Artist Interview: Mark Newport

Mark Newport is based in Michigan, but he flew to Santa Fe for the opening of his form & concept solo exhibition, Mending. The show features torn muslin cloths that Newport patched back together using intricate embroidery techniques. The painstaking task was an opportunity to meditate on the vulnerabilities of the human body, and the miraculous process of scarring. In our previous interview, Mark discussed his inspiration for the Mending series. While he was visiting Santa Fe, we sat down for a second conversation about his career, the fiber art community, and how his bodies of work link together.

Could you tell us a little bit about your background in art-making?

I did my Bachelor of Fine Arts work at the Kansas City Art Institute, and took a few years off and then I went to the School of The Art Institute of Chicago for my graduate education. I graduated in 1991. Since then, I’ve lived in several different cities and made work in all of them. 

What are you up to now?

Currently I live and work in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan where I am the head of the Fiber Department and Artist in Residence at the Cranbrook Academy of Art, which is a graduate program for people studying in my department. I maintain my studio practice there. 

Mark Newport Fiber Art- Form and Concept- Santa Fe New Mexico
Mark Newport, Mend VII (detail), embroidery on muslin, 20″ x 15″

What do you mean by ‘Artist in Residence’?

The term Artist in Residence at Cranbrook is kind of equivalent to an assistant or associate professor at the university. It denotes that we’re teachers, but also that we’re mentors. So, Artists in Residence is meant to assert that I’m an artist, and I work there teaching. Cranbrook is kind of based on the old mentorship-guild way artists were trained in Europe in the pre-modern era.

What inspires you about the contemporary fiber art community right now?

I think what’s interesting about fiber right now is that it’s hard to identify what fiber is in some ways. If I take for example some of my students, there’s people doing video work that looks performative, there are people doing fashion work, there are people that are weaving and quilting. And, obviously, with the weaving and quilting you recognize that it’s coming from fiber and textiles. But, as has been the case for many years, there’s this sort of expanded idea of what that can be.  And it becomes much more about the concepts and the ideas. And of course technology plays into that. You could be weaving with a Jacquard loom that is basically running from a computer program. Or doing digital work in video or doing something that’s completely digital and doesn’t have a physical presence but it relates to either the manufacture of or the history of textiles and what that means in the world right now. 

Mark Newport Fiber Art- Form and Concept- Santa Fe New Mexico
Mark Newport, Mend VIII (detail), embroidery on muslin, 20″ x 15″

In your work, you tend to chew on the same question or themes for years. Could you talk about your different bodies of work?

This year when I had to start school and give a lecture about my work, I jokingly said that I’ve worked on the same ideas for 25 years. That’s true in the sense that I’m interested in gender and how that relates to how we as individuals get to operate in the world or understand the world. I’m also interested in how the body relates to those ideas. The body can project a certain kind of idea about, say, masculinity or femininity or the continuum in between those two poles. The body is also not just a symbol but a kind of tool for recording experience. Our sense of touch and the way our skin works… records information through scars or wrinkles as we age. With the superhero costumes, I was using the idea of the pumped-up body deflated through the knitting, and relating it to an idea of gender in the body. With the new work, it’s this idea of scars.

Does your fascination with the body translate into scientific studies of the body? Are you on WebMD looking up skin conditions?

The fascination with the body means that I look at old anatomy texts. I love those old illustrations. I’ve done a lot of reading about how ideas of gender relate to how people depicted images of the body. At one point, scientists described the male and female genitals as the inverse of each other, even though they cut open bodies and saw that that was not the case at all. I love the idea that how we conceive of something isn’t always what we’re actually looking at, and how there’s slippage and contradictions there. I don’t go to WebMD, but I look at all sorts of videos about how surgeries happen and stuff like that, just to see what it is and figure out how things could be more informed in the work. 

Mark Newport Fiber Art- Form and Concept- Santa Fe New Mexico
Mark Newport, Mend IX (detail), embroidery on muslin, 20″ x 15″

How do some of your more grotesque interests translate into this really subtle, gorgeous, detailed work?

The work’s not grotesque but the inspiration is, and I think that’s largely because I like to work with metaphor in this body of work. I like the idea that the muslin I start with is like my skin, but different. It holds things, it wrinkles, it gets torn, it needs to be fixed just like my body. And so, I’m using the tools that I’m trained to use to make something, and I don’t necessarily want it to be grotesque. I kind of like the idea that the reference to the wound on the body gets made kind of seductive and beautiful. People have the opportunity to process that idea in a different way. 

