Briefly describe your work.
Over the past few years my work and the projects I have been embarking upon are increasing in scale and complexity therefore making has taken a backseat to planning. One thread that can be traced back to 2013 involves spraying liquid clay also known as slip. The clay recontextualization of mobile gallery trucks (Experience: 10/13 and Experience:11/13) and galleries themselves provide a unique perceptual transcendence of the objects via the homogenized surface treatment. This creative method starts with the recipe I had formulated that essentially defies the clay’s natural process; to shrink as it dries. The resulting impact upon viewers evoke feelings of bewilderment and awe; creating a new experience of perception.This ongoing research has led to a large-scaled site-specific project in Syracuse, New York. This project will utilize the abundant snowfall the area receives in the coming winter months. The remaining threads of my work are solo and collaborative exhibitions and/or performances. They are oftentimes ephemeral which enable me to move freely from one project to the next.
Tell us about your background and how that has had an influence on your work and as an artist.
Formal art education until the age of 16 unfortunately only existed through the minimal dosage prescribed to public schooling. Creativity and the foundation of my current practice really evolved from my earliest memories as an explorer of the “outside” or neighborhood backyard. From sunrise to past sunset, my mother entrusted me to play freely in any of the four seasons experienced in Western Pennsylvania. Until I was exposed to ceramics at the age of 16, immersing my being with the Earth; napping on the soil or up in the trees, covering my body in mud and leaves, or lying completely still staring up into the cold winter sky allowing the silence to pierce my ears is large part of who I am. Art education post secondary school transformed my world into becoming a “studio artist” slaving into the wee hours of the night. It was not until 2006 at the University of Fine Arts in Poznan, Poland did I begin to break away from a tight studio practice. I began leaving the studio and the objects made within those walls to then explore ideas of space, light, and time. Taking that initial step to pursue art abroad opened doors that were unbeknownst to me beforehand.
The concept of the artist studio has broad range of meanings in contemporary practice. Artists may spend much of their time in the actual studio, or they may spend very little time in it. Tell us about your individual studio practice and how it differs from or is the same as traditional notions of “being in the studio”.
For the first ten or so years of my career I worked in studios, either at home or at school. Nowadays however, it is almost anything but studio work. I seek to create experiences for my audiences which are based upon my own. The act of living has become my practice and the world my studio. Recently an artist who lived and studied at the same academy/university in Poland as I but thirty years earlier came to visit my home. He has become a dear friend. Anyways, when he saw my studio was more or less an office, with papers scattered, dates and reminders all over the walls with books and notepads stacked somewhat neatly in their assigned spots, we stood observing a change for the both of us. I had no vodka at the time but we managed. Needless to say, an active “in the studio” practice does not correlate well for me right now.
What roles do you find yourself playing that you may not have envisioned yourself in making art?
The administrative and bureaucratic roles needed in my world of art are cumbersome. I would have never envisioned their significance nor the amount of discipline needed beforehand. Trying to navigate these roles is easier with time and acceptance but is nonetheless like a rushing stream with me in it – I must always look ahead to stay afloat. Time can certainly fly when you’re having fun.
When do you find is the best time to make art? Do you set aside a specific time everyday or do you have to work whenever time allows?
I’ll speak to the physicality of making which essentially relates to as what I refer as the crunch. Currently, the timing for one outdoor site-specific project is indicative of the weather so that whole time conundrum is chaos in itself. Whereas on the other hand, for an upcoming solo show at Louise O’Rourke’s contemporary Table Top Gallery in Philadelphia, PA – the making begins a month before the opening in mid-March 2016. That push is invigorating and I often do not sleep even if lying down as the days grow nearer. As of now, the grueling physicality of my making during these times is cathartic even if unhealthy.
How has your work changed in the past five years? How is it the same?
Again, time is on the forefront of my conscious and that has always been a constant although now in a very different manner. My work has changed quite a bit; becoming increasingly ephemeral – coinciding with my intent to create an impacting experience. It survives through video or photographic documentation and is carried within the memories of those whom were present. Unlike before as an object maker, I am able to cut the umbilical cord from an exhausting project/show/installation without concern of what to do with what I made; allowing me to focus and reflect upon the temporal experience. The significance of documenting work has also stayed the same.
How have people such as family and friends, writers, philosophers, other artists or even pop icons had an impact on the work you do?
I am influenced by the Earth we inhabit. The wind speaks to me as much as Søren Kierkegaard or James Turrell’s work for example. Human beings are of huge influence; the ability to connect with one another I find to be extraordinary. Collaborative works with: Louise O’Rourke, Shawn McIntyre, Nooshin Hakim Javadi, Pedram Baldari, Alberto Carreaga, Ian F. Thomas, Quinn Hulings, Tommy Gaudi, Chad Surrena, Ross Peakall, and potential upcoming works with Yerin Kim have been a tremendous gift and influence. Mentors are extraordinarily unique in their own right and people like: Richard Wukich, Von Venhuizen, Juan Granados, William Cannings, Kaneem Smith, Tricia Bishop, Krzysztof Balcerowiak, Sławomir Brzoska, Grzegorz Marszałek, Piotr Postaremczak, and Rafał Górczyński have contributed to my existence as an artist in remarkable ways. Each person’s impact upon me varies but they are nonetheless significant in their own individual right.
Have you ever been pulled in the direction of a pursuit other than being an artist? What are your other interests?
Recently I had almost committed to Syracuse University’s Master of Architecture program. The timing was just not right for I have far too many projects lined up, ideas to work out, and the gift of youthful vitality to sit in front a computer any more than I do now for the next three years. Later in life I imagine to revisit that commitment.
Derek Glenn Martin, born and raised in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania has been a practicing artist since 2003. He received his BFA from Slippery Rock University of Pennsylvania and excelled in graduate studies in art at the University of Fine Arts in Poznan, Poland as well as at Texas Tech University in Lubbock, Texas. In the Fall of 2015 Martin will pursue research for site-specific works to be created in Syracuse, New York. He has amassed solo, two-person, and group shows nationally and internationally and has taken his practice abroad to Poland, Germany, London, and Cairo, Egypt. Within his works Martin creates an impacting and unique experience for his audience through site-specific and installation projects. The ephemeral nature of his works parallel the intent to create an experience and the work survives through photographic and video documentation.
All images copyright of the artist and used with their permission.