Guest post by A.Martinez
Kate Ruggeri is a Chicago-based artist, DJ, and curator who has shown at Roots & Culture (Chicago), Green Gallery East (Milwaukee), Western Exhibitions (Chicago), and Important Projects (Oakland). She is one of those people who exudes a humble cool, yet is enthusiastic about all she’s committed to, and excited about life and the people and things in it. After a handful of years of staying in touch from afar, I wanted to connect more closely to ask Kate some questions about her life and her work before she moves to New Haven in July to pursue her MFA at Yale.
A.Martinez: Were art and making art important to you from a young age?
Kate Ruggeri: Oh, yeah. Totally. My parents were always really encouraging. In elementary school I started taking drawing classes outside of school. I won a few poster contests. I used to do this thing every year called The Olympics of The Visual Arts, which is a New York State program. Pretty much you assemble a team, work on a year long project, and then compete against other teams. When I got a little older I got really into dark room photography. You know, carrying a camera around all the time and developing film in your bathroom. My mom and I took figure drawing classes together. A lot of colleges have art classes for kids during the summer, so I was always doing that too.
Martinez: How long have you kept a journal? And what does this practice of journaling do for you and your art practice?
Ruggeri: Since elementary school. I think my first one has a little lock on it. I never really stopped. It’s actually super important, to clear your head, to drain it. I try to write every day. I feel very scattered if I don’t. For art making, it’s good for me to work through ideas and to understand impulses I have. Often I make something and I’m not sure why I made that decision or was drawn to that form. Writing brings everything to the surface. It brings clarity. Studio work is one way of thinking and writing is how I detangle everything. Not just artwise, but life wise. It’s all the same, of course.
Martinez: How long have you had your own studio space? What does it look like?
Ruggeri: After school I had a tiny studio in a building across from Moonshine on Division. It’s been torn down since. I’ve been in the spot I’m at now for a little over a year. It’s a co-op at Damen and Fulton. I moved in there after my old spot on Elston burned down. We have an entire floor that is divided amongst us. My studio’s a mess. I see other people’s studios sometimes, and they have a turntable and little plants and it’s very cozy. My place is like a construction zone. I like that better. It lets me focus on the work.
Martinez: What is a typical day in the studio like for you?
Ruggeri: Nights are better. I like working when no one is around. You can play music loud. I believe in a witching hour. It really depends, though. I usually am working on one sculpture and 4-5 paintings at the same time. If I just finished something big or just installed a show, I draw and watch movies at home. I don’t really have a routine. Ben Medansky once described his ceramic studio as being around a million crying babies. That’s how I feel in there. I work a lot in series, so I just treat 6 pieces at the same time, and then have some experiments going. Right now I have some exercise balls I’ve been sort of doodling on. Then I’ll carve on these wood paintings until my hand hurts. Then I’ll cut some wood shapes out to paint. Or dump plaster on something. It’s a mix of working on very planned pieces and experiments. Everything always changes though.
Martinez: How do you begin a painting?
Ruggeri: Putting something down, anything! I break it in. I try not to think about it too much and just get the ball rolling. Usually it’s a good color.
Martinez: You work in both 2D and 3D- how does a piece become one or the other?
Ruggeri: When I was in school I used to trip myself up with that question. I can say now that they’re all paintings. I’m a painter that has sculptural impulses. I try to feed both ways of making. I try to be democratic about it. The larger sculptures can be exhausting to make, so there is often a down period of just painting and drawing before starting one again. Material, color, and mark making can drive a piece to be 3D or 2D. Finding a good object. Seeing a particularly inspiring show of painting or sculpture.
Martinez: What artists inspire you?
Ruggeri: Philip Guston, Mike Kelley, Matisse, Picasso, Claes Oldenberg, Cy Twombly, Franz West, Rauschenberg, Joan Miro, Giacometti, Sterling Ruby, William J. O’Brien, Jonathan Meese, Mary Heilmann, Huma Bhabha, Gerhard Richter, Howard Fonda
Martinez: You have a pretty extensive record collection and DJ monthly at Danny’s. Do you feel there’s a connection between your music endeavors and your art-making?
Ruggeri: Yes. It feels very connected.
Martinez: What musicians inspire you?
