Consenses Interview with Sally Taylor:
What made you want to participate in this project? I was really interested in the idea of all these artists coming together to add to part of a story, and the possibilities of how a theme can persist or diverge throughout different artistic interpretations. After hearing about it, I couldn’t help but want to be a part of it. It’s exciting to have a chance to contribute to something that is ultimately much larger than yourself.
Without going back to the art on the chain you what do you remember about it? I remember specific visual details of the sculpture and the photograph. And I can feel the movement of the dance but specifically for the perfume and the music I remember how in experiencing it, both were at the same time, entirely familiar and unknown at the same time. I remember having quick immediate associations to both but when I tried to draw out the thought or the memory suddenly the sound or the smell was not something I could easily define.
What was your first reaction to the collaborative chain? (thoughts, emotions, memories, tastes, smells etc?)I was surprised how well all the pieces fit with one another. To me, it was striking how the artwork seemed to speak to a personal ritual/prayer but yet it also transcended definition. Everything was at the same time clear but unspeakable but then in reading the poem, I was then able to better find the language I was looking for through that piece.
If you had to choose one word to sum up the chain what would it be? I want to say “zen” but I’m not sure if that is strong enough or as precise as I would like it to be. I think “balance” is a better fit- both the quest for it and the balance that I find between all the art itself.
What emotion did it elicit? Tranquility and calm but also reflectiveness. I found the art in this piece to feel personal and intimate.
Did the chain tell a story? I don’t know that the chain told me a story so much as illustrated themes. For me there are two concurrent themes – the one is of ritual and meditation which is clearest for me in the first photo, the music and the poem. The other is looking at individual parts that make up a whole. I felt that I could look at the art through the lens of the elements of earth, air, fire and water and how they interact with each other to create our physical world.
Take me through each step of your process from getting the chain to the creation of your space. After getting the artwork my I was excited to begin right away so in between lots of other meetings I would sneak time to study the photo or listen to the music/watch the dance. I formed very loose initial impressions and actually did a few napkin sketches here and there. After a bit of a forced hiatus I came back to the work with the initial impression that I had but then I attempted to really delve deeper into each piece of work. I sat with each thing and wrote down my impressions which helped me strengthen and define connections I had initially felt. From there I started doing more sketches and then began thinking in terms of a scale groundplan. Once I had the groundplan in mind, it became about how to visually represent the groundplan and the different areas in the exhibit through sketches.
What did you title your work and why? I titled it “Wholly” after my favorite phrase in the poem “wholly man, Holy man”. I really loved that play on the words and to me it encapsulated my efforts to provide a way of viewing the individual artworks as elements that made up the larger story as the elements of the earth shape our physical world.
What part of your design came to you first? Oddly enough, from the very first sketch I was using the mountains from the first image as a background for the entire piece. Since that image was the jumping off point for the whole series, I wanted to give it a little extra prominence and also play off against how everything relates back to that initial spark.
How do you normally create? How was this experience different? Normally when I design I go straight to sketches and I stay with sketches until I arrive at the place I want to. In this case, I did a very rough initial sketch but I also wanted to just put down some verbal associations with each art piece, which is not part of my normal process. I did think that helped me solidify the intuition I felt about the art and made me feel more confidant moving forward.
What techniques/tools did you use to help you express you’re interpretation? I often like to present my set designs as sketches first as I find that I can be more expressive with the mood of a design. I like working and sketching in pen because it helps keep me deliberate and honest with myself. I don’t give myself the option of going back to erase over and over again.
Are there certain choices you made which mean something specific to you that the observer might not know? I tried to keep any design choices true to theme I found in the original artwork. I think (or I hope!) when experienced all together that all the art resonates with itself. The one thing that I did add in was a step up into the space. Because to me the art was very much about ritual and subconscious prayer, I wanted to have a physical action that had to be completed to connect with the art. Creating a level seemed to be the perfect way to accomplish that.
Extra credit: Did you enjoy this project? More you want to say about your experience? Yes! I love projects that I can use skills that I’ve learned from other work and use them in different way. Doing an exhibit design is also a fun challenge in that you are designing a space that has to enhance the story being told by someone elses’ work- you don’t want to just overpower the art itself with your opinions or design.