May in the Annex
May in the Annex Gallery features artists Nina Marley, Virginia Mahoney and Traci Harmon-Hey. Below the artists tell us a bit about their work.
Since 2016, I’ve been working on a series of vest sculptures, inspired by work uniforms. These objects embody self-doubt, uncertainty; thoughts that hang in the background, weighing us down with questions, thwarted progress, and second-guessing. A vest might suggest protection, flotation, uniform, identification, accessory, warmth, or utility, but these vests manifest the weight of struggle.
I like working with a variety of materials and processes. Currently I sew, by both machine and hand; I form and embed wire to create structure in the sewn garment, to make it free-standing. Acrylic medium or paint stiffens the fabric. The clay tongues are formed, fired, written on; then pierce the garment either with sharp spikes or attached wires. I want the evidence of these actions and their various stages to remain in the finished piece as traces of its development.
I sometimes get my best ideas as I’m working on the repetitive aspects of making, like stitching cloth or forming similar clay units. Perhaps that’s why I am drawn to such processes. That, and the fact that I’ve been a maker ever since I was small, imitating my mother, who always had a project going.
2018 Floating Houses “Ive always looked at homes as animate objects, with the purpose of providing warmth and shelter in exchange for care and love.”
This series portrays the question: What if they could hover above the land, keeping them safe from sea level and man’s desire to demolish and rebuild?
The gentle feeling of floating allows the viewer to focus on the structure alone without the interference of nature. To imagine them safe and unhindered by weather or man’s inclination to start over rather than transform and change.
My work deals with place, I create maps as a way to combat my fear of memory loss. I have worked on a few different series lately, the one that will be on display at Fountain Street in May is a set of maps that started as a drawing of a real place from my past that I waxed and contact-printed in the darkroom. I then painted cyanotype chemistry on top of the silver gelatin print and exposed the image outside. Finally, I sew a new map line on top. Rather than exact representations of my own past, these are meditations on what place can mean to us, and how certain places define our lives. I purposefully don't tell viewers what the location is in each piece, and hope that they walk away with a general sense of seeing the importance of place in their own lives.
My work is repetitive and meditative. Rather than starting with sketches, I usually start each series or project with a long thinking phase. I often get my best ideas while on long walks, so many of my maps are actually walks I've taken. I hope that the repetition and meditation helps me remember these locations, and recreating them in my work certainly enforces that. The meditation is reinforced also because I let the materials and process dictate the exact final shapes and map lines, at least for the imagined maps, I let the materials react to the underlying drawing or print, and then interpret that relationship with the final stitched lines.