SSG Artist Podcast: Heather Harvey
POSTED ON 4.25.2016
March SSG artist Heather Harvey talks about her work. More of Harvey's work can be seen at heather-harvey.net.
SSG debuts new Activity Book project
POSTED ON 4.25.2016
A part of SSG's outreach efforts, our new activity book project aims to be a fun and informative gateway to the art shows we have on display. Designed by arts education professionals, the booklets are free for all visitors (young and old!).
See and download our March exhibition activity book here.
SSG Artist Interview: Kortney K. Niewierski
POSTED ON 3.18.2016
On view March 5-26, 2016, “Pretty on the Inside” showcases the work of Kortney K. Niewierski. We’re glad to share this short interview with her.
How would you describe your work?
I make both 2D and 3D work that deals with the idea of pulling the viewer in and then presenting them with something that may not be quite as appealing, think sexual organ, dead animal, etc. The 3D work tends to be more organically shaped and often is reminiscent of a human or animal-like form. My 3D work is “soft” in that I use a lot of fabric and stuffing and sewing as a means of construction. Lately the work has some sort of animal present that is a symbol or metaphor. I like to think of my drawings as “systems.” The imagery in the drawings is not abstracted, but each image tends to create an “action” that affects the other image, etc. etc. The images are symbols or metaphors and when read together present what I like to believe is a complete thought or idea. Recently, I have been really focused on the titles of the work. I like the titles to be something provocative that, depending upon how it is read, could change the way one thinks of the work.
What kind of creative routines do you have when working on a three- dimensional piece composed of many pieces; can you talk more about that process?
My creative process generally starts in the form of small sketches on various pieces of scrap paper (my family and friends make fun of finding these little sketches whenever I visit). I tend to sketch things that surround me that I find interesting or odd or things people say that may spark a funny mental image. I’ve always found an odd beauty in things that others may be put off by, like road kill or medical anomalies so seeing these things tends to spark an idea in me. I also have what some may refer to as a “dirty mind” and tend to see the shockingly phallic or sexual nature in mundane things such as children’s toys. Most of my work has a chicken wire or Styrofoam core and lately I have been sitting down with a chunk of foam or roll of chicken wire and intuitively carving or bending a form and developing it as it goes. Then I reference one of my scrap paper sketches and that either pulls the form in one direction or leads to the way that I want to “skin” the form (chicken wire pieces tend to have plaster bandage and wax with the fabric, where Styrofoam pieces tend to have strictly fabric skins with cast inserts of some kind). A great deal of my work is sewn by hand and in addition to “regular” sewing methods, I like to use suture stitching techniques to reference my love for medical anomalies. I tend to work in spurts and deadlines definitely keep me on track! I notice that I work in threes, in that I make three pieces that could go together or that address similar ideas. I also tend to make one drawing that fits with those three as well.
Your work deals with the odd and intriguing among other themes, how do you think these different notions impact the perception of your work?
I think that these different notions sometimes lead to a more serious read of the work or maybe even of the work being dismissed. A few years ago, someone looked at my work and turned to me and said “you’re work is sooo funny!” I was like, thank you! Finally someone sees the humor in the quirkiness of the imagery of the work! I will admit that there is a serious side to some of what I’m trying to get across in the work, but it is sort of like addressing the ridiculousness of these serious thoughts or ideas. I tend to compare my work to that of others and often wonder if my work isn’t as “refined” because it might have a penis in it and might be brushed off as being feministic or trying to shock in some way. That isn’t it at all. I’m just trying to introduce the beauty and humor into the odd.
Do you ever find it challenging to balance intriguing the viewer with repelling them and how does this fit in with the moment of introspection within the viewer?
I do find it challenging to balance pulling the viewer in and then kind of turning them off. I’d like to believe that I have the intriguing part down with the tactile nature of the materials that I use, the colors of those materials and the shapes of the forms. I find the repelling part more difficult. I went through a time where the repelling element came in the form of a sexual organ (which I am astounded by how a penis or a nipple still causes some to clutch their pearls), but then I started to become more interested in animals and their symbolic meaning and just using parts of the animals, or representing the animal as dead, etc. Don’t get me wrong, a penis and a nipple still rear their heads in the work, but I’m exploring more of what could be perceived as off-putting. I want to maintain a balance between letting that off putting element and the humor in the work remain more natural and not something forced. A lot of the introspection in the work is a personal introspection. A long time ago I was told that the viewer doesn’t care about what you, the artist, feels. That stuck with me and over time I realized that was true, they don’t know me, so where the work does have very personal associations to me, I try not to make the imagery and their metaphors to be so untouchable that the viewer is pushed away, but accessible enough to have the viewer recognize how or why they feel the way they do about the work. I hope the work sparks a conversation amongst the viewers. I have also discovered the impact of the title of the work. I have been using song lyrics lately that I find to be provocative and depending upon how they are read or interpreted, they can change the way one perceives the work. That read of the title in association with the work also affects that introspection.
What are you working on right now?
Right now I have a drawing that is “drawn” but still needs color added. It is another “systematic” type drawing using imagery that has various metaphor/meaning to each image, that when put together, makes a complete thought or idea. I have already titled it “The Fear of Falling Apart.” I also have organic, worm-like chicken wire frames made for two parts of a sculpture that nest or rest against or amongst each other. I have several fabric rousching techniques that I am debating over to use on the surface. I haven’t quite figured out what the “zinger” part will be in terms of the recognizable insert or addition that is usually the more off putting element. That element tends to happen last.
Where can we see more of your work?
The best place to see more of my work is on my website www.kknartist.com. I keep the home page updated with where my work will be next, so check it often and if you are ever near one of those locations, stop on in and see it in person!
“Pretty on the Inside” opens Friday March 4 and is on view through March 25. Thank you.