“Observing Observing (a white cup): Graham Shutt”

With each exhibition, we will post interviews with the participating artists along with a photo of said artists in their studios and images of their work. In the future, we will post videos of artist interviews.

“Observing Observing (a white cup)” opens September 12th and continues through October 31, 2015

Curated by Eric Elliott, Michael Howard & Norman Lundin. More than twenty artists (both gallery artists and not) accepted the invitation to submit work.

Reception for the artists, Sept. 12, 2 – 4 pm

Artist Interview #24: Graham Shutt


How did you respond to the white cup?

I’ve been enthusiastic about Observing Observing since Michael Howard first mentioned the idea for the exhibition to me. I am particularly interested in the transformation an object undergoes during the process of observation. It could be the transformation a cup undergoes as an artist looks at and represents it, but it could also be the transformation a picture of a cup undergoes as an observer looks at the representation of the cup. The transformation is where the making occurs.

Are you a full-time artist? If not how do you support your art?

I’ve worked as a bookseller for the past 15 years. There are benefits to having a day job. The structure it provides helps me focus on my work when I am in the studio.

When did you consider yourself an artist?

I began to consider myself an artist when artists whose opinions I respect began to refer to me as an artist.

What are your influences?

My undergraduate and graduate education in literature undoubtedly continues to influence my work. One way it does so is that the study of literature is, fundamentally, the study of the history and theory of representation. This includes both symbolic and visual representation. I read widely and I look at images from many different periods.

The movements that have been most influential for me are from the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. They range from Impressionism to Bauhaus. They’re modernist movements. I am particularly interested in the break with pictorial tradition and the rise of abstraction during this period.

Amongst photographers born during the postwar period, Hiroshi Sugimoto has been a big influence. His photographs of conceptual forms, in particular those of mathematical models, showed me that it was possible to make photographs of the kind I imagined.

How big is your studio? What kind of lighting do you have?

I work at home where I am fortunate to have windows which face south. I make good use of the indirect — and, at the right time of the year, the direct — sunlight on my west-facing walls. Natural light functions as a kind of conceptual constraint in my work.

What is a typical day in the studio like for you? Do you listen to music, radio, or TV in your studio?

My day depends upon the task at hand. Because I make use of natural light, I pay attention to the sun’s position in the sky and to the way the sun lights objects in my studio. If I’m making photographs I work when the light is right. Earlier this summer I found myself getting up at 5:30 in the morning to make photographs because there was nice light in one of my rooms. For much of the year late afternoon is my most productive time. If I’m developing photographs I work whenever I can. The same holds true for making prints. In general I prefer quiet.

What is your preferred medium? Do you work on one project at a time or several?

I make photographs with a digital 35mm camera and an inkjet printer. I would like to work with a large format camera and develop film and make prints in a traditional darkroom but that is not an option at the moment. However, there are advantages to working in a digital medium. Doing so allows me to experiment in ways working with film would make difficult. I tend to work on one series of photographs at a time.

Do you have any special or unique tools, devices or processes that you use in your art making?

Observation is, of course, central to my work, but my process also involves reading and writing, drawing, making paper constructions and, because I’m interested in combinations, permutations, and production systems, writing computer programs.

What do you do outside the studio, aside from a job?

I go for long walks whenever I can.

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