Art ready 2012-2013 is off to a great start! We kicked off the program with some getting-to-know you games and inspirational words and advice by Art Ready alumni Roxaony and Aryanna: including “go on the trips!” and “use your fellow students as a resource even after the program.”
Then, students received in-depth talks by the two exhibiting artists at Smack Mellon, Adriane Colburn and Cheryl Molnar. Both exhibits are similar in that they address humans’ attempts to understand, manipulate, and represent natural environments. Colburn’s multimedia installation combines video, photo, cut paper, parts of boats, and live plants, all related to scientific research trips and her own explorations in fragile ecosystems like the Amazon and Arctic. Colburn explained how it’s important to spend time outside of her studio, collecting source material for her work: “if I’m just making up stuff in my head for my art, I don’t have enough to go by.” The colors, forms and subject matter in Colburn’s installation are based on infrared maps and other ways of “breaking down and understanding information,” environmental threats like oil exploration and deforestation, and the “relationship between exploration and exploitation.”
Cheryl Molnar’s cut-paper collages reflect experiences closer to home–her upbringing in suburban Long Island–but, like Adriane’s work, convey tensions between development and the natural environment, through such imagery as pre-fab housing, modernist architecture, manufactured shrubbery and greenhouses, and tropical office parks. Molnar described her work-intensive process of designing her collages in Adobe Illustrator, transferring them from large-format prints onto wood panels with an Xacto knife, and revealing the lines of the drawing through an oil wash. For inspiration, she recommends “starting with one thing you see, then building upon it.” To both make a living and make art, Molnar works during the day as a graphic designer, and spends nights in her studio.
Our final stop was in the Smack Mellon basement studio of artists-in-residence Adam Eckstrom and Lauren Was, who together make up the artist team Ghost of a Dream. When this pair originally started making art together, they were inspired by research on the lottery: what people dream about winning, and what they do with the money they win. This led to a series of life-sized installations, including a “dream home” and a “dream car,” made entirely of discarded lottery tickets. Ghost of a Dream also make collages and sculptures out of other “collections” that represent society’s “stereotypical dreams,” including trophies, baseball cards, and romance novels. They described the arduous process of collecting: for example, looking through dumpsters or trash cans, or asking around at many different bodegas before finding just a few store owners willing to save old tickets for them.
As advice for young artists, Ghost of a Dream recommended applying to as many residency programs as possible (such as Smack Mellon’s): “You may get 1000 ‘no’s’ before getting accepted into 2 residencies, but it’s always worth applying”; they also emphasized the importance of building a strong community of other artists, through school and programs like Art Ready. “You’re also lucky to be in New York,” said Adam. “You’re exposed to the best galleries here. Take advantage of free gallery openings in Chelsea and the Lower East Side!”