RED DIRT Studio
Table of Contents 4 Inside the Studio
Feature by Marisa Beahm Klein
9 Red Dirt Seminar
Feature by Marisa Beahm Klein
11 Margaret Boozer Director, Red Dirt Studios
J.J. McCracken, Dandee Pattee, Lindsay Pichaske
18 International Visiting Artists Andy Hamilton, Inga Hamilton
22 Seminar Artists
Josh Araujo, Monica Jahan Bose, Elle Brande, Mike Corigliano, Sarah Nikitopoulos, Diana Ndiaye, Christopher Romer
By Marisa Beahm Klein
Inside the Studio Where innovation meets creative collaboration
“Red Dirt Seminar is a graduate school with no grades. It’s a sculpture studio with a taste for ceramics. It’s a collective work environment with shared resources. It’s a critique group. It’s a business-of-art incubator. It’s an exhibition space, a workspace for visiting artists, and on random Friday afternoons, the site of spirited art happy hours. At its core, Red Dirt is about what can happen with the coming-together of talented, smart and curious people, working toward greater accomplishment in their professional practice. It’s about drawing on the resources of artistic community, and at the same time giving back.” - Margaret Boozer, Director
Red Dirt Artists outside the studio Image: Courtesy of Margaret Boozer
Inside the Studio
Image: Courtesy of Margaret Boozer
Head to Red Dirt Studio on a warm afternoon, when the building’s garage doors are pulled open and one can catch a glimpse at the creative work being shaped inside. Chances are, you’ll want to stick around for awhile. When you approach the expansive brick warehouse the studio calls home, you may first be greeted by a few artists sitting on the loading dock, discussing their latest project. Meanwhile, other artists are unloading large white buckets brimming with myriad shades of clay recently dug at local sites. You’re also likely to receive some waves from teenage skateboarders enjoying the skate park across the street (which is there thanks to efforts by Red Dirt artists).
This welcoming scene is a small reflection of Red Dir t Studio’s core, an ar ts organization that thrives on collaboration, maximizing resources and a fearless “getit-done” mentality. Driving this creative collaboration is Red Dirt’s director, Margaret Boozer. An accomplished ceramicist, (learn more on page 10), Boozer first began renting warehouse studio space in Mount Rainier in 1996. Six years later she opened Red Dirt Seminar, which she envisioned as a “part graduate school, part business-ofart incubator.” As a former arts professor, this allowed Boozer to continue to make an impact as an educator without having to work within the confines of a university setting. Boozer considers teaching a critical part of her creative work, and it is
Inside the Studio
something at which she excels. “Margaret sees potential with everyone, and I’ve seen people radically transform through their experience with her,” says Ani Kasten, a past Red Dirt Artist-in-Residence. “Anything anyone needs Margaret says, ‘Oh, we can do that,’ and she’ll dream up some way to make it happen.”
“I got to see how professional artists maintained their shops, engaged with the public and obtained contracts and commissions.” - Joe Hicks, former seminar artist Inside the Studio The set up of Red Dir t is intentionally straightforward—Boozer prides herself on cutting out bureaucracy and focusing on efficiency. The warehouse space is split in half. Boozer uses one side for her work, and the other side is divided up into individual work bays for seminar artists, of which there are roughly 10 at any given time. Rather than just renting space, these artists pay tuition, which establishes Red Dirt as a place where students come to learn and contribute, not just create their own work. For artists like Joe Hicks, a sculptor who was a seminar artist for three years, Red Dirt provided an ideal stepping-stone from his university education to his professional artistic career. “It was a great experience, because it allowed the transition from more of the academic research aspects of the school environment into a real working professional environment,” says Hicks, who came to Red Dirt Studio after
Red Dirt artists and neighbors outside the studio Image: Courtesy of Margaret Boozer
graduating from George Washington University. All the artists attend a seminar each Saturday, a time where they come together to check in, problem solve and discuss their work (for more on the seminar, see feature page 8). “They are here to get critical feedback, to be more professional in their practice, to share resources and opportunities and to engage with others who are drawn to a less traditional approach to clay,” Boozer explains. Recruitment for the artists has grown organically; artists who apply to join the studio are evaluated not solely on their work or resumes, but rather if they are doing work that can be enhanced by what Red Dirt is doing. “Basically, we ask, can we help the applicant, and will this person be a contributing voice in the discussion?” Boozer explains.
