Interview with Jen Prather of Cyborgesses

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Crochet and toxic growth

With a series of thought-provoking (although standardized) questions, co-curator Deborah Wang interviews the artists and designers of CUTMR. Here are Jen Prather’s responses:

1. How do you see your CUTMR installation/project fitting in to your larger practice as an artist, architect or designer?

CUTMR gives me an opportunity to expand upon site-specific locations by creating an environment indicative of the space. The relationship of my work to the space it inhabits and the process of determining the physical layout, materiality and installation is all part of the process. CUTMR has also provided me with the opportunity to work collaboratively with my artist cohort–Steph Mansolf. Working independently can often produce more esoteric work. The collaborative experience allows each of us to rift off of each other, creating a dialogue of color and stylistic iconography that often is blurred beyond the distinction of each creator.

2. How do you see your practice expanding over the next five years?

It is hard to say where I will be in 5 years because within a month’s time I am participating in two international artist exhibitions–Sowing Seeds International Artist Residency in Rajasthan (India) and CUTMR in Toronto (Canada). And I did not imagine myself participating in these experiences even a year ago, so I am excited for all the great opportunities that will pop up along the way. As a practicing artist, I hope to have completed my MFA degree and on to more long-term creative endeavors that breach past academia.

3. If this is a first time collaboration, I’m interested to know what bought you together and how you see yourself going forward. (Or is this more of a one-time deal, and if so, why?)

Steph Mansolf and I have worked together many times over the last 4-5 years. However, this is the first instance of a true collaboration where the project was proposed and created collectively. Steph and I are very harmonious–we often speak each others’ minds and are always learning from each other. We are also both fascinated with the obsessiveness of our respective processes–Steph’s line drawings or my Crochet pieces. Having this mutual understanding is very helpful with collaborating.

Jen Prather, Symbionts (detail)

4. Why do you think about the rise and interest in multidisciplinary or interdisciplinary practices?

I am extremely excited about the interest in multidisciplinary work. Maybe this is due to the fact that I often get bored working in one medium. But really, materiality is what drives my practice and informs my work. Each form is dictated first by the materiality and will manifest itself based on the fabrics, yarns, wires, etc. that are used. I think this process automatically lends itself to multidisciplinary work. I believe that mastering a skill/technique is very valuable, but this also requires being very innovative and original. While I strive for both qualities in my work, I often feel disappointed by single medium-based work because it is so derivative of other pieces in the same medium created decades prior. I feel liberated by the availability of media and am always curious to learn new processes that will enhance my work.

5. CUTMR has really expanded from a design show to be a fertile exhibition for all kinds of artists, designers and creative people. Help us come up with a new name for the kinds of makers that participate in CUTMR.

I often struggle with finding a way to define myself, even trying to avoid the title as artist. Maybe it is more about identifying the project as opposed to categorizing the maker, such as “new forms.”

Jen Prather, Symbionts

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