Thursday, November 24, 2011

Tatiana Ginsberg: South Hadley, Mass.

Preparing kozo fiber at Women's Studio Workshop. 
 Photo by Janet Ikeda. 
Please share a little about yourself.
What were any early influences on your work? Where do you live now?

I grew up in New York City and went to public schools in Greenwich Village and Chelsea. My parents often took me to museums and their friends were artists, actors, painters, dancers, architects, etc., so the arts always felt like a normal part of everyday life. Though my tastes have changed and widened the art I loved as a child has stayed with me as well. The first painting I remember really being struck by was Ingres’ Princesse de Broglie at the Metropolitan Museum—the colors, composition, and softness of the forms still speak to me even though I have perhaps outgrown my fascination with Princesses. And I am sure the origami Christmas tree at the Museum of Natural History influenced my long-standing interest with paper folding and Japanese paper. 

Now I live in Massachusetts, close to Mount Holyoke College where I am teaching in the art department. There are beautiful walks around here, and I visit family in New York regularly so I still get to the museums that I loved as a kid. 

La Pérouse’s Last Letters. Handmade kozo paper with
 cotton pulp painting, indigo dyed hemp, thread. 2011. 

Did you receive any formal art training? If yes where and what did you major in?
I studied printmaking with Kris Philipps at Sarah Lawrence College, and it opened up a whole approach to art making for me. I also took my first papermaking class with her. I think everything I make relates to printmaking and paper. Whether working spatially on an installation or in a small drawing I am constantly thinking in layers. When I started college I thought I wanted to work in stage design, but printmaking gave me a way to have a collaborative approach to working alone, just through the interaction with materials. I think that is at the heart of my work. 

Later I studied papermaking and book arts at the University of Iowa Center for the Book, and then went to Japan on a Fulbright to research traditional methods of dyeing paper with natural dyes. Eventually I did an MFA at the University of California Santa Barbara, and worked with Harry and Sandra Reese who make artists books. So I have had many different forms of training and, although it was a long process, all of it was invaluable. 

La Pérouse’s Last Letters. Installation
view at Open Square, Holyoke Mass.
Handmade kozo paper with cotton pulp painting,
indigo dyed hemp, thread. 2011.

At what point in your life did you become interested in making art and was there a certain point when you decided you were primarily an artist?
I have always been interested in making art, but it took a long time for me to think of myself as primarily an artist, especially because I have such an appreciation of craft. I don’t remember a particular tipping point, but Japan had a big influence. There isn’t such a strong distinction between craft and art there, and that allowed me to feel that I could fuse the two in my own way. 

What is your media?
Hand papermaking, particularly Japanese-style, printmaking (in a wide sense, from intaglio to digital), artists’ books, and installations that incorporate all of these. 
Worm eaten shadow12 x 12 inches, 2010
Handmade kozo paper, indigo pigment, and colored pencil.

What is your current work about? 

My current work is about macro and microcosms and the relationship between natural patterns on a large and small scale. The search to expand the known world and natural history inspire me, and I am interested in both historical and contemporary voyages of exploration. So I get ideas from new satellite imagery, as well as the journals of eighteenth century sea captains. Earlier this year I installed a piece called La Pérouse’s Last Letters, about the French explorer whose two ships disappeared mysteriously in 1788, leaving behind only the letters sent homeward. 

Drawing at the Åland Archipelago
Guest Artist Residence in Kökar, Finland
Photo by Ted Gachot
What is your workspace like? 
Right now I am working at home and have relatively little studio space compared to other moments. In some ways that is hard, but it forces me to be creative in looking for places where I can make things. Site specific projects, such as one I am working on now for the greenhouse on the Mount Holyoke campus, are great because I make components at home and then put them together in an environment that already has its own life and a history. That feels healthier to me than making things in one white walled space and hanging them up in another. I have also been doing more drawing (which can be done almost anywhere), and going to residencies, such as one in Kökar, Finland last summer, to give myself different spaces and new environments. 

How do you develop a sense of community with other artists, and how do you support your art colleagues?
Since most of the people I feel close to creatively are spread out all over the world, I try to keep in contact through sharing what I am making, and finding occasions to meet them. Sometimes that means sharing a room at a conference, or giving a lecture in their area, but working collaboratively has been the most fulfilling. Collaborations with friends who are far flung—working separately but coming together to install and show—has been a wonderful way to deepen our connections despite distance. 