Is there still a sense of wonder for you that wounds on the human body embroider themselves back together through scarring?

It’s absolutely fascinating. And to think about that in terms not so much of me, but my son who’s kind of accident prone, and watching that and how something heals. The body’s frustrating and amazing all at the same time. 

You’ve been meditating on your own body and aging lately. Does that relate to your current body of work?

I don’t think that it’s an accident that this body of work is happening now. And after the costumes, I think I’m sensitive to the fact that being in my 50s makes me more aware of healing and of tending or taking care of myself and trying to last a little bit longer. I’m wondering how much can you tend, or fix, or repair, and how much you just have to accept and deal with. And I don’t think I would’ve thought that when I was making the other work, just because of how old I am now. 

Mark Newport’s Mending is on view at form & concept through May 20, 2017. Click here to view the full exhibition on our website.

Mark Newport Fiber Art- Form and Concept- Santa Fe New Mexico
Mark Newport, From Within II (detail), embroidery on muslin, 33″ x 66″

Introducing Tania Larsson

Tania Larsson Jewelry- Form and Concept- Santa Fe New Mexico
Tania Larsson, ‘Dentalium Shell & Coral Earrings,’ $90

We’re excited to introduce Tania Larsson, form & concept’s newest jeweler. Tania is of Gwich’in and Swedish descent and she was born and raised in France. At the age of fifteen, she moved to Canada with her family with the goal of reconnecting to her culture and her land. She is currently pursuing her Bachelor of Fine Arts with a focus in digital arts and jewelry at the Institute of American Indian Arts.

Tania is a founding member of Dene Nahjo, a non-profit organization that focuses on cultural revitalization projects. She constantly seeks out opportunities to learn traditional practices such as tanning hides on the land, making tools and sewing. To create her intricate jewelry works, she combines her traditional skills and contemporary arts education. Click here to view more of Tania’s work on the form & concept website.

Tania Larsson- Form and Concept- Santa Fe New Mexico
Tania Larsson, ‘Dentalium Shell, Muskox Horn, & Sterling Silver Necklace,’ $105

 

Tania Larsson- Form and Concept- Santa Fe New Mexico
Tania Larsson, ‘Muskox Horn & Sterling Silver Dangles,’ $75
Tania Larsson Jewelry- Form and Concept- Santa Fe New Mexico
Tania Larsson, ‘Two-Tiered Dentalium Shell & Sterling Silver Earrings (Brushed Finish),’ $120
Tania Larsson- Form and Concept- Santa Fe New Mexico
Tania Larsson, ‘Dentalium Shell, Gold, & Diamond Earrings,’ $220
Tania Larsson Jewelry- Form and Concept- Santa Fe New Mexico
Tania Larsson, ‘Muskox Horn Studs,’ $45

Ask Judy Chicago.

Judy Chicago appeared at form & concept on February 10 for a presentation on her work by Chad Alligood, curator of Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art. The event was sponsored by the Women’s International Study Center and their Fellowship Program, which brought Alligood to Santa Fe to work on an essay about Chicago’s life for a forthcoming monograph from the National Museum of Women in the Arts.

After Alligood’s engaging talk, Chicago ascended the stage for a Q&A session featuring written questions from the audience. Check out the Youtube playlist above to hear her answers to each question, and scroll down for her most quotable moments from the evening.

On responding to criticism.

I simply never have, I just kept working. I got interviewed with Eleanor Antin […] and she was telling this story about how when she got bad reviews she would write these long missives, or call up the critics and yell at him. It was usually a him. I was speechless. ‘Really? It never crossed my mind!’ I just kept working.

On art fairs.

John Baldessari said, ‘For an artist, going to art fairs is like watching your parents have sex.’ […] It sounds like a great quote, but then I was reading Seven Days in the Art World by Sarah Thornton, and every art fair she went to John Baldessari was there. So I guess he didn’t take his own advice, but I took it. I’ve only been to one or two art fairs, but we walked through Frieze that year, and I was just horrified by the work. I mean derivative, boring. It was a lot of young work. So I really changed my attitude. […] If I were young now, I think I would stay out of the market until I had found my own voice.

On changing her name to Judy Chicago.

My favorite was when somebody said I changed my name to Judy Chicago so my initials would be J.C. But my maiden name was Judy Cohen, so I don’t see quite how that worked.

On the next steps for the feminist movement.

