Thursday, August 28, 2008
Monday, August 25, 2008
Gallery Talk/Zine Release Wed August 27th @ 7pm
Come to the Gallery talk and zine release party for Before You Wake, Before You Vanish.
Moderated By Annette Monnier
with Damian Weinkrantz and Isaac Schell.
Come for the Refreshments, stay for the refreshments AND MORE!
At Copy Gallery
319 N. 11th St 3 flr
Philadelphia, PA 19107
Saturday, August 23, 2008
Carrie Collins is 50% of 10% Tiger Fire, which will open Friday, September 5th at Copy Gallery 7-11. The other 50% being Beth Brandon who I have already interviewed here.
I would say a good 80% of the artists, who still make art, that I talk to would call anything they have to do to make money besides fine art their "day job", and many of them might work in coffee shops or grocery stores to sustain their art habit. There is nothing wrong with this way of life and I only point to it to point to how Carrie Collins is a little bit different, she loves her "day-job" which is running a company of her own making; Fabric Horse. I would say that she even puts her industrial design work, creating aesthetically awesome hip pouches, lock holsters and etc. for the bike culture (mostly), before her art work. A good 60% of the time Carrie Collins prefers a higher rationality of form and function that unities good taste with sustainability.
I would say that it isn't impossible, but perhaps highly unadvisable, for a person to be about anything 100% of the time. When we close ourselves off to options then we shut down the myriad of possibilities that life may allow us, and besides that, society created the holiday because the people always need a break from their own ideas of moral and order. When Ms. Collins picks up her sewing machine and allows herself to create any flight of fancy she can imagine regardless of function or rationale the result are works of art that address our need to escape order, if only for a moment.
I asked Carrie five questions about her work, the result follows, if you'd rather listen then read go here.
You'd better do it yourself unless there's a good reason why not to
Fabric Horse utility belts.
Annette Monnier: (1) Would you call yourself an artist or an industrial designer?
Carrie Collins: Well. . . I tend to call myself both. I am an industrial designer because that is what I was trained in but I've kind of always been an artist.
Annette: Explain "I've always been an artist".
Carrie: Growing up my parents were very do-it-yourself type of people. My mom would make my clothes, she cut our hair, she gardened, she wove baskets, she cooked, she made cross-stitch, she crocheted. . . and she was also really encouraging of artistic and musical endeavors for all of us. My dad on the other hand was a jack of all trades, but he was more like, fixing the cars and he used to build model airplanes and then when the computer era came around he closed his little workshop so that he could have a computer room and start building computers.
He would always fix what was wrong with the car if he could, or the boat or the motor home, he would always build our school desks and do all the necessary repairs that he could do around the home without hiring somebody. I was always raised around that mentality; you'd better do it yourself unless there's a good reason why not to.
When I came to deciding what I was going to study I knew that my career had to have a really main purpose or function to it. I felt like my personality would be most beneficial to the world if I was more an industrial designer rather then specifically a fine artist.
The world is more of like an oyster then anything else.
The Burger Bride (costume) as shown on Black Floor at the ICA during Locally Localized Gravity
Annette: (2) You said the other day, we were talking about function and functionality, and you were talking about the why of what you make when you make some of your more fine art projects and you said something really interesting. You said that on your everyday basis working your day job which is your passion, because you have this company called Fabric Horse which is the way you make your money, which I hate to call a day job because it's not just that to you it's much more. But you said you deal with functionality everyday and it's important to you but when you do a lot of your fine art projects you throw a lot of that out the window because you just want to have fun with it. Could you, I dunno, clarify that statement?
Carrie: It (fine art) gives me the opportunity to make something without making function the number one priority. Industrial design is, in a sense, product design, but you're trained to be a creative problem solver. The way I've combined sewing and fabrics with product design is what Fabric Horse does on a day-to-day basis, so when I'm creating a product to sell to people I'm concerned with durability and functionality along with the look or it. The things that make it last aren't necessarily what it looks like, it's more like how it works and if it stands up to the test of time and that's really important to me because it makes a more sustainable product.
