— I just moved into my current studio a couple months ago. It has windows that get the morning light, white walls, and plenty of space. I bought new shelves, tables and chairs when I moved in. This is the first time that I’ve had a studio space that is separate from my living space. Establishing a relationship to this new space has given me time to think about all the studio type spaces that I have had over the years, and how they related to the work I was producing.
The first time I dedicated a space in my house to my art was my kitchen table in Tacoma about a decade ago. I would spend hours at this table, fiddling with little objects, reading the paper and tracing pictures of naked ladies. It got pretty messy, but I really liked having all the objects within arm’s reach of where I sat, where I ate. This is where is I started developing the small, intricate objects.
Once I started showing work, I dedicated a little 10’ x 10’ room in my house to most of the objects, though I kept some outside. Most of the time I would be making art, but sometimes I would just play with the objects, arrange them in interesting ways.
When I moved into a house that had a basement, I combined my studio with a weight machine and an alcohol still. My workspace was also a workspace for house projects, and a hang out place at night. I would work on tables made of plywood and 2 x 4s, and they would accumulate detritus from all the projects. At one point, I took one of the tables to a show because I needed a pedestal, and it became part of the piece. This is where I developed the idea of creating a table as a sculpture that looks as if someone has just walked away from it, telling a story with the abandoned objects.
I moved with my wife, Blair, to Vashon, a little island between Tacoma and Seattle for a year. My studio there was mostly our little front porch, or if it was too cold, I would use the coffee table. We used one of my stands with found lab glass on it as a Christmas tree, decorating it with a little life preserver ornament. During a super low tide, we spread a bunch of colored glass out in the sand and rocks.
When Blair and I moved to upstate New York, the house we moved into had a garage. I built some shelves and worktables, installed some track lights. I bought a heater. Even with the track lighting, the light was pretty crappy, and the cinderblock walls made it seem really dark. I spent a lot of time outside in my rabbit hutch, using a piece of plywood I screwed to one wall to mock up my pieces. I wanted to spruce up the darkness a bit, so I started using the colored CFL bulbs, mostly just to decorate and make things exciting while I worked in the cold. They quickly got incorporated into the work.
So this is really the first time I refer to my studio as a studio, before this it was always so mixed into my living situation that it didn’t really feel like a studio. I guess it’s only now that I am establishing a studio separate from my house that I am realizing I have had a studio the whole time, maybe I just didn’t have a house.
Now that I have a studio space, and white walls, I am really enjoying being able to put all my glass and other objects out on shelves, put some work on walls, and really observe everything in real time. I am a little nervous as I feel I am spending too much time standing around looking at all these trinkets without doing anything, but I guess that’s always been part of my studio practice. But all those windows? I feel helpless in a space like this: all I want to do is look at the way all the different colors look in the light.
I think I’m finally getting somewhere with the ponies, too. They take about a minute to complete, but it took me about 4 years to learn how to make one. Every time I blow glass, I make a few of them. It’s usually just a warm up exercise, something to make sure my tools are clean, and to get a feel for the glass if I’m in an unfamiliar shop. I usually just give them away to kids or friends, but I’ve started keeping a few around to look at. I’ve never used them in my art, but I’m beginning to really like them. Perhaps they just needed some space to move around.
Eilias Hansen was born in Indianola, Washington and lives in Upstate New York. Recent exhibitions include solo presentations at LISTE, Basel and Frieze Frame, London, with Jonathan Viner, London, UK; Maccarone, NY, Balice Hertling, Paris, and The Company, Los Angeles. Hansen’s work has exhibited in the Seattle Art Museum, WA, Howard House Contemporary Art, WA, and Parc Saint Leger, Paris (with Oscar Tuazon). His book, I’M A LONG WAY FROM HOME, AND I DON’T REALLY KNOW THESE ROADS was recently published by DoPe Press. EVEN CROOKS HAVE TO PAY THE RENT, his second book, will be published by Minor Matters Publishing. He is currently working on pieces for the Yokohama Triennial.