Inside the Artist’s studio with Adriano Valeri

Me in the studio

Me in the studio

My name is Adriano Valeri, and I’m participating in Main Street Arts show de/composition!

I was born in Milan, Italy, and when I was eight years old my family relocated to Quincy, MA, a working class city south of Boston. As a birthday present one year, my parents enrolled me in an after school art class held in the basement of a frame shop. It was a great way to bond with other young artists and helped me adjust to my new environment. The teacher was an academically trained portrait painter. She was very affectionate with the kids, but also held us to a high standard. She taught us to use acrylic and oil paints, which I still favor to this day. Overall, I feel the experience was fundamental to my development as an artist.

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My studio space

After graduating from a county vocational high school where I had specialized in arborculture, I choose to return to Italy and to further my education in the arts. I was accepted to the State Academy of Arts in Venice and spent the next 10 years studying and working both there and in the surrounding region. I learned to be more inquisitive and intellectually engaged as an artist. Although I have stuck with traditional techniques such as oil on canvas, it’s important for me that the paintings acknowledge critical issues of our time and to ensure the medium remains fresh and surprising.

After having completed my undergraduate and masters degree, in addition to several artists residencies, I opted to move to New York City and to further my career in the United States. I’ve lived in NYC for fours years now, working on my paintings in Brooklyn. My studio is a spacious drywall cubicle with a large table and some small desks. There’s a window that overlooks a busy highway and some empty lots and the whole floor is occupied by artists and craftspeople. Inside I like to find a balance between creative messiness and impractical clutter. On the tables, paper plates crusted in oil paints vie for space with sketches and photographs, while the walls are thronged with completed paintings.

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View from the studio

As a child, painting and drawing was a way for me to express my fascination with animals and wild places. As an adult, I chose to paint subjects drawn from everyday experiences with the urban environment. Plants, construction material, feral animals, litter. We live in a globalized and rapidly homogenizing world, and I want to make paintings which can resonate with people across the globe.

I think we as a species have never before been as psychologically disconnected from the land we inhabit. The production of food and consumer goods is internationalized and largely automated. Internal and international migration, displacement for economic reasons or from social and natural calamities,  and the evolution of our mentality and social patterns of behavior contribute to a massive distancing from the organic process which occur around us. 

What I’m really interested in is bringing the viewer’s focus to  the land we inhabit. I’m not interested in making work that is purely documentary — I’m interested in how these marginal spaces teem with unintended interactions that result from our massive presence as a species, so I’ve developed a personal narrative style to convey that. I love how trees can absorb and deform a chain-link fence. It reminds me of the incessant action of biology, this weak force that is constantly at work everywhere, and is assimilating everything we shed.

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The painting “Belgian Planters” which is currently on view in de/composition at Main Street Arts

I’m excited to have been selected for the show de/composition at Main Street Arts! Since this is a recurring theme that I acknowledge  in my painting, it was exciting to see how the other participating artists approach this topic in different media and from different perspectives and practices.

You can find more information about me and images of my work at adrianovaleri.com


Adriano Valeri  is one of 31 artists featured in the national juried exhibition de/composition at Main Street Arts. Work from the exhibition can be previewed and purchased through the gallery’s online shopde/composition runs through June 28, 2019.

Inside the Artist’s Studio with Stephanie Garon

By juxtaposing organic materials against an armature of steel, my art captures paradoxes of decomposition: formalism and fragility, permanence and impermanence, and nature and nurture.

Evaluating placement of my sculptures in an exhibition

Evaluating placement of my sculptures in an exhibition

I’m continually experimenting and evaluating placement of my sculptures. Since I focus on environmental awareness, it’s important to me to bring organic materials indoors to the viewer.

My sculptural work placed in a different setting

My sculptural work placed in a different setting

Placement affects meaning. The viewer’s perspective changes, but this sculpture gets lost in the environment. Should it?

Images from Redwoods

Images from the Redwood Forest in California

My inspiration stems from nature, in additional to the following four artists:

  • Eva Hesse: delicacy of materials, framing of powerful themes with grace,
  • Anish Kapoor: using steel and similar infusions to instill messages about humanity,
  • David Nash: playfulness in creating nature based work that succumbs to nature,
  • Meret Oppenheim: for transforming items traditionally associated with decorum or refinement into sculpture.
Eve sculpture

“Eve”, sculpture included in the “de/composition” exhibition at Main Street Arts

Eve is a monument. Whether we see lungs or breasts or the negative space between the forms, we are forced to acknowledge the greatness of nature, despite how much we nurture it, as evidenced by the evergreen changing. It is foreboding. These decaying materials, presented in unexpected ways, challenge reason and emotion. Eve changes color and sheds through the duration of the exhibit: it’s nature’s own performance art.

