Reckless Abandon: A Reading

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At this special event, Thais Mather will read excerpts from writings that span two years of her creative process, which culminated in the body of work for Reckless Abandon.

“I’m really contemplating humanity: how culture began, where we are now, and where that might evolve,” says Mather. Reckless Abandon comprises hundreds of artworks that will fill form & concept’s ground floor, tracing thousands of years of natural and human history.

Reckless Abandon opens at form & concept on Friday, November 24, 2017 from 5-7 pm, and runs through February 18, 2018.

Reckless Abandon Events

Opening Reception | Friday, November 24, 2017 from 5-7 pm — RSVP on Facebook
Reckless Abandon: A Reading | Saturday, November 25, 2-3 pm — RSVP on Facebook
Reckless Abandon: Performance | Friday, December 15, 5-7 pm — RSVP on Facebook

Learn more about this exhibition.

Part of the proceeds from Thais Mather: Reckless Abandon will benefit the ACLU of New Mexico and the Sierra Club’s Rio Grande Chapter

Opening | Thais Mather: Reckless Abandon

RSVP on Facebook.

“I think people are getting these catastrophic feelings, that this is the end,” says Thais Mather. “I don’t believe in that. I think this is a beginning.” The feminist artist’s new exhibition, Reckless Abandon, comes at a time of cultural, political and environmental upheaval. It’s an ideal moment to examine human history from a revolutionary stance—and present urgent questions that can reveal a new path forward. Through a monumental art installation and an interconnected series of performances and events, Mather will challenge viewers to abandon patriarchal structures in favor of a transcendent vision for humanity. Reckless Abandon opens at form & concept on Friday, November 24, 2017 from 5-7 pm, and runs through February 18, 2018.

Reckless Abandon Events

Opening Reception | Friday, November 24, 2017 from 5-7 pm — RSVP on Facebook
Reckless Abandon: A Reading | Saturday, November 25, 2-3 pm — RSVP on Facebook
Reckless Abandon: Performance | Friday, December 15, 5-7 pm — RSVP on Facebook

Learn more about this exhibition.

Part of the proceeds from Thais Mather: Reckless Abandon will benefit the ACLU of New Mexico and the Sierra Club’s Rio Grande Chapter

Heather Bradley’s Innominate Series

After injuring her neck in an accident, Heather Bradley decided to reflect on rupture and healing in a new installation of ceramic sculptures titled innominate. We visited the artist’s Santa Fe studio to discuss her art and massage practices, both of which have helped her to recover—and create. Read the full interview below, and come see Bradley’s monumental innominate installation on a 30-foot stretch of wall at form & concept.

Heather Bradley Ceramics- Form and Concept Gallery- Santa Fe New Mexico
Heather Bradley, Spinal #3, stoneware, 12.5 x 5.5 x 5.5 in.

What does the title of your new series, innominate, mean? 

The series is innominate, which is a Latin word that means “unnamed.” It’s what they were calling the pelvic bone for a while, because it’s so mysterious. It was also what my massage school class chose to name itself.

It’s a special word for me in that it encompasses a lot of mystery and the unknown. I was having a really hard time titling the piece because it was such a wide range of subjects for me. I like the title innominate because it feels like it didn’t classify it too much.

You’re weaving together several personal stories in this series. Tell us about the different threads. 

One thing that always goes into my work is whatever my heart is going through, what’s really happening in my personal life. Personal stories always go into it, but I try to encrypt that somewhat. I want there to be a sense when you look at the work that this person has put her heart and soul into the work in some kind of intimate way, but I don’t want it to be totally revealing.

I made this work while I was in massage school, but also I was nursing a whiplash injury. It’s about healing and really feeling my body and my bones and my skin and my muscles. I was learning the insides of bodies and feeling that connection between my own experience of giving massage and healing from my whiplash injury.

Heather Bradley Ceramicist- Form and Concept Gallery- Santa Fe New Mexico
Heather Bradley, Arterial #12, stoneware, 4 x 4 x 4 in.

What drew you to massage school? 

I decided to go to massage school because I’ve always loved to work with my hands. I’ve also wanted other people to feel comfortable in their own skin. I wanted to be of service to people. It was a six-month program. A month in, I had a pretty serious car accident. I got rear ended and I found myself with whiplash, and in desperate need of massage. So during massage school I really felt how important it is for someone to heal.

When I first had my car accident I was told by my chiropractor and the neurologist that I really needed to stop clay work. I started seeing a chiropractor three times a week and massage therapist once or twice a week. The car accident changed the curve of my sine. I felt like I hadn’t spent a lot of time thinking about my spine or the vertabrae and how everything fits together.

How did the experience of injuring yourself and healing manifest in the innominate series?

I feel like the necks of my pots have always been pretty prominent. It’s kind of a signature thing. When I started working on the necks this time, there was a special sensitivity in my fingers that I didn’t have before.

