This is the eleventh in a series of interviews with each of the Sondheim Award Semifinalists. Finalists will be announced in mid-April, and will be on exhibit at the Walters Art Museum June 21 to August 17; those not selected as finalists with be exhibited at the Decker, Meyerhoff and Pinkard Galleries at MICA  July 17 to August 3, 2014.

Name: Tiny Inventions (Max Porter & Ru Kuwahata)
Age: Both 32 years old
Website: www.tinyinventions.com
Current Location: Hampden, Baltimore
Hometown: Max- NY, Ru- Tokyo, Japan
School: Max- Rhode Island School of Design (BFA in Film / Vide / Animation)
Ru- Parsons the New School for Design (BFA in Illustration with Animation concentration)

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Current favorite artists or artwork: We love the sequential art progress of Picasso’s bull fight. It inspires us to push our design and be playful with the approach. Some of our favorite artists are Jeremy Clapin, David O’Reilly, Miwa Matreyek, Wes Anderson and Michel Gondry.

What is your day job? How do you manage balancing work with studio time with your life? As Tiny Inventions, we’ve created TV commercials, music videos, designed toy line, etc. So we’ve been working commercially as well as making independent films. In the past 2 years, Max has been a full-time faculty at MICA animation department and Ru just started teaching there as a part-time this semester.

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How would you describe your work, and your studio practice? We specialize in mixed-media narratives that marry analogue and digital animation techniques. Even if the final film is magical in tone, our ideas tend to come from real world observations.

How would you describe your collaboration? We have been collaborating since 2007. We enjoy merging our energies to create something that is greater than the sum of its parts. Our collaboration process is very intertwined that if we start explaining how we divide our work, it gets a bit too complicated. In short, we write and storyboard all our ideas together and we divide the production.

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What part of artmaking to you like or enjoy the most? The least? Writing is always the most grueling, painful and rewarding part of the process.

What research do you do for your art practice? It depends on the project. I don’t think there is anything particularly unique about our research process. We keep a sketchbook around us to write down small moments we encounter every day. We do a lot of location drawings, research various books and films. For some reason, there tends to be a scientific element that we’re interested in: forensic science, environment, theories about time & space, etc.

What books have you read lately you would recommend? Movies? Television? Music? Our recent independent film was inspired by Alan Lightman’s “Einstein’s Dreams” which depicts the concept of time in a poetic way.

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Do you ever get in creative dry spells, and if so, how do you get out of them? Cherish the small moments in our daily lives and draw…A LOT.

How do you challenge yourself in your work? We try to challenge ourselves with every project: storytelling, design, technical execution. One of the greatest challenges of animation is that there are many skills that you can improve, drawing, story-telling, new software, character animation, cinematography, editing, etc. So each of us pick one category that we really want to improve and proceed forward with our projects. ‘

What is your dream project? To have more time to make more films.

This is the tenth in a series of interviews with each of the Sondheim Award Semifinalists. Finalists will be announced in mid-April, and will be on exhibit at the Walters Art Museum June 21 to August 17; those not selected as finalists with be exhibited at the Decker, Meyerhoff and Pinkard Galleries at MICA  July 17 to August 3, 2014.

Name: Nora Sturges
Age: 45
Website: www.norasturges.com
Current Location: Baltimore
Hometown: Stamford, CT
School: Bowdoin College undergrad and Ohio University grad

Tank, 2012, oil on mdf, 8x11 inches

Tank, 2012, oil on mdf, 8×11 inches

Current favorite artists or artwork: Thomas Nozkowski, Norbert Schwontkowski, and Honoré Sharrer are current interests.

What is your day job? How do you manage balancing work with studio time with your life? I teach painting full-time at Towson University. It’s challenging to find time to make art during the semester, and much of my work is done in the summers, but at its best teaching gives me energy and experiences I can use toward my own work.

How would you describe your work, and your studio practice? I enjoy imagining places and things, thinking about them and trying to give them life.

Lookout, 2013, oil on mdf, 9×12 inches

What part of artmaking to you like or enjoy the most? The least? I love realizing the image, but hate the painting part.

