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Each month, we will feature one of the talented artists that live and work in The Barn, and share with you their passions, projects, and thoughts on being a part of The Barn.
A Conversation with Emily Dorr
What is the medium of art in which you work?
Collage, pen and ink, and watercolor. It depends on what I’m working on, installations, cartoons, or animal vignettes.
Who is your favorite artist and why?
At the moment, it’s two artists. One dead, one living ( classic). Robert Rauschenberg and the Troy based collage artist Michael Oatman. Rauschenberg helped redefine the ‘picture plane’ and by using found materials along with traditional oils, worked to transcend the canvas. In my installation work, I forgo the barriers of a canvas to work freely on the wall. Of course, the wall is another format in and of itself, but it suits my purposes. His piece Bed absolutely floored me. It was the first piece of art that transfixed me. I must have looked at it for an hour and felt an immediate expansion in my mind about what art is and what it is to me. I’ll never forget that moment.
Michael Oatman is a brilliant collector of imagery. I got to visit his studio a couple of years ago and wanted to steal all of his source material. I’d need a couple Uhauls to do so, but when there is a will there is a way, right? His work is seamless and very imaginative. He is also a super sweet guy. That made robbery less appealing.
How has your work evolved in the past 5 years?
When I first started using collage, I worked flat, on paper. And each time I got fairly frustrated by how lifeless the papers looked after I put them together. It was taking an image from one flat thing and placing it right back into another. It suddenly seemed like a very unnecessary step. So I started using fabric pins and a very structured grid, which I called equations. From there, I found insect pins. They mentally fit into my process far better than fabric pins since to me each image is my specimen. Now my work, while still fairly equation based, has a much more open flowing structure. There are a lot more ways to interpret each image.
What is your favorite part about living/working at Albany Barn?
The Barn’s affordability and newness. The building has a rich history, but for me it has been a fresh beginning. My professor from HVCC told all his students this, “There are three things in life you’ll want as an artist: Time, Space, and Money. But you can only pick two.” It was more elaborate than that, but it was a formative idea. You see, as an artist you need time to make art and a space to make it in. So the thing that you generally can’t have is money. So the Barn is a perfect solution. I can work the amount I need to to cover bills and supplies, and with the time and space I can continue as an artist. That is incredible to me. I’m living the dream. A lot of people believe being an artist is about “Making It”. But to me, I am making it. I get to make work. I get to show that work sometimes. I get to have a dialogue with the people surrounding me. The Barn has made my artist life more feasible.
What’s up next for you and your art?
Well, after such an intense Fall season of installations, I need to take some time this Winter to re-build my archive of imagery and to start a new one. As for the direction of my work, I’d love to find new formations in nature for my installations. Maybe start building some hanging structures? The possibilities are infinite when you have time and space.