Dwayne Butcher: How did you first become interested in tracing the archeology of your art studio?
Clover Archer Lyle: Conceptually, I'm using this installation to continue the exploration of ideas that I've been working with for some time. The specific idea for this project started percolating last summer when I was in the first days of a month-long residency, trying to stave off the anxiety that comes with starting a new project. I was occupying a well-used studio space with walls that reflected years of art making and I started thinking that these “blank” walls were actually quite dense with the invisible experience of supporting the creative process. These marks, scuffs, holes and blemishes are simultaneously important and insignificant. The focus of this time is the artwork, not the residue of installing or making it. I became interested in tracing the archeology of art spaces because I wanted to reify this time and these histories.
As I was walking around the installation, I couldn't help but think that the creative process is either extremely relaxing or terribly frustrating. Is it either of these things for you?
Yes, both. For me, the creative process results in both satisfaction and anxiety. In some ways, I find making art to have some qualities of a Sisyphean task in the sense that it is never ending, challenging and must be steadfastly maintained. At the same time, I find little else more gratifying or comforting than making art; it is the one indeterminate thing I can know with absolute certainty.
It is also like looking at cloud formations. I thought I saw Bart Simpson, a squid and a fluffy bunny smoking a cigarette. Do you think about the kind of implied imagery during the "tracing" process?
Because the existing marks dictate the drawing, I did not think about the implied imagery while I was working; it is beyond my control. This piece was a departure for me in that it is much less representational than much of my previous work, leaving room for different visual interpretations. I’m pleased that the piece is not finite, that there are discoveries to be made. The images that were triggered while I was working related directly to the individual marks themselves, imagining backwards rather than forwards. For example, there was one wall in the Medicine Factory that had obviously been painted by someone wearing a red sweater; there were tiny red fibers that had adhered to the wet paint. So, I thought about red sweaters. In my own studio, the seams between the sheetrock panels were visible (I built my own studio and I am not an accomplished drywaller!) and I was reminded of that webby netting stuff that gives the spackle something to stick to.
Images courtesy the artist