What research do you do for your art practice? I get ideas from so many sources that almost everything could be research. I look at a lot of art (old and new), and photos of any sort, and I read things that I think have the potential to be used in my work (though it’s often a surprise what ends up being useful). The past few years walking has been an important kind of research for me– I find that I notice my surroundings in a different way when I’m a pedestrian.

Do you think it’s just the slower pace of walking that allows you to notice things more, or do you think the act of walking making you more alert and able to observe? Is there anywhere you prefer to walk- city, suburbs, parks, etc? I go walking around where I live, and it’s usually a walk with a purpose– to the store or to work. There are definitely things one sees as a pedestrian that are hard to see from a moving car, but there’s also something different about one’s frame of mind when walking. I find that it makes me very open to ideas, perhaps from the enforced slowness of it. And walking the same route over time gives me a chance to really notice things. The most fruitful area for me has been Osler Drive in Towson, which is the dullest of roads. I’ve gotten parts of maybe ten paintings from things I’ve seen on Osler Drive.

What books have you read lately you would recommend? Movies? Television? Music? I’m a big fan of radio because I can listen while I paint. Radiolab and Studio 360 are great shows, and I love BBC Radio 4.

Houses, 2012, oil on mdf, 7.75×12.5 inches

Do you ever get in creative dry spells, and if so, how do you get out of them? I often have times when I’m not especially inspired, and don’t feel like working, but I make myself do it anyway. I once had a long period, after I finished a body of work I’d been engaged with for several years, when I had no ideas for what to do next, and everything I tried failed. It was awful. But I tried to follow the advice I give to students who don’t know what to do– you can’t discover what to make if you’re not making, so just make anything. So I just kept making paintings (quick ones– going for quantity), and eventually I found direction.

This is the ninth in a series of interviews with each of the Sondheim Award Semifinalists. Finalists will be announced in mid-April, and will be on exhibit at the Walters Art Museum June 21 to August 17; those not selected as finalists with be exhibited at the Decker, Meyerhoff and Pinkard Galleries at MICA  July 17 to August 3, 2014.

Name: Dean Kessmann
Age: 49
Website: www.deankessmann.com
Current Location: Washington, DC
Hometown: Maryville, IL
School: Southern Illinois University at Carbondale (MFA)

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Current favorite artists or artwork:  James Welling, Wade Guyton, Peter Coffin, Jennie C. Jones, Tom Friedman, N. Dash, Louis Cameron, and three artists who I’ve been close friends with for around two decades and whose work I greatly admire: Martin Brief, Jill Downen, and Jennifer Dorsey (my wife).  There are many, many artists in the DC metro area whose work I love and respect, but it is difficult to list a few of them without feeling horrible about not included all of the others.

What is your day job? Associate Professor and Deputy Chair of the Department of Fine Arts and Art History at The George Washington University.

How do you manage balancing work with studio time with your life? Unfortunately, I do a terrible job at balancing work with studio time and family time.

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How would you describe your work, and your studio practice?  Below is my one paragraph artist statement, which I find difficult to write because I often fail to see connections and/or differences between much of my work.
Studio visits are incredibly helpful in this regard, that is, getting fresh eyes and new perspectives on work that I’m generally too close to, thus difficult to see in an objective manner.  Here goes:  What remains consistent throughout my practice is an intense interest in the relationships between abstraction and representation, physical objects and digital information, compression and expansion.  Each new project builds upon and expands my larger body of work, while at the same time folding into it.  My goal is to create fresh iterations that fuse the lessons learned with happenstance that is part and parcel of the creative process.
The intuitive impulse in my practice is balanced with a more critical and reasoned approach.  If one looks closely at the subtle twists and turns that have led me from one project to the next, I hope that it is apparent that my meandering is with purpose.  I strive to create work that is intellectually engaging and visually striking, open to multiple interpretations without being overly ambiguous, smart and challenging without becoming pretentious or abstruse.  While my choice of media is, at times, made for practical purposes, these decisions are, more often than not, arrived at for conceptual reasons because materials have meaning.

What part of artmaking do you like or enjoy the most? The moment when it becomes apparent, at least to me, that project that I’d been thinking about doing for a while is likely going to result in work that is both visually compelling, and hopefully, conceptually engaging.  I also enjoy seeing the finished work up on a wall.  There is time spent between the beginning and end of projects that I find rewarding and exciting, but I tend to work out many details in my head prior to actually starting to make the pieces, so making the work sometimes feels like, well, work.  My training as a traditional black and white photographer taught me to pre-visualize the final print at the time of exposure, which, for better or worse, has spilled over into my current practice.

