Things That Kill- Ellen Garvens

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Things That Kill curated by Norman Lundin

“Consider, for example, such varied assassins as leaded water, pills, red meat, too much sun…. Consider, for a moment more, that of the many things that kill, countless are appealingly beautiful as well as lethal, seducing artist and viewer. How to handle these “killers” in such a way that the intended expressive implications are conveyed, is as formidable an artistic challenge as engaging the more overt content implied by the show’s title.” -Norman Lundin

Including work by: Fred Birchman, Brian Blackham, Marsha Burns, Joe Crookes, John Fadeff, Ellen Garvens, Jim Holl, Michael Howard, Amy Huddleston, Caroline Kapp, Dianne Kornberg, Riva Lehrer, Brian Murphy, Elizabeth Ockwell, Anne Petty, Glenn Rudolph, Graham Shutt, Kathy Vargas and Evelyn Woods

September 1 – October 29, 2016
Opening Reception: First Thursday, September 1, 6 – 8pm

Artist Interview #52: Ellen Garvens

eg studio

1. Are you a full time artist, if not how do you support your art?
I am a professor of Art at the University of Washington. That is how I make my living.

2. When did you consider yourself an artist?
I remember students calling themselves artists in College and I felt like I hadn’t earned the title yet. However, I did know at the time that I had found a commitment that was likely to be for life. So in reality, though it sounded pretentious at the time, I did see myself as fitting the label of an artist in my early 20’s in college.

3. What are your influences?
It depends on the series. I find myself looking at other work in Painting, Drawing and in Sculpture perhaps more than in photography for many of my series. I am interested in materials, process and accumulation in a way that fits those mediums. For the recent video work I am noticing things around me, specifically how things move in new ways. Mundane things in my immediate environment have become my inspiration.

4. How big is your studio, what kind of lighting?
I moved my studio from our basement to an empty bedroom with natural light several years ago. I was about to paint the walls white but instead started the series I am still doing now using the overly push pinned, fingerprinted walls. The aftermath of childhood activity in this room for 18 years forms the backdrop and inspiration for this series. It is tiny – only 10 x 10 feet square!

5. What is a typical day in the studio like for you? Do you listen to music, radio or tv in your studio?
My activity is pretty quiet. I am lost in thought, moving things around, setting up different cameras and points of view. I also spend time on the computer processing images and then going back to the set ups with different ideas to try. With the video work I can lose a whole day trying to get an effect to happen with the sequence because I am a novice and learning the video editing software as I go.

6. What is your preferred medium? Do you work on one project at a time or several?
I go back and forth between the stills and the videos often getting inspiration from one that leads to the other.

7. Do you have any special or unique tools, devices or process that you use in your art making?
No, but I do find that the best work is often “found” not created. That is, while I am trying to do one arrangement, another inadvertent juxtaposition happens. The aftermath of props from one idea can insinuate itself into the next set-up and add the unexpected. I am also drawn to “stupid” materials. Materials that look awkward, like a failed science experiment, but become about process, resourcefulness and humility.

8. What do you do outside the studio, aside from a job?
I have a family. Those three things, family, job and art, are more than I can handle already!

9. In what way is your work a reflection of the theme “Things That Kill”? Is your work for this show in line with or an exception to your usual way of working?
I have chosen to include objects that can kill somewhere in my still lives. I wouldn’t have normally incorporated these things but enjoyed their potential to blend with the other materials.

10. How did you approach the subject matter?
It was a fun challenge. I made a list of things that I wanted to consider. I did some internet research too. The flypaper I thought would be interesting for its dangling shape and golden color. (I also found out that there is a case where someone used the arsenic in flypaper to kill someone!) The drapery cords were something I only became aware of as a new mother. Filled with warnings about strangulation, I cut my cords so short I needed a stool to reach them afterwards. With the image called Poison I was noticing how beautiful hydrangeas are, wanting to photograph them and finding out that they are one of the most poisonous plants to consume.

