Miami Art Week 2014

Miami Art Week 2014

Independent Art Projects (IAP) went to Miami during the Miami Art Week, December 2 – 7, and visited artists and dealers who have been presented at IAP since June 26, 2014, — when IAP opened its door at MASS MoCA’s campus, on the ground floor of Building 13.

While we took a look of the art fairs throughout Miami, to see the artworks, curated projects, and installations, It was great discovering how many ideas that began in North Adams were shown, few months later, in the international-known art week of Miami Basel.

Founding dealers Ferrin Contemporary and CYNTHIA-REEVES were presented in the Wynwood Design District, respectively at Miami Project (booth 125) with Ferrin’s “MADE IN CHINA: THE NEW EXPORT WARE” group exhibition, and at Art Miami (booth A40) with REEVES’ artists shown at IAP Lianghong Feng, and Shen Chen, among others.  In addition, artists and galleries who exhibited with us were spread throughout the city at various important venues.

In the Wynwood Design District, artist Shuli Sade, shown by CYNTHIA-REEVES this summer, was exhibited at MANA Miami. At Miami Project, Julie Saul Gallery, from New York, presented new works by photographer Tanya Marcuse and sculptor Christopher Russell, who were shown at IAP this past summer; and Kasher|Potamkin gallery from New York, presented the work of Sergei Isupov, whose solo exhibition was the inaugural exhibition by Ferrin Contemporary at IAP. At Art Miami, we also saw artists Anne Morgan Spalter with Magnan Metz Gallery, and Lauren Mabry with Mindy Solomon Gallery.

IAP looks forward to continuing working with established international artists, galleries and events as we develop our 2015 exhibitions and public programs. We hope the endeavors will not only help promote IAP as an open, free and welcoming space for art and art lovers, but also enhance the cultural and economic life of Northern Berkshires. The Berkshires are a land of art —with museum collections to admire, exhibits to learn from, and working artists generating new ideas— and is an exciting place to discover art and begin or build an art collection.

IAP was founded by Leslie Ferrin and Cynthia Reeves as a contemporary art space to showcase established contemporary visual artists represented by the two founders, as well as other New England and New York based galleries. Located on the campus of MASS MoCA —a growing center for contemporary art and expanding in the coming years to be the largest contemporary art museum in the USA— IAP gallery space was realized thanks to the cultural and economic development programs of MASS MoCA, the City of North Adams, and collective efforts by Berkshire County during the past 15 years.  Included in the North Adams’ programs that support our work are DownStreet Art and the Berkshire Hills Internship Program run by the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts;  Assets for Artists, and the North Adams Project run by the Cultural Economic Development Department of MASS MoCA and Williams College.  These programs and others help create a sense of dynamic artistic energy, fresh ideas, employment and business opportunities, both in the City of North Adams, and spread among the Berkshire County of Western Massachusetts.

Below you will find images of artworks and artists hosted at Independent Art Projects since its initiation, recently on view and for sale in Miami:


Ferrin Contemporary’s “MADE IN CHINA: THE NEW EXPORT WARE” installed at Miami Project


Shen Chen’s triptych and ink on watercolor at CYNTHIA-REEVES’ booth A40, Art Miami


Shuli Sade in front of her “Night Vision”, featured in “Mana Monumental” at MANA Miami


Tanya Marcuse’s photographs, and Christopher Russell’s sculptures, at Julie Saul Gallery’s booth 101, Miami Project


Sergei Isupov’s ceramic sculptures at Kasher|Potamkin’s booth 613, Miami Project


Anne Morgan Spalter’s photo-based installation at Art Miami, with Magnan Metz Gallery Gallery


Lauren Mabry’s cylindric ceramic sculpture at Art Miami, with Mindy Solomon Gallery

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Follow IAP during Miami Art Week 2014

Follow IAP during Miami Art Week 2014

The art fairs and art events taking place in Miami and Miami Beach between December 2 – 9, 2014, is commonly known as Miami Art Week. Approximately twenty art fairs take place, positioned in the area between Miami’s Wynwood Art District, Downtown Miami and Miami Beach.

IAP co-founders dealer, Leslie Ferrin and Cynthia Reeves, will be showing  at respectively, Miami Project (Ferrin Contemporary, Booth 125), and Art Miami (CYNTHIA-REEVES, Booth A40).

IAP will be offering an overview and recap of highlights from Ferrin Contemporary, CYNTHIA-REEVES and the Berkshires’ art galleries and artists showing during the Miami Art Week.  Below, you’ll find brief descriptions of the art fairs, including links to locations, hours, admission prices, special events and much more.

IAP will post images and tweet not-to-miss happenings with the hashtag #IAPMiamiArtWeek2014
Instagram: independentartprojects
Twitter: IAP_NorthAdams



Art Basel Miami Beach – held at the Miami Beach Convention Center is the largest art fair of the week, featuring more than 250 top galleries from around the world. Design Miami (a major design fair) takes place right next to Art Basel.  Aqua, a mainstay on the beach  in a vintage beach hotel (now rebranded as Aqua Art Miami) , and Ink Fair,  specializing in prints are among  and exhibitions in the hotels along the strip

Satellite art fairs: Scope Miami, Pulse (where Sienna Patti Contemporary, from Lenox, South Berkshire County, will show the work of Susie Ganch), Select, and UNTITLED. are also in Miami Beach and actually on or near the beach; enjoy the ocean view,   Hotel-based art fairs in Miami Beach walking distance from the convention center include Ink and Aqua.  NADA hosted at the Deauville is located in North Miami.

