Marketing Specialist Mary Karcher recently interviewed Abi Ogle about her experience as a resident artist at HCCC. Abi’s residency runs through February, 2020. For more information about HCCC’s artist residency program and to apply for the 2020 – 2021 cycle, click here. Applications are due March 1, 2020.
Mary Karcher: How have you evolved as an artist/maker during your time at HCCC?
Abi Ogle: My time at HCCC has definitely been a time of listening to stories, being delighted by the proximity of (simply put) REMARKABLE makers, and a chance to explore the really incredible resources that the Craft Center provides. For me, personally, my six months here have been a time of growth, a chance to explore materials and concepts, and to make uninhibited (which has been SUCH a gift).
MK: You have made some really incredible work during your time at HCCC – what piece has challenged you during your time here, and what piece has delighted you?
AO: Challenged: The Jabuticaba explorations have been an interesting challenge. When I was first told about the Jabuticaba tree, I was completely freaked out by it. It’s a really strangely repulsive tree, and yet it kept beckoning to me. Again and again, I’d return to research on it, despite the strange horror I was experiencing in looking at it. I still feel like I’m wrestling with the material, but that’s been part of the process, too. It’s something that feels parasitic, but is also enticing. I’ve worked with desire/repulsion before, but this somehow feels different. It’s been a neat avenue to explore, and I’m excited with how the pieces have evolved over the last few months.
Delighted: I have really just fallen in LOVE with the grapefruit. In the first few months of my residency, I bought a bag of Texas Ruby Red Grapefruits, thinking, “This feels like a winter-in-Houston kind of thing to do,” and it really just snowballed into delighting over the beauty and complexity of the fruit. I was astonished by the way each membrane took on a life of its own, how it begged to be looked at and marveled over. Not only that, but eating grapefruit is something I very much enjoy, so it became a ritual full of delight, even though it was something that I did in great quantities. Not to mention, it was really special to get to use materials from the Craft Garden. Using Wood Oat stems was a neat way of making this piece even more specific to my time here in Houston than it would have been otherwise.
MK: Why do you enjoy working in craft?
AO: For me, craft is a chance to explore broadly, to fall in love with materials, and to share memories associated with those materials. As a fiber artist, my understanding of fiber moves from things like human hair, to grapefruit membranes, to panty hose, and beyond — because all of these things are essentially fibers. Working as a craft artist reminds me that I am part of an art historical tradition that ties me to the makers who have come before me. It’s amazing to consider this. I mean, think about it, for all of humanity, we have made things, delighted in materials, adorned our bodies, explored nature around us, and created really interesting things. Often, I think about how working in craft is a way of remembering. We spend time making things, and they become tangled with meaning, whether that’s because of a pre-existing association with a material, or what compels us to make the object, or what is happening in our surroundings. It’s a distinctly human thing, to make, and it’s something I deeply enjoy.
MK: How do you feel your residency at HCCC has prepared you for your next move?
AO: Not only has my time here allowed me a space to develop my practice, but it has given me the tools and the confidence to be in conversation with other folks. It’s allowed me to invite people into my practice and share with them why I believe art is worth making–and how they, too, are a part of the conversation–but it’s also given me time. I’ve been able to spend countless hours in the studio after the Craft Center has closed, and because of this chance to diligently work, I’ve been able to make and make and make — something I’m incredibly grateful for. During my time here, I’ve made valuable connections, too, both with the artists I’ve come in contact with, and with different folks from all over the U.S., who have recommended new experiences or opportunities. It’s given me the chance to grow, to make, and to look forward to the next opportunities with expectant hope.
MK: Why do you think residencies are an important part of an artist’s career?
AO: Residencies are a chance to be in communion with other contemporary artists, to be a part of incredible communities, and to learn a lot about listening and making. If we’re making art, but not actually talking to anyone about what we are creating, or what others are creating, I think we miss something really important. Not only that, but the community that is created is something really sensational. At the Craft Center, there is an opportunity to be both in community with viewers AND other artists. It’s helpful and worthwhile to hear what questions a kid has about your work, or what someone who is not a maker in the traditional sense delights in or critiques. It’s also a chance to be in conversations with artists from all stages of life and practice and material focus that validate and challenge you as a maker. Not to mention, when else do you get to make unrestricted AND be in conversation with amazing folks? Residencies are a really generous gift, one that, if you’re willing to engage generously with, will richly give you a great deal of good in return. I think when we take the time to listen to others and grow from what they say, a really important kind of work is made possible, and that’s something I’ve certainly gotten to be a part of here at the HCCC.
To learn more about Abi Ogle, visit https://aogleart.com.