This focus on the group dynamic has very positive outcomes. “There is such a high level of intellectual spirit there, as well as craftsmanship,” Hicks says. “It’s also a space where experimentation is kind of pushed.” Artists-in-Residence In addition to the seminar artists, Red Dirt hosts professional artists-in-residence. They provide mentorship and feedback to other artists and play a critical role in a c c o m p l i s h i n g o n e o f R e d D i r t ’s objectives, which is to provide diverse examples of how to grow and maintain a professional career in the arts. “The artists-in-residence give students a sense of what it means to be a full-time working artist,” says Kasten. This includes learning to structure time and go after opportunities.
Inside the Studio
“If you’re going to eat and pay rent from your art sales, you need to have that experience under your belt, and that’s not something that I‘ve seen people get from art school.” Hicks adds, “I got to see how professional artists maintained their shops, engaged with the public and obtained contracts and commissions.” Sharing Resources The artists at Red Dirt share networks and resources, regularly inviting clients, designers, gallery owners, architects and others into the studio to showcase not only their work, but also the work of their peers. This is a practice where Boozer— who is both serious and masterful about networking—leads by example: “I don’t support a poverty mentality where artists guard their resources and collectors. There is enough to go around; in fact, there is more for everyone when we share connections and cross pollinate.” This cooperative attitude carries on throughout the studio where people are
encouraged to work together and problem solve. Also, Boozer wants people to think bigger about their work. As she explains, artists often limit their ideas for projects in relation to their capacity of money, space and time. Instead of thinking about it in an individualized fashion, Boozer encourages them to imagine: “What could they do if 12 people were helping? It changes their ideas.” This was extremely effective for Kasten. During her time at Red Dir t, she broadened her art work from functional ceramics to sculptural ceramics, drawing in more materials. “Working around Margaret took my vision to the next level in terms of what I wanted to be making.” Community Outreach Currently, Boozer and other Red Dirt artists are involved in Art Lives Here, an art generator project that shows how art can break out of its gallery confines and go out into the community. In explaining the initiative, “It’s a coming together of the community, which ar t has the potential to do well.” That is a thought that could be applied to her own studio. “Red Dirt is about what can happen with the coming together of talented, smart, and curious people, all engaged in pushing themselves with each other to greater accomplishment in their work. It’s about drawing on the resources of community, and at the same time giving back. Come by and check it out.”
Margaret Boozer’s work inside Red Dirt Studio Image: Marisa Beahm Klein
Pick a warm afternoon, when the doors are open.
Red Dirt Seminar Critique, Celebration and Problem-Solving With six days left to finalize an ambitious performance art piece, Artist-in-Residence J.J. McCracken turned to her Red Dirt seminar team for help. For a Virginia performance art festival ca lled S u perN OVA , McCra cken wa s planning a 24-hour endurance performance called “the still point.” For the piece, she would perform cycles of activity at Dark Star Park (designed by artist Nancy Holt) that would mark the movement of time while highlighting the act of observation.
For one component of the performance, McCracken needed to create a sand funnel that had at least a four-foot opening and was preferably translucent. Unsure about the best way to construct this, she posed the question to her fellow Red Dirt artists during a Saturday meeting. Once they heard what she needed, the seminar participants immediately jumped to work, leaving the table they were circled around to explore the studio’s two vast spaces, looking for materials that could assist McCracken. Teams split up, grabbing large rolls of plastic, discussing pulley systems that could support the funnel and making chalk sketches of potential funnel constructions on the cement floor. Meanwhile, other artists discussed McCracken’s well-being during her day-long performance, figuring out ways she would get food and water.
