Other Investigations: Emily Nachison

Emily Nachison was the very first artist on Make Space! She has recently exhibited at Nudashank Gallery in Baltimore, MD and will be showing work in two spaces this fall (more info to come).

On medium and materials:

I work with a lot of synthetic and repurposed materials such as wood, foam, cardboard, fabric, and paint. Part of my process is transforming these manmade materials into organic shapes and representations.

A large part of my work is about mimicking natural life and death cycles – accumulation, cloning, dissolution, disintegration, and excretion – and what it means to mimic and represent the natural world. The process of making the sculptures is actually very similar. When I work I start with an initial structure built out of wood, cardboard, netting, etc. and then begin layering on paint, glue and additional pieces. The sculptures grow, build, and shift.

One of my favorite processes is to coat materials. By building up layer upon layer of paint, glue and enamel the everyday objects the pieces were made out of transform into ambiguous organic shapes. Conceptually, I like the idea of coating something because it mimics natural accumulation cycles as well as speaking to the idea of history, hidden layers and artifice.

On process and collecting:

My work is not directly about collecting or recording but it is a very important part of my studio practice. I am always collecting small pieces of paper that have images, colors, and words on them. I also collect natural objects: crystals, rocks, bones and nests, etc.  When I start a project I sort through these images and objects and try to suss out what I like about them, what forms, what colors jump out at me and what themes tie all the objects together. These materials become clues and triggers for the generation of work.

While working on one piece, I come up with the next idea or develop a new iteration of the current idea. I almost always have more then one piece going at a time. I draw a lot and usually, while working on a sculpture, I am working on a series of drawings. Whatever the project is I like to have an alternative project to work on that’s physically very different.

On research:

Some of my favorite artists right now are Lynda Benglis, Ursula Von Rydingsvard Petah Coyne, Franz West and Buckminster Fuller.

I look at artists for a variety of reasons, but mainly their translation of ideas to material. Artists such as Lynda Benglis and Ursula Von Rydingsvard imbue innate materials with meaning through process; from pouring paint on the floor to carving wood.

On space and site:

My work is about the cultural creation of landscape and the human perspective of nature.  Growing up in the New Age culture of California had a large impact on the way I think about the natural world. Since leaving California I’ve lived in a lot of cities that are very removed from nature – so my work became about this removal and romanticism.

I’ve been living in Portland, Oregon for the last year and that has had a huge impact on my work. The landscape of Oregon is incredible. I’ve gone from referencing images of nature to truly referencing things I see in the natural world here. Everything is so big and rugged. I’m completely taken with the geology of the place. My last two pieces Hylozoic and Deliquesce directly reference something from the Northwestern landscape. Hylozoic is based on island and rock formations found in Oregon.  Deliquesce is based on the life and death cycle of the inky cap mushroom.  When inky cap mushrooms die they secrete a black liquid filled with spores and slowly dissolve into a puddle of their own ink.

Space is an integral element within my work. Most of my sculptures depend on the individual architecture of the gallery. The work is not site specific but shifts depending on the space it is installed in. I am interested in transforming location through installation – turning a benign space into something magical and spiritual.

0 Responses

  1. pranay R.

    Congrats Emily,

    Great pieces!

    – pranay

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