“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, 8 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, felt more pulled to raising a child than accumulating lines on a resume, 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 two cats and two rescue Chihuahuas, and Halloween is always a big deal.
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 and desire.
Mandy Greer is a mixed-media installation artist with an MFA from the University of Washington, where she held a Jacob K. Javitz National Graduate Fellowship. In the Northwest, she has shown at Henry Art Gallery, Bellevue Art Museum, Tacoma Art Museum, Frye Art Musuem, 4Culture Gallery, Soil Gallery, Consolidated Works, Ohge Ltd. and Center on Contemporary Art. Nationally, she has shown at Bucheon Gallery and The Lab Contemporary Art Center, in San Francisco, the Tampa Museum of Art, 516 Arts in Albuquerque and Aqua Art Miami. She received a 4Culture Special Projects Grant in 2009, 2007, 2006, 2003 and an Artist Trust Fellowship in 2004. In 2006, Mandy completed a permanent installation in the Rem Koolhaas-designed Seattle Central Library and had a room-sized installation at the Bumbershoot Arts Festival supported by a City Artists Grant. In 2008, Mandy had her first solo museum show at the Bellevue Arts Museum, debuting ‘Dare alla Luce’, supported by an Artist Trust GAP grant, and had reviews in Art Ltd, Art Week and High Fructose magazines. She’s been nominated for the Portland Museum of Art’s Contemporary Northwest Artist Awards for 2008 and 2011. In 2009, ‘Dare alla Luce’ traveled to the Museum of Contemporary Craft, in Portland and Mandy was nominated for the Louise Comfort Tiffany Foundation Award. She has created multidisciplinary works with Seattle’s Book-It Repertory Theatre, Degenerate Art Ensemble’s Haruko Nishimura and filmmaker Ian Lucero, including the “Silvering Path” — featured on the cover of the Fiberarts Magazine, May 2009 — and “Mater Matrix Mother and Medium” with dancer/choreographer Zoe Scofield– a temporary public art experience. MMMM has traveled the Northwest with 4Culture’s SITE SPECIFIC program, to Agnes Scott College in Atlanta and, in 2011, will go to The Cathedral of St. John the Divine, NYC. In 2011, Greer premiered a solo show of installations and photography at Roq La Rue Gallery, funded by City Artists Grant and reviewed in the Seattle Times and Redefine Magazine; she was again nominated for the Louise Comfort Tiffany Foundation Award and awarded Seattle Magazine’s Spotlight Award; she completed a permanent public art installation for the Washington State Arts Commission; and she’ll embark on multidisciplinary project ‘Solstenen’, sponsored by The Project Room, Seattle and funded by a 2011 4Culture Individual Artists Grant.