During the second weekend of August, Etta and I visited ACRE Residency in Steuben, Wisconsin. If you’re not familiar with ACRE, you should be! ACRE (Artists’ Cooperative Residency and Exhibitions) is a volunteer-run, Chicago-based nonprofit that supports emerging artistic practices and the production of experimental work while creating a generative community of cultural producers. Founded in 2010, the organization hosts a residency program in Steuben, WI every summer. After each residency, it offers residents an exhibition opportunity at either ACRE Projects or one of its partner galleries around Chicago. ACRE works with emerging curators to organize exhibitions through their Curatorial Board. Last summer, we were invited to join the 2014 Curatorial Board and we are excited to announce we were asked to continue in 2015! As a part of the Curatorial Board, Make Space was invited to visit the residency and conduct studio visits with its Session 3 artists.
We arrived at ACRE on a Friday evening, with just enough time to drink a couple of beers by the water and discuss our studio visit game plan before dinner. Residents sign-up for a studio visit on a rolling basis once we arrive, therefore it’s hard to predict which artists we will meet or what kinds of work they are making. With this in mind, we thought about ways of making the studio visits productive and engaging. Initially, we designed the studio visit schedule to accommodate two artists per hour, where we would engage in a dialogue about both artist’s work and ideas as a group. While not all visits were with two artists, all the visits led to rich conversations about process, experimentation, and the specific concepts each artist is exploring.
We approached each visit explaining our background and our process to the artists. Etta and I expressed that while we were interested in learning about their body of work, the visit should be beneficial to them. Whether they want to talk about what they are making at the residency, a new idea they are exploring, or past work they want to reflect on, we wanted the artists to lead the conversation. Secondly, we briefly explained our own background as artists, and that we would participate in the visits as artists.
In the end, Etta and I conducted four individual studio visits and two group studio visits during our two days at ACRE. We met with the following artists: Joe Yorty, Marisa Williamson, Ann Gaziano, Sam Hertz, Sarah Hotchkiss, Boyang Hou, Victoria Martinez, and Stella Brown.
Joe Yorty is a San Diego-based artist whose work explores the quotidian and the domestic space through repetitiousness and humor. Using found objects, he explores materiality and plays with formal compositions, pointing to our personal relationships to the objects collected in our homes. We spoke to Joe during our morning coffee on the front porch, where we talked about his past works in photography and sculpture.
Previously based in Los Angeles, Marisa Williamson is heading to New York this fall to attend the Whitney Independent Study Program, the year-long studio residency in Manhattan. Marisa creates videos, performances, objects, and images that investigate and question our culture’s relationship to gender, race, and identity. Performed by Marisa herself, many of her works center around an alternative persona of Sally Hemings, Thomas Jefferson’s mistress, and slave. Through absurd scenarios and humor, she addresses the tensions of this specific story in American history by giving Hemings agency and a voice.
Based in Chicago, Ann Gaziano‘s artwork playfully straddles the line between art and design. We talked to Ann while having a midday snack in the ACRE kitchen, then moved the visit up to her temporary studio space in the Chalet (located above the woodshop). Ann manipulates everyday objects and industrial materials to create geometric sculptures and installations that immerse viewers in a vivid and abstract aesthetic experience.
Sam Hertz is an Oakland-based composer and performer pursuing his MFA at Mills College, where he studies composition and electronic music. Sam’s work involves creating systems of translation, and considering the relationship between space and sound. While I’m not very knowledgeable about sound, music, or composing, his process-based practice led to a great dialogue (with Sarah Hotchkiss) about sci-fi, grids, systems, codes, and language. Take a listen to a sample of the 8-speaker installation he set up with ACRE-TV.
Sarah Hotchkiss is a San Francisco artist and arts writer interested in patterns, concepts of the future and faux functionality. We talked about sci-fi with Sarah and her Sci-Fi Sunday Zine, where she reviews 17 sci-fi films.
Boyang Hou is a Chicago-based artist interested removing the narrative of cultural images and objects through abstract painting. Bo decided to take two seemingly contrasting subjects and make them analogous to each other, sports and art. Through experimenting with line, form, and color, Bo aims to explore several ideas not necessarily about sports or art, but about continuous moments of greatness and instantaneous moments of sublimity.
Based in Chicago, Stella J. Brown‘s artistic practice begins with in-depth research and continues with exploring methodologies of presentation and organization. She begins with a piece text, and then finds a small piece of information (like a footnote) that uncovers a new side of a well-known figure (such as Darwin). Stella begins meticulously collecting data related to this piece of information and creates installations, and sometimes dioramas, that allow viewers to explore this information aesthetically.
Previously featured on Make Space, Victoria Martinez is a Chicago-based artist whose practice revolves around site-specificity, most specifically in the neighborhood of Pilsen. Born and raised in the city of Chicago, she shared with us her excitement to explore nature and rural living while at ACRE. Victoria collects a variety of colorful materials, which she transforms into sculptural collages through sewing, attaching, weaving, painting, etc. She learned how to weave while at ACRE in their new weaving studio!