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"Plethora" Collaboration @ Soapbox, New York City

Interview with “Plethora” Collaboration. Here’s a glimpse at Linnea’s inner world and a few of the things that influenced her as an artist.

By Bonnie K. Norlander

Is it fair for me to cite an author? Truth be told, there simply haven’t been any significant female visual artists who have had formative impact on my work or the way that I think. Why this might be is another (vast and sometimes sad) topic… perhaps for another day. And so, the question you pose brings to mind a young, somewhat cavalier Lit professor, who, slapped a fresh copy of “Pilgrim at Tinker Creek” on desk and told me that Annie Dillard would teach me how to see.

No painting, drawing or design professor ever opened my eyes as wide as that softcover book did. The next four years certainly were valuable, but the double-edged sword of wonder – in all it’s terror and irresistible attraction – was driven deep by Annie Dillard.

I owe her a great debt for helping to slay my sentiment and narcissism, which, I would argue, the truly great artists have done. To be able to do so for other artists is the work of genius – genius that is generous, whose work forms a legacy.

I believe that Pilgrim at Tinker Creek qualifies as such. In my life at least.

My uncle made furniture occasionally, and when my siblings and I were still young, he made unique bunk beds for us that were designed like Swedish built-in beds – in other words, they were like cozy rooms, personal nooks with shelves, hooks for hanging things and crannies for the things children hide. Best of all, every surface was incised with wood-burnt landscapes; rivers, mountains, forests all stylishly scarred into the walls of my personal cave.

Many nights I fell to sleep pondering the peculiarity of picture-making, how a tree once alive can bear the funerary image of its once vital state. Of course, no child has the words yet to articulate these strange states of being, but I remember how the quiet moments before sleep allowed me to feel the finer texture of life, till, after deep sleep, the hurly-burly of play-ground enthusiasms swallowed my six year old attention span once again.

[I’d like to be] so many things! That, I suspect, is exactly why I am an artist.

I would probably have enjoyed singing more or being musically focused; I love history; anthropology and sociology are my amateur hobbies; design is natural to me; I come from a family where architects appear periodically and I certainly share that fascination; science is great fun, though I am most attracted to it’s fringes; biology mesmerizes me.

All of these things are too much for any single life time. There is nothing for it, I simply had to be an artist – an element, perhaps the only element, in society that is granted permission for cross-cultural, cross-discipline osmosis.

Collaboration has been a bit of a revelation in my studio practice, so I am already planning other ‘Plethora-like’ projects for next year. The remainder of the year has a few shows in it as well, mostly around LA, where I work.

If resources or realism were not a limit, I would make drawings with clouds.
Just think about that for a moment….

PLETHORA is a collaborative performance work by three female artists: New York-based performance artist Lia Chavez; and Los Angeles-based painter Linnea Spransy and sculptor Maggie Hazen. ”During the course of Plethora, vacant space will become a complex installation art piece via small repetitions, endurance performance and hidden activity.” The cumulative exhibit is on view August 15- 30, at Soapbox Gallery in Brooklyn.

Plethora brings together the presence of three complex women and their artistic production. Throughout the duration of the exhibit objects will be added, illustrations will grow, and all three artists will spend significant time within the white cube and interior gallery space. Mingled together, the result of intertwined efforts is something akin to a fairy-tale pop-up book, a battle ground, and a kind of vigil.

I was so honored, this week, by the opportunity to glimpse their physical (and thoughtful) processes.

Like many women, their paths have been informed by the presence (and absence) of other women. Their models range from canonical artists, teachers, authors, philosophers, and bold political figures. Lia, Linnea, and Maggie have developed distinct practices through personal moments of curiosity, creative prowess, and through collaborative interactivity, such as Plethora.

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