“Impediment”, current work

“Impediment”, aluminum, plaster, soil 70x30x30

My current work, shown above, is inspired by pine needle bunches. I plan to fill a small gallery space with these repeating forms.

To see more of my work, visit my website: www.garonstudio.com.


Stephanie Garon is one of 31 artists featured in the national juried exhibition de/composition at Main Street Arts. Work from the exhibition can be previewed and purchased through the gallery’s online shopde/composition runs through June 28, 2019.

Inside the Artist’s Studio with Jeremy Moule

Hi. This is me.

Hi. This is me.

Every photograph represents a moment; whether the exposure lasts a fraction of a second long or spans several hours, the maker is capturing a defined period of time.

I find many of the moments in my images as I wander through Rochester’s streets and neighborhoods. I’m subject agnostic — not a true street photographer — alternating between people, the built environment, and various objects. My mood often guides me and seeps into my images; so do gut reactions to what’s in front of me. It’s a slight shift from my full-time work as a journalist, where I’m supposed to keep my emotions out of my writing.

A little time on my feet and a little patience enabled me to make this photo.

This photo came together after a little time on my feet and a little patience. I think the anonymous subject and I shared a little fascination with the fire-breathing machine.

“Spectre of the Piss Tunnel,” which is part of de/composition, came together in an instant and is a good example of my process.

I was out walking around the edge of the High Falls District and started photographing a stack of newspapers that had been tossed in a tunnel under the Inner Loop. Then a stranger walked past me. The camera I was using, an old Yashica, isn’t exactly built for speed, but I recomposed and refocused in time and click, I got the image.

"Spectre of the Piss Tunnel"

“Spectre of the Piss Tunnel”

The image has a gloomy, tense quality to it, which was my intention.  I knew I wanted the figure to remain in the shadow, so I set my camera’s shutter speed accordingly.

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Cameras are tools, part of a process but not the process itself.

With people, I like to preserve a sense of the anonymity inherent in a city environment. The objects and structures I photograph show traces of human presence, if not the impact that people have on their surroundings and environments.

The way we alter our surroundings sends messages, intentional or not.

The way we alter our surroundings sends messages, intentional or not.

Sometimes I use a digital camera, but my preference is usually for 35mm or 120 film. I hand-develop my black and white film as well as my color negative film, and I do my own black and white printing. The analog processes are tactile and meditative, plus I’m generally happier with the results.

The Flower City Arts Center darkrooms are about the closest thing I have to an actual studio, and they’re a valuable resource. So is the community around the center. The folks who work, teach, and create there have given me knowledge, criticism, and opportunity which has in turn helped me grow as a photographer.

Bye!

Bye!

 


Jeremy Moule is one of 31 artists featured in the national juried exhibition de/composition at Main Street Arts. Work from the exhibition can be previewed and purchased through the gallery’s online shopde/composition runs through June 28, 2019.

Inside The Artist’s Studio with Maria T. Bentley

MTB studio

Tethered to our innermost beings and the marrow that comprises us, our bodies are rooted in the earth. The loss or decay of any one of these can cause an imbalance. I aim to provoke that delicate steadiness while inducing a sense of nostalgia, and odd familiarity.

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“Bottom of the Barrel” 2015 – mixed media sculpture

I was born and raised in Seneca Falls, NY. Growing up surrounded by the Finger Lakes, rural farm land, and state parks, I am continually drawn outdoors. Religious influences and family experiences are other factors that play a role in my work. I see the use of clay as a representation of the physical body, drawn from the Genesis creation story; recycling of material and life. To me ceramic vessels and sculptures take on a figuratively charged quality representing people from my life.

