Monday, January 5, 2009

Carrie Pollack

Abbreviated Natural Experience, 2004, oil on canvas, 18" x 18"

Just a little while back, I posted a few works by Carrie Pollack from Call & Response, which featured some other artists who have appeared here. I've since gotten to see more of her works and had the chance to do an interview with her. See her website here and the interview below. Also make sure to check out her new works in Perception as Object, which opens this Thursday, the 8th at Monya Rowe Gallery.

JL: The most impressive aspect of your work is its understated quality. They are often simple, precise, with minimal color. There seems to be a singular idea explored and they rarely have an all-over or painterly quality. If just hearing this description, one might think the works are literal or obvious, but they aren’t. Is this something that emerges with deliberation or is it more of an intuitive response to a source?

CP: I think (and hope) it is a bit of both. My goal is to make a painting with as little as possible, almost stopping short to keep it open. I want them to be quiet, slow and a little unclear. I think when this happens it becomes more of a conversation then a statement, maybe somewhere in-between deliberation and intuition. I react to specific things in the world. These things have similar qualities so the choice of source is deliberate. Once I have this catalogue of images I know I want to work with I just sit and look at them for weeks. Through the looking at these images I begin to see other things at play, I think I am intuitively responding and arranging images at that point.

JL: What is you’re impression of these 2004 works, looking back at them now?

CP: They seem far away. I think they contain the same thinking but the new works are made from looking at my own photos and the older work was made by using found images. I have more of a personal relationship with the source I use now and that seems important at the moment. I think I was really trying to make a good painting then and now I am more interested in making a painting that might be a good painting.

Cloud, 2008, oil and pencil on canvas, 16" x 20"

JL: Since the two earlier works, you have developed a kind of “frame” around your images where parts of the canvas are left blank. What purpose do you see this serving, if any?

CP: My work always seemed to be like a small snapshot of something larger, or a close up of something that extends outside of the painting. With the newer paintings I wanted to play with that idea of the edge, or alluding to something happening that you couldn’t see.

JL: What happened since 2004 that allowed that frame to emerge?

CP: When I saw the first prints there were all of these smaller images on a large roll of canvas. When I stretched them and they never quite fit or stayed straight, I remember thinking that I wanted to play with that. I am also still working from source material but now it is mostly my own photographs that I take throughout the day. When I take a picture it becomes framed by the camera and a lot of the time I am taking fast photos so the edge happens on its own.

Metaphor, 2004, oil on linen, 18" x 18"

Foil, 2008, digital print and pencil on canvas, 18" x 24"

JL: Speaking of sources, I really like how you have a source page on your website. It’s cool because it looks like you often take directly from them as opposed to picking parts of them. Is this really the case?

CP: I decided to put that page on my website because people were curious about where the work was coming from. I thought that if I revealed those things people would start to see these things around them and then they wouldn’t ask where the work was coming from. They would see that it was part of a language that comes from the world. This was also a big reason to use the photos in the work itself and not just make paintings from images that no one would see. I wanted to bring the source into the work directly.

JL: How has this changed over the years?

CP: I used to just collect source from anywhere but now I have to take a picture of it. I like to have the photo and not a clipping of paper. I think it reduces the sources to all the same thing. They become a part of this big catalogue. I love Gerhard Richter’s ATLAS.

JL: What role, if any, do the various non-studio activities like studio visits, writing artists statements, teaching have in what you make?

CP: I am currently teaching painting and drawing at the U of Tennessee in Knoxville. The students have amazing thoughts and ideas and are always saying things that I have to think about. Having this time to work out ideas with other people in the studio has always helped me. The exchanges that take place with students or artist friends are so important. Making work is a way of communicating so being able to do this in any way helps to think through ideas. I love going to other peoples studios. You can tell a lot from how people set up their spaces, what they look at etc. I am also a big note taker. I am constantly writing down things I hear or read and this also help me figure things out.


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