Thursday, May 27, 2010

Guest Blogger Artist Mara Sprafkin Guides us through Her Creative Process

So far, I have over 100 photos of keys.

Back in February, the Alliance for Young Artists & Writers asked me to make an original piece for the 2010 Scholastic Art & Writing Awards Teen Exhibition at the World Financial Center. Their only guidelines: “Make something that can fit into a 24” vitrine and think around the theme of a gold key.” I use gold acrylic paint very often in my work so of course I couldn’t pass up the perfect opportunity to paint in gold. But what to create?

At the time, I was also working on a large-scale piece for a show in Maine that will be in a large glass room (vitrine) that is 12’ square. For me, it’s easier to think bigger than smaller, so I had a hard time imagining what I might make. But after several ideas, I decided to use the opportunity to make a book. I love artist books and a 24” vitrine seemed like a pretty good place to show one off!

My first step was to send an email to friends and family asking them to take digital photos of their keys. Some people went above and beyond, sending back pictures of their own keys and also the keys of their co-workers and family members. Some photos were MUCH BETTER than others, but when you leave your guidelines and requests pretty open, you get what you get.
After receiving images, the next step was to compile and edit the photos and print them all out on a bright pink cardstock paper that I had had kicking around my studio. I have been itching to find a use for this paper for a while now so I am very happy to have found a life for it.

I’m now in the painting stage of this project. I’m painting all the keys that I printed onto the pink card stock in that acrylic gold paint. It’s a tedious process because the keys are all different sizes and sometimes I need to put on several layers of gold paint to get an opaque effect. I imagine I’ll be painting keys for the next few weeks. And while I paint the keys, it will give me time to think about the next step.

You might be surprised, but I haven’t yet figured out what I’ll do with all of the keys once they‘re painted. Artist books are wonderful because they tend to be less like a conventional book that you might find on the shelf in your home or at your local bookstore or library. But I don’t know yet if or how I will bind the pages together in to a more traditional book or even how the piece will get displayed in its vitrine at the World Financial Center. I always think this one of the fun parts of the creative process: letting the project start to move in a direction slightly different than I had initially envisioned.

This year’s national Scholastic Art & Writing Awards Teen Exhibition will feature work by 2010 national recipients as well as past Award winners from the last 70 years. Mara Sprafkin is a New York City-based printmaker and installation artist who won an award in 1996. More than ten years later, we asked her to make an original piece around the theme of a gold key. Learn more about her creative process here:

Sharpie: Mara Sprafkin from Paul Handler on Vimeo.


jewels said...

Kudos ladies -- so happy to contribute to the project. xo

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