Author Archives: Rachel England

About Rachel England

Rachel England Artist and co-founder of Project Dispatch Works and Resides in North East, MD I like to work on several different things at once. Thus, the blog. I get bored with any one project after a certain point so there will most likely be periods of apparent non-existence on this blog and then a binge of 1-3 posts a day for three weeks. This outlet unfortunately catalogs my un-medicated, manic depressive tendencies.

January Featured Artist: Kendall Nordin

In the process of creating this post, the e-mail exchanges and conversation with Kendall were so much about the prescriptive and limiting nature of words. Kendall preferred a phone call interview be recorded, so we gave it a shot. Unfortunately, I am poorly lacking in live interview skills, and the recording was too conversational. I was too excitable and nervous – a terrible combination. I decided to transcribe some of her answers, but even in doing so, I would have had to apply some personal statements in order to contextualize her responses. Kendall’s answers to the above questions were off-the-cuff, and should be read as such. She is currently in the process of writing a new statement. I’ve never been so eager to read an artist statement, and that might be the case for some readers. I hope to update this post with Kendall’s statement when it is made available, and maybe by that time I’ll have done some crafty editing so I can include some of our phone call interview.

 

So without further ado, Project Dispatch presents…

Kendall Nordin

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Untitled, Giclee prints, 12 x 15

You say in your bio that you left words behind, and much of your work is about the residue of the artistic (or any) endeavor. In your statement you describe this focus as “the shadows and the spaces in between, the gaps, the structures and processes just below the surface”. What incited this shift away from words and into the inexpressible and ephemeral? What have you learned about the “surface” by focusing on what lies beneath?

I think its all part of the longer intellectual journey that I’ve been on for as long as I can remember.  After finishing my college degree in Theology, I was taking a nap in my cousin’s hammock and tearing up from exhaustion and the sunlight hit my eyelashes.  I spent probably 20 minutes just opening and closing my eyes slowly and thinking, after all I’ve learned, THAT is what I want to make.  I want to make images/videos/work like THAT.  Of course it took me another 5 years to pursue art seriously and another couple before I felt comfortable calling myself an artist.  It’s only now that I’m starting to come to terms with the fact that the work I make is inextricably linked to my earlier interest in religion.  I can imagine that in another 10 years I will have evolved again and be able to more simply identify what I am doing.  It seems like it becomes more and more clear the more and more I do.

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Untitled, Giclee prints, 14×17

Parsing things into “surface” and “underneath” makes for a dichotomy that I don’t think really exists.  All levels of seeing are available at all times.  Focusing on not the thing but a system or focusing on a minute detail allows me to see the thing more clearly– it doesn’t fall away.  I call what I do primarily Drawing based.  And some of categorizing it like that lets me talk in this way about seeing.  When you draw a figure, you can’t focus only on a hand– you have to focus on the overall image and energetic flow and then drill down to the details.  But it is the details that makes the drawing really have personality so they are equally important. I guess overall I’m more comfortable letting an image or an installation do its work without me having to describe it, than writing a poem and having to actually make grand pronouncements about my perspective.  I hate being prescriptive.  When you’re making work that’s really trying to talk about the big questions of life and the human experience, the words sound pompous and reduce the impact.

 

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Untitled, Giclee prints, 14×17

You have an “art alter ego” called Le Chien Sauvage. Can you tell us a little about her? How did she come into existence, and what role does she serve in your practice? Has she made any appearances lately? Have you and your alter ego ever made work together?

I love Le Chien Sauvage.  Basically I have a ton of work and stuff that I do that doesn’t neatly fit into the categories that my main practice does.  Given the stupid constraints of the art world and marketing, I have to have a concise way of describing who “KendallNordin” is when she makes work and what kind of work she might make.  So I use other names to let me do other things.  Le Chien Sauvage is basically an instigator.  Like my 22-piece all women rock improv orchestra in Australia, PANIC.  Or like super weird aggressive costumed performance pieces that have a bit of a political edge to them.  Or protests about how artists are considered/treated/valued.  Nothing’s been happening recently with that part of my practice– probably because I’m not really surrounded by the kinds of things that incite that work– art world events, other contemporary artists, collaborators to my instigations– where I live right now.  I don’t think that we could make work together.  I think Le Chien Sauvage would probably just get really annoyed by KendallNordin’s work.  I’m looking forward to when I have enough time and energy to do it all again.  If someone gave me a show as Chien Sauvage, I would crush it, but I just don’t have the time to work out those applications and do the necessary contact making in order to get the show.

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Untitled, Giclee prints, 12 x 15

 

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Untitled, Giclee prints, 14×17

You are a new mother. How has this impacted your process and your work? 

I gave myself a 6 month window to not think about my art career and not feel bad.  I was surprised by how little work I got done while I was pregnant while simultaneously feeling an extraordinary pressure to get a lot done since life was about to change.  It has not changed my deep and abiding need to MAKE, but my resources are even more tapped out than before.  I’m having to start again small– with what I can do.  This current series of photos for PD has grown out of me driving around while the baby naps in the car.  I thought I would want to make work about the baby– but right now, that’s not evident.  Since I didn’t make work that was particularly biographical or personal before, I don’t know why it’s surprised me that I’m not super interested in doing it now.

