Monday, March 26, 2012

Marsha Cottrell

Marsha Cottrell is an American artist who currently has a solo exhibition at Petra Rinck Galerie in Düsseldorf.
You graduated from your Masters in 1990. Are you still exploring the same ideas you were interested in when you were studying?
When I was in school I was painting and drawing the landscape in a fairly traditional manner from life. I was also looking at odd bits of still-life material and painting them, which resulted in images that looked like they could be landscapes. Toward the end of graduate school I was inventing landscape-like images from my imagination, and the impulse to do that has continued to the present. Over years of working, and in the last fourteen with the computer, the conception of space has become more abstract, and the terrain more uncertain. 
IMPOSSIBLE NIGHT 2011, 62,4 x 97,9 cm Iron oxide on mulberry paper
Your landscapes are energetic, wild and lyrical mapped worlds and alternate universes. What does landscape mean to you?
These words are good. The first landscape images in art I connected with as a young person were da Vinci’s “deluge” drawings. I was attracted to the idea that they were not representations of actual places, but eternal/internal landscapes that might be found anywhere at any moment in time. Their energy, architecture, and intricacy—but not rigidity—always appealed to me. They seemed to present an open platform with which to interact, and I’ve always aspired for my own work operate in a similar way. I want people to be able to relate—to be able to respond on an immediate level—whether they have much experience with art or not.
There is an inherent rigidity to the platform of a home/office computer, and it naturally insists that one be deliberate and methodical. We all keep folders within folders within folders, and do things in orderly, procedural steps. The sense of energy and movement in some of the images I’m making results—in part—from my struggle to be improvisational (and physical) within a space that isn’t naturally set up for that.
Your works on paper look like intricate, obsessive and deliberate drawings. Can you tell us about your process?
I began using the computer about 14 years ago, and my interest in the subject of landscape went right along with it. With its limited environment of chair, desk, etc., the computer seemed to provide a kind of newfound freedom, despite the challenges of losing (for a time) a physical relationship with my work. My current process is a hybrid of digital and handmade. Inside the space of the computer I’m working with marks in much the same way one would with more traditional processes, except that they are manufactured and not inherently expressionistic. In the recent work, I manipulate the image outside of the computer as well, and in this way am forging a direct connection between human and machine elements.
This new body of work brings forth a different sense to that which we are familiar with. What do you feel are the main differences between the new body of work (white on black background) as opposed to your more common known black on white background?
I don’t really see them as all that different but because of the dark field, the new drawings may have some new and immediate connections for people. The night sky, for example, is dark and teeming with bright marks, so one can enter into these new drawings from the standpoint of that universal experience. The imagery in all of my work, however, is simultaneously familiar and unfamiliar. I’m still creating space with an endless array of bits and lines culled from my library of digital debris.
The primary difference for me is that I’m making the object myself now, and getting my hand back into the process in a direct and physical way. Because of that, there is now an integration of manufactured and handmade information in the drawings…so the object has the feeling of being old and new (or futuristic) at the same time. I think these qualities lend timelessness to the work and thereby invite a range of readings.
UNDER THE ILLUMINATING HYDROGEN 2012, 133 x 203,5 cm iron oxide on mulberry paper
When did you first know you wanted to be an artist?
My interest in making art has developed gradually and consistently over time so I’m unable to identify a particular moment when I decided to make it my life’s work. The first thing I ever thought I wanted to be was a dancer, and perhaps evidence of that can be felt in some of the drawings.
What are you looking forward to within the next 12 months?
Spending time with my daughter and continuing to work in the studio.
Marsha Cottrell
17 March – 5 May 2012
Ackerstrasse 199
40233 Düsseldorf

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