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  • Manuel Hernandez

Interview with Tammy Burke

1. Can you explain your process of creating work?

I am often inspired by materials as a starting point, how they look, what they do, what they mean. However, lately I have been reflecting a lot on personal experiences that are shared broadly, specifically time spent in healthcare situations. I've recently started a series of paintings of healthcare scenes. Even that is inspired by the equipment in hospital rooms the environments, and the act of waiting, almost never ending waiting.

I also like to work in varying media. Sometimes it can be viewed as a negative thing to bounce between media but it's the way I have always worked. In a situation like making work for an MFA program, as I just completed in May, it's really important to create a body of work that has cohesion in form and concept. Obviously it's a little more straightforward to achieve that when you focus on one medium, but I do not

2. What is your studio like? Do you face obstacles working outdoors?

For the first time in about 15 years I am between studios. I have a wonderful climate-controlled storage unit packed full of my equipment, artwork, and materials just waiting to be set free. What this has shown me is that I can work anywhere if the weather permits. It has made me become more mobile and temporary in how and where I work. I was invited to participate in a 3-person exhibition at Swanson Contemporary this past September and I chose to work in metal. I completed that work on my carport because I'm using a torch and there are some fumes that happen when you're doing metalsmithing. I do look forward to having a great space again, which should happen soon. Now that it's cold I would be less inclined to work outdoors. Making artwork while working a full time job that is not art related is an accomplishment alone. Tapping into the well of WHY to make artwork and how to go about it when you don't have have some external pressure, like an academic program, is very important. When you're out of school you are on your own, for better and for worse. You get to experiment and pursue your own investigations, but you have to work to get feedback from people whose opinions you value. That critique network comes undone. It is a freedom though.

3. How do you go about getting your work into shows? What kind of feedback do you get on your work?

I submit work to shows like everyone else. That means I get a lot of "no"s, which make the ''yes"s that much sweeter. The exhibition I mentioned above at Swanson, I was invited to participate in that. As for feedback, people tend to only tell you something about your artwork if it's positive, (unless they are instructing you). And no one has ever commented on my artwork. Just kidding. People respond very readily to paintings, and anything that clearly requires developed skills. I am always focused on pursuing a high level of craft in my work, which speaks to people right away, in general. I also tend to use a very animated color palette which people often respond to. And anytime you use a great number of sequins or other sparkling surfaces people are going to respond to that.

4. Do you ever sell your work?

I do. Pricing artwork can be a terribly daunting and psychologically challenging thing to do in the beginning. I find comfort in using formulas that I come up with to calculate prices. It's very common to not feel comfortable trying to promote your own work which is where galleries and other agents really come in handy. Yes, they take 50%, or sometimes more, but they are doing a service for you as an artist that you may not be able to do on your own.

5. If you could give your college self any advice, what would it be?

Don't waste your time. Be diligent and exercise time management to get all of your projects done well, and on time. Try all the media that are available to you at your program. You may not have such an easy chance to do that in the future. Study abroad if you're able. Visit all of the art museums you can travel to, and other museums like natural history museums, etc..

Listen to your gut and pursue what might be gnawing at you on the inside.

My website is .

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