Interview with Media Lux Artist Mason Hurley

This is the fifth installment of the MEDIA LUX artist interview series. MEDIA LUX features work by Mason Hurley, Clay Dunklin Irene Pantelis, Monroe Isenberg, and Gina Takaoka.

Mason Hurley| Second-Year Master of Fine Arts Candidate | Exhibiting in MEDIA LUX from April 2nd through May 19th, 2018 at The Stamp Gallery | University of Maryland, College Park | Interview by Sarah Schurman

Before we dive in, let’s start with some background. Where are you from and what inspired you to pursue your MFA at UMD?

I am from Old Chatham, New York. I know a few people who received their MFA from UMD and always considered it as an option for graduate school. I moved to the area in 2014 and met up with a friend who was in the program and thought it would be an appropriate step in my development as an artist.

How did your sculptures Moire Study #2 and Moire Study #4 influence the ultimate creation of Moire Chamber? What inspired you to explore distortion of the senses, particularly vision and perspective?

I’ve been interested in moire patterns far longer than I even knew it had a name. The studies helped most by using different materials to explore what could be done. There were only two studies prior to making the room and i made a few more after. I guess I’m just fascinated by the fact that a static object can create a feeling of unease and disorientation.


Your works Moire Study #2 and Moire Study #4 both utilize steel. Although all three pieces interrogate perception, the industrial aesthetic and geometric precision of Studies #2 and #4 evoke a different sensory response than the light-activated stimulation of Moire Chamber. What inspired your choice of materials?

I feel most comfortable working with steel as a material, I usually tend to make works through a repetitive and meditative process. This probably is most evident in #4, however with this series of work (and my whole time so far in grad school) I’ve been trying different ways of working and exploring different facets of my approach to art-making. The studies are sculptures, but i look at them more as explorations of my process.

All three pieces invite visitors to pursue various viewing approaches, angles, and distances. How does external movement interact with and inform your work? To what extent is your art shaped by the viewer? How does the reciprocal relationship between artist and viewer complicate static and one-way notions of art?

I prefer to have my work as more of a relationship between the viewer and the object and less of a fixed narrative that the viewer needs to know to appreciate it. The way the sculptures are made invite the viewer to walk around and investigate them. I want people to see that there is more than one way of looking at something.

Moire Chamber is an immersive experience that induces a unique, visceral response in every visitor. In what ways can the instinctive responses of viewers comment on human consciousness as a whole?

When I was making Moire Chamber in my studio, Gina’s dog came in to check it out and immediately was weirded out. Consciousness is more involved when the viewer realizes that they are what is making the screen move, not the sculpture itself. My attempt with this piece was to create a feeling that people (and animals) haven’t felt before, including myself.

Enclosing the viewer in Moire Chamber swallows them into a participatory role in unfamiliar territory. How does the cave-like and electric environment impact the senses? What motivated the use of blue light?

This piece is my first attempt at a site-specific installation. After seeing other shows at Stamp Gallery, I always thought the alcove in the back was unusual. I hoped to take advantage of this space to create a more immersive environment that surrounds the viewer. The light was more of a necessity to view the screen and the pattern. My aim was to keep the room as simple as possible to draw more attention to the effect with less associations with color. I wanted the light to feel reminiscent of industrial cool-white light as opposed to a more amiable warm-white light.

Your work focuses specifically on visual disorientation, muting the other senses in the process. Do you think that isolating one aspect of perception amplifies or mitigates feelings of overstimulation?

Yes. I’ve found that Moire Chamber is best viewed by oneself when the rest of the gallery is silent. The shape of the room creates a slight noise dampening effect. This is something I’d like to explore if i decide to create more of these in the future.

The hive-like design of Moire Chamber Study #2 brilliantly illustrates how organized patterns can be layered and shifted in animating and dynamic ways. Did you draw from nature or other familiar places for patterns?

I got the inspiration for making this series of work by looking at the steel scrap pile with multiple layers of discarded steel mesh. The effect works best with uniform, systematically made pieces. Inspiration from nature usually plays an important role in my work, however this series is more about an industrial environment than that of biology.


On that note, can you talk a little bit about Moire patterns and how they’ve inspired you? How does the creation of Moire-inspired works intersect with other disciplines?

Even as a child riding in the car, seeing two chain-link fences pass by each other I found these patterns fascinating. One issue I’ve been having recently is that it is primarily a two-dimensional effect. Even with Moire Chamber the surface creates the effect and the sculpture is more of an armature to hold up the surface. The more curvature, the more irregular, diminishing the effect.

More broadly, how do you your three pieces interact in conversation with the other works of the exhibition?

As different as all of our work is, there is an odd cohesion among us. Whether it be asking each other for feedback and advice or just borrowing materials or tools, I think the community in our group creates the bond that makes our work fit together really well.

What was the biggest challenge regarding the creation or installation of your works? Your favorite part?

The biggest challenge in creating my work is more mental than physical. Having worked in museums and theatres building and installing other peoples’ work, I feel pretty competent as far as the making goes. The challenge for me is more conceptual and exploratory.

Since enrolling in the MFA program, how has your work evolved? What have you learned and where would you like to go moving forward? Feel free to share any upcoming shows or projects.

Since enrolling I appreciate more and more what a community of both similar and dissimilar artists can do. Getting feedback from a variety of other other artists is always advantageous. I came here to be challenged and have my work evolve. I hope in the future I can continue to be inspired by the people and things around me.

What would you like a Stamp Gallery visitor to take away from your works? From MEDIA LUX as a whole?

This show questions how art can be perceived. Whether internally, externally, auditorily, or visually I’d like people to be more receptive to different art and different environments for art.

Mason Hurley’s work is included in MEDIA LUX at The Stamp Gallery of the University of Maryland, College Park, from April 2nd through May 19th, 2018.

For more information on Mason Hurley, visit

For more information on MEDIA LUX and related events, visit




Interview with ‘MEDIA LUX’ Artist Clay Dunklin


[detail] Catatonic Tomography Cycle (2018) by second-year MFA candidate Clay Dunklin, is available for view at The Stamp Gallery’s MEDIA LUX exhibition through May 19, 2018.

This is the fourth installment of the MEDIA LUX artist interview series. MEDIA LUX features work by Clay Dunklin, Mason Hurley, Irene Pantelis, Monroe Isenberg, and Gina Takaoka.

