CLOUD HOUSE is a unique rain harvesting system that creatively reuses the rainwater it collects to provide a deeper look into the natural systems that give us the food we eat.
On rainy days, a gutter system collects rain that hits the roof and directs it to storage tank underneath the house. Sitting in the rocking chairs triggers a pump that brings the collected rainwater up into the “cloud” to drop onto the roof, producing that warm pleasant sound of rain on a tin roof.
At the same time, rainwater drops from the tops of the windows onto the edible plants growing in the windowsills.
Designed to collect and store rainwater for the “cloud” to rain, this display of the water-cycle illustrates our fragile dependence on the natural systems that grow the food we eat, and at points throughout the year when there is low rainfall, the ‘cloud’ will not rain on the roof because it is simply out of water. CLOUD HOUSE is clad with barn wood and tin reclaimed from a nearby abandoned farm by group of Amish builders.
With rocking chairs on a barn wood floor, the sound of rain on a tin roof, and rain drops bringing the necessary elements for plants growing in the window sills, the look and feel of CLOUD HOUSE is the epitome of a rural farm experience from simpler times, and creates a space to reflect on the natural processes of food production. Located at Springfield, MO’s largest farmers market, CLOUD HOUSE is a poetic counterpoint to the well-attended market and offers a meditative moment to slow down, enjoy the fresh edible plants, and listen to rain on a tin roof.
Watch a video about Matthew Mazzotta’s CLOUD HOUSE.
Mixed media artist Myrna Balk is exhibiting at Boston’s Piano Craft Gallery (5/5-5/28, opening reception 5/7, 3-6 PM, artist discussion 5/21, 3 PM) in Connecting the Dots, encompassing 50 years of her artistic output.
Here, she discusses the exhibition, how a life of social work affected her art, and highlights and surprises from 50 years of working in clay, steel, wood, etching, and more.
You work in a range of materials and processes. What makes you select one material over another in the creation of a new work?
When I choose a new subject, I instinctively decide on the material I think will work best. There is not much inner conversation. It just feels right. I usually focus on one technique at a time. Other times I feel like working in a specific material, and it is only after it is finished that I know if there is a meaning or not.
How has your career as a social worker impacted your art?
It exposed me to many intense social situations, and these experiences inspired the subject of some of my art. For example, in 1998 I was invited to Kathmandu, Nepal to consult on domestic violence and teach at a school of social work. Once there, I was introduced to the victims of sex trafficking. Because of my experience in working with groups, I was comfortable in meeting with women and girls in seven shelters. I gave them the opportunity to have fun and to draw. I did not expect them to want to tell me their stories and to take their experiences home with me. Thus I was exposed to situations that most people do not encounter, firsthand. This led to my doing my own large body of etchings about trafficking. Eight of them were shown at the United Nations in New York City.
How do you know when your work is done?
When I went from welding to etching it was hard for me to know when something was done. This was because I was not secure with the new material. As I became more confident I let the piece speak for itself and knew when it was finished.
Your exhibition at the Piano Craft Gallery is a 50 year retrospective. Any highlights (or lowlights) that stand out from those decades?
At one point, when I was welding, I had 7 unfinished pieces of sculpture. I was stuck on one so started another. When the number got to 7, I was in despair. I just sat in a rocking chair and read in my studio waiting for the ideas to start coming again. Then one day I looked up and there was the piece of steel that would fix one of the unfinished pieces. After that all of the work was finished within a few hours.
What artist do you most admire but work nothing like?
Ben Shahn is at the top of my list of admired artists. Others, in no special order, are Käthe Kollwitz, Anthony Caro, Alice Neel, and Anselm Kiefer.
What’s the most surprising response to your art you’ve ever received?
The most wonderful surprise that I had was Anthony Caro inviting Clement Greenberg to meet me. Greenberg then came to my home to see my work. He was extremely complimentary and encouraged me to continue sculpting.
What do you listen to while you create?
I usually focus on my inner voice. Sometimes I listen to Amy Goodman from the radio program DEMOCRACY NOW. She keeps me up on a lot of the political issues.
What are you currently reading? Out Stealing Horses by Per Peterson, The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead.
How many revisions does your work typically go through?
I do not work and rework my pieces. I work fast and usually am satisfied with the first results. In the case of outdoor installations, the work is meant to be adjusted when it is in a tree or on the ground or in the water.
Myrna Balk: Connecting the Dots Piano Craft Gallery
May 5-May 28, 2017
Opening reception: May 7, 2017, 3-6 PM
Artist Discussion: May 21, 2017, 3 PM
Steven Bogart directs Peerless for Company One Theatre (C1), performed at the Boston Public Library (4/27-5-28, 7 PM). All tickets are pay-what-you-can in this production, produced in conjunction with the Library’s “All the City’s a Stage: A Season of Shakespeare.”
