Duplex: Your work is a combination of found object and concrete, how did you come to start using concrete as a medium?
Colin Kippen: I think it helps to know that my background is in jewelry and metalsmithing. During my MFA I wanted to work bigger and more cheaply while still thinking my metalsmithing thoughts. A lot of this work stems from a language of jewelry – you have a colorful rock with a support structure, this is exactly what this is. It’s a piece of colored concrete that has a support. In jewelry, I cast the metal and set the stone, while here I am casting the stone and setting the metal/found object. The paint–that angled color–provides the illusion that allows for an uncanny presence while the found object gives it its sculptural quality. I use a fast setting concrete and the funny thing is, I’ll always end up with a time bomb. A thirty minute window, so a lot of the pieces end up with a rough casting to them because I end up having to huff and puff around trying to put things together. At some point you give up and let the concrete win and make do with what has happened. The pieces usually benefit from my lack of ability. It’s important that the materials and the process have a really big say in the way a piece comes together. It’s no longer me forcing something.
D: You can even go further, and I sure you do with the jewelry analogy, the rock is being shined like a diamond in the rough.
CK: Exactly, there’s even a word, it’s called “chatoyancy,” it’s French for cat’s eye. A tiger’s eye has it, when certain grain structures in the rock are hit by light it looks as though there is an eye in it. Star sapphires do it too. Because of the way my painting happens, when you walk around my work, it sort of has that chatoyancy, an iridescent screen quality. And there’s a backwoods sort of beauty. This whole outdoor studio area has a backwoods aesthetic. The rusted and misused tool really speaks to my background in the hills of Vermont. There’s something about that haphazard piles of rusted stuff. Those are the kind of objects I’m drawn to: the idea of a fresh object with something old. How do you negotiate that and create something interesting from banal scraps? Another part of the process: I think about the parking strips and free piles as urban beachcombing. I arrive at pieces while on runs with my dog and late night walks. A lot of times I am trying to force a relationship between the cast and the substrate.
For this piece, I found the glass tabletop about a week after I found the satellite dish. The German word for table is “tisch” which is from Latin, “disc.” It just so happens the root word “disc” is the same for “table” and “dish.” The viewer doesn’t know it’s a tabletop I’ve cast- it’s an index, but I’m not even telling you that in the description. I’m telling you it’s concrete, acrylic and a found satellite dish. I realize that a lot if it is how I justify the joining of two disparate things. Read More «In the Studio – Colin Kippen»
Duplex: Tell us about your background.
Michelle Ramin: I grew up in the Appalachian Mountains of North Central Pennsylvania – a small town called Williamsport. From when I was a kid, I’ve always loved art and art making. I spent a lot of time with my Mimi (my grandmother) growing up and we would draw together. When I was in high school, I took a couple of painting classes and got hooked for good! I decided to major in art at Penn State University, about an hour drive from my hometown.
After graduation, my boyfriend (now husband) and I decided to move somewhere beautiful, inexpensive and creative. I was/am very connected to Elliott Smith’s music so I knew he had grown up in Portland. We thought, “What’s good enough for Elliott is good enough for us!” We didn’t know anyone in Portland really so we just took a chance, packed up our little red Neon, and drove across the country. No jobs, little money, no secured apartment. That was 2005.
We lived in Portland very happily until we decided to move to San Francisco in 2010 so I could to go to graduate school at the San Francisco Art Institute. I graduated in 2012 with my MFA and I’ve been drawing and painting and exhibiting ever since. My husband and I still live and work in SF. Read More «In the Studio – Michelle Ramin»