Tonight, Santa Fe artist Matthew Mullins presents his solo exhibition The Sun in Our Bones. Mullins’s work is inspired by the intrinsic links between humans and the natural world. He has a lot of ground to cover, which is why we’ve dedicated our entire ground floor to showcase his paintings, photographs, and sculptures.
We visited Matthew’s studio to talk about his process and inspiration for his show. “I want people to look beyond what’s right in front of us,” says Mullins. “And make them aware of our own cosmic origins.” Check out the video above to learn more about his artistic practice.
Mullins thinks of the patterns as a representation of the human experience of being out there nature.
“If you’re in one of these places or in nature just staring off into the trees, I feel the mind kind of wanders a little bit,” he said. “Like you’re looking at the landscape, but other thoughts come in. You lose it, and then you see the landscape.
“So I like the representational qualities with the landscape, as well as the abstract patterns. The brain can go from experiencing the depth and light of the landscape to the flatness and rhythm of the abstraction. The brain toddles back and forth, and it creates a more dynamic experience that’s kind of uncontrollable.”
An award-winning professional artist who moved to Santa Fe in 2011, Mullins has been working on the pieces in “The Sun in our Bodies” for the past two years.
“My work draws upon my fascination with visual perception and the forces of nature,” he says. “By integrating human-made constructs with natural environments, I’m composing a relationship that is often deconstructed or forgotten in today’s society.
The press doesn’t stop there! The Santa Fe Reporter brought Mullins in for their 3 Questions Column. Here’s what he had to say about The Sun in Our Bone’s overarching theme:
The theme is trying to make art that can connect the viewer with nature and the cosmos. A lot of pieces in the show are about how the materials in our own body are made of the stars, and how the elements that give us life and the ability to have consciousness come from the stars. I’m really trying to drive that point home. The title of the show, The Sun in Our Bones, comes from a poem by poem by Nayyirah Waheed, and really conveys what I’m trying to do with art.
The Sun in Our Bones opens September 28th at 5 PM and runs through November 17th. Mullins will conduct an Artist Talk on the 20th of October.
Matthew Szösz’s Minimal Tension exhibition might be over, but his glass sculptures are still on view across our ground floor. While the Seattle-based artist was in Santa Fe for his show, we interviewed him about his artistic process and career. He discussed his Inflatables and Ropework series, which figured prominently into the exhibition. Watch the video above to learn more about Szösz, and browse all of his available artwork in the form & concept collection.
“I’m acutely aware of my own physical fragility and my own evolving relationship with my body.”
Erin Gould sculpts ethereal works that investigate the weakness and fragility of the body. To do so, she works with her materials in a tactile, intimate way, often leaving her studio covered in beeswax, essential oils, and polyurethane.
Kyle Farrell, Alex Gill and Jordan Eddy, co-directors of Strangers Collective and the No Land art space, curate this exhibition of emerging artists and writers at form & concept. The show engages a network of early career creatives, anchored in Santa Fe and spiraling across the nation. Its curatorial throughline presents a radical method for reflecting on place and identity through art objects.
“The steps that lead up to a process like this are really unseen.”
Derek Chan explores the interrelationships of symbols that are tied to cultural mythology, spiritual beliefs, and the power of supernatural phenomena.
Kyle Farrell, Alex Gill and Jordan Eddy, co-directors of Strangers Collective and the No Land art space, curate this exhibition of emerging artists and writers at form & concept. Mirror Box represents a network of early career creatives, starting in Santa Fe and spiraling across the nation. Its curatorial through line presents a radical method for reflecting on place and identity through art objects. Mirror Box runs through April 14, 2018, with a zine reading on April 7 and a closing performance on April 14. Click the links below to learn about the show’s event series.
Sculptor Julie Slattery shapes talismanic objects—such as the enormous bird skulls that appear in our Mirror Box exhibition—that become emotional reliquaries for specific events in her life.
Kyle Farrell, Alex Gill and Jordan Eddy, co-directors of Strangers Collective and the No Land art space, curate this exhibition of emerging artists and writers at form & concept. The show represents a network of early career creatives, starting in Santa Fe and spiraling across the nation. Its curatorial throughline presents a radical method for reflecting on place and identity through art objects. Mirror Box opened at form & concept on Friday, February 23 and runs through April 14, 2018. Click the links below to learn about the Mirror Box event series.
“75% of the women were labeled ‘unidentified.’ And that just struck a chord with me, how these lives and labors were lost.”
Unidentified Women made its debut in Santa Fe on January 26th. Fiber artist Jodi Colella appeared at the gallery for the opening reception and artist talk. Afterwards, she sat down with us to discuss the inspiration for her moving exhibition.