Untitled. Sumi ink on drafting film. 
24 x 11 inches, 2011.

Do you ever get stuck with your work and how do you remedy this?
Like everyone else I hate feeling stuck, but I try to remind myself that sometimes frustration is good because that can be the moment when you recognize that you need to grow in a new direction. Long walks and wandering through the stacks in the library are what help me most. My two main sources of inspiration are the natural world and books. Maybe that is why I am particularly interested in stories of great explorers, going out to discover and deepen knowledge of the natural world. 

Do you have particular habits that you think support your art practice?
Walking everywhere. If you walk rather than drive you see things slowly and notice subtle changes in your environment. Walking clears my head and sharpens my senses so that I both think better, and go beyond thinking to absorbing, feeling, and just being. I tend to over analyze, so I need that. 

Do you have other jobs other than making art?
I teach full time in the art dept at Mount Holyoke College. While this takes up a lot of my time, teaching also keeps the process of discovery alive. The students keep me in touch with the initial enthusiasm of the process while I deepen my own ideas. 

La Pérouse’s Last Letters.Handmade kozo paper with cotton pulp painting,
indigo dyed hemp, thread. 2011. 

Where would you like to be in 5 years as far as your art making?
Lately I tend to chew on projects for a long time, working through them in different formats and iterations. I think this is good for me, because different mediums feel appropriate for different parts of what I want to convey. So now I am working on an installation and an artist’s book, an ongoing series of drawings, flat prints that relate to dimensional objects, etc. I hope to develop this further, and take on bigger, more sustained projects. 

Do you have any upcoming shows that you'd like to mention?
The Verne Gallery is showing some of my prints and 3D paper objects at the New York IFPDA print fair at the Armory from November 3rd to 6th, 2011. And the installation in the greenhouse at Mount Holyoke College will be on display from February to June 2012

Do you have any web links/site/blog etc. you'd like to share that show your work? 

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Diane McGregor: Santa Fe


Artist Diane McGregor

Please share a little about yourself. Where did you grow up and were there any early influences on your work? 
I grew up on the east coast, in rural areas of NJ and Connecticut.  Those early years surrounded by lakes and forests instilled in me a reverence for nature.  After graduating high school I moved to Tucson, Arizona, where I fell in love with the desert landscape. Then I moved to Hawaii where I lived for 11 years, which was a wonderful, healing experience. However, Hawaii was not the ideal place to have a career as an abstract painter, so I moved back to the mainland in 2001, to pursue my art career in Santa Fe, NM. I love being back in the desert.

Did you receive any formal art training? 
If yes, where and what did you major in?
I majored in Studio Art at the University of Arizona, with honors work in Art History.  I graduated with a BFA in 1985.  I majored in Art History in Graduate School at the U of A, but decided not to complete my degree.

Terrain II 
oil on canvas
32 x 32 inches

At what point in your life did you become interested in making art and was there a certain point when you decided you were primarily an artist? 
Since I was very young (maybe 6 or 7) I've loved oil painting. I started out with the paint by numbers kits — in those days they were oil painting kits, and I immediately fell in love with the smell of turpentine and oils. I constantly made art all through elementary school and was included in a children's art exhibit in China. In high school, I had the most wonderful, devoted art teacher — he took me under his wing and nurtured my talent. Art saved me in those difficult high school years. When I went to college, I was really torn between making my own art and studying art history. During graduate school, I received an internship with the University of Arizona Museum of Art, and loved working there.  However, in 1988 I finally made the decision that whatever the hardships, I was going to be a painter.

Shimmering Air 
oil on canvas
18x18 inches

What is your media?
I use Schmincke Mussini oil paints on canvas. Just paint and mineral spirits, no special mediums or varnishes. A wonderful Navajo man, Albert Natonabah, makes my canvases for me — he is an impeccable craftsman. I believe his art enhances my art.

What is your current work about?
I think of my current work as minimalist meditations. I am working with the grid. This has been a natural development for me from my previous work, where I used the grid as a starting point, but gradually obscured it. That body of work involved the essence of the grid and the notion of infinity, and I tried to arrive there with the idea of formlessness.  Although I love that body of work, I finally realized using the grid itself could encompass all of that and more.  Now I am using the grid as the primary compositional device in the work. I love the purity and simplicity of the grid, yet through its repetition it seems to satisfy all my creative desires. My technique involves building up an underpainting onto which I paint tiny rectangles of white, allowing the underpainting to show through. Between the linear elements of the grid, and the more fugitive, organic elements of the areas inside each rectangle, there is an interesting dialogue between the geometric and the lyrical. This way of working seems well-suited for me — I have never felt comfortable with the "grand gesture" and this delicate, methodical technique allows me to access a contemplative and quiet place within me that I find necessary in order to connect with my work on a spiritual level.

