during the time in which I was in physical therapy, developing my portfolio and beginning to really work more seriously in the painting and drawing media. And so when I applied to U of M, it was all works on paper in my portfolio. In the first semester as a graduate student, I was also working on paper. And yet throughout all of the creative work all of my focus was on the movement of the body and the relationships of the physiological movement of the body. And so it seems appropriate to move toward video as a means of representing movement of the body and representations of physical mobility and adaptive mobility and non-traditional, or multiple forms of mobility.
For the past five or six years, my art practice has really been focused on the documentation of my recovery process from a severe third-degree burn injury. I had an art practice prior to my injury, but after being burned and spending multiple months in the hospital and several years of recovering through physical therapy and rehabilitation, I became increasingly fascinated and interested in the human body and the ways in which the human body functions, both on a physical level – burns effect all layers of the body, not only just the skin, but the muscle, the tendons, the circulatory system, at times even the bone structure. So there’s a really interesting physiological effect of burns that I’ve studied and explored through my art practice. And then of course there’s also the emotional and psychological healing process from trauma and from burn injury. In my case it was an incident of violence as well. So there’s a really interesting dialogue that begins to happen between the physical body and the emotional body.
And my creative practice has really been the means by which to explore these various systems. I started out primarily in painting and drawing, I was working in two-dimensional media, mostly on paper, and I was documenting the physical recovery process over the course of about two or three years. When I joined the MFA program at the University of Michigan, I had the opportunity to take advantage of the facilities here and the resources that are available to grad students. So I learned video editing and began delving into an exploration of the topic through video and through digital media. So it’s been a really exciting and enriching journey. And I’m looking forward to what new directions it takes me in.
Camper Video, 2008
My name is Adrienne Vetter, and I am currently a grad student at the University of Michigan. I grew up in the state of Wyoming in a very rural setting, small town. I guess a lot of my work is about exploring representations of rural culture and the American west and trying to challenge stereotypes of that.
I guess I believe, in terms of medium, the medium should match the content of whatever it is I’m trying to get across. So if I’m working in cast metals, then it should relate to the idea that I’m trying to get across. Or if I’m doing a giant inflatable sculpture, it’s about inflated value in terms of the content. It means I work in a lot of different media all the time.
I went to the University of Wyoming for my undergraduate education. It was a pretty traditional program in terms of providing me with a background in drawing and painting and printmaking and object making, in a pretty traditional sense. I guess I never take anything for granted in terms of how visual imagery or an object can communicate. Since coming to the University of Michigan, I’ve changed quite a bit in thinking about how time-based media, such as audio or video and interactive technology, can really influence my content. My work today is also really influenced by literary sources, like creative non-fiction, authors like Annie Proulx or Dorothy Allison, writing about the South and social class issues. If my work can visually communicate people’s individual stories in the same way as a good novel can, then I’m pretty happy with that.
Before I went to school, I think I had a really narrow conception of what an artist was and limited to painting and drawing, and big bronze cowboys –which has a lot to do with where I grew up! So when I started, I pretty much thought that I was going to work in two-dimensions, in drawing and painting, and portraiture, and life drawing. One of the huge shifts that happened was that I had a mentor who was a female sculpture professor in my undergraduate institution. Since she was new to the program, she brought a lot of new ideas and sort of revamped the program. Started doing iron casting out in the sculpture yard and really transformed my ideas about even what I could do as a female artist. Got me over my fear of power tools. Made me realize that a lot of the way that I work has to do with working with my hands and that comes from being from this strongly working class family.
Thinking about coming from a two-dimensional surface on the wall that people just look at, to an object that comes off the wall and interacts with the viewer in that same physical space, was a totally different way of thinking for me. I think I’ve always been concerned with art that engages somebody physically and emotionally at the same time. Three-dimensional sculpture, and then getting into installation, where it’s sculpture that envelopes the person looking at it, like their entire body in the environment, seems to be much more effective in terms of communicating the way that I’d like to communicate. It was a huge shift. And then coming here with the idea of even using interactive technology and then time-based, where somebody’s experiencing the content in the moment versus looking at a static object, was really important for me.