Why shouldn’t little boys study women’s history the way girls have to study men’s history? Why do we have to have the ghetto classes? Similarly in museums, why can’t I see Alice Neel next to Lucien Freud. That institutional change hasn’t happened yet. […] We have to see, after having the thrill of being with all these like-minded people in public space, if young people now being the hard work of making change.

Thanks to the Women’s International Study Center for collaborating with us on this wonderful event! Click here to learn more about the presentation.

Uncommon Threads

Sarita Westrup Artwork- Form and Concept- Santa Fe New Mexico
Sarita Westrup, Piel de Canela, chicken wire, spices, plastic, screen mesh, safety pins, 32″ x 20″ x 2″

“Art is the best weapon against cynicism,” Frank Rose told Richard Eeds on KSVF 101.5 earlier this week. That’s our rallying cry for spring, as we open two new exhibitions that feature fiber artists from around the world. Come to tonight’s reception for Shifting Landscapes (presented in conjunction with Surface Design Association) and Mark Newport: Mending, and Saturday’s gallery talk featuring organizers, jurors and artists from both shows. Danielle Kelly, Executive Director of Surface Design Association, will appear at tomorrow’s event. For a preview, listen to her conversation  about Shifting Landscapes with Spencer Beckwith on KUNM.

Michael Abatemarco of Pasatiempo featured Shifting Landscapes in a lovely piece called “Uncommon Threads” today. Here’s an excerpt:

“The border region is a place shaped by limitations and separation, which generates a unique experience for its inhabitants,” writes artist Sarita Westrup, who lives on the Texas-Mexico border, in a statement about her recent practice. “Cultural geography, Mexican-American identity, spiritual icons, belonging, and landscape are ideas that I investigate and that visually inform my work.” She describes her relief wall-hangings, composed of found and recycled materials including paper clips, metal fencing, and rocks, as forming a nonrepresentational portrait of border identity. Westrup’s reliefs are included in Form & Concept’s juried exhibition Shifting Landscapes, which explores the notion of place in the work of textile and fiber artists and designers.

Click here to read the rest of Michael’s piece, and click over to the form & concept Facebook page to RSVP for both events. Local blog Santa Fe Arts Journal also featured these exhibitions on their homepage, so make sure to check it out.

 

Introducing Elana Schwartz

Elana Schwartz Artwork- Form and Concept- Santa Fe New Mexico
Elana Schwartz, Aphia (detail), linden wood, pine, mahogany, 52″ x 29″ x 14″

“It gave me something that was a little unbelievable, that I could believe in,” said Elana Schwartz in a phone interview from Albuquerque. It was a few days before she was headed up to Santa Fe to deliver her artwork, and we were just beginning to explore her mythological universe.

Elana has been building a pantheon of ethereal characters since just after she graduated high school. “I’d make these characters and these puppets, and I wanted them to come alive,” she said. In the BFA program at University of New Mexico, she started carving her deities from wood and forming tableaus that recounted entire fables. She graduated in 2012, and has maintained a studio practice that she likens to spiritual meditation. “Carving and making art is what brings me to the present,” she said. “That’s what I’ve discovered is my religion.”

With a process that blends art and craft—and incorporates myriad materials, including animals that the artist taxidermies herself—Elana was a perfect fit to join form & concept’s stable. “I’ve come to think that my work as a combination of sculpture and craft,” she said. “It’s kind of in between, because I really value and think about the process and the materials. I think about the concept too in the end, but the concept grows out of the process. So I consider myself a craftsman at this point.”

Several days later, the artist loaded her delicate creations into a Pensky truck and drove up I-25. Check out images from the installation below, along with excerpts from our interview. You can browse all of Elana’s work on her artist page.

Elana Schwartz at Form and Concept- Santa Fe New Mexico
Elana Schwartz with her sculpture Aphia.

How did growing up in Albuquerque influence your work?

I was very influenced growing up with all of the Native American culture, and retablos, and Catholic folk art. Those things really inspired me. I was always doing art, but I didn’t really consider myself an artist until after high school, which is kind of late.

This sounds kind of weird, but what really started me into making art was my obsession with the Puppet Master movies. I became fascinated with making characters come to life.

What appealed to you about creating your own characters and stories?

It gave me something that was a little unbelievable, that I could believe in. It was like my own religion, something to believe in that seemed a little magical. I’d make these characters and these puppets and I wanted them to come alive.

Elana Schwartz Artwork- Form and Concept- Santa Fe New Mexico
Elana Schwartz, Chojor “Spiritual Wealth”, taxidermy whitetail, mahogany, zebrawood, linden wood, padauk, walnut, curly maple, resin, moss, foam, steel, crushed turquoise, paint, styrospray, 95″ x 36″ x 36″

How did you start wood carving?

