The Burnt Water Cabin.
The Burnt Water Cabin.
A meditative art room built to facilitate the creation of paintings and sculptures culled from an extradimensional place in space.
A meditative art room built to facilitate the creation of paintings and sculptures culled from an extradimensional place in space. Read more
I am building a small, freestanding structure within my studio to create a unique and cohesive body of work, specific to the structure. I am calling this structure the Burnt Water Cabin. In the same way that a radio antenna receives its signals, the Cabin will act as a receiver for each idea that goes into the work. I may still paint and work outside of the Cabin, but what happens in the cabin is special to this project alone. When the project is over, I will dismantle the Cabin, closing the loop and ending the reception.
What does this Cabin look like and what’s it made out of?
The Cabin itself will measure 12’ x 8’ x 8’H. The frame will be built of reclaimed lumber as will the “skin” or outer walls. The inside will be lined with new plywood panels, canvas, and sheets of paper. The floors will be plywood, wrapped in canvas. The ceiling will be one large canvas tarp. This Cabin is designed to resemble what I remember of the pre-WWII cabin that my Dad grew up in on the Navajo reservation.
How does the Cabin Work?
Inside the Cabin I will be painting on the materials that line the walls. As the works develop I will move the panels around, reorienting them on other walls next to other works - letting them travel and get to know each other. My goal is to let the Cabin grow and “shed” its skin. Eventually as a wall piece is finished and removed from the space a newer raw piece will take its place. I also like to work on the floor and, at times, I will be painting flat on the floor. Over the course of the project, the floor will collect the paint and ink drippings, the foot prints, and the chalk dust. And as the floors become primed, they may move up and take a place on the wall. Then a new piece of floor will be installed where the old one resided. I will make and fill space. This process will repeat over and over during the course of the project, allowing the Cabin to grow without becoming physically larger. The new growth will add life to the Cabin and the work created within its walls. Each and every piece that leaves the Cabin will be photographed and catalogued to create a complete visual history of the project.
Who is working in this Cabin? What have they done?
My name is Matthew Kirk and I have been painting and making my work for at least the past 15 years. I moved to New York 7 years ago, started a family and have been continually busting my ass to get things done since. In December 2008 I was part of this show at Exit Art Gallery and then in April 2010 I took part in this group show which led to my first solo show in NYC at Louis B. James Gallery.
I noticed you have a son in your video. Will he have a role in this project?
My work took a decidedly mature turn once my son was born. I bring him to the studio with me once in a while because I like to have him around while I work. He reminds me of the evolution of my work over the past five years. He asks questions about what I am painting and I find that explaining the painting to him is calming for me. His presence and the painting work well together. That being said, my son will definitely not be present at the Cabin all the time. Instead, he will be a recurring character that pops in every once in a while to shake things up! It's an important thing to me to share something that makes me so happy and centered with my son. I think when I am painting I am communicating to him that “this is who your old man is and this is why he is the man he is”.
Nice, so how do I follow the progress you are making?
I will have a blog running concurrently with the project inviting you into the space to see what is going on. You may not be able to be there physically - but the next best thing will be right on your computer screen! I will update the blog after every session in the Cabin and I will frequently webcast live Cabin events so you can watch what is happening while I am creating. Ask me questions, leave comments, and watch the magic unfold! I want you to be in the Cabin with me – so, unless you come for the open studio tour, this will have to suffice.
Do you have an artist statement you would like to share?
I sure do! I feel a responsibility as an artist to explore larger, more significant human issues through my work. I am concerned about racial and political conflicts, environmental and geographic issues, and the depletion of natural resources through inappropriate land use and land rights. I contemplate what will happen to this earth when I am gone? What world will my son inherit? What responsibilities do I have to create a better future for him and for all future generations? How as an artist can I achieve my ambition to create that better future through my paintings? I paint symbolic maps full of details and symbols to document and preserve my ideas, feelings, and experiences. Each work is designed to illustrate my concerns of the moment within the context of my past, and I believe the recurring themes within my work are consistently evolving to reflect my hopes for the better future I dream of. Each painting presents the most elementary information to the viewer but the unique details of each creation remain open for individual interpretation. Through my paintings, I am attempting to gain new insights into my understanding of the larger human issues that are most significant to me.
