Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Art Space Talk: Martha Walker

I recently interviewed artist Martha Walker. Martha is a sculptor who uses organic forms to express her views about life. Through her work she reflects her love for science and her goal to convey a message that is personal.

Each piece is a statement about life. Thus, each piece is a personal reflection that is constructed through her mastery of skills and her quest to know the heart of purity and truth. Her work is a celebration of life, the beyond, and female sexuality. The female identity is boldly captured in her use of curvilinear forms.

Her sculptures take on many forms. At first glance one is reminded of the smallest organisms on our planet. Further observation reveals insight into the cosmos... the basic theories of how humankind came to be. Closer examination reveals shapes that are the essence of the female form... rugged and pure... a trinity of life.

Q. When did you first discover that art would be an important part of your adult life?

A. "when i went to art school at pratt institute in 1971."

Q. How has creating art shaped you professionally and personally?

A. "professionally, i'm really just getting started. i was able to focus on art 20-30 hours a week in the last few years. before that, i was a business person. so, professionally, now that i'm making time for art making, it's just starting to take off. i find that because i am so serious about maximizing my efforts, that everything i do must be the absolute best that i can make it. i strive for as much "perfection" as i can achieve. when something is finished, i don't want it to have any part that i feel i would like to change or re-do. on the personal level, i am much more organized and focused. every moment needs to count so that i can spend more time on my art."

Q. How has society influenced your art? Are there any social implications in your art?

A. "my art is very personal. i have a lot of strong political opinions, but my art expresses the subconscious, the inner world. it's an escape from the cacophany of social argument."

Q. What are your artistic influences? Has anyone inspired you?

A. "the classic sculptors and painters are a great influence: michaelangelo, da vince, rodin. then there's the modernists: rozak, gonzalez, and my mentor, john pai."

Q. Tell me a little about your background. Are your past experiences reflected in the work you do today? If so, how?

A. "the biggest visual influence on my work would have to be microbiology and oceanographic images. i spent a lot of time looking under the microscope in my father's lab as a child, so science has a good deal to do with the "logic" in my abstract forms. i also did a lot of skin diving as a child, and i was always amazed and fascinated by the world beneath the surface."

Q. How long have you been a working artist?

A. "about 4 years."

Q. If you could pinpoint the characteristics of people who collect your art, what would they be?

A. "i really can't pinpoint much. they seem to "get" what it is i'm trying to convey."

Q. What is your artistic process?

A. "i draw with quill pen and ink, and mostly, i weld steel, through a process called "puddling". this means that i use an oxy aceteline torch to melt and bend steel rods. i make lines in space, and then i drip the metal to build up form, much like dripping wax from a candle."

Q. Why did you choose the medium(s) that you use?

A. "because it is like drawing 3 dimensionally. the "line" can move anywhere in space. then, dripping the metal allows me to create organic looking images."

Q. Do you have a degree or do you plan to attend school for art? If so, how has it helped your art career?

A. "i have a bachelors and a masters degree, both from pratt institute. it helps me to have a high standard when i deal with presentation. that is the primary thing that i remember about school when i work. also, i think that my level of discipline and my work ethic are influenced by what i was taught to do in school."

Q. What can you tell us about the art department that you attended?

A. "i think it was really good for me. there were a lot of choices as far as the actual facilities and the available media. the teachers were the most important thing for me. i still stay in touch with some of them, and they are very generous with their advice."

Q. Where can we see more of your art?

" http://www.marthawalker.net
http://www.440gallery.com/ "

Q. Are you represented by a gallery? Do you have any upcoming exhibits?

A. "i am a member of the 440 gallery in brooklyn. i am in an upcoming group show there in february 2007 called "process", and my solo show is scheduled for september, 2007"

Q. What galleries have you exhibited in?

A. "denise bibro fine art in manhattan, ben shahn gallery in montclair, new jersey, the 440 gallery in brooklyn."

Q. What trends do you see in the 'art world'?

A. "for sculpture, the biggest trend is installation art. i am not motivated to make installation, but is certainly is a growing movement."

Q. Any tips for emerging artists?

A. "keep working at your art with whatever time is available to you. don't be discouraged if you are not immediately recognized."

Q. In one sentence... why do you create art?

A. "it makes me peaceful...it fulfills me."

Q. What can you tell our readers about the art scene in your area?

A. "i'm in brooklyn, new york, specifically in park slope and the gowanus area. redhook is nearby, and that's a big "scene", and so is dumbo. i think that the gowanus area is really changing. it's packed with artists now."

Q. Has politics ever entered your art?

A. "only in the sense that my images are female in their orientation."

Q. Does your cultural background play a part in your work?

A. "i am jewish, and a few of my works have jewish themes, but only when i feel like it applies."

Q. Is there anything else you would like to say about your art or the 'art world'?

A. "i think that in many ways, my art is not part of the current trend. i'm aware of this, and i really want to stick with what i'm doing. i feel that the work shows integrity, and that by sticking with what i believe, i will make the best statement artistically."

I hope that you have enjoyed my interview with Martha Walker. Feel free to critique or discuss her work.

Take care, Stay true,

Brian Sherwin

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hi gang. That was an impressive interview. Long, so I will have to read it again. I too am an artist, as well as an art teacher, and the artistic process is fascinating.

I have a blog on art education, also on blogger.com at http://artedmanifest.blogspot.com if you care to check it out. I would be interested in swapping links. Get in touch.