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Untitled, Giclee prints, 14×17

What is your primary focus in your work right now? 

Summers in Alaska are crazy.  They’re very external.  Now that the light is going and it’s getting cold, everything starts to get very internal.  I imagine that the next few months will bring some good crystallized thinking about the next directions for my work.  I am becoming more and more honest about the fact that I make secular nonsecular art.  The words about that and how to get deeper into that will start to form.  Since I don’t have a studio at the moment, I’m really only fantasizing and drafting installation work.  I’ll be confined to a table and my computer (though I’m hoping I might manage to make some work outside at some point).  So I imagine the next few months will bring more photography, video, some drawing, maybe some sound work, and (crossing my fingers) finishing a graphic journal I’ve had on hold for about a year.

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Untitled, Giclee prints, 12 x 15

Have you made any discoveries in your practice as a result of becoming a member of Project Dispatch and making work for subscriptions?

Yes!  I’ve mentioned this in interviews before but I have had to really come to terms with what “commercial” work I can do and how deeply uncomfortable I am making a product just for sale.  I have to think of the work as series, as focused, and as research for larger pieces.  Though I think the past couple of years the work has ended up being its own resolved thing.

If you could pick three artists from the Project to subscribe to, who would they be?

Today I’d choose Frank Adams, Evan Hume, and Allison Long Hardy.  Other days I would probably choose the random selection option.

 

To see more work by Kendall, visit KendallNordin.com.

Start your subscriptionto Kendall throughout the month of January to receive a 10% discount!

 

 

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September Featured Artist: Molly McAuley

After a brief summer hiatus, it’s lovely to come back to feature Molly McAuley and get lost in her work. It’s no wonder that Molly gets a lot of commissions for portraits and caricatures with her skill and style, but it’s her surrealist landscapes which have intrigued and delighted me the most.

Rene Magritte said, “To be a surrealist means barring from your mind all remembrance of what you have seen, and being always on the lookout for what has never been seen.” While I appreciate this sentiment, I find art which draws from the vast amount of information available to us today, to be more mysterious and provoking. Molly’s work is a prime example of this re-organization of information to create impossible landscapes which also somehow feel familiar. When I see Molly’s work, I feel like I should know the characters, and that they are part of a larger narrative which I’ve just momentarily forgotten. That’s a pretty great mind trick.

So without further ado,

Molly McAuley

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Some of your work is reminiscent of vaudeville with exaggerated expressions and references to 20’s-50’s styling. Do you have a particular affinity to this era in entertainment? You also sometimes use entertainers as central figures. Can you tell us why you choose to do this?

Well the idea of variety is something that inspires my work, so I see the connection to vaudeville and early variety shows for sure. I’ve also always been delighted by musical theatre and the magic of any great spectacle or performance – pageants, parades, circus acts, cabaret, lavish Broadway and Hollywood musicals, game shows, etc. – so I try to create some of that theatrical excitement in my pieces. I love the way that visual and performing arts combine to delight and entertain spectators. I think growing up performing in musicals and watching them, I understood the structure well, and that influences how I structure my compositions – setting the stage or background first, placing key players as focal points and others in clusters or choreographed formations to balance the composition, and using lighting and costumes to separate foreground from background within the frame.

In borrowing imagery from the world of entertainment, including tributes to some of my favorite performers, I kind of hope to steal a bit of their magic, to celebrate them but also make them mine in some way. For me, the figures of entertainers serve as reminders of the joy of both creating and appreciating art – that work can be play and art is entertainment.

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“Sleepy’s Open” digital collage 18×48″

“Synchronized” graphite 8×10″

I’ve noticed re-occurring figures of ladies in bathing suits (maybe in a pageant) with large head masks in some of your works. What do these figures represent to you?

I like the mix of glamour and beauty with an element of oddity that these figures represent to me. I also really love seeing/depicting bodies arranged in formation – unified by things like costume and choreography, while offering the subtle differences apparent in the facial features and expressions, which vary from each individual figure to the next. In the case of these pageant ladies, I love that the head masks exaggerate those differences to a sort of comic effect.

“Work as Play” charcoal and pastel 18×24″

“Social Circle” graphite, pen, marker, gouache 12×12″

What are the most commonly asked questions about your work?

I’d say I get more “comments” than “questions” from people when they see my work, and I’m okay with that! I’m usually just aiming to create visually pleasing, somewhat intriguing, pictures that offer the experience of stepping into another world, like a dream. So if people say, “cool!” then I’m happy. But I find that, especially if I give the piece a title, people are often interested in hearing my interpretation of the piece and what it means or where it might have come from. So it’s fun to share the connections I have made about a piece, but also to hear what it evokes for other people, too.

“giant radioactive fukushima squid” graphite 8×10″

When you’re starting to work on your surrealist landscapes, where do you get your source material?

