EXHIBITION VISIT – CINDY CHENG
JUNE, 2017 AT THE WALTERS ART MUSEUM
JANET AND WALTER SONDHEIM ART PRIZE EXHIBITION
HOW MUCH TIME DID YOU HAVE BETWEEN FINDING OUT YOU WERE A FINALIST TO INSTALLATION? WHAT DID YOU DO TO PREPARE DURING THAT TIME?
I think there was about five or six weeks, but I had to go to my brother’s wedding in Hong Kong. So I had two weeks to work on a new sculpture, then I was away for two weeks, then I had a week when I got back. I made a new table piece, it was a good experience though because usually it takes me a long time to make the sculptures. It had to just get this one done and I needed to come up with a form and figure out what relationship the ceramics had to one another. I also spent a day out looking for materials, I knew I wanted to use carpet because the floor in here is carpet and I thought it would be funny. I went around to Lowes and looked at all carpet samples and both of the pieces I liked were discontinued, so I had to go to all of these other stores and finally found what I needed at the Home Depot near my studio.
HOW WOULD YOU COMPARE YOUR APPROACH TO THIS EXHIBITION VS. A REGULAR SOLO OR EVEN GROUP SHOW?
I was really aware of the fact that the show would be as part of a sequence. I guess in a way I was limited because two of these were the pieces I had available in my studio. I knew I was going to make a new table piece. When I told the folks from the Walters I was going to fabricate the table, they asked for dimensions and wanted to know what it would sort of look like. The Walters staff decided where to place everyone after studio visits. For me, they were able to get a sense of scale from the pieces I had in my studio and after looking at that they decided who would be next to each other and what kind of space each person would get. I do think that we got really lucky, there is a really nice way to move through everyone’s work, they all inform each other. Nothing is really clashing, and you can see connections throughout the show. I think it was luck and the Walters staff were really thorough in organizing everything. The show I had before was at St. Charles Projects, it was a two person show with me and a painter, Rubens Ghenov, and Dominic Terlizzi let me show what I was working on in the studio, but he had a particular vision for the show.
HAVE YOU SHOWN ANY OF THIS WORK BEFORE? IF SO, HOW IS IT DIFFERENT HERE?
The two larger wood sculptural pieces I have shown before, and some of the drawings I have shown at the MICA faculty show. The largest drawing is brand new and another drawing I made at a residency at Anderson Ranch, and then I traded it with one of my friends. So I asked him, if I needed to show it, if I paid for the shipping, if he could send it back, he was really nice about it!
The carpet table with ceramics is new for this exhibition. A lot of the ceramics are new as well.
YOUR SCULPTURAL WORK CONTAINS A LOT OF OBJECTS AND PIECES, CAN YOU TALK A LITTLE ABOUT YOUR INSTALLATION PROCESS? IS THERE A FORMULA OR DOES IT VARY EVERY TIME?
The structure is always the same because it fits together. The details are somewhat the same, but do change. I actually replaced a lot of the smaller pieces with ceramics. I’m really interested in clay right now and I like the conversation that the ceramics has with drawing process and with the other materials I tend to use – construction materials, more prosaic.
There’s a quickness to that. I think the ceramics slow everything down and they have a history. The other materials are so provisional, so they don’t have that. I recently lost a lot of my documentation for these works, many of the photos were lost, so I started to use my memory to place all of the objects, which actually now seems more appropriate. I brought all of the ceramics with me and placed the pieces around during installation.
THE WALTERS MUSEUM IS A VERY PUBLIC SPACE WITH A VARIETY OF VISITORS, WHAT DO YOU HOPE YOUR WORK CONVEYS TO THE AVERAGE MUSEUM GOER?
I am really interested in people slowing down to look at things. The average time people spend with art is so short. I really want people to take their time, look at things, find relationships, and think about materiality. I don’t need them to know about art theory, I don’t need them to know about how certain techniques work, it can be a very visual experience. There’s a tactility to my process that I want to come out in the work. I hope people are able to understand this. They feel playful when I make them so I hope that people can have a sense of wonder when looking at them, so they have that kind of accessibility but I also want there to be a rigor in how they are put together and arranged.
I have an egalitarian view of understanding the viewer, I think everyone comes in with an attitude that if you’re here it’s because you want to be here, and you are looking for something. So there’s something fundamental that everyone shares, so maybe that hurdle isn’t there. It is much more careful here and a weightier environment. The artist statement plays a larger role here too. People here will use the statement to understand the work, and you can’t disavow what you say in that statement and understand what you are saying.
WHAT DO YOU HAVE COMING UP, PROJECTS OR EXHIBITIONS YOU WOULD LIKE TO PROMOTE?
I have a show in Portland in October, it’s a large gallery space called Ditch Projects. I am currently making the work for that show and I want to have it all done by early August because I have to figure out how to ship the work. I will be installing just before Fall break at MICA, so it’s going to be an interesting experience because I don’t have time to drive the work out there. I will fly out to install after classes on a Wednesday evening and come back before class on Monday.
More information about the Janet and Walter Sondheim prize and exhibition can be found here
The award ceremony will be held on July 15, 2017 from 7-9 pm.