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Wednesday, December 2, 2009

A few questions with the Cheap Paper Collective

amy
  • Photo Courtesy of Cheap Paper

When AXIOM: Baby Proof brought a single evening of art to the Old Fourth Ward last month, the Cheap Paper Collective produced it's first group show. If you were lucky enough to be at the corner of Edgewood and Boulevard that night, you would have seen work from Kelly McKernan, Geoffrey C Smith, Larissa Erin Greer, Meriam Salem, Emma Adair, Joseph Karg, Robin Gillis, Amy Yochum, and Katie Coleman.

If you missed it, here's your chance to catch up with all of those artists. The young, amorphous group agreed to answer some questions individually about their work.

Suspension by Kelly McKernan
  • Suspension by Kelly McKernan

Kelly McKernan

Where are you from and what part of Atlanta do you live in now?

I've lived in Georgia for the majority of my life, but only migrated to the city 6 months ago after graduating from Kennesaw State University with my BFA in Fine Art. I live in the Poncey-Highland area and have fallen in love with the community here.

Can you describe your process?

All of my work is done with aqueous media - usually watercolor and gouache, but I also use tea, ink, and bleach. I also sometimes combine this with film photography and alternative processes. I'm currently creating a series with the Van Dyke process to be shown at my solo show at Beep Beep Gallery in April 2010 that will be exploring the psychological topic of fight or flight.

Why be part of a collective?

Larissa Greer approached me a few months ago with the idea and I immediately jumped on board. The appeal in it for me was the camaraderie of a small group of emerging, but serious and determined artists. The market is tough and it's very easy to feel discouraged as an emerging artist. The point of the collective is to support each other in our common fight against lack of time, money, and resources. Furthermore, the diversity within the group inspires look outside of my own creative world and to be influenced to grow as an artist. It's difficult to accomplish that unless we're willing to expose ourselves to new and different forms of thought and process. The sense of community in the Atlanta art scene is already strong and supportive, but I think being a member of this collective will encourage me to keep doing my best to survive and thrive as an artist.

Who or what do you look to for inspiration?

My strongest form of inspiration are words... tangible things that can hold a number of meanings when used symbolically. I keep a list of words and when approaching a piece, I let one or several of these words stand out to work with the aesthetic and topic I have in mind to form the overall concept I pursue. However, I don't normally rely on inspiration to get anything done, but rather my drive to create and explore. I use my work as a means to study psychological theories and ideas that hold a significance over my own personal life and history.

no. 675 by Geoffery C Smith
  • no. 675 by Geoffery C Smith

Geoffrey C Smith

Where are you from and what part of Atlanta do you live in now?

I was originally born in Colorado and moved to Canton, Georgia when i was in 3rd grade. In the past year or so i've lived in a few different places. I lived in Kennesaw close to school, Athens, and Canton. I also like to travel a lot. I like being on the road more than anywhere. Atlanta is more like my trading hub.

Can you describe your process?

I work in lots of different kinds of media so it is a little hard to describe my process specifically. I think overall my work is about the gathering of things, both ideas and physical objects. I'm very interested in ritual process. I literally like to explore and get off the beaten path to look at things that accumulate there just out of sight in societies' basement. When i see something i think is beautiful i take a picture of it if i can't keep it. If i can keep it i bring it back to my studio and it sits around until it finds a place in a piece. My paintings use the same mental process. I like surfaces that have histories that collect over time, like old bulletin boards or bathroom walls in bars. I use mark making and collage to gather a history onto a surface when I paint, a history of my visual thoughts and actions.

Why be part of a collective?

Why not? So far it has been extremely hard to be an artist, especially when you have to work other jobs to pay the bills. There is a lot artists have to do that isn't making art that people don't think about. It is definitely a full time job. It makes sense that artists would benefit from sharing ideas, resources, information, and space. People tend to listen when a number of people propose an idea, opposed to one lone unexposed artist. It is also good moral support, and a lot of times just good fun.

Who or what do you look to for inspiration?

I've never really had to look far for inspiration. All i have to do is open my eyes. The world is beautiful in all of its layers of complexity, tragedy and happiness is everywhere and sometimes they exist simultaneously. The very fact that our human minds can perceive of such complex beauty inspires me. Some people deal with that perception by writing about it, singing about it or just participating in it. I take the direct approach and amass it for my own closer inspection and to try to show other people that may sometimes forget how surprising even the most mundane things can be.

Pretty Bored installation by Larissa Erin Greer
  • Pretty Bored installation by Larissa Erin Greer

Larissa Erin Greer

Where are you from and what part of Atlanta do you live in now?

I am originally from Oregon, and I am currently living OTP. (gross)

Can you describe your process?

