my make believe collection :: 11 :: Nina Katchadourian

Contributor post by Lisa Solomon

the artist with caterpillar mustache
i was lucky enough to see nina katchadourian speak once at catherine clark gallery in san francisco [which by the way is consistently one of my favorite galleries in the city]. i love me some conceptual art that has a sense of humor - and that is exactly what katchadourian provides.

nina katchadourian - from the shark journal - sorted book project
sorted books is a perfect example of this. the arranging of book titles - in various collections, and photographing them, so that their meanings are altered.

nina katchadourian - from "composition" - sorted book project
deceptively simple i like thinking of the book as an art material, not just as an object in and of itself. i find myself interested in the size and shape and arrangement of these besides just the humor that the titles invoke.
nina katchadourian - map dissection 1
i'm also a fan of maps. and the idea of mapping. a map is such a functional - and in this day and age almost antiquated - thing. there is something intriguing about trying to depict a 3 dimensional place on a 2 dimensional plane - and i like how a map simultaneously does and doesn't make sense.  here katchadourian took a AAA map of the united states removing all the land and leaving just the roadwork.

it's interesting to think about how the roads connect us - and that even with the land removed the overall shape of the united states is still discernible. [i'm also rather amazed at the intricacy and delicacy and beauty of this as a cut piece of paper]

nina katchadourian - map dissection ii
then she took the same map and put areas of road that formed clusters together and sandwiched them in slides - like specimens. what do our roads say about us? she was interested in how some of them started to look figurative when removed from the whole....

nina katchdourian - genealogy of the supermarket
always interested in systems and family trees she's also done funny things like a genealogy of supermarket products/characters. who/what is related to who/what and what kid would they have ? [oh mr. clean and mr. brawny - i had no idea you were responsible for the gerber baby cuteness].

nina katchedourian - lichen moss map

born in the states, but raised in finland, katchedourian always saw familiar shapes in the moss by the rocks in her family's summer home. rubbing letters onto places she recognized she created about 20 moss maps... funny, right?

nina katchedourian - mended spiderweb 8
but i have to say - the pieces that really really speak to me are from her mended spiderweb series.
here's what she says about the project:
The Mended Spiderweb series came about during a six-week period in June and July in 1998 which I spent on Pörtö. In the forest and around the house where I was living, I searched for broken spiderwebs which I repaired using red sewing thread. All of the patches were made by inserting segments one at a time directly into the web. Sometimes the thread was starched, which made it stiffer and easier to work with. The short threads were held in place by the stickiness of the spider web itself; longer threads were reinforced by dipping the tips into white glue. I fixed the holes in the web until it was fully repaired, or until it could no longer bear the weight of the thread. In the process, I often caused further damage when the tweezers got tangled in the web or when my hands brushed up against it by accident.
The morning after the first patch job, I discovered a pile of red threads lying on the ground below the web. At first I assumed the wind had blown them out; on closer inspection it became clear that the spider had repaired the web to perfect condition using its own methods, throwing the threads out in the process. My repairs were always rejected by the spider and discarded, usually during the course of the night, even in webs which looked abandoned. The larger, more complicated patches where the threads were held together with glue often retained their form after being thrown out, although in a somewhat "wilted" condition without the rest of the web to suspend and stretch them. Each "Rejected Patch" is shown next to the photograph showing the web with the patch as it looked on site.

nina katchedourian - mended spiderweb #14
i think in many cases kathedourian's art works on a conceptualal level really well - it holds my attention, makes me think, points out the absurd and interesting in the everyday - but it doesn't always hold my heart. it doesn't make me long to own it. interact with it YES. have it on my wall, NO. but these pieces. these i want.

just brilliant, right? the red thread is beautiful. the fact that the spider rejects the mending and yet it stays intact, fallen, is beautiful. watching the video of the spider rejecting the red thread is pretty amazing. and the photos they are lovely to look at. a moment before destruction.

