Absolutely loving how Gabrielle Cordes plays with light and reflection in her sculptural works, often pulling them just off the wall so that bright surfaces reflect from behind and make them appear to float. Presently living and working in Minnesota, I’m glad to share some of her thoughts on process and pursuing the artistic life here! More at the links below!
Can you tell me a little bit about you?
Currently I’m based in Minnesota, working as an Intern Artist Fellow at Franconia Sculpture Park for their Fall session. I work with a lot of different materials which I incorporate into singular pieces. I try to make it so the materials seem like that they were meant to be together, birthed into a dynamic and cohesive object that is stronger than if the materials were presented apart. Each piece informs the next piece; my practice consists of constant discovery and play.
When did you first discover art, or realize you wanted to make it yourself?
My dad is an art teacher and always encouraged it along with my mother. I’ve always loved making art but didn’t realize I wanted to make for a living until I started pursuing my undergraduate degree.
What do you like most about working where you do?
Franconia is a great place. Lots of space and machinery to gain experience from and to play with. It’s an added plus that I’m surrounded by other artists and past artists’ work throughout the park; it’s basically an oasis for creativity.
What ideas are you exploring in your practice?
I see each piece as a form of documentation. When I look back at each piece, it brings me back to how I was thinking at the time. The blending of materials have also advanced. My goal has been to blend them in a way that works and is cohesive.
What is your process like?
I usually have a general idea of a form or effect that I want to utilize. These ideas tend to come from my working process and playing with material. Each piece informs the next piece and the one after that.
Is there any subject or theme you’ve been particularly interested in lately?
I’ve been looking into the contexts and the history behind the different materials, colors, and forms that I use and what they may elicit in my future work’s formal qualities.
What is the strangest thing you’ve ever had to do for art?
I helped a friend of mine with her video project. She sat in the frame of the shot while I recorded while also breathing on glass in front of the frame to create condensation. Definitely got quite a bit lighted headed and nearly passed out but I’d do it again tomorrow!
Do you have a day job or other work that you split your time between?
As of now my position here at the park includes helping fellowship artists and maintenance. I’ve done a lot of administration in the past and plan to continue doing so in the future.
Do you have a mentor, or a piece of advice (or both), which has influenced your practice?
I’ve always been taught to make the work that I want to make, not work that others want me to make.
Is there any piece of advice you would offer to others?
I think that trusting oneself is important. I trust that I’ll be able to sustain myself and my practice because I’m passionate about what I do. No matter what it’ll work out.
What does it mean to you to have a “community?”
I have found that a great artistic community enhances one’s own artistic thinking. I love being around artists because I know that while everyone is different, there is a similarity within the arts.
What is your studio like?
My studio is currently in the great outdoors of Franconia Sculpture Park on the work pad.
Do you have any routines or rituals in the studio that get you into the mode or mindset to make your work?
I’m a planner and I like to set realistic goals. For example I know that I won’t enjoy doing the same continuous process for a month straight so I make sure to break it up with other aspects such as painting, woodworking, rug-hooking, sketching, etc. It’s the best way for me to not burnout. In result I tend to work on more then one piece at a time.
How significant has attending art school been on your practice?
After I received my BFA, I definitely plan on getting an MFA. I get a lot out of being a student, so I know that I would get a lot out of receiving an MFA.
What do you find most daunting, challenging, or frustrating about pursuing art?
I love the challenge of being an artist. You pretty much act as your own boss mold your career in any way you please which was daunting for me at first. However, I believe as long as you’re passionate, resourceful, and optimistic, everything will turn out for the better. I trust myself.
How would you define “success” in art?
My artistic journey thus far has been satisfying and organic. I’m happy with what I’m doing so I consider myself to be successful.
What is the most exciting thing you’ve done or accomplished so far, related to your work?
I got to meet Sharon Louden at this group show I was involved in in New York this past summer. Her book “Living and Sustaining a Creative Life” has helped me stay motivated in the studio. She curated the exhibition and made a shoutout for my piece! Always encouraging when your efforts are recognized.
What are you working on right now?
I’m working on my first ever public sculpture to be displayed at Franconia Sculpture Park. This will be my largest sculpture to date.