Christy Georg will give a slide lecture at Santa Fe Clay (4/14, 1 PM) about her project Great Guns, one of the most ambitious projects attempted in the 43-year history of the Kohler Arts/Industry Residency Program. Read about the project in ArtSake.
Niho Kozuru‘s sculpture Longfellow Column has been acquired for the permanent collection of the Fuller Craft Museum. The mold for Longfellow Column comes from a balustrade at the Cambridge home of poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.
Peter Snoad‘s documentary play, The Draft, about personal experiences with the Vietnam War draft, is now available on DVD and streaming through the Media Education Foundation. The play was filmed in performance during its premiere at Hibernian Hall in Roxbury where Peter was Visiting Playwright from 2013-15. Peter returns to Hibernian Hall when his short play Apple Pie is performed by Roxbury Repertory Theatre as part of its “Six Playwrights in Search of a Stage” festival (4/15-4/16).
Laurel Sparks is among the artists exhibiting in Witches at September Gallery in Hudson, NY (thru 5/7). Laurel will participate in an event, Witches Performance Night, on 4/22, 6–8 PM.
Joyce Van Dyke has a staged reading of her new play The Women Who Mapped the Stars at Central Square Theater (4/17, 8 PM). There will be a workshop production at the same theatre in May/June. Her play Daybreak will have a staged reading (4/21, 7:30 PM) at Pan Asian Repertory Theater in New York. Her new play Ballad for Americans will have a staged reading at Northeastern University (5/1).
We were curious about ruts, pitfalls, or other counter-productive things from which artists make a conscious effort to steer clear. So we asked, What do you work hardest at trying to avoid in your work?
The answers range from technical or material concerns, issues of art history, creative decisions, and (in one case) become a poetic expression all their own.
Mara Superior, ceramicist
My material is porcelain, and there are so many technical issues and things that could go wrong all along the way before a piece is completed. As I’m making, I’m always trying to avoid mishandling the materials.
Porcelain is a high-risk material because it shrinks about 15 percent. Working with it is all about timing, moisture content, construction, drying slowly then bisque firing. I am interested in the beauty of the final product. I bear with the process.
To add a little more excitement into the mix, I work with an atmospheric kiln which means the results are not consistent each time as it might be in an electric kiln. As I work I am imagining the ideal outcome. There is always an adjustment and surprise when the kiln is opened.
Esthetically speaking I try to avoid being too decorative, although I love ornament. I try to balance beauty and content. I believe that some difficult content delivered in a beautiful package is intriguing and alluring.
Marky Kauffmann, photographer
It is really important to me to make photographs that have an originality of expression. Of course, I understand that being original is impossible. We all stand on the shoulders of the artists who have come before us. Perhaps what I’m calling originality is really creativity – having a strong creative element in my work, something no one else has thought to try. By combining darkroom techniques and digital technologies in a unique manner, I try hard to avoid having my work look like someone else’s. If someone says to me, “Your work looks like so and so’s,” I know I have failed to accomplish what I set out to do.
At the same time, whatever technical devices I use, I want them to make sense in my work. I want to avoid cheap tricks at all costs. This can be a delicate balancing act, but I strive to speak forcefully, purposefully, and skillfully with all the tools in my toolbox.
Shubha Sunder, writer
Thomas Mann put it this way in The Magic Mountain: “There are so many different kinds of stupidity, and cleverness is one of the worst.” As a writer of fiction, I work hard to avoid cleverness in my work. This means being on the lookout for things like heavy-handed metaphors, striking images that fail to resonate with the themes of the story, or sentences that twist themselves into pretzels to convey, in the end, what could be said in a few simple words. Cleverness is not the same as complexity, when the world on the page reflects and illuminates the messiness of real life. That sort of effect comes not from clever technique but from a deep exploration of characters and situations. I used to delight in showing off my pyrotechnics as a writer; now, I’m obsessed with doing everything possible to immerse a reader into the world of the story – to make the words disappear, rather then stand out.
Evan Morse, sculptor
My earliest sculptural works were so close to historical precedents that what I thought was a commentary on the past seemed to most people to be merely copying the past. Most people can’t not think Greek, Roman, Renaissance, or Rodin when they see a marble nude. This has been my struggle throughout the youth of my sculptural career and is the thing that I am continually seeking to avoid in my work. How do I make art that speaks for itself first, and its historical counterparts second? How do I make figurative sculpture that builds upon history rather than repeats it? Not to mention that all the aforementioned acts are tough ones to follow…
After some searching and experimentation, I realized that the traditional methods and materials are important to me. Taking part in the millennia-long visual conversation in the representation of the human figure is important to me. This means that the content of my work has to be strong enough on its own to both embrace its historical allusions and seem original at the same time. It’s a fine line to walk, and I’m working to avoid the pitfalls all the time.