Art Miami – held in Miami’s Wynwood Art District, is the oldest of the art fairs in Miami, this year celebrating its 25th edition. Miami Project, smaller and selective, is one tent South along 32nd St.  Nearby are even more tents, pavilions and buildings filled with contemporary art – including but not limited to Context, Spectrum, ArtSpot, Pinta and Red Dot art fairs. Miami galleries relocated and opened in Wynwood expanding outward from the now well established section known as Miami Design Center and Wynwood Walls where graffiti and the street art scene has continued to find a welcome home and a base for young businesses to launch.

Click HERE for MIAMI NEW TIMES – guide to the fairs.


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MASS MoCA’s expansion

MASS MoCA’s expansion

MASS MoCA’s exciting expansion plans were announced in major media publications this week. Featured in The New York Times, The Boston Globe and The Washington Post, MASS MoCA announced an expansion that is expected to be complete by 2017.

When the roughly $55 million project is completed in 2017, Mass MoCA will be the largest contemporary art museum in the country, with more than 250,000 square feet of gallery space.” – The Washington Post

Some of the cavernous spaces on the sprawling campus of Mass MoCA (Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art) have remained unused since the museum opened the facility in 1999. Museum director Joseph C. Thompson told the press, “We just love being able to reorient people all the time. Here’s where you are. You’re in a mill. You’re in North Adams. You’re in the Berkshires.” – The Boston Globe

Independent Art Projects (IAP) opened this summer in Building 13 on the MASS MoCA campus with trained staff from MCLA’s Berkshire Hills Internship Program (BHIP), and will clearly benefit from the continued expansions of MASS MoCA and The Clark.  Leslie Ferrin, co-founder of IAP also noted “With MCLA and Williams College nearby it is important to also note the combination of education and support, from programs such as Assets for Artists that combined are creatively making it all come together for creative economy.”

Quietly, and often overlooked by some of its closest neighbors, MASS MoCA continues to break new ground, drawing the attention of the nation and the world of this quiet corner of Massachusetts, and setting the stage for the future of the creative economy of North Adams and the Berkshires, if stakeholders will only step up and do their part.

“In 2016, 20 years after this ambitious and at times daunting renovation project got underway, Mass MoCA will be poised for a bright future, to the benefit of its host city and the Berkshires.” – MASS MoCA’s Final Stage, The Berkshire Eagle

We are pleased to be part of that team and enjoy the benefit of being located in the heart of it.

Congratulations MASS MoCA!


[Image: Joseph C. Thompson in front of the soon-to-be-restored Building 6 on the North Adams campus.
Photo: © Nancy Palmieri for the Boston Globe]
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Lauren Mabry’s Cylindrical Paintings

Lauren Mabry’s Cylindrical Paintings

Lauren Mabry’s painterly, abstract, ceramic sculptures have been receiving national attention; featured on the cover of the May 2014 issue of Ceramics Monthly, and receiving in 2014 the Emerging Artist Award from the National Council on Education for Ceramic Arts. Lauren received her BFA from Kansas City Art Institute, and her MFA from the University of Nebraska at Lincoln, before attending a residency at The Archie Bray Foundation. Mabry is currently a resident at The Clay Studio of Philadelphia.

On the occasion of her exhibition at Independent Art Projects, we invited Lauren to discuss her interest in clay, working process, and where she’s headed next. Her sculptures at IAP are on view until Sunday, November 16, 2014.


Martina Caruso: How long have you been working in clay? What attracted you to start working with the medium of ceramic?

Lauren Mabry: I started ceramics at the beginning of high school and never stopped. After quickly becoming enamored by the material and process, I decided that I would pursue ceramics as a career. It’s been 15 years since then.


MC: What inspired you most? What artists have been most influential in your creative process?

LM: Lately, I would say Viola Frey, for her 1970s large-scale works. I saw one at the Sheldon Museum (Lincoln, NE) resembling “Man in Abstract Business Suit”. That piece inspired me to make big work without any fear of the size or technical considerations. You can easily see the way its cut into pieces, then re-stacked after the firing to make the 10 foot tall figure. The way the figures are glazed, with her use of color, looks like it would if she had painted on a 2-D surface. I admire the relationship between flat and 3-D works.



Lauren Mabry, Composition of Enclosed Cylinders, 2013
Red earthenware, slips, glaze; wheel thrown, painted with slips & glaze, fired to cone 04 electric, 20 x 17 x 6″


MC: There is a strong sense of mystery in the ceramic medium. The process of heating the object, the melt the materials together, always transforms the pieces. How you can calculate the painting surfaces outcome?

LM: The transformation of the material is one of the major factors that drives my work. Through many years of practice and testing, I can approximate how a surface will look in terms of the colors and movement. The most compelling aspect of making ceramic art is that no matter how well calculated, the end piece may always produces a something you can’t anticipate. Sometimes two colors together produce an energy or vibration that could only be possible in that particular passage on that specific piece. In other words, I can calculate the small elements of form, texture, and color but the work is greater than the sum of its parts.