11. Are there any anecdotal notes that may give insight to a new viewer about your work in “Things that Kill”?
I was able to borrow a room at the University of Washington larger than my studio to shoot these images. With it I had access to a huge ladder and towering perspective I couldn’t achieve in my small studio. That additional height allowed an extended sense of space in the Flypaper image I am continuing to experiment with.

 

Things That Kill- Elizabeth Ockwell

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Things That Kill curated by Norman Lundin

“Consider, for example, such varied assassins as leaded water, pills, red meat, too much sun…. Consider, for a moment more, that of the many things that kill, countless are appealingly beautiful as well as lethal, seducing artist and viewer. How to handle these “killers” in such a way that the intended expressive implications are conveyed, is as formidable an artistic challenge as engaging the more overt content implied by the show’s title.” -Norman Lundin

Including work by: Fred Birchman, Brian Blackham, Marsha Burns, Joe Crookes, John Fadeff, Ellen Garvens, Jim Holl, Michael Howard, Amy Huddleston, Caroline Kapp, Dianne Kornberg, Riva Lehrer, Brian Murphy, Elizabeth Ockwell, Anne Petty, Glenn Rudolph, Graham Shutt, Kathy Vargas and Evelyn Woods

September 1 – October 29, 2016
Opening Reception: First Thursday, September 1, 6 – 8pm

Artist Interview #28 Part 2: Elizabeth Ockwell

e-studio'16

1. In what way is your work a reflection of the theme “Things That Kill”? Is your work for this show in line with or an exception to your usual way of working?
The work in this show is not like the drawings of late 19th century architecture that I usually show. These are closer to the more private work in my sketchbooks and drawings that I did with my School of the Art Institute of Chicago anatomy students at the Field Museum of Natural History. Dover Beach, the Matthew Arnold poem ends: “….we are here as on a darkling plain Swept with confused alarms of struggle and flight, Where ignorant armies clash by night.” The words Things that Kill brought Arnold’s poem to mind. I decided to reopen a series of drawings that I made in 2000. The series was meant as an elegy for my father, who loved the poem and often read it aloud. It felt appropriate to bring together three things that interest me deeply: drawing the skeleton, handwriting, and maps.

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Elizabeth Ockwell, “Dover Beach No. 5”, June 2016, etching ink transfer, black gesso, nautical chart, 46.5 x 33”

Skeletons of animals that were killed or died, relate to the theme of Things that Kill, but even more directly, the skeleton of the harbor seal, an animal that looks so humorous and friendly in life, has a very clearly carnivorous skull! This skeleton appeared unexpectedly last fall in my local library. It was placed in the library by Seadocs, an organization that concerns itself with the health of littoral regions of Puget Sound. I was delighted to have such a beautiful specimen to draw.

2. How did you approach the subject matter?
I have always liked writing faint little notes to myself on my drawings, but formally combining words and images is more difficult for me because the result often looks self-conscious and stiff. The ink transfer method that I have been using for this series makes drawing and writing feel much the same and smoothes out the difference between images and words.

To make an ink transfer, you roll out etching ink on a large piece of glass, place the paper on the soft wet ink and draw on the back with a broad unpointed pencil. When you lift the paper up, the image is backwards on the back of the paper. The resulting lines are thick and greasy and if you have touched the paper your fingers and hands make prints too. The out-of-control randomness of this works well with the irregular forms of islands and coasts shown on the nautical charts.

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“Dover Beach II”, 2001, mixed media on paper, 33 x 46.5″

This dark, inky, reversed way of drawing is at one with the grief and rage of the poem . It also feels both in tune and in contrast to the violent calligraphy of the landscape recorded and tamed by cartographers.