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“C.A. O.” 2015 – ceramic/ mixed media sculpture

Alzheimer’s and the aging process are explored in my color palate and surfacing quality. Alzheimer’s is a terrible thing to watch a loved one experience, for me it was my grandfather. I recall his vibrant personality and coloring became muted, rather quickly. I recall bruises and the cloudy confusion in his eyes as he became a shell of the man I once knew. Using ceramic burnout methods I expose natural fibers to the firing process, leaving an  exoskeleton of what was, similar to those that experience Alzheimer’s.  What was once there remains in essence but is never the same.

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“How are the numbers?” 2019 – ceramic

Using muted earthy colors and textures associated to decay, decomposition, aging, and the natural earth, I mimic the passing of time. The combining of materials and insertion of light charges the work with multiple layers. In each piece I combine three or more materials experimenting with ceramic, wood, glass, neon/ light, metal, and fibers.

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“Dust to Dust” 2019 – mix media sculpture

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etail shot of the ceramic garbage pail in “Dust to Dust”

I enjoy incorporating apples into my work as it add an ephemeral element to the piece that grows/decays with the passing of time. Apples hint towards my childhood as well as referencing religious creation stories. The piece above invited viewers to eat an apple and dispose of the core in the ceramic garbage pail. Over time there was an accumulation of cores, the collection of compost created by humans, and the decay of these cores provided a wonderful smell and color to the inside of this white void.

My studio practice is sporadic. I am constantly traveling to portfolio days and art classrooms across the country for my position in admissions at Alfred University.

In our "Sugar Shack" making maple syrup this past winter.

In our “Sugar Shack” making maple syrup this past winter.

Image may contain: one or more people, plant, tree, outdoor and nature

Working in the garden on our land

I reside in Hornell, NY with my partner. We have land that we garden on and we have a maple farm, Maple Marrow at B&T Farms. We spend a great deal of our time outside playing in the earth or creating with it. I am continually researching and exploring new ways to enhance my practice, manipulate material, and expand my network.

View more of my work on my website at www.mariatbentley.com.


Maria T. Bentley is one of 31 artists featured in the national juried exhibition de/composition at Main Street Arts. Work from the exhibition can be previewed and purchased through the gallery’s online shopde/composition runs through June 28, 2019.

Inside The Artist’s Studio with Chad Cleveland

Self-portrait, Acrylic on board

Self-portrait, Acrylic on board

I grew up in Fairport, N.Y.  and I’ve been making art since my early 20’s.  Having grown up heavily involved in sports, I never really created much artwork through my younger academic years.

It was in my undergraduate program at Binghamton University that I decided to be an artist. It’s funny because I had never painted before, but I was sure that’s what I wanted to do in life.

"Passing Through", painting included in the "de/composition" exhibition at Main Street Arts

“Passing Through”, painting included in the “de/composition” exhibition at Main Street Arts

After diving into the art program  head  first I quickly realized that I was a terrible painter. My drawings were strong but I had a hard time converting my ideas into the world of paint. However, I was advised and encouraged by my instructor, mentor, artist, and friend Dave Shapiro. He was an extremely gifted artist who worked under the tutelage  of Philip Guston  at one point in his career.  He insisted that I was indeed on the right path, and with hard enough work  I could get to where I wanted to be.

It was because of his encouragement and support that I attended the Rochester Institute of Technology for my MFA in painting and drawing, and eventually an MST in Art Education.

"Bill", work in progress

“Bill”, work in progress

I was fortunate enough to be exposed to many different gifted artists and professors at RIT. This lead me to experiment with a variety of different media and techniques, and exposed me to ideas that were very foreign, yet extremely exciting. This was when I met another extremely important artist, guide and mentor in my life by the name of Bill Stephens. He has been paramount in the development of myself as an artist and human being.

"The Crow", work in progress

“The Crow”, work in progress

My current body of work consists of variations and experimentation with the human portrait.  Throughout my career I have ventured back-and-forth between the world of abstraction/non-objective art and representational/figurative art forms.  So it is now that I find myself  at the marriage of these two worlds.  I find that each piece leads to the next, and serves as a jumping off point for the next idea.

For more of my work, follow me on Instagram @chad_cleveland.art


Chad Cleveland is one of 31 artists featured in the national juried exhibition de/composition at Main Street Arts. Work from the exhibition can be previewed and purchased through the gallery’s online shopde/composition runs through June 28, 2019.