It started somewhere among the vast archives of the Historic Northampton Museum in Northampton, Massachusetts. Jodi Colella was working on an art project inspired by the museum’s headwear collection, and she stumbled upon a series of daguerreotype portraits. “They were like little 19th century selfies,” Colella says. “I noticed that all the men in the images had every single detail of their life listed in the catalog. About 80% of the women were labeled ‘unidentified.’” The artist was fascinated by these forgotten, female faces, and the contrast between the women’s fleeting social visibility and their invisibility to history. After hunting down similar portraits in flea markets and antique shops, Colella stitched intricate embroideries across the images, further obscuring the women’s identities.
“I think I’m trying to create a sense of familiarity, but in a total otherworldly way.” – Emily Mason
Photographer Emily Mason makes images of her surroundings, collages them onto sculptural props, and photographs the finished assemblages to create images that flicker between dimensionality and abstraction.
Kyle Farrell, Alex Gill and Jordan Eddy, co-directors of Strangers Collective and the No Land art space, curate this exhibition of emerging artists and writers at form & concept. Mirror Box represents a network of early career creatives, starting in Santa Fe and spiraling across the nation. Its curatorial throughline presents a radical method for reflecting on place and identity through art objects.
The term “mirror box” originates in the medical field: Vilayanur S. Ramachandran invented the box with two back-to-back mirrors in the center to help amputees manage phantom limb pain. The patient places the “good” limb into one side, and the “residual” limb into the other, making mirrored movements that can trick the brain into believing that it’s moving the phantom limb. “It’s a tribute to the incredible power of grey matter,” says Eddy. “If our minds are capable of conjuring a nervous system from thin air, can we link up with people, places or things in the same visceral but invisible way?” The curatorial team realized that art, like the mirror box, can act as a conduit for this type of transcendent—but also highly tangible—experience.
“Somehow in my mind, in my being, I felt I needed permission.”
Before carving the original Flying Blue Buffalo, Armond journeyed to Colorado to find a herd in the wild. His encounter with the buffalo gave him the inspiration to begin the ambitious installation and storytelling project.
The Flying Blue Buffalo Project will feature 75 cast resin sculptures crafted under Armond’s supervision. The Installation will debut this August. Support our Kickstarter campaign to learn more about the project and collect exclusive Flying Blue Buffalo artwork.
On Saturday, February 17 at 3 pm, Lara will conduct a panel discussion with Moises Gonzales, Estevan Rael-Gálvez, Sunny Dooley, Kim Trujillo, Joseph Riggs, and Weston Brownlee.
Seattle-based artist Matthew Szösz approaches materials with an innate impulse to alter, build and investigate. Using glass as his primary medium, he creates performance-based experiments that bring the material into a state of flux. His completed sculptures capture the dynamic lines of molten glass. Szösz harbors an enduring fascination for the “state change” of glass from solid to liquid (and back again), but producing the necessary conditions to successfully reshape the medium is a delicate process. A sculpture can shatter if just one of many variables tips in the wrong direction. “You can never really force glass,” he told us. “If it’s not happy, it just breaks and that’s that.”
Szösz says 75 to 80% of his artworks break, though working through the process is the real reward for him. He sets up the conditions for a state change, but nature is the ultimate decider. We spoke to Szösz about his path to becoming a glass artist and his penchant for unbridled experimentation:
You started working with glass in graduate school at the Rhode Island School of Design. What did you do before that?
I got my undergraduate education in furniture design, but within the first couple of years after I graduated, I started working for glass sculptors in non-glass roles. I was a mold maker and a hardware person and a tool maker, and I just kept getting traded from one glass artist to another. I spent about 8 years between undergraduate and graduate making other peoples’ glass.
I went to grad school kind of late. I was in my early 30’s. But that period between was actually really helpful. It gave me an idea of what I wanted to do and how I wanted to do it. I was ready to put a lot of work into it.
What else did you learn from those years before graduate school?
Working with multiple people, I really got a chance to see how artists structured their various practices so that they could keep making art. All of them had different ways of going about that: contract work and gallery work and teaching. It really gave me a chance to see a lot of different options.
What was it about glass that drew you to work with the material?
The thing that’s kept me with it is that it’s incredibly versatile material. It has a lot of different behaviors, and a lot of different states. You’re always working with it when it’s in state change, changing from a liquid to a solid. It’s a very strange material, there’s a lot of problem-solving with it, and it has a very good idea of what it likes to do and what it doesn’t like to do. I spend a lot of my time just experimenting with it.
There’s an element of performance to your art making. What’s more important, the process or the finished object?
I make objects, and I’m invested in making quality objects, with a very strong craft background. But the things that I really enjoy are the moments when things work or don’t work, and the experimenting that I do trying out new things and seeing if they fail. There’s a certain amount of suspense and surprise. When it actually does work, you get the idea that you’re working as a team with the material, kind of a partnership rather than just imposing your idea on something else. There’s a response from the material that’s not necessarily predictable.
