In the Studio with Artist-In-Residence Lindsay Pichaske: Interview

Interview conducted by Gallery Director Sigrid Trumpy.

So let's start with the question about your experience at Art Basel Miami, the recent Art Fair you attended.
 
So there are a few different layers to that question. First of all I’d never been, so the experience of seeing that much blue chip art all in one space was pretty remarkable. I saw several pieces of artwork that I had only ever admired on the internet or in magazines. It was fun seeing this high caliber of work outside of the museum context and in a commercial setting. In some ways it made the artwork  a lot more intimate and accessible. 
   
This was also my first experience showing at an art fair there (Scope). It was wonderful exposure and was the most gorgeous place I’ve ever shown work in.  It was exciting to see my piece in that context, amidst the work of so many other artists and galleries.

So what are the primary materials that you use?

To sculpt the pieces I use low-fire clay (terra-cotta) and I fire them once in electric or gas kilns. I’ve been using the kilns here, which is very convenient. I fire to 1945° F, which means that the clay is almost vitrified, but hasn’t gotten so hot that it risks shrinkage or cracking. Clay is such a natural material to build figures out of because it's so skin-like and animate. Working with clay is kind of like working with another living creature. 

The second part of my process involves creating these skin-like second coats for the pieces. Materials that I have used in the past are string that wraps around the animal’s body to articulate the musculature, sequins, sticks, and feathers. I am interested in mimicking the muscle patterns but also in these materials becoming surreal fur or hair across the animal’s body.

You mentioned that you relate to the clay as a material but then you cover it so you lose the feel of the clay. How would you describe that transition?

I love the clay when it's wet and feels alive. When it's fired it dies for me and feels very sterile. The act of covering it with another material that I can get to know really intimately makes it slowly come back to life. 

I love the process because I feel that I’m bringing an unknown creature into existence and getting to know a new being (although I realize they are just made objects). When I’m sculpting it’s as though I’m creating a new, hybrid creature. The act of covering it’s body is a process that is almost opposite to the sculpting. It’s not as physical, but rather meditative and introspective. 

So talk about your earliest memory of art and how that has affected you now?

When I was in early elementary school my mom was in architecture school and I was her model assistant.  I would cut tiny trees to specific sizes and glue tiny pieces of wood for her models. I have the strong memory of being about seven and loving working in the studio with all these exuberant young people and just loving that tedious process. It wasn't even a visual memory of art, but rather it was the physical act of doing it that I fell in love with. 

Which artist do you most admire and are role models?

Kiki Smith and Louise Bourgeois--both for their prolific careers and work ethic. Kiki Smith for her subject matter. Her sculptures, which are full of dark folklore and hybrid creatures really resonate with me. Her piece, Born, for instance, depicts a female figure being born of deer, is something I look to again and again. 

Louis Bourgeois for some of the reasons we just talked about with Kiki Smith, and the fact that she continued to make deeply personal yet potent sculptural work into her 100's! She was making figurative work at a time and it wasn't very popular to be doing so. Further, her work has such emotional, personal, and psychological power. 

For more information about Lindsay, visit her Artist-in-Residence profile

 

This is part of an ongoing monthly series featuring a Maryland Hall Artist-in-Residence (AIR). Check Maryland Hall's website every Monday for a new post. Each month we will feature a different AIR. Click here to visit the Maryland Hall AIR page.