Terrain III
oil on canvas
32 x 32"

What is your workspace like? 
I converted the master bedroom in our home into my studio.  I don't have a huge space, but the natural light is outstanding. It works perfectly for me. I love working at home, being with my animals, and observing the constantly changing light and weather of my surroundings.

McGregor's studio

McGregor working in her studio

How do you develop a sense of community with other artists, and how do you support your art colleagues?
I am definitely a hermit, so I don't get out much to socialize, except if there's a friend having an exhibition reception or something like that. Facebook and the internet has been critical for me — I have found so many like minds all over the world, and I have learned about and met so  many other contemporary artists.  Recently, a small group of Santa Fe women have started the Lady Minimalist Tea Society — we get together  once a month and we're planning to have a show of our work. That's been really gratifying to get to know these women and the work that they are doing. (The name sort of started out as a joke, but we've all grown rather fond of it!)

Do you ever get stuck with your work and how do you remedy this?
Getting stuck is one of the worst places to be. It often signals that it is time to move forward and evolve.
I try to keep working during those times, trusting the answer or the insight will appear when I'm ready to receive it.  This, of course is not easy – the waiting can seem like the muse has totally abandoned you.  I spend a great deal of time reading and studying art history, looking at contemporary painters on the web, and reading art magazines and blogs.  Eventually something clicks and I'm back on track.  Other days, enormous doubts plague me, and I've found there's nothing to really do about those except take a short break – maybe go into Santa Fe and look at some inspiring work  – usually the doubt goes away within a day or two.

oil on canvas
32 x 32"

Detail of Terrain

Do you have particular habits that you think support your art practice?
Journaling, meditation, spiritual studies (mostly of a Buddhist nature), reading poetry, being out in nature, contemplating the sky and the weather — all these activities go into my work and nourish my connection with my paintings.


oil on canvas
18x18 inches

Do you have other jobs other than making art?
I am also a wildlife rehabber, so in the spring NM Game and Fish gives me orphaned skunks and raccoons to raise. They are eventually released to the wild.  It is always a challenge to be completely there for them when then need a mama, love, and nurturing, and then later having to have to let them go is always difficult for the heart.  Each and every baby is a unique and precious critter, and it is a great honor to give them a chance to live free in the wild.

Where would you like to be in 5 years as far as your art making?
I would like to eventually have representation in 6 galleries across the country, as well as being in more museum shows. I'd also like to be involved in more curated, thematic exhibitions. I especially hope to be focusing on larger work — the grids really seem to "breathe" when they are larger and there is more detail involved — it's harder to achieve that on small canvases.

oil on canvas
32 x 32 inches

Do you have any upcoming shows that you'd like to mention?
I will be included in "Bare Essentials: Minimalism in the 21st Century," curated by Ingrid Fassbender and showing at Woman Made Gallery in Chicago in November.  I will also be showing a series of small paintings  I call "Winter Poems"  in December at Costello-Childs Contemporary in Scottsdale.

You can see more of Dianes' work on her website, and her blog is

Thank you Diane!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Catherine Nash: Tucson, Arizona


Catherine Nash, Artist
Please share a little about yourself. Where did you grow up and what were any early influences on your work?
I still claim my New England roots even though I have lived in Tucson since 1983 with several years in it “once a New Englander always a...”? I am one of those fortunate artists who not only decided early on to be an artist but found mentors through my early years into college.

Eclipsis Lunar
Mixed media assemblage, encaustic painting in an antique box,
wax pencil and chalk drawing of a ca. 1552 lunar eclipse diagram
on an old school slate;antique copper compact,
mica, branches, handmade paper with walnut ink and encaustic.
17.5”h X 25”w (open) X 10”d

Did you receive any formal art training?
I have a BFA in Drawing and Printmaking from the University of New Hampshire, and an MFA in Mixed Media from the U of Arizona. I’ve created lots of international opportunities for myself as well, especially in Europe and Japan.