How is working with glass different from your previous design work with wood, metal and other materials?
It’s definitely different from ceramics or woodworking or metalworking in that there is an enormous number of variables, from the base chemistry to the temperature. Everything’s in the air at once.
There’s a lot of times where I’ll make something, and make it the same way 3 or 4 times, and get different results, just because of differences in temperature or circumstance. Sometimes the humidity in the room affects it. It’s a lot more like working with a partner than working with a material. A lot of them do fail, even with processes that I’ve been doing for almost ten years now.
Is that frustrating? Gratifying?
I used to have a professor that said “no surprise for the artist, no surprise for the audience.” I think that’s very true. If I wasn’t being surprised, I would get bored and probably stop playing around with it. That surprise, and that thing where you create something that’s independent of you a little bit, where it’s as much a product of the material and circumstance that you set up as well as your own vision, that’s the thing that’s kind of exciting for me.
What type of glass do you use in your sculptures?
Typically I use window glass for them. There’s two reasons for that. One is that it’s free, usually. I just use recycled windows. Then there are certain things about the material that I really like. It adds in a couple of behaviors that add extra variables, which are usually good.
Window glass is different from blowing glass or casting glass or fusing glass that you usually see in glass pieces. It’s got a very narrow range of malleability, temperature-wise. Blowing glass is engineered to give you a very long window of time to work with it. It stays stretchy and elastic but doesn’t get gloopy. Window glass is made to go through machinery and cool off as quickly as possible so you can maximize your output. I heat it up, pull it out and it freezes very quickly. It also doesn’t deal with heat very well, especially the older glass, especially the salvage windows. You’ll get a bunch of different glass types from old windows, and most of the glass is not as well honed. The chemistry is not as fine-tuned.
How do you create the inflated glass sculptures that are on view at form & concept?
You can think of them as a series of envelopes that are connected. There are these chambers that are created flat inside the glass and share this common area. I do that by putting one piece of glass over the other with a ceramic paper. When you heat it up to fusing, it all heats up and fuses together, and that ceramic paper creates areas that don’t fuse. Somewhere in there I’ll add a little brass tube, and that puts the air inside of it. They’re a little bit like pool inflatables, but there is more of a limit in the shapes that you make because the glass starts out flat.
Do you envision the sculptures in three dimensions as you’re building them out of flat pieces of glass?
I typically start out with an idea of what it’s going to look like when it’s three-dimensional. I can get pretty close most of the time with that. The best ones are still the ones that are most surprising, though. I want to get the most material-influenced shapes. I’m looking to end up with these things that I don’t think of when I’m starting out.
Click here to browse all of Szösz’s artwork in the form & concept collection.
“It’s about not being afraid to put diamonds and pearls with broken glass and bone,” says Robert Ebendorf. The master jeweler’s mixed-media philosophy comes from nearly six decades of working with found objects. When you’re a self-proclaimed “gleaner,” life is an endless treasure hunt. Ebendorf’s innovative work has landed in the permanent collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Smithsonian’s Renwick Gallery and the Victoria and Albert Museum. Now he’s form & concept’s newest represented artist. We visited Ebendorf’s studio to talk about his remarkable career, philosophy of design and day-to-day studio practice.
How did people react to your initial work with found objects in the 1960’s?
I was in the forest by myself for quite a while, in a sense. I made such a radical swing from making jewelry with silver and stones—I was never big with gold and diamonds. So when that was happening, I kept thinking “Who’s going to be interested in this work?” I had to contemplate that and make that choice. I stayed with it an pursued it.
The thing is, I have been very blessed. Because I was a teacher at a university, I got a paycheck every month and that helped my studio practice. I could venture into the unknown and uncover my imagination.
You’ve been a teacher for over 50 years. Could you reflect a bit on that experience?
One part of my journey has been mentoring. It’s been a gift to be that involved with young, enthusiastic minds. I was locked into a time zone of 22 years old to 29 years old. Each year I got older, I don’t know about any wiser, but I was locked into that time zone. I realized there was a lot of juice there. A lot of problem solving. Looking back on it, I realize it had a wonderful benefit of being with young people as they creatively try to find their way.
How do you organize your space?
If you look closely at my workbench, I try to make order out of chaos. Now, chaos is all this stuff in front of me. But order is designing, putting colors and textures together. What I call order, you might think doesn’t make any sense. It’s ugly.
There are certain tools I must find and put back on the rack exactly where they belong, so when I’m ready I can go back and it’s there. So I guess there is an order. My beloved wife looks at it, and says, “I don’t see any order.”
