Allison Wade recently received her MFA in Fiber and Material Studies from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and has been previously featured on Make Space (here). Take a look into her process and some recent works!
On collecting and process:
I have a hard time thinking in big picture terms, so I tend to accumulate smaller ideas and materials knowing (or hoping) they will eventually add up to something. I keep little notepads in my bag, in my studio, on my desk, and next to my bed. I eventually revisit the scraps and transfer what’s on them to another document or throw them away. I often refer back to images I’ve shot on trips. I enjoy being a tourist and unabashedly taking pictures of everything – like this playground equipment and steam pipes in Helsinki.
On studio approaches:
I generally work on multiple things at once. The last few months I have been focusing on making/firing/glazing lots of ceramic pieces and on weaving as much as possible, since I’m not sure when I’ll have access to these facilities again. I have no idea how these objects will come together, but I am excited about getting everything back to my studio and playing around. I’ve tried planning things out before, but when I do the work seems stale.
On materials and medium:
I’ve been working with wood, ceramics, steel, fabric — essentially creating a stockpile of my own hand-made found objects. I am constantly thinking about the material properties of each of these elements. How far can I stretch that fabric before it rips? What material juxtapositions are unexpected?
Recently I’ve been looking at people who make designed objects. I ran across this designer Tomas Alonso who is producing lamps and chairs that look like the sculptures I am making/want to make. I’ve also been researching southern African American quilting traditions. I’m interested in the space where function and art meet or don’t meet.
A friend just gave me this amazing catalogue of the collaborations between Jean Tinguely and Robert Rauschenberg that I am completely obsessed with. And I always come back to Nabakov’s short stories. I can read them over and over.
On space and site:
Geographical location completely influences me. For the most part I don’t work site-specifically, but I gather materials and ideas from wherever I am. I started using natural wood and branches after spending time at residencies surrounded by trees. I have been commuting to downtown Chicago on the train for the last three years, past Graceland and Cubs stadium, and since I can’t read while moving, I spend the time looking and thinking. I’ve noticed an influence on forms I am making, and my palette has shifted towards browns/grays with spots of colors.
I didn’t realize how important negative space was to my work until I had to fight for it recently. It IS part of the work. I consider it a material. I’ve noticed the different reaction I get when someone sees a piece in my studio versus a gallery/empty space. Since the small decisions and details are essential, eliminating peripheral distractions serves the sculpture best. It’s the spatial equivalent of a little black dress.