Ruggeri: Parliament/Funkadelic, Dead Moon, Congos, Minutemen, Bad Brains, Robert Wyatt, Brian Eno, Miles Davis, Captain Beefheart, Sparks, Beach Boys, Lee Scratch Perry, Roxy Music, De La Soul, Neil Young, Patrick Cowley, Big Star
Martinez: What do you typically listen to while in the studio working?
Ruggeri: It’s different every time, chosen for the day and mood. But Nas “Illmatic” gets played a lot. J.Dilla, Shuggie Otis, Pastor T.L. Barrett, Skip Spence, Velvet Underground. Mixes from friends. Jorge Ben, Milton Nascimento, Witch, Amanaz are all good…
Martinez: Do you do collaborations with other artists?
Ruggeri: Sure, I’ve done it a few times. Right now I’m working on a collaboration with Alex Valentine. He gave me these plates to draw on, and then we’ll print them together on newsprint, and then use them to paper mache a sculpture. It’s great because Alex is primarily a printmaker and I know barely anything about the process. I love the idea of making a sculpture made out of drawing. A perfect hybrid.
Martinez: In 2012, you co-curated a show, “Quarterly Site 11: Line-of-Site“, at Western Exhibitions. How did you land this opportunity? What was the experience like for you? And do you think you’ll curate more shows in the future?
Ruggeri: Jamilee Polson Lacy asked me to do it. She’s been doing these curatorial series for a while now, asking artists to curate a show at a different gallery. It was great. I got to work with Alicia Chester and Karolina Gnatowski. It’s fun to be on the other side of things, and it gave me an opportunity to create a show entirely different from my practice. I really wanted to see a show of top notch performance work. Curating is a lot of work, but I would love to do it again. I think the trick is when you start to think, “Why isn’t ___ kind of work being shown? Why hasn’t someone curated a show about ____?” is when you should get on curating a show. I’m starting to feel that, but I would need the right time and space.
Martinez: You and I actually met while undergrads at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. What is something that has stuck with you from your education and experience there about being a painter, artist, or person?
Ruggeri: Something that always stuck with me is remembering how I felt there: supported, invigorated, and that changing the world was definitely possible. It’s good to protect that enthusiasm, even when you’re working 9 to 5 and feel too tired to go to the studio.
Martinez: How has your experience at Ox-Bow School of Art as student and then again as a fellow affect your art? How long were you there total?
Ruggeri: Ox-Bow. Oh, man. I first went in 2007 as a student, and pretty much tried to take as many classes there as I could. If you got work study, you just had to pay for the credits, which I needed anyway. I went three consecutive Summers and one Winter. The Summer of 2010 was great, I took a class with Jose Lerma called “Expanded Painting, Expanded Sculpture.” Not hard to see it was a big influence on me. I was really lucky to receive a Joan Mitchell Fellowship this past Fall and I was an artist-in-residence for 5 weeks. As a student, classes meet everyday. I also had to wake up every morning to clean toilets for work study. This time, as a resident, it was like being at a beautiful retreat. There were only other residents, I had my own studio, and I got to structure my own day. It was incredible.
Martinez: Congratulations on your acceptance to the MFA Painting program at Yale! What are you most excited about in starting this program in the fall?
Ruggeri: Thanks! I’m most excited about a fresh start. And making better art.
Martinez: What do you think are some interesting things happening around the city of Chicago art-wise?
Ruggeri: Ryan Travis Christian has a show up at Western Exhibitions that I need to get over to. William J. O’Brien at the MCA. Isa Genzken at the MCA. Alexander Valentine has a show at 3433 coming up.
Martinez: What are you currently working on?
Ruggeri: I’m finishing up a re-make of a sculpture I lost in the fire. It’s a harp. I just wrapped up these brooches I made for the Three Walls Gala coming up in June. Starting some new paintings. I keep thinking I need to stop because I’m moving, but I have some projects I want to do before I leave. I have an ongoing series of fake album covers, and I have a photo shoot coming up for the next installment.
Martinez: Your recent show, “Tropical Depression” at LVL3 just closed May 4th. Do you have any other openings coming up?
Ruggeri: No, thankfully! I’m moving to New Haven end of July. I’m trying to tie up loose ends.
