Saturday, January 10, 2009

Multi-D Drawing: Linda Price-Sneddon

About the Artist
Linda Price-Sneddon is a 1998 graduate of the School of the Museum of Fine Arts Boston Studio Program. She has received grants in support of her installation work from such institutions as the Massachusetts Cultural Council, the Berkshire Taconic A.R.T. Fund, the St. Botolph Club, Boston, MA. and Citibank. Linda has shown widely in the New England area and has been artist–in-residence at schools and institutions including MASS MoCA’s Kidspace and The Fuller Craft Museum in Brockton, MA. She has worked in collaboration with children, teens, adults and the homeless. Her drawings can be seen in The Drawing Center’s Artist Registry NY, NY and in the Boston Drawing Project at Carroll and Sons Gallery in Boston, MA.
Image Info.: (from top to bottom) Influx II (dimensions variable); SOS, Work in Progress, (dimensions variable); Influx I (dimensions variable); humaNature , 2007, (dimensions variable); Mountain (Stance) 2008 (dimensions variable).

Even though your very vibrant work is multi-dimensional, it seems very rooted in drawing. What is your personal reason for this? How did drawing become an important medium for you?

I am so happy that you see the work as rooted in drawing. It is, in fact, what I consider my work to be. Drawing.
I have always been the most interested in this practice of drawing. Through drawing, we explore what it means to be alive, to be human. Drawing’s immediacy reveals the idiosyncrasies… the distinctions between individuals. The self is manifest in drawing. As Joseph Bueys said “Drawing is Thinking…” and as such, it is one of the most personal of acts.

Can you discuss you interest in drawing and creating your work with 2D and 3D materials? How does this carry out your concepts in your work?

I began this journey as an oil painter, but was always left somewhat irritated that a painting had to resolve to a final statement or “answer”. Why should this be when change is the only constant?!
I began to play around with my palette and the dried paints. In fact, much to my chagrin at the time, I often received more compliments and interest in my palette and the associated detritus than in the painting.

I think that my inclination to create wall drawings with 2D and 3D materials goes back, like most things, to the early childhood years, between ages 3-6 or so. As a kid, I spent hours in a backyard sandbox; altering the terrain and using found materials to create drawings and environments in the sand. The mutability and impermanence of the sandbox were powerful influences on my creative will.
I believe that these early experiences caused me to look for materials that would give me flexibility, materials with which I could quickly respond to the given moment and intention. I sought materials that could be re-used and recycled. I was looking for a cast of characters, if you will, that could accompany me from gig to gig. I began to assemble a toolbox of materials, a kind of” table of elements” that could provide line, form, volume and texture to an ever evolving body of work.

The materials that I’ve chosen, tape, pipe cleaners, twine, pompoms, clay, are tactile elements. I think that this tactile quality, along with their immediacy, feeds the act of improvisation and elevates the sense of “present-ness” in the work and as I work.

I also think that these elements allow for chance to enter into the work. I was interested in reading Ann Tarantino’s comments about the importance of chance in her work, and the dance that unfolds between control and chance. This is where the real stuff happens! A game of catch and release, and catch again, with our intention.

The images you create with your materials relate to the landscape, literally and figuratively. Can you speak more specifically how the landscape became a metaphor in your work? How do your materials relate to it on different levels?

I have always been attached to the landscape. Again, as a child, spending countless hours running in the woods and rolling down hills. Dragging my fingers through the dirt and over the scaly backs of trees…lying on my back in the grass and jumping between the clouds in the sky.
Oh, I am getting dangerously close to stepping up on my soapbox and preaching the scripture of “play.” It is absolutely essential that you let your children play outside as often as possible and using force, if necessary, but I will restrain…

I was trained as a plein air landscape painter at the Lyme Academy of Fine Arts in Old Lyme, CT., and it was there that my eyes opened to similarities of form across orders of magnitude… from the landscape to the microscope. The elegance and economy of the landscape, landscape as measure of time and record of this planet’s elemental forces energize the work in the studio. The landscape as home to that which is other than human and where through attention and observation, we can learn to become more fully human.