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What part of artmaking do you like or enjoy the least?  Promoting the finished work is the least enjoyable to me.  Sadly, due to the serial nature of many of my projects, there can be a certain level of monotony between the early stages of making a piece and getting to the final result, as was alluded to in my last answer. However, this time spent doing repetitive kinds of tasks does, on occasion, allow for a project to evolve in unexpected ways, or at the very least, it opens up some mental space to think about the meaning of the work.

What research do you do for your art practice?  As an associate professor at GW my ongoing interactions with students and other faculty members certainly feeds into my practice as an artist.  I look at as much art as possible, which has been somewhat difficult the last few years due to administrative duties associated with my job at GW . . . I was Chair of the Department of Fine Arts and Art History from July 1, 2010 to June 30, 2013, and I’m now serving a one-year term as Deputy Chair (and I have the badge to prove it-haha).  Additionally, simply paying attention to what are generally perceived as fairly mundane activities and seemingly insignificant moments that make up much of our day-to-day lives often results in my discovering something worth exploring.  For instance, the project that I submitted to the Sondheim Prize, titled Utilitarian Abstraction, began when I started paying attention to, and then collecting the tiny grids of colors and patterns on cardboard box flaps of food packaging.  The actual purpose of these marks is to enable printers to match colors and ensure that the text and images remain in registration throughout the printing process.  However, while disassembling these boxes in order to place them in the recycling bin, I became intrigued by the somewhat standardized, yet surprisingly unique imagery that I continued to discover.  Shortly thereafter, I found myself imagining these utilitarian marks as miniature abstract paintings that had been hidden from view, smuggled into my home via the packaging of ordinary consumer products.

After scanning them, I dramatically enlarge the tiny source images, and then output them as archival pigment prints.  For this project, breaking down boxes for the recycling bin became part of my research.  Now that the project is well underway and the collecting has slowed down, I have obviously started thinking about this work in the context of historical precedents, especially Pop art, Op art, abstract monochromatic painting, and more recent trends in appropriation of imagery from contemporary consumer culture.

Kessmann7HeftyTheGripper1What books have you read lately you would recommend? Movies? Television? Music?  I’ve read and/or have been reading the following books: Contemporary Art: 1989 To The Present (Edited by Alexander Dumbadze and Suzanne Hudson), Living and Sustaining a Creative Life (Edited by Sharon Louden), James Welling: Monograph (James Crump), Wade Guyton: OS (Scott Rothkopf), and The Edge of Vision: The Rise of Abstraction in Photography (Lyle Rexer).  My wife and I have been watching some of the academy awards winners online at home, since with two kids we rarely get to see anything on the big screen.  We also just finished watching the HBO series True Detective.  I’ve recently replaced a 20-year-old stereo and speakers with new components, so I’ve probably been spending the most time listening to music these days.  I’ve been listening to Tame Impala (Lonerism), Arcade Fire (The Suburbs), Vic Chesnutt (At the Cut), Yo La Tengo (Fade), Animal Collective (Centipede HZ), Sigur Ros (Valturi), Wilco (The Album), and Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks (Real Emotional Trash), among others.

Do you ever get in creative dry spells, and if so, how do you get out of them?  These days I rarely get in creative dry spells because it is difficult for me to find enough time to complete the projects that I have underway.  However, when this does happen, I simply carry a camera with me on my walks to and from work and make pictures of anything that I find even the least bit interesting.  Most of these images never see the light of day, but they serve a more important purpose of getting me through the dry spells.

How do you challenge yourself in your work?  Like most artist, I want my next project to be better than my last one.  I try to make work that, to some extent, grows out of my overall practice as an artist, while simultaneously making subtle moves into new territory.  Most recently, I’ve been making work at a significantly larger scale than anything I’ve done in the past.  Some of the images in Utilitarian Abstraction are as large as 5 feet by 23 ½ feet.  Also, I’m working on another project (A Layered History of Art: From Semitransparent to Opague) in which the final piece will be approximately 5 feet high by 40 feet long.

What is your dream project?  Ask me in the morning.