I got really into working with wood at UNM, when I took a class in sculpture with Steve Barry. He ended up being my art mentor. He was really harsh on everyone, and I loved it. I felt like a lot of other art teachers are just like, ‘That’s so great.’ Steve took it a lot more seriously, and he got me to take it a lot more seriously.

I did one project in wood, and fell in love with the process of reductive carving. I could create these allegorical and mythological creatures from solid blocks. I really liked the reductive process because you have to imagine what’s there and remove everything else around it.

Part of the reason your characters seem so vividly alive is because of the material. The wood has an inner glow to it.

I love working with wood because it has a history of its own. I’m creating this character and personality from what was already there, and just bringing it out of the wood. It really inspires me to create characters that have their own lives, their own histories, and their own futures that are separate from mine.

Elana Schwartz Artwork- Form and Concept- Santa Fe New Mexico
Elana Schwartz brushing up her sculpture, Chojor “Spiritual Wealth.”

What does the beginning of your process look like?

I’ll get ideas and then do these preliminary sketches. With some of my smaller pieces, I create them from one block. For larger pieces, I have to puzzle things together. I’ll make the head and the body and the limbs, and I have to fit them together. I’ll clamp them into place and just keep whittling them down.

It sounds like your carving process is almost trance-like.

I’m not a specific religion, but carving and making art is what brings me to the present. That’s what I’ve discovered is my religion. It’s this meditative process for me.

I’ve actually gotten heat stroke a few times from being in my shop and not eating or drinking for long periods of time. I just lose track of everything. I kind of love that, though. It’s like yoga or meditation for someone else.

Elana Schwartz Artwork- Form and Concept- Santa Fe New Mexico
Elana Schwartz, Shrine for Transformation, linden wood, purpleheart, mahogany, 24″ x 10″ x 6″

Is your process reflected at all in the finished sculptures?

In my work, I keep returning to these themes of transcendence, and meditative spirit, and a spiritual in-between space. The process of creating definitely shows up in the sculptures. I talk to the sculptures a lot as I’m creating them. Right when I make the eyes, that’s the moment where I’ll say, ‘Now you can see where you are in the world and develop your own identity.’

How did you and Frank select the first round of works that will appear at form & concept?

I’d like to think of them as all living in the same universe, on the same plane. I’m bringing up an eclectic lot.

Elana Schwartz Artwork- Form and Concept- Santa Fe New Mexico
Elana Schwartz with Shrine for Transformation and other sculptures.

What appealed to you about showing at form & concept?

All the work is very eclectic. It’s lots of different mediums, but they go together really well. I think my work fits in there perfectly, because it’s a completely different medium. It’s one of the few mediums that the gallery doesn’t have.

“I’ve come to think that my work is a combination of sculpture and craft. It’s kind of in between, because I really value and think about the process and the materials. I think about the concept too in the end, but the concept grows out of the process. So I consider myself a craftsman at this point.

We’re headed to Elana’s Albuquerque studio in March to create a studio visit video and learn more of the artist’s story. In the meantime, make sure to check out the artist’s work in our downstairs galleries or on our website.

All Over the Map


The Surface Design Association (SDA) has members all across the world. It’s no surprise that the featured artists in Shifting Landscapes, SDA’s third international juried exhibition, are a diverse and dynamic crew. The show will present fiber (and fiber-inspired) artworks that are traditional, non traditional and contemporary interpretations of place.

SDA Executive Director Danielle Kelly was particularly interested to see how artists of different nationalities responded to the theme. “With everything that’s happening environmentally and politically around the world right now, I can only imagine what many artists are thinking about as they make work for the exhibition,” Danielle told us a few months ago. “We can communicate things through art when words fail us. Sometimes the best place to talk about your world is through what you make.”

Watch the video above for sneak peeks at work by each of the artists, and read on for a small sampling of their remarkable stories. Shifting Landscapes opens at form & concept on Friday, February 24 from 5-7 pm.

