Studio News from His Room as He Left It

Lots of images! May take awhile to load. Thank you.

Some old sketches

4 July 2014
I haven't made the cap yet. It's from the PP&P, the Old Pencil Factory.


4 July 2014
Here are the knobs of the headboard faced with thin cardboard so I can seal it, prime it, and paint it all fake wood grain. But first I have to make sure that when I attach the headboard to the bed frame, it'll fit through the studio door...

Slowly but surely

24-29 may 2014
These three layers of triple-ply industrial cardboard will be glued together to form the headboard for Drey's Bed.

Drey's Bed

6 may 2014
Finally feeling a little spark! Am using it to re-do the old headboard (in picture) of the unfinished cardboard bed. Will glue it all together, face the exposed corrugated areas with thin cardboard stripping, seal it and paint it faux wood grain.

Parsons Hall Project Space Magazine & Video Screening

Torsten & Kari are doing this wonderful thing and they invited me to join in, with images and video of sculpture from HRAHLI:




The magazine will include alternate covers, artist pages, national & international
dispatches, research projects, puzzles and secrets from over 45 contributors.
The magazine will also include student project pages and video from both
Holyoke Community College, Holyoke, MA, Department of Communication, Media and Theater arts and Brooklyn College, Brooklyn, NY, Department of Art.

Accompanying the publication will be a special one night only looped
video screening curated around the theme of performance art for the camera.

Catbird Nest from start to finish

13 July 2013
Loosely based on a catbird nest I found. Ink and pencil on paper, with bits of fake grocery "thank you" bag from previous post (acrylic ink on glasseine), and bits of fake birch bark (gouache and pencil on cut and glued paper). The real nest had a plastic scrap of "Workshop Earplugs" wrapper entwined into it, and some string. 

June 2013

In October, it'll be ten years since I began this project. When I started it, I thought, "this'll take about four years". I'm still not 1/3 of the way done. It's ok... what can I do. Since 2003, so much has happened: in the world, with my friends and family, and with me personally, mostly health-wise. But I have to say, I never would have dreamed up this thing and embarked upon it without what they call "hypomania". Hypomania is a magical thing, which for me, let loose a stream of creativity for about 7 years straight. Since it went away, it's been a helluva job to get down to being creative and productive. But I'm gonna try and approach this project again. Soon I hope to post a new thing or two. Thanks to everyone who checks in with me, encourages me & etc. That means you Mom, all my friends and family who are still with us and those who are not, all the generous grant-givers and friendly folks who help with research and feedback, and last but not least, Team 2, you're such a great help to me. Thanks and stay tuned. 

"piece of grocery bag": acrylic ink and pencil on glasseine

C3 interview

9 June 2011
Jackie Dougherty from Northampton's Creative Community Collective (C3) invited me to be an interviewee on their new blog. Thanks Jackie! you can find the interview here.

extraordinary objects of the not so everyday: Ariel Kotker’s handmade world

Witnessing Ariel Kotker’s exhibition last fall at the Flywheel was like walking into an exploded graphic novel.  The forms are simultaneously familiar and fantastic. My mouth sort of fell open and gasped. Oh my, what feats of craft! The collection of objects making up the incredible installation, His Room As He Left It, is an ever growing alternate world of handmade items composing the room of Drey Fank. Years in the making, this body of work is a process based, detail rich study.

The story of Drey Fank is told through these objects, all detailed by the artist Ariel Kotker on her blog Encountering this work gives me the same pleasure as obsessing over tiny treasures at the flea market or sifting through the family history of an abandoned house. Much can be learned from habitats. Here in this room we are faced with the labor of the artist and an incredible vision of imagined life mixed with our own object bound assumptions about other beings.

This work demands careful looking and encourages imagination.

Had I known gentle touching was allowed  I most definitely would have touched the corduroys which are one of my most favorite objects in the room. Thanks Ariel Kotker for sharing your work with us.

Be sure to check out Ariel Kotker’s other projects at FECIT. Everything she creates has incredible charm and wit. Especially the comics!

Here she shares some details of her own life with us:

What are you trying to communicate or explore in your work?

I like things, and much of what I do is just about making things, however there is a story line in His Room As He Left It, which is my main project. It’s a coming of age story involving a flying saucer, taxidermy and reincarnation. It’s a work in progress.

Where were you when you created one of your favorite works?

