Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Studio Visit with Molly Springfield

Molly Springfield is a Washington, DC based artist. She received her MFA from the University of California at Berkeley in 2004, and was in residence at Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture in 2006. Her work has been reviewed in Artforum, Art Papers, The Village Voice, The New Yorker, the San Francisco Chronicle, and the Chicago Tribune. She is currently a semi-finalist for the Janet and Walter Sondheim Prize for 2009.
interviewed by Mindy Hirt

MH: Could you tell me a bit about where you have been and how you got to the point you're at now in your career?

MS: Well, I went to graduate school at UC Berkley and I graduated in 2004. I lived in DC before going to grad school. My partner and I came back to DC and I have been here ever since. I taught at George Washington University and MICA the first three years after grad school. Now, I'm just working full time in the studio. During that period from grad school I just worked hard in the studio as well as teaching, tried to get my work out as much as I could. I built up enough momentum that I felt like I could do it full time. So that's what I've been doing the past couple years.

MH: Can you talk a little about your drawing process?

MS: Well, in very general terms I start by doing a lot of research identifying text or subject that I want to work from. Then I pull all of that stuff together either make photocopies that I'm going to draw directly from or make copies or clippings that I'll use as less direct subject matter. Then I make drawings from there. It's pretty straight forward- what you see is basically what I'm drawing from.

A comparison of one of Molly's drawings (left) to the photocopy it was drawn from (right).

MH: So you plan the drawing out ahead of time?

MS: I don't want to say it's regimented because that's not how I feel about it. It might appear that way but there is something about doing a 1:1 equivalent of whatever it is that I'm drawing that's important to me. That process of doing that 1:1 correspondence is something that drives me to make work. Any kind of work. So, it might appear to be really contained or constrained but that's not the way it works for me.

These are two drawings of an empty photo copy. It was a reaction to one of her previous projects.

MH: How do you go about deciding the text you're going to draw?

MS: When I first started drawing photocopies the texts were usually about language in some way. Whether it was language and visual art or language and philosophy. So that's kinda where I started from; an interest in language. How language has a visual presence as well as a semantic presence. Its kinda evolved from there. I have a pretty broad intellectual interest. So, I like to pull from all kinds of different things, whether its conceptual art from the 60's or 70's or the history of photography. Right now I'm researching the proto-history of the internet and how early 20th century models prefigured the internet as we know it today. So, I have a wide range of interests in terms of subject matter and why I chose things.

MH: Do you think that you might start drawing from the internet or is there something specific about the book?

MS: I won't say never because you never know what you're going to end up doing down the road. Right now I don't think that I would draw from the internet. I still think that there has to be some kind of tangible thing, maybe if I did I would be printing out from the browser and then drawing the print out. Or something like that. There has to be some kind of physical correspondence and the internet is a completely unphysical thing.

MH: Is that what the book gives you, that physical correspondence?

MS: Yes, the book is an object that has a lot of weight to it, whether it's emotional or historical. It's a nostalgic object for a lot of people in a lot of different ways. That's defiantly one of the things that attracts me to actual books. I'm not one of those people who thinks that books are gonna disappear.

MH: Can you talk a little bit about the importance of your hand in your drawings?

MS: Yeah, a lot of people don't see the hand in the drawings and it is there and that's important to me. If it wasn't important to me then I wouldn't be drawing them I would be re photographing them or just putting up the photocopy itself. So, the imperfections that I introduce by drawing them by hand are very important.
And they are there. If we had a drawing and the original photocopy it would be pretty obvious that it's not a perfect copy I don't try to hide the little flaws that happen in that process I want them to occur.

MH: What's your next project?

MS: Well, like I mentioned before I'm researching these kinds of pre-internet organizational systems. I think I'm going to be doing something along those lines. It's pretty early in the process. I've been wanting to try some sculptural ideas out and I think this might be a vehicle for me to do that. I took a sculpture class in undergrad because I had to for my major and I've done a little here and there but never in a really serious way. So it's kind of a new thing for me that's going to require a lot of education and research. Probably some collaborating with people who know about these kinds of things. But it will defiantly also include drawing. Right now I'm thinking that the drawing and sculpture will be combined in some way. I'm still trying to get my head wrapped around the actual history and the technology and all the sources that I have been collecting. I'm ready to try something new.

MH: Are there any specific goals in your career that you haven't reached yet but would like to?

MS: It would be really nice to have some kind of museum show within the next few years of some of the projects that I have recently finished. It doesn't have to be MOMA. You don't not get things by not trying. I would also like to do some more residencies, kind of longer term that would allow me to really make a dent is some of this new stuff that I'm getting into. My last major project of my Proust translation there are plans to publish it in book form and I'm going to have a book design ready to go it's just a matter of finding a publisher and/or funding to publish the book. I would really like to see that happen in the next couple years.

MH: Can you talk a little bit more about the book?

MS: It's basically, not a catalog so much as a book version of my drawn Proust translation and it would have a reproduction of every drawing. You would be able to read it like a book rather than view it as the drawings in the gallery. A poet named Bill Berkson has written an essay that would be in the book. I wrote an introduction for the drawings which became another drawing for the show version of the project. Because the drawing is one piece, and whoever buys it has to buy the entire set of 28 drawings, I wanted there to be a more democratic version that could distribute the project to people. And would also give people an opportunity to read it like a book, like a real new translation. Which is the concept of the project that I've made this new translation.

MH: If you could interview any local artist, who would it be?

MS: Noelle Tan. She has a show up at civilian right now. I really love her work. In fact she had a show at DCAC a couple years ago maybe more than that and I saw it. Her photographs were amazing, they look almost like drawings and I think that's why I was attracted to them in the first place. They have a kind of drawn quality to them in the way they are exposed. I would love to meet her and talk to her about her work.

To See More:


Mindy Hirt's work will be on view at The Katzen Art Museum
as part of the first year MFA exhibition April 11- 19, 2009

No comments:

Post a Comment