Clay Dunklin | Second-Year Master of Fine Arts Candidate | Exhibiting in MEDIA LUX from April 2nd through May 19th, 2018 at The Stamp Gallery | University of Maryland, College Park | Interview by Grace DeWitt

To start with some background, where are you from, and what brought you to the MFA program at the University of Maryland?

Really, I came here for location. I grew up in the middle-of-nowhere in East Texas where there is virtually no arts culture or art opportunities and then spent the last several years in Orlando, FL. Orlando is great but the contemporary art world there is still in a stage of infancy and opportunities are few. Here we sit in this nice place between Baltimore and Washington–even New York and Philadelphia are in close proximity. So there’s a lot to engage with and see. I really wanted to be someplace where I had all of that at my fingertips.

Can you briefly summarize the focus of your artistic practice?

My practice is very much project-based and contextual–I create a lot of parts but they really need to be installed and viewed together to make relationships and begin to make sense. I’m also not really media specific. I mean, my background is in drawing and I still think of all the work in terms of drawing, but my practice is not really just drawing, or sculpture, or video. It’s all of that. I guess I use whatever media feels right for the work.

Are there any artists you are following right now, or any specific artists who have inspired your work so far?

I’m really into Mark Leckey right now. He won the Turner Prize a few years ago and does video, image-based, and object-based works. He creates these great installations with found objects usually in front of a green screen. This really influenced the current piece, Catatonic Tomography Cycle, with the painting of that flat color on the wall and the flatness of the prints. His work made me think about achieving a kind of compression of the objects or alternatively a slight dimensionality as if just beginning to poke out into space. This is aided by the one-sided viewing of the work–even though there are objects it’s not really in the round like in Leckey’s work.

I’m really drawn to Jannis Kounellis’ work as well. For me, his installations sat in this really beautiful place between complexity and simplicity. Objects would be hung with rope from the ceiling or piled on the floor or he’d just fill a gallery with live horses–it was very straightforward like that. But the scale and the way he could fill a space was pretty awe-inspiring.

I also have a bit of a crush on Anicka Yi. Her exhibition at the Guggenheim for the Hugo Boss Prize was pretty fantastic. The piece Maybe She’s Born With It is like this huge inflatable plastic dome with tempura fried flowers in it. I kind of want to live in there.

I understand that you underwent a pretty extreme medical illness about this time last year, which plays a role in your work now. Did your practice focus on the body before this illness? How would you say your direction changed because of this experience?

Yeah, it was pretty scary actually. I had several extended stays in the hospital with this weird and kind of rare neurological disease. Most of my time in the hospital was spent just trying to figure out what this was. Then I got put on these wacky medicines that took my mind to weird places and really affected my body and how my body reacted to external stimuli. It was a wild ride for sure. I took a bit of time trying to figure out what to do with that whole experience in terms of my work and I honestly tried to avoid it. It couldn’t be helped though, it just began to creep into the studio, so I gave in and decided to just see where it takes the work. And I think a year was enough time to sort of process and be ready to talk about it. However, I don’t think it totally uprooted the direction of my practice. I’ve always been working with body as subject in some capacity–I come from a very heavy figure drawing background so I guess that is just kind of ingrained in me somewhere. I’m interested in the body as this sort of mediator between us and the world. It’s how we contextualize and make sense of everything. But I think technology is really redefining that role as we’re becoming more and more cyborgian with our phones and such. But your body still has to interface with technology so that specifically is where I want my work to be situated–that little meeting point between body and technology.

Can you share some information about the title of your MEDIA LUX installation, Catatonic Tomography Cycle?

This piece deals with my experience of being sick in a pretty overt way. Here I’m using some of the more conceptual elements of the work to steer the formal qualities and I think this becomes really evident through the title. A catatonic state is an altered mental status that can be brought on by neurological disorders. This is what I experienced several times throughout my illness. It was like being a zombie or something. I have little to no memory of those times but apparently I wouldn’t speak or even move really, like being frozen. This is referenced in the stillness of the image-based components and in the slow looping videos that maybe start to reference time as something structured in layers and less linearly. This directly relates to tomography, which is a kind of imaging used most commonly in the medical field where the whole is broken up and viewed as layers (think MRI images). Again, this is referenced in some of the actual physical medical imagery used, but, it is also labeling all of these individual components as layers or slices of the whole that still contain information about the whole, and then compressing all of that into a kind of flatness (back to the Mark Lackey reference). And cycle goes back conceptually to the cyclical nature of the disease but also formally to the looping of the videos and as an indicator of the singular installation being composed of many parts: like an opera or song cycle in music composition.


Detail from one of two looping videos in Dunklin’s Catatonic Tomography Cycle (2018) installation in MEDIA LUX at The Stamp Gallery.

We’ve talked a little bit about how the footage in your installation touches on ideas of creation. Can you go into further detail about how the footage builds into the more complex idea of the MEDIA LUX installation as a whole?

This work has really taken on a kind of language all its own, as I think most works tend to do, and if you understand the artist as mythmaker, this language becomes inherently mythological. So I am constantly reflecting on the relationship between what is a deeply personal mythological language and a more universal one. I was reflecting on this relationship between creation and destruction and how water or fluid can act between those two modes. I think about the Grand Canyon where water has destroyed the landscape yet simultaneously created a new one or how this fluid around my brain acts as protection yet is the main antagonist in the story of my illness. Newborns emerge from a fluid incubator in what is a very traumatic process. None of this is new. But how do we reference these ideas that are inherent to our body in a relevant and deeply personal way? What kind of contemporary Athene can emerge from the fluid site of the head? The Native Americans around what is California today had a creation myth of humans being made from clay of the earth, as most cultures did, but with the added idea that the creator-god mixed spit with the earth to give humans life. So again, what does that mean for a contemporary body as a fluid site?

I’m interested in hearing more about your photographic/record-keeping processes and preferences. Could you highlight some other works of yours that applied captured imagery to installation? What are your intentions when it comes to image resolution and image manipulation in your work?

