A Generous Kingdom III Exhibit

with Clobbered

Feature Artists Interviews

with Diane KW and Suzanne Wolfe

Diane KW

How does your installation, “Clobbered” interact with the theme of “A Generous Kingdom”? 

I have used one of the most iconic symbols of home – the set dining table – to tell the stories of people, people with dreams, people who want money, people who want companionship.  But I have added a sinister twist to the theme – the stories are from con men, power hungry maniacs, crooks.  For example, the fish platter called I Want to Be an Artist , is an excerpt from Adolf Hitler’s Mein Kampf,  where he describes wanting to be an artist, applying to art school twice, and being rejected both times.   The platter is also decorated with images of some of Hitler’s paintings.  The antique Meissen dinner service is “clobbered” with spam e-mails – stories of people who want your help, your business, your personal identity.

Does the idea of transformation influence your work and process? 

Oh yes! My work is all about transformation. I like to subtly modify valuable decorated heirloom china with texts and images transforming it into social, cultural or historical commentary, without obliterating the original decoration.  In other work, I carve raw clay vessels, transforming them from the utilitarian into reticulated sculptures, keeping the original utilitarian form.

What draws you to the medium you chose?

Clay, porcelain is forever.  Think of the archeological digs, the shipwreck salvages – always containing china, maybe broken, but still with its decoration.  With my transformations, I am sending messages about our society into the future.

Tell us a little about your process (I don’t believe in giving it all away).  

The Meissen dishes were transformed with the use of ceramic transfers – so-called “decals” that are applied painstakingly word by word or line by line.  Each dish is then fired in a kiln to adhere the decals permanently to the dish.

Do you work in other modes of expression? No

Who inspires you?  Ai Wei-Wei, Doris Salcedo

What do you do to get inspired?  People are a continuous source of inspiration for me -their strengths and weaknesses, their stupidity and intelligence, their goodness and evilness. 

If you could have coffee or tea with any artist who would you pick?  What would you have coffee or tea?  What would you ask that artist?  I would have coffee with Vincent Van Gogh.  As a retired physician. I would talk to him about his depression, see if I could help him. 

What do you hope your work achieves, in general, and/or specifically with this installation?

My hope is that my work will cause people to pause and think for a moment.What might the world be like if Hitler had been accepted to art school?What will you do with your heirloom china?Could precious objects be more than symbols of beauty, but carry messages to the future, to your heirs, to society?

If you could produce any type of work, would you choose something different? No!

What recently made you smile?

What recently made you cry?  The death of my husband, my soulmate left me with grief beyond measure.  I thought I would not be able to complete the work for this exhibition, but I found the need to finish the last pieces just after his death, gave me some strength and resolve.  I am now carving urns (relief carving!) for his ashes, and feel surprisingly at peace, as I work.  Art may indeed be my salvation.

What was the most powerful work of art you recall viewing? Where was it? How did it make you feel? 

One of the most powerful images to me is that of the empty chair – it opens a whole train of thought about loss, absence, invitation, anticipation.  Doris Salcedo’s installation at the Istanbul Biennial in 2003 of 1500 wooden chairs randomly stacked in a space between 2 buildings was most powerful.

If you could tell your viewers one thing, what would you tell them?  Use history as a guide to the future.  Do not forget lessons learned from the past.  Make sure you children learn history.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Suzanne Wolfe

How does your installation, “Clobbered” interact with the theme of “A Generous Kingdom”? 

It has to do with stories.

The clobbered coffee cups as a body of work began more than twenty years ago, when I realized how much my own history had in common with the histories of other women, regardless of their jobs, their social or cultural status, their geographical locations.  Women’s magazines, novels, and tabloids harbor thoughts and feelings that go much deeper than what a cursory interpretation of these materials might suggest.  I began to collect snippets of text from these sources, being drawn to those which could generate multiple interpretations, multiple implications.  Juxtaposing different texts (and images) extracted from their original contexts created other implications regarding the meanings of these phrases, sometimes contrary to their initial intent.  Reading the various texts asks the viewer to insert her own history, in between the lines – to personalize her story in the cup.