Meet the Artist in Residence: David Fludd

David Fludd, artist in residence at Main Street Arts during the month of June 2019, is working in one of our two studio spaces on our second floor. We asked David some questions about his work and studio practice:

Artist David Fludd

Artist David Fludd

Q: Please you tell us about your background.
I currently live and work in New York City.  I have a BA, in art from Morehouse College and an MFA in painting and printmaking from the Yale University School of Art. I have also attended Skowhegan.

The layering and building of textures is apparent in my paintings. I am interested in creating textures and working with color as well as black and white. I see the process of printmaking and painting as being related.

David Fludd, “Untitled”, 2018, Acrylic on Paper, 24”x30”

David Fludd, “Untitled”, 2018, Acrylic on Paper, 24”x30”

I am interested in printmaking and its multifaceted possibilities in terms of changing a single image from print to print. Printmaking is open to improvisation and experimentation; printmaking informs my painting practice.

I draw from life as well. This experience is important and adds to my art. The works are open to interpretation. In this manner, dialogue is invited. I also play the piano and compose music.

David Fludd, “Untitled”, 2018, Acrylic on Canvas. 50”x32”

David Fludd, “Untitled”, 2018, Acrylic on Canvas. 50”x32”

Q: What type of music do you listen to?
Music informs my work technically and in the way that I approach a canvas — with the ideals of exploration. I am constantly exploring music and experimenting with composition. Improvisational concepts are present in the works and basic musical compositional techniques such as retrograde motion and augmentation are present. I compose and perform as a pianist.

David Fludd, “Untitled”, 2018, Acrylic on Paper, 19”x24”

David Fludd, “Untitled”, 2018, Acrylic on Paper, 19”x24”

Q: What are your goals for this residency?
I plan to create works on paper and to work with drawing and watercolors. I am interested in experimentation. The art that I plan to create will be improvisatory and experimental in nature. The  compositions will be open to interpretation.

The works that I create are influenced by where they are created. By this approach the works express the experiences of where they were created. The art expresses the experiences of working by the sea or in a city, or more rural place in a unique way. In this regard multiplicity exists and thereby expresses many places, often simultaneously.

Untitled. oil on canvas, 2016, 18”x24”

David Fludd “Untitled”. oil on canvas, 2016, 18”x24”

Q: What is your process for creating a work of art?
I have an open sensibility in creating art and I am constantly learning, experimenting; trying new ways of creating and seeing. All of the parts of my compositions are carefully arranged in the process of creation. I am interested in a spontaneous methodology as a way of articulating compositions.

I explore color and texture and multiple approaches to painting and drawing. I make an effort to instill an awareness of seeing the fundamental basic shapes and structures in my art. I have studied many paintings throughout the world. I am fascinated by different approaches to painting and drawing and instill my own work with a vibrancy and sense of looking forward while understanding painting from a historical viewpoint.

Meet the Artist in Residence: Britny Wainwright

Britny Wainwright, artist in residence at Main Street Arts during the month of June 2019, is working in one of our two studio spaces on our second floor. We asked Britny some questions about her work and studio practice:

Artist in her studio.

Artist in her studio.

Q: Please tell us about your background.
Hi, I’m Britny. I grew up just south of the Finger Lakes region, in Owego, NY. It’s refreshing to not have to describe where the Finger Lakes are!

I attended Alfred University, receiving my BFA in 2012. In 2017 I received my MFA from Ohio State University. While both degrees are in fine art, I concentrated in ceramics for both of them.

I now live and make work in Columbus, OH. I first moved to Columbus for graduate school in 2014, and have stuck around for the amazing creative community. I love living in a vibrant city, and Columbus has many great opportunities for artists! I teach as an adjunct instructor at Ohio State and Capital Universities, and maintain a studio practice.

Enduring Blossom, 2017, terracotta, glaze, canvas, wood, foam, house paint. 64” x 54” x 60”.

Enduring Blossom, 2017, terracotta, glaze, canvas, wood, foam, house paint. 64” x 54” x 60”.

Q: How long have you been making artwork?
The earliest memory I have of my obsession with material and making things, was a field trip in preschool. I think it was some sort of career day, but what I lost my mind over was the sand art table! The scratchy sound the plastic spoons made dipping into containers of brilliantly colored sand has stuck with me. I think this experience was the first time I realized making art could be something primary in my life.

I really got serious about being an artist in college. I was very fortunate to attend a fantastic undergraduate program in art — Alfred University’s School of Art & Design. It provided me with a well-rounded art experience, and ultimately I concentrated in ceramics, although my secondary was painting. My minor was in art education, and I even finished my teaching certification before decided to pursue graduate school for an MFA.

