Though we aren’t having an official First Thursday opening tonight, October is host to an exciting project here at Duplex! This week begins the time based installation of Abigail McNamara, we invite viewers to come through during the month to observe the artist at work and the evolution of piece (her schedule will be posted if you want to see her in action). Please mark your calendar on November 6th for the opening reception and to see the completed space!
A few weeks ago we were able to sit down in her studio to discuss her installation at Duplex as well as her previous work.
Duplex: Tell us a little bit about your background.
Abigail McNamara: I grew up in a little mountain college town, Missoula, MT. When I was eighteen I moved to Portland, and I’ve been here for about six years now. I went to Lewis & Clark College and I took my first art class there as a freshman.
D: Were you an art major at the time?
AMc: No, I was undecided. I remember thinking at 18 that I was too old to become an artist, like my chance had already passed me by. But that wasn’t true, of course. I began by studying drawing. A lot of my work was more representational and figurative, but even at that time I was very interested in nature and the natural world. Depictions of animal and plant life were coming up in much of my work. Pattern and detail were prevalent early on as well. Although my work looks very different today than it did then, I can easily follow the threads of these themes into the sculpture and installation work that I do now.
D: Tell us a little about the installation at Duplex.
AMc: This one is going to be very different. Everything that I make is time-based in nature; all of my working methods involve these detail-oriented and repetitive tasks. With each new piece I like to make my own craft, something that’s very meditative and regimented. I love getting lost in that process. This piece is going to make that process much more public than it has ever been. If you look at my finished work you can see that it’s very laborious, that it’s one tiny thing building upon another. By inviting people to come in and watch this process over time, that slow expansion of the work will be much more central to this installation. And for me this brings into focus the ideas of growth and decay.
There are a lot more unknowns going into this project because I want to leave space for things to evolve. I want to allow my work and my process to respond to my viewers as well as the architecture of the space. All of the walls in the space are very distinct, so I think I’ll be creating three or four distinct wall drawings. I call them drawings because the first renditions of this idea were done on paper. But they could be anything you want… sculpture, installation, painting, performance. There’s a little bit of everything in this piece.
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