Like I said earlier, I’m interested in this intersection of body and technology and specifically how we negotiate those two as mediators between the self and the world. We’ve really embarked on a time where we’re beginning to experience everything through tech, even things we’re physically present for. Think about a concert where people snap every single song. Yes, now all of your friends can experience that too through an app on their phone but also you as the physically present viewer are experiencing a live event through compressed, digital, pixelated images and videos via your handheld device. That’s fascinating to me. It’s becoming second nature to understand our world through compressed images. So in terms of the work, I’m not intentionally after low quality images verging on pixilated abstraction just like I’m not intentionally after the most high quality images aimed at some kind of illusion. I don’t care about the illusion. If the image even slightly or in a subversive way recalls a quality of imagery experienced in the everyday then it brings it into that space of body/technology interface. It also begins to recall or make visible the process of the image-making, similar to how the process of tomographic imaging is inherently stamped on the images it produces simply because of the kind of images it produces. It’s a performative process where the thing is the action of its own doing and in this way, the images now become objects.  


Detail of water images, blacklight, and clay component in Dunklin’s Catatonic Tomography Cycle (2018) installation.

Thinking back to the installation at The Stamp Gallery, what drew you to the use of those dark water images, applied directly on the left portion of the installation wall?

Those images come from documentation of a previous project where I was changing or obscuring the surface of my body by applying charcoal powder. I would then wash that off and be left with this deep dark charcoal water. From that, I began to pull paper thinking that these new surfaces and objects could be made from my body sluff. So the water became a transformative site where something new could emerge–this goes back to your previous question about creation and the metamyth. I had prints of these images and it just kind of hit me that they needed to be included with this project. The water references fluid around the brain but also starts to resemble images of space. That push and pull between something recognizable and something alien interests me and speaks to cosmic or magical thinking and some of the mental imagery conjured while on medication that was making me totally loopy. The application and composition of the prints is pointing to digital glitch in a way. The long linear format of each print is kind of filmic but really isn’t about time as we perceive it. As said earlier, it’s about something layered or sliced and reassembled.


Detail of wall sculpture in Dunklin’s Catatonic Tomography Cycle (2018) installation.

MEDIA LUX is an exhibition that presents five artists’ interpretation of, or association with, light. How does light relate to your concept in Catatonic Tomography Cycle?

Light is really a formal element here. When the decision was made to have the gallery dimly lit I thought that was great because video work is self-illuminating. For the rest of the installation I had to be more strategic about lighting. I knew the sculpture emerging from the wall was the one thing I wanted to be lit pretty intensely. Then the blue glow of the black light was again a formal and strategic color choice as it stands in relationship to the warm yellow of that spotlight. So that really was a further iteration of the colors found in the video works.  


Detail of wall drawing in Dunklin’s Catatonic Tomography Cycle (2018) installation, available for view through May 19, 2018 in The Stamp Gallery.

Is there any advice you have for undergraduate artists or others at the beginning of their art careers?

I think one of the biggest things that I needed to hear as an undergrad was to really invest in the learning processes. It’s easy for people who have some talent to take the time in studio for granted or to not really put themselves out there because they’re afraid of failure. Make a ton, experiment a ton, be confident even in ‘failure,’ and pull everything you can out of your instructors and fellow students. Otherwise, you’ll likely only be performing at a slightly higher level than when you started college. How much good will that have really done you?  

I know you have an installation up right now at VisArts, yolk | shell | source | system, a collaborative with another UMD MFA student, Bekí Basch. Anything else you have going on or coming up that you’d like to promote here?

Yeah! This was actually my first collaborative project and it was really the best experience. It’s a huge 70 foot long window display a couple of blocks from VisArts. So it definitely presented its own set of challenges but made for some great experimentation. We had a reception and artist talk for that on May 4th, and the installation will be up through June.


Clay Dunklin’s work is included in MEDIA LUX at The Stamp Gallery of the University of Maryland, College Park, from April 2nd through May 19th, 2018.

For more information on Clay Dunklin, visit

For more information on MEDIA LUX and related events, visit

Interview with ‘Media Lux’ Artist Irene Pantelis

This is the third installment of the Media Lux artist interview series. Media Lux features work by Clay Dunklin, Mason Hurley, Irene Pantelis, Monroe Isenberg, and Gina Takaoka.

Irene Pantelis | Graduate Student and Artist | Exhibiting in Media Lux from April 2nd through May 19th, 2018 at The Stamp Gallery | University of Maryland, College Park | Interview by Kat Mullineaux

Khipu Reiterations 2018, Ink, Watercolor, oil paint on mylar, overhead projectors

Khipu (String and knot record) 2018, Polylactic acid filament

KM: Before we talk about your pieces in MEDIA LUX, I am wondering about your journey to this point. Where did you do your undergraduate study and what lead you to the MFA program here at the University of Maryland?

IP: I was an undergraduate here at UMCP back in the early nineties, majoring in Spanish and English. My path to the MFA was a bit of a long one. After college, I went to Georgetown Law and became a labor lawyer for about ten years. During that time, I was an artist on the side, going to lots of exhibits, traveling to see art abroad, taking classes at the Corcoran, and participating in weekly figure drawing sessions at the studio of local artist Micheline Klagsbrun. When my children were born, I decided to quit law and stay home with them. My art became more expressive and much more abstracted. As the years went on, as scary and crazy as it seemed, I decided not to go back to my legal career and take a leap into becoming a full-time artist instead. I came back to UMCP initially to take undergraduate courses, especially in digital art, but soon realized that my quest would really benefit from an MFA. I chose to do it here at UMCP because the program is very flexible and interdisciplinary, allowing for lots of experimentation.

KM: This is your second year of the program and now that you have reached the midpoint of your MFA journey, I am curious about where you and your work has evolved from–and where you see yourself going in the future. Has your work shifted from your first year in the program to the works you have currently in MEDIA LUX? If yes, how so?

IP: My work has definitely evolved since I started the MFA program. Some things remain constant, like the use of grids and organic shapes, the interest in ambiguity and hybrid, and the repetition of marks and textures. My prior work was about the process and the aesthetics of the materials, hinting at broad and hard to pinpoint concepts. The MFA has made me think harder and deeper about what the work means or conveys. It has also made me strive harder to find innovative and effective ways to create work that resonates with me but might be relevant to others. The works I have in MEDIA LUX are part of a series where for the first time I am using abstraction to explore a specific narrative or history.