Untitled. 2019, felt, painted canvas, trim, fiberfil. 27" x 43" x 6.

Untitled. 2019, felt, painted canvas, trim, fiberfil. 27″ x 43″ x 6.

Q: How would you describe your work?
I’d have to say my work is a granny’s dream of ugly couches, and floral prints, plus material play? Most of my academic training was focused on ceramics, and it deeply influences my work,  but I now maintain a much more hybrid practice of ceramics and fiber. I find both of these mediums, plus painting, are necessary to speak about the content in my work.

I am an artist because I have things to say. As a woman the very act of making work is a feminist act. I try to not discredit my voice before I speak! Placing floral pattern, stitching, embroidery, and bright colors in the gallery is an act of celebration of feminine things. I question the authority of these things in gender and art, and the conceptual consideration these practices receive, or don’t.

Studio shot. Clay motif "tiles" in progress.

Studio shot. Clay motif “tiles” in progress.

Q: What is your process for creating a work of art?
It depends on what I’m making, but most certainly heavy-repetition is guaranteed. When I make works that require ceramic motifs, or tiles as I call them, I start with producing them: rolling slabs of clay, cutting motifs, defining and drilling holes, drying, firing, etc. I then build the structure and stitch on the tiles by hand before upholstering. Ceramics is a long process and sewing is quite the opposite. It’s instant gratification! I’m able to walk into my studio and finish a piece in a few hours — totally unheard of in ceramics.

Lay Your Pretty Little Head. 2019, painted canvas & cotton, terra-cotta, thread, fiberfil. 5" x 15" x 15"

Lay Your Pretty Little Head. 2019, painted canvas & cotton, terra-cotta, thread, fiberfil. 5″ x 15″ x 15″

Q: What are your goals for this residency?
I’m starting a new body of work I’ve long wanted to make: examining women’s patriotism in America. I will be visiting Seneca Falls, where the Declaration of Sentiments was signed in 1841, demanding that women have equal footing with men under the constitution. I’ve also been collecting visual resources from the 1976 Bicentennial — in particular home decor. I’m intrigued by the trend of domestic patriotism of this time. Especially because women’s public patriotism is sometimes misunderstood as un-American! This local historical research paired with studio explorations of patriotic motif will leave me with a new body of ceramic and fiber work that grapples with women’s patriotism in America.

Also, I’m lucky enough to be able to install a new exhibition in the second floor gallery entitled, power. I will be showing a new ambitious sewing piece, and several other recent works. Exhibition reception is on June 14th from 5-7pm, and artist talk at 6pm!

Q: Where are your favorite places to see artwork?
I love DC. The variety of museums is astounding. The East Wing of the National Galleries is good, in particular the Matisse room. The Freer & Sackler is also great, I took a lot of non-western art history courses in college. A lot of very important ceramic history can be found in China, Japan, and Korea, so the Freer is almost always on my checklist. I also love the Lincoln Gallery in the American Art Museum. The Hirshhorn for really great contemporary stuff. Oh, and The Phillips Collection, that Wolfgang Laib beeswax room- drool worthy.

Recreation. 2018, terra-cotta, slip, fabric, wood, house paint, thread. 45” x 50” x 36”

Recreation. 2018, terra-cotta, slip, fabric, wood, house paint, thread. 45” x 50” x 36”

Q: What advice would you give to other artists?
In particular to artists thinking about going to graduate school — take time off after undergrad. Those few years are so valuable. I worked as a server, an assistant cook, a substitute teacher, a house sitter, etc. If you power through to graduate school, I’m not sure you’ll really convince yourself why you want to be an artist. That floundering will make you appreciate graduate school so much more!

Q: What’s next for you?
I have quite the busy summer! After my residency at Main Street Arts, I will be a visiting artist at the Torpedo Factory Art Center in Arlington, VA for the month of July. I hope to finish this new body of work while in residence there. I also have some upcoming shows for the 2019-20 season! Follow my social media for more information.