Martinez: Is there a piece of advice, art related or not that you think of often?
Ruggeri: Say yes to all opportunities offered to you. Avoid excessive thinking about the past and future.
To find out more about Kate, her artwork and her upcoming shows go to http://kate-ruggeri.com/
All photos courtesy of the artist.
A.Martinez is a freelance art and music organizer living in Chicago, IL. She is currently working on a performing arts summer festival called The Living Loop, and will release her first book of poetry this summer.
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First things first kiddos, have yâ€™all gotten in your Ox-Bow and ACRE applications? It was sixty degrees today! The summer is pending. Get in on that dreamy Michigan/Wisconsin landscape. (My apologies to the jury committee.)
Also, The Art Institute of Chicago is looking for a new Associate Photography Curator.
THE ART INSTITUTE IS OF CHICAGO IS LOOKING FOR A NEW ASSOCIATE PHOTOGRAPHY CURATOR.
That being said, they will probably hire within… but regardless, join the masses and apply!
Details for all below. As always, good luck!
Ox-Bow residency for MFA/Arts Faculty application time is coming to a close as April 5th keeps creeping up. Info Here
(psssst, if youâ€™re a normal human who isnâ€™t all up in that institutional drama, consider their Fall Artist Residency, which I will talk about a little later)
Associate Curator, Photography /// Art Institute of Chicago
At the direction of the Department Chair, is responsible for conceiving permanent collection and loan exhibitions; researching and proposing acquisitions for the collection; researching the collection and contributing to scholarly publications; working closely with donors, scholars, dealers, and artists; supervising volunteers and special project staff; and contributing to fundraising activities. Â Serves as coordinator or local curator for traveling exhibitions. Â Develops relationships with artists and galleries that can guide future exhibition projects. Â Conceives of appropriate programming and conducts gallery talks. Â Takes an active role in conceiving and preparing the biannual Photography Gala.
Must have a Master of Arts in Art History, preferably with a concentration in a photographic subject. Â Must have at least 3 years of experience with exhibition projects, preferably involving photographic objects and preferably living artists. Â Strong writing skills are highly recommended. Â Foreign language abilities are encouraged.
All info, including the online application submission, here via the AIC employee portal.
February 10, 2013 · Print This Article
ACRE in Wisconsin. Ox-Bow in Michigan. Bemis in Nebraska. With so much midwestern residency happening, there is no excuse not to apply. Details below. (And for anyone who missed part one, BOLT and PLAND are still accepting applications.)
2013 Application now open, deadline April 15th with $25 fee waved by February 15th
ACRE (Artistsâ€™ Cooperative Residency and Exhibitions) is a volunteer-run non-profit based in Chicago devoted to employing various systems of support for emerging artists and to creating a generative community of cultural producers. ACRE investigates and institutes models designed to help artists develop, present, and discuss their practices by providing forums for idea exchange, interdisciplinary collaboration, and experimental projects.
Residency: Steuben, WI
Exhibitions: ACRE Projects / 1913 W 17th St / Chicago, IL 60608
Our admissions panel comprises an impartial jury of established artists, critics and curators from Chicago and elsewhere. Jury members are asked to evaluate work samples and the written portion of the application. Scoring is based on quality of work, potential for growth, and feasibility of project proposed based on the facilities we offer.
Notification of acceptance will be issued in early May.
- 1 session (12 days), $600
- 2 sessions (26 days), $1200
- day rate: $60/day
full info available at http://www.acreresidency.org/
2013 application now open, deadline for Summer MFA & Arts Faculty residencies is April 5th
Ox-Bow offers a wide range of opportunities for artists at all stages in their career. With year-round programs that cater to degree-seeking students, professional artists and those new to the field, Ox-Bow is a protected place where creative processes break-down, reform, and mature.
There are a variety of ways to engage in the program, from being a student, artist in residence, faculty member, visiting artist, or fellowship student.
Ox-Bow one and two-week residencies for Arts Faculty, June 2 – August 17th, 2013
Over the summer, Ox-Bow offers one and two-week residencies for artists who are also faculty members in the arts, in an adjunct or full time capacity. This program is designed to give teaching artists the much needed time to focus on their own work throughout the summer and also to connect to other faculty who are teaching at Ox-Bow.