This is the eighth in a series of interviews with each of the Sondheim Award Semifinalists. Finalists will be announced in mid-April, and will be on exhibit at the Walters Art Museum June 21 to August 17; those not selected as finalists with be exhibited at the Decker, Meyerhoff and Pinkard Galleries at MICA  July 17 to August 3, 2014.

Name: Jim Condron
Age: NA
Website:  www.jcondron.com
Current Location:Baltimore
Hometown: I was born in Long Island and spent my childhood in Wilton, Connecticut
School: I earned a BA in English and Art from Colby College, Waterville, ME, attended the New York Studio School for three years, and then got my MFA from MICA’s Hoffberger School of Painting. I have studied with my mentor Rohini Ralby for over 20 years.  It’s through her spiritual guidance that any ounce of authenticity has come through in my work. She’s a great painter herself.

Perhaps one should never put one's worship into words, acrylic, oil, resin, wood on paper and wood, 6x6x4 inches, 2013

Perhaps one should never put one’s worship into words, acrylic, oil, resin, wood on paper and wood, 6x6x4 inches, 2013

Current favorite artists or artwork: Giotto, Fra Angelico, Sassetta, Leonardo Drew, Forest Bess, Jackson Pollock, Hannah Wilke, Kathy Butterly, Chris Martin, Carleton Watkins, and Yayoi Kusama. Most recently blown away by the William Kentridge installation and the fourPieros at the Met.

At first an occasion rather than a friend, oil, pastel and repurposed fur on wood, 6x6x3 inches, 2014

At first an occasion rather than a friend, oil, pastel and repurposed fur on wood, 6x6x3 inches, 2014

What is your day job? How do you manage balancing work with studio time with your life?  I am an adjunct professor at Towson University, MICA and Stevenson University.  I make things in secret, in a closet.  If I have more space, I take it over.

How would you describe your work, and your studio practice?  I paint stuff and glue things together until it looks better than anything I have ever seen before. Sometimes I will ponder how to resolve the sock I have included in a piece for a few weeks before adding fur and color.

What part of artmaking do you like or enjoy the most? The least? I enjoy finding things and creating something meaningful from fragments of materials, then naming it.  I hate it when I start to know what I am doing.

Like that of the toes of a missing leg, oil, repurposed fur wool, plastic, wood, , 7x4x5 inches, 2014

Like that of the toes of a missing leg, oil, repurposed fur wool, plastic, wood, , 7x4x5 inches, 2014

What research do you do for your art practice?  I don’t do research, I just look and look and look.  Actually I do research, I look into glue guns and spray paint; and tennis shoes–a complicated matter.

What books have you read lately you would recommend? Movies? Television? Music?  I have no time to read and I don’t watch television and don’t go to movies.  I sometimes listen to music in the car.

Do you ever get in creative dry spells, and if so, how do you get out of them?  Last year I quit painting.

How do you challenge yourself in your work?  I look for strange materials and try to make them into something coherent.

What is your dream project? Big breath-taking work.

This is the seventh in a series of interviews with each of the Sondheim Award Semifinalists. Finalists will be announced in mid-April, and will be on exhibit at the Walters Art Museum June 21 to August 17; those not selcected as finalists with be exhibited at the Decker, Meyerhoff and Pinkard Galleries at MICA  July 17 to August 3, 2014.

Name: Tommy Bobo
Age: 30
Website: iamtommybobo.com
Current Location: Bolton Hill, Baltimore
Hometown: North Augusta, SC
School: MICA and University of Kansas

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Current favorite artists or artwork: Liz Magic Laser’s Absolute Event and Rutherford Chang’s 100 White Albums

What is your day job? How do you manage balancing work with studio time with your life?Currently, I am a full time student with two on campus jobs. I am big believer in taking at a minimum one day off a week. Keeps my head clear and my wife happy. Also I make an effort to stay on a 9-5 schedule. Sometimes it is just better to leave something to be done the next morning. It keeps my momentum up.

How would you describe your work, and your studio practice? My work is an examination of the different qualities of projected light in between the bulb and the screen. I use lots of projectors, lenses, and diffusion materials. My studio practice is based on experimentation and trial-and-error. I burn through a lot of ideas pretty quickly.