Q: Where else can we find you?
www.britnywainwright.com
Instagram: @britny_wainwright
Facebook: Britny Wainwright

Inside the Artist’s Studio with Jennifer Schinzing

Jennifer at work

Jennifer at work in her home studio

The incredible passion I have for animals and the natural world is what inspired me to learn taxidermy. All the animal elements found in my work are road kill casualties or have died from natural and unpreventable deaths. By preserving them in the very small window of time between death and decay it forces the viewer to see them in a more intimate and surreal setting. By placing them in improbable situations, I hope to remind the viewer of our fragile world.

Sculpture

Sculptural piece by Jennifer Schinzing

I grew up in Rochester, NY and still call it my home today. I work at More Fire Glass Studio full time, managing the studio and blowing glass. On weekends I volunteer at Wild Wings (an injured bird of prey facility) helping to educate people about the environment. And at home, my husband and I, have 3 rescue greyhounds.

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Jennifer with her 3 rescue greyhounds

Creating and making art from a very young age eventually led me to art school. I graduated from Alfred University, School of Art and Design, where I was exposed to glassblowing and continued to experiment with different materials.  My sculptural work is mixed media based. I love sourcing found objects from antique stores, sometimes those are the source of inspiration for the piece. I incorporate my own blown and sculpted glass into the work but I also incorporate vintage glass as well. 

Cyclical

Cyclical by Jennifer Schinzing

I have always felt a strong love and connection to animals and the natural world. As a kid, my sister and I spent hours upon hours playing outside, building forts and making “food” from random plants and berries. We would stay busy playing in Irondequoit Creek which ran through our backyard and enjoyed being surrounded by the wildlife that lived close by. This informed my artwork as a kid and it continues to do so today.

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Detail of a custom piece for a private residence in Chelsea, NY

My approach of beginning a piece consists of different thoughts and feelings. It isn’t always the same formula for me. I don’t do a ton of sketching, most often a vision will pop in my head and I start piecing it together. It could be the animal that inspires me, in other instances it is a found object or a lot of times I am tying  personal experiences in amongst the broader message. I hint at what the pieces are about for me in the titles but I always love for the viewer to take away their own perception of the piece if possible.

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Jennifer creating flame worked pieces for a sculpture piece

blowing glass

Jennifer blowing glass

In the indefinite continued progress of existence, there are particular moments that will change us, leaving us to wonder how or why we have gotten to this moment. The hopelessness that these periods of time create can be paralyzing and leave you wondering if you will ever be able to repair the holes. From every death comes a breathe of new life, giving us a glimmer, a feeling of repair. By creating intimate moments from personal fragments paired with an environmental connotation, a duality evolves to form a narrative that explores both sides.
Cache

Cache by Jennifer Schinzing

 I am honored to be among all of the talented artists showing work in the current exhibition de/composition at Main Street Arts, I hope all of you get the chance to see the show!


Jennifer Schinzing is one of 31 artists featured in the national juried exhibition de/composition at Main Street Arts. Work from the exhibition can be previewed and purchased through the gallery’s online shopde/composition runs through June 28, 2019.

 

Inside the Artist’s Studio with Bryan Northup

Me with installation Artist with installation 'You Can't Put It Back In The Box'

Artist with installation ‘You Can’t Put It Back In The Box’

My name is Bryan Northup and I’m honored that my work “Cautionary Entrails” was selected to be a part of the de/composition exhibit at Main Street Arts. I am particularly pleased that this work found a place to be shown, framed in a such a compelling theme.

Cautionary Entrails

“Cautionary Entrails” by Bryan Northup

I am a Chicago based environmental artist, originally from Northern California. I have been making art for most of my life, drawing horses during church sermons and taking any and all art classes offered in high school. I graduated from California College of the Arts in Oakland, California with a BFA in Fine Art Photography and since then have been a self taught, intuitive artist.

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Earlier work, 2000 – 2014

I work in several media including cold and warm glass, painting, mixed media sculpture and photography. Until recently, I focused on working with glass, from traditional stained glass and mosaics to experiments with recycled bottles, creating kiln-formed, functional tableware, lighting and sculptural works.  See more here >

Plastic raw material

Plastic art material

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My studio worktable, kinda clean

I was awakened to the serious problem of single-use plastics in 2015. I like to think that a dead tree changed the trajectory of my art practice. I was fortunate to be selected to create a public art sculpture through the Chicago Tree Project that utilized a dead tree (one of many in the city’s parks) as a framework for sculpture. I chose to shift my material from glass bottles to plastic beverage bottles for many logistical reasons, but through the process of creating the sculpture entitled “Message In A Bottle”  I discovered the invisible scourge of single use plastic and ties to the bottled water industry. Shifting my thinking, message and medium to create with everyday found materials that no one was thinking about seemed the most important outcome of the project.

