Interview: Blair Martin Cahill
Luca Curci talks with Blair Martin Cahill during Fragmented Identities, 2nd appointment of BORDERS INTERNATIONAL ART FAIR 2021 at THE ROOM Contemporary Art Space.
There are layers in all we see, do and present in our lives. These are the elements that we want to show, conceal, or perhaps only hint at. What is revealed is equally important to what is not, and both are needed to capture an entire vision. This is why I process visuals in layers. Working with an array of different materials, my work involves tiers that either reveal or correspond graphically to one another. I was traditionally trained, but I am passionate about the new array of tools that are being presented and made available to artists. By combining traditional methods of foundry casting and textile production with modern technology, I can find endless inspiration. My new work encapsulates the traditional while juxtaposing modern and dissimilar materials, such as steel and silk. I obtained my BFA from California Institute of the Arts, and then attended the University of Arts London, Chelsea earning my MA in Fine Art. This further established my individual style of combining elements of colour and light. In addition to studying at Art Center College of Design, I was awarded the Digital Fabrication Residency, which facilitated exploration of the boundaries of sculpture, tradition and technology. I have also had the honour of lecturing at the International Sculpture convention and the Collage Artists of America.
Luca Curci – Which subject are you working on?
Blair Martin Cahill – The idea of layering scenes and motion has always been a part of my work. My last series was primarily two dimensional, but I am now returning to the multi-layered technique that has always been my favourite. My pieces will offer the viewer an opportunity to discover elements obscured by multiple layers of textile, wood and metal. A story that will unfold the more they gaze into it.
LC – How did you get to your current artistic practice?
BC – My interest in art applies to almost any medium. I love to learn traditional methods as well as experiment with new digital tools. My first experience with developing my practice started at the California Institute of the Arts, where I studied motion graphics for film. I used a lot of assemblage in my films and I became quite comfortable in the making process. While at Chelsea School of Art in London, I worked in the foundry pouring bronze and doing metalwork. My present work is a culmination of my journey exploring art methods. I combine the use of embroidery with metalwork, employing layering techniques that reveal information and correspond graphically as a whole.
LC – Which art themes do you pursue? What is your preferred subject, if there is any?
BC – My last series reflected personal stories and histories. This was the first real representational series I have done, capturing attitude and personality in embroidery. My earlier works concentrated primarily on colour, line and space. They are graphic sculptural pieces employing metalwork with textiles. My present work combines the two themes, offering another opportunity to give my work layers and depth. Working in multi-plane is definitely my favourite method.
LC – What is your creative process like?
BC – I often start with a sketch or a watercolour. If I am working in embroidery I will go straight to my threads and choose a colour palette, this establishes the limitations I want to place on the piece. My workflow includes the use of hand-drawn and painted elements adapted to be compatible with modern materials and tools.
LC – Did your style change over the years? In which way?
BC – My style changes every time I learn how to use a new tool. Whenever I find a new process, I find a way to incorporate it into my work. Each series of works has a different style. My bright graphic design pieces are very animated and cheerful, and I would hope that they bring pleasure to people. By comparison, I feel the representational work I have been doing is very thoughtful and tells a variety of stories. I would want those stories to life with the viewer for a long time.
LC – In which way is the artwork presented in our exhibition connected with the festival’s theme?
BC – The three pieces that I have included in the Fragmented Identities show are partial presentations of the subjects, some features figure prominently while others fall away. The impression of them that I suggest is separate from their actual individuality.
LC – What do you think about the concept of this festival? How did it inspire you?
BC – None of us is what we seem. How we view others is not a direct reflection, we see everything through our own prism.
LC – What do you think about the organization of our event?
BC – The curators and management team were very responsive and have put together a wonderful show. I love that Venice attracts artist and art patrons, it is very fitting for such a beautiful city.
LC – What is your idea about ITSLIQUID GROUP?
BC – I strongly feel there is a need for art shows like the ones that ItsLiquid Group produces. Participating in a fair curated by art professionals is a crucial step in getting your work out in the public eye. These types of fairs allow artists to connect directly with collectors and galleries