Friday, April 23, 2010

The Talented Ms. Schaefer...

If you happen to live in the Philadelphia area there is only ONE week left to view the fantastic installation, In-Step, by the very talented contemporary artist Anne Schaefer at Tiger Strikes Asteroid located at 319A N. 11th Street, 4th Floor.

Really, if you have a chance you must go see it. It is a very visually impactful piece which takes up all four walls of one room in the gallery space. Anne was kind enough to answer some questions about the piece. Below I have included a panoramic view to entice you to go see it. Please click on the spread to see it larger. Enjoy!

K+H: I understand that the "In-Step" was dictated by the constraints of the physical space for the installation, but what was the inspiration for its composition?
A.S.: All of the compositional and pattern choices are based on how they will interact with the dimensions of the space and subsequently influence the way in which the viewer interacts and experiences the piece. So in that way, the physical constraints of the space are the inspiration. My goal is always to have multiple very specific and unique perceptual or sensory experiences going on in the same piece. The elements accumulate or meld in to each other to make for a total experience for the viewer.

K+H: What determines your use of color which is very bold and saturated
A.S.: The goal for the color is to have each work with another to create very particular optical effects. I am interested in overwhelming the viewer to some extent. I introduce less saturated colors like the robin's egg blue and light pink as well as the neutral tans to offset the intensity of the colors like the red, orange, yellow and teal. The color is really calculated to get multiple color interactions happening at once or at specific intervals. The idea of totally enclosing the viewer in a relatively small room seemed sort of aggressive to me and it felt to appropriate to have the color sync up with that idea.

K+H: Is this an ephemeral piece: once it is taken down that is the last of it aside from photo documentation?
A.S.: Yes, it will all vanish over the course of two days of painting. For the first time, I am working to have the piece documented in both photo and video. The initial documentation of the piece through photography seemed to miss the real experience of being in the room and I would like to attempt to capture that in a stronger way.

K+H: What is the average length of time that you spend on a piece and what is your process, if you are able to share?
A.S.: I had about a year of lead time for this piece and the preparatory drawings came immediately after knowing the date of the show. I sketch and do a lot of color swatching which serves as research for the piece. I also work on other pieces concurrently, especially works on paper that inevitably inform some of the color choices or pattern structure. I need to have more than one thing going on at a time in my studio. It enables me to take breaks from some ideas. I also make really crude and basic models of the specific spaces to see how things look, but despite this kind of preparation, it always changes during the installation process as the work becomes full scale. This can be both really exciting and totally terrifying because I have a finite amount of time to process and respond to these changes.

K+H: I am familiar with your work and I have seen it evolve. At what point did you want your work to become part of the interior architecture that it is/was installed in?
A.S.: I had been wanting to describe an experience or a get a perceptual effect in some of my previous work and finally became dissatisfied with the work being descriptive of an experience and wanted it to really be that experience. At this point it seemed natural to work on a larger scale. Now the imagery is fused with the architecture, dissolving the boundary between object and environment to create an immersive perceptual experience for the viewer. Additionally, I have always used repeat patterning and it seemed that I was carefully dividing up space in my paintings the same way one would organize imagery to fit in to repeat. Similarly, it seemed a natural extension of that process to divide up a physical space.

K+H: Do you see your work moving to the exterior of an architectural structure?
A.S.: Right now, there is something really important to me about the viewer's experience being one that is enclosed and controlled. This piece in particular really struck a cord with me in that way. The outside world is very intentionally absent from my work. I really strive to have the experience in the piece be its own world. I am not sure if that experience would be available if the work was outside, but never say never. It would certainly be an amazing opportunity to think in a new way.

Additional comments by Anne: I wanted to take advantage of the nearly square dimensions of the room and challenge myself to make the space feel smaller when the viewer is standing facing the main wall with the tiered squares. I feel that in this position, the back wall feels really close to the viewer's back. I also attempted to make the room feel much longer when you stand facing any of the striped walls. Also, through the patterning and the arrangement of the elements, I hope to influence the way the viewer moves through the space. The position of the door generally sends people to the left when they enter and they walk toward the main wall, they move from left to right as the squares step down from left to right and then push out into horizontal stripes.

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