Bungee cord wall weaving installation
My name is Mark Sengbusch. I’m originally from Rochester, New York. My work has changed a lot over the past twenty years that I’ve been making paintings. I started off as a kid making mazes a lot. It’s funny how you notice in your later life that things come back to what you did when you were younger. I don’t know why I was really interested in mazes; it was just something that I did. So now I’ve gone into weaving.
To go into a more chronological thing: after I graduated from the College for Creative Studies in 2002, I started a gallery in Corktown, where I made 101 paintings a week for 20 weeks, because I thought that quantity was very important. I learned that from this book, “Art and Fear.” And also from Mitch Cope, who I had a great class with at CCS. How I like to put it is, if you dig enough holes, you’ll find gold – eventually. So I think that that happened.
Now that I came to Cranbrook, what I figured I would do is, why dig so many random holes, just go right to the mine. So I’ve been working on single pieces a lot more. The piece behind me is a reverse Plexiglas inlaid in the wall, which happened after thinking a lot about the art object and the importance of the physical art object. And I’m thinking more about the context or about the architecture, so I kind of scrapped the whole art object thing and went into that. Video games have always been a big thing for me, I’ve been playing video games for a long time. My high score in Tetris is much higher as a child as my adult career. I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to beat that – 810,000! And so I’ve been using that as a parallel with weaving. I got a nice big loom, and I’m trying to make this parallel between video games, or more specifically computers and early weavings, because the computer is a loom, it’s based on weaving techniques. So that’s where I’m at now – I’m weaving and playing Tetris.
MTV Family – Papi, Shorty, 2007
(Suspended throughout the space)
My name is Gypsy Schindler. I’m from Michigan, I grew up in a place where there weren’t very many people in the middle of nowhere. So I think that’s why I’m interested in people. I’m a figurative artist, mostly with oil paint. Large-scale, life-sized, figure painting is pretty much what I do.
I’ve always been interested in the figure ever since I was little, I drew comic book characters, and stuff like that. When I went to college I started out doing self-portraits, just because I’m a readily available model, and then moved onto work that was about self-reflection. I accidentally took a picture in front of a mirror one day, which gave me a double image of myself, which led to ideas about of course self-reflection, but relationships. From there on I moved into work that was more about relationships, about personal relationships, talking about gender issues, and identity issues, and gay issues. From there on I worked into family, the larger domestic setting, scenarios dealing with the roles of family, from traditional roles to contemporary roles, and how we receive information when we’re growing up, and how that forms identity, and what kind of role models we have when we’re children forms who we are I think when we’re adults. So that’s where I am right now. I sort of worked from my own perspective, working my way out to what’s going in the world around me. That’s pretty much what I do.
Wood, Silk, Silver
I’m Seth Papac. I make jewelry with mixed materials. I usually go pretty broad with materials and that’s usually based on what I’m doing or what concept I’m working on.
I started in architecture, because physical contact was important for me, or being able to experience art, and for me that was architecture and not so much art. But then when I started doing architecture, I found that it was too flat, and I actually wanted to make the pieces with my own hands. In school I was exposed to some metal artists who were making jewelry that was very architectural. So that’s how I got into making jewelry. And at first my work was very technique-based. I was pushing the limits of my fabrication skills, but I was also doing a decorative technique with gold. So it was jewelry but like on steroids. And then when I got out of undergraduate, the jewelry became more literally architectural, so I would actually base it off of buildings, but I would abstract their forms. And it was still heavy metal and heavy fabrication. Then I did a series of work where I started analyzing why I did what I did. And so I actually made one piece and started cutting it apart. I did a series where I left things unfilled and there was a light, sort of like a blank canvas to start over.