The materials that I use are just my way of putting a stick in the dirt and scratching out glyphs. I guess also that the vibrancy and graphic quality of my chosen materials convey my feelings of life’s vibrancy and clarity. Their capacity for change mimics the changing landscape. The impermanence of my wall drawing is metaphor for the impermanence of experience… of moments…of life…of our life.

When you create a site-specific installation, what are your goals when you respond to a space with your materials and concepts?

My work is always designed/adapted to the space(s) where it will be shown.
I seek to find ways to exploit the most interesting features of a given site. My best installations have occurred in spaces that I have chosen because of a strong response to the site. I have done several installations that I consider to be “infestations” of the space, that look for opportunistic synergies of materials with the gallery environment.

My other objective is to be very conscious of the “footprint” made on the gallery space. Part of this may just be a kind of pragmatism, but I enjoy working with materials that are easily reversible, that can be recycled and re-employed in new projects and that don’t require the space to conform to me and my needs. It’s part of the overall ethics of my work.

Can you talk about your interest in using modular materials and in creating site-specific installations? How do your materials and arrangements change when they move from one space to another?

I’m pretty sure that I have never shown the same piece twice. My husband sometimes teases me for this, and legitimately so… it’s a lot of work to always feel the need to move forward and on to the next. This is not to say that my themes do not repeat, and yes, I reuse images and constructions from past installations. But the notion of re-doing a piece does not even seem possible to me. Each incarnation is a new iteration, a new evolution of the work. And, again, because I am interested in site-specificity, each site calls out for a new response. The events that occur in the installation process generate a unique outcome.

In what ways do your concepts and ideas of how to “draw” shift and evolve when you work in different gallery spaces?

With each new exhibition opportunity, I spend about an hour or so at the site exploring, crawling over the space, and looking for features that I might utilize or exploit. I then take measurements of all features of the site and begin introducing ideas into scaled drawings of the space. By the time I get into the space, I know it pretty well, and there is usually no need to refer to the drawings again. The actual space now dictates the final response. And, not only the space, but also the interactions that occur with gallery personnel, students, custodians, and visitors impact my response as I work.

These factors coupled with the modularity of my materials lead to a kind of organic improvisation. At it’s best, the experience can be likened to the magic that occurs between a jazz combo and an attentive audience in an intimate club setting. The musicians arrive on the stage with their instruments and a repertoire of jazz standards, but where the music goes from there on any particular night is a product of the moment.

Can you discuss your use of color and why it is important to your work?
Well, first is the visceral response…. I just love color. Always have. My earliest memories, one in particular as early as the age of 1-½ yrs., are of color, pure color.
Second, is the contrarians response. I am compelled to take a stand against western culture’s equation of color with low culture… vulgarity…that somehow a black-white-gray aesthetic is pure and of a higher plane.
I use color in celebration of the colors of life, and of death, for that matter. I also really like to remind people that in other cultures, different colors have very different meanings from those in western culture. For example, in India, white is the color of mourning.

What is happening in your work currently?
I have been integrating video projection into my wall drawing. This comes with some new challenges, but very much satisfies my desire to have a work that evolves in front of the viewer. The biggest challenges are the transition between the moving image and the static wall drawing and managing the content of the projection so that too many images do not pull the viewer in too many different directions. That said I am really psyched to be working this out. It has been an objective of mine for some time.

Also, I have finally found the combination of materials that brings painting and drawing closer together for me so that I achieve the kind of immediacy and control that I have long desired. I am working primarily with Flashe, a heavily pigmented matte vinyl paint, and dip pen and ink. In addition to the lush black of India ink, there is a wide palette of acrylic inks to satisfy my penchant for chroma. There are even seductive pearlescents!

Wish me luck on this journey and thanks for the opportunity to talk about my work!
To contact Linda:
Linda Price-Sneddon
535 Albany St., #3D
Boston, MA 02118

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