Local artist Dina Sherman will be displaying a new body of experimental and challenging work tonight, for one night only at the It Looks Like It’s Open Gallery in Clintonville. The show asks answers to such questions as “what it means to be enough for oneself and for others. How do we gauge when we are sated? How do we know when to stop? How do we convince ourselves that we are enough as we are? When is enough enough?”
We recently spoke with Dina to find out more about her artistic tendencies and her feelings on the Columbus Art Scene, as well as her project the IMA Gallery.
Q: Tell us a little bit about your background, both personal and professional.
A: Geographically, I was born in Moscow. Americally, I grew up in Cleveland, and have been living in Columbus for 9ish years. Educationally, I graduated from the Ohio State University in 2007, studied abroad in England in 2005, and completed a residency program at Vermont Studio Center in 2010. Professionally, I am first and foremost an artist, but have been a barista at Cup O Joe Clintonville for 3 years, and usually have between 3-5 jobs at a time, mostly odd.
Q: What first got you interested in the type of art that you are making and where do you draw inspiration?
A: My tendencies toward language and participation in my work reveal my passion and inspiration in relationships and people. Early on in my artistic thinking, I was convinced that to be an artist meant to be a painter, no matter how bad (and mine were assuredly bad). I later realized that if i was interested in humans, I could do away with the brush and the paint and go directly to the source. I began to make participatory projects and installations. I’d like to blame my education at Ohio State and my travels abroad for helping me to let go of my earlier notions about art.
Q: What mediums do you work with?
A: Though I’m not affiliated with a particular medium, I have some soft spots for mechanical pencils, fabric, and humans. The medium and form of each project is specific to its content, and I do my best to make considerations of the materials every time an idea bubbles up.
Q: Tell us a bit about your artistic process.
A: A professor friend recently told me that I sound like an excited 6 year old on her way out of a state fair when I attempt to describe my process: “I saw this and this. And then! I saw this other thing! And then this other other thing!! OH BOY” So, here’s the really short version: I have several somewhat disjointed processes when it comes to making. For the larger projects, I usually begin with an idea, pass it through the filter of my friends’ opinions and my own research, and then begin to work on it for a few months. Resulting in room size installations, these projects tend to be rather involved and time consuming. On the other side of the spectrum, the drawings that I make are absolutely immediate. They take very little conscious thinking and effort. My drawings give me an outlet from the over-thinking that I do when I create my larger pieces.
Q: Generally, how do you feel about the local arts community in Columbus? Is it open minded or challenging enough? Inclusive/Exclusive? Do people in Columbus buy art as much as they should?
A: Why can’t we all just get along? The local arts community is much more fragmented than it needs to be, given its size and the size of the city. There are many subgroups (for example, the more conceptual academic artists, the urban aesthetic artists, etc..) sometimes coalescing, but more often not communicating. Most of these groups are open minded, though each seems to hold specific reservations about the others. I think a great way to deal with this issue is to create a functional and fun artist-run forum (online or in print) where events and projects can be shared easily and quickly. Kind of like an art version of “Columbus Sucks Because You Suck” calendar.
More generally, though, I feel that the Columbus arts community is extremely supportive. People are very encouraging here of almost any activity, at least verbally and in attitude. And while I wish that there was more constructive criticism happening, I really appreciate the support.
To answer the other questions, I think that each group is trying to be more inclusive to newcomers and the general public than they have ever been. I’m under the impression that their efforts are paying off. As far as the Columbus art market goes: the art here is so cheap! Yes, people should buy more art, but I mean that generally – I wish people would support their local artists as much as they are able. I realize that it’s hardly anyone’s priority to do so, and we’re still in a recession, so it’s difficult to justify the expense.
Q: Tell us about your work with the IMA Gallery.
A: The IMA Gallery is a project responding to the difficulty of participation in the gallery system. It was developed as a means of subverting the notion of having to go to a white cube in order to view contemporary art and being made uncomfortable by the staff who are likely to be patronizing or unwilling to talk. (This is less a situation here in Columbus than in larger cities like New York.) It also works as a suggestion that art can be/should be seen any/everywhere and that anyone can display it. By trying to become a gallery, and more specifically making the gallery into a small wearable object, I hope to make the notion of that space less intimidating. Being part and parcel of the space also ensures my presence, and therefore my engagement with an audience. I try to make myself and my space as approachable as possible.
More concretely: The IMA Gallery is my attempt to turn my body into a site, specifically a gallery, by donning miniature rooms, complete with white walls, hardwood floors, and a lighting system. The gallery only features the work of other artists (never my own), ranging from video to performance pieces. Each time another artist participates in the project a new space is designed specifically for their work – it is an intensely collaborative process, in which we figure out the dimensions and location on my body together. Because the gallery is inherently mobile, the work can be displayed anywhere and at any time, allowing me to bring art to people as opposed to having them go somewhere to view art. Open since 2007, there have been a wide range of projects and I’m quite excited to keep the project going.
Q: What do you like about living in Columbus?
A: Columbus houses the most amazing people I have ever come to know. It is full of interesting and genuine folks who are making and doing wondrous things. I have seen the city cycle buzzing activity and quiet moments. Right now, there are so many spaces, small businesses, local activities, and thought provoking undertakings popping up all over the place; it’s a truly exciting time to be here and I love watching it happen.
Visit the It Looks Like It’s Open gallery at 13 East Tulane Road, Columbus, OH 43202 to view ENOUGH, ALREADY – An exhibition of new work by Dina Sherman. The showing is tonight, Friday, May 6th, 7:00 to 9:00 pm. Donations accepted. The show features collaborations with Sourced Material and Ian Ruffino, and an evening of performance by Ben Langford.
For more information about the artist, visit www.dinasherman.net.