Other Investigations: Christina McClelland

Christina McClelland, previously featured on Make Space in August, took some time to talk about her practice and experience at ACRE Residency this summer. If you are in Chicago, be sure to check out her ACRE show: “After the After Party” opens February 10 at Roxaboxen Exhibitions.

On materials and medium:

I am heavily inspired by materials, particularly those not traditionally used for art-making. I am drawn to items in stores of all varieties–fabric, dollar, hardware, grocery, vintage, antique, junk, and more. I grew up sewing and making costumes, so the tactile qualities of materials, as well as color, are very important to me. I like weird stuff and collect it. Even if I never use it in a project I often just use it as a reference, like a colorful scrubbing pad. In recent projects, I have used sponges, spackle, pasta, cardboard, contact paper, and glue.


On her research process:

I love the internet for exposing me to visual culture constantly. I read blogs of all kinds (art and beyond), including Contemporary Art Daily, Art21, Bad at Sports, PRINTERESTING, I’m Revolting, Simple Lovely, LOVE AESTHETICS, a pair and a spare, etc. I find lots of new art on Pinterest, as well as from subscribing to the mailing lists of galleries, museums, and art centers. If I can’t see it in person and there is a catalog I try to get my hands on it.

Lately, I’ve been looking at the work of Tony Feher, Thomas Lanagan Schmidt, B. Wurtz, Polly Apfelbaum, and Amanda Ross-Ho. When an artist uses materials I’m attracted to I am compelled to research the work further. I’m crushing hard on the Richard Artschwager retrospective at the Whitney and wish I could see it.

Whenever I research new techniques of making I always seem to end up on websites with that are tutorials for children’s art projects. They are awesome.

On space and site:

For the last year and a half my studio has been within my apartment. This arrangement works better for an office than a studio. Something about committing to a space away from home, leaving the house, and not being distracted by dishes that need to be done functions more successfully for my practice. Making art in your pajamas works better in theory than in real life, plus I never want to do messy projects at home.

I live about 2.5 hours outside Chicago, and one advantage is the availability and ease of gathering materials here. I can readily buy spray paint (not so within the City of Chicago) and my favorite place to buy materials is a re-use store called The IDEA Store that sells donated materials at incredible prices, often by the pound. I come up with ideas just by going there and seeing, say, a box of marker caps.


What has your experience at ACRE been like? What kinds of projects or adventures did you participate in? At the time, what was the most valuable aspect of this residency in particular?

While at ACRE, I worked collaboratively with artist and fellow resident Kate Hampel on hand-making the beer can coozies screenprinted with phrases relating to our experience at ACRE. We were inspired by coozies bought at the local liquor store. For me, this project was about creating a souvenir commemorating the unique culture of ACRE, which is almost a nation unto itself. It was appropriate that these coozies were freely given, as at ACRE no doors lock and everyone leaves their keys in their car. It was amazing after only a few days how no one knew or cared what day it was and how fluid time had become.

With the assistance of fellow resident Nicole Seisler, I re-acquainted myself with plaster-casting (something I hadn’t done since early undergrad foundations courses), a technique I have used for several of the pieces in my show at Roxaboxen.


What has your experience at ACRE been like? How has your experience at ACRE affected your work?

ACRE was my first residency experience. I find residencies are integral to sustained artistic practice, in the same way that vacations are necessary to overall well-being. It’s amazing to realize the importance of a change of scenery, not having to worry about what’s for dinner, and focusing entirely on one’s artistic practice, whether that translates to making or just thinking.

For me, the experience at ACRE was an opportunity to get out of the daily routine and having to schedule my own projects around myriad other responsibilities. I was inspired by the magical setting and creative energy of the other residents, ACRE staff, and the visiting artists. Being a part of this diverse creative community was incredibly motivating and re-affirming for my practice.

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  1. […] out more of Christina’s work on her website, and also on the Make Space blog, where she talks about her recent work, upcoming exhibition, and our coozie collab this […]