Scott Challener is a doctoral candidate in Rutgers University. His most recent poems appear in the online publication Pangyrus (out of Cambridge) and Lana Turner Journal.
Marky Kauffmann is a photographer who curated Outspoken, an exhibition of seven female photographers that recently closed at the de Menil Gallery at Groton School. The show will travel to the Hess Gallery at Pine Manor College in Chestnut Hill next fall.
Evan Morse‘s sculpture has been exhibited at Boston City Hall, Danforth Art in Framingham, and Heritage Museums & Gardens in Sandwich, among many other venues.
Shubha Sunder‘s fiction has been appeared in Crazyhorse magazine, where it won the 2015 Crazyhorse Fiction Prize; Narrative Magazine, where it was a winner of “30 Below, Michigan Quarterly Review, and The Bangalore Review. She teaches at GrubStreet and recently completed her first novel, Boomtown Girl.
Mara Superior has received five awards from the Artist Fellowships Program since 1986. Her ceramic work is currently on exhibit in A Sense of Place, the 73rd Scripps Ceramic Annual exhibition at the Ruth Chandler Williamson Gallery in Claremont, CA.
Images: Mara Superior, AMERICANA (2016), porcelain, salt glazed white stoneware, 14.5x18x2 in; Marky Kauffmann, MAGGIE” DISINTEGRATION, from the LOST BEAUTY series; Evan Morse, SEB AND CLAIRE ILLEGALLY STREAM A MOVIE (2016), hydrocal, pigment 9x18x15 in.
It’s March, the equator is about to pass by the center of the sun (happy Spring Equinox), and our past Artist Fellowships awardees continue to shine with honors, exhibitions, readings, and so much more. Here’s the latest news.
Lisa Nilsson, from the 40 Years of Fellowships project. This month, the artist exhibits at the Currier Museum of Art
Ria Brodell has a solo show of paintings, Butch Heroes, at Gallery Kayafas (3/3-4/8, opening reception 3/3, 5:30-8 PM). She’ll also be releasing the limited edition book Butch Heroes: Paintings by Ria Brodell, with book signing and panel discussion 3/18, 3 PM.
Mary Jane Doherty is screening two of her early films, Gravity and Three Fish, as well as an excerpt of a new work, Sonic Boom Boom, as part of the DocYard Series at Brattle Theatre in Cambridge (3/20, 7 PM).
Nathalie Miebach has an artist talk/concert at the Clay Center for Arts and Sciences in Charleston, WV (3/22, 5-7 PM). It will will include musical performances by composers Mischa Salkind-Pearl and Matthew Jackfert, who have both written pieces about Nathalie’s work. Also this month, she’ll present artist talks at Winchester High School and Abington High School.
Stephen Mishol has a solo exhibition, Place at the Neiman Center at Columbia University School of the Arts (thru 3/17). His work is also featured in DRAW/Boston at the Massachusetts College of Art (thru 3/4).
Gabriel Polonsky will screen and hold a director’s talk for his film Release from Reason (3/11, 3-5 PM), in conjunction with the Life: from life at room83 Spring Gallery. The documentary, currently in-progress, is about the life and work of Boston Expressionist painter Arthur Polonsky (the filmmaker’s father).
Monica Raymond recently returned from a three-week residency at the Atlantic Center for the Arts, where she showed work as part of an exhibit of Erasure Texts and read new poems and performed improvised poetry and music as part of INsideOUT (3/9). She will be reading poems from the sequence A Walk on Norfolk Street (set in Cambridge 2013, around the Boston Marathon bombings) at the Brandeis Women’s Studies Research Center (3/28, 3 PM), part of a daylong symposium Women’s Sense of Place.
Alexandra Anthony‘s film Lost in the Bewilderness had a theatrical run at Alkyonis New Star Cinema in Athens, Greece. The run was extended 11 more days than originally planned and opened at a second theatre, New Studio Art Cinema, as well.
Richard Michelson‘s picture book Fascinating has been selected for as a Notable Social Studies Trade Book for Young People 2017 by the National Council for the Social Studies (NCSS) and the Children’s Book Council.
Monica Raymond‘s short play Hijab (with Adrianjne Krystansky) will have a reading at the Brandeis Women’s Studies Research Center (2/16, 12:30 PM). It’s part of a program, HIJAB and Notes From the Field, that will discuss the cultural significance of women’s veiling around the world. Also, Monica’s monologue Ernesto had a staged reading at Theater Iati (NYC) in January.