You call yourself a “gleaner.” What does that mean to you?
When I’m walking, I’m picking things up and I’m putting things in my fanny-pack. At the seafood restaurant I might gather the claws from the table and bring them home. And in a month, I come back and begin to make a brooch out of it.
Gleaning, finding the discard, I find very enjoyable. When I’m gathering things, I come home, lay them out, clean them, put everything in the right order. It’s my kind of meditative playfulness. There’s something about gleaning that’s been in my DNA since I was a small child.
What sorts of things did you collect when you were growing up in Kansas?
I would go down the alleys with my little wagon. In Kansas, it was a dry state, but I’d go through trash cans and find liquor bottles and go, “Oh, they’re naughty. They drink.” I’d take these things back to my garage. It was a very early sense of gathering and gleaning objects.
I know your gleaning translates into a more holistic life philosophy for you. You speak about the objects you find with really powerful compassion.
I often make reference to the fact that this has been discarded, someone ran over it, it’s been thrown in the dumpster, it’s on the way to the landfill. I enjoy reconstructing it into my world and bringing it out into the universe for another life, another journey. There’s something about putting it back out in another configuration that’s very caring.
Color and composition are foundational to your process. What’s the lesson there?
I just did a workshop with 15 people. A lot of the other workshops at the conference are about technique. Everybody was eager to take a technique home. My group came together and made postcards. I wanted them to take paper, and collage their story together. What I’m trying to share with them is that they can be open to ideas and not be precious. Make mistakes, circle back around.
I was pushing and pulling with them to be more observant and also more loose and open. Everything doesn’t have to be perfect. It comes back to the playfulness.
Do you find yourself puzzling over the lifespan of the objects that you find? Where have these objects traveled before they reach you?
It’s interesting. This piece of copper that I buy in a sheet, I think, “How many lives did this piece of copper have?” It could have been stolen in the sixteenth century— a copper goblet—and then pilfered and taken away, then cut up and melted down, and hammered and maybe made into a tray, or a knife handle. How many different lives? How many wedding rings, or lockets? And now I have it here, and I can hammer it, I can bend it, I can melt it. That’s the magic about that.
There’s a dichotomy in your work, between craft techniques that have been passed down for generations and this radical, avant-garde use of materials.
There is that dichotomy in my work. Maybe that’s why they call me the outlaw. But I do work hard to honor the craft. The workshops were a little different then, but we have the same tools. Fire, melting, hammering. I go to the museums and I look at these pieces that were done in Italy or Nigeria and I think, “These are my brothers and sisters. They are a part of my family.”
When I lecture, I talk about that a lot. It’s something that I honor and feel very joyful about. My grandfather was German. My grandmother was Swiss. They had their own mom-and-pop tailor store.
I remember being 9 years old and watching my grandmother cutting the pattern, getting ready to do button holes. My grandfather pulling out the fabric. Connect the dots. Measuring. Stitching. Fitting. Getting everything perfect. So I do come from a family of makers. Craftsmanship and honoring that—and getting that across to the students—is a biggie.
The places you’ve lived—from North Carolina to Kansas to Norway—have such interesting and diverse craft histories. What are some of the things you learned from journeys?
I left the University of Kansas on a Fulbright to Norway, and then I went back as a Tiffany Grant honoree for another year, and then another as a guest designer. I think that during the Scandinavian design sensibility was coming into the United States in the 1950s. The highly polished silver bowls. Old textiles. Ceramics. Glass blowing.
Living there and going to school under the leadership of those craftsmen really honed me down into the “do it the right way” philosophy. I learned design sensibility and understood the beauty of the craftsmanship. Things being made just perfect.
When I got back, I did high-end commissions for presidents of universities and things for the temple or the church. Highly polished. I started feeling stifled. I was stuck in this one dance. It was very much a result of the Norwegian love affair. That’s when I started to peel the onion and become comfortable. Those were important years. They were the foundation.
When you’re in the process of composing a piece, how do you know it’s finished?
If I was being critical, I’d say I have a problem with editing. I have the tendency to overload. But I like it that way.
That would be my main criticism of my work. More doesn’t always make the piece stronger. Like, do I put pearls here, here, and here. Or just one? I’m constantly struggling with that.
You’re totally shaking up the hierarchy of objects, and the perceived value of different materials.
My work is not about intrinsic value. The value is my sense of design and my language.
When the Victoria & Albert Museum selected a piece of mine that’s on permanent display in their historic jewelry collection, it was nothing more than a paper necklace with decoupaged paper from the street and gold foil. It was not about something having high-end stones and precious metals. It was about celebrating design, and making a personal statement.
Click here to view more of Robert Ebendorf’s work, and stop by the form & concept shop to try it on!