The process of compressing objects into their most compact and portable form has fascinated me since childhood. Portability translated into the potential for travel and adventure; the lure of unknown shores coupled with a self-sufficiency that transcended place. Much like the magic of Mary Poppin’s suitcase filled with an incomprehensible host of items and objects, I longed to conjure an illusion of the impossible.
The Traveling Suitcase Installation Project is an attempt to marry the enchanting form of an art installation that can compress into a suitcase with a fantastical solution for making the work available to new audiences and communities. The project began with an arts residency this July at Dundee Contemporary Art in Scotland where I produced a series of large-scale woodcut prints that fold into a suitcase and reanimate into a sculptural installation. Dundee Contemporary Art is unique not only because of its reputation as an innovative contemporary art center, but because of its unparalleled digital equipment and commitment to incorporating technology into the art-making process in innovative ways.
Utilizing the DCA Print Studio’s considerable engagement with developing systems and formats to achieve authentic aesthetic investigations through digital processes, I paired digitally carved imagery with hand-carved organic forms to create tension and harmony within the dichotomy of mark making. Moving from the printed mark to the compositional whole, the staccato systems of folded structure intermingle with fluid organic imagery mimicking the duality of these expressions. The placement of the folds integrates into the sculptural potential of the piece allowing for shapes to emerge from the bends and planes of the large-scale paper form. Designed to be mutable, the shape-shifting installation takes on variable configurations, allowing each manifestation to be unique to its environment.
Since the exhibition tour began, the project has been presented as short-term pop-up exhibitions in the following venues: GENERATORprojects, an artist-run collaborative gallery in Dundee, at Bauhaus-Universität Weimar inside of an inflatable domed pavilion created by Collective Magpie titled Nomadic Atelier, at WerkStadt in Berlin, an artist collective, union, gallery and meeting space in Berlin, and at Hugo Pratt Biblioteca in collaboration Teatro Marinoni Bene Commune, a multi-use cultural space on the island of Lido in Venice. Each time the piece is displayed, it takes a new form, sculpting to the specificity of the space it inhabits. The real magic is bound up in the possibilities each new pop-up exhibition affords: an opportunity to work with and connect with new artistic communities and to share an awareness of new spaces and practices.
Creating this method to travel compactly with an art installation gives me the opportunity to ask questions about how contemporary culture broadcasts visual experience. By testing the language of digital mark-making through the more traditional form of woodcut printmaking, I am researching ways to utilize digital processes to create singular art objects (installations) that I will physically travel with to various locations, inverting the ways that digital information allows for instantaneous but ephemeral reach. By developing systems to meet the traveling exhibition format, I am asking questions about the precarious balance of life as an artist and the ways in which we attempt to mediate that balance. Additionally, the suitcase and I represent my position as a foreign traveler, while also alluding to the nature of artist residencies and art fairs as a means to disseminate visual experience.
Installation at Generator Projects in Dundee
Installation at WerkStadt in Berlin
In Weimar with Collective Magpie's "Nomadic Atelier"
Installation at Teatro Marinoni
Untitled (Industrial Arm of Oakland)
Woodcut print on Usuyo + Found Objects Dimensions variable 2015
An experimental installation created this January at the Kala Art Institute in Berkeley. The cardboard stacks of cylinders that I found in the trash are holding the 20 ft. length of printed paper to the wall (however there is still one pin that is also keeping the structure in place.) This work is part of my experiments with the structure and sculpture potentials of paper, while also considering simpler and more integral strategies for displaying/presenting works on paper.
Woodcut print on Masa 8 feet x 15 feet 2014
Exploring strategies for making sculptural works with paper, Rock, Paper, Scissors began as a series of chance operations. Each of the 4 sides of the 6 blocks used to create the work were shifted randomly in the printing process, allowing the collaborative potential of the medium to interact with the process of its making. Printed on both sides of the translucent Masa paper these prints hang and sway with the breeze, thereby producing a time-based work as light shifts on the surface morphing the imagery like a filmic animation.
Palast (After Tacita Dean for Lorraine)
Woodcut Print on Masa paper Four panels: 20 feet 8 inches x 43 inches each 2013
This piece is a visual translation of an essay written by my sister Lorraine Affourtit while in pursuit of her doctorate of at UC Santa Cruz. Utilizing the connective constellations of meaning constructed in the essay, I compound the conceptual framework inherent in the structure and content of the essay with physical obstructions, such as the size of the wall, into a rubric from which the work emerges. For example Lorraine's reading of Deleuze through Tacita Dean's Berlin Works in order to elucidate expanded concepts of temporality and the Crystal Image, formed the textual scaffolding for the work Palast (after Tacita Dean, for Lorraine)
These sculptures are part of a series of ceramic works composed of woodcarvings "printed" in clay.
Woodcut prints collaged on board 10 inches x 8 inches x 1 inch, each 2014
These works are notations for expanded research into building both physical and illusionary forms with paper.
Woodcut prints mounted on canvas 100 Pieces: 16 inches x 16 inches each Installation dimensions variable 2013
Through the installation Totem I am seeking to build a visual language. Drawing inspiration from Ojibway scholar, Basil H. Johnson’s, translation of the concept of Totem; “that form from which I draw my meaning, purpose and being,” I created a series of hieroglyphs that represent the fragments of the psyche. The shapes and hieroglyphs reappear like an echo, creating a cadence like pattern that resembles the arrangement of pictographic texts.
Woodcut prints collaged on canvas Nine pieces: 50cm x 50cm x 4.5cm 2013
As the title suggests, Lexical gap is an attempt to give form to ideas waiting for their language. The vibrant color and textured imagery mimics the din of our visual landscape, the fractional sensation of a narrative just outside of grasp. Forms that resemble script remain inscrutable and broken, a symbol of missed communication, leaving only a trace.
Woodcut prints mounted on canvas 211cm x 170cm 2013
Woodcut print 180cm x 109cm 2013
We (as Atlas)
Woodcut and Monotype mounted on canvas 120cm x 80cm 2013
Woodcut print on Okawara mounted on Fabriano 60cm x 60cm 2013
Woodcut and Monoprint on Fabriano 3 feet 7 inches x 5 feet 2011
From a series of prints developed at the Venice Printmaking Studio Residency.
Woodcut and Monoprint on Fabriano 5 feet x 3 feet 7 inches 2011
From a series of prints developed at the Venice Printmaking Studio Residency.
The Shrinking Umbrella of my Confidence
Artist Book Woodcut prints and Letterpress on Rives 8 inches x 8.5 inches x .5 inches 2011
Sol/dier (for Sol Lewitt)
Woodcut prints collaged on Rives BFK 8.5 inches x 8.5 inches 2012
Created for the exhibition "An Exchange with Sol Lewitt" at MASS MoCA curated by Regina Basha
Woodcut prints collaged on paper 35 individually framed pieces: 6.25 inches x 4.5 inches each Installation Dimensions variable 2011
Created from the fragments of prints left over from larger works collaged on canvas
Woodcut prints mounted on canvas 20 pieces: 16 inches x 16 inches x 1.5 inches 2013
Built from 20 16"x16" collages on canvas, this work references the craft of quilting: its history and use as an object as well as a narrative structure and a record of cast off materials. In this case the work is a record of years of cast of prints that found a new life through this piece.
Woodcut Prints + Wood Frame Over 100 Prints: 9 inches x 12 inches each 2005-2009