Meet Artist-in-Residence
Stacy Motte

April 20, 2017

Posted In: 2016 Artists in Residence, Blog

Where did you grow up?
I grew up on a farm in a very small town in central California. We moved to Fresno when I was in the 5th grade, but I remember playing in the cotton fields with my sisters. It was a beautiful place to be a child.

How did you find out about Anderson Ranch Arts Center?
Many of my undergraduate professors at California College of the Arts have a relationship with the Ranch. They all spoke fondly of their time here and recommended I apply. I took an upholstery workshop last fall and was blown away by the community here. I got a very small taste of what my time as a resident might look like and I am thrilled to be back.

What are you working on during your residency?
I have been experimenting with interactive sound in my furniture work. I am interested in the potential for seemingly innocuous objects- chairs, for instance- to react in unexpected ways of  interference. One possibility for this reaction is musical sound. In order to demystify the instrument building process, I have been making two banjos and a hammered dulcimer. I think somewhere between these two instruments is the information I need to make some decidedly noisy furniture.

Has your residency at Anderson Ranch affected your practice at all? How so?
Absolutely. I have not had access to a fully furnished woodworking studio since finishing school last May. Working in the tiny corner of my apartment allotted for the giant mess I make and restricted the scope of my work, but the Ranch is more than the  tools and space. This is an immersive creative community and I find that I am challenged and inspired by the people around me on a daily basis. Media aside, we all work very differently and there is something to be learned there. My tendency when I am excited about a project is to let everything else fall away, but I can’t do that here. The time in this place, with these people, is too valuable and so I am trying for the first time,  to maintain a balance between my artistic practice and my social life. I’m realizing that sometimes the conversations that shake you to your core happen in the most unlikely places. I am making myself available just in case.

How do you describe your artistic practice?
Everything I make is an attempt to participate in an existing dialogue, and so I do a tremendous amount of research to prepare for each piece. A lot of my work deals with notions of authority in the sciences- who has it, how it is established and whether or not those systems are flawed. It is a tricky subject because you must first establish authority in order to undermine it, so I spend a lot of time studying. I really enjoy making things by hand. I am not material specific and I tend to work fairly experimentally. I am constantly learning new processes to accommodate my ideas. It’s actually a really fun way to work.

What role does art play in your life?
I think art frames my engagement with the world. Maybe because I came to it late, I have a sense of urgency in the way that I make, as if I need to catch up. I took my first art class at twenty-seven and spent the next few years reluctantly using the word “art” to describe what I was doing. My understanding of an artist was someone who was born with a need to create and I was always a math and science person. I’ve since realized that art allows me to participate in dialogues that would otherwise be closed to me. There is a kind of freedom of engagement in art making that I think has to be paired with accountability and maybe that becomes prohibitive, but it can also be liberating. My own role as an artist is something I have yet to fully define.

When do you make art in your studio?
Whenever I can. The studio is a happy place for me.

What intrigues you in the art world today?
I am really interested in unlikely collaborations. For instance, when a physicist and a painter, find common ground, I think there is potential for something original. Maybe it’s about accessibility, or the capacity for shifting perspectives to reinvigorate old information, but I think there is something really exciting about worlds colliding.

What art do you most identify with?
That’s a hard question. There are so many artists that have informed and inspired my process. I like to be challenged and I like work that keeps me up at night. I guess I am most drawn to art that addresses current social issues, or current at the time, without becoming didactic. Taryn Simon and Mark Dion, among others, make work that I find something new in, every time I revisit it.

What is your favorite part about Anderson Ranch?
Hands down, the community. Well, the food is amazing too, but I feel very lucky to be in this place with this group of people.

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