Wendy Weiss Artwork- Form and Concept- Santa Fe New Mexico
Wendy Weiss, Litzmannstadt Getto 1940-1944, weaving, 2015-16, 53″ x 111″

Wendy Weiss

Wendy Weiss is an independent artist and weaver. Textiles, pattern, and power relationships drive Wendy and her studio work. Primarily a weaver and natural dyer, she works with other materials, most recently, digitally cut vinyl to create multi-color wall installations. She is professor emerita of textile design in the Department of Textiles, Merchandising and Fashion Design at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. She was awarded a 2014-15 Fulbright Nehru Senior Scholar Award, to follow-up on a previous Fulbright Award in 2009 to document ikat textiles from an artist’s perspective in India, and is a past recipient of two Nebraska Arts Council Artist Fellowships, as well as a Winterthur Residential Fellowship. She serves on the board of the Textile Society of America as External Relations Director and Newsletter Editor. Her work has been exhibited in solo and group shows in North America, Europe and Asia. She uses natural dyes that she cultivates and collects locally.

Faith Kane Artwork- Form and Concept- Santa Fe New Mexico
Faith Kane, Regional Sampler- Wellington, NZ, Embroidery on non-woven paper, 2017, 66″ x 13″

Faith Kane 

Faith Kane is a design researcher and educator working in the area of textiles and materials. Her research interests include: design for sustainability; design/science collaborations; the role and value of craft knowledge within these contexts; and drawing for textiles. She is a Senior Lecturer and the Programme Coordinator for Textiles at the School of Design, College of Creative Arts at Massey University In Wellington New Zealand. She is also Editor of the Journal of Textile Design Research and Practice.  

Jodi Colella Artwork- Form and Concept- Santa Fe New Mexico
Jodi Colella, China Sampler 6, embroidery, 2014, 11″ x 9″

Jodi Colella

Jodi Colella works with a broad range of materials to create provocative, tactile works that often include public participation. She has exhibited at Danforth Art Museum; Fruitlands Museum; Wheaton College; Helen Day Art Center; World of Threads Toronto and Textile Museum Washington D.C., among others. She has received numerous awards including the 2016 Fay Chandler Emerging Artist, 2016 Fellowship ComPeung Thailand, Pollack-Krasner Fellowship, Vermont Studio Center, and Somerville Arts Council Fellowships 2015, 2012. Jodi has taught nationally at Society for Craft in Pittsburgh, SDA’s Confluence in Minneapolis plus many local venues. She lives and works in Somerville, Massachusetts and most days can be found lost in her studio.

Yuni Kim Lang Artwork- Form and Concept- Santa Fe New Mexico
Yuni Kim Lang, Comfort Hair (Nest), digital pigment print, 2013, 40″ x 46″

Yuni Kim Lang

Yuni Kim Lang is a Detroit-based visual artist who creates sculpture, installation, photography and performances that explore ideas of beauty, adornment and cultural identity. She investigates themes of weight, mass, accumulation and hair in order to understand her personal and cultural identity. Lang was born in Seoul, Korea. All her life, she has been living as a TCK (Third Cultural Kid). Raised overseas, formal training in New York City, Lang holds a MFA from Cranbrook Academy of Art in Metalsmithing (2013) and earned a BFA from Parsons The New School for Design (2009). Lang was awarded a merit-based grant at the Vermont Studio Center Residency (2014), a Red Gate Residency (2013) in China. Her work has been favorably reviewed in several publications including the American Craft Council, Groove Korea and Huffington Post. Lang’s work has been shown at venues such as the John Michael Kohler Art Center (Sheboygan, WI), Frost Museum (Miami, FL), Collective Design Fair (New York City, NY), Galerie Marzee (Nijmegen, The Netherlands) and a solo exhibition at Sienna Patti Gallery (Lenox, MA).

Click here to read the full list of Shifting Landscapes artists, and make sure to RSVP for the opening reception on Facebook. Shifting Landscapes debuts on Friday, February 24 from 5-7 pm, and runs through May 20.

Last Look: Elegance of Mutation & Kin

As a new round of events and exhibitions approaches at form & concept, we’re bidding farewell to two brilliant shows. Look below for videos and interviews that explore Elegance of Mutation by Bunny Tobias, and Kin by Amy Weiks and Gabriel Craig. The exhibitions featured cutting edge contemporary sculptures made from repurposed materials and age-old forms. Make sure to come see them before they close on February 19.

Bunny Tobias

Bunny Tobias presents new artwork made from reclaimed materials—and a fierce philosophy of recycled art—in Elegance of Mutation. The longtime Santa Fe artist is known for charming, surreal artworks made from found objects and natural materials.

You’ve exhibited your jewelry in the form & concept shop since the beginning. How did this sculpture show come about?

Frank had come out to my studio, and I’m a multimedia artist. I work in a lot of different types of materials and art forms. At first we mostly talked about my new jewelry, but then he got to see my other work.

