Why Make Work?

Only days ago, I was lamenting to my mother about the struggle to become an artist. See, in some ways, I feel I have recently taken some professional steps backwards. Just this week, I started working in another restaurant after once again returning home penniless, all my money spent on travel or exhibitions, the financial holes covered by my ever-supportive parents. After traveling and installing in two countries and six states in the past five months, I have been feeling a little run down. Often when this happens I am also physically, emotionally, mentally exhausted, a conglomerate of perceptions that leave me feeling wasted, crushed and ultimately, like a failure because optimism takes energy. Mom suggested I look at the big picture and list my accomplishments as way to regain focus. So here it is, my simplified list illustrated with pictures:

April: Corte Moronati, Artist Residency in Sirmione, Italy, a trip funded by a professional development grant from the Greater Columbus Arts Council. I was invited to install for ArtPrize while in attendance of this amazingly beautiful place.

Corte Moronati Artist Residency, “Internalizzare (Internalized)” (2014) installed in a 14th century attic in Sirmione, Italy: I used “Internalized” as a way to explore my feelings of alienation associated with being an outsider within the Italian culture. Wood, screw eyes, acrylic, twine, spray paint, neon marker and black light.

May: “Terminus” (Atlanta, GA, 2014) designed and built for the Hambidge Center for Creative Arts and Sciences art auction, a body of work that resulted in nomination as one of the Georgia Committee’s Women to Watch for acceptance into the National Museum of Women in the Arts.

Image of me standing inside of “Terminus” (2014), an installation that visualized Atlanta’s transportation past, present and future and New York City subway tunnels. It was a multi-media installation created from light, ribbon, string and video. Projection created by Pablo Gnecco, sound design by Adam Babar, armature construction by ExhibitCraft and photography by Steve Moraco. The audience was able to enter “Terminus” and traverse the artwork as if walking through a subway tunnel. This project considers what the city of Atlanta could become if their transportation issues were resolved. The piece was installed in Atlanta, Georgia at the Goat Farm Arts Center for the Hambidge Center of Creative Arts and Sciences Art Auction.

June: Jentel Artist Residency, Banner, WY. When the director told us that we were given the gift of time to use however we pleased while in attendance at Jentel, I chose to rest and spent my time staring off into the stars or watching the wind dance through the grassy hills. I did also learn how to use Adobe Premiere, edited the video for “Terminus” and created my Kickstarter video.

10535589_10203135854451745_2216954238740552167_o

The hills of Banner, WY, location of the Jentel Artist Residency.

July: Hambidge Center for Creative Arts and Sciences, a three-week residency cut short because of a family wedding (nurturing relationships will always be a top priority for me). “Glowing Fisher” was a built to demonstrate what I do for the other residents but also as a sketch for work that I hope to build in the near future. I also traveled to Grand Rapids, Michigan to visit with the ArtPrize curator and see for myself the building I would be installing on this September. Oh! I also worked on “Double Arch” for the MariettaCobb Museum of Art.

10547133_10203192115978248_596985725427971387_o

“Double Arch”, 108″ x 115″, White twine dusted with spray glitter, this installation was created for the 14th annual Metro Montage Juried Exhibition at the MCMA.

10514672_10203233073202153_3178368448229644650_n

The Hambidge Center for Creative Arts and Sciences, “Glowing Fisher” (detail, 2014.)

August: The Wassaic Project Summer Festival, “Seeing This Guy”, installation. I spent four days camping in the field with friends and both worked AND played hard.

Artist Zebadiah Keneally and I standing in front of “tent city” at Wassaic’s Summer Festival.

“Illuminated Stanchions (Site Revisited)”, installed on Luther Barn for the Wassaic Summer Festival VII, 2014.

Just the other day, a friend of mine commented that it appeared I was “living the dream” with all my travel and work, which caused me to reflect on what “the dream” was. What’s the point of all of this work, most of which occurs behind the scenes? So much of the actual work to make an art object or major installation/exhibition isn’t seen: the search for funding, the applications, the networking and social media campaigning to generate interest, travel: to and from residencies or simply show/gallery attendance in effort to network with collectors and other artists and become knowledgeable about what’s new and up-and-coming. This is where I currently find myself – navigating all of this stuff so I can build my new body of work. All of this effort is entirely necessary but I often get lost in it and I have to remind myself why I wanted to be an artist in the first place:

“Inspired by both the interior and exterior, I make three-dimensional drawings to emphasize obscured elements within recognizable objects and correlate the symbolic with lived experience. My work begins with the search for potential install locations. I prefer sites where nature has been permeated by manufactured elements or ways in which structures can communicate certain particulars about the current human condition. Each composition is comprised of a multitude of lines expanding and contracting in space to encourage the appreciation of specific habitats for what they are while also examining their hidden meanings. The final artworks are a multi-sensory art experience enhanced by natural and synthetic light intended to engulf the visual senses and reawaken for a moment the simple intrigue of looking.”

