Monday, November 16, 2009

Say hello to Sharon Arnold

Undergrowth, 2009

Your art is very time-oriented. Whether drawing hundreds of marks on paper, sewing thousands of stitches, or creating a sea of tiny cuts, your works end up being a record of time.

It is! I feel I'm trying to capture a moment, in a sense - the same way any painter or photographer might, although I understand this is a different way of marking time than more traditional record keeping. I view them as maps sometimes, or coded/decoded language. Each stitch is a moment, a recording, a marker of where I am in that moment. You can see the lines waver in the drawings, or the pattern is more erratic in some places and more uniform in others - those uniform bits are probably the good days - and just as in yoga you know where you are through your breath, this feels much the same.

Footing, 2009

Your work almost seems like a form of meditation.

I feel it can be. When it's flowing, it definitely is. I want very much to find a space where I'm wholly in the present. Everything outside myself is so fast, chaotic, and overloaded with information, colours, graphics, and data. It becomes nonsense at a certain point, like white noise. I feel like I'm translating this noise in a way, and spitting that translation out through the work. It becomes a language. This is my reading of things. This is me slowing down, taking measure of myself and things around me. We all do this, all the time. Our measurements are a personal cartography or journal. This is too - breathe in/out, leave a mark, move forward, repeat.

Footing (detail), 2009

After moving to Seattle from NYC, you curated a group show that brought a lot of different folks together. How important is the idea of community to you?

Community is extremely important - in fact it's critical to survival. None of us can stand alone in anything we do. I came back from New York having had a strong sense of artistic community there, but a feeling it was easy to get lost. My greatest fear in returning to Seattle was that it would be an environment where people were secluded and roped off from one another. I've been proven wrong in the most amazing way possible - here, people tend to be reclusive, that's a fact. But I've returned to a friendly, supportive, vibrant, youthful, exciting art scene that has so much potential to grow and become something great, and I want every single person who involves themselves with art in any way to come to some understanding of that potential. I think it's imperative that now more than ever, we start shaking things up in Seattle, and ally ourselves with Portland and Vancouver to become even stronger and community based. In the end, that community is what will bring outside recognition to artists within Seattle.

20 b/p/m, 2008

You've had a high profile curatorial project (SEAF) and run a great blog, were you ever worried they might overshadow the art?

I worried about that in the beginning, but I think in the end it's the art people will be looking at/for. And I would hope so, too! As much as I love curating and writing, and look forward to doing a lot more of both, the art itself is always first. It's where I find my truest voice, my clarity. I think we can speak volumes with very little, and I wouldn't say I've mastered the art of brevity in any area but it seems I can speak more clearly through my work than anywhere else. The process of making art is a matter of finding truth. Everything else is demonstrating a point of view or perspective, or arranging objects in relation to one another. These things can benefit one another very well when you find a balance between them.

20 b/p/m (detail), 2008

I love your quote, "...form occurs through the self-leveling patterning of many imperfections." Can you expand on that thought?

I think when you get close to anything you see all these scars, flaws, and imperfections. Things look very rough up close, under scrutiny. Sometimes they're ugly, extra-terrestrial, and completely unrecognisable. It isn't until you pull back and look at everything, adjusting your focus that you gain a sense of what we call beauty, symmetry, or completion. This is a place where we find calm, comfort, and recognition. All these stitches and boxes are rough, jagged, and almost cruel to the paper but when you pull back and look at everything it's a field of textures and patterns, like waves. Whether it's purely aesthetic, spiritual, or psychological; or all of it, I think the grounding sense is the same when you have an endless view of repeated objects. It's calming. It can go forever. I suppose that's comforting to me in a world where few things ever do.

Flow, 2006

What's next for you?

What isn't next? I'm excited to be in conversation with a couple of people on various collaborations, and I would love to curate again. And who doesn't want to show their work more, ha! I know I do, so I'm already back to work in the studio.

One of my previous endeavors, an art subscription project I've renamed LxWxH is in the works to be renewed. This is something I'm hoping will gather artists and writers together with people who wouldn't ordinarily consider themselves collectors. With a subscription project, they can place one order at a time when they see art they like, or sign up for a year and take a grab bag of sorts. It's a win/win situation - artists sell their work on a small scale and people get to buy art on a small scale. It's about making the art world accessible to everyone. Believe me, I want art on all kinds of walls outside the galleries! And I'm hoping I can also involve writers or musicians, at some point.

Outside of these plans, I'm opening up wide to every possibility, shenanigan, and hopefully unconventional ways of participating in art, and getting other people to do the same. I want to cause trouble, yell, and create a ruckus. I want to make art and get other people making art. Mostly, I want to find the ways in which these things combined make us all happier people. Imagine that, a city full of happy fired up artists. Wouldn't that be amazing?


Sharon is currently showing at Vermillion through November 29, 2009.

To read more about Sharon, visit her artblog, Dimensions Variable.


Troy Gua said...

Hello Sharon Arnold, you amaze me.

sharon said...

Hello! (thank you!) :)