Shelley Reed has a solo exhibition, A Curious Nature, at Fitchburg Art Museum (2/12-6/4). Her painting Predator/Prey (after Oudry) will also be the fulcrum of the group exhibition A Feast of Beasts (2/12-9/3).
The Massachusetts Cultural Council is honored to announce the 2017 Artist Fellowship awards in Crafts, Dramatic Writing, and Sculpture/Installation/New Genres. Sixteen artists will receive fellowships of $12,000, and 16 artists will receive $1,000 finalist awards. See a list of this year’s fellows and finalists, to date.
The awards are anonymously judged, based solely on the artistic quality and creative ability of the work submitted. Applications were open to all eligible Massachusetts artists. A total number of 561 applications were received; 141 in Crafts, 135 in Dramatic Writing, and 285 in Sculpture/Installation/New Genres.
The Crafts panelists were Honee A. Hess, Ji-Eun Kim, Daniel Kornrumpf, and Beth McLaughlin. The Dramatic Writing panelists were Maria Agui Carter, Anne G. Morgan, and Rebecca Noon; the Readers were Steven Bogart and Talaya Delaney. The Sculpture/Installation/New Genres panelists were Nicholas Capasso, Dana Filibert, Jen Mergel, and Allison Maria Rodriguez.
This is the first series of Artist Fellowships awards to be given by the Mass Cultural Council in 2017. In late May 2017, MCC will announce awards in Film & Video, Music Composition, and Photography.
Images: Mara Superior (Crafts Fellow ’17), THE PURSUIT OF HAPPINESS (2014), porcelain, wood, gold leaf, 24x20x15 in; Evan Morse (Sculpture/Installation/New Genres Fellow ’17), SEB AND CLAIRE ILLEGALLY STREAM A MOVIE (2016), hydrocal, pigment, 9x18x15 in; Nora Valdez (Crafts Fellow ’17), LONG PATH (2013), limestone and marble, 12x52x7 in; from the Off-Broadway production of EXPATRIATE by Lenelle Moise (Dramatic Writing Fellow ’17), photos by Vanessa Vargas.
Kati Agócs had the U.S. premiere of her string quarter Tantric Variations, performed by the Cecilia String Quartet on Stradivari instruments, at the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C. in December.
Alexandra Anthony has a one-week theatrical run of her film Lost in the Bewilderness in Athens, Greece (1/12-1/18) at the Alkyonis Art Cinema. National Greek TV (ERT) will broadcast the film 1/15. The film’s December premiere in Greece received press attention in Madame Figaro and THETOC.gr.
Samantha Fields has a performative sculptural installation in the exhibition Is this Something at the Lasell College Wedeman Gallery (1/24-2/11, reception 1/29, 4-6 PM). Next summer, she will be Artist-in-Residence at the John Michael Kohler Arts Center in Wisconsin.
Mary Jane Doherty has two upcoming screenings: her dance documentary Secundaria screens at Prince Theater in Philadelphia (12/14, 7 PM), hosted by the Pennsylvania Ballet and Philadelphia Film Society. Her film Primaria has its Latin American premiere at La Festival Internacional del Nuevo Cine LatinoAmericano in Havana, Cuba (12/16, 5:30 PM).
Christy Georg has work in the group exhibition Breaking the Block at the Santa Fe Convention Center Community Gallery (12/16-3/2, reception 12/16, 5-7 PM). She is also featured at the New Mexico Museum of Art in the Alcoves series: small one-person exhibitions featuring contemporary artists working in New Mexico (12/9-1/29, reception 12/11, 10:30 AM-12 PM).
Asia Kepka has a booksigning at 13 Forest Gallery (12/8, 6-8 PM) for the book Horace and Agnes: A Love Story, along with co-creator Lynn Dowling.
Jesse Kreitzer has received the James Goldstone Award for Emerging Vermont Filmmaker from the Vermont International Film Foundation, with an awards ceremony 12/15, 7 PM, at the Main Street Landing Film House.
Georgie Friedman has work in Constructed Video at Boston Cyberarts Gallery (11/12-12/18, reception 11/11, 6-8 PM). Also, she has a site-specific video installation at the Strand Theatre in Dorchester, Traces of Wind and Water (thru 11/14), with “Artist Hours” at the site 11/6, 5-6:30 PM. (See news about the artist’s award from SMFA, above.)
Justin Kimball has a solo exhibition of photography, Elegy, at Carroll and Sons Gallery (11/2-12/21, reception 11/4 5:30-7:30 PM). Signed copies of Justin Kimball’s book Elegy will be available for purchase.