Geometry Lesson
Encaustic painting in an antique drawer;
wax pencil and chalk on old school slate; page from
a vintage Japanese math book; cross-section
of a nautilus shell; antique calipers;
photo of Galaxy 51, oil stick. 17.5”h X 32” w

At what point in your life did you become interested in making art and was there a certain point when you decided you were primarily an artist?
There is a family story that at 5, I declared emphatically that I was going to be an artist when I grow up. Ironically, my kindergarten report card says, “Cathy does very well in every subject, but in art, when her paint drips, she has a complete tantrum.” 

Sky Nest
Cast gampi and abaca paper fibers into a
lashed armature of creosote branches, encased in encaustic, oil stick,
white line transfer. 26"h X 40"w X 10"d

detail of Sky Nest

What is your media?

Totally mixed media, but I gravitate first to paper and encaustic, sometimes incorporating wood and clay. I have given myself freedom to create in varied ways: making books, paintings, sculpture and installations. I feel that if my content is consistently expressed, then the media/formatting can shift. Basically idea dictates my choices.

encaustic painting, oil stick 21”h x 34”w

What is your current work about? 

Earth and landscape is foremost in my soul... Mesmerized by the expansiveness of space, I am always pondering on my place in the universe and the enigma of consciousness and existence.

In my recent artworks, images of skies are seen juxtaposed with geometrical diagrams or sacred geometry. How varied cultures through history have striven to explain this mystery through mathematics and the sciences is just fascinating to me. The ancients observed the spiral unfolding of nature: geometry within the sprouting of a seed, a radiating flower center, the proportions of the human form, the relationship of the Earth to the solar system, the turn of a galaxy. The spiral, for instance, is a profound image of the movement of time and space. Miranda Lundy writes, "Sacred geometry charts the unfolding of number in space."

I don’t always know where the image is heading when I am working, although I do plan to some degree, perhaps due to my beginning as a printmaker. But I’ve learned to not question the internal juxtaposition of imagery, to listen and let the work lead me: a conversation with paper, wax, branches, brush, pen, saw and twine.

Front door to the studio I share with artist and husband Robert Renfrow 
(with welded sculpture by Kitty Wales to bottom left)

As you walk in, my area on the left, behind me in this photo is the
 teaching area of our studio and my inspiration desk:
(Rob's studio is around the photos of it.)

What is your workspace like? If you have photos of where you work that would be of interest.
My husband, artist Robert Renfrow, and I built a new large studio on the lot next door two years ago...having such a space had been a life long dream. I’ve designed my space on centers, one for inspiration, another for assemblage and books, a large area devoted to encaustic work with a separate table to do encaustic monoprinting and molten painting on paper. I have a separate soundproofed room for my Hollander beater (studio sized paper mill, effectively) that houses boxes and boxes of plant fibers and half stuff pulps. All my papermaking equipment is stored in there on wheels, and when in production, gets rolled out and the studio gets transformed.

A huge space with six folding tables is kept open to work and where we offer workshops of varied media: our studio seconds as a teaching space for both Rob and I. We are supposed to have it divided up equally and tidily, but I admit, I’ve gone over the invisible line more than once. OK, a lot more than once.

My inspiration area with special items I've gathered on my travels,
sculptural forms I've made, all my sketchbooks,
special branches and elements from nature.

Are you involved with any arts groups or communities? If yes, what do you gain from that affiliation and what do you contribute to it?

I am an active member of the International Association of Hand Papermakers and Paper Artists (IAPMA), The Friends of Dard Hunter, an international organization of artists who work in paper/books and paper historians, and a member of the International Encaustic Artists.  One might not recognize the Yahoo Papermaking group as an official organization, but it is a superb “place” to connect, with unlimited sharing and generosity amongst members.

Having been an active artist in a relatively isolated community (Tucson is an island in the desert) and long before the gifts that the internet has brought us, I have always cherished my colleagues and appreciated the generous sharing.

I have written and published my “findings” consistently in varied journals and newsletters for about 25 years. I get extremely curious about a subject, whether it be an aspect of media relative to science, or technique or more lately forays into projects have seemed to grow in scope. In 2009, after 2+ years of research, I published Beater Finesse for the Artist, an in-depth report into how international artists were manipulating their Hollander beaters to create varied pulps for varied papers. So esoteric, as my husband referred to it, but information that truly hadn’t been recorded or compiled since papermaking as an art form experienced its renaissance in the 70s and early 80s.