MC: Your work seems essentially paintings on round ceramic forms: can you explain why you pick the cylinders form, and the origin of your cylinder series?

LM: The form originated in my thesis work when I realized that glaze composition was my primary interest. As opposed to a more complex form, the cylinder is elemental and provides a canvas that will amplify the colors rather than creating a distraction. There are infinite compositional viewpoints that amplify the surface making it the ideal hybrid of sculpture and painting. There is a very simple, but genuine fascination about a form with an opening. Any person I know will approach to look inside. I see that place as an opportunity to extend the painting to the interior.


34904 pink wide_07 (Custom)

Lauren Mabry, Cylinder, 2014
Red earthenware, slips, glaze; wheel thrown, painted with slips & glaze, fired to cone 04 electric, 8 x 15 x 15″


MC: How would you describe your working process, from the first ideas to the end of it, when you see the piece ready to be sale?

LM: Although I consider my work to be highly intuitive, it’s also a heavily technical process. The cylinders are usually wheel thrown and the wall work is built with pounded slabs I make by hand. Since I use rich, dark red clay, I coat it with white slip before beginning the process of layering colored slips and underglazes. I usually have a formal color theme or focal point in mind, but the painting unfolds intuitively. There is one bisque firing, then I apply my own glaze formulas before the final firing.


MC: You said that your work “may be understood in relationship with abstract painting, minimal work, and process art,” and that your aim is to create “work that is scintillating and dramatic”. Can you elucidate these ideas?

LM: While I never consciously sourced my ideas from the Abstract Expressionist movement in painting, I’ve come to see a definite relationship between them. There are certainly similarities in the expressive, sometimes frenetic quality of the marks and movement. Many might have called that style of painting unconscious or automatic, but I prefer to think of it my actions as informed intuition. The ultimately separation between my hand and my work happens during the transformation in the heat of the kiln, not because I am working unconsciously. The meaning of abstract is fulfilled.


MC: Public here at IAP keep stopping in front of your pieces, examining the forms, wondering how they are made. What are you working on that might additionally amazed your viewers?

LM: Earlier this month I was a resident artist at Mission Clay Products in Phoenix, AZ, where the world’s largest clay pipes are manufactured. I composed works on several industrially extruded pipes that are up to 3 feet wide and 8 feet tall. They are the largest pieces I have ever worked on. They are set for exhibition in February 2015 at Belger Crane Yard Studio in Kansas City, Missouri.

Mabry_Cylinders_Phoenix 2

Lauren Mabry’s new works at Mission Clay Products in Phoenix, AZ

Follow Lauren on Instagram to see the evolution of her works!

Lauren Mabry at IAP is presented by Ferrin Contemporary. Click here for more information.

Mabry is originally from Madison, Wisconsin. She received her BFA in ceramics from Kansas City Art Institute in 2007 and her MFA from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in 2012. She has also studied abroad in Kecskemét, Hungary at the International Ceramics Studio. Her recent residencies include The Archie Bray Foundation For Ceramic Arts (Helena, MT), The Clay Studio (Philadelphia, PA), LH Project (Joseph, OR), and Mission Clay Products (Tempe, AZ).
Mabry has work in permanent collections at the Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art (Overland Park, KS) and The Sheldon Museum of Art (Lincoln, NE). She has recently exhibited at The Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts, The Milwaukee Art Museum, Houston Center for Contemporary Craft, and more.

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Cross-pollination between art and science: a conversation with Shuli Sadé and Martina Caruso

Cross-pollination between art and science: a conversation with Shuli Sadé and Martina Caruso

Shuli Sadé is a New York based multi-disciplinary artist who works across a range of mediums including photography, video, and installation. Her investigations into time and memory have led to collaborations with architects on site-specific art and architectural photography; with Dr. Dorita Hannah on photographs for Hannah’s essay in Eating Architecture (MIT Press, 2004); neuroscientists at the Weizmann institute of Science (2011-2012), and most recently, with neuroscientist, Dr. Andre A. Fenton on the creation of a permanent art installation for the Neurobiology of Cognition Laboratory at NYU (2010-2012).

On the occasion of her exhibition at Independent Art Projects, we invited Shuli to discuss how art and science cross-pollinate in her work, her process, and where she’s headed next.

Join Sadé and IAP Director Martina for an intimate discussion of the artist’s work Friday, September 19, at 3pm at IAP. See Sadé’s work on view at IAP through Sunday, September 21, 2014.


Martina CarusoShuli, what has been your creative journey that has brought you to where you are in your career today?

Shuli Sade: I was trained as an artist since early age. My interest in spatial perception and structural geometry made architecture a great source of inspiration. Scientific brain research made its way to my creative process as I begun working with the topic of memory in recent years.


MCI am fascinated by your creative process, and your relationships with other art and science professionals; you work with architects, with neuroscientists, and you use the information they transmit to you to create incredibly unique works. Can you tell us a little bit more about those cross-pollinating connections?

