|Installation views from 'Joseph Grigely and Amy Vogel: Inside the Outside,' courtesy of Alderman Exhibitions|
Joseph Grigely and Amy Vogel are both accomplished artists and full-time faculty at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. They're also sincere collaborators, both in generating art and in raising their adopted son, Girma. Joseph Grigely, who has been deaf since the age of ten, uses a variety of media to investigate the visual manifestation of sound. He's represented by Gallery Air de Paris and his work can be found in the collections of museums including the Tate Modern, London; the Whitney Museum of American Art and the Museum of Modern Art, New York. Amy Vogel is a painter and multimedia artist exploring themes of nature, solitude and desire through layers of pigment. Her work has been exhibited widely, including shows at Larissa Goldston in New York, Paul Kotula Projects in Detroit, Edward Mitterrand Gallery in Geneva, and Gallery Air de Paris in Paris.
'Joseph Grigely and Amy Vogel: Inside the Outside' opened this December at Alderman Exhibitions. The duo has since continued to reconfigure, reinvent and even re-title the exhibition, now called 'This Isn't How it Looks,' over the past month and a half. Featuring the warmth of a wood burning stove, the work of hunters, fly-fishermen, and fellow artists, and the lingering scent of pine needles, this multisensory show ends on February 16th. Catch it while you can!
Amy: Girma is five, and he's in constant motion. He's, boisterous, funny, loving, happy, rascally, social, dramatic, and -- intense.
Joseph: Uh -- can we just show pictures of Girma instead?
CR: You each have a distinct artistic practice for which you’re known, but you’ve also worked collaboratively for years. How do you approach collaboration, and how is this different from your individual work?
Amy: Our collaborations are never planned or scheduled; they just happen from discussions and both the material and subject matter ranges extremely. We don’t collaborate that often officially but unofficially, with each other’s work, continually. We keep saying we should do more collaborations and then it doesn’t happen as, again, they seem to happen when they happen, as opposed to our individual work which is simply ongoing.
|View from 'Inside the Outside,' courtesy Alderman Exhibitions|
CR: Speaking of collaboration, how do you strike a balance (or attempt to) between artmaking, teaching, and family? Any strategies you’d share with new parents struggling to maintain a creative practice while raising young children?
Amy: I’m not sure there is a balance, just the need to do all three: teaching, art and family. One person always ends up taking on more of one responsibility or another and one of the biggest challenges is not competing for who is doing more. For me it’s crucial that your
|Family Portrait, Fall 2011|
Joseph: When we became parents, we didn't think it would be too hard to keep working our usual way--we imagined having a pack-and-play in the studio, where Girma could sleep and play as we worked. We were so naive, we actually believed ourselves! And we were so bloody wrong. We just try to do what we can when we can, and sometimes we have to drop something for the sake of something else. Once, when I was truly exasperated, I asked Stephanie Brooks: "does it get easier?" And Steph replied--"well, not easier, it just gets different."
CR: Do you find that parenthood has affected your creative practice and/or the work itself? If so, how?
Amy: In terms of subject matter it hasn’t, I think what it has done is make me re-question and re-value what I am doing.
Joseph: As Amy said, I don't think that being a parent has changed the subject matter of our work. But it has changed how we work: I don't travel nearly as much as I used to, either to do projects or give lectures--because they just don't pay for themselves in terms of time and money. If you do a lecture for $1,000, and have to fly to NY or LA, and it takes two or three days, it means the additional cost of baby sitters, dog walkers, and familial stress--it just isn't worth it. There's less time available for art, so you try to make the best of that time--time is the Holy Grail.
CR: Who have been your role models for artist-parenting / parent-artisting?
Amy: Unfortunately there really weren’t many role models for me – even in the capacity of
|Amy reading to Girma and his friend Tsinat, 2012|
Joseph: For a long time I didn't know many artist-parents--especially older artist-parents like us-- so I don't really have much to go on. When I lived in NY, most of my artist friends didn't have children. I have many more friends in Europe who have kids--Maki Suzuki, Marco Poloni, Olafur Eliasson, Carsten Holler--and when you look at the kind of child care and health care you get in Europe, it makes sense. I think the challenge when you're teaching and making art and raising a family is to be happy with more subtle and more modest things.
CR: How has parenthood impacted your relationship to the art world... and how does the art world shape the culture of your family?
Amy: We use to go see a lot of work – openings, exhibitions, lectures – and that certainly has changed. I had imagined we’d simply bring our child with us as I’ve seen some parents do, and then quickly realized that this was not to be with Girma; so we certainly are less involved then we use to be. We could probably rotate more nights out but when you are away 5 to 6 days a week it’s critical to me to spend time with Girma. I know this is important for all families but perhaps I had felt it more acutely with an adopted child. Bonding isn’t just a biological thing, it takes time and developing an intimacy.
|Fishing in the Adirondacks, 2010|