Spiro Arts embraces change and remains the same
The purpose of art residencies is to give artists and other creative types opportunities to get away from their daily grind so they can tap solely into their muses and work on their projects.
Spiro Arts, a nonprofit organization "committed to changing the lives of artists, musicians, and writers while serving the greater community in Park City and the surrounding areas," offers a six-week residency during the summer.
For the past few years, Spiro Arts has held its residencies at Silver Star next to the Silver Star Café on Three Kings Dr. However, due to some changes in ownership, the organization has moved to a new home located at 1345 Lowell Ave., at Park City Mountain Resort.
The studio space is located in the lower level of the Mountain School Signature 3 building (North), #1345.
Executive Director Justin Parisi-Smith said while there will be some upcoming minor adjustments to the information on the website (http://www.spiroarts.org ), the programs will stay the same thanks to the support of Park City.
"We are very lucky to have all these people here to want to continue," Parisi-Smith said. "In collaboration with Park City Mountain Resort Spiro Arts Artists in Residence worked in a semi-private studio building located within the resorts plaza for the past six weeks."
This year, there are three visual artists — Heather Brammeier, Kathleen Scott Moore and Allison Lacher — and one writer, Carmiel Banasky, who are taking part in the Spiro Arts residencies.
All four took some time from their creative process to talk with The Park Record about their work and the upcoming open studio event that will take place on Friday, June 21.
Brammeier, who is originally from Peoria, Ill., is an associate professor of art at Bradley University.
Her forte is painting, but she is mixing things up while in Park City.
"Although I am a painter, I consider the things I’m doing are paintings in space," she said.
Instead of oils, acrylics and encaustics, Brammeier, who participated in another residency in Washington state before coming to Park City, is creating a floor installation with cut-up and recycled clothing and other material.
"I’m using all my training in color, composition and surface quality to compose these forms," she explained. "I gathered some of the materials while I was in Washington, but I found a water hose in a dumpster in Park City, and I went to the Christian Center to buy some clothes, because they have some great used clothing there."
When piecing together her installation, Brammeier tries to create the illusion of depth the same way she does it with her paints.
"I also use a lot of loopy, biomorphic forms in my paintings, and in this installment, I construct those images in three-dimensional space," she said. "I am using some flat shapes and some shapes that reach back into space."
Working with old clothing is something Brammeier did when she was younger, before she learned how to paint.
"I used to get a lot of hand-me-downs because I was the youngest of four children, and by the time I got the clothes, they were out of style," she said. "I also have an aunt who would bring us some more used clothes because she worked at a flea market."
Since Brammeier didn’t want to wear the outfits, she cut them up.
"I would disassemble them to make new things," Brammeier said. "I would use them to decorate my bedroom."
In addition to the hose and clothes, the artist is using other patterned fabric to create a backdrop that coordinates with the floor.
"I added stripes in the background, which is something I do in my paintings," she said. "When I arrived, I had so much in my head to put together and I’ve been working every day at it. The advantage of the residency is that I don’t have too many distractions that will pull me away from the art."
Kathleen Scott Moore
Moore is originally from Iowa, and graduated in 2011 from Arizona State University with a master’s degree in fine art and printmaking.
Her love of the technical aspect of draftsmanship and craft pulled her into prints.
"That background has influenced my present work, because I am so technical on certain aspects," Moore said. "Printmaking attracted me because there are so many processes you need to go through to do it."
In addition to prints, Moore is attracted to photography and music.
"Throughout my process, I always felt like I was compartmentalizing my works by separating the photography and paper," she said.
So, she combined those elements into something totally different.
"Now I’m making stop-motion animation and composing and playing the music for the soundtracks," Moore said.
Moore starts with paper cuts, which she says are rooted in the print tradition.
"I am essentially creating relief images, which are the same things I would do with woodcuts, but I’m doing them with an X-acto knife and paper," she said. "It’s like making something print like, without using a press or ink."
refining those images, Moore has used them to refine some previous animation efforts she has filmed.