I’m a bit of a hoarder when it comes to source material. No image that comes through the screen of my computer or phone is safe from a quick screenshot or drag-to-desktop (then filed into various folders, “binders of women,” etc.) if I like it and think I can use it. I’m still not entirely clear on what the rules are for appropriating imagery, so I just assume it’s all fair game as long as I do something cool with it to make it mine, ya? I also like taking screen shots during videos to capture moments that aren’t already available as images on the internet. So when I’m making my surrealist landscapes in Photoshop, I have a ton of digital material to work from. For my hand-cut collages and mixed-media stuff, I also have a huge collection of National Geographic mags which I love to sit and look/cut through, as well as other used books I’ve acquired for that purpose. When I want to make work with more of a personal theme, I love going through all of my old family photos, which are such a goldmine.

“Happytown, USA” collage 18×48″

“Big Sister” graphite and gouache 18×24″

What are you working on now?

I’ve always wanted to make work with some sort of 3-d element, so I have been playing around with these little clay sculptures I’ve made – small figures and busts, and putting them in diorama boxes with drawings around them lining the background. The next step will be figuring out how to wire lighting into them so they can function as night-lights or lamps. I love lamp(s).

Have you made any discoveries in your practice as a result of becoming a member of Project Dispatch and making work for subscriptions?

Being a member of Project Dispatch has been great for me because it’s a good reason to keep me making art outside of the portraits and other commissioned work I do – I need the motivation and I enjoy the freedom to create a little something I am proud to send out and that I otherwise would not have made. I’m inspired by the concept of Project Dispatch and always excited to tell people about it because it’s something so unique and accessible for people who want to own original art (and who doesn’t?) I’m inspired by the other artists in the group, too, seeing what everybody comes up with for subscriptions and for our shows.

 If you could pick three artists from the Project to subscribe to, who would they be?

I think I would pick Jessica Ford, Sheena Custer, and Chandi Kelley first. Then I would pick three more and keep going – there are too many interesting artists to choose from.

To see more work by Molly, visit her website: www.mollymcauley.com

Start your subscriptionto Molly throughout the month of September to receive a 10% discount!

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June Featured Artist: Allison Long Hardy

I have one of Allison’s drawings hanging in my dining room. Recently, I had a friend over for lunch and she went straight to it for a better look. It’s a 5″x5″ marker and pen drawing, and the only recognizable mark is a lower case letter “i” repeated over and over again in sprawling clusters and lines. She said “I love it, and that is surprising.” When I asked her why, she said, “I don’t like most abstract art, but this one is like what a mom feels during the toddler years.” I hadn’t even told her that the work was based on Allison’s interest in communication and that she has a one year old. I love when this kind of thing happens. I especially love when people who don’t care for “abstract art” make the connection that it is sometimes representational.

While Allison’s work is personal and experiential, it also communicates something many can attach meaning to. While I am annoyed that I have to constantly practice the letter “l” with my son who is having a hard time pronouncing it properly, Allison’s work reminds me that there is so much more happening in this simple interaction with my son, and I color it with my attitude. It’s a great visual reminder.

Her work isn’t just relevant to parents, though. Her drawings could have the same cathartic effect for anyone interested in the controlled chaos that is human communication.

So without further ado, Project Dispatch presents…

Allison Long Hardy

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You’ve recently finished a body of work about language and communication with your son. Before that you focused on conversations overheard in crowds and in passing. Can you tell us what most influenced your visual translation of these experiences, and then how it changed once you were interacting with your son?

A lot of times I don’t know what my art is about until after I make it.  I really trust my gut a lot of times.  The series about communication with my son was planned ahead of time, but that’s because I made some preceding pieces and then realized I could make a focused, deliberate series out of them.  However, I’ve always been interested in communication, especially bad communication, which is why interpreting a one year old’s language interested me.  Also going from overheard conversations from strangers, to intentional conversations with my son made me a lot more observant and honed in on certain things with his language development.

2.12.15 T, 6" x 6" , Mixed media on paper

2.12.15 T, 6″ x 6″ , Mixed media on paper

4.2.15 Z, 8" x 8" , Mixed media on paper

4.2.15 Z, 8″ x 8″ , Mixed media on paper

You describe your mark-making as a mix of intuitive and deliberate. When you say deliberate, does this mean you have a method? Can you elaborate on what you mean by this regarding your current drawings. Do you have a composition in mind when you start out, or does that develop in process? What have you learned in the process of making this series of drawings?

When I say deliberate, I mean that there are a couple of symbols, marks, letters that I do plan out before I start.  For example in the series about conversations with my son, I would plan to use a specific letter on a certain piece because that’s the letter or sound he was saying that day.  I made a piece about my dog who was insanely lazy, so I planned on using a lot of horizontal marks to represent his lethargy.  I generally don’t have a composition in mind when I start out, many times the composition creates itself, especially if I have a concrete idea in mind.  From this I’ve learned that I rely on similar composition too much!  I’ve had to really force myself to explore composition more in order to appropriately express each piece’s conversation.

12.3.14 N, 10" x 10", Mixed media on paper

12.3.14 N, 10″ x 10″, Mixed media on paper

How has having a son affected your ability and desire to make art? What would you say to a lady artist who wants to have a child, but fears doing so because of the many years where her time is not her own, and may mean postponing her own dreams? 