How did you start incorporating found objects into your work?

Form many years, I’ve participated in the Santa Fe Recycled Art show. That’s actually where I got my start in terms of making jewelry with found objects. I live on a rural property, and I used to find some really interesting rusted pieces on the ground. That sparked my interest repurposing material, first for jewelry and later for art.

Bunny Tobias Artwork- Form and Concept-Santa Fe New Mexico
Bunny Tobias, Mean Clown, found objects, 6.25 x 6.5 x 8 in.

What are some of your creative influences?

I’ve always been interested in surrealism, dada, and arte povera. These were periods of art that I can easily relate to, because I love taking material that once had another purpose and another life, and turning it into something new. I love vintage material.

Tell us about how you chose the title Elegance of Mutation.

My work morphs and mutates old material into new concepts. Anything and everything is capable of morphing: ideas, objects, functions and materials.There’s an awful lot of humor in my work—and chaos discipline and nonsense. Those are all part of what I see as the elegance of mutation.

Bunny Tobias Artwork- Form and Concept- Santa Fe New Mexico
Bunny Tobias, Hang Over, found objects, 15.5 x 7.5 x 6 in.

What’s your process of composing sculptures from the objects you’ve discovered?

I’ll often try many different variations with a piece. I’ll keep adding and taking away pieces that I think might work. Sometimes it takes an awful lot of experimenting, and trial and error. Other times, it happens very spontaneously.

A lot of it has to do with the material. It has to speak to me, whether it’s doll parts or rusted old tools. My biggest challenge is to avoid cliches, and make sure it’s something that is original, that’s just a simple statement of pure art.

 

Amy Weiks & Gabriel Craig

For their collaborative exhibition, Kin, artists Gabriel Craig and Amy Weiks revved up their time machine. The show was a chance for the artists, who co-founded a nationally renowned metal fabrication studio in Detroit, to delve into the human history of objects and tools—and explore their own past in the process.

When did you start working together?

Gabriel: We’ve been metalsmiths for 13 years. We met when we were both undergraduates at Western Michigan University in the metal studio. We started working in metal in 2003, and we’ve been working together since 2007. We did a collaborative residency for a year in 2009. When we started working on Kin, it had been a while since we collaborated. We wanted to have an exhibition that would serve as a catalyst to revisit some old ideas and some new ideas. 

How does your work differ?

Gabriel: Amy’s work has always been an exploration of objects and tools throughout history, and playing with the idea of function and utility. My work has been an exploration of ornament and pattern. Often, the things we’re exploring can get married together in really interesting ways in the same object.

Amy Weiks- Gabriel Craig- Artwork- Form and Concept- Santa Fe New Mexico
Amy Weiks & Gabriel Craig, Kin: Bracelet 2, forged and chased bronze, 3.25 x 1.75 x 2.25 in.

Amy, you were a photographer before you started metalworking. Tell us about that transition.

Amy: I took a class on a whim my last semester of undergrad. I was interested in exploring something that is more tactile. I was doing a lot of darkroom processing, but overall photography is so much about the image, so it was a really fascinating transition. I started thinking more about form and texture and tools. I got sucked into metalworking really quickly.

When did you become attracted to more tactile art practices, Gabriel?

Gabriel: Growing up, I didn’t really use my hands or tools very often. My dad was a salesman, and his dad was a salesman, and his dad was a salesman, and his dad was a horse thief. From a young age, I was very creative, but my outlets were painting and drawing and photography. When I discovered metalsmithing, it was this realization that I could use tools and manipulate the environment around me. The more I do it, the more I realize that my ability to build forms in metals creates a surface for me to draw on. That comes full circle from my original interest.

Gabriel Craig- Amy Weiks- Artwork- Form and Concept- Santa Fe New Mexico
Gabriel Craig & Amy Weiks, Kin: Clip Brooch 3, forged, engraved and chased steel and bronze, 5.5 x 1.75 x 0.25 in.

Tell us about the first time you collaborated, in the 2009 residency.

Amy: We had done some projects in the past, so we decided to take a bunch of pieces and parts and ideas that we had already. We were working on recycled metal and found materials, like coins and chain, and thinking about texture and pattern. We put them on a table and mixed things together.

Gabriel: We would create elements or small studies, and approached it almost like collage. We would start bringing these pieces together into a larger form, or we’d arrange them on a piece of paper and we would draw around them. It was very labored. There were a lot of parts we rejected and things that didn’t go anywhere. There was a lot of bickering. We kind of figured out through that process what’s at the core of our investigation and what we’re interested in. That body of work was very intricate, very layered.