Megan Mosholder, Artist Statement

One of my favorite parts of making art is watching the transformation of space with the knowledge that the final composition will make all of the work leading up to it – the physical, conceptual and theoretical work – worth it. The other part is watching how others respond to my installations. For example, my most recent piece, “Illuminated Stanchions (Site Revisited)” (2014) installed for the Wassaic’s “Seeing This Guy” was inspired by the way Luther Barn is built directly into the landscape. Drawn to the way landscape and architecture have merged together, I installed glowing twine directly onto the barn as a way to get audience members to slow down and see what I felt was a magnificent location, significant in more ways than one.

Luther Barn merging into the landscape, a source of inspiration for me.

So, with that memory on the forefront of my mind, I will leave you with this: my most current project. It is the beginning and I am searching for funding. I have created collectable objects to support that funding. The final project, entitled in Native Odawa/Ojibwe dialect Mijimendan vta Ziibi (Remember the River)” will be installed for this year’s ArtPrize in Grand Rapids, MI and serves as a reminder of the importance of Grand Rapids’ history but also its future: respect for all races of people and care for the environment vital to our survival. Installed directly onto the 5/3 Bank building in downtown Grand Rapids, this installation will be realized from thousands of yards of glowing ribbons and will be an interactive artwork that is reminiscent of Grand Rapids’ past, present and future. I need your support. In exchange, you will receive a collectable hand-crafted, art object. TOGETHER we have the opportunity to create a memorable and three-dimensional sculpture that encourages cultural compassion and environmental awareness.  I promise I will do you all proud in Michigan and return to Atlanta/Ohio victorious!

THANK YOU FOR CONTRIBUTING TO MY KICKSTARTER!!

One of my Kickstarter rewards, 18″ x 18″ SCREEN PRINT – “TWISTED VORTEX” Glow-in-the-Dark White and Metallic Silver Ink – Edition of 75.

Corte Moronati Artist-in-Residence

My friend Giada Crispiels has a fund raiser for her artist residency and one of the perks for donating is a 4 NIGHT STAY FOR 2 in Sirmione, Italy! (See video… amazing, right? Who wouldn’t want to go there???) AND for every 25th dollar, Indiegogo will donate $1 to her campaign. Did I mention the donations are tax deductible?

http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/corte-moronati-artist-in-residence

365 Artists, 365 Days Feature

365 Artists, 365 Days Feature

365 Artists 365 Days™ is a new project, which will be launched in 2014 by the Frank Juarez Gallery (Sheboygan) and Greymatter Gallery (Milwaukee).

The aim of this project is to share with you daily a diverse selection of contemporary visual artists working today from across the country and perhaps the world. 

The aim of this project is to share with you daily a diverse selection of contemporary visual artists working today from across the country and perhaps the world. 

A Process of Becoming

Recently I was asked to write an essay about process. My initial reaction was panic: I can’t do this I thought. I had to rewrite my process essay for my professor something like three or four times and I still got a C. I struggled. The first essay was a load of crap but I managed to rewrite it and I must say, I’m pretty proud of it. I would love to hear your thoughts.

A Process of Becoming 

There are three tiers in an artist’s career: emerging, mid and professional. Having finished my MFA just over a year ago, I am an entry-level artist, one who is struggling to survive. Although I have been published a few times, received grant money and have been in some shows, from this vantage point, I can see that I have a very long way to go before I am a stable professional. This, it seems, is the moment in time that either makes or breaks an artist. It’s survival of the fittest, when everything feels like its rigged: in order to secure a gallery you have to exhibit; exhibition invitations depend upon a strong professional network; securing good relationships with connected colleagues requires residency attendance; the ability to attend residencies requires time, which means quitting your job, right? So how do you afford to make new artwork? Screw the work, how do you afford to eat food?!? It is this moment (I’m guessing) when most artists die off, give up, realizing that everyone around them was right: it IS just a hobby, trade in their full time studio for a full time job to eat real food and not worry about the next rent payment. It is this pivotal moment in time where an artist’s practice saves them from the death of their art career.

What exactly is a practice? I remember being in graduate school at the Savannah College of Art and Design and working with New York painter Paul Bloodgood who said he wasn’t worried about me because I had a strong practice. When he said that I thought, what does he mean by a strong practice? The more I thought about it I realized that he was referring to the numbers of hours I spent in the studio regardless of what I was working on. I had an internal need to work in my art space, to tinker, to create problems and discover solutions, to make a mess. My dedication to my practice was dependent on my process of working. Process: another abstract, career-based word that I have struggled to define for myself.

