Umpqua Community College and Umpqua Valley Arts Association have partnered with the Ford Family Foundation and the Hallie Ford Museum of Art to present the Hallie Ford Fellows Exhibition “What Needs To Be Said.” The exhibition features a presentation at both UCC and UVAA, and the work can be viewed at both venues until May 8, 2019.
An artist panel was held March 15 at Centerstage Theatre in the Whipple Arts Building as part of the opening reception. During this time, Susan Rochester, Fine Arts department chair, asked the three artists in attendance, Karl Burkheimer, Samantha Wall, and Blair Saxon-Hill, various questions about their work and art practices.
One of the questions was about the artists’ favorite part of their artistic process. Each artist enjoyed the process of creating their work differently.
Burkheimer answered that he “just enjoys being in it all the time,” while Wall and Saxon-Hill valued the time spent on starting.
Burkheimer describes himself as being extremely curious about everything. “That constant search through just everyday engagement I think is where my inspiration comes from,” Burkheimer said.
It would be an impossible task to ask Burkheimer to list one thing from which he draws inspiration. The themes that reoccur within Burkheimer’s work are the building and rebuilding of various materials that he chooses.
Wall discussed the beautiful yet daunting idea of the possibilities or directions that the work can decide to go in. “I don’t usually start the project and know what the outcome might be. Even with 31 Days, I knew this form and was repeating it, but there is always something else that is revealed in the process of making it, and there is something really exciting about that for me to not know exactly the shape of it, what the outcome might be, and also where all these tangential ideas come from while developing a body of work,” Wall said.
Wall takes inspiration from everything in her life: conversations with people in her life, her past drawings, and exchanges between her and the people she feels connected with. She created 31 Days “born out of being deeply self-reflective and feeling a lot of pain and lack of agency and feeling restless.”
In contrast, Saxon-Hill enjoys the process of collecting a variety of concepts and physical objects. “I like to overload myself with information and stimulus, and so that’s my comfort zone. I will reduce pieces that are sort of modular, and then when I get to the install part I have maybe four ideas that I have tried in the studio,” Saxon-Hill said.
She is also interested in how the room and space impacts her work outside of her studio.
She continues by comparing herself to a bird or a dog because of the ways in which they nest. “You know dogs or birds where they do that thing where they build nests or where they walk around this shape under them? I think of myself that way a little bit, and I panic because I feel like I have been building the nest too long,” Saxon-Hill said.
Juxtaposition and things that are seen to have little to no value really inspire Saxon-Hill. She feels like she needs to be that woman “who puts her finger in that sock,” Saxon-Hill says, referring to the movie “The Piano” where a guy puts his finger in a woman’s sock.
Saxon-Hill also enjoys the search for dusty, imperfect things that are also somehow beautiful.
Studio space was a very important influence when creating work for the artists. For Wall, moving from one studio to another affected her studio practice. “My husband and I had just bought a house at the time. We were developing or building out our studio, and it was difficult for me to transition from a space that I kind of made into a home over several years and try to find a way to reshape that or maybe not reshape it. Studios are something special that have to be grown,” Wall said. However, Burkheimer describes his studio as something a magazine wouldn’t feature.
Saxon-Hill describes her studio experience as a space she needs to prepare for with specific music and a specific scent.
All three artists work can be seen both at UCC’s art gallery in the Whipple Fine Arts building and the Umpqua Valley Arts Association on Harvard Avenue in Roseburg until May 8.