Oh gosh, the ever evolving question, isn’t this what most mothers struggle with?  Art was a part of my life before my son, before my husband, and before I really knew how to put it into words.  It’s always been there, and is an extremely important part of my life (the same goes for fitness with me).  There are periods of intense creativity and then periods where the creativity just isn’t there.  Right now, I’m not feeling creative so I’m focusing on other parts of my life.  I’m sure in a month or two, I’ll feel the need to make art again, and it’ll be great.  The same goes for being a mom. It’s just an added layer to me and who I am.  I do make art differently now.  The works are smaller and I generally complete them in one sitting.  When I was doing my massive eight foot drawings, I was in a completely different part of my life.  I was pregnant, with time on my hands.  So why not create huge art?  Now, my time is more valuable.  Nap time, time in-between classes, or time in the evening after my son has gone to sleep for the day are extremely valuable and afford me short snippets where I can do what I want to do, sometimes it’s making art, sometimes it’s sitting mindlessly in front of the TV watching the Real Housewives, and sometimes it’s surfing the internet for dinner recipes. Whatever it is, I now cherish that time.  Now that I’ve completed this series about the alphabet and my son’s language developing, I’ll move on and the work will probably change again.  Whatever happens, everything changes after you have a child, I’m not the center of my universe anymore, my son is.  And while he is one of my major priorities, so is art and art-making.  It’s figuring out the art-making that is the hard part.  So, to answer your question about postponing your dreams, I think that’s a terrible idea.  You have to figure out how to make your dreams work for you.  After all, I want to be a good role model for my son, and I think chasing my dreams is a part of that.  I want my son to see me working hard and doing what I love.

10.9.14 E, 6" x 6", Mixed media on paper

10.9.14 E, 6″ x 6″, Mixed media on paper

3.11.15 V, 8" x 8", Mixed media on paper

3.11.15 V, 8″ x 8″, Mixed media on paper

What are you working on now that you’ve completed this alphabet series? 

I’m not really working on anything right now. I know, I’m not really supposed to say that, but it’s true.  I find after I complete a huge series of works I have to take some time off.  I’ve tried to make some work and it’s just been terrible.  So I’ll give it some time and in a month or two, I’ll come back to it.  In the meantime, I’ll focus on enjoying my summer and maybe through my experiences this summer, I’ll figure out a new series.

Have you made any discoveries in your practice as a result of becoming a member of Project Dispatch and making work for subscriptions?

I’ve met some really cool collectors.  One particular collector who I worked with really loved my work, but wanted a certain size.  Being inhibited by the size made me think of my work differently.  It was a good challenge.  Also, the interpretations of my work by the collectors has been really fun.  Making non-objective work has always facilitated some interesting conversations about my work, but the collectors bring about a new point of view.  Because this is a piece of art that lives with them in their home, they see it differently than just a piece hanging in a gallery.  I’ve loved the conversations about my work that I’ve had with the collectors.

 If you could pick three artists from the Project to subscribe to, who would they be? 

Sheena Custer, Kendall Nordin, Evan Hume

To see more work by Allison, visit her website: www.AllisonLongHardy.com

Start your subscription to Allison throughout the month of June to receive a 10% discount!

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May Featured Artist: Jessica Ford

I met Jessica in the summer of 2009 at a show and concert in a beautiful old church in Indianapolis.  I had gone to see a friend (pianist/composer) perform, and was surprised to find visual work as part of the show. There’s something really special about seeing art in an historic church, but the icing on the cake was that the show was created by the artists in collaboration with the church. I love seeing the fruits of artist’s collaborations more than anything, so of course, I was immediately smitten with this group. I was especially drawn to Jessica’s self portraits with titles like “Vessel”. I’ve never really liked artist’s self portraits. I avoid making them because I don’t think I have the humility to do it right. Jessica does it right.

For the following several months I witnessed (via web) Jessica and her husband, Duncan, create work to music performed by our mutual friend in live performances. This was right about the time that Chandi and I were building the project, so her collaborative spirit and style were the perfect addition. I’ve loved watching Jessica work over the years, and especially so these last few years as she has studied to be a conservator.

S0, without further ado, Project Dispatch presents the art of…

Jessica Ford

 Self-portrait, acrylic on paper board, 5.5x6.5


Self-portrait, acrylic on paper board, 5.5×6.5

I imagine you as a kid that preferred the company of bugs to people. Am I right? Or did your love of bugs come later in life?  

I was definitely a quiet kid and a lot critters shared my attic bedroom, but I didn’t really appreciate bugs until later. There is a tiny section of Yukio Mishima’s book Spring Snow that describes a window looking out across beautiful gardens towards the distant mountains… and with that magnificent backdrop, a little beetle is focused on crawling from one side of the sill to the other. It probably wouldn’t have the same impact now, but at the time I read it I was pretty overwhelmed with choices and purpose and meaning and truth, and that passage helped give me direction — just set a goal and work with what’s in reach; the larger world isn’t hung up on me, so I shouldn’t get hung up on it. Ironically, that focus opened up both my reach and my world massively.