KM: So,I have been staring at your pieces Khipu Reiterations and Khipu (string and knot record) for a couple weeks now from the docent desk in the Stamp Gallery. It has prompted me to Google questions about Inca culture, where you buy 3D pens, when did overhead projectors decline in use anyway–and so many more. One thing that I see as tying the two sets of pieces together is the presence of Khipu knots. Upon my own limited research, I have read that these knotted ropes/strings were used in Inca and Andean cultures to keep track of things, whether that be money, marriages or whatever. I wonder, can you say something on where your inspiration to work with these knots came from and what they mean–to you or in general?

IP: To me, a khipu is one of the most beautiful types of grids out there. Khipus blend reason with craftsmanship in a unique way. The Incas, or more properly, the Quetchuas, made khipus by tying many strings in parallel fashion to a longer, larger rope. The strings were then tied into knots, aligned horizontally. Each decimal number had its own kind of knot. The knots, the spacing and hues of the strings, and the direction in which they were spun recorded numerical data, such as zip codes and population numbers, but also mathematical and algebraic transactions on a decimal system. At the same time, the khipus were used as nemonic devices to pass down oral narratives and traditions. During the years of the Inca Empire, in the absence of the written word, the Quetchuas, who still live in the region and number about 8 million, used the khipus as part of their governance. The Spaniards burned most of the khipus in the early settlement years, so only about 600 of them survived, found in collections worldwide. The Spaniards left lots of drawings and chronicles of them, but the khipu code has not been fully decoded. Their information is still veiled and mysterious, though clearly about data and narratives that are interconnected. One of the features I love about the khipus is that most string break into several smaller ones, which in turn break down further, creating a hierarchy that visually resembles a flow chart or family tree, but also the branching of trees, the spreading of roots, the formation of rivers, and, for the Quetchuas, a corn plant. Grids have always been a key component of my images, so it was kind of natural for me to be drawn to the khipus. They are a part of my past, being from Bolivia and having a Quetchua grandmother who died when my father was still a child.

KM: There are many cultural implications attached to using a tool from a millennial educational environment and even newer technology in the 3D pen, to portray something from so long ago with so much history. Now that we have a bit more information on your relationship to these Khipu knots, I am extremely interested in the interaction between new/newish technology and a simple yet ingenious keeper of knowledge. How do you see these things interacting in your work? What is their significance.

IP: There is a play between technology, the chemistry of the materials, and the art of drawing going on. For the wall sculpture, I wanted to make a three-dimensional khipu that took on the curves of my fingers, hands and wrists. It was a meditation on the fact that so much of counting for humanity started with our fingers and hands. Data and numbers in the end are about people. I also wanted to underscore that the way the khipus were organized, while organic and hand-made, can resemble visually the way we depict data today, like a computer matrix, a data graph, or perhaps a sound wave. The khipus also make me think of our obsession with collecting information and cataloguing things in a logical manner. The 3D pen was the most versatile at creating the form I wanted and effectively hinted at a present-day significance for the object. While artificial, the material takes on a very organic, natural shape. Interestingly, the PLA filament I used is made from corn, which is a main staple of the Quetchua diet and plays a significant role in how numerical concepts are labelled or described in the Quetchua language and mythology.

IMG_2243 (1)

Khipu Reiterations 2018, Ink, Watercolor, oil paint on mylar, overhead projectors

KM: In your pieces the mediums you work with are what I see as genuinely unique. I thank you for the experience of seeing an overhead projector used for beauty and complexity as opposed to being just the thing my middle school math class used to teach us fractions with little plastic octagons and squares. Why did you choose to work with these projectors? Do their placement and rather chunky presence play into the work as a whole for you?

IP: Overhead projectors evoke a kind of nostalgia. They have to do with the passing down of knowledge from one generation to the next, which is in part what the khipus did. The projectors are clunky but kind of sculptural at the same time. They clash with the ethereal nature of the image they project. The image projected is always a different version, a reiteration of the image on the light box, which itself is a reiteration of something else.

KM: Do you have a favorite medium? Do you see yourself as a technologically influenced artist or do you primarily work in other mediums?

IP: My practice is multidisciplinary. Drawing and painting are the foundation of my work, but from there I go in many directions—sound, video, sculpture. I like the mix of traditional and new media, it’s another way of exploring hybrid natures, and it the case of these pieces, of creating a bridge between the past and today.

KM: There is a simplicity to your work–a minimalism. Your use of black and white, shadow and light, is interesting to me to say the least. How do you view this minimalist aesthetic? Is it intentional?

IP: My aesthetic choices are mostly intuitive. The PLA filament and the overhead projectors were so rich as mediums that I did not feel the art pieces needed to be overly ornate. I always try to let the materials dictate the form. Minimalism is also both really old and really modern.

KM: Who and what do you see as your influences on your work?

IP: There are many, many artists I find inspiration from, as well as writers and poets. My list is very eclectic. Cezanne and Khalo are still two of my favorites, as are Homi Bhabha and Timothy Morton.

KM: Do you have any current projects you would like to tell us about?

IP: I have a solo show scheduled for December at VisArts in Rockville, MD.

KM: Looking ahead as you have one more year in this MFA program, what do you hope to do when you have reached the end of this journey? Sleep is hopefully on the list!

IP: My plan is to keep on making and showing art. I would love to do residencies and show my work in South America as well as the US.


The Stamp Gallery wishes Irene all the best in her future endeavors and artistic pursuits. 

MEDIA LUX runs in the Stamp Gallery from April 2-May 19, 2018.

The Stamp Gallery Hours




Interview with ‘Media Lux’ Artist Gina Takaoka

This is the second installment of the Media Lux artist interview series. Media Lux features work by Clay Dunklin, Mason Hurley, Irene Pantelis, Monroe Isenberg, and Gina Takaoka.

Gina Takaoka | Graduate Student and Artist | Exhibiting in Media Lux from April 2nd through May 19th, 2018 at The Stamp Gallery | University of Maryland, College Park | Interview by Cristy Ho

DSC_0609 (2)

Let’s begin with some background: where are you from, where have you studied, and what brought you to study at UMD?

I am from Southern California. I got my BFA in Drawing and Painting from California State University, Fullerton. I came to UMD because I wanted to live someplace new, and Washington D.C. was a good fit for my partner’s education and career goals at the time.

