Tejo Remy, You Can’t Lay Down Your Memory Chest of Drawers, designed 1991, fabricated 2008,
24 x 34 inches Collection: High Museum of Art, Atlanta, GA
The Art Section has published dialogues between writers and artists from the very beginning. In one of the early issues of TAS in 2008,
I interviewed Tejo Remy, an important artist and designer from the Netherlands. Tejo had just been commissioned to create a new work, You Can’t Lay Down Your Memory Chest of Drawers, for the High Museum here in Atlanta. This work was itself a kind of dialogue with the community. The High Museum sent out a call for individuals to donate drawers to be used in the artwork. Tejo then selected 20 drawers and the accompanying statements by their donors to explore the ways “that objects hold memories for their owners.” Each drawer’s story has been archived and can be read as a new kind of dialogue with the work.
During this time of isolation and sanctuary for so many people, The Art Section will continue to publish our series of conversations and dialogues between artists and writers from Atlanta, Georgia, where this publication is based, with support from the Fulton County Arts Council (Georgia). These conversations were all done via email; the works and ideas were exchanged virtually.
In this issue we have six new dialogues in addition to recently published dialogues between poets Edward Hirsch and Opal Moore; poets Charles Bernstein and Nicolette Reim; performance artist Danielle Deadwyler and Phil Auslander; visual artist Masud Olufani and Gail O’Neill; and writer Blake Gopnik talking with Phil Auslander about his new biography of Andy Warhol.
I would like to welcome writer Nitzanah Griffin. For her first appearance in TAS, she has dialogued with provocateur and nationally known bad boy artist Craig Drennen. Craig’s new series contains vinyl records mixed with trompe l’oeil objects in a kind of visual game that we all want to play. Nitzanah is not new to visual art, as she has been married to a well-known artist for many years; we all know how challenging being the artist’s spouse can be! I am so pleased Nitzanah is dialoguing with artists here in Atlanta for TAS.
Elise Dismer, who was my intern in 2008, recently helped TAS by translating from the French the text of Martine Lafon on French artist Françoise Vergier. Elise has expressed her passion for drawing since I have known her. When I interviewed her for the intern position,
she told me that she had spent most of her childhood drawing with a friend. Elise, now a French teacher, has dialogued with artist Philip Carpenter, whose exquisite drawings have been part of his studio process for almost five decades. When I spoke to Philip about his time during the pandemic, he revealed that not much has changed for him as an artist: his work in his studio is a solo act of concentration and mark-making to reveal a representational form. His tools, brushes, toys, and objects provide intense pleasure in the perceptual world as they pass through this artist’s hand.
Lita Crichton has written an intimate dialogue with art collector Herbert Neumann, who is her grandfather. Lita has lived with visual art her entire life, as her family has been collecting art for three generations. Her great grandfather was Morton G. Neumann, who collected Picasso, Miró and Klee, among others. Lita’s growing up with this passion for contemporary art informs this dialogue. I hope Lita will carry on her family’s passion for contemporary art and establish a fourth generation of collectors.
Atlanta Curator Karen Comer Lowe has interviewed Paul Stephen Benjamin on his work, which investigates “Blackness.” Paul currently has an exhibition, Compositions in Absolute Black, on view at the Hudgens Center for the Arts in Duluth, Georgia as the most recent recipient of Center’s annual prize. In his 2013 graduate school degree exhibition, Paul began his investigation into black and blackness.
In his thesis text, he states, “I reveal the relationship between this body of work and personal identity through the use of the paint color Lowes Valspar New Black 4011-1. My use of black paint has raised questions regarding the perception that my work is primarily about race.” This is work that needs to be addressed right now and I am very thankful to Karen for this interview and her perspective.
John Folsom is a photographer turned mixed media artist whose work involves the romance and wetness of the Southern landscape.
His new works have literally taken him to the ocean, and a new palette has emerged. This new palette has also changed the work; it is further from photography as he dips his toes into a grid of pale abstracted hues to create the sky over the ocean’s horizon. I had the pleasure of dialoguing with John about his new work, which made me long to see them in person. John’s new turquoise patinas are indeed swoon worthy.
I have known artist Susan Cofer for almost 30 years. Her vision of nature articulated through drawing vertical lines is an intimate process, a kind of mediation. This dialogue gave us an opportunity to talk via email about her work and ideas as well as the life of a woman artist. Her vertical marks on paper have are elegant, strong and clear; they are a balm to my nerves during this pandemic time.
The pandemic has made us all think differently and relate to each other in any way that is possible in these trying times. However, being able to talk about art and the process of making art is particularly significant in this difficult and uncertain moment. Looking at and experiencing artists’ work online has become the norm for so many of us over the past six months. It is my belief that art will get us through this time, and the way it is experienced and made will have new and different meanings.
Editor in Chief
The Art Section
Deanna Sirlin is an artist and writer from Brooklyn, New York currently living and working outside of Atlanta, Georgia.