Post written by Claire Paterson, recipient of the Steven Campbell New York Scholarship
I’ve been in the studio most of the week, getting as much painting done as possible before all of my big sisters arrive in New York for New Year! Hoping for the Paterson sisters to collaborate on some of myth-making sessions – exciting times. Here are some other events/ highlights from this week:
Tuesday 13th December
Today ISCP resident Maartje Korstange, who previously contributed a sculpture to my collaborative myth-making project, came to visit me in my studio.
Utilizing a range of materials, Maartje shapes these visceral, organic sculptures whose forms feel both natural and familiar, but also distinctly other. When placed in either a gallery or outdoor location, I feel that these pieces transform the space around them, creating a strange new topography.
To read more about Maartje’s work, please visit: http://www.maartjekorstanje.nl/
After discussing my project with me for a while, and seeing some of the results from recent photographic sessions, Maartje gave me yet more sculptures to use as props in my collaborations with models. Made from cardboard, glue, foam, and a finishing patina of gold-leaf and copper in sections, these fragments of a deconstructed larger sculpture have already changed the atmosphere in my studio, giving it the feel of a forest floor.
I was glad to hear that Maartje is interested in seeing her sculptures going on to have another life out-with their original meaning and context, and though she’s leaving for the Netherlands in a week or two, I hope to keep in touch and let her see more results from our collaboration.
In the evening, another ISCP resident – Julia Geerlings – came to visit me in my studio.
Julia is a freelance curator and writer based in Amsterdam and Paris, and like me, has an interest in performance, ritual, myth and spirituality, among other things. I enjoyed seeing some documentation of her NachtelijkeDwalingen (Nocturnal Wanderings) project, a performance program at Oude Kerk Amsterdam. Curated by Julia, this project involves inviting artists to the area around Oude Kirk, and encouraging them to create ‘new work concentrated in a nocturnal walking route,’ the ‘hidden, forgotten aspects’ of the surrounding environment shaping the artists’ responses.
To read more about Julia’s work, please visit: www.juliageerlings.wordpress.com
Looking at the development of my own project, Julia has become the third person to suggest that I produce a catalogue or publication that outlines all of the stages of my myth-making process, with this possibly being shown alongside paintings & photographs in any potential exhibition.
Thursday 15th December
This morning I dropped in on G, who’s been spending most of the last week or so working on her soft sculpture project, ‘Post-partum Dogument’.
We also spent a lot of time discussing an email that the artist Elizabeth Kay sent me, where she talks about 2 particular images from one of my last blog posts.
Here’s a quote from Elizabeth Kay’s email, where she discusses the above photo:
‘Claire, I was really struck by 2 images on your blog. This first one of your sister captures (for me) the essence of what you and some of the other artists you’ve described are involved with. Firstly, the picture is just beautiful and worthy of being painted. I’m struck by how the young woman with her sibylline smile is looking for meaning/significance/intelligence/guidance/ etc. etc. etc. in the game of chance. The dice actually seem suspended in the air above the strong colors which give the impression that some magical power is at work. The childlike stools and table behind her in this rather empty, light room dotted with strong primary colors evokes a child’s wonder and puzzle about how things work. The picture is not a picture of a new myth trying to reveal itself, but it is about the process of searching for one. That is what you and some of the other artists are doing – searching – and this lovely picture captures that profound reality.’
‘The next picture is just as compelling but with a very different feeling tone. The story you tell about the frenzied tabloid photographers going at each other says it all. In the photograph you took we see a truly lovely woman framed in hard metal. Her expression is rather lost. The horizontal white light reflection in the glass acts like a spear through her head. If you remove the blond head, the woman in white appears totally isolated. Then there is the sad irony of what you witnessed with the paparazzi. In a culture that has lost whatever unifying myths it once had, the deep-seated need for a ‘goddess’ has been pathetically and irrationally redirected to a Hollywood ‘star’, who is really just a human being like everyone else, except that she is ‘framed’ in this special way by the media. This is worth fighting for? Apparently so, since you saw it unfold before your eyes. No wonder you and your fellow artists are desperately seeking new myths.’
(quote provided by New Mexico artist Elizabeth Kay)
As G and I sat surrounded by the creative clutter of her latest soft-sculpture project, I read Liz’s observations out loud. Not only did her comments open my eyes to the strangeness and mystery contained in the photo of G playing ‘Your Fate,’ it also inspired a long conversation between us sisters about this search for meaning we’re both engaged in at the moment.
After reading Liz’s comments, I now want to paint that image of G at some point. G’s thinking of doing my portrait too, although what form this will take she’s not quite sure yet. Recently she’s been thinking about doing a series of portraits of artists who suffer from auto-immune and chronic pain conditions, hoping to link this to Shamanism. It is believed in some circles that fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue are the mark of the modern-day shaman, with shamans often becoming healers through mental or physical suffering.
She wants to include me in this series, and though I don’t think I have shamanic abilities, I know that my fibromyalgia has actually ended up improving my creative practice rather than hindering it, as I now spend more time thinking and considering, rather than working obsessively and repetitively. Anyway, it should be interesting to see how G’s next project turns out!
Later on in the afternoon, I went on an ISCP field trip to Ursula von Rydingsvard’s studio in East Williamsburg. Von Rydingsvard is best known for creating ‘large-scale, monumental sculpture from the cedar beams which she painstakingly cuts, assembles, and laminates.’
It was a real treat getting shown around her vast workspace and having the complex ins-and-outs of her process described to us, as well as getting some of the wood-cutting procedures displayed by staff.
Another major highlight of the trip was getting to meet the friendly studio cat, who allowed certain cat-loving ISCP residents to give it lots of pats and attention.
In the evening, ISCP executive director Susan Hapgood took us around a few East Williamsburg galleries, where we received talks by different artists and curators. I particularly enjoyed visiting David & Schweitzer Contemporary, where curator Michael David discussed the show that’s currently on in the space, ‘As Carriers of flesh’, which features the work of different figure-painters whose ‘depictions of figures operate on personal, sociocultural and broadly political levels all at once’ (www.davidandschweitzer.com).
We rounded off the night by attending a pot-luck party thrown by ISCP resident Tove Storch, whose residency is drawing to an end, and we all enjoyed some delicious food cooked by lots of ISCP artists. Not being a great cook myself, my meagre contribution was shop-bought brownies and beer, though tasting some of the wonderful food at the pot-luck party has inspired me to take up cooking at some point.
Now I’m cosy back in the studio, sheltering from the elements and the first of the NY snow!