Recommended GO Brooklyn Studio: Sanders-Estep Collaborative

by The AFC Staff on September 7, 2012 GO

Inside the Sanders-Estep studio

NAME: Jessica Sanders
STUDIO LOCATION: 82 Ainslie St. Brooklyn, NY 11211

[Editors’ Note: This coming weekend, we’ll be touring Brooklyn for GO Open Studios, an event in which visitors vote on which artist they feel deserves to get an exhibition at the Brooklyn Museum. As a service to both ourselves and other readers, we’ve scoured the event’s pages for the most promising studios and then sent those artists an email with a few questions about their work. The following posts relay what they told us.]

Jessica Sanders and Ryan Estep make objects that are kind of weird, like they might be alive. Maybe it’s just the materials: Sanders uses a lot of gooey wax, furry scraps, and other things that share some human characteristics. We wanted to know more about that, and what’s up with their relationship to net artists. Here’s what Jessica told us.

Where are you from? What’s your background?

I’m originally from South Florida and I grew up on a horse farm. I went to undergrad in Miami at the University of Miami for ceramics and made functional pots. I realized what interested me about clay was also in so many other materials, started making sculpture, and never stopped.

Are you showing your work in galleries?

I will be in the 2013 Bronx AIM Biennial at the Bronx Museum of the Arts, and have recently shown at The Active Space and the Bronx Art Space, as well as several other alternative spaces in Brooklyn. I am not currently represented by a gallery.

Why are you participating in GO?

The best part of living in Brooklyn is everyone and everything going on around me. GO is what I live here for— opening up the studio doors, being a part of the community. There’s so much collaboration (or interaction at least) in Brooklyn, I love it. That’s why Ryan [Estep] and I decided to show our collective work for GO; all the best parts happen behind the scenes, everyone should get to be a part of it.

What’s the Sanders-­Estep collective? When do you two collaborative together?

The Sanders-­Estep Collective is Brooklyn artist Ryan Estep and myself, makin’ art together. Ryan and I met in graduate school, and connected on all aspects of art. There are strong similarities in our work—we are fervently interested in materiality—but approach making art in polar ways. This stridently different avenue into process, coupled with a mutual trust in the end goal, makes for an interesting combination and allows us to step out of our usual practices. There is a freedom and a playfulness to it that’s entirely refreshing for me.

We make art together when we have time, and when we have an idea or a material that seems to fit us together more than it does apart.

Do you spend a lot of time standing in your studio, or crouching down? It seems like a lot of your work is cast, knotted together, or dyed.

I mix it up, [and] it depends on the piece, but I do end up crouching down quite a bit. I frequently use wax in my work, which I store and heat in 5 gallon metal buckets, so I have quite a few of them around the studio. They are conveniently the perfect crouch/sit height, and I often find myself perched on those. The work as a whole is physically demanding—casting in heavy materials like concrete or plaster, long durations of pieces accumulating atop themselves, digging through architecture only to have to patch it over in the end —I can’t ever seem to make it easy for myself.

Is there ever a digital component to your work? I’m thinking about this because of #D at the Bronx Art Space.

The only digital component of my work is the documentation. My work is so physical and about the material, I would prefer if the work were seen in person. The smell, the texture, the nuance is lost otherwise. I was perplexed and intrigued when Giselle Zatonyl asked me to be in #D. I adore her blog Crude Vessels, and know that the work I make fits with digital work in her delightfully weird brain, but I didn’t completely understand it until I saw the show together. My work layers itself in a physical way, building on itself, the way digital work does in an operational way. It was a great show, and made me look at my work a bit differently, and certainly at digital work differently.

Do you ever think of your objects being alive? They seem mysterious.

I do. I talk about the materials I choose as having a lifespan, and am constantly searching for a way to meld the most interesting part of that lifespan with a form that can draw out a sense of liveliness. I think that’s what every artist tries to do in her own way, though. It’s just that my materials have so much inherent change.

I will take mysterious as a compliment. I never have a specific form in mind when I start to make a piece; I let the material dictate what happens. I think it comes across as a sense of volatility and restlessness in the work, and I could see some mysteriousness seeping in there as well.

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