 You’re a tattoo artist as well as an installation artist. What aspects of these occupations do you enjoy the most?

On the surface, my job as a tattooer is very different from the approach I take in the studio. When it comes to tattooing, the part that I enjoy the most is those moments where I’m working and I can shut my head off and get lost in the process. Tattooing is all about craft and process, whereas my studio work involves a lot of research and problem-solving. My favorite part about my studio practice is getting to constantly learn and discover new things.

 You’ve described your artistic interests to be in “the poetic intersections between history, memory, and place.” Can you talk a little more about your experiences with moving frequently and how they’ve inspired you to create the work you make today?

 I like to think of physical places as a kind of repository for history and memory, and I think that idea is rooted in the fact that I moved around so much. The chronology of my memory is organized by place, and I think that everyone experiences this to a certain extent. Because of this, place tends to be the theme that organizes my work, and I spend most of my time investigating locations of historical or personal significance. Lately this train of thought has taken me toward issues of environmental significance and the idea of “future forgotten places”.

 Now, let’s talk about your artworks currently on display in the Stamp Gallery. There is imagery relating to maps in both of your artworks,Above/Below and Data Mine/Mine Data. Are these works based on any maps in particular?

Data Mine // Mine Data is a map of the locations of known abandoned coal mines from Pennsylvania to Mississippi; it basically spans the Appalachian mountain region. Above // Below is more general; I pulled satellite images from the surface of the earth, maps of underground mine workings, points from the map used to create Data Mine // Mine Data, and some abstracted images from the Hubble Space Telescope.

DSC_0612 (2)

Above/Below, printed acetate, vellum, paper, plexiglass, 2018

 I really enjoy how your artworkAbove/Below sprawls across the wall. The composition reminds me a lot of one of my favorite pieces at the Hirshhorn called In Memory of Your Feelings by Mary Bauermeister. This piece as well as this particular artwork of yours consist of backgrounds that are obscured by blobs and overlain with glass. Do the scattered and covered maps in Above/Below represent how one might remember or recall places in their mind?

 With Above // Below, I was interested in the idea that the various images I had been looking at, despite the fact that they represented very different types of information at drastically different scales, seemed nearly identical when their scale and context were shifted. These tiny dots that represented forgotten underground places looked like stars, and images of stars looked like a tunnel entrance viewed from beneath the earth. Each panel has layers of information from above the earth, below it, or the surface of the earth itself, arranged in sequences that don’t necessarily correspond to their usual order.

 Another question I have aboutAbove/Below: How did you decide where to place each piece in relation to each other on the wall?

There isn’t a strict system that governs the arrangement of the panels; I hung them somewhat intuitively, hoping that the overall result might resemble a constellation.


Data Mine // Mine Data, lasercut matboard, charcoal, LED, 2018

 Moving on to your other piece, is there a story behind why you named it Data Mine // Mine Data?

Titles are always a struggle for me. With work that is based on specific information, I always go back and forth between choosing a title that explains the whole thing, or being a little more vague. “Date Mine // Mine Data” was a working title for when I showed the piece at the National Academy of Science, and it was definitely geared toward announcing the content somewhat.

 The lights splattering the walls and ceiling from inside the cube strongly reminds me of stars. In fact, the blobs inAbove/Belowalso remind me of stars as well as galaxies. Was this intentional?

There are an estimated half a million abandoned mines in the United States, and about fifty thousand of them are coal mines. When I assembled a map of them, I was struck by the fact that there were so many, it looked like they could have been stars in a night sky. I wanted that experience to come across for viewers. I’m fascinated by the notion that we this reverence for combusting elements trillions of miles away, but we’ll dig these caverns to remove elements for combustion and then happily forget those voids existing right beneath our feet.

 When Stamp Gallery visitors experience your work, how do you hope they respond, or what do you hope they realize through your work?

While my work often engages with issues that are somewhat political, I’m not necessarily interested in communicating a particular stance; I’d rather generate awareness and questions that viewers can answer for themselves.

 Lastly, can you tell us what you are currently working on?

The project that I’m currently working on is an inventory of different places that will disappear in the future due to sea level rise. I’m not entirely sure what the final result will be, yet.

Check out Gina Takaoka’s work in Media Lux at The Stamp Gallery of the University of Maryland, College Park, from April 2nd through May 19th, 2018.

For more information on Gina Takaoka, visit

For more information on Media Lux and related events, visit


beautiful_lacunae_halfsizeFINAL_extended for blog_minimal

lacuna (linguistics), a lexical gap in a language | lacunae [plural]

Is the meaning of your artwork dependent upon specific references to a language or culture?

Do you feel that your artwork is best understood when interpreted by those who also share or know about a culture? Or when viewed by those who also speak a specific language?

Do you feel that there is a gap of understanding when English-speakers interpret your artwork?

The Stamp Gallery at the University of Maryland invites you to submit images of your work to its second summer exhibition, Beautiful Lacunae.

Sanskrit, the sacred language of Hinduism that is still spoken in parts of modern-day India, has 96 words for different forms of “love.” Some languages in Australia, Papua New Guinea, and Asia do not have words for “color,” but all have words to describe the seen world (1). Artists who speak languages that read right-to-left often create visual narratives that also read right to left.

Beautiful Lacunae asks us all: how does language affect an artist’s production of art? How does it affect a viewer’s interpretation?

What are the gaps between these experiences?

Beautiful Lacunae will provide a platform for artists to present work related to a  language or culture in its most natural, intended form. Labels will be written in the language that the artist chooses, and a pop-up librarycreated collaboratively with exhibiting artistswill be available for visitors to investigate cultural references further.

Artists are encouraged to submit 2-D or 3-D work in any medium, including digital, installation, performance, text, and sound. Size of entries are restricted to the size of the Gallery space: please email for Gallery dimensions. There is no entry fee.