My environmental activist side of me is very strong and so that is what I want to focus on in my everyday life. When I have the opportunity to show in a gallery or wherever that might be it's really awesome because I don't have to kill myself over doing it, because I really do, I'm really OCD about the fact that I don't like putting something out into the world that someone is paying me for that will fall apart. But when I have an art show I don't even think about it as a piece that someone is going to buy. I use it as an opportunity to express something, whatever that might be.
Not thinking about it being a sellable piece makes. . . the world is more of like an oyster then anything else.
(Question 3 didn't make the final draft.)
What is it like to be a bat?
Annette: (4) Specifically, when you are making the "fine art" it seems like you make costumes and headdresses, would you agree with me that that's what you're making a lot of times?
Carrie: Yeah. I really love costuming and headdresses. Does that answer your question?
Annette: Yeah it does, but. Why?
Carrie: Costumes are an interesting way of changing yourself.
Annette: Well, it sort of has a function, you can wear it, but a costume is sort of the least functional kind of clothing I can think of.
Carrie: Except on Halloween, which is my favorite holiday. . . but you can kind of jump into a different character. You can be somebody else, you can look really different. . .
A lot of people don't like their jobs.
A grape headdress
Annette: (5) Why do you think it's important for society to kind of take these days out where they have a different personae? It seems normal to want to take a vacation from yourself.
Carrie: It takes you away from yourself. I feel like people are accustomed to being a certain way, everyday when they're working and a lot of people don't really like their jobs. A lot of people don't really like what they have to do to survive, to make money. . .
That's a whole different thing for me because that's why I have my own company and why I try so hard to maintain that. It's really hard to be around someone who doesn't like their job. It's really obvious when someone doesn't like their job because it makes them into a miserable person, unless that person is pretty balanced and can separate themselves and sort of be a different person when they come home and not let them make them miserable. . . but everyone needs a vacation to get away from their job, you just need to get away. Everybody needs to feel like they're not the same person or doing the same thing everyday.
Sunday, August 17, 2008
Beth in a "onesie" made for O Joyful Self Containment at Padlock Gallery.
(Or: Listen to this interview on the podcast.)
Beth Brandon is one of the two artists I asked to be in 10% Tiger Fire, an exhibition "I" (I think the majority of any sort of credit goes to Beth and Carrie, the artists) put together for Copy Gallery in September (coming up in like, three weeks!!!), so I think really highly of her and her art. You could even say that Beth has consumed maybe 20% of my thoughts for over a year, which when you consider I have to pay bills, work 9-5, draw some, and drink beer, is quite a lot.
In the past I expected too much from art and the art-world: I wanted it to save lives, feed the hungry, fix discrepancies in the class structure of the world and pay the IRS for me. Art is never going to do this, but art still has a really intangible awesome quality that I can't seem to ditch and still have impossible hopes for. This is why I like the work of Beth Brandon; she sort of unites a fundamentalist return to drawing with just the right amount of idealism in the power of ideas. Don't know what I'm saying? I'm not sure I do either.
Beth Brandon is a young artist in progress, just as I am a youngish (getting older all the time) artist/curator/art-writer in progress, which is to say 50% of what we try is experimental and so what we "do" isn't clearly defined. I can say that Beth has produced happenings/installations that have included a fully functional salon complete with cocktails and cucumber sandwiches. I can say she has produced art that is closer to the idea of a slumber party, and that she creates drawings and prints. She is drawn to the idea of creating a human habitat where tradition is important and our landscape dictates our actions. You can call her a utopianist if you want, but she's not the only one.
This time I tried to only ask five questions, I didn't really succeed but I think I'm going to continue to try it.
Various Hunting Caps, ink on paper by B.B.
One (You may say that I'm a dreamer)
Annette: (1) What got you started doing this art thing?
Beth: Um. . . I definitely started when I was very young and I would write long stories and illustrate them and I think it's interesting because I always said I was going to be an artist and or a writer and I always feel like there's a narrative in my work. So I always knew I wanted to tell stories, part of it is just having to create something tangible, my work has to involve making something, often something that can be used in some way. That makes me feel like I'm full-filling my purpose in life. I can't just do work that's intangible.