SS: My work embodies a cyclical relationship between different media, translating from drawing and photography, to site specific installation and video, to light and sound, and back to drawing. I am interested in the conversations between the media, whether I mechanize a hand drawing, or turn a photograph into an animation of moving images.
I collaborate with architects as part of my ongoing interest in historic and the newly built. Architecture is monumental sculpture. An urban plan is a site specific installation. Often I make a new art project inspired by the construction of a new building, like the renovation of the Morgan Library by Renzo Piano, or the construction of the Diana Center at Barnard College, built by Weiss Manfredi Architects. Other collaborations with architects have led to show in their offices (Gensler in WDC, FXFOWLE Architects in NYC, Ehrenkranz Group & Eckstut in LA). These collaborations have created many wonderful relationships with architects whose work I follow closely.


MCYour photographs seem to be always the starting point for new concepts, and experiments. What is a photograph for you?

SS: Sometimes a photograph is the remains of a place in time, with the conditions I captured, but often it is a starting point from which I create a layered narrative. Photography is the tool we use to remember a place in time. It is a reflection of the precise memory in real time. A starting point from which inevitable change can occur.


MCRepetitions, contemplation on sequence of events, composition of multiple photographs, are a strong, powerful component of your production. What is the concept behind your projects?

SS: When I record and reconstruct forms, or when I use one image repetitively, every sign of change between each frame calls for recognition of time, duration, as it carries the past into the present. It reflects on scientific methods of collecting data, as well as disappearing bodies of memory. What we do is making marks. Everything we do is marking both our own path and a universal path. What our brain does is keeping the marks we make in a grid which we call memory.

Inspired by Henri Bergson’s (1859–1941) ideas about duration, I created Duree, an installation of 120 panels with very little change between each. The sixty bright-white units reflect the sequence of a particular memory. Another sixty black units, negatives in comparison with the white units, suggest the creation of another memory. The grid arrangement of the black and white units frames the memories of a short trip across the Brooklyn Bridge. Memory is imposed upon memory, with the consequence that, over time, the reading moves further away from the original.


Shuli Sade, Durée, 2008.
An installation of luminous video stills and video, curated by Hyewon Yi, at Amelie A. Wallace Gallery, SUNY College at Old Westbury, NY


MCIn your photographs and videos of high-rise buildings, bridges, factories, and so on, there are no human subjects.  How did you choose to omit their inhabitants?

SS: I always thought that eliminating human figures and cars from my photographs make the buildings timeless. Once people enter the image, it becomes personal, narrative, and reveals more information than needed.


MCCan you tell us a little bit about the behind-the-scenes of your process? What is your photographic, elaboration, and printing process like?

SS: I start a project by taking night photographs of the city from above. The city streets and buildings are defined by a grid of light. A grid is important to my process. Brain activities are read and defined by grids as well. So are the beginning of architectural drawings. I manipulate pixels in my images to reflect memory: either by removing pixels to reflect on memory loss, or by adding and multiplying areas to show repetition of memory and time, duration, connection to the past, and confabulation – the re-inventing of details in a forgotten memory in the brain. Digital printing replaced my dark room and gelatin silver printings which I used to enjoy. Each project defines the method of printing on glass, paper, acrylic or canvas.


MCYou collaborate with designers, industrial artisans, fellow artists, and neuroscientists. What can you see in your future in the way of projects and collaborations?

SS: Exciting projects are in-progress. Each project makes way for the following body of work. The continuous investigation of ideas, new material, new software, 2 and 3D printing suggest solutions to a new body of work. I have several collaborations in mind for the coming year, including work with an urban planner and a group of international Neural Scientists who research the cracking of brain codes.


MCMana Contemporary is a two million-square-foot contemporary art center and home to a community of artists in Jersey City, NJ. Shuli, you are one of the artist-in-residence at Mana Contemporary. Can you tell us a little bit more of this impressive cultural economic operations, so similar to our home here at MASS MoCA, and your experience there?

SS: Like MASS MoCA, Mana Contemporary takes place inside historic factory buildings, rebuilt and renovated to become an incredible contemporary art place. In a relatively short time, owner Mr. Moishe Mana, and artist President Mr. Eugene Lemay have realized a unique vision, creating a center for contemporary art. Mana Contemporary includes artist studios, artists-in-residence studios, several museum quality gallery spaces, a new glass gallery, designed by Architect Richard Meier, who also opened his architectural models museum in the main building, and so much more.

The community is friendly and collaborative. Mana is a sophisticated utopia, serving both the public and the art community, with a foundry on the ground, and a dance rehearsal floor, a cafe, frame shop, art shipping shop, and changing exhibits. In the fall, Mana will collaborate with the Marina Abramovic Institute on a special project at the gallery. I am grateful to be part of Mana Contemporary, to work at my studio, and to be surrounded by such great energy. I am looking forward to seeing Mana Contemporary and MASS MoCA collaborate in the near future.

Mana Contemporary campus.jpg

Mana Contemporary, Jersey City, NJ


See you at IAP on September 19, at 3 pm, for a more broad conversation!