I was at SMFA in Boston, in my little studio behind the wood shop, where I would write little snippets of nonsense and use them as labeling for fake products in found glass jars. I’d make a drawing using the nonsense phrases, mask it off with frisket, then go down to the sandblaster to blast out the words. Then I’d fill the jars with silly things like pills of paper pulp, spindles of steel wool, or hand-sewn, cotton-filled plaid pads. “Vlad’s Plaid Pads in water” is a favorite of mine. (jars here)

How do you see your art in relation to cultivating community, and how does community affect the work you make?

I often isolate myself, so I must create my own community out of the things I make. Then, if someone is interested, these things get shared, via a showing or just conversation. I feel more alive after the sharing, and I use feedback folks have given me to form new ideas. When I’m not isolating myself, I view other people’s work in galleries and studios, and come away with little sparks of thought and images which act as a kind of kick-in-the-pants for my brain.

What is your spirit animal?

I’m especially attracted to bluejays and other Corvids. and rabbits.

What spaces in Northampton are you most curious to see inside of, or to make work in?

I get curious about houses. Sometimes I visit craigslist just to view apartments with pictures attached. I am thrilled by local history, so I like to research how spaces appeared in the past, such as the old felt factory, state hospital, or the canal which ran down State Street.

I used to make drawings of buildings and fields near the old State Hospital. That was fun. Maybe I should try that again. thanks for reminding me!

What are some strategies you use to sustain your art practice (while living in the Northampton area)?

I keep company with other artists, writers and musicians, which luckily are a-plenty in the area. Most of my friends are creative types so we share enthusiasm for making stuff.

I’ve used the Valley Art Share site to connect with people, and I also keep a makeshift studio at my apartment. My Mom has donated my childhood room for me to use as a studio, but when I can’t seem to get over there, I paint my furniture with animals, just to keep going.

What 5 items do you always carry with you?

I try to carry my wits about me but I often drop them.

Traveling Scholars show

April 2011
Here are links to excerpts from Drey's diary and from Brian's movie project. also excerpts from the Sparkleton Crier: Erasers arrive in ErrorYo-yo Found in Woods,Wooly's on Fire for Several Minutes, and an interview with a resident of the Sparklehampton Rest Home.The bed, rug, diary, hunting cap, slingshot and cake balls are all currently still in progress. When finished, the bed will have the same "faux" appearance as the other furniture. The rug, which is painted newspaper, will be larger. For this show, my sketches for things to make and things already made are on the outside walls, along with ideas for Drey's bird comic, squirly mag, taxidermy, etc. All the written excerpts (seen here as computer printouts) will eventually be incorporated into the diary, newspaper and screenplay by hand-lettering.

Traveling Scholars opening

30 March 2011
Many thanks to Joanna Soltan, David Powers, Ross Normandin, Asher, Amelia, the rest of the exhibitions staff, and to David, Kate and Nathan. Many thanks also to my friends and family who were kind enough to pose for blurry pix. Black-framed pix by Eve or Bart.

Traveling Scholars Show announcement

SMFA Traveling Scholars + Fifth Year Exhibition

david d'agostino
kate sinnott
nathan boyer
and me

march 30-april 30
opening reception wednesday march 30th
school of the museum of fine arts
230 the fenway
boston MA

thanks to the exhibitions folks who constructed this fabulous space for the room and special thanks to Ross Normandin

Wired glass shards that Drey found in Beam

8 January 2011
Trying to get this right. these are Shrinky-Dinks with painted dental floss or string. Just seeing how it looks.

Knife, mAQuette

16-27 December 2010
Working on things. Knife is paper clay, air-dry clay and wood putty over a popsicle stick and wire armature. Maquette is bristol board. It's also gonna have a chair and walls.

Grouse Hunt

12 December 2010
Hunted yesterday with John. No grouse but we saw these other things: Josie with coyote paw (dead coyote lying at edge of field), trapper's discarded skulls, warbler nest

...and I learned a lot.

Erie, PA

20 nov 2010
I went to Erie last week. My aim was to find words for Drey to use in a certain part of his story, and I needed to see the lake from a particular place on Route 19 (it's at the horizon in those road pix). My attempts were foiled over and over due to bad timing, bad camera, bad weather, etc but then the last 20 minutes of the trip proved very fruitful. I was seeing the lake from different view (Interstate 90/Greyhound bus), but managed to find the words I wanted.

Thanks to the Traveling Scholarship and my friends David Luke D'Agostino and Victoria Cable who drove from PGH to help out. While in Pittsburgh I finally got to see Yayoi Kusama's Infinity Dots Mirrored Room which, when I was able to peek into quickly in NYC years ago, reinforced my idea of what I've always wanted to do with my own project: I wanna completely envelop.

Also at the Mattress Factory was Greer Lankton's It’s all about ME, Not You, which I have so much to say about, I can't find the words.