Annette: So. . . ok, this doesn't count as the second question but just to clarify-this is something you've been saying you were going to do for ah. . .
Annette: Do you have an age for that?
Beth: I mean I can remember it but I don't know how old I was. You know, as soon as I could write and draw. . .
Annette:You never wanted to be a doctor or anything else?
Beth: There was a brief period of time when I wanted to be a veterinarian, because I loved animals and it's funny because animals are still a big part of my work, as well as issues of agriculture and food and the environment. That was still when I was pretty young and I didn't know what it actually involved to actually be a veterinarian and how different it would be to be a scientist and not an artist, so that was really the only other idea that I toyed with.
Details from the Hang-Ups/bang-Ups installation at Padlock Gallery
Two (But I'm not the only one)
Annette: Question number two; What do you feel. . . oh, sorry, I'm reading this straight off the piece of paper like it's a cue card. . . what do feel has been your most successful work of art so far?
Beth: Yeah. It's kind of multi-fold. . .
Annette: You're having a hard time with this one.
Beth: Yeah, it's kind of a. . . what was the question again?
Annette: What have been the highlights then? Maybe most-successful doesn't exist for you? I think I'm looking for the answer to what's made you most proud of yourself as an artist?
Beth: I think it's been a big deal to me to go back to drawing lately, and the series of drawings I just showed at Topstitch and that I'm still kind of working on. . .
Annette: You're going to have to explain what it means to "go back to drawing".
Beth: Yeah. I will explain. For a long time, maybe because I started out as a printmaker or because I have this thing in me where I have to produce something useful, I wouldn't let myself just make drawings because. . . it was better to make a drawing that was going to be a repeating print that was going to be made into fabric or wallpaper or to make a book of drawings or something that could be used and I just got really fixated on that.
When I moved into Space 1026 a year ago was when I started making drawings again and I don't know why because we have a print studio here and that was one of the reasons I came here. I just decided to let myself do whatever I wanted to do and I really, really, love drawing and I think I'm good at it and as soon as I started making these drawings people started buying them, people took an interest in them and I was having a really good time so. . . yeah. I kind of let myself go and didn't tell myself what to do. I didn't say "this has to be a book" or "this has to be a wallpaper design" and so I just sort of embarked on this series of drawings of. . . changing landscapes.
Annette: What other kinds of work have you done besides just drawing and printmaking? You've done, I guess, installation and action type things too. . .
Beth: Yeah. I like to create an entire environment, it's a real space, it's a usable space. It's not just a gallery with drawings on the wall. It's a place to go to and there's a certain thing that you do there. I had a show at Padlock where I turned it into a hair salon (Hang-Ups/Bang-Ups), I painted the walls and I kind of curated this whole environment that I wanted people to be a part of when they came to the show.
I also make. . . I also sew and make "outfits" once in awhile, I had this other show at Padlock (O Joyful Self Containment) where I made these "onesies" that were just these solid-colored one-piece long-johns that people could put on over their cloths and then they could get into these sleeping bags that had multiple pockets in them, so there could be three people to a sleeping bag and you could eat popcorn and drink whiskey and it was like a whole. . . activity. That does go along with my urge to make something that can be used and interacted with.
Three (I hope someday you'll join us)
Annette: I don't even know if I have to ask all my other questions. But I guess I'll stick to it and ask you what my next question was going to be (3) Why is there so much interest for you in creating a habitat?
Beth: I like the word habitat. I usually just say environment but I think habitat is a much better word because it indicates that it's a place where you are going to live it's not just a place.
I have very strong ideas about how we should use our resources and how we should interact with the natural world and I guess that's what I'm trying to express in my work. It's two fold because my work is about environment but it is also creating one. It's a suggestion of reality. That's kind of the way I've been working for a long time.
It's kind of a fantasy but I do think it's possible to try and return to being more aware of what our landscape tells us, rather then this infinite choice we have, where everything can come from anywhere and we don't have to know anything about it and we don't have to do anything ourselves.
Annette: Um. Yeah. I'm not going to ask the last two questions.
Picture is a group shot of everyone involved in Hang-Ups/Bang-Ups at Padlock Gallery