The choice of coffee cups for this body of work was obvious to me.  As a young girl growing up in the 1950’s and 60’s in a middle-class neighborhood in the suburbs of Chicago, I realized that all the neighborhood women were “just housewives.”  (The quotes do not reflect my opinion, but what I felt was the assessment of the value of women during those times.)  Most did not have skills or training to survive in the wider marketplace, though they were great cooks and really good at keeping their homes in tip-top shape (i.e. my mother).  Often the neighborhood women would come to our house around 10 am. for morning coffee.  Their conversations revolved around those very topics that I read about later in the women’s literature that I was researching.  Thus, the coffee cup became the witness to these conversations, and reflected the atmosphere that enveloped these women – the cup recorded their hopes, fears, frustrations, annoyances - experiences shared with others sailing in the same boat.

Does the idea of transformation influence your work and process? 

The concept of clobbering (which transforms/changes an already finished work) developed out of the economic necessity to enhance the value of objects that were not appealing to the buying public.  Some of the porcelain objects that had been imported from China and Japan did not always sell and subsequently were further embellished to enhance their desirability. 

 What draws you to the medium you chose?

Clay chose me.

Tell us a little about your process (I don’t believe in giving it all away).  

I am intrigued by words – how they become superficial markers for objects, ideas and events that have much more depth.  It is so easy to dismiss something by just naming it. When I was a little girl, I used to sit in front of a mirror in my parent’s bedroom and just say one word, over and over, and then began realizing that the word actually did not mean anything.  

What are the strengths of the medium?  What are the challenges?

As found objects, the challenge is finding the best object to enhance.  The coffee cups that I have chosen for this exhibition are mostly Japanese from the 50’s and 60’s (and even earlier) when Japanese porcelain was highly refined.  Since I have lived in Hawaii for almost 50 years, my life has been enhanced by the multicultural environment here. 

However, I often work with clay in its raw state, to make other kinds of work.  The strengths of clay are that it presents the opportunity to work three-dimensionally to create objects in space, and then a surface to enhance through painting or drawing.

Do you work in other modes of expression?

Words…

Who inspires you?

Better asked is what.   Basic existence.

What do you do to get inspired?

Not much.  I find it hard to find enough time to explore all the ideas that I have.  Things just come.

If you could have coffee or tea with any artist who would you pick?  What would you have coffee or tea?  What would you ask that artist?

Ai Weiwei.  Probably tea since I have some good tea at home.  (I prefer tea when someone else prepares it…)  I don’t know what I would ask.  I would just start a conversation.  Ai Weiwei has recently left China and moved to the US.  I guess I would ask him why he left – the obvious answer would be that he was constantly harassed by the government.  However, his activities (in my opinion) were really important in challenging the policies of the Chinese government. On one level, I am sorry he left. But I would really like to meet him…

What do you hope your work achieves, in general, and/or specifically with this installation?

I would hope that those who experience the work in this exhibition would relate to the text as it applies to their own lives and that it would open up realizations about what motivates us.

How many works do you have to produce before you find a successful image or result?

Thousands and sometimes just one.

If you could produce any type of work, would you choose something different? 

No. But my work changes from one form to another often.

What recently made you smile?

Children playing.

What recently made you cry?

Children starving.

What was the most powerful work of art you recall viewing? Where was it? How did it make you feel? 

I don’t know.  But I go back to the work by Joseph Kosuth regarding a chair – the object, a photo, and a definition.  This is related to my answer in number 4.

If you could tell your viewers one thing, what would you tell them?

Be fearless.

© 2013 by Verum Ultimum Art Gallery. 

3014 NE Ainsworth, Portland, OR 97211  

347-752-8915    fineartvu@gmail.com

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