The idea behind my work relates mostly to claiming spaces or nonspaces as your own, turning the idea-making process into something tangible that can be viewed and experienced. The processes I use for most of my work include a mix of drawing, painting, knitting, dyeing of fabric, and a cultivation of objects or clippings for collage purposes. My installations are fully mixed media, with nearly anything getting thrown in - from oil painting to trash - and the installation process itself utilizes sound and light, and becomes more of a performance piece. Some get to view this process, most just see the piece when it's finished.

The culmination of writings, drawings, paintings and swatches that get left on the wall after I create a concept act as a trail of idea evidence, more or less. After giving agency to a space with my presence and ideas, I leave the installation behind for people to sort of poke through - so that they can form their own chain of conclusions.

Why be part of a collective?

Being in the collective somehow adds more energy to what I do as an artist. The studio environment in college is such a great place to be, with the exchange of ideas and techniques happening all over the place - but once you're finished with school, being an artist can become a really isolating profession with the lack of all that exchange and camaraderie. When we get together, just talking about what we're working on or showing samples of work and discussing the best venue of presentation for it can be completely eye-opening. We get to run on the enthusiasm and brainpower of 10 additional creative minds, rather than just one. That kind of empowerment is what we need to hang on through the recession and to help us figure out how we can shape the new era of artists and designers to be better than ever before. It's sometimes scary to realize that we are the next wave of art scholars, studio professors, gallery owners, arts organizers and curators, but we really are. We're all out of university, and many of us are planning to move on to graduate study in the arts, so we are legitimately concerned with these things.

Who or what do you look to for inspiration?

Inspiration is random and tricky, and it comes from the weirdest places. It could be a button on a coat, the texture of a leaf, or something I've read about somewhere. I actually have a folder of "inspiration" on my desktop, as well as a giant cork wall in my studio to keep these sorts of things. The work I'm tackling right now was actually inspired by finding something in the pocket of an old coat - which has produced a wave of material for an entire series. Inspiration is probably the best part of being an artist, because it allows you to expand on your own view of the surrounding world so others can see it.

Centerfuge Installation by Mariam Salem
  • Centerfuge Installation by Mariam Salem

Meriam Salem

Where are you from and what part of Atlanta do you live in now?

Ancestry & birth: Egypt

Childhood- Adolescence: Cleveland, OH

Teenage - College: North Florida (Lake City, Daytona Beach & Gainesville)

Art School-2006: Chicago, IL

2008-present: Grant Park- Atlanta, GA

...phew (sorry)

Can you describe your process?

I enjoy marrying chaos and chance to design and planning. While meditating, certain visual emotions pop into my head. My intention is to try my hardest in attempt to reproduce these ethereal experiences.  I'll use whatever I can find laying around the house, as well as particular things I'll special order completing the design composition and feel.  Because I work more with concepts, emotions, and senses rather than actual objects, the mediums I use cross and morph to what works most appropriately at the time. Although before any piece is started, a ritual is always undergone.  The ritual can be everything and anything from burning sage, incense and candles to building and stretching a canvas, to pacing back and fourth.  I feel like the prep time is just as important as the the process time.

Why be part of a collective?

I've always wanted to be a part of a collective.  I have always loved to collaborate and work with others when theorizing and making art.  It feels like you are a part of a community that exists to pervade not only everyone in it, but everyone that partakes in its consequence.  We always hear about people each being "special" and "unique" in their own way. Collaboration can either multiply that specialness in a productive or destructive attempt.  Either way, as an artist, I can be challenged to take notice of what works, doesn't and explore experimental potential processes all the while.  Not to mention, it's an awesome alternative form of socializing.

Who or what do you look to for inspiration?

...the two most taboo subjects of discussion; politics and world religions.  Although lately it's been a more metaphysical conquest.  Ancient world history, philosophy, science & pseudoscience alike, psychology & therapy, conspiracy theories, astronomy, ecology and dreams are all some major roles that inspire and motivate me.

Territory by Emma Adair
  • Territory by Emma Adair

Emma Adair

Where are you from and what part of Atlanta do you live in now?

I'm from Atlanta and live in the East Atlanta/ Ormwood Park area.

Can you describe your process?

I make art thinking about the reaction people will have to it. I think most artist make art for themselves, but I come up with an idea thinking how cool it would be to see people responding to it. I definitely have themes in my work and materials I'm fond of. Themes like Atlanta urbanization and animal populations effect my work. I also tend to use solar power and recycled materials in my pieces.

Why be part of a collective?

Atlanta is a hard environment for emerging artists. In the last two or three years I think it's brightened with events like Le Flash, and Axiom and organizations like Wonderroot and art collectives like Cheap Paper.  Our collective was formed because of the frustration we all felt with the Atlanta art scene and an economy that has put art on the back burner. It's not as bleak when your around people who are inspired and handicapped by the same issues.

Who or what do you look to for inspiration?

