“In her works, haunting vignettes of half-told stories are littered with crocheted entrails and vines of thick, cloying mud that evoke a sense of elegant foreboding. They deal with a sense of vague narrative that, through abstraction, finds archetype; her installations whisper of timelessness, of a buried, invisible power that runs below the surface of the world that we cavalierly inhabit. ” –Tessa Hulls, Redefine Magazine
ABOUT MY WORK…
I create theatricalized spaces about desire and longing, whether it be through installations, performance, film or photography. There is a longing pulling us in our relationship to the deep unknown of nature. The human animal stands at a continual crossroads, pulled to create a separate elaborate reality and yet pulled to shed our restrictions and sink into the wild dark woods. Much of what I’m after in my work is to capture this rapturous ecstatic moment, when a river of our inner life spills out of us like blood, milk or ever-growing hair. I make these visceral transitory states tangible through the overabundance of crocheted and sewn fabric. The immensity of the installations push my own body’s endurance, as I grind up piles upon piles of thriftstore flotsam and jetsam, a remaking into the image of revamped mythological story, amped up on glitter and beads. I wade through fairy tales, archetypes, mythology, allegory and folk tales looking for moments that coincide with my own experience of everyday life, where animals perform us. These narratives are, after all, the ordinary human dramas that perpetually reoccur, until they become mythos. I like to construct an organic glam full of paradoxes: the collusion of homeliness and glitz, hunger and indulgence, love and violence, the decorative and the meaningful, torment and release, the diligence of the handmade and slovenliness of the animal realm.
My name is Mandy Greer. I’m a visual artist; installation, mixed-media, multi-disciplinary, fiber, public art, community-based process-oriented performance, site-integrated eco installations, wearable and theatrical. And I like seeking out ways to blur the distinctions between all of these. The process of becoming at home in my skin as a mother has been a side-by-side lesson for how to become at home in my skin as an artist. It means playing many roles at once and wanting to do more than is possible, allowing everything to influence me – not just what I think should, and realizing the great fruitfulness of blending the boundaries between family life and art making, while working hard to make peace with the limitations parenthood requires.
My materials have always been discarded domestic items that I’ve stripped of their original purpose, value and meaning, to repurpose them to tell stories by creating environments. When I was pregnant, 9 years ago, a great shift seemed to begin in my work; the stories began to be about my relationship with my husband, my changing body and identity, but told through the lens of archetypes, mythology and folk tales. What I was experiencing had happened before; and it is these ordinary human experiences that perpetually reoccur that then become mythos. The actual details of my internal narratives aren’t so important; I want to explore this paradox of each life being inimitable yet we all in someway fit into an archetype, legend or mythology.
Important career opportunities seemed to happen right when I had my son, so I really seemed to have no choice but to blend motherhood and making, as I rocked a newborn in my lap while crocheting or stitching small things to accumulate into a massive installation. My husband, Paul Margolis, a fiber artist also, loves his night job as a King County Metro transit operator and felt more pulled to raising a child than accumulating lines on a resume; he set aside his own practice in order to co-parent and take on the role of helpmate to my vision. Initially we both saw him as an assistant, but through the years we have evolved into collaborators. I have been inspired by his ability to make art without needing to call attention to it, or even call it art.
We now see ourselves as all being artists, the three of us trading ideas and working together. We are a homeschooling family, so what I am researching/reading influences my son’s unconventional and creative education, and what fascinates him opens me up to things I have never imagined. I grew up as a nomad because of the Air Force, but landed in the Northwest because of the dramatic landscape, brooding winters and grad school. I’m at home in Seattle because it teeters on the boundary between a dynamic fabricated urban scene and lush wild natural environment, and I can’t decide where I belong. My whole childhood I was reading a book or making something, mostly from my own toys or clothes, and my practice as an artist has at its foundations a few summers at a Girl Scout Arts and Crafts camp where I learned to dabble in everything and become a jack-of-all-trades. As a family, we are avid gardeners and autodidacts, thriftstore junkies, caretakers of a cat and two rescue dogs, and Halloween is always a big deal. Despite the hardships of making a life as artists, we have set our sights on world travel as well.
Lately I’ve been thinking about stones and stars, witch ladders and knots, braiding and twisting and spinning of hair, gold, honey, drawing on skin, a lightening strike to the heart, a hum in the throat, cycles of comets and cherry blossoms, light, androgyny, ecstasy, minerals, wool, gray hair, trolls, mud, desire and the beauty of aging.
Mandy Greer is a Seattle-based multi-disciplinary artist who creates heightened narrative space through fiber-based installation, photography, performance, film and community-based action. In 2011, she was awarded the prestigious Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation Award, and completed an installation at Centro di Cultura Contemporanea at Palazzo Strozzi, Florence, Italy for the exhibition “American Dreamers”. She has been awarded 4Culture Individual artist grants, City Artist Grants and Artist Trust GAP grants multiple times, as well as an Artist Trust Fellowship. In 2012, she was awarded the Arts Innovator Award from Artists Trust/The Dale and Leslie Chihuly Foundation. In the Northwest, she has shown at Henry Art Gallery, Bellevue Art Museum, Tacoma Art Museum, Frye Art Museum, Seattle Art Museum and Roq la Rue Gallery. Nationally, she has shown at Bucheon Gallery and The Lab Contemporary Art Center, in San Francisco, Tampa Museum of Art, Museum of Contemporary Craft, in Portland and Aqua Art Miami. She has been awarded Seattle Magazine’s Spotlight Artist Award, as well as featured and reviewed in many publications including the New York Times, Hi-Fructose Magazine, Redefine Magazine, Seattle Magazine, Art Ltd, Art Week and the cover of Fiberarts Magazine. Mandy has completed permanent public art installation at the Rem Koolhaas-designed Seattle Central Library and for the Washington State Arts Commission. Her ongoing project — site-embedded crocheted installation and community action — Mater Matrix Mother and Medium has traveled from Seattle to Agnus Scott College, Herbert Bayer Earthworks, Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine, NY and traveled the Northwest with the 4 Culture SITE SPECIFIC program.
She has created performance projects and films with internationally recognized Degenerate Art Ensemble, choreographers Zoe Scofield and Jessica Jobaris.
Summer/Fall 2012 and Winter 2013 Mandy traveled throughout Iceland doing a series of residencies with her creative partner artist Paul Margolis and their son, creating environmental interventions, performance photographs and films, some of which premiered at NEPO House, Seattle.
In Spring 2013 she created a multi-media performance with visionary choreographer/dancer/director Dayna Hanson for the Seattle Art Museum.
In Fall 2013, Mandy was invited to create an installation and performance for the international fiber installation exhibition MINIARTEXTIL, in Como Italy. She premiered an elaborate construction engaging with the entire 17th century theater inside Villa Olmo, on the banks of Lake Coma, as well as a haunting performance collaboration with her husband artist Paul Margolis and their child.