Was your collaborative process different during Kin?

Gabriel: For Kin, we limited our palette in a way. We’re only using forged steel and forged or fabricated bronze. We’re starting most of the time with forging as a process to start shaping the material. It reads much cleaner, more simple than the previous body of work. It’s a deep investigation. Working together is a lot more comfortable now. 

Amy: We’ve created all these pairings with this series. We have form and pattern, and we have bronze and steel, and we have engraving and chafing.

Gabriel: For us, working together has been like playing exquisite corpse with one other person every day for a decade.

Gabriel Craig- Amy Weiks- Artwork- Form and Concept- Santa Fe New Mexico
Gabriel Craig & Amy Weiks, Kin: Fibula, forged and chased bronze, 6.5 x 2.5 x 0.5 in.

Tell us more about the Kin series.

Amy: We’re looking at ancient artifacts and objects. There was this idea that these objects come from somewhere deep in our past. I’m trying to achieve some essence of artifacts in museums that are really old and handmade.

Gabriel: It’s about the kinship we feel with historic, functional and metal objects, and how people who made these objects in the past approached them with simple, technical interventions. We’re trying to find a kinship with that in what we’re doing. There’s some connection across time between what we’re doing and what was done.

 Learn more about Elegance of Mutation and Kin on our exhibition page.

Preview: Judy Chicago & Victory Grrrls

victory-grrrls-thais-mather-niomi-fawn-lucy-madeline-form-and-concept-santa-fe-new-mexico
Victory Grrrls. From left, Thais Mather, Niomi Fawn, and Lucy Madeline.

“This is war, and we’re strong, and we’re here,” Lucy Madeline told Honey Harris on KBAC Radio this morning. “We’re going to fight this, even if the odds feel like they’re against us.” Madeline appeared with our director, Frank Rose, to promote the debut performance of the Victory Grrrls collective. The interdisciplinary group, comprising Madeline, Niomi Fawn and Thais Mather, will take part in a weekend of feminist action at form & concept.

On Friday, February 10, legendary feminist artist Judy Chicago will appear at a special presentation on her artwork by Chad Alligood, curator of Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art. All available seats are reserved for this free event, but you can tune in to our Facebook Live broadcast at 5:00 pm MST. The following afternoon, Victory Grrrls will occupy form & concept’s atrium for three powerful performance art pieces. Here’s Emily Van Cleve’s take on Saturday’s event from Santa Fe Arts Journal:

The upcoming visit of feminist artist and art educator Judy Chicago to form & concept has inspired Niomi Fawn, Thais Mather and Lucy Madeline, a.k.a. “Victory Grrrls,” to present their first performance piece at the gallery.

“It felt like we’d finally found our tribe,” says Mather about last year’s founding of Victory Grrrls, whose name was inspired by a World War II campaign poster and the 1990’s underground feminist punk rock movement Riot grrrl. “This is the prime time to be doing what we know is our calling: to be feminist activists.”

Read the rest of the article for more information on Niomi, Thais and Lucy’s performances, and make sure to mark your calendar for the event on Saturday, February 11 at 3:00 pm. Click here to learn more about the Victory Grrrls performance, and here to learn more about the Judy Chicago presentation.

 

Preview: Shifting Landscapes

Yuni Kim Lang- Surface Design Association- Form and Concept- Santa Fe New Mexico
Yuni Kim Lang, Comforthair (Nest), digital pigment print, 2013, 40″ x 46″

Can you embroider a border, knit a bridge, or spin a sanctuary from silk? The Surface Design Association challenged artists from across the world to explore the concept of “place” using a wide array of fibrous materials. form & concept will debut the organization’s third international juried exhibition, Shifting Landscapes, on Friday, February 24 from 5-7 pm.

Our director Frank Rose is a Shifting Landscapes juror, along with Arizona artist Erika Lynne Hanson. As Frank reviewed hundreds of submissions, he embarked on visual journeys through landscapes that are representational and abstract, literal and metaphorical. The final array of artworks unites a vast web of fiber (and fiber-inspired) artists from around the world, and proves that even in a time of stark geopolitical divisions, a single thread can tell a story of unity.

