Q&A: OMM Artist Residency #1

OMM’s first resident artists on Eskişehir and the residency program

Between January 3 and February 1, 2020, OMM’s first residency exhibit, “Third Place” brought together the works of Tyler Thacker (b. 1984, U.S.) and Erin Wolf Mommsen’s (b. 1996, Dominican Republic).

The name “Third Place” addresses the term coined by sociologist Ray Oldenburg to indicate places where people spend time between home (first place) and work (second place). Third places are locations where individuals exchange ideas, spend time, and build relationships. In this case, the third place is the home, the work and the space for exchange; and the thresholds between the three merge together. The notion also emphasizes the exploration of the “museum space” as a third place set for bartering ideas and voices.

Below, we chat with the artists about their process in Eskişehir.

Watch the video about the artists’ time in Odunpazarı here.

Tyler Thacker

How would you describe Eskişehir to someone who had never been here?

Quite different from what I’m used to in New York. I think it has urban qualities, there’s a city center, but where the museum is set up and our studio is set up has more of a sort of village environment, with cobblestone streets, tightly knit domestic communities interspersed with streets that sell local ephemera from the white stone that’s really popular.

So you had had a studio practice for a while now, but is this your first residency?

This is my first residency. My practice was largely cultivated in isolated fashion, outside of institutions and formal schooling, and not until the last couple of years have I had the exciting adventure of navigating a more public practice. But this being my first residency, and a lengthy one at that, three months in a foreign country, not speaking the local tongue. I don’t have much to compare it to but it has been very fulfilling.

What’s been the best part of doing this residency for three months? What’s been the best part of the process so far for you?

I think the most endearing part of the process has been my exposure to the local community while I’ve been working, as well as this really cute cat who is hanging out with us, who I’ve fallen in love with. It’s been really special. Painting can be a really isolating practice and you build the muscle to navigate lengthy periods of isolated creativity. So, to have this experience that’s a little more ingratiated to the local population has been a positive experiment, and really inspiring.

What’s been, or has there been, a more difficult side to doing your residency, or showing up at the studio every day?

I love what I get to do. I feel so lucky to be supported, to paint, and to continue to grow. I really have an immense amount of gratitude for this experience. I really care about painting, I really care about ideas and communication, and different forms of language. There really hasn’t been a downside for me. I have this beautiful studio. I’m perpetually trying to catch up with painting ideas, so it’s been a great opportunity to sink my teeth into a body of work in a short amount of time.

In a nutshell, what’s your understanding of biomimicry?

My personal understanding of biomimicry is ways to coopt aspects of nature to make our worlds a little bit more sustainable, given that nature’s been around a little bit longer than humanity has, has been largely informed from living out in nature for four or five years, living out of an urban landscape which I’d grown up in, all the ways in which I’d fantasized nature would be that are actually quite… not the case. Nature can be very violent. It has an aggressive form of decay and regeneration that allows it to grow and change and remold. In that vein, in our discussions about biomimicry and ways to make a body of work that was inspired by nature, the thing that I accidentally took as a major point of inspiration is the idea of aggressive regeneration.

Erin Wolf Mommsen

How would you describe Eskişehir to someone who’s never been here?

I actually grew up in the Dominican Republic, and there’s this aspect of simplified life at least in Odunpazarı, where we spend most of our time. It’s very rich in tradition and history.

The studio takes up a lot of time with what you do here in the residency. What is the best thing about showing up to your studio every day?

For me it’s something that I’ve really craved to have, and in New York it’s kind of impossible. I had a studio space that was shared among twelve people, that was so expensive and just to store all of my things. So, I couldn’t really create the space or have an energy that’s really my own so I think that was the most exciting part. Just having space to create and build myself and build my practice in the comfort of doing it.

Does the museum have a place in your day-to-day? Do you go there once in a while to spend time?

Yeah, I’ve gone in a few times. There’s been one moment where I think the architecture students came from the university. There was just a group of 45 students all drawing and looking at the museum and I sat there. It was kind of special, this collective energy among everyone. It was very peaceful and nice.

Can you step-by-step walk us through your creative process from conception to completion?

I start them with a visual idea that I have in my head. So, it starts with the image I have in my head but it never results in that same image. It goes through phases and transitions. I like to involve chance in it, so attempting to make certain compositions and then covering them, modifying the composition, leaving these layers of thought and exposing some of them and covering others. It’s built around that process of just trying to discover the piece.

What’s it been like replanting yourself in Eskişehir?

I’ve had to replant a lot in not only childhood but in my young adult life. Through work I’ve been living in all these cities for three to four months at a time, always being somewhere else and not really having a solid thing. So I’m kind of used to it, and this has been the most enjoyable. . I have a lot of gratitude.

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