3. Are there any anecdotal notes that may give insight to a new viewer about your work in “Things that Kill”?
Here are some sketches that I made when I was working on the skeleton of the Rocky Mountain Goat for Dover Beach #1.

e-RMGoatSkele-R M Goat sk

Both larger finished drawings are about ¾ life-size. The Rocky Mountain Goat drawing was done on large sheets of tracing paper that I taped to the glass of the vitrine at the Field Museum. I did this because it was hard to see through the glass, but mostly because if I moved around, then I could draw every part of the skeleton straight on without foreshortening the legs and hooves.

dover_no1_72

“Dover Beach I”, 2001, mixed media on paper, 47.75 x 35.5″

 

Things That Kill- Graham Shutt

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Things That Kill curated by Norman Lundin

“Consider, for example, such varied assassins as leaded water, pills, red meat, too much sun…. Consider, for a moment more, that of the many things that kill, countless are appealingly beautiful as well as lethal, seducing artist and viewer. How to handle these “killers” in such a way that the intended expressive implications are conveyed, is as formidable an artistic challenge as engaging the more overt content implied by the show’s title.” -Norman Lundin

Including work by: Fred Birchman, Brian Blackham, Marsha Burns, Joe Crookes, John Fadeff, Ellen Garvens, Jim Holl, Michael Howard, Amy Huddleston, Caroline Kapp, Dianne Kornberg, Riva Lehrer, Brian Murphy, Elizabeth Ockwell, Anne Petty, Glenn Rudolph, Graham Shutt, Kathy Vargas and Evelyn Woods

September 1 – October 29, 2016
Opening Reception: First Thursday, September 1, 6 – 8pm

Artist Interview #24 Part 2: Graham Shutt

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1. In what way is you work a reflection of the theme “Things That Kill?”
If my photograph, The New / Oxford / Annotated / Bible // with the / Apocrypha // Expanded / Edition // Revised / Standard / Version // An Ecumenical / Study Bible // Oxford (2016), reflects the theme “Things That Kill,” it does so indirectly as I’ll attempt to explain below.

2. Is your work for this show in line with or an exception to your usual way of working?
Norman Lundin remarks in his curator’s comment for the current exhibition, “In our last thematic show, Observing Observing (a white cup), the content . . . was essentially emotionally neutral, devoid of psychological associations. . . . In Things That Kill, because of all the psychological associations, the content is the polar opposite of the ‘white cup.’ It is this red button content that is challenging.”

Because my photographs tend to be about processes rather than representations of identifiable subject matter with which one associates specific emotions, I found it helpful to interpret the prompts for both the previous exhibition and the current one in a slightly different manner. Rather than focusing on the emotional valence of the subject matter, I found I could think of Observing Observing as being about form and Things That Kill as being about content. My task, then, was to represent form in the case of Observing Observing and to represent content in the case of Things That Kill.

3. How did you approach the subject matter?
For Things That Kill I had thought to begin by photographing the text of the passage in Plato’s dialogue Apology of Socrates in which Socrates recounts the accusations brought against him by Meletus, that he is “guilty of corrupting the minds of the young, and of believing in supernatural things of his own invention instead of the gods recognized by the State” (24b – c). As we know, the jury finds Socrates guilty of all three charges and, in a separate vote, sentences him to death. As I worked I became interested in the books I was photographing. I decided to make a book rather than a text my subject.

4. Are there any anecdotal notes that may give insight to a new viewer about your work in Things That Kill ?
Even though I use a DSLR, a raster graphics editor, and an inkjet printer to make photographs, I nevertheless do as much work as I can in the camera. The principles of “straight” photography, first expounded by Edward Weston, Ansel Adams, and the other members of Group f.64, still hold true today.

shutt_new-oxford_2016_archival-inkjet-print_18x12_web

“The New Oxford Annotated Bible / With the Apocrypha / Expanded Edition / Revised Standard Version / An Ecumenical Study Bible / Oxford”, 2016, archival inkjet print, 18 x 12″

Things That Kill- Dianne Kornberg

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Things That Kill curated by Norman Lundin

