Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Artist of the Week

Lacey Pipher

This is the story of the night I almost bypassed discovery. What I knew was that I was attending an open studio show for Lucas Myers. I knew that there would be other artist involved, but other then that I was pretty clueless. Driving up to the studio (excepting a storefront, and finding a warehouse), I was leery of the neighborhood but ready for discovery. As I entered, I was greeted by a pleasant table of appetizer, and a diverse crowd of people. Expecting paintings I gravitated towards the white walls in the center of the room with the paintings hung in a traditional way. On my way, I glance to the left and notice what looks like the workspace of a guitar maker, and I plan to take a look later. I proceed to enjoy a night of art, music, and traffic cones, and on my way out I stop to look at the guitars. I've always wished I could play, and to see the detail and tools that go into creating these instruments was very interesting. I get to the last guitar and I turn around, there dangling in front of me, almost starring at me with an eyeless gaze, is this constructed creature. I take it in as whole as first, puzzled and intrigued, but then I notice that is has very familiar parts. Feathers from a duster, strips of pages cut from books, incredible pieces of metal, string and fabric all coming together to form this creature.

I come to find out that I had stumbled upon the studio of Chicago artist, Lacey Pipher. Lacey is a sculptor, painter, and all around creative person from New Jersey, who has installed pieces across the city in recent years. That night, she had displayed a series of creatures, among other wonderful piece, that incorporate many found object that are utilized to create something new. Thought provoking and passionately unique, Lacey's work challenges both the artist and the viewer to reconsider the purpose of the material and life in general. Overjoyed with what I had seen, I write my name and e-mail address on her creatively made guest list and exit the warehouse already contemplating question to ask her.

Recently, Lacey was kind enough to answer a few of my questions.

Orange Alert (OA): To simply say sculpture doesn't seem to do you work justice, how do you describe your work?
Lacey Pipher (LP): Some of the pieces that are suspended and working with the architecture are more like environments, and the smaller pedestal pieces are very much objects: tools or creatures.

But I would just call it sculpture and let the viewer write the rest.

OA: Many of your newer, smaller pieces seem to focus on found objects. Where do you find your material for the pieces?
LP: I am on a constant and ongoing search for materials-found or other. This is a huge part of the process, as it is one of the things that integrate art and life. The objects in these particular pieces were found in the woods, in alleys or in the road, near the tracks, outside factories that work with metal, in thrift and surplus stores, and some have been given to me with the intent that I could use them to make art.

OA: Many of your pieces also incorporate a lot cuttings from various books. As a writer seeing the words incorporated made me want to read them to find meaning. Are the pages and clippings purely aesthetic or is there is a deeper interpretation? What types of books are you using?
LP: An ongoing goal for me with my work is to draw the viewer in, raise curiosity, and make a person want to explore. I think that the books work toward this goal in many ways. Their texture and organic mass makes them very tactile. Their book-like quality creates a certain presence and character. It also prompts one to look closer to, as you said, “find meaning”.
I am working with a few different books right now-One on animal tracks, one about the history of communication and one called “War”. I also like to use dictionary definitions, maps, dress patterns, and other less recognizable things.

OA: Can you talk a little about your process? Do you have an idea of where the piece will go before you begin the process?
LP: I keep interesting materials around and experiment with them. I play around very freely, and then I sit back and write about what I am trying to do and how to project that more clearly. Then I play more, deliberately pushing the aspects that I feel are working and pulling back on those that are not. Often, just this free process leads to finished works. Sometimes there are less spontaneous revisions made to make a piece feel more complete like replacing strings with cables or tape with hardware.

OA: Your studio is inhabited by seven other artists. In what ways have you benefited from having such talent all around?
LP: I feel very lucky to be around other people who are so active in the creative process and really pushing it as artists. It is good support and fun. There’s always coffee on, music shared, and the opportunity to talk about our work. Also, the ‘found wood’ is great when you have a guitar builder around!

OA: What's next for Lacey Pipher?
LP: Working in the stude all winter…
Show at Flatfile (217 N Carpenter, Chicago) in January…
Probably take a trip this spring…

Bonus Questions:
OA: Coffee? If yes what is your favorite type of coffee and where is your favorite coffee spot?
LP: Yes please, light and sweet. If yes what is your favorite type of coffee and where is your favorite coffee spot? Usually get ‘motor oil’ beans at Atomix(Chicago and Damen) and make it at my place.

OA: Do you ever listen to music while you are creating? Who are some of your favorites while working and in general?
LP: Music is essential. Favorites right now include Broken Social Scene, Can, Built To Spill, Joni Mitchell,The Stone Roses, The Smiths, Singleman Affair, Califone…to name a few...

For more information on Lacey Pipher please visit her website. You can also e-mail her if you are interested in stopping by the studio at 2030 W. Hubbard in Chicago.

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