The Street Is As Much A Studio

Rachel Harrison, American Idol, 2008, wood, polystyrene, cement, Parex, acrylic, microphone with stand, 62×24 x 89”. Photo: André Morin. All images of Rachel Harrison’s works courtesy of the artist and Greene Naftali, New York.

“[Rachel] Harrison reports that they [she and Nayland Blake] met seven summers ago while teaching in the sculpture department of the Bard MFA program. They struck up a friendship upon realizing that they both rewarded themselves after a grueling day of crits by going shopping to places they never visited in New York City—Walmart, Target, and, especially, Michael’s craft store in Kingston, NY, where Harrison says they “get all excited looking at grandma craft kits.” They take their critical thinking to the shops with them. Once, at Michael’s, Blake spotted a whitefeathered owl and said to Harrison, “You might need this for your work.” It’s lying around in her studio, waiting to appear in one of her pieces. The idea is one that harkens back to Schwitters and passes through Rauschenberg: de-contextualizing consumer goods and recycling discarded stuff is the basis of a daily sculptural engagement with the world of objects around us—the street is as much a studio as, well, the studio. Both artists mine the inherent theatricality of objects for display.”

[BOMB Magazine interview, Fall 2008]

Free / Found

I’ve been lucky that free materials have come to me over the past months, as I’ve been preparing for my A.I.R. show.

These include:

Podium to display a book, lent by Sarah Granett‘s aunt and uncle. I love this photo. They were using it as a hose rack.


Styrofoam pellets collected by Chris Manzione. He is making foam sculptures and generating bags and bags of this waste, which is just perfect for beanbag chair filling.


These are just a few of the dozens of phone books I’ve received through Freecycle, friends, and strangers. (I’ve been using them for collage material.)


Frames from MFTA (free) and the Goodwill Store (very cheap). Instead of custom framing, I’m buying secondhand and stripping them of paint, so they will all have a natural wood finish but with different styles. I’ve been able to find frames for all but one oddly-sized piece. For just that one, I will order new.


At Goodwill I also found this walrus with dandelions embroidered on burlap…no relation to the show.