Alumni joined in conversation, interrogating practice and process
The Skowhegan Interview Project constructs an environment for participants to candidly discuss their work in their own words, creating a unique dialogue centered around artmaking. The Interview Project adds an interpersonal layer to the Skowhegan archive, and will be accessible through our library and online. We hope you are excited to watch this endeavor take shape with the intervention of our alumni community.
BS: Yeah, or with a meme. It is easier to create laughter with an Internet meme, than it is with your physical body.
MK: Well, I think that might be true, but I’ve realized what I want to do is to become more personal, rather than broader. A meme on the Internet can be enjoyed by fifteen million people, right? Well I’ve begun to realize I have no interest in competing with that. I want to be happy with a kind of slowing down, a narrowing, becoming one with what I do and be happy with the people that I do reach, and do effect. And not try to go, well, if I’m effecting this group of people, I could expand that if I do this, and if I can, then maybe get an Internet presence, then I can expand even further, and further. I’m not trying to salve the pain of the fact that a cartoon can do something I can’t do, it’s just then, what can I do that the cartoon can’t do?
Sarah Cain: ... there’s definitely men in my lineage. I mean, but I’m hyper-aware of being a woman all the time, and also kicking harder, I feel like we have to kick harder. I just read – I don’t know who writes these, but somehow I read my bio, I think it’s on Artsy, and the last paragraph says that my mission is to overthrow the male lineage of AbEx, and I was just like [laughs], but it’s an even crazier sentence, I was like, whoa, that’s so nuts, I should maybe write to them, but also, eh, it’s true, so [laughs]. Why not? ... and also, whose bio ends with that? So [laughs] it’s amusing. And if you actually read to the end of someone’s bio, you deserve a laugh, or something. [laughter]
Betye Saar: ... after Martin Luther King Jr., I just had this anger that was just overwhelming, and things were really bad in South Africa and it just seemed so horrible the way blacks were treated. And when I found this Aunt Jemima notepad... And I think I was talking about how Slavery had been abolished but still these derogatory images, slave-like images, were put in your kitchen, in your front yard to hold your horse, or to amuse you while doing something like cracking nuts or maybe functioning as a coin bank or something. And I said, I can change that. I can use Aunt Jemima. She’s going to be against the war of Racism. So I gave her a rifle, and in the pad in the center I put a postcard I found of a Mammy with a white baby. So I said, the baby’s skin is white but the features are negroid. So I said, this postcard is something else, this is about something else, it’s about the sexual victimization of the black woman. She belonged to the masters, so that’s the way that went, that piece is called The Liberation of Aunt Jemima.
Jennie C. Jones: Once they’re out in the world it’s up to the viewer. Most pieces of mine hopefully have a multitude of entry points. I think that that’s a strength in the work. I can lecture for an hour about black paintings and the legacy of Ad Reinhardt, but if you don’t see that when you walk in, and instead stick your ear up to one of the paintings because you think it’s a speaker, then that’s three times as exciting. That happened a lot at The Kitchen because the speakers were mounted on the ceiling; there was an acoustic moment where everything was a whirlwind and you didn’t really know where the sound was coming from. I hadn’t anticipated how many people would walk up and stick their ear next to it, but what’s lovely is that the reverse happens: the panels are actually acoustic absorbers so the closer you get to them the quieter it gets.
Rebecca Morris: ... Williamsburg Paints—some of their blacks and browns have this really earthy chunkiness so when itturps out you see the paint’s granulation. I really like that. I’m making the paintings with oil paint and not acrylic because I like this sort of stubbornness and the irregularity that happens with oil paint. I really love this quality in oil painting, so I’m always trying to highlight different aspects of it—with certain brushstrokes, or by painting something quickly. Sometimes I purposefully fill-in an area in specific way because I want a motion or direction left in the paint. Due to it being so thin, that motion is captured. It’s a way to make everything look vibrating and different from itself.