Inside the Studio with Madeline Walker
Madeline Walker makes molds but also breaks them. We talked to The Other Art Fair artist about her practice and contributing to COVID-19 efforts.
Madeline Walker’s work is like bubble wrap, you can’t help but want to touch it. Made with a combination of molds and digital fabrication, Madeline creates repetitive bulbous spheres and sculptural surfaces.
Mind Maps Sculpture, Madeline Walker
Can you tell us a bit about your process and the pattern and repetition in your work?
Pattern and repetition are a part of my continual recovery from OCD. One of the kinds of OCD that I have dealt with throughout my life is called Pure O. Pure O involves intrusive thoughts which are repetitive and unwanted words, thoughts, and images in the mind. I am interested in reframing these unseen experiences and telling my story. Pattern and repetition happen to be two of the ways that help me translate my experience in a way that can be healing and meditative.
A lot of the patterns and repetitions in my work also just come intuitively from observing, responding, making and experimenting with the things I am most curious about. It is only through making the work that new meaning is developed, and pattern is one element that always seems to emerge in the result. At the same time I tend to work in somewhat of a structured way that I find lets me incorporate my thoughts into the materials I work with. Experimentation within that framework is endless. The questions I have and the curiosity of the unknown is a driving force always.
Mind Maps Sculpture, Madeline Walker
Texture is a big part of your work, what first drew you to texture and your style of working?
I think part of this process for me is encouraging people to look more closely at their everyday surroundings. I love universal forms and textures that also have a personal narrative element. The textures I use in my work are all engaging to me on a sensory level. They can be grounding in times of anxiety. This grounding concept is not anything new; it’s apparent in lots of mindfulness meditation and psychology research. Focusing on the body, rather than what’s happening in the mind, can be calming in times of distress. That is a big part of it. I am also interested in things that look soft, but may actually be sharp, and vice versa. This goes back to expectations and assumptions we have based on what we see at first glance.
Can you tell me a bit more about your production of masks, how it works and how it came about? How many can you make etc.
I originally started 3D printing during grad school and have been playing around with it since then so I was already familiar with the process. Digital fabrication has been a part of my studio practice and process for a long time. After asking around on social media and researching some different open source mask designs, a friend of mine told me about the Montana Mask. The Montana Mask was the best design I found because of the short print time, material efficiency, and its acceptance by health experts. It was developed in response to the Covid-19 crisis and the design allows for fewer filters to be used per mask. The significance of material efficiency during a pandemic goes without saying! Right now, I am able to print a few each day. It’s very easy to download and print the files if you are familiar with the process. At a time when many political leaders and systems are failing us, I think it is more important than ever to do what we can with what we have, however small of an impact it may have.
Besides making masks, what are you working on at the moment?
I am working on a series called “Mind Maps” right now which involves casting found objects in a pigmented plaster material that I mix and paint. I am currently finishing up the first round of these works and have begun the second round in the series. I would say I have about thirty + works in this series in my studio right now at varying degrees of completion. The textures in this new round of work are quite different though. I’m excited to find out what they become next!
How are you staying inspired?
Inspiration can be found in small, unassuming places, especially during a pandemic. I am finding beauty on my daily walks, when I see everything blooming in my neighborhood, nearby trails, and along the Ohio river where I live.
Food, gardening, good books, and yoga are always other sources of inspiration. If I am ever feeling uninspired, usually that means it’s time to move and to get a change of scenery. Physical movement and getting back to work is often the solution. Some ideas come to me at random moments, but most of the time, they come to me by engaging with work.
Madeline’s work is featured in The Online Studios brought to you by The Other Art Fair. A new online platform offering art lovers around the world access to over 800 Fair artists, The Online Studios will keep our community feeling inspired, engaged, and continue to spread joy through art.