From the Directors: Reading List

Make Space has gone through quite a few internal changes in the past few months! Maybe you noticed, but we were on a brief hiatus due to summer schedules, life changes, job changes, and just general life flux. We have re-energized and are excited to take these changes in productive ways to keep Make Space growing.

In the next few months, we are excited to work with Cory Imig and Wolfie Rawk for their ACRE exhibition in November. Which leads us to Etta and Lynnette’s most recent visit to ACRE. The visit was very exciting and informative, giving both of us the opportunity to speak with a diverse group of artists and overall have a great time in Steuben, WI.

Here at Make Space, we have switched a couple of roles. Jason recently co-founded Public Practice with fellow artist Iga Puchalska for the Rockford, IL community and beyond. He will continue collaborating with Make Space but in a lesser capacity. We are very excited to see what happens with Public Practice among his many other projects! This coincides with Kathy’s increased involvement as she starts to contribute more to administrative and directorial decision-making for the website.

In this post, we want to share not only what has changed, but also what is on our current reading list. As artists and organizers, we like to keep informed by constantly taking in and learning through reading essays, articles, fiction/non-fiction books, theory, criticism, and everything else you can think of. Here is just a glimpse at what has been on our minds recently.

The Poetics of Space A.K.A. The Confusion of Cats
The Poetics of Space A.K.A. The Confusion of Cats

Jason Judd is taking a stepping back his role with Make Space to concentrate on some new projects and art making, which include continuing Public Practice, curating Ultra-Deep Field, a group show at the Clark Arts Gallery at Rockford College in the fall, and making work for a solo exhibition at Fluxx Gallery in Des Moines, Iowa in the spring.

1. I have started reading “The Poetics of Space” by Gaston Bachelard. Appropriately, this comes after finishing Susan Stewart’s “On Longing: Narratives of the Miniature, the Gigantic, the Souvenir, the Collection” which was an accidental, yet wonderful, primer for Bachelard’s notions. Bachelard’s writing does not sit well with my cat. He says it may be too dense. In light of this, he suggests you read it swiftly, picking the thoughts and poetics that pertain to you: highlight them, circle them, anotate and set place markers. After some time, revisit the book, but this time only read the highlighted and notated segments. After this, he said, some new ideas may emerge. I asked him, “What kind of ideas?”. He replied, “Meow”.

2. I often revisit Kate Greenstreet’s poetry. Believe me when I say that I am a far cry from being any sort of knowledgeable authority of poetry. Though I do own her books, I prefer visiting her website. Greenstreet’s website is set so that audio of her reading automatically plays when you choose a selected a poem.  Her voice is hoarse and cracks making you question if it derives from wisdom, regret, or age.  As you read along with her speaking, it feels as though she is figuring out the world out loud, alone, in her bedroom and you get to listen.

Here are three short poems I have selected: The Last 4 Things, Page 39, Young Tambling, Pages 105-106, Case Sensitive, [SALT] 10, 13, 16.

Image by Lynnette Miranda
Image by Lynnette Miranda

Lynnette Miranda graduated from NYU’s Visual Arts Administration graduate program in May 2014 and left the city for the summer to hang out with friends and family in Chicago, Miami, and Peru.

1. “Alliances for Unlearning: On Gallery Education and Institutions of Critique” by Carmen Mörsch (on Afterall):
For the last couple of months I have been trying to decompress from my graduate thesis (and grad school in general) but the ideas/dialogues continue to flood my brain. Without getting extremely into my own thesis, my research led me to this article about “critical gallery (museum) education,” which recognizes museum education as a critical practice that serves a deconstructive and transformative function within the institution. The role of education in the museum is complicated and overlooked by many (not all) museums. This article begins to grapple with these tensions, while acknowledging museum education as its own practice, not in service of a curatorial or institutional voice.

2. Like many of us have experienced after graduating, I’ve been getting the post-grad ~feels~, but luckily I stumbled upon the Andrew W.K. advice column on The Village Voice! The articles that have stuck with me the most are Letting Go of Stress, How to Cope With the Death of a Friend, and Dealing with Bullies. The combination of his honesty, positivity, and humor, make me feel grateful, humble, and way more chilled out every time I read his column.