The necks of the pots started reminding me of my own neck, and how when you’re working on someone’s neck you can really feel the individual vertebra. It’s really important for the therapist to have that sensitivity in their fingers because the neck is so delicate. It just felt so similar to me, to create the vertebral column in the clay after my own vertebral column had been adjusted.

Heather Bradley Ceramicist- Form and Concept Gallery- Santa Fe New Mexico
Heather Bradley, Handheld II, ceramic.

What are some other similarities that you’ve discovered between your art practice and massage?

In school we took a class called The Healing Power of Touch. It wasn’t so much about special techniques with your fingers. It was about the importance of going into a massage with the right mindset and intention for that person and yourself. You have to go in with clean energy. 

I related that right away to the way I make art. I’ve always thought that whatever I’m feeling when I go into the studio comes out into the clay. The clay feels that and the clay sees that.

What about the actual technique of shaping clay versus moving the body?

When you first learn to close a vessel when you’re doing in pottery, you learn that your inside finger is important in relation to what your outside finger is doing. Finger coordination in massage felt really similar in that way.

The main thing is the actual physical sensation of the wet clay on your hands and the way it responds to your fingers. That’s really similar when you’re working on a body. It’ll first feel like there’s no response, and then eventually your fingers start to feel the details.

Heather Bradley Ceramicist- Form and Concept Gallery- Santa Fe New Mexico
Heather Bradley, Spinal #7, porcelain, 13 x 6.5 x 6.5 in.

Describe the compositional decisions that went into creating the innominate installation.

One thing that was really important to me from the beginning was the color red. There had to be red pieces that felt like blood. I wanted it to be like a vein through the installation. So I started with the red.

And then there’s the white porcelain pots that I made. All of them have necks that are like spines, with black lines on them. Music has always been a big influence on my work, so I wanted to put the white pots on the wall in a way that mimics sheet music.

How did you decide to put text directly on the wall?

Once I put the pots together it felt like there was some element missing. I’ve always been a writer. When I went to India I spent 6 months writing a book. I write, write, write.

One of the elements of the show is journal pieces that I made out of porcelain slabs. I shook them out and made them thin so they’d kind of echo paper. And then I literally wrote my journal entries on them. They’re personal about my relationship or dramas that went on at the time. But I though they worked with the show. The writing element just tied it all together. I think of the journal pages and the writing on the wall as just one piece. The verbal part of the show.

Heather Bradley Ceramicist- Form and Concept Gallery- Santa Fe New Mexico
Heather Bradley, Arterial #6, stoneware, 4 x 4 x 4 in.

So, despite being told not to massage or work with clay, they’re the things that helped you heal? 

Yeah, I think so. When I first got into the studio, I had so much pain and numbness in my neck and shoulders. My ego got crazy and I thought, I’m gonna make the biggest pieces I’ve ever made. And I tried to muscle through making these gigantic pieces, but they had no grace. They just went back into the slop pile. When I started to slow down and think about what would be an honest thing for me to make in this situation, they got smaller and more intimate.

Click here to view all of Heather Bradley’s work in the form & concept collection.

Heather Bradley- innominate ceramics installation- Form and Concept Gallery- Santa Fe New Mexico

Last Look: NoiseFold | Metamorph

Artists Cory Metcalf and David Stout, who collaborate under the moniker NoiseFold, are best-known for their new media performance art pieces. They bring sound waves and abstract imagery into rhythm across digital landscapes, utilizing generative software to act as the virtual conductors of a cross-sensory symphony. If you’re scratching your head, browse David’s Vimeo for a bit and prepare to be amazed.

Because NoiseFold’s oeuvre exists primarily on the digital plane, they were puzzled at first by a special invitation from Seattle’s legendary Pilchuck Glass School. Glass master Dale Chihuly and his army of artists wanted Cory and David to collaborate with them in a two-week artist residency. In the interview and video below, NoiseFold talks about finding a way to translate digital marvels into physical sculptures. Three bodies of work they created there, MetamorphSwarm Caste and Vestiges, are on view at form & concept through Saturday, July 22.

How did you first strike up your collaboration as NoiseFold? 

David: I was awarded a fellowship at Harvest Works in New York City to develop a piece that was an artificial ecosystem of sorts. We were working with live, 3D generation of forms. That is really where the NoiseFold collaboration was born. Once we realized that this method of working with generative images in real time had amazing possibilities for a performance system. We launched Noisefold immediately coming out of that installation.

How did you come up with the name NoiseFold?

David: The name was kind of effortless. There was a certain literalness to the idea that we were working with signal and noise. We were also working with visual forms that we could fold in virtual space, almost like origami. So there was that literal aspect. Also, I like the word fold because a group can be referred to as a fold.