Reunited, oil on canvas board, 8x10

Reunited, oil on canvas board, 8×10

 Together, oil pastel and colored pencil, 7x9


Together, oil pastel and colored pencil, 7×9

You have recently become a Conservation Fellow at Brooklyn Museum. What is your favorite area of study? What are you working on now? What do you dream of working on? You are living one of my dreams right now, so I could probably use a reality check.  Do you have any complaints?

I love learning about the chemical make up of art materials, and how that’s affected by historic and geographic context. Like how a lot of avant-garde, 20th c. artists’ work was only possible due to technological developments driven by the world wars, and how the paint manufacturers were experimenting with additives that affect the paintings’ condition today. The research and analysis is endless and fascinating, but I’m still mostly infatuated with the artwork itself. Right now I have treatments underway for a huge Islamic coffeehouse painting The Battle of Karbala, a never-before-displayed Renoir, and Stuart Davis’s The Mellow Pad, which I also applied for a grant to conduct analysis on, just to name a few. It’s almost to busy to appreciate what’s happening, and not as glamorous as that list may sound, but I seriously love my job and the range of amazing art I get to see, study, preserve, make available to others, and touch (!) — only professionally, of course. Someday I’d like to put to use my interests in public art, road trips, and climbing on scaffolding by preserving historic murals across the country, but my current situation is pretty satisfying. Complaints? Grad school and this profession pose some challenges I didn’t expect. For example, home is something I’ve missed dearly, because practically speaking it’s hard to establish a new one or return to the old one.

Scout, oil on canvas board, 9x12

Scout, oil on canvas board, 9×12

You have studied and practice art, but your current work is so much more science, right? Other than the obvious about the nature of the materials and how the work would best be preserved, how has this had an effect on the way you think about art making?

The science is pretty heavy and a wonderful guide. Understanding materials and optical effects on a molecular level was really profound to me. Everything makes more sense, from art to the environment to humans. But in conservation practice there is so much problem solving and responsiveness to the materials at hand that it actually starts to feel like another art form. Add to that the fun of ethics: the beauty and value of decay, the balance of preservation vs. artifice, loss vs. memory, original intention vs. current truth — these ideas come up all the time, and it’s pretty good fodder for composing still lifes and portraits. On a more practical note, finally acknowledging the toxicity of some of Duncan’s and my favorite art-making materials (something we blissfully ignored for too long) before moving into our recent string of tiny, poorly ventilated apartments has probably kept a few years on our lifespans.

Jake, oil on canvas, 22x30

Jake, oil on canvas, 22×30

You use oil pastels a lot in your work. Does this material stand the test of time? Is that even a concern of yours? What is it about the material that you love so much? 

The way oil pastels feel is what gets me: the difference in their effects when warm or cool, and the ability to stack layers, mix layers, scrape layers. I didn’t pick them for their longevity, but they do hold up pretty well thanks to the oil component and the fact that the colorants by and large are pigments rather than dyes. The dry-but-not-chalky look is a visual goal that I used to achieve in my oil paintings by adding wax. Now I probably wouldn’t ever add wax to oils because their differences in solubility make them a horror for conservators to clean down the line. But I try not to think about longevity too much — it’s too intimidating to consider whether my own artwork will be capable of lasting, because it quickly follows to consider whether it should last, which ends up in an argument between two arrogant thoughts: “someone will want to preserve my art” vs. “it’s not about them.” I just have to focus on the making or I fall back into that black hole quandary over meaning and purpose.

If you could do one thing that you don’t have the time or resources to do now, what would it be?

I would buy an RV, establish my mobile conservation lab, and take Duncan and Lottie (our cat) on a tour of the Americas, preserving historic murals and painting new murals with locals along the way, with plenty of money left over for spur-of-the-moment flights back to the Midwest.

Luna Moth_oil on canvas board_9x12

 Runaway, oil pastel, colored pencil, and watercolor, 6.75x7.75


Runaway, oil pastel, colored pencil, and watercolor, 6.75×7.75

Have you made any discoveries in your practice as a result of becoming a member of Project Dispatch and making work for subscriptions?

Project Displatch has kept art-making in my life over the last four crazy years! Grad school took away my ability to plan and execute larger projects, so making smaller artworks for subscriptions and shows was my way to stay in practice and learn how to use materials like colored pencil and acrylic paint. Seeing how the other artists involved work in small scale has been helpful, too. It’s always nice to look over the shoulders of other artists.

If you could pick three artists from the Project to subscribe to, who would they be? 

I’ve thought about this many times and hope to actually make it happen in the near future. Rachel England, because of the occasional religious themes and the contradictions posed in her collages; Chandi Kelley, because she has a lot of cool pieces about tiny worlds; and Frank Adams, because his colors, composition, and humor are great. Then Dana Maier, Arianna Valle, and Jerome Skiscim, because their art contains stories that intrigue me.

Start your subscription to Jessica throughout the month of May to receive a 10% discount!

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April Featured Artist: Jerome Skiscim

Last night I was listening to a “This American Life” podcast called “It’s not the Product, It’s the Person”. The program began with the story of an 11 yr. old girl who sold candy to strangers. Many kids do this, but this girl understood that people weren’t buying candy because they wanted candy, but because she had convinced them to invest in her potential as an entrepreneur, and therefore, her future.

