What is your name and where are you from?
My name is Steven Millar. I’m originally from Georgia, but I now live in Croton-on-Hudson, New York. It’s not too far away, but you feel like you are in a different world here because you leave all your concerns behind. Part of my upbringing was in a very rural area, so there is a nice way in which Ryder Farm connects to my past.
What is the project you’re working on at SPACE?
My work in general concerns time, history, and memory. I’m trying to explore those ideas based on this actual site. I’m using some processes which I don’t normally use, for example, casting and taking molds of certain details on the farm grounds or in the buildings. I typically use residencies as a way to expand my notion of art making and what I do - in part because I don’t have the tools and equipment that I have at my own shop and you can only bring so many things. There is also an interesting way in which the process of casting and mold-making embodies record keeping and ties into my notion of memorials. As I make a mold of some detail of the post and beam structure of the barn, I’m trying to memorialize it, make a relic of it. I’ll end up with a lot of little fragments that I will bring back to my studio and assemble into a larger form. I don't know exactly what that’ll be yet.
So then what is this that you are working on right now?
I’m trying to record the seam between the old general store and the Sycamores house. I have thin sheet metal, and I’m basically rubbing it, transferring an impression of the floor seam to metal to make a sculptural drawing. The color is a little ugly right now but it will tarnish nicely. What’s so nice about these wood floors is that the grain has been deeply exposed from so many people walking on it and you can see the old rectangular nails that were made by hand. I’ll get those impressions.
Where have you been spending most of your time at SPACE?
Because I’m trying to engage with the site, I’ve been spending a lot of time wandering around. The first day I walked, took photographs, and made notes. I set up studio supplies in the chicken coop because that is a nice open white space. I made a cast there; it’s an okay space to make some dust. But mostly I’ve been trying to work on site. I’m trying to capture both the artistic and the agricultural aspects of Ryder Farm, the carvings on the pianos as well as the barn and house architecture.
How long does it take to make a cast of something?
It depends on the material. I made a whole bunch of little clay impressions with some self-drying clay yesterday. Earlier I made a foam mold and then a positive plaster cast of a bent farm gate, and that ended up taking most of a day. It’s always a little tricky working on site; things come out a little rougher. I’m interested in that lack of refinement, something a little more direct.
How long have you been sculpting.
My MFA is in painting but it’s been about 10 years that I’ve been working on sculpture. Most of my work is assemblage so I’m using different techniques here than in my typical practice.
What’s coming up next for you and your project?
I don’t have a specific outcome for these pieces. This residency in some ways builds off a recent residency in which I worked with glass, making molds and and casting glass into them. Some of these pieces may become glass objects. What’s nice is that this process is open ended and allows me a number of different directions to go.
Do you find that you sort of lean into that process for most of your projects?
You have to remain open to process as you work. Things change, and that’s good. The work always circles back to my general concerns as an individual. Even when the objects take a different direction, they revolve back to ideas that I’m interested in.
If you were reincarnated as a farm animal, which farm animal would you be and why?
Well, I like that cat that everyone thinks is grumpy. He likes me, and we get along. But, if I was anything on the farm I’d be one of these big Sycamore trees. I like the idea that trees can have a second life as beams or even as something as simple as firewood. In a way, being reincarnated as something that gives off light and heat wouldn’t be bad. Maybe that’s what art tries to do.