I noticed you mention your Navajo heritage quite often, what's that all about?
My Mom moved from Wisconsin to work on the Navajo Reservation as a nurse. She met my Dad and they had me. Then they split up when I was two years old and she moved back to Wisconsin to raise me. The Navajo part of my life was a mystery to me growing up and I believe that is where my paintings come from. It is how I have been able to define a significant part of my being and it has taken me a long time to be okay with owning that. I don't know that I am exactly there yet, but it's like they say, “life is a highway!”
So you're half Navajo?
Yes, let's move on.
Okay, that being said, can you explain what is going on in the work?
I create my paintings through a process of filling and emptying space. Each painting is full of faceless people, protective animals and masked shaman traveling through natural and manmade landscapes. What starts as a line on the surface, slowly transforms into fences and borders that direct the flow of information and give the viewer a map to the bigger story within the painting. I revisit each piece many times through the creative process, adding layers of color, altering dimensions and modifying the symbolic marks. Drops are circled again and again with each subsequent circle marking a moment in time specific to the creation of the piece. Mountains form and erode, giving way to shacks and then skyscrapers. Celestial forms morph into satellites and watchful eyes. A fish stocked stream gives way to an industrial canal that empties into the sea. Totems fill the landscapes and act as place markers. I bring areas of the painting that did not previously exist into the finished piece and the whole painting begins anew with each subsequent viewing. My ongoing modifications to the original piece are based on my contemplation of the issue I am exploring. I consider this a selective process in which the symbols find their own direction and expression during the course of creating the work. Some marks are left behind or covered up entirely but the earlier input still exists within the history of the piece. Each piece evolves throughout the creative process and my thematic exploration of these larger human issues can best be experienced by viewing my body of work over the past fifteen years.
Great! What are the funds used for?
The money raised will be used for supplies and space. The supplies include the canvas, plywood and paper to work on, as well as the paints, inks, chalks and stains used to create the work. This will also include a portion of the rewards like the painting suits, the deck blanks, the T shirts, print making, book printing, etc... I aim for the bare essentials. The money used for space will underwrite my studio lease. The rest is gravy that I will pour back into the project. Sounds delicious right?
Alright, how much of the budget is used to construct the Cabin?
The bulk of the Cabin will be built with reclaimed lumber, hopefully all of it but I will settle for as much as possible. Any fasteners and or hardware (screws, nails and hinges) will dip into the budget.
So you’re aiming for a “green building"?
I am trying to, yes. At the very least I am
aiming for 90-100% of the Cabin to be constructed from recycled material. Call that what you want.
Finally, what about shipping the rewards and anything else I forgot to ask?
Well, I am willing to work with you on shipping, no matter where you might be located. Unless it is otherwise noted, you should contact me directly about shipping. Rest assured, as a “professional art handler/packer”, I have the skills needed to pack and ship the completed works to the four corners of the world. Obviously some places will be more expensive to ship to and I may need to negotiate with you based on the size of the piece but let's cross that bridge when we get to it. I will ask you to specify T-Shirt size and/or Deck shape (if you have a preference that is) - otherwise I will make that decision for the both of us. And please, feel free to contact me with ANY and ALL questions, concerns or ideas you may have. I want us to be companions throughout this process and I look forward to any communications with you.
Risks and challenges
As this is an ongoing creative project with the end date determined by the end of my studio lease, I don’t see many risks involved with the production of work. The real work (in my eyes) begins when the project is finished and I have to begin the process of paper work, reward dispersal and other odds and ends.
That being said, I don’t see a lot of risk involved during the project’s life. I am already set up in the studio space, I am just waiting for the green light to start building the Burnt Water Cabin.
- (25 days)