Friday, April 10, 2009

Deb Sokolow on-site

It was great to have Deb Sokolow back for Works In Progress this April. Deb was our very first WIP artist back in October of 2007 and was a very willing participant in our little experimental program when we weren't really sure what would happen if we invited artists to work on-site for a few hours. This time we were able to invite her back to try out the new temporary wall and tables that were built just for Works In Progress.

Deb Sokolow back in 2007

Sara Schnadt

Sara Schnadt will be working on-site at the MCA on Tuesday May 5th from 11am- 7pm.

Sara Schnadt is a performance and installation artist, originally from Scotland. She creates performance installations that use found objects and everyday gestures. Through her work she explores the unifying rituals and values of western cultures, gift giving, mortality; and collective knowledge. Sarah received her MFA in Performance from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

Check out more about Sara at her website:

1. Could you describe an average day in the studio? Do you have any routines?
I don’t spend a large chunk of consecutive time in my studio unless I am in production for a project, so I don’t have a set usual routine. Things that I consider part of my studio practice include research, seeing a lot of art, going to hear artist and other lectures regularly that relate to my work (I fold most of my social time into these activities to get more out of my free time and to have great creative dialogue with friends), sourcing (I spend a lot of quality time at home depot), and testing ideas and construction methods in my studio. The decision-making process for my work happens at any time during my day (on the train, at work, talking to another artist, researching online) and so the time in my studio is usually about refining an idea, making drawings about how to execute it, writing proposals, and straight building/fabricating.

2. What do you collect and how does it inspire you?
I collect vintage post cards, old national geographics, recipe books from different time periods, books about engineering, physics, the philosophy of math, architecture, interesting images on Flickr, diagrams, vintage maps. I love ephemera about the history or ethos of technological progress. This material inspires my work and also often becomes its raw materials.

3. What do you like to listen to/watch while creating?
Pandora (all sorts of music, I like to try new genre combos and test Pandora’s algorithms’ curatorial skills), and if I am doing something super repetitive, a movie (esp. I like to watch Charlie’s Angels Full Throttle -which I own- when I am cranking on building something because of its fabulous uber-can-do women who are also funny). Love that film.

4. What are some of your favorite websites/blogs to visit?
Flickr, a starting place for image sourcing, so helpful, I use it a LOT.
Facebook, for a daily sense of my art community and things going on.
Wikipedia, as a starting place for most of my research, especially when it is outside of my current knowledge base. I also find it super inspiring as a project.
Inventibles, for sourcing and inspiration. An insanely amazing site to help you find new innovative materials.

5. What would you consider to be Chicago’s best kept secret?
The beaches and beautiful lakefront public spaces. Every visitor I have hosted over the years has been surprised and very impressed by these - as well as the city’s urban planning in general.

6. What is your favorite piece in the MCA collection?
Sarah Sze’s installation Proportioned to the Groove (2005), for the architectural use of found materials, especially string. And the spectacular scale, inventiveness, grandness and whimsy of it all.

7. What do you do in your studio when you are procrastinating?
My studio is in my house, so usually that means I fold studio activities in with general house puttering (watering my plants, talking on the phone, tidying – I often like to be doing several things at once). Then after a while I settle down and can focus.

8. Who (living or dead) would you invite to a cocktail party?
Amelia Earhart.

9. Do you keep a sketchbook?
No. I keep a running list of bookmarks and a Google doc of to do’s and ideas though.

10. What's the last great book you read?
Haruki Murakami’s ‘Dance, Dance, Dance’. He is my favorite author. His narrative structures are so ingenious and his books are so curious and beautiful.

11. What do you do when you hit a creative block?
I keep the materials and visual references for the idea sitting out in my studio, move on to something else, get outside inspiration from surfing the internet, going to talks, openings, etc., and just let the idea percolate until it gels. Sometimes this takes several months or longer, sometimes it resolves quickly.

12. If you weren’t an artist what would you be doing?

I have a dual career, and I am most satisfied when I am working for my own art and also creating infrastructure for other artists in support of their careers (I oversaw design and build for Chicago Artists Resource website, which is also in the planning phase of going national based on my design). This gives me a much broader and richer relationship to the art world than working exclusively on my own art. If I were to do something else altogether I think astrophysics would be my first choice - you know, understanding the universe and all ( : I studied physics in college and it is an ongoing fascination.