“Consider, for example, such varied assassins as leaded water, pills, red meat, too much sun…. Consider, for a moment more, that of the many things that kill, countless are appealingly beautiful as well as lethal, seducing artist and viewer. How to handle these “killers” in such a way that the intended expressive implications are conveyed, is as formidable an artistic challenge as engaging the more overt content implied by the show’s title.” -Norman Lundin

Including work by: Fred Birchman, Brian Blackham, Marsha Burns, Joe Crookes, John Fadeff, Ellen Garvens, Jim Holl, Michael Howard, Amy Huddleston, Caroline Kapp, Dianne Kornberg, Riva Lehrer, Brian Murphy, Elizabeth Ockwell, Anne Petty, Glenn Rudolph, Graham Shutt, Kathy Vargas and Evelyn Woods

September 1 – October 29, 2016
Opening Reception: First Thursday, September 1, 6 – 8pm

Artist Interview #35 Part 2: Dianne Kornberg

Kornberg Studio

1. In what way is your work a reflection of the theme “Things That Kill”? Is your work for this show in line with or an exception to your usual way of working?
“Madonna Bomb 2” is the second in a series of four pieces that are a response to a poem by Celia Bland. The poem describes a suicide bombing, while referring metaphorically, in the context of the project as a whole, to the “bomb” of childbirth and parenting. It is one of twenty-six images that make up the exhibition and book titled Madonna Comix.

The stylistic elements I employed for this series are unique in my work–I developed them for this particular image/text project.

The subject matter–a pregnant woman wearing a suicide vest, plus the included poetic and comic text, is loaded content, at the very least the shock of a woman surfacing as a militant combatant in a religious cause, a jihad. For me there is an equivalency between the content and the “art” and I believe the art holds its own. But you will decide for yourself if the piece is “front-loaded.”

2. How did you approach the subject matter?
The project began when Celia sent me a selection of poems about the Madonna. I found that they addressed a range of ideas: the physicality of childbearing, self-sacrifice and suffering, ecstasy and adoration. They spoke of fears and choices and of things we take on faith. They spoke to multiple experiences of being a woman.

I considered the “smart-alecky” nature of some of the poetic text. I decided to scan Lulu comic book pages, and partially erase the images to serve as the surface on which to work. The proto-feminist “Little Lulu” comic books were empowering to me as a girl in the 1950’s because Lulu stepped outside gender roles–she went her own way, had opinions, out-witted the boys. I allowed some of the Lulu text to show through to serve as a “down to earth” commentary on Bland’s lyric language. My working process was very experimental. I utilized skills from my background in painting, printmaking, and photography. In addition to the figure, I included in the image the pentimento comic book page, a map of Jerusalem, a selection of text from the poem, and text from Little Lulu.

3. Are there any anecdotal notes that may give insight to a new viewer about your work in “Things that Kill”?
When I began working with the poem “Madonna Bomb” I went on-line to learn about suicide bombers. I came across a picture of a 15 year old girl hand-cuffed to a chain-link fence, wearing a suicide vest. At the time I did not realize that girls were being used as suicide bombers. The Lulu text included in Madonna Bomb 4 reads, “A little girl! WHAT?”

Madonna Bomb 1

“Madonna Bomb 1”, 2012, archival pigment print

Madonna Bomb 2 copy

“Madonna Bomb 2″, 2012, archival pigment print, 31″ x 20” image, 32.5 x 21.5” framed (included in “Things That Kill”)

Madonna Bomb 3

“Madonna Bomb 3”, 2012, archival pigment print

Madonna Bomb 4 copy

“Madonna Bomb 4”, 2012, archival pigment print

Things That Kill- Anne Petty

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Things That Kill curated by Norman Lundin