An artistic practice is an action that depicts an artist’s process. These two actions are similar and relate to one another and yet they are not the same. They are words that signify how an artist develops a cohesive body of work. Process is way of working. It is similar to a scientific hypothesis whereas practice correlates to the scientific method. All of these working structures are developed to create proofs that enhance a presented idea and give it credibility. This is the “on paper” definition of process and only part of me believes it.

I understand process to be intuitive, a big no-no in the academic art world. According to academia, an artist should at all times know why they are doing what they are doing. Intuition weakens the intention, which cheapens the work. The artist in me calls bullshit on academia. Intuition is what got artists into the mess of needing to work in the first place because a true artist has to make work and feels lost or sick without it. Therefore process is the way in which an artist develops their signature style, something that is created through replication. It starts with an idea or a need to see an idea materialized. Often that idea is abstract such as my need to make space tangible.

I am a site-responsive artist. My process involves the use of simple, temporary materials that evolve into sculptural work that largely depends on a moment in time. With twine and often blacklight, I make three-dimensional drawings to emphasize obscured elements within recognizable objects and correlate the symbolic with lived experience. My work is multi-sensory and requests participatory involvement: lines expand and contract in space in a visually manipulative manner to engulf the visual senses. I create a kinetic and relational art experience that reawakens for a moment the simple intrigue of looking and encourages the appreciation of spaces for what they are while also examining their hidden meanings. Inspired by both interior and exterior spaces, I look for sites where nature has been permeated by manufactured elements or ways in which structures can communicate certain particulars about the current human condition. Both natural and synthetic light is used as a drawing medium to bring my sculptural installations to life, the lines becoming ethereal elements that establish otherworldliness and invoke curiosity as they expand and contract in space.

My process of working grew out my daily practice: I work everyday. Often the work is simply sitting in front of the computer, researching grant and proposal opportunities, searching for the money that will become my income and allow me to build a new body of work. At times my work has become a hypothetical presentation of ideas: this is what I will create if given the time, space and money. It has forced my mind to work in a different way. I have learned how to write and sell the idea before it has even been realized. My need to maintain a studio practice has also augmented my process. These days I travel a lot to and from residencies. This is an expensive evocation one that is difficult to fund without fulltime employment. The use of string grew out of my need to make large works of art on a very tight budget.

I am an emerging artist. I understand this to mean a process of becoming. Everyday I wake up, sit at my desk and look at my list of upcoming deadlines. I work down the list, cross off the completed proposal/application/research subject and move on to the next. Often I divide the day in half: mornings are spent writing whereas afternoons and evenings are spent making. It is never ending: the writing influences the making and visa versa. I often tell people that I do all of this so I can afford to eat food but I have come to understand that this is my process for figuring things out, strategizing and progressing into the role of a mid-career artist, one step at a time all the way to the top of the professional mountain.

 

 

End of Year Update

It’s been a couple of months since I’ve written anything. I suppose I have been busy. Here’s what’s happened in the last two months.

I finished my residency at The Wassaic Project. I spent the final weeks working as the education fellow with two groups of local Wassaic kids: art club (comprised of middle school students) and the Webutuck high school kids. The final weeks of October I was busy packing, teaching and preparing to move. Oh, and I built a haunted maze in Maxon Mill with my new friend Giada for Halloween.

On Saturday October 26th, I set out for my residency at the Vermont Studio Center (VSC). I had to miss Wassaic’s Halloween celebration because I was traveling by train to Johnson, Vermont. I had a lot of trouble leaving the place I had called home for the past four months and arrived at VSC feeling a little lost and disappointed. But there was no time to waste. Only a week or two before my travel date, I was contacted by NLE Curitorial Lab requesting a site-specific piece for their show, Through the Parlor. Only days after arriving at VSC I was pulling all-nighters in the studio trying to get my piece, Flight, completed and shipped to Manhattan.

Once I completed that assignment I felt truly lost. I don’t know what it is about the completion of a major project or show, I typically come away feeling bankrupt. I was broke with pennies left in my bank account and I had no true sense of place. I was seriously on edge. What did I hope to accomplish with all this traveling around? And who were all these new people that I was meeting? How did they fit into my life and my current state of being?

I was overwhelmed and experiencing sensory overload. I was also desperate to solve the major financial problem I was experiencing. I had been counting on grant money and winning the people’s choice award in Hilton Head, neither of which came through. Being as broke as I was made me feel like a total failure and a bum, with nothing to offer. I was exhausted after traveling and working on Flight, both of which always make me feel emotionally bankrupt and so I resulted to hiding in my beautiful studio space (probably the most beautiful studio I have had to date) researching, writing and making a little art here and there. I ended up building an installation in my studio which I referred to as “Leftovers” because that’s what it was made out of: all the leftover materials from the previous installations.

Looking back, I wish I could have pulled myself out of my funk. The people at VCS were amazing. Traditionally when I encounter my black moods I hide myself away – no one needs to be around that – because I feel incapable of relating. Fortunately I made some good connections, hopefully people who were able to see past my crumudgendry.