Lisa Klakulak- Surface Design Association- Form and Concept- Santa Fe New Mexico
Lisa Klakulak, Fractured Compaction, felt, 22″ x 11.5″ x 2.5″

The Surface Design Association produces its own quarterly journal, and they recently recounted form & concept’s history on their blog. Here’s an excerpt:

form & concept is an art gallery founded to expand and explore the boundaries of perceived distinctions between art, craft, and design. Their programming acts as a conversation between these three, supporting contemporary creative practice through exhibitions of regional and international artists. Here are three recent exhibitions that highlight the breadth of concepts, styles, and materiality that form & concept showcases…

Click here to read more, and make sure to join us at the opening reception for Shifting Landscapes on Friday, February 24. On Saturday, February 25 at 2:00 pm, we’ll hold a gallery talk featuring Surface Design Association Executive Director Danielle Kelly, along with Shifting Landscapes artists and jurors. A solo exhibition by fiber artist Mark Newport, Mending, opens on the same day.

Carol Sogard- Surface Design Association- Form and Concept- Santa Fe New Mexico
Carol Sogard, Wisdom Chair & Stooble, reclaimed plastic bags, 2015, 44″ x 27″ x 17″ (chair), 15″ x 11.5″ x 11.5″ (stooble)

Preview: Mark Newport’s Mending

Mark Newport Artwork- Form and Concept- Santa Fe New Mexico
Mark Newport, From Within (detail), embroidery on muslin, 75″ x 33″

This February, Mark Newport will return to form & concept for a solo exhibition that cuts to the heart of the Michigan textile artist’s practice. His new body of work, Mending, features torn muslin cloths with meticulously embroidered patches, a symbol of the scars that life etches on the body and psyche. Mark will be in Santa Fe for the Mending opening reception on Friday, February 24 from 5-7 pm, and will speak at our gallery talk the following day.

The artwork in Mending stands in stark contrast to the artist’s first exhibition at form & concept. In our ReFashion group show, Mark presented hand-knit superhero suits. We spoke with the artist by phone about the new series, and how it evolved from his earlier work. 

Mark Newport Artwork- Form and Concept- Santa Fe New Mexico
Mark Newport, From Within, embroidery on muslin, 75″ x 33″

Tell us about the inspiration behind Mending.

I’m exploring the idea of repair and scarring, to make a connection between textile and the body in that way. I’ve been researching and using traditional textile mending techniques that I examined on trips to New York, Boston, London and Amsterdam. 

What’s the history of these techniques?

I first learned about mending samplers when I was in college. People, mostly women, were taught these things to learn a trade, so that they could take care of themselves. Frugality and economy were part of the culture then, which we don’t have as much now. I’m using the same process to repair tears in off-white cloth, and examining the relationship between stitches on a cloth and stitches on a body.

How did you make that connection?

I’m interested in this idea of reconstructing something better than it was. Maybe there’s a lie in the textile; it’s not what it originally was. If you have a stain on your favorite shirt, or you patch up your favorite jeans, they’re not the same anymore. But maybe they’re even better now because they lived through that.

It’s the same thing with the body. When it’s scarred, it might not be such a negative thing.

Do you have a lot of scars?

I was a very accident-prone child. I have some scars. I have always thought of scars as this record of where you’ve been. ‘That was the time I fell on my bike, or that’s when I had appendix surgery.’

Mark Newport Artwork- Form and Concept- Santa Fe New Mexico
Mark Newport, Mend 6, embroidery on muslin, 17″ x 13″

The work in Mending is very different from the superhero suits you exhibited in our ReFashion show. How did that transition happen?

It took a while for me to get to this point. I had worked on the costumes and other pop culture-related work since around 1995. When I had been working on the costumes for 8 or 9 years, I got to the point where I had explored that line of thinking and that way of working to its fullest. I gave myself time to think about new ways of working, and wrestled with that for a couple of years.

Underneath the pop culture trappings of the earlier work, the body was always part of it. The costume suggests the body, masculinity, armor. With Mending, it’s more about vulnerability and exposing flaws. I’m flipping that coin on its head.

Has this project lead you to confront your own vulnerability?

I’m at a time when I’m a little bit older, so my body isn’t as certain as it used to be. As I age, I think about how things have changed and what that means.

I love being an artist, because you have this ability to explore things in a way that you don’t always have the opportunity to do. The work slows me down, and gives me a chance to think.

Join Mark Newport at the opening reception of Mending on February 24, and attend our gallery talk on February 25 to learn more about his work.

Mark Newport Artwork- Form and Concept- Santa Fe New Mexico
Mark Newport, Mend 4, embroidery on muslin, 75″ x 33″