Israeli born Sadé moved to NY in 1984. With a BFA from Bezalel Academy of Art and Design and postgraduate work at NY’s School of Visual Arts, she has taught and lectured at the University of Pennsylvania School of Architecture, Parsons School of Design, Columbia University’s Barnard College, and Bezalel Academy of Art and Design School of Architecture. Sadé has received a pollock Krasner Foundation grant 2014, National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship, as well as grants from the New York Foundation for the Arts Emergency Grant Fund, the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council Fund, the Israel Cultural Cooperation Commission, AICF Study Fund, and the NY Art Development Committee. Her work is in numerous private and public collections.

Shuli Sadé is represented by CYNTHIA-REEVES.

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Christopher Russell’s precious clay

Christopher Russell’s precious clay

Christopher Russell’s intricate terra-cotta sculptures explore themes of nature, craftsmanship, and museography. As part of his exhibition at Independent Art Projects, we invited Christopher to discuss his inspiration, process, and vision. This interview happened right after the artist gallery talk on Saturday, August 16. Russell’s works will be on view at IAP until Sunday, September 21, 2014.


Alexandra Jelleberg: Christopher, Thank you for taking the time to answer some more questions following your artist talk at Independent Art Projects. I remember the first time we met, when you delivered your pieces to the Mill in Cummington, Massachusetts, where Ferrin Contemporary is housed. This happened just after the whirlwind of activities that took place in the weeks before Independent Art Projects opened its doors. Leslie Ferrin and Martina Caruso (co-founder and director of IAP, respectively) had been in contact with Julie Saul (of Julie Saul Gallery, New York, the gallery which represents you) about showing some of her artists in our new space. Everyone agreed that you would be perfect for IAP’s summer exhibition. All seemed perfectly aligned until we realized Leslie would be in China and you would be gone for a residency in Scotland when it came time for your work to be delivered. The solution to this international conundrum lie in the upfront delivery of your work. I remember I was giving a tour of the Mill to fellow ceramic artist Sin-Ying Ho, while simultaneously looking out the window for you as you navigated your works to the site. Do you often have similar unique and interesting moments leading up to exhibitions?

Christopher Russell: The days leading up to a show, with all the logistics, are usually just really busy!  Finishing everything, packing it up, delivering it to where ever it needs to go— it’s all a major military action. It is always very nice to deliver work outside New York City— after the whole ordeal of packing up the work, knowing that there will be parking at the other end seems so luxurious.


AJ: The works on view at Independent Art Projects were the first you hadn’t installed by yourself. While you must have been anxious about the loss of control over the details of the exhibition layout, you did get a chance to encounter your work with the element of surprise that your audience is normally privileged to. Were you able to have that magical moment of discovery when you saw your sculptures at IAP? Can you tell us a little bit more about this exhibition’s design process?

CR: It was exciting knowing that while I was away, in the Scottish Highlands, over in North Adams someone was taking the trouble to put my work up in the gallery; that people were coming to the opening and seeing the show, independent of me.  And I am very pleased that it went so well.  Even the piece that was most complicated to hang, the “Morning Glories”, seems to have gone up without problems. It has been a long term process for me, to figure out how to make my work independent of me; so that it can exist on its own, so I don’t have to be there like a stage mother, micromanaging. I have worked hard on designing my installation systems— so that they look good, but are also simple so others can most easily handle the pieces.  It is a balancing act having the work exist in the space or on the wall the way I want it to while trying to be sure it’s simple enough to get it there, without the gallery installer getting to a point where they are cursing my name.

And it was exciting to come into the gallery and see how it was arranged—and again I was really pleased.  I had never seen the “Morning Glories” properly installed before I saw the show, so it was nice to finally meet it.

Related to my efforts with my installation systems: These days I won’t be in a gallery for very long before I start inspecting how the artwork is installed, peering around the back of paintings to see what kind of system is used to get them to stay on the wall (I think it is an occupational hazard). Instead of looking at the artwork, I am studying how the frames are made.  It’s like with any relationship— it is hard to keep the mystery alive!


Artist Sean Riley, installing Christoper Russell’s Morning Glory with Bees at IAP


AJ: It seems that the audience and the art world will forever be entranced by the artist process. You compared your role as an artist to that of a magician who is asked to tell his audience how his tricks work; can you tell us a little bit more about how have you been able to navigate simply having your audience encounter your work versus having to explain the meaning behind it?

CR: When I am making something, I want it to be expressive— not that I necessarily want it to get across a particular message; but I want it to radiate, to beckon.  Part of what attracts a viewer is that sense of mystery, the promise of something to discover.   I really do think that too much explanation on my part only serves to spoil that mystery. It’s best when the work does the talking.


AJ: “After the Golden Age” was first exhibited at the Julie Saul Gallery in 2012. Originally consisting of 45 ceramic objects on a wooden pedestal designed for the installation, the exhibition of the work at IAP features several pieces from that display. The crowded still life objects, each individual and handmade, were inspired by art history and the decorative arts, sometimes loosely and sometimes quite specifically. Do you feel the concepts of artificiality and material value you explore in these pieces are amplified by the medium of ceramics? If yes, how so?

CR: I like translating precious materials into ceramic. Clay is thought of as being a lowly, humble material; so making precious things out of it, things like jewels or precious metals, is fun because it plays up the question of what is important about the particular material an object is made from.  I love silver work— so many amazing (even somewhat crazy) objects have been made with it over the centuries.  It has a particular vocabulary of shapes and detailing. It’s interesting to me to make that kind of a form in clay— both because it is a beautiful vocabulary, but also because it interesting to see what that vocabulary says when translated into a non precious medium; when the preciousness is stripped away.