TO SUBMIT: Please email the following to with title “Beautiful Lacunae Application – [Name].”
  • Up to 10 images of your work. If video or audio recordings or documentation are essential to your proposed body of work, clips should be shared as a link to a streaming site (with passwords provided as necessary).
  • Image list with title, date, materials, dimensions in inches, and any relevant specifications for installation or equipment necessary for the presentation of the work.
  • Phone number.
  • Link to artist website (if applicable).
All submissions must be received by May 21. Deadline extended to June 4. Accepted artists will be notified mid-June.
QUESTIONS: Grace DeWitt at





1 Anna Wierzbecka, Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute

Interview with ‘Media Lux’ Artist Monroe Isenberg

This is the first installment of the Media Lux artist interview series. Media Lux features work by Clay Dunklin, Mason Hurley, Irene Pantelis, Monroe Isenberg, and Gina Takaoka.

Monroe Isenberg | Graduate Student and Artist | Exhibiting in Media Lux from April 2nd through May 19th, 2018 at The Stamp Gallery | University of Maryland, College Park | Interview by Erin Allen


The Space Between, mixed media, 2018

Before we begin talking about these particular works, let’s start with some background. What’s your artistic background, and what brought you to study at UMD?

I’m from Minneapolis, I lived in Portland for seven years, and then I came here for graduate school. I was working in fabrication for awhile in Portland, felt terrible about it eventually and thought “what’s missing in my life?” So I remembered that I loved making art in college, and went “oh yeah, I think I’m an artist.” That’s the whole reason I got into fabrication, because I wanted to learn how to make things so that I could make better sculptures, and I had forgotten that after I graduated. I applied for an intern residency at Franconia Sculpture Park, which is in Minnesota. It’s on the border of Wisconsin and Minnesota in Shafer. It’s this 80 acre sculpture park in the middle of nowhere, you’re driving along and then all of a sudden you see this giant circle and these colors, and these sculptures jetting up into the sky, and you’re like “what is this doing here?” I was working there and I met Foon [Sham] and Dane [Winkler]. Dane is an alumni here and Foon is a professor, and they told me about the program, told me about funding, and it peaked my interest. I had loved my time at Franconia and I felt revitalized. I hadn’t felt that type of energy from a community and from within myself for years, aside from being in college and being surrounded by that art community. So Foon and Dane and Hugh, Hugh is a sculpture park manager over there, they told me about [the program here at Maryland], and I was like yeah, I think I wanna go back to school.


Did something in particular, like your background in psychology or a specific movement, draw you to work in a Minimalist style? Have any particular artists or concepts inspired your art practice?

I think I accidentally started working in a minimalist style. I think that comes from my parents; my dad is an architect, my mom is a designer, an artist, and a professor of design, she has an MFA in design, so I think the simple and minimal, less is more idea has always just been in me. I think psychology, I hadn’t actually really thought about that too much before, but I think psychology helped me to realize how people make judgments and decisions, and how they are affected by small, seemingly insignificant, minimal things in their environment, and that actually makes them view the world in a completely different way. Whether or not we shake hands, and I have a warm hand versus a cold hand, it’s going to be a subliminal message, it’s going to go into your subconscious and make you think that if I have a cold hand, I might have a cold character and a cold personality, and I might say the exact same thing to you, but your interpretation of me is totally changed by that minute feeling. Same with taste, same with hot coffee and cold coffee. So understanding environments and little environmental changes, I think actually has played a role. But the artists that I’ve loved are all minimal. Like Robert Irwin, James Turrell, Anish Kapoor, Anne Truitt, those people are amazing. When I see that work and I’m with it, it justs hits me in a specific way, it’s not contrived. For me, I think minimalism can aid contemplation of work and reduce the static noise of everything around us and help us focus. I’m thinking about that, I’m thinking about the viewer experience, but now I’ve started calling them the participants because I’m looking into relationships in my work. Instead of an experience, I want people to be in the present moment with my work, at least I am when I’m looking at it, and I think the work calls for that, for you to understand it intuitively. But I use participant, as opposed to viewer, because participant implies that you’re participating in the work, you’re relating to the work, whereas experience implies objectifying the work, making it an experience that is to be held for the self instead of meeting the work in between.


Wood, concrete, and steel seem to be the main mediums in a great deal of your work, what got you interested in using these materials?

Lately, I think I was using wood a lot because I was most comfortable with it, and it’s just something when you love a material you have to use it. With metal, I use it for its structural purposes, and it has a specific beauty in its’ functionality and its’ strength. Cement, this is actually my first ever cement sculpture. It was fun to work with cement, I don’t know when I’ll use it again, but I use materials according to the idea, so if the relationship I’m trying to call upon involves air, maybe I’ll use some kind of air, if it involves earth, I’ll use cement. It’s basically like whatever the idea calls for, I want to use the material that most represents and works with that idea. At least that’s what I’m trying to push for. Instead of only using wood or only using steel, I’d like to use plexi maybe or possibly glass in the future.


Earth, cement, 2018, from the series The Space Between

It seems like the works currently in the gallery both incorporate movement in some way, either on the part of the viewer (in the case of the sculptures that make up The Space Between), or on the part of the performer (in the case of Habitus). Is this a theme you explore in other works as well?

I think everything that’s alive, and even things that aren’t alive, move. It’s just a part of us, it’s a part of being. It’s also interesting to see stuff move, whether it’s mechanical or organic, it’s just nice to look at movement. Whether it’s the participant moving around the sculpture, I think that’s where my psychology background comes into play too because I’m always thinking about how does a person move around the sculpture or the space, and what are they going to get from moving over here versus moving over there. Then specifically with Habitus, I think I was most interested in the movement when you don’t know that there’s a person in there. But I think it’s really important that the person’s in there, as opposed to a mechanical robot. Ultimately Habitus is about the way that movement describes specific beings. Whether it’s the way the wind pushes prairie grass around, sea anemones, all of those things, just the way they move describes what they are. So getting even more abstracted, I think I’m going to make a blanket, where maybe two people can be underneath, and I think that allows for even more abstraction because they can lay down, and they can be on their stomachs, they can be on their backs, they can roll around, they can push up their arm. It eventually becomes this landscape, which is interesting because everything in this gallery is about landscape, which is totally accidental, that we’re all kind of connected in that way.


Going off of what you were describing with the importance of a person being inside of Habitus or underneath the blanket that you discussed, do you think it would ever be an option to allow a viewer to be the person controlling the movement of the piece?