i love the idea of this human intervention, with the best intentions, just not working out. a metaphoric example of us, as a human race - meaning to do good, but still failing.

nina katchadourian - mended spiderweb #19

this is the one that i would like to own. it's complicated web. i love the tiers of mending and how the move away from and toward the tree. the laundry line is beautiful with those 2 clothespins catching the light and the dark cabin in the woods in the background. yup. this is the one for me.

until next time.... follow my collection on pinterest

lisa solomon is a mixed media artist who lives in oakland, CA with her husband, young daughter, a one eyed pit bull, a french bulldog, a cross-eyed cat, a 3 legged cat, and many many spools of thread. she moonlights as a college professor, a graphic designer, and is a partner in MODify/d a crafty biz that up/cycles and re/purposes discards from the fashion industry.

Jan Halvarson


Alysia Alex said...

I am so so happy you did a post about her. She is one of my favorite artists =) Your blog never ceases to be amazing!

Katie said...

Wow, this is great! So glad you shared this!

Lindsay said...

LOVE! I don't which I like better, her photographs of books and the red thread series.

My name's Haley said...

She is so inspiring! Thank you for the reminder of her work. Nina's work is really exciting for me. I love her conversations with the world around her and I love that it's not just more naval gazing art. What other female artists are you into?

Mai said...

I found the series about mending the spider webs to be particularly fascinating! What an intriguing concept.

Anonymous said...

Yes, some people likes this post.
But I signed on for design ideas. NOT to see gross pictures of caterpillars mustache.
So I took a second look at the blog, and I'm going to erase it from my list.
So long, farewell and may you dream of worms crawling all over you when you sleep.

Jan Halvarson said...

St. Petersberg, Florida?

lisa solomon said...

so glad most of you enjoyed nina's work. i find her really inspiring as well

my name is haley - there are so many women artists to admire. if you check out the rest of the series you'll see a few other women artists i like. and stay tuned for many more.

as for anonymous- sorry you find a funny picture of a caterpillar mustache gross. design ideas are everywhere you look - even in things you might find disgusting

hi jan ! st. petersberg? :)

dahlhaus said...

Love the book project- very clever, indeed! I'm definitely going to be looking up the spiders web project for more info- so fascinating that the spiders discarded and repaired their webs afterward.
Also, I think this blog has so much more to offer then just design ideas! Art meeting craft meeting design meeting dyi- really, it's so much more exciting this way! Thanks for the inspiration, creepy crawlies and more!

Hayley said...

Thank you for sharing this "new to me" artist. I have seen the repaired spider webs floating around the internet before- but hadn't followed up on the artist. Katchadourian is fantastic- I love humor in art. The first picture seems like a homage to Catherine Opie, no?


p.s. What is the line between art and design?

lisa solomon said...

dahlhaus - the spider web project is most definitely my favorite series of hers, but she's VERY clever.... and yes on art/design/diy

hi hayley - i would say yes to the catherine opie along w/ many others :)
and definitely the line - blurred. and props to jan for being interested in multiple avenues of aesthetics !

Jan Halvarson said...

the spider web project is amazing lisa and thanks so much for opening our minds - i love your series.

anon - i too am sorry that you're offended - lisa has such an interesting viewpoint and access to art that we don't normally get to see - and it's such an awesome opportunity to learn and open our minds to new things - i hope you won't say good bye!

lisa solomon said...

hi jan. you are so kind. i love doing these posts - so much. thank you for the opportunity to share art that wins my heart over.

i'm honored that you think i have an interesting viewpoint - that is such a compliment. thank you. thank you. thank you.

Maitreya said...

Neat! I think I like the porch web best because of the objects it's anchored to.

Kathryn said...

I have loved the spider weaving ever since I learned of it last year but I hadn't seen any of her other work! So sorry to have missed the show at my 'namesake' gallery, ha! Thanks for sharing!

lisa solomon said...

maitreya - yeah - the pine cones are pretty sweet - :)

kathryn - she has so many bodies of work - it can take some serious time to go through her site....