After The Golden Age installed at Julie Saul Gallery, 2012


AJ: While you were describing your work on view at IAP, I became fascinated by the comparison you made between yourself as a maker and the inherent identity of the worker bees in “Beework: Hive”. Was this the first time you found yourself mirroring your subject matter in the work that you make?

CR: That was a funny thing, that as I got into making many bees over a long time, I began to feel like one of the bees working away at my task. It was sort of like the cereal box thing, when the guy on the box is holding a box with him on the box. I have done some self-portraits over the years, and I always find that as I work on a self-portrait I end up feeling like I am increasingly stuck in a loop: looking in the mirror, looking at my drawing, looking in the mirror again. Add into that the increasing awareness that you can never really see your own face— it can actually get a little spooky.

Drawing from life is mentally exhausting for me — looking, understanding, and translating something onto a flat page is really hard intellectual work. It hurts my eyes! Working in 3D makes a certain aspect of that translation unnecessary—drawing realistically is always illusionistic, but sculpting in 3D isn’t illusionistic in that same way.  So, for me, there is something less complicated about it. But it all demands that really hard part of looking and understanding your subject.


AJ: Watershed Center for the Ceramic Arts in North Edgecomb, Maine offers a variety of programs for artists from workshops and community firings to summer and fall residencies. We, like many ceramic artists, share the experience of having been resident artists there. When you mentioned how impactful Watershed Center for the Ceramic Arts was to you, I fondly remembered how amazing the space was for me as well. Would you describe your relationship with that particular residency?

CR: When I first went to Watershed, in 1990, I was still very much a painter and draughtsman. I was new to clay, and was a beginner both in my understanding of the material as a means of making art, and as a craftsman, as a technician. Three summers in a row I spent time at Watershed, and I learned so much, I really think of it as my graduate school experience. I was a lot younger then, and I worked like crazy, for hours and hours everyday. Being isolated there, with meals taken care of and no other obligations, I got really consumed by the project I did each summer. And I could ask the people around me about how to do things, and they would just tell me— I learned how to fire a kiln, how to make clay, how to make glazes… Along with that was the chance to be in that beautiful, rustic place.  Bats flew around the studio!  I was afraid of the dark when I got there. Learning to walk from the studio building back up to the sleeping hall, at 4 in the morning, in the dark with the stars out, I learned to love the dark, that feeling of being at peace in the night while knowing that all kinds of creatures were all around, doing their thing, just like you.


AJ: Your most recent residency was at ANTA in Fearn, Scotland. Could you tell us about this experience, and how residencies have shaped your work?

CR: The owners of ANTA, a wide ranging design firm based in the Scottish highlands, invited me to do a residency in their pottery workshop. I both did my own project and bounced around ideas about what they were doing. Again, it was an opportunity to get really focused. The ANTA workshops are in Fearn, a tiny village on a peninsula about 4 hours north of Edinburgh. It is extraordinarily beautiful there, a hybrid of farm land, seacoast and hills, with just amazing weather. From minute to minute the sky would change (I have never seen clouds like that) and when I arrived, being midsummer, it basically never got dark. Of course I had to do something that responded to such an environment, and I did so (perhaps perversely), by becoming pretty obsessed with the gazillions of snails that were around. They became my stand in for the whole environment.  Now I am back in New York City, and I am still making snails. A residency is always a good way to reboot, let’s say; to go to a new place and just ask yourself, “Ok, what do I want to do?”


AJ: You spoke to the director of Independent Art Projects, Martina Caruso, about your recent public art work in at Sunset Park, Brooklyn, NY. Can you tell us a little bit more about how this project’s commission came to you, as well as how working in bronze compared to working in ceramics?

CR: The MTA (Metropolitan Transportation Authority) has a whole department which works to bring art into the New York transportation system: Arts for Transit and Urban Design.  Through Percent for the Arts (the law that sets aside one percent of all public building budgets for artwork), they place site specific work in all the stations. My proposal was selected for the Sunset Park Station.  It is a greatly enlarged version of my much closer-to-life-size ceramic bees. I liked the beehive theme in the context of the station, which seemed to me to be very much like a hive, with people rushing in and out, going about their business.
I had not worked in bronze before I started the project.  I worked with a really good foundry, the Modern Art Foundry in Astoria, Queens. They made it possible for me to slip right in to the process. The big difference between my studio practice and working in the foundry is that foundry work is a group process, whereas my studio work is quite solitary. The whole scale of my studio work is largely determined by what I can do by myself.
At the foundry, there is a team of people at each step of the process, and it was often my job to tell people what I wanted instead of doing it myself. That is a very different skill.  But in some way I came to understand that a whole foundry is in some way another tool: in the same way that a brush or a knife is a tool, it is a means by which to get an artwork to exist. Just as there are skills involved in making art with a brush, there are skills necessary to use a foundry to make art. It was interesting to learn about that similarity.


Bees for Sunset Park, north gate detail, 9th Avenue MTA subway station, Sunset Park, Brooklyn, NY.


