Briefly describe the work do you do.
In my latest work I have attempted to address and challenge my singular, limited view by developing a sense of place that is more complete through borrowed concepts of mapping and collaboration—with other artists, with the material itself and with the site of installation. By working in this manner, I am able to create printed matter that can then be reworked and integrated into larger constellations of printed and dyed sewn works. These materials and processes are based in a practice of the ephemeral, contrasting the source material of the expansive geologic and stellar. The resulting artworks are a temporary effort at understanding shifting ideas of landscape.
At what point in your life did you decide to become an artist?
For as long as I can remember.
Tell us a little about your background and how that influences you as an artist.
When I was ten, I went to the Andy Warhol Retrospective at the Art Institute of Chicago. The experience of running through his installation of Silver Clouds with my twin brother stuck with me.
I have always been interested in how art acts as a connective tool and can be used to foster understanding as related to abstract and concrete ideas, the self and the community.
Art is democratic and about dialogue: in the making, in the experience, in the viewing. Over the years I have sought out environments that I could bring idea this into practice, either in my own work through the projects I have done, like installing in an empty storefront or using irregular areas of the gallery, or as an art educator teaching all ages or working with teens to create a mural for the side of a Milwaukee City Bus.
What types of conceptual concerns are present in your work? How do those relate to the specific process(es) or media you use?
Artmaking for me is an inquiry: a question grounded in and derived from an intuitive process-based practice. My process is grounded in concepts of printmaking: exploring the usage of the multiple with a keen awareness of the printed surface. The practice of reworking, expanding, further fragmenting or re-puzzling my work back together reflects a desire to discover a sense of order through the process of making.
I am interested in the dialogue between order and disorder, inviting it in to my practice not only through the intuitive construction of my installations but also through seeking opportunities of collaboration with others. This process is a process of fragments and negotiations, and in the most concrete sense is about finding a new perspective that isn’t singular, but a hybrid finding something beyond the individual collaborators. In a sense I am echoing Italo Calvino’s epistemological question: “Who are we, who is each one of us, if not a combinatoria of experiences, information, books we have read, things imagined? Each life is an encyclopedia, a library, an inventory of objects, a series of styles, and everything can be constantly shuffled and reordered in everyway conceivable.”
We once heard Chuck Close say he did not believe in being inspired, rather in working hard everyday. What motivates you in your studio practice?
I am a collector, scavenger and pack rat. Making art is my way of maintaining control over these impulses.
What artists living or non-living influence your work?
- Maximalist Minimalist: Eva Hesse
- Material King: Kurt Schwitters
- Always: Robert Rauschenberg
- Father of Tangents: Italo Calvino (see answer for #4)
- Finding narrative in every layer of the landscape: John McPhee’sAnnals of the Former World
- Quilts of Gee’s Bend, for the way they constructed their quilts weaving story into the material.
- Installations as networks and infestations: Nicola Lopez
When you are not making art what types of activities and interests do you engage in?
I go on everyday adventures with my wife, make temporary planets and solar systems with my nearly three year old son, and maintain a photoblog: continuouscities.tumblr.com
As an artist, Tim Abel is interested in exploring the dimensional potential of paper and tactile quality of sewing through creating process-based and site-responsive installations. He has exhibited his paper based-installations in soap factories, man-made lagoons and window-front galleries through out the Midwest. Tim Abel holds an MA in Art Therapy from New York University, and graduated from Minneapolis College of Art and Design’s MFA program in 2008 with a focus in Printmaking.
All images copyright of the artist and used with their permission.