Charlotte Street Foundation identifies the needs and fuels the evolution of an ever-changing multidisciplinary arts ecosystem, acting as its primary provocateur. We cultivate the contemporary, the exceptional, and the unexpected in the practice of artists working in and engaging with the Kansas City Art Community
When curator, Andrew Lyles, grouped us together for a two-person show at Paragraph Gallery, Kadie Nugent and I immediately knew we wanted the show to be a collaborative installation, rather than a place to hang two bodies of work. We wanted to create one large, site specific piece, especially since we had never collaborated before. We knew of each other’s work, as we both graduated from the Kansas City Art Institute in May of 2015, but we never realized how many similarities we shared until Andrew put us together.
We both have a love for black and white, organic shapes, mark-making, and abstraction. Kadie’s work deals with the exploration of personal memories/spaces, through structure in “both the physical makeup of a piece and the structure of my own life’s narrative.” My work, on the other hand, is about the body’s relationship to the landscape through the idea of disappearing, such as when one is buried, and the simultaneous absence and presence that occurs. Abstraction is a major part of each of our art making , as it relates to memory and the fragmentation of ideas and shapes.
We had 2 weeks to create the installation, but with both of us juggling full time jobs, and very different schedules, 2 weeks felt like 2 days. We had big ideas – from plastering the walls in collage material from my recent series of landscapes, to creating wire drawings in space that interacted with drawn lines on the walls, to using paper and fabric pieces from Kadie’s previous show to transform the gallery into an otherworldly terrain.
We started with our paper relief idea, where we were going to build big, billowing mountain-like shapes out of crumbled butcher paper and then project line drawings onto them. We started building the paper sculpture on the East wall of the gallery, and brought it in front of the windows and over the vents, trying to erase the architecture of the space. We weren’t allowed to draw directly on the walls, so we got stuck on the idea of using projectors to project line drawings for us. But unfortunately, it was looking too much like crumbled toilet paper for our taste, and the projections just weren’t right.
The gallery was a mess as we worked through different ideas and watched the installation evolve before us.
The more we played with the projector, the more we realized that what we really wanted to do was draw on the walls. I was making contour drawings in my studio that I thought resembled some of Kadie’s wire sculptures, and she was making fabric silhouetted shapes that she saw were in conversation with my drawings. So, after a series of “problem solving” talks, we settled on what the exhibition would be. I would use the projectors to blow up my drawings, so I could transfer them, while further abstracting them, onto foam core that would be cut out and painted. Meanwhile, Kadie would make quilted shapes in response to my drawings, and she would stitch delicate line work into them. We tore down the toilet paper sculpture, and were finally both doing what we loved to do the most.
We thought of it as if we were both making pieces for a collage. We made our parts separately, and then brought them to each other so we could work together to collage them into different compositions in the gallery. We would randomly select a piece to start with, pin it to the wall, and then hold up different pieces around it until we both agreed they made sense together. What was really bizarre was that we had both made some shockingly similar shapes on our own. While we made our pieces separately, even in separate buildings, a number of curves lined up perfectly when we brought them together, and others seemed to fit together like a puzzle.
We started seeing some of Kadie’s black shapes almost as shadows since they felt so much heavier than the drawings, and we brought them to the floor in a few places to add dimension to the work. While some walls came together really easily, others were more challenging. We really struggled with 2 walls in particular, where nothing seemed to look right. But we had to make do with the pieces we had, because there was no time or resources to make more. After many conversations about composition, density, movement, and barriers, we were able to find arrangements that resonated with us.
We kept a level of abstraction that allows viewers to fill in the blanks and see different things in each image. We would start to identify shapes as different things while we were working, and we would bring it up to the other to see if she would see the same thing. The process of collaborating and working through ideas was the most important part of the work for us.