Christopher Russell studied at Wesleyan University and lives and works in New York. He has been a panelist for the Arts in Transit and Urban Design (New York, NY), a judge for the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards (New York, NY), and both resident artist as well as Advisory and Full Board Member at Watershed Center for the Ceramic Arts (North Edgecomb, ME). He recently completed a commission for the Metropolitan Transit Authority’s Arts for Transit who selected his design proposal for the 9th Avenue Brooklyn Station.

Alexandra Jelleberg is a Gallery Associate and Registrar for Ferrin Contemporary, and Artist Liaison for Independent Art Projects.

Contributions to this interview were made by Martina Caruso, Director of Independent Art Projects.

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Tanya Marcuse’s photographic sculptures

Tanya Marcuse’s photographic sculptures

Tanya Marcuse’s imaginative photographs possess the magic of teetering between plausible and implausible, life and death, and she has an undeniable signature style: a mix of dreamy romanticism and clinical exactness.

On the occasion of her exhibition at Independent Art Projects, we invited Tanya to discuss the role photography plays in her life, and where she’s headed next. Her exhibition at IAP is on view until September 25, 2014.


Martina Caruso: Tanya, we are here to see and talk about your “Fallen” series; can you talk a bit about how you arrived at this subject?

Tanya Marcuse: Fallen grew out of an earlier series called Fruitless (2005 – 2007), where I photographed fruit trees in the Hudson Valley in different seasons over many years. Each photograph focused on a single tree, occasionally surrounded by the fallen fruit that captivated me more fully in the next project.
I often photograph the same tree from the same vantage point in different seasons and years. I am riveted by the stunning transformations these trees undergo through the seasons, and the portrait-like individuality of each tree. Yet, I am also photographing these orchards because they are in danger of vanishing as the landscape of the region becomes more and more developed and open spaces and agricultural land diminishes. Most of these trees stand on land that is currently for sale.

Fruitless N¼1,  by Tanya Marcuse, 2005

Fruitless Nº 1, 2005
platinum/palladium print, 4 3/4 x 3 3/4″, pigment print, 50 x 40″


MC: When I look at the “Fallen” photographs I discover and get surprised by a new iconography and a new perception of natural elements, as well as symbolism. What concept is behind the project?

TM: Throughout the series I’m imagining the Garden of Eden after Adam and Eve have been kicked out and picturing a place where there’s a mixture of tremendous wildness, beauty, fecundity and decay. In Paradise, Adam and Eve would have been keeping the place in a sort of perfect order, but then after their transgression and departure everything becomes overgrown, wild. The fruit is unpicked, uneaten; it falls to the ground, floats downstream. Plums mix with apples, flower petals mix with fruit, animals with plants, and of course life mixes with death. There’s a blending together of the order and perfection of the Edenic landscape with a kind of chaos. That’s the conceptual foundation of the series.


MC: Can you tell us a little bit of the behind-the-scenes of the series? What is your photographic process like?

TM: My process is extremely intensive, obsessive, and sometimes quite fun. I have an extensive collection of props gathered from the natural world –snakes, birds, bats, turtles—all dead and frozen (I don’t kill them, I find them), apples in different stages of decay, milkweed pods, cicada carapaces and dragonfly wings. Sometimes I save leftovers from family meals—eggshells, for example—and sometimes I grow things, like Queen of the Night tulips, to use in my work. My kids bring me things for my collection—donations of bird skulls, dead turtles—and we have gone on family expeditions to nearby orchards to go rotten apple picking. What I love about having this collection, what it enables me to do, is to construct a tableau out in a found landscape of things in the natural world that would not logically concur. And I like this because it heightens the sense of tension between the plausible and the implausible, the natural and the unnatural, the living and the dying.

I photograph with a 4 x 5” view camera, using film, then scan the film and make digital pigment prints. I do all of my own printing, unless the scale exceeds my 44” wide printer.

Fallen, Nº 182, 29.5  x 38", 2011

Fallen Nº 182, 2011


MC: You worked with black and white small-scale prints, and now you are mastering larger format digitally produced pigment prints. What is your relationship with other photographic techniques and new media?

TM: Basically for each project that I work on, as the project evolves and the concept becomes clearer, the decisions about the object also become clearer. I like to be open to making work in new ways depending on the underlying conceptual needs of each project. I love this sense of challenge and adventure as my work has evolved over the years. On one hand, within individual projects, I like to create fairly tight constraints to work within, and on the other hand, I always want to be willing to challenge my methods and assumptions.

So, in Undergarments and Armor, a much earlier series, I wanted to create prints that were serial, intimate, very much like a catalogue, but I also wanted the prints to be extremely tactile and immediate, so that my choice of a 19th century printing process (platinum prints) was not one of nostalgia. It really had to do with the qualities of that object and how it related to the concept of the project.

I had never worked on such a large scale or printed color pigment prints on my own in the way that I have in my series Fallen, but I felt that the project demanded it. The scale had to be large enough to reveal the intensity of the detail and to provide an immersive experience for the viewer.

That is always the absolute crux of the decision of how to make something—the scale, whether its in color or black and white, whether the paper is glossy or matte, how green the green is—every decision has to do with the relationship between what it means and what it looks like.


MC: What are you working on now? What’s next?

