I am very excited to share the latest installment of Art Together, a collaborative interview. It works like this: I create a piece of work and then mail it to the participating artist. They, in turn, respond to it some how– this could be: adding, subtracting, cutting, pasting, painting. Whatever they see fit to what I’ve started. After that, I write some questions based on our collaboration.
Ethan Hayes-Chute was an artist that I met while at the Vermont Studio Center last fall. Always up for an adventure, Ethan was a lot of fun to get to know, and I’m really happy that he was able to participate in this with me!
Without further ado, here is the piece I sent Ethan:
And, here is what he sent back to me:
Firstly, have you done any exploring recently?
I spent nearly three months this winter in Iceland, on the east coast at an artists residency program (www.skaftfell.is), and there was a bit of exploring going on there. Wintery weather and lack of access to a car stymied that a bit, but I still saw some great things. I plan to swing by Iceland again for a bit this summer. I’m also going to be exploring a bit of the west coast of Norway in a few weeks, and hopefully I’ll be able to be a bit more mobile there- though I’ll be pretty busy, so perhaps that’s a bit overly optimistic.
How was the decision made to respond to my piece with something a bit less abstract?
Well, indeed, I don’t really work abstractly, at least not lately, but I wanted to make something that tied into what I am working on now. I tried out a few more solutions before I settled on what I ended up with, some more abstract. A few were abandoned mostly on a material level, meaning I didn’t have access to the right media to do what I initially wanted while I was working on this in Iceland.
(The following images courtesy of Ethan.)
“Homestead (Turnbuckle) ” Graphite on Paper, 15 x 10.5 cm, 2010
“Homestead (One Channel)” Graphite on Paper, 15 x 10.5 cm, 2010
Do you see our pieces as having a continuing narrative? Do you think they exist in the same world?
I do. What I saw in your piece was some sort of storm, perhaps enveloping, or shrouding, the scene I eventually pulled out of it. When the storm died down, you were able to see what it had been covering up.
“Suggested Wormhouse” Graphite on Paper, 7.5 x 10.5 cm, 2010
Your piece has a feeling of desperation — depression, Grapes of Wrath feel to it. Is this a theme you see in your other work?
Certainly, I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I suppose I was a bit taken aback at the looseness of it- At first I had a hard time thinking what I could do other than use it as a background for something else. I looked further, of course, and found some shapes and forms that I responded to. The stitching immediately brought to mind an old needle-point that was always in the bedroom I slept in at my grandparents’ house. I think my mom made it when she was young. It was of an old wooden post sticking out of the ground, with grasses and weeds around it –I need to ask where that ended up– I knew I wanted to use your careful stitching in my response; the colors evoked wood and boards, as well as those dried weeds in my mom’s needle-point. I also responded quickly to this triangle-shaped portion you stitched, on the left hand side. It reminded me of a bulkhead used to get down into a cellar, and I knew I was going to incorporate that as well. The colors of paint you used are also familiar to me, so I decided to take those materials, forms and colors out (in the case of the stitching, literally) of the original piece and incorporate them into a new piece. I had started sketching out some things on this old piece of paper and left it on my desk for a few days. Apparently there was an oily spot on the desk and it soaked into the paper. The splotch was reminiscent of the stitched shapes you had made on the original piece, so I decided to continue with that paper. The oily splotches acted as a marshy area for the thread-plants to grow in. I imagined that the structure I drew has a cellar- and that entering through the bulkhead is the only way into the rest of the house as well. The small pebbles littering the scene are painted, matched from various colors in the background, and there are two collaged ones, cut from the purple-y color you had collage into the piece.
“went to get wood” Wood, found objects, 300 x 250 x 260 cm, 2008
Your body of work involves a lot of different living spaces. Some are 2D, but you construct other spaces as well. What draws you to this? Do you think your travels influence the way you think about home and structure, both literally and figuratively?
I’ve gotten very interested in the idea of someone building their habitation the way they want it to be- not simply content with moving into a pre-designed space. I imagine people who have decided to start from scratch, using their own ideas of what a house or a home should be, and investigating what possible forms may come up as a result. I suppose my travels must have influence in such ideas, but they also do make me go back and think about how it is ‘back home’ and I find I recenter my thoughts on those ideas and structures. My drawings, which I view as stand-alone works, but also as ‘sketches’ for 3D structures I’d like to build as well. In many ways I wish I could be simply living the life these buildings are created for, but that might also way-lay my investigations into other structures and architectural interpretations. That is, unless I can get a big tract of land and build my own town on it.
“Fragmented Cabin Study in 1:10 scale” wood, paper, plastic, metal, fabric, foam, paint, 15 x 14 x 2 cm, 2010
Art-wise, what’s on the horizon for you?
From April till July I’ll be artist-in-residence in Norway at the NORDISK KUNSTNARSENTER DALSÅSEN (nkdale.no), which I am looking forward to greatly, and while I am there, I’ll have a solo-show in May and June in Bergen, Norway at a great space called Entreé, where I’ll make a fully-interactive cabin structure, furthering the ideas of another piece I did a few years ago in Berlin, went to get wood. (http://entree-visningsrom.blogspot.com)
Also in May, I’m showing a selection of drawings from my series “Several Examples of Homesteading” at Maison des Arts, Malakoff, France in a group show with some great artists themed around the idea of houses and homes. (http://maisondesarts.malakoff.fr/ )
After all that, I’ll have a show in August at the Center for Maine Contemporary Art in Rockport, Maine which will feature drawings and installations through out the building, a converted barn and fire station. It’s a great space and institution, so I can’t wait. (http://cmcanow.org/)
Thank you, Ethan!