Mary Shindell Studio Visit- 7-25-12

The main attraction of artist studios is the evidence of the active, thinking, and creative mind.  There is an inspirational energy, much the way a really great sketchbook feels.  Mary Shindell’s studio is a stellar example of this.  Her space is full of bits and pieces of things that represent past projects, planning for future projects, art supplies, tech gadgets, and collections of visual things.  It is the kind of space that is full of possibilities.  For instance, our conversation leads Mary to dig through some files and images.  Every time she opens a folder, or lifts something up, there is something that catches my eye.  It leaves the impression that there are endless amounts of interesting things buried beneath what is visible.

Stuck to the handle of this cart, is a magnet, which nicely holds all Mary’s metal pen nibs.

One of the first things she shows me is a motion sensitive light board.  She overlaps it with a digital drawing printed on plexi, and the blinking lights shine through the drawing.  It is nice the way the movement within the drawing is connected to the movement of the viewer.

I also spot samples and maquettes for a recently completed public art piece in Goodyear, Air, Earth, Water.  Public Art is challenging for all the obvious reasons.  The artist has to pair durability and safety with originality.  Mary proposed inserting a colorful terrazzo material into grooves incised in polished granite.  The results are colorful and bold graphic images.

Mary Shindell  Air, Earth, Water 2012

Mary Shindell  Air, Earth, Water 2012 (detail)

Mary Shindell  Air, Earth, Water 2012 (detail)

Mary shows me her ideas for the January show, both in sketch, and on the computer.  I am interested in her use of scale and ideas for addressing the space in a literal way.  She confirms that her ideas have been influenced by the Goodyear public art piece, where she had to deal with two 50’ walls and the center of a vehicle roundabout.  This also ties in nicely with the fact that it was a City of Phoenix terrazzo public art project that got Mary started drawing digitally.  She needed to do it for the project, and she found that she related to it for numerous reasons.  The step-by-step, layered process connected to her background in printmaking.   And working digitally eventually provides a massive vocabulary in tools.  Technology can be a mixed blessing.  It is not easy to work digitally, but Mary feels it is important to originate the art in the computer rather than to scan an already completed drawing.  It is the comparison of origination verses transferring.  Until it is printed out, the digital drawing does not exist anywhere else.

Mary works on such large files that, in the beginning, she had to suffer frequent file crashes and losses of her images.  While this is still possible, it is happening less frequently.  And a big advantage to the digital drawings is the way that a finished drawing can lead to the next drawing.  Just the way I might look through old sketches, Mary can open a file and look at all the layers separately.  The “click and look” process can suggest possibilities.  Then after some duplicating and pasting, she can have the start of a new drawing.

And this just the kind of thing that Mary’s studio is full of, possible ideas for future projects.

The sketch is the beginning of planning for a sculptural light piece.

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