“Try to stay in that state of mind, and the pain and pleasure will just be another aspect of this absurd and perplexing party called “life” — it’s the best party we can have — it’s the party of not being dead.”

Image by Alex Tsocanos

Etta Sandry has been enjoying the midwest this summer. She kick-started it by camping in Michigan and then went to relax in her home state of Minnesota for a week before heading to Steuben, WI for the first session of this year’s ACRE residency where she slept in a tent and made a giant grid out of wood. For the past month, she’s been teaching a fiber arts class at the Old Town School of Folk Music’s summer camp.

1. I have been trying to make it through Hannah Higgins’ The Grid Book for about a six months now. Grids are a big part of my work/studio practice – appearing in the form of weave drafts, block patterns, the actual structure of the woven cloth itself, and most recently in a 3′ x 3′ wooden grid “game board”. The Grid Book follows different types of grids through history, starting with the brick and then working through other gridded forms like maps, boxes, and networks. With my time opening up a little more now, I’m excited to get further into it, consider the grid form in different ways, and see what ideas or connections this history may inspire in my studio work.

2. I took Tom Robbin’s Skinny Legs and All from the library at the house where I used to live when I moved out just about a year ago, intrigued by the title and the dancing girl on the cover. I haven’t read any of his other works and don’t know much about him as a writer. When my work schedule slowed down earlier this summer, I dug it out for some leisure reading. It’s a difficult novel to describe as it interconnects a variety of different plot lines, topics, and concepts. It was written in 1990 but the themes of politics in the Middle East and what it means to be an artist/an artist in New York City still feel relevant today. I’m still mulling over how I feel about it. At times it seemed slow and a bit conventional while at others it was engaging and profound. My favorite quote from the book involves a conversation between a gender-neutral bean can and a dirty sock:

Eventually, an old sedan rattled up to the crosswalk, full of music, smoke, and rust. When the light changed, it pooted and tooted off in the direction of New Jersey, but not before the objects noted a sticker on its bumper that announced, “I’d Rather Be Partying.” Can o’ Beans imagined it an infraction of taste, if not of grammar, declaring, “You should never trust anyone who uses ‘party’ as a verb.” He/she felt appropriately chastised, however, when Dirty Sock growled and shot back, “Uh-huh, and don’t trust anybody who’d rather be grammatically correct than have a good time.”

“Touche,” said the bean can. “Although in the age that is to come, the two needn’t be mutually exclusive.”

-Tom Robbins, Skinny Legs and All

The cover of The Studio Reader: On the Space of Artists
The cover of The Studio Reader: On the Space of Artists

Kathy Cho moved to South Philly, resurrected her Twitter account that she made in 2012 but never posted to, transitioned from interning to working at Philadelphia Photo Arts Center and has been trying to visit places on the east coast, outside of the Philadelphia whenever possible.

1. As with most things I find while surfing the web, I don’t really remember how I came across this essay: Why Are Conceptual Artists Painting Again? Because They Think It’s A Good Idea by Jan Verwoert. I left it open as a tab for a few weeks before getting around to read it but when I finally did, I was glad. It is one of those essays that articulates so well those thoughts that have been floating around peripherally but never got around to discussing out loud with anyone. As an artist do you choose what mediums you work with or do you work more instinctively and go to whatever medium draws you in? There is that weird line that still exists between “conceptual artists” and “traditional artists” which I’ve found revealed more and more, parallel to my personal experiences in comparing Chicago and Philadelphia’s art scenes and institutions. Related reading: Who’s Afraid of New Abstraction?

2. Full disclosure: I was a sophomore at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago when “Picturing the Studio” was on view at the Sullivan Galleries, and this exhibition was one that stayed with me throughout my growth as an artist. So when I recently came across “The Studio Reader: On the Space of Artists“, which was produced as a companion to the exhibition, I checked out the book immediately. Since graduating in 2012 I’ve had a mixture of guilt, apathy and hate for not having as disciplined an artist practice as I felt like I should’ve. This book has coincided so well with the re-invigoration of my practice as I started to use an extra room in my apartment as a temporary studio space, and also as I’ve begun to do more in-depth studio and gallery visits for Make Space.