Monday, August 23, 2010

Last week of MERGE Alumni Exhibition! Read about featured artist Merlin Madrid

Denver-raised Merlin V. Madrid says: “Art-making, which is essentially a solitary act, allows me to tell stories, reclaim memories, secrets, and enthusiasms and sometimes disappointments. It embodies a process for me, which is both personal and ancestral. My art happens as a result of this process and in the end it is a vehicle for learning.” Equipped with a BA from Metro State and an MFA from the University of Colorado, Madrid teaches photography and has been doing so for a decade. She hopes to one day become a full-time professor.

Metro State: Tell me about your latest work and why you are inspired by it?
Merlin Madrid: I am currently working on sepia-toned silver print images. This personal visual narrative is an on-going exchange with my family roots in the San Luis Valley of Colorado and in particular, the memory of the teachings passed on by my ancestors. The image suggests the unveiling of both present day reality and ancestral knowledge as they relate to Chicano culture. It is a photographic arrangement of objects that deals with traditional shrine-making and the communication between realities. It is a search for a spiritual answer to complex questions.

Created with flickr slideshow from softsea.

MS: In what ways did your Metro State professors influence your work?
MM: When I was a student I was expected to develop a subject matter and a language characteristic of my own enterprise. I was encouraged to begin to develop a visual shorthand; and it was impressed upon me the importance of photographing habitually. And I took these lessons and made them part my art making practice. I also have handed down these lesson to my own students. I require my students to reinforce their chosen concept by tapping resources such as literature, history, ethnicity and culture, personal histories, memories and dreams. The hope is that the student starts to acquire and develop his or her own imaginative powers and begins to understand his or her art in a worldly historical context. Ultimately I encourage my students to be true to (honor and trust) their own individual experiences, and to see that their efforts are their successes.

MS: How has your work evolved since you graduated?
MM: When I first began photographing, I would try to take photos of the things I would see. Today my work is more of a process of communicating thoughts, ideas and events and my work is more about processing and arranging object symbols to represent ideas. My work is less about finding pictures to take and more about taking pictures I make.

MS: Tell me why you submitted the pieces that you did for MERGE?
MM: I submitted the pieces I did because I wanted this body of work to be seen together.

MS: How do you feel about this opportunity to present your work for Metro State’s new CVA facility?
MM: The new space is great and it will be wonderful to be represented in this show.

MS: Is there anything I’m not asking you that you want to share with me?
MM: Luna Dreams I, is the image that was selected for the merge show. This image is a topographic portrait of a family member and the map embedded in the figure is of southern Colorado. The use of the moon represents the thoughts, dreams, or ideas in our head. This image is just one print from a much larger body of work, which is expanding and transforming in time. The whole body of work is meant to be a conversation with the viewer and each image is a fragment of that exchange.

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