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View while installing Message in a Bottle

Before this experience I had no idea that plastic lasts forever, never decomposing, or the amounts of plastic produced, used and thrown away on a daily basis, all designed to be disposed of. As I researched more, these facts changed my awareness and the focus of my artwork.

sliced roll

Detail of a “sliced roll”

Now I use these plastics and foam to create wall relief and sculpture works that abstract food, mimic organic forms and invent pseudo-biological structures. I attempt to blur the lines between appetizing consumables, anatomical dissection and waste — exploring layers of meaning in an age where plastics have saturated our environment and penetrated human-kind both biologically and culturally, to the cellular level.

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Work in progress

While being an environmental plague, I have found plastic to be an incredibly dynamic art medium. I work with plastic as a fiber, a fabric, in some ways as a cooking ingredient, a food. I incorporate common tools such as chef knife to cut the rolls and an iron to laminate sheets of films together. Creating rolls, “sushi- style” is a technique I originated when I started working with plastic. It’s a meditation, adding unlikely and inedible ingredients like foam, bubble wrap, plastic bags while I reflect on how these same steps are so closely related to making nourishing food, something we crave and can actually eat.  I think about all the wildlife, particularly in the ocean that that ingest plastic because of our dependence on it.

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My first plastic wall relief, Sea Change, 36×48

The organic forms and textures I create suggest perishable matter, “flesh”, “tissue” likely to spoil and decay quickly, but because these objects are created with plastic, they will never naturally decompose  but just appear to be, forever, in a state of suspended decomposition.

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Detail

Thank you for taking the time to get to know me a bit better. You can see much more of my work on my website, www.bryannorthup.com, I post regularly on Instagram @bryan.northup and have a Facebook page @beyondbiolumglass


Bryan Northup is one of 31 artists featured in the national juried exhibition de/composition at Main Street Arts. Work from the exhibition can be previewed and purchased through the gallery’s online shopde/composition runs through June 28, 2019.

Meet the Artist in Residence: Taylor Kennedy

Taylor Kennedy, artist in residence at Main Street Arts during the month of May 2019, is working in one of our two studio spaces on our second floor. We asked Taylor some questions about her work and studio practice:

Taylor in her studio at Pratt Institute.

Taylor in her studio at Pratt Institute.

Q: Please tell us about your background?
I was raised in Sodus Point, NY ( which is a 30 minute drive North of Clifton Springs). I attended the Rochester Institute of Technology and graduated in 2015 with my BFA in Fine Art Studio. While in my last year at RIT, I realized I was not done with my education. I was just hitting my stride in my practice and wanted the safety (haha) and challenge of a MFA program. I was very lucky to get into Pratt Institute, as I was even younger and less “experienced” in the art world then. So, I moved to Brooklyn in August of 2015. It was hard, but it was what I needed. I graduated from Pratt in 2017 with my MFA in Printmaking. I stayed in the city until this past February, when I moved back home.

I have been drawing ever since I can remember. My family has a “knack” for artistry; vocally, instrumentally, written and visually.  My generation has been the only one to pursue full fledged artistic careers. I think we saw how much our parents/uncles/aunts wished they devoted more time to the arts. That is not to say it is easy, making a career in the arts; because it is fucking hard. But I can’t see myself as anything else.

I’ve worked as a teaching artist. An artist assistant. A nanny. A dog walker. A house-sitter. Living the stereotype of an artist. But these are all jobs that add to your practice, that give you insight. Make you real. Currently, I work as a substitute teacher.

I Want You in My Posse (Preliminary Layout), 2019

I Want You in My Posse (Preliminary Layout), 2019

Q: How would you describe your work?
Oh boy, I am laughing as write this. It is, for lack of a better word, my diary. I have gotten slack for my work being too “cathartic” or “therapeutic” as I speak so much of my personal background. I don’t think I would get that critique if I was a man, but I keep making it.

My work is my memory. Or memoir. Or ode to my family, as ironic as that may seem.  Or all of the above.

