Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Alison Hiltner - Mixed Media

The Colony (detail), 2009. Mixed Media: Hot glue, Rubber bands, LED lights, PVC Pipe, Artificial Terrain, Balloons and Garden Hose. 72" h x 144" w x 164" l full installation.

Alison Hiltner
Website: http://www.mnartists.org/alison_hiltner

Alison Hiltner lives and works in Minneapolis. Her credits include solo exhibitions at Spike Gallery in New York, the International Museum of Surgical Sciences, Heineman Myers Contemporary Art and Soo Visual Arts Center in Minneapolis. Alison was an artist in residence at Sculpture Space and received a Minnesota State Arts Board artist initiative grant in 2007; she has also been a finalist for the Jerome and McKnight Foundation Fellowships.

Tell me about your work? What are you currently working on? How is this different from past projects?

Frequently I feel that my work is a series of what ifs…such as what if I take these random mundane materials like hot glue, garden hose, wire twine and transform them into something that appears organic, elements of rudimentary life. This also gives me the opportunity to magnify unique structures rarely scene, the strange architectural that is beneath our skin is a frequently revisited source of inspiration. I utilize a knowing naiveté, if that makes any sense, trying to maintain a sense of wonder in what I see and how I convey my ideas, with a sense of humor or a touch of the absurd always hovering around the surface.

In the spirit of my own personal mad science I have recently been attempting to combine my older work, mostly consisting of questionable medical objects, with the idea of creating artificial life. I can honestly say that nature creates sculptures far more breathtaking than I could ever hope to replicate but it hasn’t stop me from trying. I included a detail from a new piece I am working on titled, Extraction. This is the first piece that I have reintroduced an element of the machine into; however it is an experiment on many levels. I see it as a continuation of the piece Neuromorphic Behaviors that was installed in the Soap Factory’s Basement for HBX. Extraction, plays off of the idea that a sample was taken from the created environment in Neuromorphic Behaviors, then contained and cultivated for study. Using a past piece as an origin story in an alternate natural history and allowing the work to build on its concept with each incarnation is a fascinating idea to me that I will continue to pursue.

Neuromorphic Behaviors (Left View), 2010. Twine Wire, Wax Tape, UV Reactive Paint, Black Lights. 108" h x 153" w x 164" l.

Extraction (work in progress), 2011. Stainless Steel, Straws, Mesh, Sound Reactive El Wire and Enamel nail polish.

What was the best advice given to you as an artist?

Taking a chance and having it end in disaster is always better than playing it safe…which is fairly easy advice to follow especially since not taking chances with your work can also end in disaster.

The Colony (detail), 2009. Mixed Media: Hot glue, Rubber bands, LED lights, PVC Pipe, Artificial Terrain, Balloons and Garden Hose. 72" h x 144" w x 164" l full installation.

Tell me about your working space and your creative process?

I recently moved to a new studio space, one that is a bit unusual. It is a basement space that could easily be used as a stand in to film some scenes in a 1950s era mental hospital. The personality of the space is growing on me though and I am using one of the bedrooms as an installation room.

My process includes a lot of searching for the right ingredients; it starts with a concept or form that I want to investigate then I start poking and prodding it to see what reveals itself. I find the most inspiration in things that closely resemble science fiction but are firmly based in the real world. One of my favorite quotations is from Kurt Vonnegut: “Science is magic that works.” In many ways that is a guide to what I am drawn to exploring with my work, capturing elements of reality that could easily be considered fantasy.

Mimicry, 2009. Mixed Media: Artificial Flowers, Wax, Clay, Wire, Hamster Runabouts and a variety of other things found and made. 120" h x 64" w x 70" l.

Which Minnesota artists do you enjoy?

I could probably fill up two pages of links to artists I enjoy who work in Minnesota, several of whom have already been interviewed on this site or mentioned, Joe Sinness and all the artists he mentioned are fantastic, along with Lindsy Halleckson, Liz Miller and Amy Rice. I do need to give a special shout out to my partner Will Lager, who is an artist and collaborator I very much enjoy!

Upcoming Shows I am Looking forward to (as of 1/2011):

The next two exhibitions / 2-person shows at MAEP: (Peter Happel Christian and Margaret Wall-Romana / Paula McCartney and Liz Miller).

Suspension of This Belief at Soo Visual Arts Center by Karl Unnasch .

The Art of the Self-Portrait and Hennes Art Gallery (a piece by a Suzy Greenberg is my main interest in this).

Andy Ducett at the Soap Factory in 2012.

These are two amazing local artists that haven’t been mentioned on the site yet that I frequently look to for art making advice:

Pamela Valfer: http://pamelavalfer.com/home.html
Aaron Dysart: http://www.aarondysart.com/

And lastly this is a piece I wish I thought of first:
Ruben Nusz: http://www.rubennusz.com/Art/images/Pages/roaches.html#0

There really is way too much talent locally to include all the deserving artists!

If I were to follow you around on an “art day” in Minnesota, which places would we go? What would we see?

I think my perfect “art day” would have to include finally going to the Marjorie McNeely Conservatory. I can’t quite believe that I have never seen the Bonsai Gallery there, so that would be my top priority.

Where do you go online for good art resources, whether to find a new artist, or to see what is going on in the art world locally and otherwise?

I always find something interesting on BoingBoing.

Recently I was introduced to some sites that post artwork I am really into;

Do you have any exhibits or any interesting things going on in your life or coming up in the near future? (2011)

I am working on a new piece for a group exhibition, Physiotasmagorical, at Evanston Art Center , which will open on February 20, 2011.

If you were to receive a $2,000 art grant to do anything you want, what would you do?

Buy a prefab greenhouse…I have some schemes revolving around this idea of a portable laboratory.

Mimicry (Detail), 2009. Mixed Media: Artificial Flowers, Wax, Clay, Wire, Hamster Runabouts and a variety of other things found and made. Each form varies appro. 5.75" h x 5.75" w x 12"l.

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