Right before I came to Cranbrook, I did a series of work, it was a chronological series of metaphors. There was no metal, it was all wood and fiberglass and aluminum. It was really a way to break away from using architecture as a metaphor, I was realizing it was like a crutch for me. But also it was a way of avoiding talking about more personal issues, which I think in jewelry, that’s its strongest aspect – it’s about the body and being worn on the body. And it’s the perfect sort of format to talk about maybe like a personal narrative. The work I’m doing now is mostly fabrics. They can be worn as jewelry, but they also hang on the wall as objects. For me, it’s just I hate to see stuff thrown in a drawer. And I think most jewelry is that way, so if there’s an option of hanging it on the wall, it gives it more variety. And so now the work is based on a certain section of my past. I’m sort of purging out some stuff that I’ve been holding in. It’s a really personal, heavy narrative. And that’s what I’m doing now.
Acrylic on canvas
My name is Leyla Munteanu. I’m from Canada. I moved to Canada ten years ago from Romania. My work is today more based on painting, and I’m using the materials as they are. I’m inspired by everything around me. Let’s say I found a piece of wood, the shape is pretty interesting, and I’m just using it in my work. Or I found a color, it’s suited for something and I’m grabbing it and just using it as it is. Now I’m working with different materials like aluminum foil, rope, newspaper, pieces of garbage, everything I can find that is interesting and I can put it on.
I have a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering. I was an engineer before. As a child, my father taught me then that girls should know how to paint and to sing, have some knowledge in music and painting. And not too much as in other areas as engineering and building things, because that’s a “man” area. So I started drawing and I went to school in Romania for three years and I majored in sculpture. At the same time I was in civil engineering. I worked as an engineer for six years and got bored of doing things that my father had right – they were not made for me.
I had some problems there, and the revolution came, and the changes after the revolution were not the changes I was expecting that the country would have, and I decided to move to Canada. I came in Canada very disappointed, I didn’t know which way I should go. Start with engineering again or go back to art. After three years, I decided, “you know what, I am thirty-five years old, let’s do art. Engineering is not the thing for me.” I registered for university, I got in, I was pretty happy with the change that school helped me to do. In my country I was used to the sculptures, and they were copies of the Greek sculptures. They were more idealistic work. I don’t know how much of it was real, it looks real to you, but it was just the ideal of the human body. Coming to Canada, everything changed. From those illustrative works that I was doing by myself, just trying to recreate in painting what I saw in sculpture, I changed to something that was totally different that was more enjoyable. “You don’t have to represent the human body, why should you represent that?” You can represent what the human did. If he touched something, he made something from it. And that’s very important for our evolution. Then every object that is used has its own importance. For me it’s like a little jewel. Then if I represent it or not, or it’s just the idea of that object down there on my painting, it’s recording the time. But in my own way. Even this painting that you see here, for you maybe they meant something else than they meant to me.
Jalapeno Technology, 2008
Ceramics, LEDs, and car antenna
I’m Nicole Marroquin, and I’m a grad student at U of M. I work in clay, and I’m currently attempting to portray the objects that I make in a way that is true to them. In other words, I am thinking a lot about the site that I show them in. And I’m thinking about sort of public space and the performativity of the artist.
Before I came to grad school, I was a high school and before that a junior high art teacher. I taught in Detroit for two years and then I taught in Chicago for three years. While I was teaching art, I genuinely thought that that was what I was going to do, that I had found exactly the proper career for myself. And I would go home at night and do the research that I needed to do to put together the lessons to teach the art to the young people. What would happen is that the material that I needed just wasn’t there. I was getting really frustrated, I was spending a lot of time pushing papers, and I eventually left teaching to come to grad school, more or less to find out what I could to maybe affect policy more, or to make these materials available to people who I know were having the same trouble that I was having.
I went to college art school for the first time in 1988. I went to the Art Institute of Chicago. I was a drawing and painting person. I did life drawing. I spent probably six years just concentrating on life drawing and figure drawing. Looking back it makes a lot of sense to me, what that had to do with my current work. I still have this need or desire to show bodies. But now I’m changing them a little bit. I went to school there until 1992 and then I dropped out and kind of fooled around for a little bit and then went back to school in 1993 to Eastern Michigan University. I worked in printmaking with Professor Fairfield for like four or five years, I did some sculpture, I graduated in 1999.
