July 28, 2015

7/24/15 – Making Connections with Lynn Bennett-Carpenter

Artist: Marcylen Bennett-Carpenter

Location: Great Lakes Coffee

Breakfast:

LBC – Coffee (black)

SRS – Coffee (black), croissaint (almond)

Let me say that, through my own scheduling deficiencies, this coffee date with Lynn fell at the end of a particularly intensely-packed week (those keeping close score will note it is my fourth BWTA in a single week. note to self: need to create supplementary Lunchtime at the Gym series. things are getting out of control). So I was coming to the table with perhaps a little less cognitive capacity than usual. Lucky for me, Lynn has been on sabbatical this year, and it has enabled her to do some really expansive thinking about her practice, and develop work that is really tackling some of her fundamental themes. I talk a bit about that work specifically in this review at Hyperallergic.

One thing that we talked about is the importance of collaboration and critical exchange–something I’ve been thinking a lot about, in relation to the Detroit art scene. I’m working on an idea to create a sort of crowd-sourced platform for arts criticism and support, that I think would be helpful for all practicing artists in the city, who want to participate. More on that, once I get my ducks in a row.

Lynn definitely responded to the idea, though, especially in light of an art crit group she’s been working with for about six months now, a group of eight artist who exchange studio visits and reflect on each others’ work: Corrie Baldauf, Lynn Bennett Carpenter, Annica Cuppetelli, Carrie Dickason, Jessica Frelinghuysen, Megan Heeres, Rod Klingelhofer, and Jeremy Noonan. The first round of this exchange is culminating in a group show at CAVE Gallery, which opens Saturday, August 1, from 6:00 – 9:00 pm (CAVE is in the Russell Industrial Center, if you’ve never been there, it takes a little finding).

unnamedI’m quite excited to see the work, which, as the title suggests, acts a a sort of sampler of the ongoing work of each of these artists. I’ve seen some snippets of works-in-progress over the last few months, and am prepared to be amazed.

Lynn also talked about using art as a cognitive process–a way of literally thinking about things. This makes sense to me, as I often initiate physical routines to stimulate mental routines, for example, straightening up the house when I feel mentally disorganized. Sometimes the act of processing something physically creates a mental change–I find that I much more readily remember things once I’ve written them down by hand, whether I refer to my notes or not. The fact that Lynn works within the fiber medium makes for a lovely metaphor about the interweaving of thoughts; it seems perfectly reasonable to me that a fiber artist can use weaving, and working with strings (or molding ceramic, which is another element of her practice) to synthesize ideas. The art then becomes the artifact of the thought process–really, that’s all art is. It’s one of the reasons I shy away from art that is intensely, intentionally conceptual…I am hard-pressed to think of any art that is not, ultimately, conceptual. It would have to be created by someone who is legally brain-dead. To pretend that the substructures of our grey matter are not bringing conceptual efforts to bear on our creative output, to me seems frankly laughable.

Anyway, Lynn is working hard at tying it all together. We talked, too, about grounding this physical work in language–still forefront of my mind, as I continue to process the Creative Capital workshop–that sometimes the intensive cognitive process happening beneath the surface simply doesn’t translate to the viewer. It is not cheating to tell them about it. Most people don’t think by weaving, so you can’t really fault them for failing to make that connection instantly. It doesn’t make them stupid, or you stupid, or your art stupid–in fact, they will probably find that interesting. I know that I’m always fascinated to hear about what is going on in the minds of creators…but then, I’m a process junkie, when you get right down to it. I’m looking forward to seeing what she, and all the other participants, bring to the CAVE show.

Finally, Lynn was kind enough to tune me into Cruel Garters, a poetry press and publication co-edited by Glen Armstrong and Lynn’s husband Ben Bennett-Carpenter. It comes in digestible little issues, stripped of artifice, all the better to showcase the poetry, with engaging covers designed by Lynn. It is just delightful. Poetry books can be so intensely high-commitment; it is a lot of hand-wringing sometimes. It took me more than a month to power my way through Monica McClure’s Tender Data–which was excellent in places, but dense and emotionally draining, to say the least. I was able to absorb two back issues of Cruel Garters over lunch at Royal Kabob. I wish I had a set of six curated poems like this a week!

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