SACO BOG, Karen Gelardi, 2010.    Soft ground etching, Sugar Lift, and Aquatint. 22 1⁄2" x 23 1/8", Edition of 20.

SACO BOG, Karen Gelardi, 2010.  Soft ground etching, Sugar Lift, and Aquatint. 22 1⁄2" x 23 1/8", Edition of 20.

Blue Tumbler, Meghan Brady 2010.    Soft ground etching, Sugar Lift, and Aquatint. 22 1⁄2" x 23 1/8", Edition of 20 .

Blue Tumbler, Meghan Brady 2010.  Soft ground etching, Sugar Lift, and Aquatint. 22 1⁄2" x 23 1/8", Edition of 20 .

In 2011, WINGATE STUDIO published Constructions, a set of two etchings by Karen Gelardi and Meghan Brady following their two-person show at Coleman Burke Gallery in New York in 2010.

A CONVERSATION— Meghan Brady and Karen Gelardi 

MB: How did you arrive at Saco Bog?

KG: Well, my nature studies evolved into a fascination with resilient systems and visual strategies that relate to adaptation. I found that repeated modular forms that are similar, but not precisely the same, are really adaptable. With Saco Bog I have used this approach, repeating triangular forms and populating areas with groupings of colored shapes. The title comes from the Saco Heath Preserve in southern Maine where I had been going for walks. The ecosystem there has adapted to the acidity of its two ponds and there are visual clues in the landscape to the various strategies of the species that survive there.

KG: Can you tell me about your starting point for Blue Tumbler? How did it evolve through the printmaking process?

MB: I consistently work on drawings in my studio, no matter what other projects I’ve got going on. Blue Tumbler is based on a collaged drawing that I brought to Wingate with me as a source from which to work while away from the studio. The drawing was begun as an ink and acrylic painting and then I later collaged elements over it. comes out of some paintings that I made for our show in NYC earlier in the year.

I’m always struggling— in the best possible sense of ‘struggle’— with bridging the order and chaos in my work. Using collage helps me to build some structure into an otherwise meandering drawing. The dark blue-black triangles in Blue Tumbler are hinting at symmetry and give it the overall structure it needs. On another level, I’m aiming for a kind of alive and unsteady momentum in my compositions. Geometric shapes are limitless in the ways that they fit with one another and conflict simultaneously. For the color in the print, I was aiming for a bold, essential palette that pops from that intense black you can get from aquatint.

KG: Oh yeah, I can totally see that. I started from collages too. They were built from cut up photocopies of a line drawing, various gouache paintings, and tape. So the collage was more like an object made up of pieces. The etching is more unified. The black lines that form the triangular shapes were painted using sugar lift ground, then etched and printed in black. Two additional plates were aquatinted to fill in the shapes and the use of tape-like orange rectangles reference a history of the collaged patching system in the original collage.

MB: Tell me about collaboration and why you consider this project collaborative.

KG: I see collaboration as teaming up to achieve shared goals where the collaborators are able to arrive at something deeper together than they would by tackling the shared goals separately. I think it can be loose or formal and not always mean that the identities of the collaborators are blurred, although that can certainly happen. I see it as working together— and in our case, working alongside each other.

There were areas of overlap in our visual instincts and processes and we have a lot of the same questions. In preparing for our show at Coleman Burke, it was really exciting to approach the show collaboratively—sharing resources, ideas, inspiration and energy—while building two separate bodies of work. It was a natural progression to work on the ’zine, mixing our collage material, and now this set of prints which came out of our conversations about printmaking, collage and your history of working with Wingate.

There is something about the nature of collaborating that seems to relate to both of our working processes and our interest in collage and recursion. 

MB: I thought making that ’zine with you before our show in NYC was pretty pivotal. We had spent the months leading up to the ‘zine and show visiting one another’s studios and hashing issues we were having with our work. When we finally just rolled up our sleeves and made that little book of drawings it felt like we were using a different part of our brains. We were just doing what we do best— thinking and responding visually to one another on this level. While our prints are not quite in this vein, I see elements of our shared language in both the etchings. It’s exciting to me that it’s not something really obvious and that might take us some time to process the continued exchanged.

And one other thing about collaboration: print shops are collaborative places. You know, you work in your studio by yourself and then, in a print shop, you interact with people and they work with you towards a shared goal. It can be hard at first but you adjust. Then it’s such fun and such a gift.

How would you describe the areas where our work overlaps? What do you see as our common questions?

KG:  We both generate drawings with the intent of using them as components to construct subsequent works. And then re-drawing these works. And then making paintings from those drawings— adding and subtracting the components, reinventing them or seeing the forms in different ways as the parts move around. That repetition of form and the process. I think your work become compact and layered with a back and forth of resting and movement. Mine seem to expand outwardly with a flatter space that is somehow confusing even though it is simple.

MB: We use the drawing and drawing components for very different outcomes. You move more freely between drawing and sculpture, while I definitely tend to keep things 2D. But we overlap in our approach, which is often pretty intuitive and, well, messy.

For more information:
Wingate Studio

Meghan Brady at Wingate Studio, 2010

Meghan Brady at Wingate Studio, 2010

Karen Gelardi and Peter Pettengill at Wingate Studio, 2010

Karen Gelardi and Peter Pettengill at Wingate Studio, 2010