In coming to grad school, I think what I intended to do was hunker down and spend all this time in the studio and just create this just mind-blowing body of work. Then I realized you can’t jump from being out in the world into the studio and sever ties. When I was an educator, I thought of myself as an activist. I thought that the work I was doing was social justice work. Bringing access to young people who otherwise wouldn’t have it. I still kind of felt like I needed to tie it in somehow. So what I’m trying to do now is to develop this practice that encompasses both, kind of serves both. I don’t see it anymore as two separate things.
Also, I’m kind of new to clay. I was working mostly with it when I was teaching middle school and high school. Then I got kind of sucked into it when I accidentally signed up for a class at Oxbow. Clay is one of those things – it picks you. It will haunt you and chase you down to the ends of the earth. And anytime you are working on anything else, if it’s picked you, you’ll just be thinking about it. It’s like love. No, it is love. It’s amazing. I’m really excited, I feel like I’ve got a lot of technical things to cover still, I’ve got maybe the research and idea end pretty well flowing. But there’s a lot more I can do. I’ve got a lot ahead of me in this media.
When We Thought Stronger, 2007
Fabric, thread, wood, air bladder
My name is Megan Heeres, and I was born and raised in Battle Creek, Michigan. I went to school at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, and then moved to Portland, Oregon for five years, where I’ve been living since. But I’ve come back to Michigan to graduate school at Cranbrook Academy of Art.
I make installations, sculptures, and books that are concerned with the interior. I’m really fascinated with the interior of our bodies, of mechanical things, of organisms, and sort of in my work attempt to draw those out and make them much larger. It’s sort of interesting the microcosm and macrocosm and where those intersect. So that’s what I explore in my work.
I’ve always made art. Growing up, my mom was a Montessori teacher, and so I was always working with my hands and always encouraged to make things. It hasn’t been until recently, the last few years that I’ve considered myself an artist. Even when I was studying at the University of Michigan, I was very involved with the community aspect of art making. I created my own degree called Health Studies in the arts that was concerned with art therapy primarily. So I was interested in using art as a tool for psychological and social and community well-being. And I’ve done a lot of that, but I was finding out that I was really interested myself, with my own hands. I started my own exploration through things like collage and drawing. Instead of gluing and conventional ways of combining materials, I used the stitch, and became really enamored with the way that it could combine incongruous materials together. I started off making very two-dimensional work, but then using the stitch was able to build in a 3-D way of making work, and so my work has gone from two-dimensional to sculptural and installation. And now since I’ve been back at Cranbrook, it has kind of gone back into two-dimensional sort of work. Because I think it’s a way for me to make sense of the way that I’m working. That’s the reason why I’m at Cranbrook – is to understand the work that I’m making and also the processes that I’m using. Why am I making the work that I’m making, and what are the processes that make that work the most successful that it can be.
From “Grandmother’s House” series – Front Wall/Faded Kitchen
Film negative, archival digital print
My name is Jessica Harvey. I’m from a rural town in Illinois, called Minooka. I moved to Chicago to go to undergraduate school at Columbia College. Now I’m at Cranbrook Academy of Art studying photography. The things that I’m mostly interested in photo are time, and the effects of time on objects, the effects of time on relationships, on people, and places.
I’ve been doing art since I was little, my parents would take me to art camp, or plays and things, and I would always be interested in drawing or making dioramas of anything that I could. In my undergraduate, I was mostly formally trained in photo. So making the image was the most important thing. Even though I would like to mix media, it wasn’t really encouraged in my undergraduate studies. Here at Cranbrook what I’ve started to do is mix medias such as fibers and other materials into my artwork. When I was back at home, I photographed mostly abandoned spaces, rural farmhouses that had been abandoned and were left to the elements.
So now I’m working on a more personal relationship about how time affects things. And my work has turned more into family relationships, how you relate to someone who has passed on. How you can bridge the gap between life and death, and still create a relationship between the two even after somebody’s gone. Right now, the things I’m most interested in, are exploring a lot of different media within photography, such as projections, installation, and seeing how that will make my art come together, instead of thinking of fine art separate from photo. So here I want to explore that, and hopefully it will work while I’m at Cranbrook.
