Monday, August 12, 2013

re: chapter 2: canvas is just cotton fabric
the old front door of foam city.  our studio sits right outside the train tracks and i like these doors as atmospheric pieces.  they are in wide screen.

i never use pristine gessoed canvas (or panels).  i hate that white unintentional space waiting for some one to invent the world upon it.  it's lame and it's over-processed from the get-go.  it is the bleached white baking flour of the art world, offering nothing more than empty calories and character.  and while many of my paintings are compiled assembled things, i also often paint just a single panel, but it has never been a plain white canvas.  i like to use alternative lived-in fabrics as canvas.  i often use old blue jeans or linen pants and shirts as canvas.  i mostly look for a sturdy fabric, no to jersey cotton, yes to upholstery fabric.  these things can work very well as an alternative to what i could buy at hobby lobby, but certainly takes a bit of extra effort to try and get it stretched without wrinkles.  and even so, some wrinkles i find to be nothing more than textural elements of the panel.  i often have seams, staples, screws, and strings showing (a BIG no-no from grad school), but i feel like these things give indication of the materials and the construction of the work; insight into the process: proof that there was something there before i put paint on it.

zach medler
this piece is untitled and has 2 table legs, a pre-fab canvas, a big metal panel, and a pair of blue jeans.

i also love to dig panels from dumpsters.  i live in a college town and thankfully for me, college kids are reckless and they thoughtlessly destroy their rentals and dorms.  they often leave furniture, drywall panels, doors, siding, and all kinds of other shit in dumpsters for me to paint on.  and it's FREEEEE!  i imagine it's not hard to find this kind of stuff in any town.  all you have to do is drive through a neighborhood on trash day or find a house with a dumpster outside.  you're guaranteed to find something good at some point.  i'm pretty picky about what i pick up, because i don't want my studio getting cluttered up with random shit i have 'use' for, but no ideas for.  so i pretty well pick it up and process it almost immediately.  but that's not to say it won't get reprocessed down the line.
gm corn on a canvas made of a 100% gm cotton khaki pants.

the important thing for me to remember is that whatever the narrative is, the object itself, or the collection of objects, is just as important as the images it holds.  the found objects don't act as a frame for an image, they act as the foundation of the narrative.  using them just to frame a picture or just to hold an image is weak, quite frankly.  that's just a painting in an ugly frame.  i know a lot of artists who think of themselves as 'reclaiming' found objects, who then go on to ignore the object in order to over-assert their imagery on the surface.  the image is the superficial, the object is where the depth of thought, history, and place/identity come in to play.  and combining the two in conversation with each other is the metaphor in the work.  it is context.

1 comment:

Tom Sarmo said...

Enjoying these recent process posts Zach, and as always, your strong opinions. They give me something to think about--ideas I've not considered--and the opportunity for serious discussions with my friends. I def. get into using recycled surfaces, but sometimes for me there's nothing quite like the feeling of diving into--and messing up--a pure white canvas. Cheers!

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