20 December 2014

Political Art

Ty the Yellow Lab ponders where to put this box.

Yesterday afternoon the pieces from my NSA series that didn't sell (and yes, a bunch of them sold!) came back to me from Charles Krause Reporting Gallery, reminding me that I need to figure out how to store all the framing supplies that keep multiplying in my basement. My basement being damp, it's not an ideal place to store anything except the plexi and glass, but the living space in my house is only 1240 square feet, so I'm hard pressed just to store my prints, much less framing supplies. Fellow artists, your storage suggestions are welcome.

The return of the NSA work also reminded me that I've intended to blog some of my thoughts on political art. Charles Krause Gallery focuses on political art and, as my regular readers know, so do I. I don't often articulate why that's my focus, though. I'm not even sure if I know -- it feels more like a calling than a choice. But I'd like to make an attempt to define and articulate more clearly why it is that I'm drawn to socio-political work, what makes art political, and what constitutes 'good' political art. I'll blog about this occasionally in the new year, and I welcome your thoughts.

Today, an interview with artist Mark Bradford flickered across my computer screen and I enjoyed some of his words about socio-political work. He sounds a bit like me when he says "My art, I never could completely separate it from the social. I could never just have a hermetic studio life. It’s just part of me. I’ve always been so curious of everything that’s happening—social anthropology, social history.” Also like me, he does a lot of reading when he gets interested in a topic. Here, he studies sea monsters for a body of work of the same name:

 “Another layer for me that I got really interested in is that we always have this thing about making the other dangerous. So I started reading these books. I read this book on sea monsters. The 16th and 17th century maps, they didn’t understand the ocean, so it was a deep, dark, mysterious place. In these books of these sea monsters, they were half dolphins and half walruses. They had names for them. They had categories. I just became so fascinated by this. I just thought: this is so cool. What they didn’t understand, they made terrifying.”

One thing that I personally gain from working with historic material is that I get to see that history does actually repeat itself. This is both reassuring and horrifying -- reassuring because it shows that the things that make us human are persistent, and we are not alone; horrifying because we seem to never learn some very basic lessons. 

Check out the interview with Mark Bradford here.


Andrew Stone said...

Best short-term advice. Unless there's a check(cheque), don't open the box...it's likely to be more organized in it than if you open it and pull out the unsold works. You can wrap it like a big Christmas present and put it next to the tree or under the couch. I have the stuff I need to keep dry on top of a big armoire (it's big enough you can't see it...)and under it (wood slabs that I don't want to warp). Mat board is in or behind the flat file. Unsold work (and for me that's pretty much everything I've ever made) is pretty much everywhere. (Under the bed. In the flatfile, Behind the flatfile, next to the desk in portfolios placed vertically....et. cetera. Probably a dedicated cupboard, closet (or room) would be best.

Melody Knight Leary said...

I was just trying to rearrange framed prints this morning in the hopes that I could fit more into the small corner that has become my repository for framed work. Not much luck and I don't think my husband would appreciate me taking over any more of his basement workshop. I imagine all artists have to deal with this and unless you have a spare room dedicated to storage things just keep piling up. I looking forward to see if anyone has good ideas for storing art work.

Annie B said...

I've wondered about renting one of those storage space thingies, but I would think moisture could be just as much of a problem there as in my own basement. I'd love to rent studio space outside my home that could include space for storage, but I'm not quite ready to add that overhead to my business model.

Sherrie York said...

See how glamorous our lives as artists are? Sometimes I think that for every hour we spend in the studio we have to spend a day figuring out how to contend with the result. I'm fortunate to live in a dry climate,so damp storage isn't an issue, but I'm living and working in 700 square feet (with a 30 x 60 behemoth of a press now taking up the living room) and storage is a perpetual problem. I've got framed worked tucked in the gaps between furniture and walls, in closets, under the table.

The best way to handle storage of framed work is to put it on someone else's wall, eh? ;-) Now if we could only figure out how to make that happen as quickly as we produce new inventory....

Annie B said...

Andrew's idea to wrap stuff up and put it under the tree is excellent, but too temporary. Someone on Facebook suggested a platform bed for Ty, which is worth considering. Sherrie, hats off to you. You're working with even less space than I am. You've got the best idea yet: get it up on other people's walls! I'll work on that.