Eve Ingalls is a sculptor in New Jersey. Before she began working with handmade paper she used various kinds of plaster to create her works. However, Ingalls found that handmade paper allowed her to develop her ideas more fully. The works have a greater breadth to them. Some feel light with movement like flowing water. Other works take on the texture of charred wood with parts that curl as if they've been seared by fire.
The following interview took place by email in March, 2012.
1.When and how did you discover hand papermaking? Why did you begin using it as a primary medium for your work? It must have been a dramatic change from some of your earlier materials like hydrocal.
I discovered handmade paper years ago but at that time it was not a respected art medium. Ten years later I was working with the printerTony Kirk. Tony suggested that I create my own paper on which to print. I did so and have continued to work with handmade paper ever since.
2. I'm intrigued by your statement - "I intend my sculpture to feel uncomfortable, as if it has come from another place and is merely passing through the gallery on its way elsewhere." I can see that in works like Losing the Name of and From/Since, but not in others like Two by Two or Position Available. Would you talk about what you do to create that other worldly effect and why you want it in some works.
It is not so much an other worldly effect that I want to create, but rather the feeling that the art is in this world and that it is so engaged in this world that it is alive and functioning, it is not simply plopped here so that we can stare at it endlessly. It carries us to new places or emphasizes its relevance in the thick of things. Position Available is a perfect example of this, you just can’t see that very well in the photograph. Photos do not tell us how a work acts physically on our body and all of my work is intended to have a large impact on the viewer’s body. I usually ask one part of the sculpture to feel as if it is reaching out to engage the viewer’s body. In Position Available the Antarctic becomes a belt at the level of the viewer’s waist and on the left side of the Antarctic there is a buckle also made of paper. The suggestion is that the Antarctic is a belt that the viewer should strap on and wear around the waist in order to carry some responsibility for the state of the world. In Wishful Filaments the stairway is like an accordion book that has just been opened in order to provide a stairway for flight. The viewer feels as if he/she has grabbed the sticks off the ground and piled them on the back side of the stairway to hold it up. At the top there seem to be wires engaged in the act of positioning everything as if the stair is a puppet.
3. I was wowed by It's only a Wave, Ma'am, when I saw it reproduced in the Hand Papermaking magazine a few years ago and by the secondary views on your website. It's scale and gesture are fabulous. I read in the article that you had the armature created based on a model you made and then you completed the work in your studio. Have you worked this way with other pieces? What do you find the pros and cons are of working this way?
I do not usually work from a model because of what I said in my response to the previous question. The physical relationship of the sculpture to the viewer’s body is so important that I usually need to feel the directness of that response while I think about the idea of the piece (a little like Richard Serra thinking while walking).
4. I really love Interference. It has a charred, end of the world quality but the gesture has a feeling of humor. Are these qualities built into the piece ahead of time, or do you achieve them through the papermaking process?
I count on the paper to produce a play of active gestures during the drying process, butby now I can more or less anticipate what these might be. Paper is a great collaborator. It adds a touch of increased life in the last moments of drying.
5. Written in Wind and Running Water, Two By Two and Position Available feel like meditations on drama and turbulence. They seem different than the other works somehow. I love the lyrical movement of them. Would you talk about how you made these works and what is different about them to you from the others.
See above for Position Available. Written in Wind and Running Water and Two by Two were created after a papermaking residency in Japan. They were affected by the calligraphic energy of some of the images that I encountered during my time there.
6. In 2007 you went to the Awagami factory in Japan on a Visiting Artist Fellowship. Were you there as one of their visiting artists? How did you spend your time there and how did that trip affect your work after you got home?
You see above one response to my one month residency at Awagami . I learned a great deal about drawing into pulp with water and have used those techniques ever since. I was introduced to many different techniques by the papermakers there and created several pieces for an exhibition which was held at Awagami at the end of my stay.
7. How have your previous ideas and interests changed and/or been re-invented with handmade paper? Do you find you are still working with many of the same ideas but in different ways? Some of your earlier sculptures are shown outside, have you been interested in showing any of the paper works outside as well? Moving from plaster and metal to paper must have been an exciting transition.
Through paper I have been able to carry some of my older ideas along, but new things emerge because of paper’s ability to record such a complexity of qualities of material, both natural and manmade. A sheet of paper is already a sculptural work for me because it can manifest such a variety of molecular densities, translucent, opaque, complex or simple, woven, tortured, pock-marked, colored Etc. It isremarkable in its expressive capacity. For me it is never just a surface to work ON. It has allowed me to develop my ideas more fully. I would like to be able to show paper works outside. Alas, I can’t figure a good way to do that.
8. Is your work created in a sketchbook, or from reading and experience and then get made in the studio or does the process come with the ideas? How does the papermaking process effect or change your initial idea?
The work is usually created from reading and experience. I use the actor Lawrence Olivier as a model. When he began to rehearse a new part he would play the part in as expansive a manner as possible. As the rehearsals continued, he would zero in on the role. The result of preparing for the actual performance in this way was that the largeness of the approach at the beginning allowedhim to be able to have recourse to an abundance of responses when others on stage did something unexpected. Also whenever he felt that his own approach was becoming too mechanical he could pull forth something refreshing from the first rehearsals. I think for a long time about myself and the materials that I am using as asort of “cast of characters” studying the qualities of each including myself. When I begin the actual workwe each play our roles sometimes as anticipated sometimes with new elements emerging, but I am ready to hold onto clarity throughout the process because of thinking about it in a large and very detailed way at the beginning.
9. I see one place you show your work is Soho20 gallery in Manhattan, what do you like about showing there? I know that Mary Hark and Anne McKeown also show there. Are they particularly friendly to papermakers? What kind of place do you like to show the most and why?
I like to show in a variety of places. It is exciting with sculpture to see how much it transforms from installation to installation. I like to show at SOHO20 because it allows me such freedom.
10. How do you feel the work is received? Is the "sculpture world" accepting of hand papermaking as a medium? Is there a gee-whiz factor, as in "Wow, that's paper??"
Paper is at last beingaccepted in the sculpture world. There is sometimes a gee-whiz factor.
11. What kinds of obstacles do you face in order show your work? Many of them look very large as well as complicated to set up. Do you find that the medium of handmade paper has an influence on the people or places who want to show the work?
There used to be a problem but people are learning. Most people don’t understand that some paper has a great deal of strength and can survive.
12. Do you have an audience you create for? Or do you create for yourself and hope others will respond?
I like the idea of the circularity of art. I receive ideas from society, I make a creative work, I give it back to society. It is created when I feel that I am very much part of this world. But I don’t create to express myself, I create in order to understand and therefore to be in the thick of life.
13. What are you working on now?
I am attaching the announcement of my upcoming show and the press release.