Saturday, February 07, 2009

Art Space Talk: Erin Morrison

Erin Morrison was born in Little Rock, Arkansas February 26, 1985.She attended Memphis College of Art, where she graduated with a BFA, and breifly studied at the California College of Art.Currently living in Seattle, she is represented by the William Bennett Gallery in the SoHo district of New York City. Outside of frequent solo exhibitions at the William Bennett, she participates in group shows and makes private commissions regularly.
Protected Forest: Clement, ID, 24 x 32”, mixed media on paper, 2008

Brian Sherwin: Erin, you studied at Memphis College of Art and California College of Art. Can you tell us about your academic background? Did you have any influential instructors or peers?
Erin Morrison: It all started in the 6th grade at the back of a Hobby Lobby in Little Rock Arkansas. After my parents saw how enthusiastic I became about painting projections of animals from National Geographic with a group of senior citizens that they decided right then to continue encouraging me.

For college I wasn't given enough scholarship to attend any of the larger schools in New York or San Francisco, but MCA was substantially less expensive and would give me the opportunity to spend one semester abroad my third year. It was also small and close to home which was nice.

I had several good teachers in Memphis, but when I took a classes under Barron Storey and Jordan Kantor at CCA, I felt I got a leg up on contemporary concerns in illustration and drawing, which is definitely something I needed at the time.
Metropolitan Park (Spread Your Seed): Seattle, WA, 24 x 32”, mixed media on paper, 2008

BS: My understanding is that you travel between Seattle and New York City. Can discuss the influence that cities have had on your art? What about traveling in general?

EM: I think air travel is a pretty surreal and exhausting experience. I've been up in planes before, but it wasn't till working in the events industry in New York that it became a regular part of my life. I was constantly flying from one city to another to register these haughty businessmen (mostly men) for corporate events.
It was a completely draining experience that was thankfully short-lived, but I started to like the experience being in the air. Although I felt a little guilty with all the pollution trailing behind me, I became a time-traveler of sorts; jumping between reality and the abyss at lightening speed in something I had not control over. And seeing the country on a clear day from an aerial point of view is just overwhelming.

This past year I only took two flights to New York from Seattle for solo exhibition openings at the William Bennett. It was a lot of work for one year (as the gallery is rather large) but definitely worth it.
Untitled (Storm at Sea), 28 x 40”, mixed media on paper, 2008
BS: Can you go into further detail about your interest in nature and the conflict between nature and contemporary society?

EM: Well when you grow up in a place like Arkansas and move to a city like New York, it feels just like opposite scenario of Green Acres. Why did she have to move to the country? I was no Joe Buck, but it was overwhelming to say the least. In New York, nature lost. There was so much control. It wasn't till after living there for several months that I started to miss greenery. It is a city of steel and cement and if your lucky you can visit the giant garden in the center of it on your lunch break.
When my fiance and I started the drive west across the country it really struck me how much things are changing. You start to think about all the land everyone else has that people in New York would pay a fortune for. It made me appreciate the lifestyle I once had a little more. I suppose what has become a constant in my drawing is the resurgence of nature against the obstacles we've created.
I like thinking duality exists in all things and this constant craving for dominance between man and his surroundings is something that can't be avoided. I started to fall into this apocalyptic theme that's been so popular in contemporary art recently, and as much as I don't mind this, I hate to think that under this label my work will not be fully examined. The larger drawings demand more attention as the reflection of light plays a large role in the work as well.
Bipolar Magnetic Field: Elkhart, KS, 24 x 32”, mixed media on paper, 2008

BS: Would you say that your work, or at least those specific bodies of work, are a form of visual protest concerning environmental issues? Or do you try to avoid categorization, labels, what have you?

EM: The one thing that I absolutely love about making drawings is that even if you have no agenda with where the work will be going, at one point in the process you can't help but say something. It is often an accident in my drawings, but it seems the themes in modern aesthetics capitulate so much with how we live. I think at this point, if you make landscapes you can't help but confront environmental issues. I believe Richter was right about something. People will say what they want to about the work, and once it's on the wall it's completely out of your hands.

BS: What is the specific message you strive to convey to viewers concerning your art? Or do you leave the work open to interpretation, so to speak?

