From the Archives

Interior Monologues

Interior Monologues
February 22–June 16, 2019
Curated by Mary Birmingham

An interior monologue is a narrative technique in which thoughts passing through a character’s mind are made known to an audience or reader. If a piece of writing can allow us to “hear” a character’s inner thoughts, can the visual representation of a place “speak” to us in a similar manner? The eight artists in this exhibition explore narratives—real, imagined, or implied—associated with interior spaces. Through painting, sculpture, drawing, collage, video, and site-specific installation, they depict a variety of domestic and public spaces. Whether populated by specific characters or totally devoid of people, all of these interiors reveal traces of those who have occupied them.

Empty rooms are like stage sets, inviting us to imagine what might have happened there, or what new stories may unfold. In some settings, objects become charged—almost as stand-ins for absent individuals. There is often a sense of mystery surrounding interiors that raises provocative questions: How do people activate interior spaces and what marks do they leave? When public buildings transform into private residences (and vice versa) what evidence of the past remains? What can enigmatic images reveal about the hidden history of a place?

Our relationship to interiors is deeply personal, and the works in the exhibition reflect this intimacy, despite a scale that ranges from miniature to life-size. Some works highlight individual stories, providing the viewer with a voyeuristic angle on private spaces and events. Others suggest the ways that smells, sounds, experiences, and emotions become embedded in the memory of place. Interior Monologues reminds us that the rooms we inhabit are the settings for our personal narratives and that as humans we share a powerful connection to place, as well as a need to tell our stories.

Participating artists: Matt Bollinger, Erin Diebboll, Susan Leopold, Dana Levy, Summer McCorkle, Anne Muntges, Casey Ruble, and Paul Wackers.

From Art Center Curator, Mary Birmingham:

It was only a year ago that our exhibition, Interior Monologues examined the ways that artists depicted interior spaces. Little did we suspect that we would ALL be grappling with issues around our personal interior spaces. I thought it would be interesting to check back in with a few of the artists from the show to see what they are working on, and how sheltering in place may be affecting their studio practices.

Summer McCorkle’s video, Song for 360 Court Street (above) was a perfect blending of music, voice, and image that filled the interior spaces of a former church in Brooklyn. Her latest work, des abends is currently on view at Smack Mellon.

I reached out to Summer and asked her to show me what she’s been working on. She is currently writing and editing a piece she filmed last June while completing an artist residency on a boat in the Arctic Circle. She has also initiated an Instagram project, responding to the book, The Beauty of Everyday Things by Soetsu Yanagi.

“I’m photographing simple everyday objects around the house that I appreciate every time I use them,” she said. “I started in the kitchen. Some are handmade (spoons from a mountain village in southern turkey; a small blue bowl and a bowl with a cover, both also from turkey; a felt tea cover from Canada); others are machine-made.”

Matt Bollinger is currently working from his home studio, which is a large bedroom in his home in Ithaca, NY. “I’m working on two projects,” he said. “One revolves around the character Dawn who was in the painting Dawn in Her Ciera at the Interior Monologues show. The other is a series of short animations, paintings, and drawings from a fictional small town near the Lake of the Ozarks in Missouri. The project and the town are called Holmes. I’ve completed three of the animations so far, which I think of as a triptych. All take place on the same morning when there is a shooting at a local high school. This traumatic event touches characters in the three animations to greater or lesser degrees.

Anne Muntges, whose life-size installation was a show-stopper in Interior Monologues provided this update:

“I was recently awarded a space at Mana Contemporary to begin work on a new large scale installation project. I could roam free, make messes, and work large there. Being forced back home has made me shift gears a bit, but I am managing to continue on with a stronger focus on the small things. I recently began figuring out how to build grasses and plants out of paper and have spent time experimenting with different, less messy materials that I may not have had we not been asked to work at home… I have no idea how this is going to come together yet, but I am happy to be building up a new world to call home.”

“Oddly my previous installation project, Skewed Perspectives was all about absorbing and reinterpreting the home through my hand at a time when I felt like I had no stable place to call my own. Now that I am a little more rooted in my practice, community, and family I am dreaming of vast open landscapes and working to build a new drawing installation around one. Some of the parts I have in my studio now are cacti, rocks, and various plants I am making bit by bit. It’s helping me stay mentally balanced in this stressful time and feel connected to my work and the world.”