1) What kind of artist do you consider yourself?
I consider myself a maker and an interdisciplinary artist. I work in different mediums and disciplines, but I think my ideas and influences are more attached to a painting language.
2) What drew you to Comfort Station, and what do you plan to do/what did you do with the space?
Last summer, I was a sponsored artist at High Concept Laboratories in Chicago. HCL wanted to showcase the two sponsored visual artists from the summer of 2013, Liz McCarthy and me, in collaboration with Comfort Station. Liz and I were very excited to show our work at Comfort Station because the architecture and history of the space was related to our work.
Comfort Station was a space to rest, wait, and find comfort from weather conditions and the hard Chicago winters. Now, Comfort Station is a space of reunion and cultural exchanges, but in some ways still a space to find comfort. Our show Partitions intended to bring together our two artist visions. We document environments by making structures that tentatively define the way in which we experience particular spaces. Liz explores the exterior and I explore the interior.
Liz McCarthy works through a process of submerging herself in naturally occurring landscapes in an attempt to alter and document her own durational experience. I create methods for recording material space though simple gestures like making graphite rubbings of walls and floors, building arbitrary columns with bright colored hand-crafted tiles, and creating structures that draw attention to existing structural elements of a room. I pay attention to architectural elements and décor from many places I’ve lived in and experienced to understand how we define space through our domestic ownership.
We had the opportunity to have a conversation with the guests as part of the events of the show. Nicholas Wylie was invited to be the moderator of the conversation, and he suggested making the conversation more of a performance experience. We both agreed. A performance conversation makes sense because of the nature and relationship of our work with the exterior and the interior. We started inside Comfort Station and walked around it from the outside to have a better understanding of our own different practices and how we observed our surroundings. I think it was a very honest and intimate experience, and it gave a sense of space and time that are imbedded in our work.
3) What artist from all of history would you like to invite to dinner, and what would you feed them?
I think I would like to invite Eva Hess, and I think I would prepare a vegetarian dinner, but if I could choose, I would prefer to invite her for a Sunday brunch. I think I am better making breakfast, and I would be able to make my special coffee! I love eggs and coffee.
4) What is your favorite food memory?
I think one of my favorite food memories is preparing “pasteles” with my grandmother at her house. I was probably 7 years old. Pasteles are basically Puerto Rican tamales. They are made out of a mass of yautía, plantain, and pumpkin filled with ground beef, chicken, or bacalo, then wrapped in a plantain leaf with a thread around it. Then you have to boil them, and they’re ready! The best source of calories ever!
She made them to order. So, when she had a lot of orders, she transformed her big dinner table into an assembling line of pasteles. That’s when my two little hands came to play. My grandma gave me the ingredients, and I went one by one placing them in each pastel. I enjoyed helping her so much, the tasks felt like a game. I have very fresh the image of the dinner full of pasteles in my mind; I think I should make a painting of it!
5) What piece of art do you secretly want to steal?
“Hang Up” from Eva Hess. That is one of my favorite pieces. The understanding I have of painting as an object came after that piece.