Artists are selected upon the merit of their work and written statements describing their proposed use of the residency. During their stay, artists are encouraged to present a slide lecture or reading of their work and to participate in the community life at Ox-Bow. Recipients receive a small private studio and room and board. Please note that the classroom studio facilities are not available to artists in residence.
Cost: $225 per week, (includes room and board and studio use), due at the time the residency is awarded.
Deadline: April 5, 2013
Ox-Bow MFA Residency, three week residency, June 2 – August 17th, 2013
Ox-Bow will offer three to five 3-week residencies to MFA candidates from schools around the nation. Students must be currently enrolled in an accredited MFA program or have graduated from an MFA program on or after December 2012 to qualify. Students may apply as individuals or as pairs to live and work on campus on a project of their design. Applicants will receive one studio space, as well as housing for the duration of their stay (if applying as a pair, applicants will share a studio, as well as housing). Access to classroom studios and studio equipment is not guaranteed. Students should submit proposals to create work that is not dependent on studio access.
These three-week residencies are designed for graduate students who may not need the formal instruction provided by Ox-Bowâ€™s traditional class structure.
Only one application is required from the applying group/collaboration. The first person listed on the application will be considered our main contact person.
Cost: $500 per 3-week residency for one artist; $800 for two artists, (includes room and board and studio), due at the time the residency is awarded.
Deadline: April 5, 2013
For full information, visit http://www.ox-bow.org/experience
The Bemis Center
Accepting applications for 3 month residencies featuring $750 monthly stipends, generously sized live/work studios and 24 hour access to facilities. Deadline February 28th, 2013 (!!)
The Bemis Center provides Artists-in-Residence with the gift of time, space and support.
TIME 3 months of uninterrupted, self-directed work time.
SPACE The Bemis Center is housed in two urban warehouses totaling 110,000 square feet. Each artist is provided with a generously sized live/work studio with a private kitchen and bathroom and 24 hour access to facilities including a wood shop, installation spaces, and 10,000 square foot sculpture facility.
SUPPORT $750 monthly stipend.
Applications are being accepted through February 28.
For more information or to apply: http://www.bemiscenter.org/residency/
This week: The second part of our survey of residencies in the area. We speak with Nicholas Wylie and Emily Green about ACRE.
Then on to with Elizabeth Chodos and Michael Andrews from Ox-Bow. Wrapping it up with Joe Jeffers for Harold Arts.
ACRE (Artistsâ€™ Cooperative Residency and Exhibitions)Â is a volunteer-run non-profit based in Chicago devoted to employing various systems of support for emerging artists and to creating a generative community of cultural producers. ACRE investigates and institutes models designed to help artists develop, present, and discuss their practices by providing forums for idea exchange, interdisciplinary collaboration, and experimental projects.
Residency: Steuben, WI
Exhibitions: ACRE Projects / 1913 W 17th St / Chicago, IL 60608
This is Ox-Bow’s 102nd year as a school of art and artists’ residency. We are proud to celebrate our history and the thousands of artists who have passed through Ox-Bowâ€™s campus since 1910.
Each year Ox-Bow evolves and responds to new developments in the visual arts in order to serve artists, students, and the community in relevant ways. This yearâ€™s course selection reflects our commitment to developing a dynamic curriculum that bends genres into new formats, but also has deep roots in traditional craft-based practices. It is this dynamic between tradition and innovation that makes taking a course at Ox-Bow such a singular and rich experience. The group of faculty and visiting artists for 2012 is comprised of ambitious thinkers and makers, and we are excited to have them join us in the same remarkable landscape that inspired Ox-Bowâ€™s founding 102 years ago. We look forward to seeing you on campus this summer!
Anyone, whether they are a degree-seeking student, or a life-long learner can take a course. Courses can be taken for SAIC credit or for non-credit
SAIC advanced registration begins in-person on Monday, March 12th at 8:30 AM in the Ox-Bow office. General Registration opens March 26th online through our website,Â www.ox-bow.org.