We were interested in the term noise as a kind of field of possibilities. We often think of noise as a disruption but, in fact, noise is infused in everything we do. Our heartbeats create noise.

Cory: We were also looking at what one person considers music and what one person considers noise. There’s always a grey area where something ceases to be musical, and becomes “sound” or “noise.” We wanted to play with that edge where you have discernible form — something that’s really familiar — and where it starts to fall apart and it stops making sense to the ears. 

The same thing happens with the visual vocabulary of NoiseFold. The moment that you attach that significance to a certain form, where it starts to represent something in the real world, often it drifts into a “noisier” place again. 

NoiseFold- Cory Metcalf and David Stout- Form and Concept Gallery- Santa Fe New Mexico
NoiseFold, Vestige VIII, blown glass, 8.5 x 16 x 9 in.

Viewers have often reported moments of sensory overload after watching your performances. Could you talk about that? 

Cory:  There’s a very intense experience often, particularly in our earlier work, of having these things feel like they’re speaking to you or coming at you. It’s very hard to trivialize the forms that you’re seeing, because they seem to be very viscerally active and alive. That, coupled with the forms being almost familiar and yet not quite, many people have reported to us that it can be exhausting to watch our work. This includes fans who come to most of our shows. Your brain is constantly struggling to make sense of what you’re seeing. It’s almost something, but you can’t quite pinpoint what it is.

We’ve had people say things like, for the first 20 minutes they were just trying to understand what they were seeing. And then they had almost a total shutdown of that part of their brain, that kind of language center that’s trying to make sense of things. I think for a lot of people, if it doesn’t shut down, it’s just exhausting. Because you’re just constantly struggling to keep up with what you’re experiencing.

Do you ever experience that as you’re creating the work? 

David: Only because we will do this for 10 to 20 hours a day, and then we feel it. Most of the time, I just get lost in the visual wonder of it all. So it doesn’t really exhaust me. We’ve been playing with this thing lately, where we’re creating an image space that alludes to some phenomenon in the real world, whether it’s biomorphic or architectural, macrocosmic or microcosmic. You recognize that you think you recognize it, and then it suddenly, fleetingly becomes something else. We’re constantly asking the audience to fill in the missing space between abstraction and representation.

As the work has evolved, we’ve diversified easily into doing a lot of different kinds of things. Sometimes it’s more musical, sometimes it’s more cinematic. We’ve also gotten into a lot more quiet spaces. We’re willing to explore more empty moments. It’s not quite the same kind of space as when we first began.

NoiseFold- Cory Metcalf and David Stout- Form & Concept Gallery- Santa Fe New Mexico
NoiseFold, Vestige III, blown glass, 6 x 12 x 6.5 in.

When you’re working with generative forms, is it difficult to relinquish control over how the imagery is going to appear? 

Cory: Early on in the system we would purposefully build in autonomy of the system. We’d give the system a little bit of a mind of its own. Whatever we performed we’re having to make decisions that change, and we never have complete control over the system. That was always by design. I think that’s one of the things that excites us more than it holds us back or frustrates us.

We’ve spent an enormous amount of time just kind of reigning our system in. A lot of times we start out by developing a technique, and that technique in and of itself might be extremely chaotic. But we always have a large number of parameters that we can fine-tune and explore. We seek out these sweet spots and kind of unfold vast areas of fruitful materials. From here, our approach is often to make sure we don’t confine it too much.

Did you find connections between your performance art and the work you were doing at Pilchuck Glass School? 

David: There’s an exciting challenge to that virtual, cinematic space, where some aspect of what you’re doing is sort of ephemeral. It’s never repeated in exactly the same way. It can be more liberating than when we’re making objects, like the work we were doing at Pilchuck. When you’re making sculptures, it feels like there’s more pressure to be perfect in that realm than there is in the performative realm. On the other hand, one thing we discovered at the residency is that glass making is performance. 

Cory: It has a lot of the same time constraints that real-time performance has. You can’t infinitely work the material. There’s many parts of the process where you can’t even slow down, and if you do it completely changes the potential for the rest of the process. So it has the same level of immediacy. And it has, in its own way, the same level of imperfection.

NoiseFold- Cory Metcalf and David Stout- Form and Concept Gallery- Santa Fe New Mexico
NoiseFold, Vestige V, blown glass, 7 x 14 x 8 in.

How did you end up at Pilchuck? 

David: We were part of an exhibit at the Cornish College of the Arts, at the end of 2014. The director of the Pilchuck Glass School saw what we were doing and invited us to the residency program shortly thereafter. It wasn’t something that we would’ve thought of on our own. It was an intriguing idea.

Pilchuck is considered among the very top glass schools in the world. It was founded by Dale Chihuly. It has a long tradition. The students that go there are often very accomplished professionals. And the current director is very interested in digital media artists and conceptual artists.  

