Sunday, November 30, 2008

Art Space Talk: Casey Ann Wasniewski

Casey Ann Wasniewski received her Master's Degree from the School of The Art Institute of Chicago. She is an accomplished contemporary artist, concentrating mainly in a fiber medium. Her work is painstakingly detailed, paying special attention to texture and color. The artist uses horsehair and yards and yards of wool yarn, which she hand-dyes, and later, meticulously hand-embroiders using the highly three-dimensional "French Knot" stitch. The knots are then skillfully manipulated and hand-sewn into abstract and organic-like structures. Like the layers of cells comprising the organs in our bodies, such is each piece a massive conglomeration of "French Knot" stitches. This accumulation of knots creates density and overall form of the pieces. Horsehair creates a decidedly dirty and fleshy quality. Ms. Wasniewski's sculptures have shown around the country, including Pennsylvania, Florida, New Mexico.
Preternatural #4, Dimensions: 37" X 11" X 11"; Medium: Wool, Horsehair, and Industrial Felt. In the corner, far away from sight, lives this, growing, feeding, living, we tend to think of these things, these dark ugly corners, in the house, forest, bottom of the ocean, are disgusting and yet, we can not keep our eyes off them, they intrigue us.
Preternatural #4 (detail)

Brian Sherwin: Casey you studied at the School of the Art Institute Can you briefly discuss that experience? How did it impact you as an artist? Did you have any influential instructors?

Casey Wasniewski: I received my BFA and MFA from SAIC which took five years, it flowed by so fast, and I got on that river and took in everything I could possibly take in, learning bits and pieces of history, literature, and technique. I embraced those moments of fragmented thoughts, learning process, and took in the energy of all the working professional artists around me. The community that exists in such an institution is intense and full of free-flowing ideas and thoughts.

At the time, when I was emerged in the flow of things I didn't really think about how it truly impacted me, although three years out of it, I would say that at the time I couldn't really articulate what I was doing, and now working as an artist, out of that institutionalized community, I look back and take those things I once had, and apply them to my current life. I have found a community like that of the institution and can go back to what things truly inspired me to work/create, taking out books/notes/ thoughts from all those years, adding to the pile, learning new things that I never had time for. I use the knowledge and the practice I embraced then and use it on a daily basis, sharing and bouncing ideas off of the tight-knit community that I am surrounded by. I think knowledge is a moving target, and it follows you wherever you go, and life at SAIC showed me that.

I have had many really influential instructors, Anne Wilson opened my mind to deep philosophical ideas, and techniques, for which I have always looked up to. Park Chambers stuck with me, making my mind turn in all kinds of directions he was not afraid to tell me things were not working or I was to linear. Francis Whitehead, opened my mind to the conceptual world, and through working on a project in South Carolina showed me the ways of research and organizing thoughts. Through a Co-op at SAIC, For the past 6 years, I have had the pleasure of studying textile conservation with Frank Connet,with whom I have had a long relationship with. He taught me things, ways of life, cultural histories, and preservation techniques.
Brobdingnagian Caliginous Substratum Scarum, Side View, Dimensions: 18" X 45" X 22"; Medium: Wool, Horsehair, and Industrial Felt
Brobdingnagian Caliginous Substratum Scarum (detail)
The colors in this piece, while brighter than most of Casey's other works are still hand-dyed. This shot shows, the extreme detail of the "French Knot" The embroidery stitch used to create this texture.
BS: Casey your primary focus is the utilization of fiber mediums within the context of your work. Thus, texture plays an important role with your creations. Can you discuss some of the materials you have used and perhaps give some detail about your process in general?

CW: The materials I use are simple natural yarns, silks and wools; embroidered together, knot after knot, an accumulation of knots on top of a thick piece of felt. My hand and needle punctures, pulls, folds, and shapes the felt intuitively by the knotting process. Texture to me is a sensation, it is important as it is something you can feel, something your hands want to touch and your mind wants to investigate.

One straight needle, and a line of soft delicate yarn takes flight through my fingertips, wrapping around the sharp metal needle, going into the dense wool felt over and over, at moments the multiplicities of other materials such as horse hair and goat hair enter the pieces; becoming animal. The process is a meditative state, where the hands take flight and the mind moves in semiotic chains.
Vehement Flavescent Ilk 1 & 2, Dimensions: 12.5" X 27" X 4"; Medium: Wool, Horsehair, and Industrial Felt. The microscope goes into a realm of bright biology. Specimens so bright and vivid, they must not be taken from nature, or should they? At the bottom of every jungle or forest there are moments so bright, so full of life, they become a mystery.

Vehement Flavescent Ilk (detail)

BS: You have stated the following, " Sometimes we think we know something but we only know it in the most abstract way which means we may not know it at all". Can you go into further detail about that?

CW: Kiki Smith said in an interview, " I think art is just a way to have an opportunity to think about things." One can enter my work in many ways, taking it as a whole, concentrating on an area or focusing on a point of rupture. Each fragment of the whole holds different intellectual and emotion thoughts for me. If one looks for literal in my work, they will not find it, because those abstracted ideas of fragmented semiotic chains will take flight, into a world of the poetic imagination.

The work is not just an abstraction of one literal thing, it is an abstraction of multiplicities and some can take those multiplicities in entirely different directions which is the most interesting thing about working in the abstract, it has a variable we may never know.

BS: Your work tends to explore opposites- for example, repulsion and attraction. Would you say that your utilization of these contradictions are a reflection of how you perceive humanity? What are the specific social implications of your work?
CW: I think humanity is a beautiful thing, there are white and black areas, but there are also vast amounts of grey. By exploring these opposites there is room to think about those fragmented moments in-between ,i.e. the grey areas . There is a lot of good and bad, repulsion and attraction but for me it is those moments in-between, those grey areas, that we are not accustom to that intrigues me the most. Art often imitates what nature can no longer do.

Pellucid Ecumenical Quietus #1,2,3. Dimensions: 12.5" X 41.5" X 4"; Medium: Wool and Industrial Felt. Water, Maps, Constant shift in the material landscape. Yellowish blue, pollution? Beauty? A landscape, a movement, Glaciers melting? Forever lost. White is silent, white is mourning, white is death for the life of a coral.

Pellucid Ecumenical Quietus (detail)
BS: So Is there a specific message that you strive to convey to viewers and if so, what is it?

CW: The world is a Rhizome in essence; each creature runs in its own line of flight. One can enter a piece of artwork and follow it into the poetic imagination of the artists or of themselves, taking a journey into the sensuous unconscious.

BS: With all this in mind… Can you discuss your current work and the goals you have for it?

CW: Be like the river constantly flowing in different directions. The goal is to create an environment with multiple entry ways and like the river it flows from there, taking space, philosophy, and art into consideration, and well going with the flow of things, moment by moment.

BS: Finally, where can our readers view your work in person? Will you be involved with any up coming exhibits?

CW: I was absolutely flattered to have been one of the 50 finalists for the Bridge Art Fair winners, so I will be shown on screen over there, and I will also be at a satellite show, PooL Art Fair

Miami: PooL Art Fair ROOM 209
A show called: n-Literal ( n(minus) Literal)
Artists: Casey Ann Wasniewski and Scott Gruss

I of course have a page, as well as a website In January I will be having a solo show, at the Brickton Art Center in Des Plaines, IL , please check the website for more information .
You can learn more about Casey Ann Wasniewski by visiting her website-- Casey is a member of the myartspace community-- You can read more of my interviews by visiting the following page--
Take care, Stay true,
Brian Sherwin
Senior Editor


Page22 said...

seriously, these works are incredible

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