TM: I like to have a few projects going at the same time—some more labor-intensive and long-term and others somewhat more whimsical and playful. I’m actually continuing my work on Fallen — I’m continuing to collect things and I’m planning some very large-scale pieces for that series. It’s moving in a slightly different direction — I’m photographing uprooted trees. I’m picturing the Tree of Knowledge and the Tree of Good and Evil fallen to the ground after the expulsion of Adam and Eve, with the root structure and underlying earth exposed. I like seeing under the earth. I’m also working on an ongoing project called “iFallen”, almost making fun of my own work, where I photograph objects that have fallen to the ground in different cities using my iPhone. So I’m still exploring the concept of “fallen-ness,” but using a different more vernacular photographic language, creating a kind of archive of non-fiction fallen-ness in the urban streets.


Question from the audience #1: From a sculpture point of view, I have to ask you, why you don’t save the sculpture you create for the shot?

TM: Great question. It’s good you asked because I don’t really consider the things that I make for the photographs to be sculptures. The reason why I don’t is because I feel that the things that I construct are made solely for the purposes of the photograph—you step 15 feet back and they look like a pile of leaves, and then there’s some kind of coming together, an ordering that happens through the lens of the view camera. I do construct the set first and then I begin looking through the camera’s lens—somehow that’s important to me. But the set is not significant in and of itself. I do, however, dismantle them and save and reuse as many of the parts as I can.


Question for the audience #2: How you handle collaborative work?

TM: That’s also a perfectly timed question because, in the coming month, my 17 year old daughter Eve and I are going to be working very intensively on a collaborative limited-edition artist’s book (still untitled) before she leaves for college. I’m culling small photographs from the larger works of Fallen—fragments of the images that isolate different elements of the iconography. Eve is working with text extracted from our 1958 set of Encyclopedia Britannicas creating shaped poems.
However, this is a rare instance of collaboration for me. I like to work alone, and when I’m photographing I don’t use assistants (other than my kids). When I go out and work, even when I’m hauling around my view camera and other gear, my props, and travelling miles into the woods to find a particular spot where I want to photograph, I do this in a solitary way.


Question from the audience #3: Would you describe yourself as an introvert or extrovert?

TM: I’m both. That’s why I like photography and that’s why I chose it as my art form when I was 17. I was one of those teenagers with a little too much in the emotional category. I was already drawn to art but photography just clicked for me because it had a built-in mediation and because it was looking out at the world. You’re looking in and you’re looking out at the same time. That’s why the medium has shaped my life, because it allows you to do that.
Tanya Marcuse earned her MFA from Yale. She has been awarded a Guggenheim fellowship among other honors, and her work is in the collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the George Eastman House, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Corcoran Gallery of Art and the Yale Art Gallery. She is currently teaching photography at Bard College.

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On Thursday, July 31, we welcomed artists, IAP participant galleries and the general public to Independent Art Project in North Adams for the opening reception of the new IAP summer exhibition, a group show about the representation of landscape, nature and still life through different contemporary art media.

The work of six artists (Tanya Marcuse, Christopher Russell, Sin-ying Ho, Steven Young Lee, and Shuli Sade) represented by galleries from New York and Western Massachusetts will be on display through Sunday, September 21.

See the full list of artists on view here.

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Artist Sin-ying Ho, and her gallerist Leslie Ferrin

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Gallerist Sienna Patti, and IAP Director Martina Caruso

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Attendees looking at Steven Young Lee’s ceramic installations

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Gallerist Julie Saul, and The Clark Art Institute Associate Director Tom Loughman

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CYNTHIA-REEVES staff, from L to R: Sara Mintz (Associate Director – New York), Azariah Aker (Associate Director – New England), Elisabeth Gordon (Corporate Art Advisor), and Jennifer Meyer (Corporate Art Advisor)

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Attendees looking at Sin-ying Ho’s vessels

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Berkshire Hills Internship Program (BHIP) interns

See the complete album of photos here.

All images © Tracey Eller.

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Lianghong Feng’s Paintings and Process

Lianghong Feng’s Paintings and Process

In 1982, when I was 20 years old a though suddenly came to my mind on my birthday, which is to draw a picture for myself, so I started to paint on canvas, and since then, my career in abstract painting began. – Lianghong Feng

Bejing-based artist Lianghong Feng has made this video in 2011 for CYNTHIA-REEVES.

Feng produces lush abstract paintings inspired by a heady mixture of ancient Chinese philosophy, calligraphy, Eastern and Western art history, and urban graffiti. He covers his canvases with beautifully complementary passages of color and all manner of marks, including fat, paint-laden brushstrokes; thin, sketchy scribbles; drips; daubs; and splatters. He often begins with a naturalistic landscape, which he then partially obscures with an overlay of his abstract marks.

Feng both refuses and accepts categorizations of his work—a Zen-like position that acknowledges our natural inclination to define works of art in concrete terms, while also insisting upon the freedom to approach his practice with originality and without preconditions.

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IAP in Images

IAP in Images

Be part of our image gallery! Come to IAP, take photos, and upload them on Instagram with #1315MASSMoCAWay hashtag.

Search instagram for #1315MASSMoCAWay for the full IAP feed.

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