EM: I'm going to say that it is open to interpretation. I think if you remain ambivalent you don't paint yourself in a corner, which happens to a lot of people.

Untitled (Mate), 26 x 40”, mixed media on paper, 2007

BS: Can you tell us more about your influences? For example, are you influenced by any specific artists, world events, or movements in art and culture?

EM: Well I suppose Gerard Richter has always been an influence. After reading his "Daily Practice of Painting" I felt the need to never stop experimenting with new media and techniques. My work has changed drastically in the past two years and I think once I've explored an idea to the point of exhaustion it's time to move on. That's what I loved about him. No matter what, with all of that pressure to make the same kind of work, he kept evolving.
There are two contemporary artists whose work I am always drawn to. The way Anna Conway creates the most impossible worst cast scenarios in commercialized spaces is just perfect to me. I'm looking forward to seeing her next show when it's ready. I also enjoy Inka Essenhigh's work. She has such a great approach to making paintings. I think they are a clean step from Francis Bacon's work, which is refreshing. I always like Bacon.

BS: What can you tell us about your process in general? Give us some insight into how you work…

EM: The process is not all that complicated. Lately paper has become my primary surface to work on, and they are comprised of a mixture of drawing and painting materials. Graphite, pigment, ink, color pencils, pens, black gesso, guache. Coffee, tape . . it really just depends on what effect I want to achieve. I like creating the illusion of space with a lot of detailed line work. I've found it's easy for me to ruin a drawing if I work on it for too long, so I live to have several things in progress.

$2300 / 1BR 1B Luxury, Steam Room, City Views: Brooklyn, NY, 24 x 32”, mixed media on paper, 2008

BS: What are your specific concerns about civilization that this time? How is that reflected in your current work?

EM: Well it's a loaded question, but I think my main concern with civilization is how much we pragmatize situations to best fit our own needs at the risk of losing everyone's trust. People are greedy. And what about all of this money floating around? These giant figures . . . $700 billion dollar bailout, all of this money going into the war. I can't even write about it right now. But I am working on a drawing with a giant barge floating in a draining ocean on the way to Moscow loaded with gold. Someone's gonna get it.

BS: You have exhibited at William Bennett Gallery, FECAL FACE DOT GALLERY, NO EXIT Gallery, among other galleries and spaces. Will you be involved with any upcoming exhibits?

EM: I'm trying to get into this group show in London at The Brick Lane Gallery this summer along with another local group show, I just have to work out the funding. Then there will probably be another solo show at the William Bennett in September that I'm pretty excited about if it works happens.

BS: Speaking of exhibiting, do you have any concerns about the art world at this? There has been a lot of debate recently about copyright and the rights of artists. Do you have an opinion on issues such as that?

EM: I'd like to get involved in more group shows but I'm wondering why galleries started charging people for this even though they take a huge commission? I only like to participate in shows that are free, thank you. I think the copyright issue is a little petty in comparison. Besides I always thought copyrights were meant for the design arts. If your bending the line then your asking for the attention.

The Rise of Ouroboros Thunder: Mesa, AZ, 24 x 32”, mixed media on paper, 2008

BS: What about the internet? One could say that the art world is starting to catch up-- more galleries are turning to the World Wide Web in order to further exposure for their artists. How do you think the internet will impact the art world in say… a decade? Can you see a meshing between the traditional market and alternative (online) markets taking shape?

EM: The internet is such a great tool for artists and galleries if it isn't abused. It opens up plenty of opportunity for people, especially internationally. I can't even imagine what will happen in a decade. Faxing art as a safer way of shipping? I guess that falls into teleporting for original works right? As long as people can regain trust in each other an online art market isn't a bad idea.

BS: Finally, is there anything else you would like to say about your art or the goals that you have?

EM: My only goal at this point is to make artwork for the rest of my life and to not run out of ideas. Since I was five I have been pretty ambitious about becoming an artist and I've gotten this far so I'm definitely not stopping now.
You can learn more about Erin Morrison by visiting her website-- Erin Morrison is currently a member of the community-- Her art can be purchased on the New York Art Exchange-- You can read more of my interviews by visiting the following page--
Take care, Stay true,
Brian Sherwin
Senior Editor
New York Art Exchange

1 comment:

Victoria Champion said...

I think her work is beautiful. Love the extraneous lines.