Red Dirt Seminar
By the end of the two-hour discussion many eureka moments were had—“What if J.J. just throws the sand into the funnel so we don’t need to build a pouring device…” “We could slip a CamelBak under her shirt for water, or better yet energy drink…”—and everyone volunteered for follow-up tasks. This is the typical all-hands-on-deck collaboration that happens during Red Dirt’s weekly seminars, a time when studio artists meet to present and discuss their work. According to former Red Dirt seminar artist Joe Hicks, the format varies week to week, either focusing on one or multiple artists who want to present their work at crucial times in development. Sometimes, like McCracken, they have a problem they wanted help solving, either with installation, material or conception, or they want a “high-level” critique, which the artists are prepared to give. “The seminar was really good for me to keep up my momentum,” says Ani Kasten, a former Red Dirt Artist-in-Residence. “I work alone for the most part, and you can get into a vacuum where you aren’t really getting feedback from others.” In addition to evaluating projects, the seminar was used to celebrate the work ar tists were doing and to announce upcoming shows, of which there are many, from the Smithsonian Folk Life Festival to solo exhibitions at local galleries.
Red Dirt Seminar Artists in the studio Images: Marisa Beahm Klein
This supportive spirit is one that Red Dirt’s Director, Margaret Boozer, works hard to foster. “Everyone is engaged with what they’re doing,” she says “There is great energy that is very generative to be around.”
Director, Red Dirt Studio margaretboozer.com
Margaret Boozer received a BFA in sculpture from Auburn University and an MFA in ceramics from New York State College of Ceramics at Alfred University. Her work is included in the collection of the Smithsonian American Art Museum, The Museum of the City of New York, The U.S. Department of State, The Wilson Building Public Art collection and in many private collections. Boozer taught for ten years at the Corcoran College of Art and Design before founding Red Dirt Studio in Mount Rainier, Maryland. Recent projects include a commissioned installation at the U.S. Embassy in Djibouti and writing a chapter for U. S. Geologic Survey’s Soil and Culture. Recent exhibitions include “Swept Away: Dust, Ashes and Dirt” at the Museum of Arts and Design in New York. She is especially proud of receiving the 2012 Arts Excellence Award from the Prince George’s Arts and Humanities Council at their inaugural Arts Gala Awards. Image: Courtesy of Margaret Boozer
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Gold Bank - Rammed Earth Series (2012) Stancill and Mount Rainier, Maryland Raw clay and steel 5 feet in length
â€œUsing local clay is a way to experience place, to learn something about the earth. I use it almost as a found object, for the historical, cultural and geological resonance that particular clay brings to my work.â€? - Margaret Boozer Vertical Ravine Rammed Earth Series (2012)
McCracken performing a 24-hour endurance piece called “the still point” at Dark Star park Image: Margaret Boozer
McCracken Artist-in-Residence jjmccracken.com
Focusing on the living experience— making & consuming, loss, the passage of time—J.J. McCracken constructs immersive installations. M c C r a c k e n ’ s l a n d s c a p e s a r e composed of earth materials and activated by sound, smell, taste and living models that move through them, focused on tasks they’ve been assigned. Sometimes, repeating cycles of productive activity yield accumulation—and then things fall apart. Other times, consumption is incessant but drones on, unable to satisfy. In McCracken’s work, there is (so far) always a foil for the notion of achievement, and there is (so far) always a reflection of the cycle of life.
