Ann Glazer is a New York and Dallas-based artist intrigued by the unconscious. Her installation, Wellhead, now showing at Kirk Hopper Fine Art, includes a little of everything from narrative to collage to video, creating a single piece. The gallery describes the experiences as “a reflection on the fluidity of knowledge, the landscape of the unconscious and the starts and stops of the creative process.” Indeed, it is an installation designed to rev the intellect.
Glazer received a BA from Brown University, an MFA from the Art Institute of Chicago, and was awarded fellowships from the Dallas Museum of Art and the Art Institute of Chicago. Her work has been shown at the Reading Room, Women & Their Work (Austin), Dallas Center for Contemporary Art, the McKinney Avenue Contemporary, Barry Whistler, Conduit, AIR (NYC), and DW Galleries.
Arts writer Nancy Cohen Israel spoke to Glazer about her first show at Kirk Hopper.
A+C: If this is one piece, where is the best place to enter into it?
GLAZER: I recommend starting with the video and then continue with the narrative. The narrative is the point of reference. It is about questioning what I’ve spent my life doing, which is taking everyday things in my life, finding the beauty in them, and trying to share them. The narrative is a shaggy dog story that my father used to tell about a man’s search for the meaning of life, a quest that takes him to a guru in the Himalayas. When asked, the guru says, “Life . . . is a fountain.” Perplexed, the man asked, “Life is a fountain?” And the guru replied, “You mean . . . life isn’t a fountain?”
I see the whole show as a shaggy dog story and the two shiny pieces on the end as the punch line. It leaves viewers with moments of euphoric revelation but then it flips back and forth to these shiny pieces in a cheap frame. It is an examination of what choices to make in life and what to follow.
A+C: Process is important in your work. Can you talk about how you came to this installation?
AG: I used to paint in enamel, a surface that comes alive. Then, about 12 years ago, I switched to working with a casein-based paint. Painting was very stressful and angst ridden. I could ruin in minutes what I had worked on for hours. I decided to switch to a way of making art with very few ramifications. I switched to paper and it was very satisfying. I could do large installations. Then gradually I moved to ways to “paint” without using paint and began using threads as my medium. It was a surreal way to work but at the same time, it was very freeing.
A+C: While the exhibition is one piece, can you talk about each of the components?
AG: Beginning with the fountain imagery: I have a very fluid process as an artist. As I got started, these went through so many changes. I included video because I was thinking about the fluidity of knowledge. The show itself is like a fountain in the examination of the everyday. I’ve been making videos lately because it is so much fun.
There is a lot of silver tape in the show. I was really interested in what makes certain random patterns so beautiful. I made patterns and covered them over with tiny pieces of aluminum tape and placed them on newsprint. It was a way of drawing. With the velvet works, I was putting cut silver on them initially and eventually began to realize that they didn’t need anything. The frames are old waterlogged wood that is tortured into becoming straight. All three pieces are cut from the same piece of velvet. These works change as you walk past them. For me, they are about knowledge and how what you think you know changes.
The shiny pieces are made from holographic paper that is manipulated. I used anything in the house to eat into the paper, 409, lemon juice, olive oil, acids, and then wiped it down. The rope is from a childhood swing. Ropes played a prominent place in my paintings. I wanted to create some kind of continuum. I found that by unraveling the rope, I created a very different presence. I wanted to take the gallery space into consideration. There is a relationship to the architecture and the space.
The wall color is also part of the process. There were formal reasons for the color. It represents a water line (presciently conceived before Superstorm Sandy threw Glazer and her family into darkness for several days).
A+C: How does the unconscious play a role in this body of work?
AG: This show is about using materials in trying to convey the unconscious. Fountains are a form of landscape, albeit more of an interior landscape. There is a mapping going on. If we think of the unconscious as multi-faceted rooms, then that’s a landscape. It is like in dreams, which are directly tied to the unconscious. Painting was an unconscious state about what I was obsessing at the time. I see this show as a painting. It is a narrative with words and references. There are those moments when it all just connects and it is the reason why you keep getting up and trying to get it right. For me, part of the intrigue is how do you solve all the pieces? How do I make work that I personally want to live with that has enough content? That was the goal.
Ann Glazer: Wellhead on view at Kirk Hopper Fine Art through December 15, 2012.