September 2- October 6, 2012
Two week to five week residencies for artists
Fall at Ox-Bow is dedicated to the residency program. It is a unique time to gather artists from around the world, working in a wide variety of media. Given the small nature of the program, residents have a remarkable opportunity to create a close community. Most nights feature slide lectures, studio visits, or informal conversation that can open an individual practice to discussion, engagement, and challenge.
During the fall season, Artistsâ€™ in Residence have the opportunity to work in studios not available during the summer session. They also enjoy a more intimate community of like-minded, and diverse professionals. The fall season is also an ideal time to propose group or collaborative work.
Deadline:Â May 11th, 2012
Cost:Â $250 per week, (includes room and board and use of studio), due at the time the residency is awarded.
Financial aid available, see application to apply.
Fall residency scholarships and stipend made possible with support form the Joan Mitchell Foundation will be available. These funds are awarded to 10 individual painters and sculptors who are able to spend 4-5 weeks at Ox-Bow during the fall session. Selected artists will have their residency fees waived and receive a stipend after completing their residency. Â Apply on the application. Please include a brief statement of financial need.
Additional funding for the Fall and Summer Residency program is provided by theÂ John Hartigan Memorial Scholarship for Painters (acrylic and/or oils).
June 3 â€“ August 18, 2012.
Two-week Residencies for Arts Faculty
Over the summer, Ox-Bow offers 2-week residencies for artists who are also faculty members in the arts, in an adjunct or full timeÂ capacity. This program is designed to give teaching artists the much needed time to focus on their own work throughoutÂ the summer and also to connect to other faculty who are teaching at Ox-Bow.
Artists are selected upon the merit of their work and written statements describing their proposed use of the residency.Â During their stay, artists are encouraged to present a slide lecture or reading of their work and to participate in the communityÂ life at Ox-Bow. Recipients receive a small private studio and room and board. Please note that the classroom studio facilitiesÂ are not available to ARs.
Deadline:Â April 6. 2012
Cost:Â $550 for 2-weeks, (includes room and board and studio use), due at the time the residency is awarded.
This summer Harold Arts offers three sessions, as well as a few weekend opportunities for those of you with tighter summer schedules.
Residencies at Harold Arts offer participants shared and individual studio facilities, comfortable accommodations, and chef-prepared meals. For musicians and others interested in working with sound we have our Poolhouse recording studio; a huge room, a wide array of gear, and engineers ready and willing to plan and execute your audio endeavors. Other facilities available for residents include modest wood-working facilities and and a wood-fired kiln for ceramic works.
And of course, the rolling hills and majestic white pine forests of Haven Tree Farm are yours to explore.
December 15, 2011 · Print This Article
Entering the studio of Craft Mystery Cult, I was greeted by a plywood table festooned with ambiguous objects varying from crudely handcrafted clay bowls to scorched specimens seemingly pirated from the vault of a natural history museum. All three CMC members, Sonja Dahl, Jovencio de la Paz, and Stacy Jo Scott, were seated around this collection, which I soon discovered to be ephemera from their collaborative rites and rituals. Removed from the context of performance, the reliquary expressed an internal coherenceâ€” the vernacular of the objects linking hand, to material, to detritus, suggesting a connection between everyday practices of making and the more mystical aspects of ritualistic activity. The tableau was presided over by the sanctified portraits of William Morris and Johannes Ittenâ€”the patron saints of craft and color, whose workshop-based practices inform the social and conceptual underpinnings of CMCâ€™s activities.
The members of Michigan-based Craft Mystery Cult are all in their final year of their MFAs in fiber, (Dahl and de la Paz), and ceramics, (Scott), at Cranbrook Academy of Art. They established the CMC collective as a platform to explore issues relating to the history, economy, and conceptual framework of contemporary craft. On Saturday, CMC will orchestrate a performance at Roots and Culture that draws from their sacred text, The Hapticon. I interviewed Dahl, de la Paz, and Scott in their studio as they were making preparations for this event.
Sarah Margolis-Pineo: Itâ€™s my understanding that Craft Mystery Cult was officially formed over the summer in residence at Ox-Bow, but Iâ€™m wondering if you can elaborate on the CMC origin story. What strange and mysterious forces conspired to bring this collaboration together?
Jovencio de la Paz: I donâ€™t know that Iâ€™d say we formed at Ox-Bow, I think it was prior to that through discussion and writing.
