filed under: art, illustration, let's chat!, mixed media, sculpture
philadelphia artist amy walsh could have easily been a scientist or an architect after having a look at her intriguing mixed media art. her gallery installations are a dreamy, intimate look into foundations, demolition and purpose. peering through little peepholes into other tiny worlds leaves debris floating in my head. it doesn’t seem necessarily determined to have a ending either; rather, it seems satisfied enough to saturate the viewer’s mind without a tidy conclusion like some romantic comedy you’d see at the cinema. it’s a private, contemplative place.
more intimacy can be found in amy’s gorgeous hand silkscreened specimen prints on vintage book pages, called the beastiarium. looking at these inspired animal combinations reminds me of thumbing through an old college biology textbook and coming upon a page covered with someone else’s notes, triumphantly bursting with rich color. it’s like some unfinished lesson from long ago, discovered serendipitously, that we were meant to find and keep in our minds. let’s have a chat with amy and find out more!
q: where do you live?
a: i live in west philadelphia with my hubby (an acupuncturist) and my cat izzy. my art studio is in fishtown in a warehouse.
q: what is your background, and did you study art formally?
a: i’ve been making things like crazy all my life. i majored in painting as an undergrad (university of massachusetts), and in sculpture in graduate school (pennsylvania academy of the fine arts). i took ten years off in between, and i am glad i did. i actually went to graduate school to continue painting, but switched to sculpture in my first semester in a moment of big transformation.
q: how are your pieces made? what types of media do you use and do you have a favorite?
a: in my 2D and 3D work i like to use found materials, decayed materials, stuff i just find around me. ever since i was a kid i have enjoyed making everyday materials like twigs and cardboard and paper and string transform into something otherworldly or totally convincing as its own little reality.
q: how large are these pieces and are they for sale? if so, what is their price range?
a: my sculptures are large, and they disappear when I am done exhibiting them. they are too fragile to move around from place to place, and they are made of materials that easily decay. so i build them in the exhibition space (after working on all the parts and fragments in my studio) and when the show is over, i deconstruct them, and often use many of the fragments in the next piece.
the specimen prints are all under 8″ x 10″ and are all $29 through my etsy shop. soon i am going to make some original gouache paintings based on the specimen designs, and those will be in the shop too.
q: what is your inspiration and message you want to send through these pieces?
a: the way i work now is similar to how i worked as a kid: my first “sculptures” were little villages made out of pine needles in the woods, when i was five or six years old. i don’t know if i am looking to send a message as much as just exploring as deeply as I can things that give me a sense of wonder, hope, sadness, etc. i think of these current sculptures as evidence of a world that is fragile, transient, and decaying, and at the same time is being rebuilt and reimagined. i am also really into the relationship of the inside and the outside, and playing with people’s expectations. i like the viewer to be surprised, to be let in on a little magic, a secret, something out of the ordinary. so, i keep a lot of dualities in my mind while i make the sculptures: order/chaos, collapse/rebuilding, interior/exterior, dark/light, delight/despair.
all that said, while i am working, i am really playing. the words and descriptions come later.
with the specimen prints, i am not sure what drives them. i am drawn to the old book pages for the same reasons i am drawn to dirty cardboard and wood scraps – they already have a history and a use. the animals and plants and sea creatures that i cobble together are just really beautiful to me, and combining them makes them nicely strange and sometimes a little yucky, which is a good combo. i have so much fun finding the places where these creatures can merge and become hybrids. maybe it’s a way to appreciate how weird real animals are.
q: are you currently exhibiting in any shows or is there any other meaningful information you would like to mention?
a: i sell my specimen prints at vix, and at occasional trunk shows at the mew gallery, both in philadelphia (the next one is this friday night, february 8th!). my etsy shop is a good place to find the specimen prints online. i sell them inexpensively so everyone can have one! and i update my blog and flickr stream with new work all the time. i love getting comments and critiques about my work, so i invite anyone to visit and say hello.
thank you amy!