I think there is a universal language felt when looking at imagery that was created to speak to the poignancy felt in everyday family life. At least, that is what I am trying to poke at. I have seen and felt heartache and loss, divorce, suicide, addiction, alcoholism and mental illness. But I have also seen and felt middle class pride, true love, perseverance, and growth. They work in tandem, the dysfunctions and the functions. That’s life.

As families, we live our lives in cycles. In patterns. Sometimes, we think we break them, but I have come to find that we recreate those cycles in some other form. Across generations. Across bloodlines.

When I speak of family, I am not only speaking of my blood relations. I am speaking of my friends. Or the people I snap pictures of on the street that are sharing a moment. Or even animals. Inanimate objects telling a metaphorical familial story.

We are all related, in some way. That is what I want my work to evoke.

Chicken Soup, 2018

Q: What is your process for creating a work of art?
Right now, I have a bank of reference pictures I draw from. That includes old personal family photos, photos I have taken and stock images I find on the internet.

For a drawing, I lay out a piece of paper, print out what reference photos are speaking to me, and start a layout in pencil or vine charcoal. Sometimes, I cut out parts. Sometimes, I add aspects of other reference photos. Sometimes, I go on memories I can still visualize in my head. It depends on that exact moment. I have been trying to be more considerate of composition, leading me to make collages of the reference photos I am thinking of using.

I follow it. I try to not plan too hard. I make notes on the paper, or the walls if I can, if I have thoughts related to my practice (which, if you haven’t noticed, is everything in my life). If it calls for becoming sculptural or an installation, I listen to it. You have to listen to the work. Sit with it. I don’t like to kill work. That is the worst.

I Want You in My Posse (Preliminary Layout), 2019

Man’s Best Friend (Preliminary Layout), 2019

Q: What are your goals for this residency?
I am going to work on illustrating a children’s book that was written by my aunt, Sara Kennedy. It is going to be a challenge, seeing that I am not necessarily a “planner” and more intuitive in my process. But it is a challenge I look forward too, as it is going to be a way of learning to simplify compositions that are strong in their convictions. The imagery needs to read as if the text was not there.  The studio has printmaking equipment that I will take advantage of; I envision creating mixed media illustrations using drawing, collage and printing.

I also plan on getting some painting done. I am not a painter. Not at all. Painting is really hard. And not everyone realizes how hard painting is/that they should not be painting, because they are not painters. But, I have a ton of canvas and paint, so why not challenge myself even more? That will be more personally based. I am envisioning a large tableau-style painting of a pick-up truck right now. I’ll get back to you on if that comes to fruition.

Taylor in residence at Sodus High School, 2019

Taylor in residence at Sodus High School.

Q: What is the most useful tool in your studio?
My body. Your body is your number one tool. I have never been an athlete, never into exercise, but if you want to make it as an artist, you need to keep yourself healthy, physically and mentally. I have carpal tunnel in my dominate hand. Arthritis, MS, and Fibromyalgia run in my family. I am trying to get myself strong. What is the point of making large things if you cannot physically handle them?

Tape is good too. You can make anything with a roll of tape.

Q: Who is your favorite artist and why?
Celeste Dupuy-Spencer. Toyin Ojih Odutola. Nicole Eisenman.  Genieve Figgis. Kerry James Marshall. Egon Schiele. Alice Neel. Red Grooms. Marisol Escobar.

They are storytellers. They were/are transparent. I think it is honest. Their work is not trying to be “art”, it just is.

"Ven, To!" (Preliminary Layout), 2019

“Ven, To!” (Preliminary Layout), 2019

Q: Where are your favorite places to see artwork?
Kids make the best work. And they have no idea, which makes it even better. So schools, the backs of homework, scraps of paper, desks. Anywhere a kid would create.

Q: Do you collect artwork? Tell us about your collection.
I do, a little. I have work of my peers and of young artists (kids) I have taught. The adult work I have mostly because of trading them with my own work. The kid work I have is because it was gifted to me or I commissioned it. I would rather pay a child to make me something than an adult.

I suppose I am a sentimental sucker at heart. But that is the only way to be.

Town of Sodus, 2015

Town of Sodus, 2015

Q: What’s next for you?
At this moment, making dinner. I am trying really hard to not think ahead. I am an anxious person; I have to teach myself to live in the moments.

Q: Where else can we find you?
I am on Instagram @taylor_mica_kennedy and my website is www.taylormkennedy.com