An Interview by Amy Boone-McCreesh with Christine Buckton Tillman and Lisa Solomon on their new project, CHROMA, at Gallery CA in Baltimore
CHROMA is the result of a long distance collaboration between Lisa Solomon and Christine Beckon Tillman that explores color theory through objects from everyday life, expressed through crowd sourced installation, drawings, and sculpture. The eponymous piece, “Chroma,” consists of a large scale crowd sourced installation made of objects sent from all over the United States [and elsewhere] constructed of various forms of arbitrary and otherwise disposable items that read as one color. The installation will be a culmination of sorting, arranging and compiling the materials into an orderly, chromatically compelling piece, with the intent of elevating the viewer’s relationship with the mundane debris that we interact with on a daily basis.
Amy: Lisa, you are in Oakland, California and Christine, you are a Baltimore artist. How do the two of you know each other?
C: We met online back in the day on flickr. We were both a few years out of grad school and that community of feedback and inspiration was really important to me- it kept me making and more importantly accountable. I loved Lisa’s work immediately and we developed a friendship by seeing slices of each other’s studios and lives over the years. Turns out we even know some of the same people in our respective cities too. Small world.
L: Exactly. The second I saw Christine’s work I fell deep in love. I’m so thankful for the internet and how it’s kept us in touch.
Amy: How did you come up with the idea for the Chroma exhibit and how long have you been planning?
C: I think within months of connecting we talked about a two-person show. We started getting serious about it in 2013 and last summer put together a proposal for Gallery CA here in Baltimore. I think Lisa was the first one to mention that we should make it about color- it makes tons of sense- our work has a lot of connections-the importance of handmade- connections to craft and femininity- but the formal stuff like composition, shape, and of course color is really important.
L: I felt that underlying all the stuff that our work is about, color is key. I really wanted our ideas about color to bounce off one another. And then because my last couple of exhibitions had a social practice aspect I thought why not continue that exploration as well. There’s something kind of magical that happens when you invite people to participate. It’s also scary and uncontrollable in ways that are challenging, but mostly it’s just super cool.
Amy: Does this show specifically relate to any work that either of you have pursued within your own studio practices independently?
C: Well yeah- because we’re both showing individual work as well. I’m bringing drawings and showing a new woven sculpture. I haven’t done collaborative installation work since graduate school but I do a lot of big project orchestration. This year I even helped my students plan the prom!
L: Color has always been a major factor in my work. When I taught a color theory class a few years ago it was just solidified. Since then I’ve really been exploring color more in the forefront of my practice. I’m more aware of how the choices I make are subjective, personal, and how they might appear to other humans based on science and how we perceive/interact with color.
Amy: Was the participant response for this show what you expected? Were there any submissions you were really impressed with or did you receive anything unexpected?
C: Right now there are about 7 boxes of contributions in my basement. I was hoping we’d get hundreds and we easily have thousands. I’m amazed how much lines up with my own aesthetic (pom pom strings!) , how many of the biggest objects are red or orange, and I’m thrilled with how many contributions I got from the Park School community- the Lower School in Particular was into this project big time.
L: Agreed. The response on instagram (#chromainstallation) and worldwide has been pretty remarkable. It’s so weird to see how much colored plastic permeates our lives [especially if you have kids], how when I sorted the stuff that I received there was more blue stuff than anything else. I was shocked at some of the really cool vintage stuff that people were willing to part with.
Amy: I understand that the final version of this piece will be a large-scale, site-specific installation…. Do you have any thoughts or plans on how the piece will look or any goals for the installation?
C: Right now a week away from installing it- I’m not sure. We’ve been photographing them in these beautiful chromatic grids and I love the way that looks but I’m not sure it’s realistic or even the same on a scale of thousands. We’ve just got to get in there and work it out.
L: Yeah… this is the scary part. We have 4+ days to pull it together. I think we’re envisioning it taking over one big wall, but who knows. It could be broken up into a couple pieces? It could wander onto the floor… as with all site-specific stuff, the space will inform how we tackle the problem. I’ve never set foot in gallery CA, so we shall see… I think the goal is to make it look good and to use every last little bit that we got [I’ll be OK if we don’t adhere to that last one, but I’d like to try].
Amy: Will other materials, not from the crowd-sourced portion, make their way into the installation? Will there be fixtures or hanging devices?
C: I don’t think so. There are only a few objects that can’t be mounted on the wall and I think that’s what the floor is for.
L: Agreed. We both have other work – and some collaborative pieces – for the show too, so we’ll use up all the gallery space that way.
Amy: What do you plan to do with all of the materials at the end of the exhibition?
C: Keep them all together. There is already interest in showing the piece in other places too and we’ll see where that goes.
Amy: Can you talk about the additional programming and community events with this exhibit? It seems like it will be a visually stunning show, but also a great learning opportunity based around color.
C: We’d love to have as many people at the opening on Friday as we can and on Saturday we’ll be
hosting a color wheel painting workshop. All these line up with Artscape so we’re hoping people will want to take a break from the tents and crowds and spend some time with us in the air conditioning.
L: Since I’m not a local I’m super excited to see what this Artscape stuff is all about, but YES. come on down. I’m hoping that the installation will make people giggle, pause for a second, and hopefully think about how color is such a huge part of our lives.
Exhibition Dates, July 17 – August 19, 2015
Exhibition Reception: Friday, July 17th, 7 – 10 pm
Color wheel Construction Workshop July 18th, 2-3pm
ArtScape Weekend Gallery Hours: July 18-19, 12 – 4 pm
Author Amy Boone-McCreesh is a Baltimore based Artist and Professor.