July 15, 2015

7/14/15 – Sister Hermann

Artist: Marie T. Hermann

Location: Sister Pie


MTH – Coffee (black), slice of chocolate creme pie

SRS – Coffee (black), slice of sour cherry & bourbon pie

Let’s just get this out of the way: Marie T. Hermann is about the nicest person I’ve ever met. Her enthusiasm extends to all things, big and small–perhaps art most of all, but also pie, old friends, building things with kids, materials, traveling, and staying in one place. We covered all this and more, sitting first in the sunny front window at Sister Pie, and then eventually moving to a table at the back when things got serious (we needed to eat pie).

There is a thing about making a new friend, that feeling of sort of fumbling towards each other to find common ground. When you can’t get there quickly, it can become exhausting, but Marie is a maker, so we have a lot to talk about. Ceramics have that amazing transforming quality to them, being a medium that starts out soft and endlessly malleable, and then becomes extremely fixed and unchangeable. As a fiber artist, I can relate to the soft materials side, but find myself intimidated by rigid materials (I am a terrible carpenter, conditioned by fabric to be able to fudge the small details that result in completely wonky woodwork). I have enough experience with ceramics to know firsthand some of the meditative qualities of working with a wheel–it is absorbing the way caring for a small child is absorbing, it really takes every modicum of your attention. We swapped process stories, the go-to creative block remedy of studio clean-up. Engaging in sometimes useless-seeming processes that result in breakthroughs later down the road, like a high-five from your past self. Marie and I connected on this stuff very well.

She made a great counterpoint to my usual concerns about artists who farm out their processes to assistants or other fabricators–I tend to view the learning and the problem-solving inherent in working your way through a creative process to be the main benefit (aside, in my case, from the continuing not-going-crazy). I feel like when an artists just has an idea, but farms out the process, they are losing the opportunity to learn something. But Marie said something that struck me; she described having to outsource a particular process as learning to deal with a loss of control. That made a lot of sense to me–being a maker, seizing the means of production equates a controlled process of expression. Losing that control, and having to deal with that, is a cognitive and growth process, just like any other.

That really opened up my mind about some things.

I also just visited Scandinavia for the first time–Marie is native of Copenhagen, so we were able to talk about that a bit, as well. It’s funny, the connections you have to your homeland, your familiar places and people, even when you’ve moved to other places. There are some chords that remain inside you, even after all.

I don’t know what was better, the pie or the conversation. And when you understand how I feel about pie, you realize that is a BIG statement.

You can read more of my writing about Marie T. Hermann’s work here at Hyperallergic!

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