Did you plan what you were going to do during the residency? 

Cory:  We went there thinking very digitally. We were going to take a number of our forms and do some 3D printing of molds to create cast glass forms.

David: When we got there, we were told that we had eight solid days with two of Dale Chihuly’s glass blowers. So we changed gears instantly, because that was really exciting. We used the software that we’d developed to generate novel forms, and then chose various forms. In the case of the piece that we’re showing there, the Metamorph series, that is actually a transformation between one shape and another. We set out to recreate different parts of the transformation in glass.

The glass artists had never done anything like this before and it turned out to be very effective. When Chihuly is making work, he essentially sits at a table and draws something in charcoal, and shows it to the gaffers, as they’re called, and they blow it. We were doing something very similar except we were showing them a 3D model that they could rotate in space, and look at two different views simultaneously. We could get very technical about how we were realizing the forms.

Cory: Each piece in Metamorph can stand on its own, but really it’s a series of 8 pieces that make a transition from the sphere into this other double cone form. It’s really intended to be viewed so you can actually see the transition from one state to the next. And so the 8 pieces together make up the whole of this time based process that you see in this transformation.

NoiseFold- Cory Metcalf and David Stout- Form and Concept Gallery- Santa Fe New Mexico
NoiseFold, Vestige IV, blown glass, 7.5 x 16 x 6.5 in.

You’re accustomed to collaborating with each other. How did you feel about the process of bringing in these glass artists as collaborators?

Cory: It was one of the best collaborations that I think both of us have ever experienced. It was very interesting to see how collaboration works in a hot shop, a glass space, because it’s this incredible level of non-verbal communication. It’s almost like watching people dance with—

David: Flaming hot substances.

Cory: It was very interesting to see the degree to which it was both very challenging and very possible to realize the forms that we presented to these guys.

form & concept explores the boundaries of perceived distinctions between art, craft and design. How do you connect with that mission? 

David: I would say it really resonates with us after our experience at Pilchuck. It was eye-opening to be there among these craftspeople who are involved in the contemporary art world, but also the production glass world or design world. The distinctions between those worlds start to break down a little bit, and the common meeting place is the joy of the craft. 

I think that’s a boundary that’s going to fall. These things kind of ebb and flow. It goes along with this old media versus new media question. People want something tangible along with their virtual experience.

Cory: The opportunity for new media artists, traditional artists and production environments to merge together is just so obvious. Creating artificial boundaries between those worlds is not the right thing to do at this juncture. I think it’s an important moment to start breaking those boundaries in the art world as much as possible.

David: We did similar things working with musicians, because we’ve done a number of projects where we’re working with more traditionally trained, classical musicians, even though the music itself was more experimental. The glass work fits completely within that same kind of paradigm.

Summer Artist Talk: NoiseFold

Move over, hammer and chisel. NoiseFold‘s sculpture installation at form & concept was generated in the digital world, and forged in the legendary glass studio of Dale Chihuly. Transdisciplinary artists Cory Metcalf and David Stout, who collaborate under the name NoiseFold, are known for combining visual art, music and interactive cinema into artworks that manipulate the senses and stretch the imagination. The centerpiece of their exhibition, a series of blown glass forms titled Metamorph, emerged from an unexpected project with master glass artists. Metcalf and Stout will speak about their installation at a gallery talk on Saturday, June 17 from 2-3 pm.

The unveiling of the artwork coincides with the special reception for form & concept’s One-Year Anniversary Exhibition, the Superhero Masquerade, on Friday, May 26 from 5-8 pm. The installation is on view through July 22.

NoiseFold will also appear in the Currents New Media Festival 2017, opening June 9 at El Museo Cultural, a short walk away from form & concept in the Railyard Arts District.

Learn more about this installation on the exhibition page.

Summer Artist Talks Schedule

In its first year, form & concept has emphasized powerful and diverse storytelling through its exhibition schedule and programs. The gallery’s roster of represented artists has been steadily growing, making for a dynamic One-Year Anniversary Exhibition (May 26-October 22, 2017). The majority of form & concept’s represented artists will speak, along with several guest artists.

Matthew Mullins & Wesley Anderegg | 5/27/17, 2-3 pm
Heidi Brandow | 6/3/17, 2-3 pm
Heather Bradley | 6/10/17, 2-3 pm
NoiseFold | 6/17/17, 2-3 pm*
Rebecca Rutstein | 7/1/17, 2-3 pm
Elana Schwartz | 7/8/17, 2-3 pm
Debra Baxter | 7/15/17, 2-3 pm
Jared Weiss | 7/22/17, 2-3 pm*
Armond Lara | 8/20/17, 2-3 pm
Broken Boxes Artists & Curators Panel Discussion | 8/20/17, 3-4 pm*

*Guest artists. All other participants are form & concept represented artists.