The Parallel Projects #1: Jackson Hunt and Mariah Tate Klemens

We are so excited to be introducing to you our new interview series, "Parallel Projects". 

"Parallel Projects" is an on-going blog feature from Apse highlighting female-male teams who have come together creatively and are nurturing extremely meaningful projects. We are all given "projects" to work toward. Projects that we will see evolve, that we will feel challenge us, and that will hopefully inspire a movement of thought, purpose and/or greatness. Whether this project is a business or job, a sculpture or painting, a family or community group, or a product or lifestyle - we all have something we desire so much, we absolutely have to invest our creative energy into it. But what we find especially inspiring about the existence of said personal projects, is the occasional instance of two separate people coming together, both with their own set of strengths and ideas, to create a exponentially more awesome thing that they both believe in. We believe, that when this union is invested into by both parties, what is created as a result often exceeds what could have been created alone.

These occurrences are so amazing to us, we have to document them and share them with you! These are stories of men and women uniting in an extremely powerful way, creating beautiful things and are experiencing purpose, greatness and love. 

P A R A L L E L   P R O J E C T S   # 1:

F A I L U R E   A N D   T H E   H O P E                                                 T H A T   R E M A I N S

An Interview with Mariah Tate Klemens and Jackson Hunt on their most recent exhibition: Blue

A dear friend and close peer of both Jarod and I, artist Mariah Tate Klemens works primarily in sculpture and installation. Currently living in Bellingham, WA, Mariah recently moved north from Portland, OR, where she met painter, Jackson Hunt. Since then, Mariah and Jackson have been in an on-going artistic conversation and grown to be good friends, both of which resulted in their most recent, collaborative exhibition, "Blue", opening this Friday, March 4, at Make.Shift Artspace. 

Jarod and I got the opportunity to sit down with them earlier this week to talk about the formation of "Blue", what the collaborative process means to them, and how they are growing their artistic careers. 

H: Was the idea of you guys working together always something that was a possibility?

M: Yeah, pretty much right away we were planning something, probably within the first 2 weeks of knowing each other. It was like, "Yeah, I like what you're making. I like what you're making, back. Lets figure out a way to work together on something." I think especially because our work is so different. We really respect and appreciate the other person’s stuff. We thought there could be a really nice balance between the paintings and the sculptures.

JF: What are some other cross overs that are happening in your guys’ work?

M: Well I think we both make semi-autobiographical work, mine more refers to the idea something that has happened in my life and often yours relates to a photograph of something that has literally happened.

JH: Yeah or reflections of experiences, moments and people. But for this we decided on content ahead of time. So it was little more abstract than from a personal experience. Then from that point we decided to make works in response to that common idea.

H: So what is the main idea behind blue?

M: do you want to do it?

JH: you do it, haha

M: All the works stem from a structural internal failure, or the potential for such. I think the anecdote on the poster of Sam Bowie is a really good example.

JH: Of lost potential and projected potential and diversions along the path. So Sam Bowie was the person that the Trail Blazers in the 80’s chose instead of Michael Jordan.  So the believed in him and they believed that they could have there future with him and then he was injured really early in his career. And ended up having nothing really accomplished.

That's just one example that can be seen in several different pieces in throughout show and just these diversions and paths of life and possibilities and projections.

 To the left: Hunt - Center: Jarod - To the right: Tate Klemens

To the left: Hunt - Center: Jarod - To the right: Tate Klemens

M: And for the objects, the trampoline could never function as a trampoline. It would always fail no matter because of what it’s made of. If you use that as a metaphor for a relationship or for a person, no matter what, if you’re going to try and use this object for the original function, it’s not going to work. It will break and crumble. And that's why it’s falling over. It could never be, it was always built wrong.

JF: It’s like if that object was a character; its full of hope. It’s like this hopelessly hopeful object.

M: Yeah. It really wants to stand up and really wants to be a trampoline… But its made of rubber. And it couldn't support anyone.