Absolutely, yeah, I really want to get into that too because not only does it provide more participation in the art, but I actually think the art really happens only for the person that’s in the suit. Otherwise, you’re experiencing the suit. You’re outside of the suit, you’re not living in it. When you’re in it, you can hear sound from up here, here, here, everywhere around you, and it sounds like raindrops and it’s peaceful, but it’s also so heavy that it’s uncomfortable, and you get so many different feelings because you’re getting sweaty and gross, but it’s also so beautiful because you’re in this nice dark space, and it’s comforting, and you just lose sense of time. Shawn [Stone], the MFA dancer who did the performance, when we were filming for the video, he didn’t know when to stop, he lost sense of time completely, and when I’ve been in there I lose sense of time too. Losing sense of time and being in the present moment, hearing those sounds really immerses you, so I really think that another kind of work would be somehow elevating a half-suit or something so that you could duck down in there and play, and understand what it’s like to be in a space like that and hear the sound, because that’s where the art happens for me. Otherwise, again, you’re outside of it, which is equally as valid because experiencing something, documenting things, and not always being in the present moment gave us science, it gave us technology, it gave us all the comforts of life. Otherwise we’d still be outside, poking fire. We wouldn’t even know how to make fire, so it’s equally as valid, equally as important, I just think there needs to be a balance.


The sculptures that make up The Space Between juxtapose Earth and space in relation to consciousness. How did you become interested in the concept of changing consciousness between different realms, and how do the materials you chose to work with each represent these different domains?

I think the present moment calls for a relationship, and the relationship happens in the space between. The relationship is where we experience the mystical nature of our world, and it’s what makes the world a special place, when we’re in the present moment, not when we’re in the past, not when we’re in the future. And I think as we grow as a society, we’re getting farther and farther away from the present moment, especially with social media and always being on our phone. We’re not being with each other and we’re not being with the things around us. We lose those hints and glimpses or those moments of insight, we don’t see those poetic encounters that we might have with a specific person, with an animal, with a wall, with an artwork, with a leaf falling down from a tree and blowing in the wind. We lose those things. And those are the things that make the world beautiful. So, The Space Between is that infinitesimal space that we can exist in, but it only happens every once in awhile. We only get very small, minute glimpses of it. It might only happen for a second, it could happen for an hour if you’re meditating, if you’re in that space, if you reach that space. It takes practice. So The Space Between is kind of that idea. I did another piece titled Light House (x), and that piece let me finally understand why I’ve been making that shape. That shape, it references platonic ideas, ancient Greece, pyramids, things like that, but that’s not really why I’m making it. I made it because I like the shape, it grounds me, it makes me feel solid, it’s a physical form, and it has this presence to it. That’s why I like making it, and it feels good to make it. I can’t stop making it for some reason, it’s just one of those things. But I realized, when I did Light House, the top of it emanated this light that created these ripple effects around it to make an environment, and you would walk into the environment and you saw this almost ominous black form hovering above the ground, above it is a square of light, and you’d get sucked into the space around you. People described it as an aurora borealis, ripples, water reflections, but then you’d always be pulled back to the center of this space, which is where the big obelisk was. So you’d be constantly jumping back and forth from being with the present moment, but then realizing where the present moment comes from, and therefore losing the present moment. So the obelisk, I finally realized, allows us to be in the present moment, but at the same time we need it because we jump back and forth, it’s like an ebb and flow between physicality and the spiritual or abstract space around us. It’s a weird paradox. I’m still wrapping my head around it, I don’t know if I’ll ever figure it out, and I actually hope not to because I always want to be asking questions, instead of only providing answers.


The sound produced by the wooden spikes in Habitus is an integral part of the piece. Do you work with sound and other sensory aspects in your work often, or is this something new?

I want to engage as many senses as possible because that’s how we experience and relate to the world. I think the sound element is usually a surprise , but I find it happening in my work a lot. I’m not consciously trying to create sound work, it just happens with the work that I’m making. I think it’s more on an intuitive level. I love music, I love sound, I think I was first introduced to the power of sound when I was doing meditation in college. We would do chanting, and the vibrations that you create in the back of your nose and the center of your brain when everybody else is doing it, and the harmonies that happen, if there’s a group of ten people, these complex things happen around you and you’re just immersed in that present moment, and it vibrates your head, and you’re just lost, in a good way. So I think ever since then I’ve understood the power of sound, and actually the hyperbolic object, if you put your ear up to it, it hums. So I’ve also been playing with sculptural forms that are hollow that transform the ambient air energy into a specific frequency. It’s fun, and it’s always a surprise. And I’ll always check to see if it makes a sound . It’s also fun because you can drum on the ends, and it’s like a doumbek drum. Specifically with Habitus, I knew that the suit was going to make that sound because I had started making just the spikes as part of another sculpture, and I was playing with them. I had maybe twenty of them in my hand and I was ruffling them up and dropping them, and they were so warm, the tone. So I decided that that was something I really wanted to explore. Habitus maybe is the thing that I knew was going to be visual, I knew was going to be auditory, but with the other sculptures that produce that hum, it’s always a surprise.


Still from Habitus, mixed media, 2018

The video piece that is associated with Habitus acts as a way to document the movement and sound of the wearable sculpture. Is video art something you’d like to delve more into in the future, or is it solely a way to record your installations and performances?

I’m interested in it. I think I’d want to, instead of getting into video, get into projection, and figure out how to make projection more than just a flat thing that you watch. Maybe creating a dimensionality to the projected image. Maybe projecting it onto layers of plexiglass. Let’s say we have five layers of plexiglass, and I haven’t done this so I don’t know if it would work, but the image might get bounced back and forth between the sheets of plexiglass, and then you might have a higher quality dimensionality. Yeah, which would make the thing more than just an image. That’s kind of my tiff with video and projection right now. It’s just an image. I mean it’s with sound but you’re still just watching a flat wall that’s creating this illusion. It’s still not real. There’s nothing wrong with that, but how do you push it? Film is totally good at that, you go to the movies and you’re totally immersed. So it’s not like it can’t happen, but what’s the next step? How do you keep pushing that idea?


You’ve already touched on this a bit, but how do you see your works in relation to the other pieces in this exhibition?