“Consider, for example, such varied assassins as leaded water, pills, red meat, too much sun…. Consider, for a moment more, that of the many things that kill, countless are appealingly beautiful as well as lethal, seducing artist and viewer. How to handle these “killers” in such a way that the intended expressive implications are conveyed, is as formidable an artistic challenge as engaging the more overt content implied by the show’s title.” -Norman Lundin

Including work by: Fred Birchman, Brian Blackham, Marsha Burns, Joe Crookes, John Fadeff, Ellen Garvens, Jim Holl, Michael Howard, Amy Huddleston, Caroline Kapp, Dianne Kornberg, Riva Lehrer, Brian Murphy, Elizabeth Ockwell, Anne Petty, Glenn Rudolph, Graham Shutt, Kathy Vargas and Evelyn Woods

September 1 – October 29, 2016
Opening Reception: First Thursday, September 1, 6 – 8pm

Artist Interview #15 Part 2: Anne Petty

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1. In what way is your work a reflection of the theme “Things That Kill”? Is your work for this show in line with or an exception to your usual way of working?
For the past two years my work has been exploring the character of what I have named “the wild woman”—a mishmash of the cultured lady and primitive woman. Within this body of work, I consider her day to day life and existence, of the figure stripped away from society and off on their own in the wild. Among other thoughts, sustenance was something that came up—how and what does she eat to survive? The parallel between animal and human as well as the gradients of civility are interesting to me. To eat she must hunt. She takes on the role of the feral animalistic hunter as well as the more methodical hunter, using tools and traps. I enjoy the blurring between the two—she is clothed giving her some connection to society yet she is crawling about like an animal, perhaps even displaying her prey from her mouth.

2. How did you approach the subject matter?
As mentioned in my previous response, I had already been working on subject matter that the theme “Things that Kill” overlapped with. It was a really nice coincidence, and gave me a push to explore that side of my subject matter a bit further.

3. Are there any anecdotal notes that may give insight to a new viewer about your work in “Things that Kill”?
Being a vegetarian for many years, this theme is an interesting one for me to work within. In the beginning I felt slightly conflicted depicting these women hunting prey, something I don’t see myself as being able to do, but only initially. I view their hunting as an outward display of their strength and tenacity. While still having its own unique challenges, I appreciate the straightforward simplicity of their existence.

Things That Kill- Caroline Kapp

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Things That Kill curated by Norman Lundin

“Consider, for example, such varied assassins as leaded water, pills, red meat, too much sun…. Consider, for a moment more, that of the many things that kill, countless are appealingly beautiful as well as lethal, seducing artist and viewer. How to handle these “killers” in such a way that the intended expressive implications are conveyed, is as formidable an artistic challenge as engaging the more overt content implied by the show’s title.” -Norman Lundin

Including work by: Fred Birchman, Brian Blackham, Marsha Burns, Joe Crookes, John Fadeff, Ellen Garvens, Jim Holl, Michael Howard, Amy Huddleston, Caroline Kapp, Dianne Kornberg, Riva Lehrer, Brian Murphy, Elizabeth Ockwell, Anne Petty, Glenn Rudolph, Graham Shutt, Kathy Vargas and Evelyn Woods

September 1 – October 29, 2016
Opening Reception: First Thursday, September 1, 6 – 8pm

Artist Interview #29 Part 2: Caroline Kapp

Kapp_Photo_In_Studio-1

1. In what way is your work a reflection of the theme “Things That Kill”? Is your work for this show in line with or an exception to your usual way of working?
Working within a theme is a natural way of working for me, whether it’s a single image idea or larger concept for a series. I generally start everything with sketches, but looking back at the initial concept work for this show, I started with written words and scenarios. Things like ‘ways to be killed’ and ‘things that can die’. This led to more words, ‘suffocation’ ‘buried’ ‘canned’ then concepts like what we find ourselves living up to, or what can break us down, air and breath. Those led to more ideas about what doesn’t kill, what lives and thrives. The sketched images emerged out of those words and concepts. So the process for creating the ideas for this theme was a little different because of the words and scenarios I considered before the sketches that dissected ideas surrounding ‘things’ and ‘kill’ independently of each other as well as together.

