by Mandy Greer
July 14- September 1, 2011
For seven weeks, multidisciplinary artist Mandy Greer will use The Project Room as a transparent and interactive studio. Starting with only the material with which she works, Greer will begin to research and create her next body of work, Solstenen, while interacting with the community. By incorporating hands-on workshops, interactions with guest artists, open studio hours, and other happenings— all which are visible from outside the building—Greer will involve the public in her process at its earliest stage.
Inspired by an amalgamation of literary works—namely AS Byatt’s short story, “A Stone Woman,” Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner” and the Greek myth of Sisyphus—Greer will investigate themes of weight, physical burden and labor as they appear in mythology, geology and the passage of time, with particular emphasis on the storied history and geography of Iceland. By crocheting, sewing, and constructing in her labor-intense method, Greer will create the first pieces of a wearable, installation and performance project that will be brought from The Project Room to a residency in Iceland for further development.
A comprehensive chronicle of the work’s development will appear on the blog. And, in the Fall of 2012, after the residency in Iceland, Greer will return to The Project Room to present the completed body of work as a site-specific exhibition.
As part of The Project Room Question, Why Do We Make Things? this two-part program bookends this question as its first and final presentation.
From the Artist:
Byatt’s fairy tale-like story tells of a middle-aged woman who, grieving the death of her mother, finds herself having emergency surgery from a life-threatening mysterious stomach ailment. Numbed by grief and physical pain, seeing her small world in shades of grey and dust, she is intrigued to discover the hardness at her healing incision is actually veins of red stone spreading around her body, and sprouts of green minerals at her armpits. Resigned to death by petrifaction— as the multi-colored, brilliant and evolving minerals overtake her flesh— she reveals her metamorphosis to an Icelandic stone carver. He takes her on a pilgrimage to Iceland, a geologically capricious land where stones are alive and ingrained in the mythology of the culture, where she searches for a place of belonging, dissolving into the vibrant forces of an ever-changing landscape of magma, weather and time.
Initiating Solstenen in The Project Room, I will start making sewn feathered ‘hair shirts’ and wearable stone mantles, crocheting around and weaving stones together into massive garments to be worn and woven into my hair and my husband’s beard.
Laboring together in the landscape of Iceland, artist Paul Margolis and I — performing Sisyphean extreme exertion — will explore ideas of weight and physical burden as external symbols of internal self-transformation, the act of creating/becoming of a broader identity beyond the personal, metamorphosing into the environmental. The metaphor of the heavy body pulled to earth is one avenue to examine the progression of creating a life, then losing it as the body ages. As collaborators on building a life together, the natural and desired end is that we would experience together the inevitable passage of our bodies into the landscape.
Reflection and refraction of natural imagery, revealing hidden patterns, is a critical theme in my work, and will manifest itself in the creation of mirrored wearable sculptural elements that will be worn with the stone and feathered clothes to created kaleidoscopic reflections in the performative photographic and video work.
The word solstenen (sun stone) is a type of mineral that was often used in the 13th and 14th centuries to locate the sun in an overcast sky. It is also believed to be used by the Vikings as a navigational compass.
About the Artist:
Mandy Greer is a mixed-media installation and multidisciplinary artist based in Seattle, Washington. Her work has been exhibited at the Henry Art Gallery, Bellevue Arts Museum, Frye Art Museum, Tacoma Art Museum, The Lab Contemporary Art Center in San Francisco, the Tampa Museum of Art, Aqua Art Miami and the Museum of Contemporary Craft in Portland. Greer has created permanent installations in the Rem Koolhaas-designed Seattle Library and for the Washington State Arts Commission at Bow Lake Elementary. She has received 4Culture Individual Artist Grants in 2011, 2009, 2007, 2006, 2003; an Artist Trust Fellowship in 2004 and a GAP in 2008; and City Artists Grants in 2006 and 2010. Greer has been nominated for the Portland Museum of Art’s Contemporary Northwest Artist Awards for 2008 and 2011, and the Louise Comfort Tiffany Foundation Award for 2009 and 2011. She has created multidisciplinary works with Seattle’s Book-It Repertory Theatre, Degenerate Art Ensemble, and dancer/choreographer Zoe Scofield. Greer’s on-going project “Mater Matrix Mother and Medium” – a process-based temporary public art experience – has traveled the Northwest with 4Culture’s SITE SPECIFIC program, to Agnes Scott College in Atlanta and will go to The Cathedral of St. John the Divine, NYC in Fall 2011.
Top Image: The Waters of Your Face (detail), 2009. Archival ink jet, 27″ x 19″; created in collaboration with Zoe Scofield and Jennifer Zwick
Homepage Image: Golden Ram, 2011. Archival ink jet, 27″ x 19″, photo: Mandy Greer, model: Sara Kennedy; from the installation “Honey and Lightening”