What part of artmaking to you like or enjoy the most? The least? I love that first burst of an idea and those midway through epiphanies . It’s like falling in love. When you just can’t wait to get to the studio everyday. I loathe editing documentation of the work. It feels like a postmortem.  Also I have to spend a lot of time in the dark, which during winter gets quite hard.

What research do you do for your art practice? Right now I am reading specs on different types of plexiglass. I really like new materials, but it requires a lot of reading and experimentation. Amazon reviews are my lifeline to a certain degree. I also read a lot: art history, theory, film history, and novels. When I am working with film as a source material I end up watching a lot of movies looking for particular little details.

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What books have you read lately you would recommend? Movies? Television? Music? Book= Wild Ones by Jon Mooallem – It’s about the lengths we will go to in order to save endangered species. It is a beautiful and heartbreaking book.  BBC Made for TV Movies based on true stories= Holy Flying Circus- Which is about the release of Life of Brian in the UK. The Challenger- which is about Richard Feynman’s investigation into the Challenger explosion. Music= Lambchop’s ‘Mr. M’ and the remix version ‘Mr. N’ Television= Community, Broad City, and Bob’s Burgers

Looking at your work (especially the balloon pieces, and the Sound of Music supercut) how important is a sense of humor in your work? How do you see it working with the main themes in your work, especially considering how some of your recommendations approach this? (especially Bob’s Burgers. SO GOOD.) I have to admit that contemporary art is pretty absurd. The fact that I like to express my innermost thoughts with slide projectors and balloons is funny in of itself. That balloons in question also look like 3 foot long phalli which just makes the point clearer. With all that said I don’t I set out to make humorous work. When I have tried to make funny work, it has usually been painfully unsuccessful. The humor that is in the work is more a reflection of my personality and playfulness in my studio practice.

About eight years ago there was a William Wegman show at the Smithsonian Museum of American Art. It was of mostly non-dog art, self portraiture, paintings and video mostly. It was a revelation for me to see such earnest work that was funny. Here I was a goofy kid right out of undergrad trying to make overly serious work about all the darkest parts of my life. I went to see that show 10-15 times. It took a while, but eventually I felt freed from having to be so serious all the time.

Do you ever get in creative dry spells, and if so, how do you get out of them? Dry spells are inevitable. I try not to let it get me down. Usually I try to bring something new into the studio, a book or material. Often I find myself rereading a book I’ve read a dozen times before, and find something new in it that triggers something. It is just about being open and letting connections happen.

How do you challenge yourself in your work? By bringing in new materials and technologies. If I am learning I am working. Also by not being 100% satisfied.

What is your dream project? Big dream: To reinstate the artist-in-residency program at NASA. They have all the best toys. I am not sure what I would make but It would likely involve radio telescopes and weightlessness. Medium dream: To do an installation piece at the Uptown Movie Theater in DC. It’s where 2001:A Space Odyssey premiered and played for a complete year. Every movie is made better by being seen there.

This is the sixth in a series of interviews with each of the Sondheim Award Semifinalists. Finalists will be announced in mid-April, and will be on exhibit at the Walters Art Museum June 21 to August 17; those not selected as finalists with be exhibited at the Decker, Meyerhoff and Pinkard Galleries at MICA  July 17 to August 3, 2014.

Name: Elena Volkova
Age: 38
Website: www.elenavolkova.com
Current Location: Hampden, Baltimore, MD
Hometown: Kiev, Ukraine
School: MICA

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Current favorite artists: Robert Irwin’s work follows the aesthetics of “nothingness” in a very interesting way.  I enjoy his writings, and, although rarely, seeing his work.  Pioneer in installation work,  Irwin did groundbreaking research in our perception of space, resisting traditional interpretation of artwork.   Recently, I watched James Benning’s film Ten Skies, which was an incredible experience.  Benning’s work, although referencing an experience, is an experience in itself.   The viewer becomes an active participant of a very powerful experience of nothingness and stillness.   Another artist is Roni Horn; I truly admire her photographic work, as well of her approach to bring forth subtleness of the everyday moments.  I like her work because it is very difficult to do photography and disregard the image; and her work goes beyond image-making; it is about paying attention.