Atlanta's wooded urban environment and animal/human relationships inspire me right now. One of my installations called "Territory" in Axiom featured a pack of silhouetted wolves cut from particle board, a common construction material. I was intrigued by an article I read about Montana's first official wolf hunting season. Within the first three weeks a very important alpha male and female were killed, they were apart of a pack that had been studied for a long time and now that pack was destroyed. All that research lost. The Grey Wolf used to be near the brink of extinction and had built up it's number in a decade. These fractured families fascinated me. I looked up the territory the Wolves used to occupy and found out that not that long ago it included Atlanta. That was such an odd revelation that I thought I would make my own disconnected pack and place them in our gallery setting. Placing them in the show would be the equivalent to reintroducing them in to their former range. These are wild and free animals associated with the west not the east. That is how drastically we have changed our environment. There you are.

Krog Checklist by Joseph Karg
  • Krog Checklist by Joseph Karg

Joseph Karg

Where are you from and what part of Atlanta do you live in now?

I’m from Scranton, PA.  I live in Druid Hills now.

Can you describe your process?

My art practice varies, but for the time being, I’m working on breaking through my own co-opted imagination by drawing 100s and 1000s of images with various materials on paper.  I attempt to isolate myself as much as possible while I’m making my work, but I can’t truly escape the influence, because I still have to drive home from the studio every night.  I’m inundated.  I'm not the type to sit at a desk for eight hours cranking on a single project, but I regularly work 12-15 hour days in the studio by switching from one project to the next.  It helps to have multiple things going at all times.  All revolving around that core concept of breaking through to the other side of my own consciousness.  I don't know if it's really possible to do, but if it is, I hope it's nice there.

Why be part of a collective?

I’ve always been a believer in the “two heads are better…” method of working.  These cats are all super artists and intelligent thinkers.  What more could a guy ask for?

Who or what do you look to for inspiration?

This answer is changing by the minute, but for the moment, I’m reading Kurt Vonnegut, Noam Chomsky, Sarah Vowell, David Cross and Gandhi to evolve my thinking.  As far as artists are concerned, I have a long history in the comic book field, so I have to give a shout out to Joe Kubert, Moebius, Carlos Nine, Kent Williams and Jordi Bernet.  Comedian Bill Hicks has also been an enormous influence in my thinking, my making, and my being.  He’s a legend as much as Alexander the Great or Jesus as far as I’m concerned (but not really right?  Jesus was Jesus for christ’s sake.)

Trance by Katie Coleman
  • Trance by Katie Coleman

Katie Coleman

Where are you from and what part of Atlanta do you live in now?

I am from Peachtree City, GA.  I moved to the city 5 years ago and am now living in midtown.

Can you describe your process?

I like to change my process of creating work, but it does always involve lots of tea and snacks.

Why be part of a collective?

I think being a part of a collective is great.  I recently graduated from college, the collective gives me a similar platform to talk about my work and see what other people are creating.  We are providing each other with support.

Who or what do you look to for inspiration?

I find my inspiration from the humor in everyday life, love, and the service industry.

Robin Gillis
  • Robin Gillis

Robin Gillis

Where are you from and what part of Atlanta do you live in now?

I was born and raised south of Atlanta, GA in Stockbridge/McDonough area. I now live off Ponce De Leon Ave in the Midtown/Poncey-Highland neighborhood of Atlanta, GA, right in the middle of all the action.

Can you describe your process?

As an artist, I take things I find interesting, obsessively research them, and then process that information/data/knowledge/ect in a new way to make art. In each project or piece, I use my studies to both fuel and push my concepts, visual representations, and myself.

Why be part of a collective?

I think as a collective we as artists can combine our strengths while developing our weaknesses into a greater entity. We can push ourselves in ways we wouldn't be able to on our own. We also can meet new people, have more opportunities, and create something completely new and exciting in the process.

Who or what do you look to for inspiration?

I am inspired by undiscovered things. I am in pursuit of something new while doing what I love. I am inspired by individuals or groups that push boundaries and relinquish fear to push something to a new level or go into uncharted territories. I absolutely love learning. I try to use that passion for discovery in my artwork while simultaneously sharing visually stimulating art in the process, all in the hope that others discover something new through my work.

amy.JPG

Amy Yochum

Where are you from and what part of Atlanta do you live in now?

I am originally from Florida, but I have lived in suburbs of Atlanta for most of my life. I just recently moved out of Inman Park and back to the burbs for a while.

Can you describe your process?

I am receiving my bachelors degree in Photography and Printmaking, though I don't actually shoot much straight photography right now, unless its film. For a lot of the work I am making now, photography is a strong visual component, but only part of the whole concept.

Why be part of a collective?

I think being involved in the collective is really neat. It's relatively new, but for what I can tell so far, is that it is really powerful to show as a group. Having similar and dissimilar ideas meld and create one cohesive entity.

Who or what do you look to for inspiration?

For inspiration, I watch old movies/ musicals. Sometimes just shooting a lot of photos helps. I am currently helping build an apartment right now, so I have been doing a lot of wood work. That in most likely where subconsciously I get the most inspiration.

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