J.J. McCracken and Elle Brande test out the pulley system for â€œThirst, and the Martyr,â€? a performance piece (shown below) that shows two individuals at odds, refusing compromise and unable to work together. Image: Margaret Boozer
Basin (2013) Porcelain 36 x 14 inches Image: Charlie Cummings
Dandee Pattee is a potter and writer. One of her recent shows includes the 19th San Angelo National Ceramic Competition curated by Garth Clark and Mark DelVecchio and held at the Museum of Fine Arts in San Angelo, Texas. Her work was also in the 9th annual Marge Brown Kalodner Graduate Exhibition at the Clay Studio in Philadelphia. She has published in C e r a m i c s A r t a n d Pe rc e p t i o n , Ceramics Technical, and has an upcoming article in Ceramics Ireland. Dandee is also a Director at Large of the National Council on Education for the Ceramic Arts (NCECA) Board.
Berry Bowl (2013) Porcelain 10 x 8 inches
Pitcher (2013) Porcelain 6 x 12 x 5 inches
â€œFor centuries functional pottery has had a celebrated role in the idea of abundance and benevolence. My work uses bold and uncomplicated rounded forms that are made to evoke the sensations of comfort through sensuality and certainty through mass. I draw inspiration from ceramic history and also the vast open landscape of central Wyoming, where I am from.
Cups Installation (2013) Porcelain Image: Charlie Cummings
Experiencing an unobstructed open landscape is similar to the curvaceous, generous forms of the vessels I make that fill the hand and elicit buried subconscious memories of plenty. Likewise, the unobstructed landscape of Wyoming commonly reminds those who witness it of abundance.â€?
â€œWhat separates human from animal? What borders exist between real and imagined, beautiful and repugnant, animate and inanimate?â€?
The Long Thaw (2013) Low-fire ceramic, hand-dyed artificial flower petals, paint, resin 35 x 25 x 10 inches
The Matriarch (2012) Low-fire ceramic, sticks, paint, resin, steel, found object (base) 60 x 30 x 28 inches
â€œThrough the act of making, I swim in and around these margins, exploring how slippery the answers to these questions are. I create animals that blur boundaries. They challenge the perceived order and comfortable classifications of life. These animals are tricksters; familiar but also alien, seductive but also scary, animal but also human, alive but also dead. In a world where petals mimic fur and hair impersonates bone, even materials upset their expected roles. These creatures are not to be trusted. Once we identify with them, we admit that perhaps the definitions they upturn are not so clearly defined as we think. Material and process are the tangible means through which I contemplate the space between these opposing elements. I sculpt and articulate animal forms to generate a semblance of life. The fleshy coverings are meticulously and lovingly applied, allowing me to both control and understand the figure as it comes into existence.â€?
Andy Hamilton International Visiting Artist MyTarPit.com
Youâ€™re just as likely to find the work of printmaker, digital illustrator and urban artist Andy Hamilton (a.k.a. MyTarPit) hanging in the likes of Nintendoâ€™s head office, slid amongst the volumes in a bookstore or pinned to the back of a stop sign. His obsession with mark making and character design spurs him on to develop groundbreaking print techniques with an oldschool twist. Known equally for his guerrilla art activities and gallery installations, Hamilton has presented his work throughout the United States and Europe in exhibitions, public art projects, live paints, w o r k s h o p s a n d re s i d e n c i e s . H a m i l to n â€™s residencies at Flux and Red Dirt studios saw him further explore printmaking and mark making, but this time in the field of ceramics. Over the fall of 2012 he brought his 2D characters into the 3D world, building charismatic monsters in earth, clay and found materials. And of course, the locals got to stand back and watch as his graffiti images began to inhabit Mount Rainier.
Andy Hamilton working on a mural in Red Dirt Studio Image: Courtesy of Margaret Boozer
â€œI was lucky enough to spend three months at Red Dirt on an international residency. These three months were my introduction to ceramics and turned out to be the most creative time in my life.â€? - Andy Hamilton on Red Dirt
Inga Hamilton The 7 lives of Inga. Red Dirt Studio, Maryland, USA 2013©Ingahamilton
International Visiting Artist ingahamilton.com
Inga Hamilton, an English woman living in Northern Ireland, is driven by a life-long obsession with crafts. She spends her life traveling the globe, gathering discarded skills and applying them to unusual materials in order to create large installations for galleries around the world. Her other works are transient, natural forms, left in woodland settings for the elements to reclaim. Joy and humor are always present in her work.