My current project, Contemporary Paper and Encaustic is about building a bridge between dynamic communities: those of encaustic, paper and artist books. My project will culminate in an e-publication that presents inspiring international artists who integrate the two media in innovative and compelling ways, focusing on how media corroborates with the expression of their ideas and content. I am seeking funding to help me travel across the United States to conduct studio visits and create one-on-one taped interviews with twenty seven artists, which will be embedded into their portfolio pages within the second half of my e-book.
Learn more about this project and how you can help Catherine make this happen.

I am impassioned about the opportunity to meet these international artists and I’ll be sharing what I learn and experience of their poetic thoughts, expressive ideas, and particular vision and how it emanates through their art within my e-book. Please take a look at a showcase of their artwork I’ve compiled on the USA Artists site which can be viewed here. I’d be so grateful for your contribution towards bringing this project to fruition.

New Growth
Kozo paper cast into a lashed armature
of willow branches and encased in white
and amber beeswax, dead tree with
root ball and dried mulch found in
the Rillito River, “grafted” found branch
with waxed green gampi paper leaves.
80”h X 33” diam.

detail of New Growth

Do you ever get stuck with your work and how do you remedy this?

I write. I make lists. I scan my decades of journal sketchbooks for glimmers of new inspiration or the new configuring of an idea. From there, I start to sketch without pre- thought and let images emerge.

Do you have particular habits that you think support your art practice?

I hate to say it but I work well with deadlines. Being self employed as an educator, I tend to follow a fiscal year pattern-of-living. The summers for me are as of old. For example, when school is out, it is daily creative focus and in-depth studio concentration. But I chose to be an artist-in-resident rather than an art teacher in the schools to maintain freedom of scheduling. I can take months off at a time to create with a show or commission in mind or to travel abroad in the name of art...and I do!

Night to Day to Night
Coptic bound artist book: handmade sheets of abaca,
torch ginger grass and black cotton rag paper,
gradated in the vat by slowly changing fibers.
In slip case covered with handmade
paper with white ink marks.
3.5”h X 2.25”w X 7.5”d slipcase size. 7” radius open book.

Do you have jobs other than making art?
I’ve run a second, very successful business, since 1983, dealing antique and vintage clothing and jewelry. Without a store front or a web site so the public can’t find me, I deal strictly to the film and TV industry and a few select stores. I search for specific period wardrobe for costume designers as they prep for period film. Incredibly fun, I’ve grown through\has enabled an art career. 
I just shipped 1960s glamour evening-wear to a major production yesterday. My business of selling period wardrobe has helped enable an art career.

on left: 1860s wrapper paisley calico with red trim
on right: 1960s 3 pc brown leather outfit w/ helmet hat,
waistcoat and skirt

Where would you like to be in 5 years as far as your artmaking?
I used to think I would want to be a full time studio artist...that is what everyone works towards, isn’t it? Painting every day. Yes, of course I want more time to dream, to ponder and to be creative. Right now I do the internal while I commute to work or whenever. I never stop thinking about my work. But I have grown to recognize that perhaps my life as it is designed right this very moment has a perfection to it that I am appreciating so much.
In 5 years, I will be creating meaningful imagery that delves deeper into my psyche and experience and inner poetry.

Encaustic painting on wood,
gossamer thin Japanese kozo paper
monoprinted with cerulean blue encaustic,
oil stick filled sgraffito marks. 15”h X 30”w

Do you have any upcoming shows that you'd like to mention?

Yes, here they are:

"International Book Exhibit", October 19 - November 6, 2011

69 Smith St. Gallery, Melbourne, Australia

"WOW: Women and Wax", October 28 - December 31, 2011 
 Art Center Sarasota, Sarasota, FL

"9th International Book Art Festival" November 2011
(traveling for 3 years through Poland)

Muzeum Książki Artystycznej, Lodz, Poland

Solo Exhibition, September 2012
Bowersock Gallery, Provincetown, MA.
I am truly honored about my solo show: I won 1st place in the Bowersock Gallery’s June 2011 show “Wax in Motion” held in Provincetown, MA. Not only will they give me a solo exhibition, but they have just signed me for representation.

You can see more of Catherine's work on her website.

Read more about Catherine and see more about her studio on her blog.

Thank-you Catherine!