When I first met Jerry, I was impressed by his passion for the Project. He immediately recognized the beauty of an art subscription in that the patron is investing in the artist’s ideas and process. It’s not as much about the product as it is about enabling an artist to explore new ideas and develop their preferred topics and techniques, rather than conform to the expectations of a patron’s commission.

Our patrons are precious to us because we recognize the risk they take in supporting artists in this exchange, but here’s the thing; they never complain. It is a beautiful thing to witness an artist develop and explore new ideas over time.  We have watched Jerry do this in his own work over the last couple years, and it has been a sight to behold.

All this to say, you should invest in Jerry. Watch what he does. It’s beautiful.

Jerome Skiscim

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"Sometimes in Summer", chemigram on cotton rag silver gelatin paper 5x7 inches

“Sometimes in Summer”, chemigram on cotton rag silver gelatin paper 5×7 inches

How much does music (esp. related to your day job) have an influence on what you create?

I listen to music constantly. Sometimes for inspiration, to provoke a mood or to drown the constant din of music playing inside my head.  I have an internal radio that interacts with whatever I am doing or thinking and it is constantly playing, shifting and changing which makes it difficult to concentrate. I play and write music and constantly hear new rhythms, bass lines and melodies spring up from the world around me. Footsteps, rattling furnaces, partial conversations and birds are some of my favorite sources. I am always listening to the environment around me – always very affected by it.

Music has a huge impact on my art practice. I don’t listen to recorded music while I am creating visual art. It is all about letting go and being as free from distraction as possible with my thoughts and actions. I like to listen to the music from my internal radio broadcasts and feel the energy move through my body when I am -deep- in a creative cycle. I  observe the manifestation process from a distance. It’s similar to the out of body experiences I had as a child between age six and ten when I was often sick and running high fevers.

I restore antique stringed instrument bows for my day job and get to work with lots of beautiful natural materials like mother of pearl, fossil ivory from mammoth tusks, precious metals and colored silk thread. I see myself as a bridge that connects musicians and their creative process through music and artistry which is very satisying.

"Chime", chemigram on FB silver gelatin paper, 4x6 inches

“Chime”, chemigram on FB silver gelatin paper, 4×6 inches

 

"Untitled (echo3)" chemigram on RC silver gelatin paper, 12x12 inches

“Untitled (echo3)” chemigram on RC silver gelatin paper, 12×12 inches

Take us through your process a bit. How much of it is accidental vs. composed?

My process starts with photographic paper and darkroom chemistry for continuous tone photography. The big difference is that no camera is involved, so there is no negative as an image source. Instead of using a darkroom, these ‘chemigrams’ are created in the light and I actually expose the light sensitive paper to bright sunlight for several hours to help develop interesting colors and effects not unlike a photogram or lumigram. It’s really cool. Resists are used to help control and vary the speed of the chemical reactions. I use soft resists like honey, oils and syrups and hard resists like varnishes, glues and sealants. As the resists are broken down in the developer and fixer, different effects are rendered. I can control what the image will look like by manipulating the thickness of the resist, the time spent in the chemistry, and by the use of chemical accelerators and retarders used in traditional black and white darkroom technique. Each step, each ingredient has a direct effect on the result. It’s all trial and error in the beginning, but you start to get an idea of what’s possible after producing a hundred or so.

My pieces start with an idea for a concept which is sketched onto drawing paper. Then I choose the type of paper, chemicals, resists and additives depending on the color palette and effects I want to achieve. After the resists are applied and dried, I ‘bake’ the paper in the sunlight for a couple of hours which ‘fogs’ the paper. Then it goes into the chemical baths. Developer turns the exposed paper varying shades of black, while fixer turns the paper white and stops the developer – mixing them in various ratios result in a spectrum of colors. I like using hard resists as they result in a more extreme contrast and allow me to manipulate them into the shapes and effects I need in order to complete a piece. Soft resists are more flowy looking with dreamy contrast and more color.  I vary the thickness and type of resists and use paintbrushes, tweezers, and my hands to manipulate them and also apply additives for various effect. It is controllable to an extent, but there is some unpredictability to it.

Chemigrams have an individual look and style that matches each artist’s arsenal of resists, chemicals, and technique. Temperature, humidity and amount/source of light have a big impact as well. One of my favorite aspects of this process is mixing developer and fixer together on the paper resulting in a silver dichroic effect that turns into purples, oranges, yellows, blues and reds depending on the type of photographic paper used. I found the best results come from papers manufactured in the 1920’s – 60’s which contained not only silver, but cadmium, bromides, gold chloride and other presently ‘banned’ ingredients to help coax warm or cold tones to the image. I am constantly checking Ebay and garage sales looking for expired darkroom paper.

 

Untitled, chemigram on RC paper, 4x6 inches

Untitled, chemigram on RC paper, 4×6 inches

"Vapour" on FB silver gelatin paper, 7x5 inches

“Vapour” on FB silver gelatin paper, 7×5 inches

You have twins, right? How do you do all that you do? What kind of legacy do you hope to leave behind for your girls? 

