Jackson artist Suzanne Morlock recently removed herself from one icy environment to take up artistic residence in another. Six months ago Morlock, an 18-year Teton County Library staff member, felt the time was right to shift focus and spend all her time working on her passion—creating art.
So she went to Iceland.
“I wanted to do an artist residency–a chance for an artist to remove themselves from daily routines, environments and responsibilities,” says Morlock. “Artists do residencies with individual goals in mind: start and finish a project while shaking up their practice. There can be myriad goals for a residency.”
Morlock set her sights on Skagaströnd, Iceland after briefly visiting there in March of 2007. Taken by its beautiful landscapes she vowed to return. In Iceland, Morlock settled on the concept of creating a site specific installation based on what she learned about the community. Skagaströnd, a fishing and trading port, has a population of 500 and is located on the east shore of the bay Húnaflói, in northwestern Iceland. She wanted to go where knitting and fishing were important cultural attributes; fish imagery has been integral to her work and “her own personal narrative.” Knitting, as an art form, has gained favor with Morlock; last April she created a site specific piece in Le Vigan France, forming old newspaper into a “yarn,” and knitting it with 1.5″ PVC pipe knitting needles.
Morlock used giant trawler fishing cable spools — metal cable is used in large fishing nets– in creating her work. Emptied spools aren’t returned to the UK, where the cable comes from, because of the expense; a fact that made the spools even more intriguing. She used “fine net-like material” found in black trash bags too fragile for fishing; it was in fact old covering for hay bales.
How are sites for site-specific art installations chosen?
Morlock says that sites are determined by the artist based on concepts or goals. “The term ‘site specific’ refers to a particular place where the art is installed or arranged,” she explains. “The concept of installation art often provides more sensory input for the viewer and typically includes a three dimensional array, may include sound, movement or other components not typical of more static two dimensional art. Space and time take on different connotations. The term began to be used in the 1970s and continues to describe a common genre of art work. The works may be temporary or permanent and often are documented by the artist via photography. One of the attractions I have to installation work is its ephemeral nature and inability to be commodified.”
Although she’s unsure of the status of public art in Iceland, Morlock says that installation artists exist, though their work may not be public. Installation artist Olafur Eliasson (NYC Waterfalls) is a favorite. When asked what motivates public art in Iceland (conservation, industry, politics, etc…) she says Reykjavik (where Yoko Ono will celebrate John Lennon’s 70th birthday!) has some great contemporary art facilities. A few galleries such as Kling and Bang offer cutting edge contemporary art.
“In less urban areas I suspect crafts such as knitting and felting maybe be more dominant. Design work seems to be another sensibility, although I really didn’t spend much time in towns other than the one I was working in. The town of Blonduos there was a Textile Museum exhibiting historic and contemporary textile works.”
Morlock will create public art for Jackson’s ArtSpot this winter and plans on using cast-off materials and knitting. The piece will be specific to Jackson’s environmental and social influences.
Morlock carries fond memories of Iceland. “The morning I left to come home I observed a fisherman walking by the area and staring at the spool. While it would have be interesting to hear what he had to say, it’s almost more fun to imagine what he was thinking.”
View Morelock’s work on her website: www.suzannemorlock.com
The Casper Star Tribune announced early Saturday morning (Sept. 25, 2010) that Jackson painter Fred Kingwill’s watercolor, “Christmas in the Tetons,” has been selected as the official painting of Wyoming’s 2010 U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree. The Bridger-Teton National Forest and the Wyoming Arts Council sponsored a statewide artists’ competition and juried art exhibition to select the painting. Nine more selected works will be posted at capitolchristmastree2010.org; the general public may vote for the People’s Choice Award. Voting begins September 27, and runs through October 8, 2010.
Kingwill’s painting will be presented to the Forest Service chief in December; the work will be exhibited in the his office for one year before joining a permanent collection of tree portraits. The painting will hang in the chief’s office for a year and then join “The Tree Gallery,” a permanent collection of tree portraits.
Kingwill is an award-winning artist who teaches and leads workshops throughout the West. He also worked for the Kingwill was a Forest Service for 30 years, and teaches painting in Jackson, Wyoming, and throughout the West.