Fiona Ackerman on "In the Make"

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Nikki Grattan for In The Make: I can’t say I remember how we came across Fiona’s paintings, I just know that when we first saw them there was an immediate recognition of a shared interest— which is why we wanted to visit her in her Vancouver studio. Both IN THE MAKE and Fiona’s current work are examinations of artists’ spaces in which all details, great and small, all practices, references, and tools, are worth careful consideration. At IN THE MAKE we aim to offer an intimate look at the diverse ways art is made while simultaneously sharing how each individual artist’s aesthetic pervades their environment and reveals their perspective. However, I think for Fiona, her endeavor is ultimately less about accurately rendering other artists’ work environments and more about reinterpreting these spaces, imbuing them with her own preoccupations and sensibilities, to tell a more tangled story of space. As she so clearly has stated, “In my studio paintings, I’m reflecting a real place, a real studio. But at the same time, I’ve broken it down and built it back up into something new. On the canvas, we can see evidence of both the real studio space, and the space of imagination.” I’ve always loved real places mutated by the imagination— when fabrications, exaggerations, and omissions are allowed to coexist with plain and perceptible facts, I’m certain that somehow this is the closest I will ever get to something true and real.

Chatting with Fiona was interesting for us because though Klea and I visit artists’ in their studios for somewhat different reasons, it was nice to talk to someone else who has done their fair share of visiting studios and together we discussed the things that can happen in a studio visit, and the emerging patterns one can’t help but notice— such as: the full drawers or boxes that always contain beautiful (if slightly imperfect) work that artists have deemed “mistakes” but that they can’t bear to throw away and that I wish they would gift to me, or each person’s particular system of organization and their precise way of doing things even when they think they’ve done it different each time around— there are ways in which someone always holds their hands, or finds their tools, or sits in their space, and of course there are the bits of story about themselves they had no intention of telling you, but somehow they did.

Read more on In The Make.