What is your day job? How do you manage balancing work with studio time with your life? I teach art at a local high school for girls, as well as evening adjunct courses in photography. I try to do a little bit of work every day, but get most of work accomplished when I have a chunk of time, especially during school breaks.  If I were to think about balance between studio and life, as much as I try, life wins.  So, I try to think that everything and everywhere is my studio, from a bench in a park, to a pottery wheel at work; it is a lot less pressure that way.

How would you describe your work, and your studio practice? My ultimate goal is to do a little bit of work every day, even if I only have ten minutes. Looking is very important; looking around or staring in the window, making mental notes of things, observing, all that is a part of my studio practice . Work includes anything that helps me progress, reading, writing, drawing, loading film, or taking one photo a day; anything that takes my mind from a daily routine and into the mode of art making counts. I tend to think a lot about my work, and make the actual pieces when I have free time. I am very critical, perhaps too critical, so I don’t make a lot of work. For my own art, I believe in precision: less work but more profound is better than a lot of work with little meaning. My process is very slow, and it takes several years for a project to come to full fruition.

What part of artmaking to you like or enjoy the most? The least? I like to think about work the most. I also enjoy the process of making subtle decisions while working in the studio. I really enjoy drawing and the labor that goes into a piece, as well as making repetitive marks and the sound of pencil on paper.   Recently, I got back into black and white large format photography.  I absolutely love the process, and it reminds me of the reasons why I fell in love with photography fifteen year ago: it is the slow way of working, as well as element of the unknown in the process.  What I like least is the feeling of emptiness after a project is accomplished, especially when the work is exhibited.  I’m not sure if it contributes anything to my future work.  It is a negative feeling, perhaps related to not knowing what will come next, or fear of repeating the same ideas, or dissatisfaction of the results.

What research do you do for your art practice? Part of my overall research on art production, aesthetics and beauty are thinkers like Ludwig Wittgenstein and Jaque Raniciere.  Some contemporary critical works that I have been reading are The Aesthetics of Disappearance by Paul Virilio and Beauty and the Contemporary Sublime by Jeremy Gilbert-Rolfe.  A couple books that have influenced my practice are Seeing is Forgetting the Name of the Thing One Sees by Lawrence Weschler and The Intangibilities of Form: Skill and Deskilling in Art after the Readymade by John Roberts.

What books have you read lately you would recommend? Movies? Television? Music? I developed an addiction to In Our Time, BBC Radio 4, programs in the fields of culture, philosophy, history, and religion.  I don’t really watch TV, but my recent favorite is The School of Comedy, a British sketch show where kids play adult roles.  A really great film that came out last year, The Grand Beauty (La Grande Belleza).

Is there anything in culture, philosophy, history and religion that ties in with the ideas about emptiness and minimalism you mentioned? Or perhaps other influences, like from your life or places you’ve lived? Culturally, in the western civilization, there is not enough appreciation for space in between, where emptiness, blankness, stillness, free time, and negative space have substantial meaning.  I would describe the focus of my work as the act of paying attention,  and its significance in the human experience. I guess the best link that may be traced is Taoism and Chinese painting, where the empty space,  or the unknown is considered to be the subject of the work, and the brushstrokes serve as framework.  Things on the periphery, marginal, and “barely-there” are explored as a subject.  I consider my work to be post-minimalist because it explores similar themes such as significance of material and relationship of the object to the space where it is displayed.  When I work with site-specific installations, the focus is the way the viewer encounters the artwork, but never the image itself.

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How do you challenge yourself in your work? Some big questions include the following: How do you create work that looks like nothing with profound ideas and deep implications behind it? How do you create work that is self-contained and self-referential, yet creates an experience for a viewer. My favorite Robert Irwin quote is Art is what has happened to the viewer; and the challenge is to create those moments. From a philosophical perspective, I question whether image has validity in contemporary art, and what are the ways to create visual art without creating an image, or artwork that does not focus on the image, but rather addresses something else.

What is your dream project? I would like to make work about landscape. My dream project is to figure out a way to make landscape work that will be new and interesting, and not a reiteration of work that has been done by someone else.  It would require a lot of time and a lot of empty space.  A few years ago, I took a trip to Western Ireland, which changed me on some profound level.  Perhaps one day, I would like my work to be close to that experience; but for now, I would not even know where to begin, or even to find the best words to describe it.

