Monday, April 27, 2009

Art Space Talk: Morgan Riccilli Slade (Part 1)

The work of Morgan Riccilli Slade is at once mysterious and seductive. His large paintings engage viewers with rich visual storytelling. Bold, bright colors layered and woven around seeming disparate images pop off the canvas. Nostalgic silhouettes referencing childhood lend a sweet tone to otherwise satirical social messages. At first benign, they innocently urge you closer until the narrative surfaces.

Slade's works on paper and video balance a keen sense of history and photographic nostalgia while capturing a modern elegance and bold graphic style.

Morgan Riccilli Slade studied Fine Art, Photography and Photographic Theory at the University of California at Santa Cruz. After graduating in 1991 he has exhibited work in San Francisco, Los Angeles and San Jose, and continues to work in multiple mediums in art and design.

Morgan Riccilli Slade was one of 50 finalists of the Bridge Art Fair Miami competition. Slade was chosen by the panel of jurors-- which included, Elisabeth Sussman, Senior Curator, the Whitney Museum; Janet Bishop, Senior Curator of Painting and Sculpture, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA); JoAnne Northrup, Senior Curator, San Jose Museum of Art; and Michael Workman, Founder of Bridge Art Fair. His work was represented digitally by at Bridge Wynwood in 2008.

Refine : Refract 1 by Morgan Riccilli Slade

Brian Sherwin: Morgan, what can you tell us about your academic background concerning art?

Morgan Slade: I grew up in Los Angeles and got a degree in Studio Art at the University of California at Santa Cruz in 1991 after doing some studying at the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena. The University was a great place to study at the time because the art department was totally at odds with itself.

What was always an academic and traditional program, albeit a strong one, under the direction of Victor Burgin, it was being questioned. All of the sudden we were studying Roland Bartes, Umberto Eco, semiotics, and photography theories. It was all very exciting, and allowed for us extend dialog regarding our work, but did cause tension with professors teaching from a more formal and aesthetic perspective.

BS: At what point did you gain an interest in creating visual art? Did you have early influences?

MS: My grandmother is an avid painter and my parents were involved with the film industry growing up so I think there was a natural progression more importantly, support. The main struggle I had was trying to settle on a medium, which never happened so I work with several.

Refine : Refract 2 D100 by Morgan Riccilli Slade

BS: Morgan, can you tell us about your art? Give us some insight into the thoughts behind your work? Perhaps you can tell us about your refine : refract series?

MS: I think that the best place to start would be the refine : refract series. These works are about the deconstruction and modification of a sign, and re-construction with a very purposeful re-presentation of image and concept. Memorial and nostalgia are also ongoing themes.

One of the main things I got from studying under Victor Burgin, and we did not talk about art as craft very much, was to draw on varied references to come to a singular, distilled conclusion. Refine : refract begins conceptually and builds to a tangible product.

The mediums vary and in some cases utilize more than one. I feel that it is important to remember however, that we are dealing with a visual and sometimes aural medium that engages a viewer and needs to be ‘read’, so aesthetic values do play a role in the finished product.

I also enjoy working in a much more non objective and more singular manner were the image comes first and the final piece is more about graphic quality and immediate impact. Float by Morgan Riccilli Slade

BS: Can you discuss your process in general? Are there any specific techniques that you utilize?

MS: While refine : refract is open to employing elements of video, photography, audio and the kitchen sink, and the work is created over a longer period, a piece like Float which is made with dry pigment in enamel is designed to be a more physical process.
Most of the design is prep work and the final piece is made quickly, like a negative being burned into photo paper. The result is an image that appears to be simultaneously coming together as is falling apart only to hold on for a moment.
It is important for me to work in a physical manner also, because sitting in front of a computer making still images into a moving film can be tedious. I tend to work on several things at one time so I am constantly switching back and forth.

To read Part 2 of my interview with Morgan Riccilli Slade click, HERE

Take care, Stay true,

Brian Sherwin
Senior Editor
Myartspace Blog on Twitter

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