Wallpaper, circle panels (painting), string
My name is Anna So-Young Han, and I’m originally from Korea. I went to undergraduate at Pratt In Brooklyn. I studied painting for a long time. Things that I’m doing right now, I do abstract painting, but in an installation way. So I do digital prints, I design my own wallpaper, and then I do make a panel and paint and it becomes an installation. But it didn’t come out right away. There were processes like, I started out with a painting, with using wallpaper, but now I’m making my own. I guess I’ve always been interested in installation and use of the space. Even though I started with the two-dimensional, I always ended up coming to the three-dimensional work, installation pieces.
My idea is about the place, and I use the element of map codes or lines and shapes that we easily see to indicate certain places and I create in abstract form. That came from my personal inspiration that I moved so many places since I left home, I was in North America for seven years, and I’ve been moving a lot of places. I like the idea of the place. So I started this idea.
When I was an undergrad, we don’t really know what we are doing, and I had struggled with my art. Of course I think every artist goes through that. I was focused on myself, my emotion, my identity, being here in America, in art school, and as an artist. Then after I came to Cranbrook, I sort of wanted to get away from looking just at myself. We are artists so we are interested in so many other things, everything almost. One idea that stuck to me is the idea of real so I started to make art based on ideas. Somehow right now, it’s like a collaboration of my last year’s work, which was based on ideas, and my undergrad work that was more based on my personal ideas. So now it’s since collaborating with each other. So I guess that’s the process of my work so far.
My name is Robin Grice, and I’m a mixed media artist. My work revolves around the idea of identity and history, whether personal history or American history. My entry into the creative arts is through writing, although I’ve always been a maker, I’ve always painted and made stuff. At some point I realized that I was able to get at what I wanted much more successfully through my painting and my object making. My work is a real mix of a lot of very different things. I’m trying to mix ideas, cultures, I take things from family stories, I take things from my personal life, I take things from what’s happening in the news, and I try to get it all to fit together. And in the words of Elizabeth Murray, I don’t want them to just sit next to each other, I want them to really mesh and relate and connect.
So that’s what my work is all about.
Touching, Vision, 2008
I’m Charles Fairbanks. I’m a photographer moving into video. Most of my work is documentary-based, but I’m trying to work in other ideas, poetic concepts into the work. I grew up in rural Nebraska. My mom is an artist, she started drawing and painting when I was a child. We would do things together. I loved to draw and then gave it up when I was in junior high. I wanted to not be like my mom. Didn’t take any art, wasn’t really doing any art, until college. I went to school in California and took a sculpture class my second year and it kind of blew my mind. I was wrestling on the team at the time. I ended up quitting the wrestling team that year, but right when I was quitting, I was in my first photography class. In retrospect it seems like, as I was losing this thing that was really important to my person, how I interacted with the world sensually – which was wrestling, that picking up photography at that moment was really important to me, and a lot of the energy, the fact of the way I interacted with my world sensually translated really well into photography.
It’s funny, in my work at different stages, photography and now video, I keep going back and forth between my art practice and my wrestling practice, at different phases I’ve come back to it. It seems like one is pushing the other and they’re each pushing how I think of each one. Most recently, in my first year in grad school, I think I was really immersed in the intellectual development, and I was just swimming in all these ideas, but at the same time, I think I was getting away from an experimental, material practice. And then after a year of grad school, I just felt it in myself. I just felt like I really wanted to start wrestling again. So I did. I happened to be in Japan with my program, and I looked for a wrestler. I found a wrestler, and we ended up putting together a match. And I put together my first, it was sort of a video documentation of what we did, and it was sort of a video in its own right.
Since then, I’ve been working on other forms of wrestling, Brazilian jiu-jitsu most recently. But as I’m doing these, I’m also pushing my video practice along with it. So in the last few months, as I’ve been returning to wrestling and then working with the video, which I think of as an extension of senses really, an extension of our visual senses, our oral senses as well, I’ve been thinking about how I can try to embody the experience of wrestling through video, in a lot of senses both how I can work with my own perspective as I am wrestling and try to translate this into something accessible by a viewer, but also translating how other people embody wrestling. How, say my father, who is also a wrestler, embodies wrestling and experiences it visually as he’s watching me and wrestling sympathetically. And so, I have a number of projects in the works that have to do with this sort of embodiment and as I’m returning for example to Mexico next summer, and returning to the ring under my undisclosed identity there, I’ll also be returning with a camera in my mask and producing sort of an ethnographic film having to do with embodiment, but also questioning identity and say, my relationship to this other wrestling culture.
