Welcome back to our continued series, ONLINE → IN HOME. This week, we feature Nashville based Artist, Paul Collins. We asked some questions to learn more about him and how the current state of the world has affected his life. We were thrilled to begin working with Paul early last fall, had the pleasure of visiting his studio to view work, have a cup of coffee and enjoy a stimulating conversation. He has a huge heart and kind soul, get to know Paul Collins...
Red Arrow: You curated a show at the Browsing Room that opened in March, a few days following the tornado and a few weeks prior to quarantine. Please tell us more about that show and how those two events affected it.
PAUL: I developed an interactive show of stories (mine and others') for the Browsing Room that would allow me to engage and collaborate with Art Crawl visitors and the guests who come for free meal and clothes at the church's Saturday Morning Breakfast. For the show I made a giant books filled with stories I hoped might be shared about life in the blocks of the church: steroidal development & forgotten sidewalks, birds chasing other birds, how to greet a stranger, winder sliding into spring. I invited a great artist, Bandy, who i met through Poverty and the Arts, to work with me. We made free zines to give away and we planned on making portraits every Saturday morning in the hopes of getting folks to tell their stories through photos, drawings, video interviews or drawing in one of my giant books. We planned for the artwork to grown and change over our 8 Saturday mornings. The show opened on Saturday March 7 for both the Saturday Morning Breakfast and the Art Crawl and we had a great response. Mostly folks laughing at the big books and writing/drawing about the just-passed tornado. The next Wednesday Tom Hanks got the COVID and the NBA cancelled the season and that was it.
The first March Art Crawl there were multiple tornado relief shows happening, and i think it gave the crawl and the impulse to capture one's stories, an extra air of purposefulness. It made going around to galleries seem like essential community sharing. But we all knew we were in a pandemic already. Bandy and I knew and had a ton of hand sanitizer and wipes around the space. I knew in February when i remade my person-sized books out of printed tyvec instead painting canvas because i wanted to make them cleanable. Hard to think of a worse time for an interactive book show. It's so bad it's sort of funny right?
Red Arrow: Please share a brief description of how you approach a new piece, do you sketch ideas first?
PAUL: I jump in, but that IS a kind of sketch. Then do it again. Compare and take notes (sketches and words). Let Darwin take away the crappy ones as the idea refines itself. I make better work when I sketch, but I make better better work when I sketch throughout the whole process.
Red Arrow: You mentioned you will participating in a group show at Cheekwood this summer, that is a response to our current times. Please give us some more information about that?
PAUL: Curator Campbell Mobley is organizing a show about artist responses to the pandemic. I'm making a ton of drawings and so we'l see what sticks. So far I've been drawing Trump everyday, and my daughter coding, and plants breaking through the dirt around my house.
Red Arrow: How has the quarantine affected your practice?
PAUL: The pandemic has changed my practice in terms of both vision and tactic. With regards to vision my practice for a while has trended away from the studio out into public spaces so this pandemic has been a giat wrench. A reorienting wrench. Before this health crisis I loved working outside my bubble because it always brought a lens correction to my limited personal view. Now I'm ACTUALLY in a bubble. Perspective is tough to get when you can't step back. And the pandemic has changed the way i work tactically: I've moved all my sketchbook and research to Microsoft Onenote so I can write/draw on any device. It's allowed me to use my phone photos & videos in a more direct way. And I can print or share them online which I plan to do.
Red Arrow: What is the first thing you want to do or place you want to go when this all levels out?
PAUL: Oh gosh- Definitely something with my kids to prove the world isn't as toxic as it has seemed lately: Laser tag? Pool party somewhere? My son LOVES Costco for the samples...maybe just wander the aisles lazily and snack away. Personally, I'd like to see a concert in a crowded basement bar.
Red Arrow: What do you listen to in the studio?
PAUL: Radio and Pandora. My kids hooked me on 107.5 Woody and Jim morning shows. I just set it and forget it...On Pandora: Modest Mouse, Damien Jurado, Major Lazer, Mia, Aimee Mann, Mafentic Fields, Radiohead, Andrew Bird, Mike Snow, Beth Orton, Belle & Sebastian, Lou Reed...old fart stuff.
Red Arrow: What does a typical day for you look like these day?
PAUL: Honestly I am sort of a mess. I can't keep a friggin idea in my head for 10 minutes so i cycle like a madman between tasks and catch short studio stints in between: coffee, walk the dog, check the yard for new shoots of growth, studio break, dishes, check in on next meal needs, check kids' school work, studio blast, check TN COVID numbers vs other states (I'm very competitive), any Fauci on TV?, studio, etc...Every shift is punctuated by coffee so I am very awake during these short turns.
Red Arrow: What is one word or thought that you would like folks to know or reflect on to feel better, during this time?
PAUL: Some things we can control so VOTE!