And now I’m here. Here is my parent’s condo in Kennesaw, GA. I have $20 in my account (more than what I had in Vermont) and I’m working on a series of paintings for the Roy G Biv show in February. I’m also resting and working towards feeling like a normal person again. I have been recently published in Hi-Fructose and the Huffington Post; I suppose I’m feeling accomplished. I have more residencies coming up: one in France in March 2014 and then on to Brescia, Italy to help my friend Giada start her residency in Northern Italy. I have also been recently accepted to Lugar A Dudas, a residency in Columbia. But how to pay for all of this? As usual, I am searching high and low for more grant money in the hopes that I can scrape enough together to get me there and back again. And doing my damndest to remain positive (focus of the doughnut and not on the hole, says Dad.)

If, dear readers (whoever you may be) are willing, able-bodied and interested, you can support me in my efforts. I have recently uploaded images to my Esty, Society6 and Saatchi Online, which have prints available for purchase. Your generous contribution will assist me in my work towards becoming established.

Thank you and happy holidays!

My lovely friend Giada working on our haunted maze.

My lovely friend Giada working on our haunted maze.

photo 2 (4)

Last of the Wassaic Prints.

Last of the Wassaic Prints.

A commemorative print of the recent installation, "Gossamer".

A commemorative print of the recent installation, “Gossamer”. One of the prints available on Etsy.

Some of the members of Wassaic's Art Club.

Some of the members of Wassaic’s Art Club.

Art Club final installation based off of Cai Guo-Qiang's "Head On."

Art Club final installation based off of Cai Guo-Qiang’s “Head On.”

Good-bye Wassaic...

Good-bye Wassaic…

Hello Vermont.

Hello Vermont.

Schultz (VSC) Studios

Schultz (VSC) Studios

My amazing VSC studio....

My amazing VSC studio….

"Flight"

“Flight”

The incredible view from my studio desk.

The incredible view from my studio desk.

"Leftovers," an installation made out of all the materials left over from the installations (3) that came before it.

“Leftovers,” an installation made out of all the materials left over from the installations (3) that came before it.

Installation detail.

Installation detail.

"Leftovers."

“Leftovers.”

VSC selfie.

VSC selfie.

The little town of Johnson.

The little town of Johnson.

Johnson, Vt.

Johnson, Vt.

Gorgeous Johnson landscape.

Gorgeous Johnson landscape.

It’s Grant Season!

Image

Today is the first day of October and I am cross-eyed from staring at the computer for the past 6 days. It’s grant season and I am doing everything in my power and ability to make sure I find and apply to every opportunity I can. Last year, I missed multiple opportunities for a variety of reasons but mostly because I hadn’t found them in time. This year, with a bank account currently at $0, I feel that I must be diligent and apply to everything.

Advice for new grant applicants:

  1. Have a general template: If you can create an overall, general letter to the various foundations awarding individuals money, it can make your life easier. That way, when you find something you want to apply for and the deadline is that week or worse, that day, you might have a chance of getting it submitted in time.
  2. Create a “to do” list: I have started collecting the various opportunities on my computer’s desktop by taking screen shots of the page that the award is listed on and labeling each image by their deadlines. All of these screen shots are kept in a folder labeled “opportunities with deadlines”. As soon as I finish applying for one opportunity I immediately move on to the next.
  3. Use direct language: I was recently denied an opportunity for a proposal I wrote. I was fortunate enough to have the director of the program tell me why the proposal wasn’t accepted. He suggested “in the future, use less first person language in your proposals”. Just the facts are needed with grant writing: what, why, how, when and where.
  4. If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again: Earlier this year I was denied a Pollock-Krasner grant. That really stung. I was really hoping to be accepted for that grant knowing that money would make my life easier. The foundation wrote that unfortunately, they did not have enough funds for everyone but invited me to apply next year. And I will. As soon as January rolls around I’m submitting that application again. Sometimes foundations want to you to apply multiple times before they will award you money. Your diligence shows them just how serious you are.

I hope that helps. You are more than welcome to contact me with any questions and I will be sure to answer them as soon as I am able.

And now, back to the studio with me.

Please help me win $10,000!

Please help me win $10,000!

Dear Friends: I am writing to you to ask you a favor. I have opportunity to win up to $10,000 in prize money for my piece, “Gossamer”. If I win this money, it will go towards my upcoming artist residencies in Vermont and France and will help me to finish the work for my solo show at Roy G Biv gallery in Columbus, Ohio February 2014. I would greatly appreciate it if you would go to the following link:

http://hhipublicart.org/

And select “Artists”. 

A survey will appear. Please click on my piece “Gossamer” and select “submit”.

Images of the work can be seen on my website at meganmosholder.com

Thank you so much!!