The first annual Members Show brings together three artist collectives from Crane Arts – InLiquid, Philadelphia Photo Arts Center, and Second State Press – to highlight the best work of their membership. Today’s Members Show featured artist is Second State Press member Mariko Perry.
According to your bio, you’ve been to a number of places around the world. How have your travels influenced your work?
All of my travels greatly influence my work. The experiences I received in all of the different countries, as well as living in a multi-cultural house in a non-diverse society, contribute to an underlying anxiety. Traveling makes me think of where I belong to and who I am. I have been to places that everything was new and different and I was definitely the “outsider”, other places that I partly belonged but still got treated as an “outsider”, or places that I felt so comfortable that I felt like home, more than the place I lived at the moment. Language plays a big part in all of these experience. Knowing the language of the place, or being able to communicate, played a big part in those experiences.
Experiencing different cultures, different ways of communication, and getting to know people with different backgrounds from mine give me great pleasure and at the same time, gave me more materials for my anxiety.
What’s your favorite travel story?
Hmmm, I have so many of them! One of my favorite was the time when I got lost in Paris by myself. I was in Paris with a friend last spring for a few days. One day, she wanted to go shopping and I wanted to go to Monet’s garden, which was a little outside of the city. We decided to split up for the afternoon and meet up later for dinner. I took a train and a cab to get to the garden, had a wonderful time. However, I didn’t know where to catch the bus to go back to the train because I missed the last bus to the garden on the way there and had I shared a cab with other people from the train. I also didn’t see any cabs and the time for the returning train was getting closer and closer. I finally asked a guy at the parking lot, he didn’t know anything about the bus, but he was a driver for a tour van and offered to give me a ride down to the station since there was one seat open and his group was leaving soon. After learning that I was trying to get back to Paris, he ended up giving me a ride all the way back to Paris, even walked me to the right subway station after clocking out from his tour company. As we were walking, he told me how sometimes the police check tour vans to see if there is anybody on the car who didn’t pay and are not on the tour (like me!), and that there is a fine for that and how lucky I was. The advice I got from him at the end was, “When you are in Paris, don’t walk around by yourself. At least have a guy with you.”
I found your explanation of your work fascinating, as it deals with the anxiety caused by the barriers of language. Do you feel that your work translates to other forms of communication difficulty, caused by psychological stress, etc.?
Yes, I think my work can translate into anything, depending on the viewer. To me, it is about language and culture differences but for people who can’t read the text, either the whole thing or some parts because of the different languages that are used or the covering layer, it can become a piece about stress, or some kind of phobia, etc. Just like any other art work, the interpretation is up to the viewer and I feel that my work is vague enough for viewers to put their own feelings into the pieces.
Your work is courageous, tackling your fears head on in that way. What’s the best advice you could give to someone dealing with a similar situation?
That is a difficult question, since I am still figuring out how to deal with my fears. The best I can say is try not to get too caught up on them. That is my problem, and it is hard for me to get out from the hole once I get too deep, thinking about my fears and analyzing everything. Sometimes you just have to accept who you are and not look at everything too much.
What are you up to now, and what do you have in the works for the near future?
I am still working with the same theme, the language and culture related anxiety. I recently finished a 18×24″ figurative charcoal drawing and a 12×15″ litho print that has text and touche wash over. I usually use drawings for figurative images and then printmaking for the more text based work, but I am trying to incorporate the two different elements in my next litho print I am planning. As I am in a new working environment after graduating school, it’s taking me a little longer to work with the printmaking medium but I am slowly making progress!
I am also taking lots of photographs with my 35mm camera to explore and get lost in this new city, and to learn something about myself through these new images.
Can you tell me a bit more about the piece you’ll have in the Members Show?
The piece in the Members Show is one of the pieces from my Senior Thesis Exhibition this past May. I had 4 litho prints and 8 drawings showed together. The 4 litho prints all have the same text but different touche layers, and 4 of the drawings are of hands and the other 4 are texts with washes, similar to the prints. As my artist statement says, they are all about anxiety due to cultural differences and communication difficulties. My fears, worries, anxieties are all written out for anyone to read, but made difficult by the covering layer and the inclusion of two different languages. It’s about the internal struggle of wanting people to come closer and understand but at the same time creating a wall yourself so nobody can come closer.
What has your experience as a Second State member been like so far?
I have been a member for only a few months, but it has been great so far. The facilities are nice, the people here are really friendly and being a fob holder here gives me the chance to meet people who have the same interest in printmaking as me!
What are you hoping audiences will take away from the collaborative Members Show?
I think this show is very interesting because of the various kinds of work shown side by side. There are photographs, prints, paintings, drawings, sculptures and books! I think it is the kind of show that everyone can find something that they really like and enjoy being surrounded by all the art works. I hope people will enjoy the wide varieties of work and leave the gallery with at least one favorite piece, and possibly come back again!