Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Nicole Marroquin (UM)

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.

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