This is the fifth in a series of interviews with each of the Sondheim Award Semifinalists. Finalists will be announced in mid-April, and will be on exhibit at the Walters Art Museum June 21 to August 17; those not selected as finalists with be exhibited at the Decker, Meyerhoff and Pinkard Galleries at MICA  July 17 to August 3, 2014.

Name: Terence Hannum
Age: 34
Website: www.terencehannum.com
Current Location: Parkville, MD
Hometown: Chicago, IL
School: MFA, School of the Art Institute of Chicago

Current favorite artists or artwork: Anoka Faruquee (moiré pattern paintings are very exciting), Peter Kubelka (the installation of his film for Arnulf Rainer really was an inspiration for this work) and Scott Short’s weird xerox paintings at the moment.  But I could easily add William Anastasi or Jennie C. Jones to the list.

What is your day job? I am an Assistant Professor in the Art Department at Stevenson University, who coordinates the Foundations Program.

How do you manage balancing work with studio time with your life? By not sleeping and keeping a calendar.

How would you describe your work, and your studio practice? I would describe my work as primarily concerned with the relationship between sound and vision. This body of work is really about this found obsolescent object, the commercial cassette tape.  It is slightly anachronistic in the west, appearing in some subcultures like experimental noise or black metal, but is more widely in use in certain countries in Africa – if you haven’t bookmarked Awesome Tapes from Africa you must (http://www.awesometapes.com/).  My studio practice is more of a laboratory where I try out a lot of ideas, I tend to generate sets of formal explorations and then edit them down.  This body of work came from repairing a Roland Space Echo, an original tape delay, and realizing how beautiful the surface of the tape was.

What part of artmaking to you like or enjoy the most? The least?  The part I enjoy the most is the focus.  It is probably the closest I can get to meditating with my hectic life.  The least, is all the applications, deadlines, etc. and trying to get the work out there.  I always hate that feeling that I lost good studio time to just push paper.  But it is part of the beast.

What research do you do for your art practice? I listen a lot.  Right now I listen to a lot of records that used magnetic tape as a composition element so a lot of Musique Concrete and Acousmatic works, Eliane Radigue, Ivo Malec to David Tudor or early Steve Reich.  I also look at a lot of artists who use hard edge abstraction like Ellsworth Kelley or Frederick Hammersley.  Just try and pay attention and be sensitive to what people have done before you.

What books have you read lately you would recommend? I make a lot of art zines and have really been intrigued by The Photo Book: A History Vol 1-3 by Martin Parr and Gerry Badger.  It’s really comprehensive.

Movies? Derek Jarman’s “Blue” – I love the monochromatic picture, and the poetic intimate story.  I think it is a masterpiece by relying on audio over image, “Our life will pass like traces of a cloud.”

Television? “True Detective” (HBO), Kind of wound the audience up into a quasi-mythic possible Lovecraftian furor at first but ended like some nightmare SVU by way of David Lynch – with some excellent acting.

Music? Outside of the reissues Editions Mego is doing with the GRM studio of people like Luc Ferrari and Bernard Parmegiani, I am really into groups like Rainer Veil’s last LP on Modern Love, the recent collaboration between Sunn O))) and Ulver, the recent Kangding Ray “Solens Arc” and the LP Kevin Drumm just did “Crowded” is so harsh and intense.

Do you ever get in creative dry spells, and if so, how do you get out of them? I did when I was younger.  But now not really.  I just work through them, I just keep trying ideas and making failures.  For me art has this way of solving itself, I’ll go and make some music or read, or do research about a material and then I’ll return to something.  Just because it gets made doesn’t mean it has to be shown.

How do you challenge yourself in your work? Not to be afraid to make a wrong move, just make it and step back and be honest.  Editing is so important, so often its so easy to not know what is essential to the idea or experience.  So I always start asking what is necessary and what isn’t?  The other thing is to find people whose vision you respect when it gets tricky and who know more than you do.  And then actually listen to them.

What is your dream project? I really am interested in experiences, so one of my dream projects is to combine audio installations using analog tape players extended across large architectural spaces.  To use multiple reel to reel tape players to generate delays of original audio.  I would combine this with large cassette tape collages, to allow a slip between the media on a larger scale and make something immersive and push toward the sublime.