Sonja Dahl: I’d say we began casually working on this project about a year ago now. It really evolved out of issues that originated within each of our individual studio practices.
Stacy Jo Scott: Through a number of conversations, we realized that we had similar concerns in terms of how we approach work. It seemed like we had this shared desire to create a conversation that we werenâ€™t getting otherwiseâ€”in other venues or in other forms. It was really from this desire to create a narrative to work fromâ€¦ By narrative, I donâ€™t mean the Craft Mystery Cult narrative, I mean more of a framework for understanding our art historical lineage.
SMP: All three of you come from disciplines focused on object making, and historically, discrete object making through ceramics and fiber. Do you feel like academia, as well as the larger cultural framework surrounding craft-based practices of making, are perpetuating discourses that in some ways are no longer relevant; for example, the Modernist tradition of autonomy, or the postmodern tradition of critique? In what sense were you breaking free?
SJS: I think for me and my experience with ceramics, itâ€™s almost coming from a different direction than what youâ€™re describing. As artists making work at this time, the conversation is so steeped in the dematerialization of the object. The desire to make and have hands-on material, and the desire to see objects manifest from work is something thatâ€™s disappearing from the larger conversation. Itâ€™s difficult to have a position to work from that seems relevant when everything is becoming more ephemeral. In a way, weâ€™re trying to consider what position objects and materiality still have; specifically, the handâ€™s relationship to material as a different source of knowledge that we arenâ€™t taught to access.
JdlP: Much of CMCâ€™s work deals with the creation of language; specifically, the kind of language that might be able to house what Stacy Jo is describing, which we refer to as haptic knowledgeâ€”the knowledge beyond language. In order to present that or to create a bridge between that and the viewer, we work to create an environment that utilizes strategies that may be familiar from other forms such as text, performance, ritual, music, things to serve as access points to that non-verbal space. Weâ€™re really using the notion of the craft workshop as a model for collaborative art practice, which is a reference that is very different compared to other collaborative art practices in that it deals with a very craft-specific mode of production. There are interpersonal hierarchies that are very different than other collaborative groups.
SMP: Going back to your practice that draws from text, music, and performance, Iâ€™m curious what you think can be gleaned from the interstice of ritual and craft? Did you approach the project with a preconceived relationship between mysticism and making, and how have your thoughts evolved throughout the past few months?
JdlP: I think a very simple way to describe it is that itâ€™s sort of like a logic puzzle. Weâ€™ve created a framework that has a very specific language related to the occult and mysticism through rites and rituals. Craft serves as a parallel structure that is based on skill. Take the Masons for example: as you progress in skill, you gain knowledge in a more profound, spiritual sense. So thereâ€™s this parallel, and we were always sort of guided by both. We were interested in the work of Johannes Itten, and his spiritualistic approach to making and teaching.
SJS: One of our earliest references was William Morris, who is complicated, but one thing that he championed was this idea of human dignityâ€”the worker and the maker have a sense of dignity that is lost in certain forms of industrial production. For me, mysticism related in part to humanism and highlighting individual agency rather than obeying the types of beliefs and laws that are passed down by mastery.
SMP: Can you describe some components to the larger Craft Mystery Cult project and articulate the relationship between ritual and performance to object?
SD: One of our performances at Ox-Bow: â€œIn Commemoration of the Death of the Prophet William Morrisâ€ really brought together many aspects of our collaborative work at the residency. It brought together the component of collectingâ€”we would visit each of the studios and collect material remnants of their processes, so we had the slag pile from the iron pour, fragments of glass and things like that. Those objects were collected throughout the course of the project, and we were also creating other objects both through the playful re-authoring of, for example, William Morris textile prints, as well as through various different ways of employing the symbology that we had created. We generated all these objects through various modes of making and collecting, and we funneled them all into this final ritual that involved a processional, the building of this pyre in the fire pit, creating a musical, auditory experience, which all happened at twilight. In the end, it really became this performed ritual for a number of individuals that brought together history and research, object making, collecting, the spiritual, bodies moving in space, musicâ€”all of these elements that we had been working on for the duration of the project. Thereâ€™s a real spirit of play that weâ€™re getting at with improvisation. Spontaneity can occur because of embedded knowledge and experience to some degree. We brought to this collective much of our own thinking and making, and because we come without own histories, the spontaneous and inventive moments can occur.