“It's the easiest thing in the world to create art that shocks, but I want to touch your heart. I want you to become lost in my work’s intricacy; seized with a childlike desire to be enveloped.”
U.S. residencies at St Lawrence University, New York and Pyramid Atlantic, Maryland, led to Inga being offered a three-month, dualfacility residency at Flux and Red Dirt studios during the fall of 2012. Hamilton used this incredible opportunity to expand her recent focus on applying her vibrant fiber techniques and her deep ancestral, spirituality to clay. Working with the like-minded, incredibly talented and assured female director, Margaret Boozer, was a great honor. The three months offered her structural and nurturing support whilst she stepped into sculptural realms to her as yet undiscovered. She is pleased to report that many pieces created during this residency now reside in several private collections.
I cannot convey the utter joy that seized me every morning when I woke to the prospect of mixing and working alongside the mountain of talent that is nurtured and grows at Red Dirt. For the first time ever, I felt that I could look deeply within my artistic soul and pull out the truisms of my practice, distilling them into their simplest and most potent forms. Put simply; I cleared the clutter from my practice. - Inga Hamilton on Red Dirt
Expansion of my Soul. Performance installation, Turnpike Gallery, UK 2013ÂŠIngahamilton
Josh Araujo Seminar Artist josharaujo.com
(2013) Concrete, acrylic, metal, plastic
â€œBorn In Arizona, I grew up living on both sides of the continent. I remember always wanting to build something with my hands from a very young age. There is an ancestral reverence when touching clay. Its ability to become permanent makes for a great foundation. It becomes a constant rhythm, a bass line. Manufactured color has such an attractive value. The colors take with them the electricity from the machines that make them. These colors become electronic melodies, they are vibrant and memorable. Add the patterns and accessories, and a complete picture begins to appear. These found objects and materials become the solos, bridges, verses and choruses. They complete the sculpture's song.â€? (2013) low fire ceramic, wood, fabric, concrete 26 x 9 x 6 inches
Monica Jahan Bose
Seminar Artist monicajahanbose.com
“ M y pa i n t i n g s , w o r k s o n pa p e r a n d installations are symbolic narratives, embodying the fragmented nature of our contemporary world. I am Bangladeshi and American, an artist, lawyer, mother and activist, rooted in the West and East, inhabiting many worlds. My work addresses my own multi-faceted identity, religious fundamentalism, gender politics, female sexuality and climate change. ”
Bose’s current work, “Her Words: Storytelling with Saris” is a collaborative printmaking and story project celebrating the achievement of literacy by women in the remote island community of Katakhali, Bangladesh, which is Bose’s ancestral village. The project is part of an eco-empowerment program started by Samhati, a U.S.-based nonprofit organized by Bangladeshi-American women.
Indelible Scent (2012) Performance/installation for the DC Art Center's Cuisine des Artistes, Meridian House, Washington, D.C. Image: Siobhan Rigg
Seminar Artist cargocollective.com/elle
Maturation Image: Courtesy of Elle Brand
â€œI use tangible objects combined with clay to create hybrid forms that entice viewers to exercise curiosity. I am interested in experimentation and its unforeseen outcomes, human curiosity and how objects display their relationship with time. My goal is to cultivate these feelings and facilitate a purely cognitive experience. Clay is a visceral material that has an implicit relationship with time. I collect stratified clay from a Miocene era fossil site and combine it with craft miscellany to create hybrid ceramic specimens. These are amalgamations of clay and fossil remnants that are millions of years old, fused with utterly unimpressive, frivolous, scrap. The
fired specimens appear to be aged remnants of flora and fauna. Upon closer inspection, these specimens do not have attributes typically associated with a fossilized object. They occupy an undefined niche, fluctuating between being old and new, authentic and artificial. This dichotomy is the catalyst for closer scrutiny. The familiar items are the root, the underlying structure that shapes an individual's understanding of the situation. When associated with a process outside their natural environment, familiar items become cognitive experience. Conclusions about the specimens may be drawn based on ones individual experiences and material associations.â€?