H: So Mariah went into some of her works tied to blue. Jackson, how do some of your paintings tie into Blue?

JH: I think with my works they’re still representing lost potential and structural failures, but within people and their paths throughout life. I’ve chosen to represent these 3 different scenarios of very specific experiences within set structures.

So with my painting of Lebron James and Sebastian Telfer on the cover of SLAM magazine, that was the first time that high schooler’s had ever been put in that spot light before. It was way more attention than anyone had ever put on… basically children before and with the caption that they are going to rule the world. As we see ten 15 years later, one of them became the most recognized sports figures that's existing right now and the other one no one really remembers unless your paying attention, its not really recognizable name. It’s these diversions but the pressure that was put on them on that specific time was just too much for anyone to really handle.

The other image is one of my grandmother. During her Chemo and kidney treatments she was still smoking in bed and diverting and kind of negating all these things that were put in place to help her, to cure her. And that was kind of her mentality throughout her life. That was just a representation of one moment of her personality. But that's same aspect is what made her so rebellious and dynamic.That's still how she treated life. Like, “Im not going to my drawing class were going to go do this instead, were going to the movies. Like, fuck that, I’m not going to my therapy I’m going to go do this.”

And the last piece being the image of the Mona Lisa which was drawn by my brother and it was sent to me when I was in art school in New york -

JF: How old is your brother?

JH: He’s 8 years younger than me. We was probably like 10 or 11 years old or 12 years old when he sent it to me. It’s this child’s drawing of the most recognizable piece of art on the planet sent to me as I’m aspiring to have an art career. I just felt like that was a nice little representation and something I’ve kept with me for a while and wanted to tie into this group of works.  

M: The theme of basketball runs throughout both of our halves of the show. Jackson was a basketball player. Just the fact you do still have a shoulder injury and you’re still working through and figuring out because of this desire to play this game. But its like still not going to work. Its an internal problem, physical. I think that makes sense.

I think also like playing with a trampoline and a basketball, somehow those go together.

H: I mean, I use to do that all the time, haha. Like bounce it off the trampoline.

JF: Or like jump on the trampoline to slam dunk.

H: Yeah especially a personal sized one.

M: Yeah exactly, But if you were to jump on my trampoline with my basketball to slam dunk… nothing would work

 Hunt and Tate Klemens hanging Hunt's painting of his grandmother

Hunt and Tate Klemens hanging Hunt's painting of his grandmother

H: Mariah, you went into the trampoline and basketball, do you want to go into the plants?

M: Yeah the plants are all live plants that been coated in blue paint with the intention of them growing out of the blue paint. I’m friezing a moment in time, a specific problem that's happening, isolating it. With this color, it was made to look as plastic as possible to highlight how natural plants actually are. Some of the plants survive and grow out of the blue paint, the depression, the failure, the trap, whatever. But some of them don't and some of them die. It’s highlighting that. They’re really personable, because they’re all domestic plants. Its like you’ve lived with these plants. You know these kinds of plants, you can identify them and identify with them. You really like who they are as plants, depending on how you connect with them. Like some of them are really funny to me some of them are really sad, and some of them I don't feel really anything about.

And I think that's what is so successful about this show, and working with Jackson, is we're making individual works, our own works, that relate directly to each others. We've talked a lot while we are making them... It feels more like one collaborative project in this space than two different artists just happening to show together.


JF: What's been your experience with collaboration?

JH: ...A big part of my experiences with collaboration... is how its interesting to see how it allows you to make work outside of your normal tendencies. And that's nice to almost have an excuse to explore something that may be within you, but you don't choose to make because maybe it doesn't fit with in your general way of working.

H: Yeah, its more like, we are going to do this and therefore explore something outside of what’s the norm.

JH: Yeah, I think its good to step outside of those comfort zones as regularly as possible. I think I don't as often as I need to.