Yes –  I have twin 4 year old girls and here’s how I do all that I do (without daycare or nannies) : my wife is a writer who works from home and we make time for each other because we understand how vital it is to have individual art practices. Our family does lots together too, but private time to create, reflect, and just be is very important. Life is an adventure, a story you create every moment. The legacy I want to leave my daughters with is for them to feel confident and unafraid of doing new things, to have fun, be kind and flexible and not to worry what people think.

What are you working on now?

A new series exploring landscapes via chemistry! I’m on to something with this series.

Untitled, chemigram, 12x36 inches on RC silver gelatin paper

Untitled, chemigram, 12×36 inches on RC silver gelatin paper

 

Have you made any discoveries in your practice as a result of becoming a member of Project Dispatch and making work for subscriptions?

Yes! The subscriptions have given me purpose, trajectory and the freedom to expand my ‘outline’ as an artist and to move within/away from photography. I like the action of creating, readying and dispatching to my subscribers as well as the interesting relationship between creator and collector via the mail.

-Every artist- in Project Dispatch inspires me and helps me move into different directions. I am now working on alternative process photography, chemical painting on photo emulsion and video/audio installation. It’s awesome! Project Dispatch also helped enable me to launch my first solo gallery show, This January I was accepted into the 2 year Sparkplug initiative at DCAC for emerging artists. This spring I will have work published in a fine art book from another artist collective I am involved in.  So, I am in a state of constant expansion/evolution in my artist career in large part because of Project Dispatch.

If you could pick three artists from the Project to subscribe to, who would they be?

Molly McCauley, Duncan Ford, and Evan Hume.

 

TO CHECK OUT MORE WORK BY JERRY, VISIT HIS WEBSITE.

Invest in Jerry by Ordering a subscription throughout the month of April and receive a 10% discount!

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March Featured Artist: Elizabeth Graeber

A while back at a Project Dispatch art making/trading party Elizabeth was asked to draw a horse. I was taken aback when she said she hadn’t ever drawn horses. Elizabeth draws everything; people, plants, food, drinks, animals, objects…everything.  So it was a surprise to hear that she had not drawn such an ordinary animal. She drew it in her distinct and playful style, and this drawing was applied to a Project Dispatch trading card. My daughter carried around that trading card for months. Elizabeth’s work is a hit with audiences of all ages.

Her colorful whimsical work graces many establishments around DC, in several publications nationwide, and on countless walls in homes.  Almost everyone I know owns a Graeber.  Do you?

Elizabeth Graeber

Photo by Emma Calary

Photo by Emma Mcalery

Since you don’t say a lot about yourself on-line, let’s start with the basics.  Where did you grow up and go to school ? Did you always want to be an artist?  Who are your influences? 

I grew up outside of Baltimore. I went to MICA for school, and studied illustration. I always liked drawing, and liked illustrated books. Some of my favorite artists now are Leanna Shapton, Maira Kalman, Saul Steinberg.

Cardamom, Pen, ink and watercolor on 5" by 7" paper

Cardamom, Pen, ink and watercolor on 5″ by 7″ paper

Alligator, Watercolor in sketchbook

Alligator, Watercolor in sketchbook

 

What is your favorite subject to draw? Are there things you don’t like (or don’t have any interest in) drawing?  

My favorite subjects to draw are food, people, plants, patterns, and animals. I like having themes to draw from.  Drawing people is fun but portraits with a likeness can be tricky!

When you are thinking about color combinations for your pieces, what are you most inspired by? 
 
I think about color combinations maybe before I start drawing and will draw something based on the colors. I like to mix colors with ink and watercolor, and gouache paint for the more solids.
Rainbow Carrots, Watercolor painting on 10 1/4th  by 14 1/8th paper

Rainbow Carrots, Watercolor painting on 10 1/4th by 14 1/8th paper

Animals A-Z coloring book

Animals A-Z coloring book

 

What is your favorite type of commission and why? 

When someone trusts me to make the image without too much instruction. I think those drawings turn out the best.

Bison Mural, Pleasant Plains Workshop Washington DC

Bison Mural, Pleasant Plains Workshop
Washington DC

Part of the beauty of your work is that it feels effortless.  How long did it take you to perfect your style?  What advice would you give to an aspiring illustrator?  

I just draw the way that is natural to me, and that is the advice I would have for other people. To just do the work that comes naturally to them. Also having a website and being online seems helpful for getting work!

Cat, Watercolor in sketchbook

Cat, Watercolor in sketchbook

Equestrian Horse Statue, Ink and gouache paint on 8" by 10" paper

Equestrian Horse Statue, Ink and gouache paint on 8″ by 10″ paper

Have you made any discoveries in your practice as a result of becoming a member of Project Dispatch and making work for subscriptions?

I think project dispatch is great because people are supportting working artists, and getting some fun artwork in return!

 If you could pick three artists from the Project to subscribe to, who would they be?

Amy Hughes Braden, Becca Kallem, Chandi Kelley

 

TO CHECK OUT MORE WORK BY ELIZABETH, VISIT HER WEBSITE.

Order a subscriptionto Elizabeth throughout the month of March and receive a 10% discount!