I see an interest in the land, and in diving deep into intuition, and just creating and making from that. With Irene’s work, she’s referencing her Columbian history and she’s making these beautiful gestural drawings, but she’s also creating these landscapes coming from those ideas. Mason is interested, at least in how I view it, in how different layers of visual stimuli can mess with your mind. I think it plays with the fallibility of our eyes. Gina is all about landscape, abandoned coal mines, constellations, mapping. Clay’s work is the landscape of the human body, and I think we’re all interested in natural phenomenon, and the beauty that happens from that.


Would you like to add anything else about the exhibition or these works? Any future plans for your work, or any upcoming exhibitions or other information you’d like to include?

Well, it was fabulous working with all of you, it was great. I think for all of our work, a lot of people are like “how do I experience this, what am I supposed to think?” All of those questions. You’re not supposed to think anything, just go to the work, relate with it, be with it, contemplate it, and you’ll get your own thing from it. All of us are creating from a specific place, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that that’s the answer. Because there’re obviously so many interpretations of all this work. They all have so many layers, and I would say just be with it. And then future plans, I might be going to Switzerland as a part of the International Student award, I don’t know about that yet. The only thing I have solidly planned is I have a show at the Greater Reston Arts Center in late December, where I’ll be showing with four other artists. Other things are in the works, but nothing solid yet.


Monroe Isenberg’s work is included in Media Lux at The Stamp Gallery of the University of Maryland, College Park, from April 2nd through May 19th, 2018.

For more information on Monroe Isenberg, visit

For more information on Media Lux and related events, visit


Call for Artists EXTENDED


Application Deadline: Sunday, April 15th

Exhibition Dates | May 30th – July 2018


Washington, D.C., the political capital of The United States, is often portrayed as merely a series of federal bureaucratic institutions. These representations ignore the diverse collection of men and women living and working in the city. This exhibition is fueled by a curiosity about what it means to be a person in the nation’s capital in the present moment of global and political tension. This show seeks to question what the reality of everyday life is like for citizens of the capital of one of the most powerful nations in the world. What lies under the image of power? What does it mean to exist in a time when major political shifts trigger both movements of hate and of acceptance? How do artists engage with different identities in such a place and time?

The curator of the exhibition seeks photography (or works closely related to photography and the tradition portraiture) and text-based works (poetry, narrative, etc.) that explore the experience of existing in Washington D.C. The exhibition seeks in particular to highlight the viewpoints of young female artists whose works explore the implications of Washington, D.C. life through portrayals of individuals, families, or groups. Works might consider the disparity between larger political institutions and individual realities, the intersection of race and gender in everyday life and/or the results of gentrification.  Artists are encouraged to consider how scale and use of material can contribute their engagements with the topics described.. The works submitted should focus on the present or recent past of life in Washington, D.C. (a sort of ‘D.C. Today’) but may also examine the ways that past moments or movements live on in the present.       

The curator will select a small group of artists whose work she feels critically and creatively engages the exhibition concept outlined above to exhibit their work at the Stamp Gallery, a contemporary art space located in the University of Maryland-College Park’s Adele H. Stamp Student Union–Center for Campus Life. Any existing works must have been completed within the last 2 years to be considered. Undergraduate artists are strongly encouraged to apply. A PDF form of this call is available here

This exhibition is the Stamp Gallery’s annual undergraduate-curated exhibition. Previous shows in the series include:

  • I’m Fine: The works in I’m Fine examine and respond to the following questions How does creativity alleviate or intensify emotion? In what ways does art comment on—and participate in—mental health and self-care? To what extent is art a mouthpiece for the mind in flux or an independent and evolving entity? Curated by Stamp Gallery docents Tasiana Paolisso (B.S. Architecture ‘18) Sarah Schurman (B.A. English ‘17).
  • Paradise Now : A game of unequal circumstances and varying objectives by Baltimore-based artist Kimi Hanauer, featuring collaborations with Sydney Spann, Michael Stephens, and Nikki Lee, curated by Christopher Bugtong (Computer Science and Film Studies ’17), Grace DeWitt (Animal Science and Studio Art ’17), and Shay Tyndall (English and Mandarin Chinese ’17)
  • In Response: An exhibition showcasing the artwork of University of Maryland undergraduate students inspired by contemporary artists featured in the Contemporary Art Purchasing Program of the Adele H. Stamp Student Union, curated by Genesis Henriquez (Graphic Design ’16), Korey Richardson (Studio Art ’16), Shay Tyndall (English and Mandarin Chinese ’17)
  • Magnified : An exhibition of work by artists Chip Irvine and Michael Sylvan Robinson, curated by Carmen Dodl (Geographical Sciences ’16), Geena Gao (Information Systems and Economics ’16, and Martine Gaetan (Romance Languages ’15)


The curator is looking for artwork in various media (photography and text based) with the specification that the work centers on portrayals of individuals, families, and groups in the context of the call outlined above.

The curator is also open to other media, as long as they relate importantly to photography, portraiture, and textual practices.


Katherine Mullineaux, B.A. English 2019: Minoring in Art History and Creative Writing, Kat is inspired by the interaction between visual creations and the written word, especially when used to examine the everyday. Born and raised in the DMV area, Kat has always been interested in what makes the city tick and loves to spend time exploring Washington, D.C. She hopes to work in the creative world continuing her employment in galleries and museums in the future.


Applicants must submit:

  • Artist’s Statement about specific works being submitted
  • Link to artist’s website (if applicable)
  • Proposed works with title and short description (up to 200 words), year of production, and medium)
    • Digital documentation of work

5-10 images/files (JPEG 72 dpi), video/audio clips should be shared as a

link to a streaming site (with password information as necessary)


Artists are responsible for delivering finished work to the Stamp Gallery by May 26, 2018 and for picking up their work from the Stamp Gallery no earlier than the close of the exhibition in July 2018 and no later than August 5, 2018.


The Stamp Gallery is dedicated to the exhibition of contemporary art with an emphasis on the work of emerging and mid-career artists. The gallery supports contemporary art that is challenging and/or academically engaging and that addresses broad community and social issues. The gallery serves by providing exhibitions of social responsibility and artistic substance, as well as by offering an educational forum in which dialogue between artist and viewer and art and community is encouraged.

The Stamp Gallery is located on the first floor of the Stamp Student Union (1220 Stamp Student Union, The Adele H. Stamp Student Union – Center for Campus Life, University of Maryland College Park, 20742). 301-314-8492,

Summer Hours: Monday–Friday: 11 am until 6 pm