H: Through the process of working together and getting to see another, maybe deeper side of each other’s process and how each other works, what’s something that you guys found about each others practice that you really admire?

M: Well that's easy for me. Generally Jackson takes a really long time to make his paintings. He’ll spend a whole year or half a year on a painting. I’ve never really approached making in that way. I mean, I think a lot about something and then I make it. Often it’s kind of compact and it’s with materials that are going to decay pretty immediately. So it has to be rush order time period. It not that I don't put work into or something, but it’s not as durational. I think that's pretty astounding and its just not something I’ve done, so I think its really cool.

JH: Yeah I think I admire the clarity in Mariah’s thought process in conceptualizing these works. I think sometimes I jump into things. Even though they may take a long time to make, it’s kinda a general feeling pushing me towards it or a want or something that is not clearly defined. But I appreciate having that part to correspond to. Seeing the clearly represented and fabricated idea that is like thought out in its intention beforehand

H: How would you describe your personal work habits in the studio?

JH: Well, that's all I did for the last few weeks. I’ve just been in the studio all day, everyday for two weeks without doing anything else. Like not getting dressed or brushing my teeth. Just getting up and drinking coffee and painting and that's it. But I usually have chunks of the year where I can do that, and other chunks where I cant. And that’s kinda how I like to do it because a lot of the times, I take a lot of time to make things. I like to have big chunks of time where I can dedicate myself to one thing, really focus in on it and maybe take a break after that. I like to switch on and off.

M: I think my practice changes season to season. I definitely go through periods where I’m making a lot more or a lot less, depending on work. I work a job where I have three days off, and that's sometimes really helpful to be able to have a lot of studio time on those days. But sometimes the monotony of a regular job can get to you.

It's been really helpful to have my studio in my house; a space that's all mine where I can mess it up and keep things going and leave it out and actually have the space for that. When I was living in Portland, I never really had a space, so I would make this table work. But I wasn't able to make sculpture. I was making a lot of drawing for a while. 


JF: When you are working in the space at the day job, do you find your mind or desires switch to your studio practice?

JH: Totally. Yeah I find that when have to I do that I get the itch to get in the studio and keep painting or finish an idea. I think its necessary, for me anyway, to be able to check out of things every once in a while and to not stay stagnant. There can be times where you've just been doing the same thing too long and nothings really progressing so you need to have something to switch it up.

 Mariah and Jackson in blue.

Mariah and Jackson in blue.

H: If you guys could do any kind of show together in the future, what would it be like?

JH: I think we are making the show we would want to make.

M: Yeah, I think so too. I think if we had another show, I would want to push interaction more with my works. Like it would have been really sweet if we had a giant pool in the middle of the gallery, so that people could swim in blue water.

JH: I think time is the only thing you always want more of when you are making something. If we had more time we could this. If we had more space or money… This whole thing came together in a month. So we did a month show. We made a show within that circumstance and I think if we know about a space in the future - if we conceptualize something for a longer period - the objects could be more grandiose. But I think we are doing what we want to do right now.

M: Even thought they are sort of modest, I think there is a lot to that.

H: Well, its not modest. Its very true to you guys as people and artists. I think in that - it being so close to you guys - its not.

H: You guys made a collaborative show, but you made separate works. What was the thought behind that decision?

JH: I think that'd be interesting. And I haven't explored that too much. It was hard, since we were working in different cities, to make something like that. I always tend to want to make on my own and just relate them, but I am open to exploring how things would change if we made something together.

M: Sometimes when two artists are very different, working on one piece together, unless its well enough planned out, but that decision process is pretty difficult.

H: Yeah, it just takes that extra work.

J: Its hard to find the balance between two people. Like, one person would take the reigns and you could tell it was one persons idea and the other was gonna go along with it.

"Blue" will be opening Friday, March 4th at Make.Shift ArtSpace in downtown Bellingham from 6-10pm, and will be on view for the month of March. 

Hayley BoydComment