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February Featured Artist: Eleanor Barba

I’ve noticed that whenever I approach one of Eleanor Barba’s pieces, I look at the title first. I  don’t do this because I think the title will inform me about the work, but because her titles are often funny. I enjoy the contrast between the provocative and sensitive nature of her work and the humor she uses to diffuse any discomfort the work might evoke. It’s rare to see an artist apply humor in this way, and she has a gift of  doing this without appearing flippant.

Some of my favorite conversations at Project Dispatch shows have started based on Eleanor’s work.  I imagine she’d love to be a fly on the wall.  So if you want a conversation starter, take some time to check out Eleanor’s work.

Eleanor Barba

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You are an interdisciplinary artist, but when I go to your website, I only find your performance work.  This is an aspect of your work that subscribers would not experience.  How does your performance work inform your visual work?  What first incited your passion for performance art?

To be honest, I just really need to update my website with my print work. I don’t put either practice above the other but there was definitely a time when I was focusing mainly on performing, hence my website. I think the main theme between my performances and my print work is I enjoy using text in both. I feel that my writing is sometimes more evocative than my images, so I’m always trying to find a harmony between both. 

I remember clearly when I had my first thought of performing. I was sitting in Doug Lang’s writing class (Corcoran shout out!) and I just had this image in my head where I wrote letters on my stomach and printed them onto a wall. It just evolved from there. Also, around the same time as I started this exploration, it seemed that performance was popping up a lot in the DC art scene. Finding exposure and seeking discussion about the practice was easy.

barba6

 

"I like hearing you say that. I like it too." Screenprint on paper, 11"x15"

“I like hearing you say that. I like it too.” Screenprint on paper, 11″x15″

Many of your themes center around women’s sexuality in today’s culture, but you apply a sardonic humor with your titles and sometimes in the work itself.   Specifically regarding your performance work, this may seem like a mixed message to some.  Have you ever received criticism about using humor regarding such a sensitive subject?  If so, what is your defense of that criticism?

I don’t think that I’ve received criticism for that particular aspect of my work, or at least I haven’t received heavy criticism. I think the biggest hurdle I come across is when people don’t think the work is as funny as I intend because it is paired with a serious subject. I aspire my work to be “LOL”-esque but I think it evokes a more “Oh that’s funny” response. 

I find sex to be very tragic but also very humorous, so I guess they kind of cross each other out. I think the audience will find my work funny or poignant depending on how they view sex. I also think the most important thing about making art about a sensitive subject is to be honest and personal. People will see through any bull shit. So once you’ve developed a sort of trust, adding humor or criticism to a topic is more welcomed by a viewer. 

My biggest critic is my mom. She’ll say, “One day I hope to go into a gallery see your artwork and not say, ‘Oh Jesus Christ!'”

barba5

Hemroids, Charcoal and Pastels on paper, 12″x18″

 

Work in progress, Oil crayon on silk screen

Work in progress, Oil crayon on silk screen

In some of your visual work you mash up pop culture icons with religious icons.  How did this work come about, and what do you hope to convey by mixing iconography?  Do you have any plans to carry this theme through into your performance work?

I enjoy religious art work. At one point it was highly functional, but it was not spared any details or appreciation. I like thinking about the modern deity, which to me would be celebrities. I think there are obvious differences, like I’m not wishing for Kim Kardashian’s approval as I might God’s. But we definitely give a lot of attention to the famous.

 I mean for my work to be a look at the times, though not through a fully critical lens of the masses but more of the celebrities. We are worshiping these Dionysus figures, which seems fitting with our current society just as worshiping the bible fits with most of first millennium. 

These themes could definitely make an appearance in my performance art, though I think I would need to work on how it might come across as campy. I do like the idea of poorly produced Sunday school nativity plays though.

 "We need to start making art about Lindsay before she dies.", Screenprint on paper, 15"x11"

“We need to start making art about Lindsay before she dies.”, Screenprint on paper, 15″x11″

What are you working on now?

I’m a little embarrassed to admit this but I’m actually working on a print of a cat. I’m a ashamed of it because in this day and age it seems that prints about cats are sell-able and easy, though I hope for my work to have a bit more depth.

The cat print is the start of a series about snap chat and the use of emoji’s. There’s something interesting to me about using an emoji in a snapchat, a sort of push and pull. We’re taking this now well known iconography and pairing it with an ephemeral image. 

Have you made any discoveries in your practice as a result of becoming a member of Project Dispatch and making work for subscriptions?

Really, I haven’t been honored to receive too many subscriptions (now’s your chance reader!) but I’ve enjoyed the few I’ve received a lot! I like all of the pieces to be concise with each other so a subscriber can have a little portfolio, and not something so discombobulated. So it’s been fun to have practice at curating! (even if it is your own work)

I’m so happy to be involved with such a unique collective, filled with wonderful artists.

If you could pick three artists from the Project to subscribe to, who would they be?

Oh man, this is so tough! I would say Stephanie Kwak (I find her and her work to be very charming), Amy Hughes Braden (I’ve admired her work since we were both at the Corcoran) and Kristoffer Tripplaar (beautiful photographs, and photography isn’t even my jam!)

TO CHECK OUT MORE WORK BY ELEANOR; VISIT HER WEBSITE.

Order a subscription to Eleanor throughout the month of February and receive a 10% discount!

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