"I am making the scenes more elegant by manipulating each of the objects one by one, and that is exciting for me," she said. "You could say that what I’m doing here is a culmination of all my artistic skills."
Lacher grew up in Pittsburgh where she discovered contemporary and installation art.
From there she moved to Springfield, Ill., after she had already set her course to be an installation artist.
What she found at Spiro Arts was something she never conceived.
"I had intended to work on four or five installation elements, and they were all to be combined together and speak to one another in one exhibit," Lacher said. "That idea lasted for about four days, because as I have worked on these pieces, I realized that I’m actually working on four or five different exhibits in and of themselves. What I’ve started here will keep me busy for at least the next 10 months."
Lacher’s goal is still the same, however.
"I want to build narratives," she said. "Right now, I’m trying to create objects that speak about the coming-of-age concept is really filled with ongoing experiences.
"To me, the idea of one singular event that can change someone’s life is a myth," Lacher said. "Life is made up of a series of events that change our lives."
The artist is interested in America’s fascination with the coming-of-age narrative.
"In our culture it is seen in stories, films and songs, and what I have realized is that what I’m doing here at Spiro Arts reflects my own coming-of-age processes, because I’m on a journey of discovery."
Lacher uses wood, cloth and ribbons to create an opposing feeling of youth and experience.
"I’m deliberately using materials that are found in our adolescence and juxtaposing that with raw structures made from wood," she said. "I want these works to communicate that they have that coming-of-age process, but there are still more to experience ahead."
While making the framework with the wood, Lacher found each of her installations featured a common element.
"Everything I designed comes to a peak, and I couldn’t figure out why," she said. "Never before have I made something with that element, and speculated and thought about why this was happening.
"One day it hit me — I’m in the mountains," she said with a laugh. "At first I through, ‘I wish I wasn’t that simple,’ but then I realized that I’m kind of charmed by it. And now I’m going to work with that."
Banasky’s roots are in Portland, Ore., but she lived a troubadour-writer’s life the past three years as she bounced from one residency to the other.
Her time in Park City has been filled with two projects.
"The first three weeks in town, I spent revising my new novel and I finally finished it," she said. "I was able to write the last draft of the last chapter, and that has taken me four years to do."
The book is about a woman who sits for an artist to paint a portrait, but the artist paints an image of her suicide.
"It was a big accomplishment to get through that one last chapter, so I allowed myself to hike a few days to relax," Banasky said.
During her down time, the writer visited the Park City Museum and began throwing around an idea for a new book.
"Hearing about the prostitutes of the 1880s in town sparked something in me," she said. "Now, I’m just researching, reading and reading, and you can find me at the museum’s library for most days going through their books for hours upon hours. I’ve never been so motivated by the residency I’ve been in like this one."
Banasky followed the road to writing when she found she wasn’t very good at visual arts.
"That’s when I decided to start telling stories," she said. "Anyone can tell a story, and stories are ingrained in us and we grow up with them."
Her favorite authors include John Fowles, Melinda Moustakis and Claire Vaye Watkins.
"John’s novel ‘The Collector’ showed me that there were people like me in the world," Banasky said. "And I know Melinda and Claire, and they are coming out with some interestingly weird voices and have introduced them into our mainstream."
Banasky also loves how words work together when she writes.
"Language is No. 1 when it comes to my prose writing, although I did start off my career writing poetry," she said. "Rhythm and all the elements you would think belong in poetry are practiced within my prose.
"I’m not sure what shape my new story will take, but we’ll see," she said.
Spiro Arts, 1345 Lowell Ave., located at Park City Mountain Resort, will host a free open studio reception for the public on Friday, June 21, from 6 p.m. until 9 p.m. The studio space at PCMR is located in the Mountain School Signature 3 building (North), #1345. Visitors should park in the main lot (front), and follow the signs for Spiro Arts. For more information, visit http://www.spiroarts.org.
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