Interview: FABRIC FLESH by Flynn Grinnan (Collect, Autumn 2012)

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FLYNN GRINNAN | Fabric Flesh

Interview by Marcel McVay, Yellow Peril Gallery Manager

Flynn Grinnan’s new work covers the body. Full body drapings create a mold for fabric ghosts of once existing bodies and poses.

I had the honor of becoming one of these pieces, and the experience was a rare self-contained moment. Below is a reflection of that experience recorded on that day:

We are dripping and covered in primordial mucus, incubating in a posed womb – made by me, made by you. Scraping the dry exoskeleton, the artist lets the hardened plaster crumble down the mold. And just before the last second of consciousness, there’s a peeling and a blast of light, air and freedom. Freedom to move, freedom to breathe and freedom from myself. I melt aside, crawling out from the fabric-and-plaster shell as if transmuting from larva to full body. Regaining normal perception, I look back at the brace that was me, that was holding me, and that carries with it the remnants of my experience.

-Marcel McVay / Monday, July 2, 2012

How does this new work depart from the work in your last show, BODY PRESENCE?

My material choices have changed drastically. Although I have consistently utilized a number of different mediums, large scale, experimental mold making has proven to be more effective over clay in executing my overarching vision. The most important departure from the last major body of works is that they are large scale, full body pieces. They have true presence that demands a closer look. In the past I was using unorthodox techniques to finish clay sculptures, but this new work pushes further the capabilities and qualities of the chosen materials – leaving the viewer to question how they were made.

What themes or ideas are still present and how have they changed?

My objective in making sculpture has consistently been to present a universalized human figure through the acts of draping, covering, distorting and abstracting the body of a live model directly rather than sculpting from afar. I have found that these processes all ask in varied ways the question, what is human physicality? In my new work, the goal is to strip away the recognizable features of an individual and allow their pose to be the only clue to their identity. This way the viewer can have a very personal interaction with the sculptures — uncovering meaning through their own experiences and thought processes rather than my own forced agenda. Another development in this work is that each model goes through a very physically demanding experience in order for me to make the molds. They are sling-shotted into an intensely intimate connection with their body while under the mold – a process that can easily last an hour.

Fabric is a very specific material choice, especially when presenting the human form. Can you speak to this decision?

The fibers in the fabric absorb the high concentrated starch mixture used to harden the castes. The immediate reference to clothing lends to providing a familiarity that I strive for in all my works. Viewing something unique while also having that familiar feeling provides an interaction where the viewer can again bring their own thoughts and experiences to the show.

FABRIC FLESH will be on display from October 5 – November 4, 2012 at Yellow Peril Gallery’s first intervention space, #102 Satellite Project located at 60 Valley St, #102 in Olneyville, Providence, RI.  This interview originally appeared in the Autumn 2012 issue of COLLECT.