Wednesday, December 6, 2023

Unforeseen Memories

“She thought to herself, “This is now.” She was glad that the cozy house, and Pa and Ma and the firelight and the music, were now. They could not be forgotten, she thought, because now is now. It can never be a long time ago” -Laura Ingalls Wilder, Little House in the Big Woods

Life is made up of little details. Scraps of thought and memory weave together in intricate and unpredictable patterns creating an ever-expanding picture. It is impossible to know which small moments will become one of the integral threads of nostalgia upon which we gaze as the years go by. We may look back fondly on a childhood dog or a fleeting kindness offered by a stranger. It is possible that the things we expect to remember will be eclipsed by myriad, fleeting nothings grounding us to a specific time and place. Human connection forms the foundation of our existence. We look to one another for comfort, camaraderie, love, intimacy, knowledge, support, and every other aspect that makes up our very existence. Our shared memories bind us, enriching each of our personal tapestries with layers and depth.

Melissa Dorn Richards is a painter and sculptor based in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Her current work is based in industrial mopheads as the main material. She stumbled across this concept while reading a book containing the word “mop.” Richards was amused by the word and also reminded that her mother referred to her affectionately as “mop head” when she was a teenager with lots of messy, wavy hair. Richards began sketching and painting around this theme of industrial mops before moving into sculpture involving latch hooking with mop fibers. For this process, which can take a very long time, Richards recruited the help of interns. Together they have most recently created an eight-foot by four-foot wall hanging using mop fibers, orange snow fencing, and latch hook canvas. These mop paintings and sculptures are part of an exhibit titled Mopping Up that opened January 6, 2018. Richards still moves back and forth between painting and sculpting. Initially, she painted in oil using a primarily white palette. Eventually, though, she moved toward mixing graphite powder with modeling paste to create texture and move away from the white palette. When viewers encounter her work, Richards wants them to engage fully, even feeling compelled to touch the textured pieces. Humor plays a big role in Richards’ work. Aside from the relationship of the mop to her own hair, she includes an artistic playfulness in all of her pieces.

Kate Mothes is a curator also based in Wisconsin. She is currently working on an independent online curatorial platform called Young Space as well as being the curator of the Lawton Gallery at University of Wisconsin, Green Bay. Young Space began four years ago while Mothes was in graduate school at the University of Edinburgh. While studying Art History she realized she felt a bit alienated by the solemn atmosphere surrounding the subject. Mothes began blogging in order to reconnect with Art History. When it comes to curating, Mothes says serendipity played a role in her finding a way into the field. The hands-on aspect appeals to her nature and she has been self-taught in some ways having not studied the discipline in any formal way. Mothes describes Wisconsin as having a vibrant arts scene if you’re willing to drive a bit. Being outside a major art hub city means fewer resources at her immediate disposal, but having left for school it was her choice to return in part for the ability to work across a larger space. Mothes says it’s also beneficial to work outside the bubble of a particular hub. In this way, she is able to see with fresh eyes rather than subscribing to the particular trends and mindsets of a particular city. Many artists return to Wisconsin for the affordability which allows them to create studio space on a scale that would be impossible in major cities. Many of the shows Mothes curates happen quite organically. Conversation or email brings her together with artists and through the course of correspondence or discussion a plan is hatched. Mothes will be curating a show in Green Point, Brooklyn during the summer of 2018 for which there is an open call. For details read the Opportunities / Open Call section below.

A Few Words to Keep in your Pocket:

The roadmap of your existence traverses time and space touching millions of tiny points of light. These it gathers as your days turn into years creating the work of art that is your life.

Interviews are available on iTunes as podcasts, and for Android please click here. All weekly essay pieces in a shareable format are here. The full archive of interviews here.

Books to Read

What are you reading? Add your titles to our reading list here. Melissa Dorn Richards has recently started reading The Sellout by Paul Beatty. Kory Russell recommends Single, Gay, and Christian by Gregory Coles.

Opportunities / Open Calls

Young Space is accepting submissions for a summer, 2018 show in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. Kate Mothes, founder and curator of Young Space invites artists to submit up to five pieces for consideration. There is a $25 submission fee. Deadline is March 31.


Weekly Edited Grant and Residency Deadlines – review the list here.



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