Kapp_KillSketches

2. How did you approach the subject matter?
The subject matter came directly from the sketch concepts, so all of it had to be gathered and staged in different ways, and that’s not unusual in my approach. Some of the objects I worked with for this show required some unusual manipulation or arrangement though, like ‘Consumed’ with the empty cellulose capsules that had to be melted layer by layer with warm water around a straw to form the shape. It took about 6 days to fully dry, and by then it had started decomposing which was fascinating to watch. This theme pushed the need to transform the subject matter more than usual. There was a lot of waiting and gritting of teeth waiting for something to collapse, wilt, pop or explode before actually capturing the imagery or even setting things up.

3. Are there any anecdotal notes that may give insight to a new viewer about your work in “Things that Kill”?
The title struck me as menacing when I first heard it, and the show theme really made its way into my subconscious. I think that’s a good thing to happen in any theme or series-based work, but it surprised me; for a while, every article and book I read, every site I looked at, every commute and trip to the grocery store began to relate to killing or surviving – food, work situations, basic needs, power struggles, medicine, health and physical deterioration of all types. This theme definitely led to working with a few new materials and techniques to explore different ways to realize the ideas in relation to the theme – materials that are impermanent, techniques that are not lightfast, things that are really fragile and can break up, fog or deteriorate easily.

 

Things That Kill- Fred Birchman

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Things That Kill curated by Norman Lundin

“Consider, for example, such varied assassins as leaded water, pills, red meat, too much sun…. Consider, for a moment more, that of the many things that kill, countless are appealingly beautiful as well as lethal, seducing artist and viewer. How to handle these “killers” in such a way that the intended expressive implications are conveyed, is as formidable an artistic challenge as engaging the more overt content implied by the show’s title.” -Norman Lundin

Including work by: Fred Birchman, Brian Blackham, Marsha Burns, Joe Crookes, John Fadeff, Ellen Garvens, Jim Holl, Michael Howard, Amy Huddleston, Caroline Kapp, Dianne Kornberg, Riva Lehrer, Brian Murphy, Elizabeth Ockwell, Anne Petty, Glenn Rudolph, Graham Shutt, Kathy Vargas and Evelyn Woods

September 1 – October 29, 2016
Opening Reception: First Thursday, September 1, 6 – 8pm

Artist Interview #6 Part 3: Fred Birchman

FB_Studio_0816

1. In what way is your work a reflection of the theme “Things That Kill”? Is your work for this show in line with or an exception to your usual way of working?
All of the objects are quite literally and obviously, “Things That Kill”. This was definitely not a stretch for me or outside my usual way of working in that I started with a kernel of an idea and riffed on it. It is a bit unusual for me to work thematically, but not too much of a stretch.

2. How did you approach the subject matter?
I took the theme (or the “objects” of the theme) and used them as a basis for the work. For “Overture”, I took the trappings of targets and target shooting and used those elements as an abstraction of sorts, hopefully subjugating the loaded (no pun intended) content. Same for “Hatchet Job”. An axe handle and blade are quite beautiful as objects by themselves and by detaching the pieces, that is a bit more evident. It’s probably no accident that a person could read certain things into the separated objects, such as the detachment of the head from the “heart”, but I view that as an ok subliminal response. Icing on the cake, if you will.

3. Are there any anecdotal notes that may give insight to a new viewer about your work  in “Things that Kill”?
I used to work as an illustrator for my day job and working with themes and content were a given. Conversely, I usually resist narrative or story telling with my studio (fine art) work. That’s hard to do when working with such charged content.

One thing I should admit is that, “Witness” was really Norman’s idea. He was responding to the wrecking balls that I have in many of my current drawings and he suggested I use that. My normal response is to immediately reject that kind of advice, but somehow it stuck and I like what turned out.