Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Featured Store Artists at PCB on South

As part of our Arts on South participation, we have two wonderful interns from the Philadelphia Youth Network working with us. Briana, 15, and Tanisha, 20, each selected two artists selling work in our store to feature on our blog and interviewed the artists on their process and inspirations. All work featured in the cooresponding photographs (taken by Briana and Tanisha) are available for sale in our store. This week, the featured artists are Thomas Parker Williams and Sandra Davis.

Thomas Parker Williams interviewed by Briana Davis

1. What process was used when making Ocean Walk?
For the images I used what is known as block printing. You draw an image on a rubber block or other soft material and cut out the areas where you do not want color to be. This block is then inked with a roller and the paper is pressed on to the block. In this case I used two blocks for each image and let the colors overprint to produce texture. The cover was cut out with a saw. The sound work CD was recorded at the Venice Beach, CA Ocean Walk; I added the percussion later in the studio.
2. What was your inspiration behind Ocean Walk?
My wife and I visited the west coast in 2005 and when I saw the swirling mix of crowds, noise, jugglers, and acrobats I had to record the sounds and do a very bright book as my impression of it all.
3. How did you begin the project Ocean Wave? Were you inspired by the ocean directly?
Ocean Wave is based on earlier work but was inspired by the ocean, the Chesapeake Bay, and extreme weather. My wife Mary Agnes and I stayed several times at an inn on Smith Island in the middle of the Chesapeake Bay. To reach it you have to take a small ferry that is really a converted fishing boat for a twelve mile ride through some, at times, rough water. I started thinking about how to represent natural forces in paintings. I came up with a working method that uses computer aided design software to establish true perspective. The paintings are then done from memory. The series is called the “Constructed Elements” and can be seen at my website In doing the research for this series I came across a book about the real structure of ocean waves and how to forecast them. The book “Ocean Wave” uses these techniques to actually construct a real scale model of a wave created by a 50 knot wind. Using the same method that I used in the “Constructed Elements” paintings series I created the Ocean Wave print as a visual repersentation of the paper model.
4. Did you always want to be an artist?
Yes – My mother was an amateur artist and taught me the basics when I was very young. The main thing that got me started, though, was visiting the Philadelphia Museum of Art with my parents and seeing a Thomas Eakins retrospective when I was about 13 years old. After that, I made art on and off; however since the mid-1980's, making art has been my primary focus.
5. Does your work ever cause you to travel? If so, where have you traveled to?
My wife and I enjoy traveling, and we are returning to Venice, Italy this coming spring. I do not travel especially to make art; however, several works have been inspired by our travels.
6. Have you done any collaboration with other artists? If so, who? What was the project?
Yes – I currently work with three other people. First, my wife, who is a pinhole photographer, and I collaborated on an artist book called “Forest” and are now planning other books together. I have also worked on several visual and music projects with Toe-Knee, a musician, magician and visual artist, including producing a funk album together (see Third, Allan J. Moore is a writer that I collaborate with on a music website
7. Do you find inspiration in things you see or ideas that just come to you?
Both actually. Some ideas come from my wife's photography, some come from reading, and some just happen when I'm riding on the train.

Sandra Davis interviewed by Tanisha Washington

1. What was the first book you created?
Funny that you ask the question in that way. My first book is called “My First Amusement Park.”
2. From your personal experience what is the first thing you should do when making a book?
Have a good story to tell. A book is more successful when the story is compelling. Also the concept is stronger when the binding and structure relate to the subject.
3. Are there any types of companies or organizations you work with?
I teach at several universities and colleges. I am currently working with another photographer and book artist on an artist book for the photographer. I also enjoy the many non-profit organizations here in Philadelphia such as the Print Center, The Center for Emerging Visual Artists, inLiquid, Philadelphia Center for the Book and The Photo Review. I support of them because I enjoy being part of the Phildelphia artist community.
4. What is the next piece of art work/book that you’re working on?
I have been photographing still lifes of my unusual collection and experimenting with printing and collage in gum bichromate.
5.Who or What inspired you to do art?
When I was growing up, my mother always encouraged me to be creative. She was a ceramicist.
6.Did you grow up in Willow Grove or any other part of Pennsylvania?
Yes, I grew up in Willow Grove and continued to live there while I was in college.
7. What is your favorite memory from your childhood?
It’s hard to choose just one memory. My family vacationed in Avalon, NJ for two weeks every summer. I really enjoyed going on the amusement rides in Wildwood with my brothers.

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