Bill Jensen's Studio. Table sculpture by Joe Fig. #
Lynne Perrella visited the Joe Fig Exhibition at the Massachusetts College of Art & Design and has kindly offered to share her experience with Art Propelled readers. In addition, Lynne will be giving away a copy of "Inside The Painter's Studio" plus a little "something"extra to one lucky reader whose name is drawn from the hat on the 8th March. Just leave a comment at the end of the post and hold thumbs!
Melissa Meyer's Studio. Table Sculpture by Joe Fig. #
Now without further ado, it's over to Lynne............
For whatever reason, I have always liked the idea of “documenting” an experience, as a way of further examining it and placing it deeper in memory. For instance, it is not unusual to use a page of my art journal as a swatch board, gathering snippets of all the various materials used in a just-completed assemblage. Or I might take along a notebook to make my own scribbled notations at an exhibit, rather than rely on a museum catalog or flyer. These habits help me to prolong the enjoyment of experiences I have enjoyed, and challenge me to decode them in new ways. Somehow, the documentation practice brings me into a closer relationship with the things I do and see….and becomes its own form of reverie and observation.
Amy Sillman's Studio. Table Sculpture by Joe Fig #
Joe Fig, an artist from Connecticut, has taken Documentation to new heights by creating intricate detailed replicas of contemporary artists’ studios, and I recently saw a definitive exhibit of his work at the Massachusetts College of Art & Design. (“Inside the Painter’s Studio”, Stephen D. Paine Gallery ) Fig’s practice consists of meeting with artists, conducting in-depth interviews (using his own self-styled questionnaire) followed by an extensive photo session….and then he retreats to his own studio to create uncanny miniature dioramas of the various artists’ studios. This exhibit includes twenty studio dioramas by Fig, as well as paintings and prints by the artists he interviewed. In a space, lets say….approximately 11” X 11” X 9.5” he created a replica version of Gregory Amenoff’s wooden work table literally encrusted with paint and surrounded by studio debris including bleach bottles, rags, discarded water bottles, tape rolls, a tiny level, blank canvases, a white wooden stool, etc. When interviewed, Amenoff refers to the “corrosion” of paint on the actual work table, a studio relic that he has kept throughout various moves for the past twenty-five years. The sentiment behind this favorite studio necessity is echoed in Fig’s tiny pocket-sized version of the table, complete in every last smaller-than-small detail.
Greg Amenoff's Studio. Table Sculpture by Joe Fig #
For the first several minutes in the gallery, my mind was occupied with inevitable practical musings….”How do you suppose he DOES this? How long do these models take to build? Good Lord! – Lookit all those little paint tubes!”, etc. But soon I was seduced into a much deeper connection to these tiny environments. Although each was different and unique, every model evoked a feeling I know very well – that complex feeling that occurs when I cross the threshold and enter my studio. Whether I am there to putter, or get to work immediately, or just simply “inhabit” the place and hang out; the physical space and all of the accumulated debris is there to facilitate whatever is next.
The Studio of Barnaby Furnas. Table Sculpture by Joe Fig #
Karin Davie's Studio. Table Sculpture by Joe Fig. #
Ross Bleckner's Studio. Table Sculpture by Joe Fig #
Fig’s models of overflowing tables and work carts mottled with paints, and chock-a-block with brushes and rags, remind us of the mundane objects that collect and accumulate in a studio, and the eager feeling of anticipation that happens when we enter. Yes, there is the mess, the overflow, the strata, the coagulation, the junk. For some reason, we seem to need it. By leaving my own studio, and visiting this gallery full of miniature studio environments, I was reminded of the necessity to allow a studio to “be” as an organic evolving launch pad for ideas. Not unlike looking through a microscope in a lab, the process of leaning down and peering closely into these intricate convincing mini studios, I rediscovered my own art practice. The mundane clutter, it turns out, comprises our necessary tools of the trade. The things we reach for in the midst of some artistic frenzy, and expect them to be there. The “old reliables” that we couldn’t do without, even if we only use them once a decade. In my studio, there are lots of relics left over from a previous life as a commercial illustrator. Circle compasses, French curves, ruling pens, pica rulers, and a metal T-square, among others. More than nostalgic clutter, these tools remind me of how one art experience flows into another, over a lifetime.
Ross Bleckner's Studio. Table Sculpture by Joe Fig #
Quite appropriately, the final construction that I viewed, before leaving the gallery, was a model of a white two-car garage with a couple of skylights…..the studio of Joe Fig. He has thoughtfully left one of the miniature garage doors open, so we can bend low and peer inside. We observe his pin board full of postings/clippings/flyers, his easels, his work table and computer, his drafting table with materials and tools for creating his miniature studios. Best of all, a smaller-than-small model of the very model that we are viewing is displayed on a tiny work stand. You might say, a studio within-a-studio. Having a flashback to childhood, when I always insisted that every doll have a doll of her own, I considered the highly developed sense of work and play that inhabits each one of Joe Fig’s amazing constructions. Every tiny diorama provides testimony to the tenacity and work ethic necessary to spend a lifetime making art. Or, as Chuck Close observes, during his interview – “Inspiration is for amateurs – the rest of us just show up and get to work.”. Exactly!
*Joe Fig's website, here.
*To make it interesting, mention your favourite studio in your comment.
*To match the art with the artist, click on the # under each image.
*To see Lynne Perrella's new collage series go here.