Seminar Artist michaelcorigliano.com
“Experience and its fleeting moments are born from an individual’s interaction within a defined space. It is here at the intersection of environment and context that my work in site-specific art begins. The intention of my work is to create an open dialogue on socio-political and environmental issues through a conscious manipulation of materials and one’s private, communal and cultural response to them. I aspire to create an atmosphere to still the blur of contemporary life, where a person can pause and contemplate the effect of pursuing their singular wants and desires against the consequences of this pursuit on the larger society.”
Silicification 1.5 (2011) Porcelain Slip and Fallen Tree
Sarah Nikitopoulos Seminar Artist
CuCO3 + TiO2 (2012) Porcelain, crystalline glazes, steel 11 x 8 x 1.5 inches Image: Sean Scheidt
â€œMy studio practice is informed by my fascination with the natural world. My interest in geology, chemistry and other sciences gives me a certain perspective on art making. I am interested in ceramics as a medium because of its similarities to geologic processes. Petrification, crystallization, and other chemical and physical changes that can take millions of years can be similarly achieved or mimicked in a matter of hours in the kiln. I love dealing with the technical â€“ formulating glazes, experimenting with materials, engineering pieces to fit precisely. All of these interests are the driving force behind my work, which satisfies my need to experiment and gives me a practical way of understanding the beautiful, fascinating universe around me.â€?
Diana Ndiaye Seminar Artist ndiayedesign.net
“Storytelling is at the heart of my work —from sacred stories at the root of the world’s faiths to personal memoir. The stories that appeal to me seem simple, even trivial, but upon closer inspectionand introspection reveal more complex realities. In my quilted work, almost each scrap of fabric or bead has had a past life and carries its own story as well as the one it is called upon to tell within the piece itself. As a designer of commissioned jewelry, I seek to create one-of-a-kind pieces that become personal signatures for the wearer. After a consultation with each client/customer, I bring together the healing power of stones, metals, seeds, shells with symbols of spirituality from world sacred traditions. To these, I add elements of older pieces of jewelry incorporating personal meanings and memories and recombining jewelry that may have come unstrung into a new piece that is an expression of the wearers personality, realities, hopes and dreams.”
Top: Primordial 5 (2012) Bottom: Primordial (2009) Recycled felt, shell, beads Image: Courtesy of Diana Ndiaye
Seminar Artist chrisromer.com
Timber on the Floor, Songbirds in the Rafters Image: Courtesy of Christopher Romer
Christopher Romer is an American-born sculptor. He was raised in England and currently resides in Northern California. Romer received an MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and a BFA from the Chelsea School of Art in London, England. He has shown his work extensively throughout the United States and Europe and has received numerous awards and fellowships, including two Pollock-Krasner Foundation Grants and a FulbrightHayes and Annette Kade Fellowship for study in Düsseldorf, Germany. Romer has also been selected for participation in a number of residencies, including the Delfina Studios in London, Yaddo, the MacDowell Colony, the Fine Arts Work Center, the Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts, and the Sculpture Space. He has taught in the sculpture departments of the Rhode Island School of Design, New York University and SUNY Purchase.
3706-08 Otis Street, Mount Rainier, Maryland 20712 MargaretBoozer.com © Copyright 2013 A Matter Media Production by Marisa Beahm Klein Matter.Media.LLC@gmail.com
Front cover image: Margaret Boozer’s “Line Drawing,” Soil from Northwest Washington, D.C., steel and plexiglass 59 x 1 x 4 feet Image: Margaret Boozer