SMP: I find it interesting that this project evolved from reactionâ€” a simultaneous response to your individual practices within a larger academic framework. If Iâ€™m understanding this correctly, itâ€™s the interaction of the collectiveâ€”the coming together of individuals to create a new body and a new interstice from which you can cultivate an alternative framework for making and its related embodied processes.
SJS: Yeah, absolutely. And I think part of that is we have this desire to make together. I come in with a set of skills that Jovencio and Sonja donâ€™t have, so the way I use my skill in collaboration is in a way that they can also use, which means that the work itself is often quite basic like the pinch pots. Similarly, Sonja will lead in dying indigo since she has experience with that and Jovencio and I do not, and itâ€™s these simplified processes that guides the making of objects…
JdlP: …and thereby the aesthetic that they express.
SMP: Is it from the aesthetic that you make references to meaning in a symbolic sense?
JdlP: I think itâ€™s the implied process more than the aesthetic of the object. Pinch pots and one-dip indigo dye are very foundational.
SJS: That speaks to our interest in skill. Weâ€™re interested in that moment of skill that is extremely foundationalâ€”not skill in terms of mastery, but skill in terms of someones first encounter with the material. In that way too, the aesthetic that weâ€™re developing is based on the desire to speak about that primary moment of skill.
JdlP: So the aesthetic appears always untrained, or primitive, as problematic as these terms are. We are interested in this notion of prehistory, which really relates to the realm of craft in that a pinch pot made tens of thousands of years ago is strikingly similar to a pinch pot that a high school student in a public school might make. That high school student and prehistoric person are somehow linked through the object, the aesthetic of which comes from this moment of foundational, or primal creation.
SJS: A lot of work that one might consider deskilled comes from the idea that a lack of skill is a stand in for authenticity, and I donâ€™t quite buy that. I feel like what weâ€™re doing is somehow different from thatâ€”not that that moment of primary skill is more authentic than mastery, but itâ€™s about creating some kind of framework around that momentâ€”that moment has a depth of meaning that isnâ€™t about authenticity. Itâ€™s not that the primitive person is somehow more authentic than the teenager.
JdlP: But whatâ€™s important is that they share the same moment through making that object. That moment can be opened up, and what exists there isnâ€™t authenticity but some sort of experiential knowledge.
SMP: I often have the discussion across a range of art practices about the concept of the moment of discovery, and whether youâ€™re working in paint or performance, itâ€™s all about discovery on some level for the viewer, and I suppose for the maker as well. Does that concept relate to what youâ€™re speaking to?
JdlP: But itâ€™s a very particular kind of discovery because itâ€™s always available through rediscoveryâ€”itâ€™s never exhausted, and thatâ€™s where the idea of ritual is also important. That moment is always exciting for whatever reason, which is part of the mystery, and I think thatâ€™s speaks a lot to where the aesthetic of our objects comes from. Itâ€™s interesting because the show in Chicago has nothing to do with objectsâ€¦
SD: Before we get into Chicago, Iâ€™ve been wanting to mention that something I think about a lot in relationship to the CMC project is the spirit of approaching things with a sense of wonder. When we talk about using basic skill and that primary moment of discovery between body and material, thereâ€™s a sense of wonder there. You can appreciate that depth of knowledge of a makerâ€™s body to their materials and their process through a sense of wonder, and I feel that a lot of my experience at Ox-Bow visiting all the studios was a process of cultivating that sense of wonder. To stand in front of the glass studio or the iron pour, or to see them open the raku kilnâ€”thereâ€™s a sense of wonder and appreciation thatâ€™s very important.
JdlP: And I think itâ€™s very difficult not to feel a sense of optimism through craftâ€¦
SD: Dare we say it!
JdlP: â€¦because youâ€™re encountering a moment becomingâ€”a moment of creationâ€”it is a generative moment. Itâ€™s very integral to that sense of wonder that you are witnessing a generative process.
SJS: And itâ€™s already essentially performative. We can go see an iron pour, we can go see someone blowing glass, someone throwing a potâ€”thatâ€™s performance, and thatâ€™s ritual.