Carolyn Halliday

Mentor Philosophy

I plan to take to the WARM Mentor program, the same approach that I have used as a mentor for the Textile Center Mentor/Protege Program. My interest is in supporting a protege in her process of development in her own artistic growth. I want to meet the artist protege at her comfort level, and support her in goals that she defines, but with which I agree. Of particular interest to me is strengthening and defining personal voice, defining and removing obstacles to artistic success, and contemplating one’s art making goals within the larger contemporary art world. I want to support and clarify the process of the artist, rather than being overly directive. I ask questions such as “What are you hoping to communicate here? or What do you want the viewer to see then they look at your work? rather than finite comments such as “You need more green curves.” I value effective communication which I use to help the protege artist talk about what it is that she is needing and wanting. I am skilled at drawing out the individual rather than just providing unsolicited opinion.

I am especially interested in the relationship between fine craft and contemporary art, particularly as related to textiles. I am not very interested in teaching technique, but I would be open to teaching technique if it is important to a potential protege. I believe it is the duty of the Mentor to be aware of contemporary art that might relate to the Protege, and to suggest artists (historical as well as contemporary) that might be beneficial for the Protege to experience. I believe it is the Protege’s responsibility to be as clear as possible about goals and desires in the relationship, but I also believe it is the Mentor’s responsibility to keep checking this out with the Protege to make sure her needs are being met. It the Protege needs information or skills that the Mentor is unable or unwilling to provide, I believe the Mentor should assist the Protege in finding other resources.

Artists Statement

I use the vocabulary of textiles to create sculptural forms that often reference body or nature.  Hand knitting wire and other nontraditional materials, usually re-cycled, is my primary technique although I incorporate other needlework and fiber skills into my work. I intend to magnify nature, reference concepts of feminine domesticity, and examine life’s daily debris.  The detritus of humans and the natural world informs my work. Simple elements of my daily existence such as a found stick, a scrap of metal, or a discarded object may become the seed of a piece. The work emerges from my intuitive and visceral response to the materials, and from the ways that the natural world provides metaphors for human existence.  The process of converting a discovered material into a form that I call a textile always intrigues me. The quiet repetition of a stitch is central to my existence.

Current and developing work stem from conversations with two ecologists who are in my family.  I love listening to their scientific rich language that, in my mind, overflows with metaphor that I can’t wait to develop into my work. Sometimes it’s the lure of the material, such as zebra mussels, or the seduction of a word, such as druse, that find their way into my work.   Some work, an example being my piece titled Druse, does reference a particular ecological concern. The serious damage that is done by the dense colonies (called druses) formed by zebra mussels deeply affects water treatment plants. Raising such issues is a positive byproduct of the work, but my motivation to create comes from the materials and language. Even in the interconnecting loose loops of the knit stitch, I find a kind of calligraphy.  Language and conversation, whether with someone or just the private dialogue in my head during a walk, spark ideas for my work.