Weighing down, 2007
Ceramic, wire and bolts
My name is Tim Eads. I am here at Cranbrook. I’m working primarily in ceramics, although wood often comes up in my work. I’m currently experimenting and trying to play with clay and take it to its limits. I’m working with gravity and trying to play with that idea.
I grew up in a small town in west Texas, working on a farm for the most part. We raised animals – cows, goats, horses. The landscape is really flat. Things stuck out of the landscape that influenced my work. Things like oil refineries, windmills, grain elevators, were always sort of intriguing to me as a small person walking up to those.
After I left the small town, I went to undergrad at Texas Tech. I have a bachelor’s degree in graphic design. I did that for six or seven years until it became really boring to me. I moved on to teaching high school. I have been doing that for about five years. Somewhere along there my younger brother started me working with clay. I got the bug.
Currently here at Cranbrook, I am taking those influences from my childhood, those monumental objects from the landscape, the windmills and things, and specifically pulling out those ideas and dealing with those in my work. Whether that be monumental, or daunting, or architectural, I’m specifically working on those ideas on my work here.
Animation #7, 2007
Video – clay, water, stop motion animation
(Installation behind curtain) Arrow pointing to right.
My name is Katie Marineau-Caron. The town that I’m from is Willimantic, Connecticut. I have been working as a ceramic artist for the last seven years, I would say. My work began as very material-based, in terms of ceramics and technically what I do with ceramics, but over the years it has evolved to be more about sculpture and site-specific installation work. The ideas that I am interested in in my work have to do with life and death, the relationship between the two, movement, evolution, and entropy.
So my work sort of began functionally, I wasn’t traditionally trained. I worked with pottery, vessels. But as I began to get more invested in the process, I realized that I wasn’t interested in functional ceramics at all. I was more interested in space, interior and exterior space. I began working in Boston where I went to school at Boston University. But I was an education major there, I wasn’t an art major. Upon my father’s death in 1998, I really began to reevaluate what I was doing with my life, my goals, and then I realized that I really wanted to be an artist. So I moved to Colorado, and I began making art there. Being alone, hiking in the mountains, taking in the textures in the environment, really changed what my work was about. My work started to be abstract, organic, improvisations. Taking in the things I saw in the natural world and abstracting them in my studio. I was really interested in technique, glaze, texture. I started working with steel, building armatures, working larger, combining media, interested in the idea of hybridity between materials. Really interested in sort of man-made versus organic forms: what we were doing with our environment and how we were sort of affecting our world in a negative way. So combining found objects and steel and metal with my organic forms to sort of create a tension between the two. But every time I was in the studio, I just felt really frustrated, like there was something missing, the work was empty. It looked beautiful, I enjoyed making it, but it didn’t feel like it came from me inside.
That’s when I decided to come to Cranbrook and study under Tony Hepburn. He’s an amazing mentor. Since arriving here at Cranbrook, I’ve come to understand who I am more and what my work really is about. I’m still taking in information from my environment, but it’s coming through me now. Through my life experiences, through my past, and through the things that I want to do with my life. And I’m still trying to understand for myself who I really am. There’s still a lot more evolution that will come with my work, but the work that I’ve been making so far at Cranbrook has a lot to do with myself. How I feel about home, how I feel about being uncomfortable as an artist, what it means to be an artist, trying to work more intuitively, trying to work out myself through my work, working innately. A lot of the drawings that I’ve been doing in my studio have to do with the idea of migration of civilizations, of time. My animations have to do with life and movement, and my curiosity about why things are alive. So it’s still an investigation, and I’m excited to see what comes next. I’m learning that my work is to be a reflection of who I am, and I think it’s starting to become that.