Feature

Wild Grit

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ARTEMIS, by Ali Gradischer, MFA AC+D '11, is short-listed for inclusion in the 2013 BRERART Contemporary Art Festival in Milan, Italy

You may think Portland winters are long and dark, the sun but a distant memory. But compare Portland to Skagaströnd, Iceland, and you’ll realize how comparably sunny and mild Portland really is.

In January and February of 2013, during two of the darkest months of the year, Ali Gradischer, MFA ’11 (Applied Craft and Design) lived in Skagaströnd, a remote fishing village on the Northwest coast of Iceland, about a four hour drive from Reykjavík. Skagaströnd has a population of 508, boasts the normal small-town amenities (post office, library, bank, gym, etc.) and a challenging nine-hole golf course. (“Wind is a main player,” states the Nes Artist Residency website.)

Skagaströnd is also home to the Nes Artist Residency program. Gradischer spent two months at Nes, working alongside twenty other artists from around the world.


ICELAND: EXPOSURE ONE (detail), Cyanotype, Hahnemühle Paper, 31” x 42”.
Photo by Matthew Miller ’11.

Gradischer went to Nes, she said, to find the time to concentrate single-mindedly on her work, and also to find the space to experiment and work through failed iterations without the burden of a pressing deadline or class. The resulting work, ARTEMIS, is the result of both that time and that space.

Gradischer had worked with cyanotypes and other alternative photo processes before, but upon arriving in Iceland and realizing just how little natural light she would have, she was forced to improvise. The result? Through a series of iterations and seriously out-of-the-box experiments, Gradischer began painting with the separate cyanotype chemicals, leaving them to cure and color naturally over time. The process is dramatically different than the traditionally measured and exact methods most often used by cyanotype artists.

Inspired by Iceland’s rugged landscape, Gradischer began painting the silhouettes of horse skulls and femurs that washed up on shore outside her cottage door. In a land and season with little to no sunlight, she often found herself working through the night. Accordingly, ARTEMIS “explores how darkness, wild grit, and remoteness can be catalysts for creating meaningful work.”

When she returned to Portland, Gradischer showed her work in a solo show at Lizard Lounge. Now, ARTEMIS is short-listed to represent Nes in Milan for BRERART Week in October 2013. During BRERART Contemporary Art Week, the historical buildings and cultural sites of the Brera district of Milan are transformed by contemporary art, attracting thousands of visitors from around the world. The artists featured in BRERART are, according to the website, “reviewed and selected against rigorous criteria, ensuring that each exhibition brings to the public the highest Italian and international standards.”

Italian curator Chiara Canali will develop an exhibitions with pieces from among the short-listed works, including ARTEMIS.

You can view more of Gradischer’s work on her website, blog, and through the photo diary she kept while in Iceland.

Heidi Schwegler, Associate Chair for the MFA in Applied Craft and Design, also attended the Nes artist-in-residences program.


ICELAND: EXPOSURE THREE, Cyanotype, Hahnemühle Paper, 42” x 31”.
Photo by Matthew Miller ’11.


TWO WINTERS: DAY 29, Photo by Ali Gradischer ’11.

— Posted on 07/24 at 07:38 AM

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