Terrain Gallery's October show features collaborative art from Carl Richardson and Mardis Nenno

click to enlarge Terrain Gallery's October show features collaborative art from Carl Richardson and Mardis Nenno
Carrie Scozzaro photo
Printmaking and ceramics unite at the Terrain Gallery.

Throughout art's history, artists have generally worked alone. The perception of artists as loners was embodied by such people as Ellsworth Kelly, Georgia O'Keefe, Joseph Cornell, Yayoi Kusama and Vincent Van Gogh.

I can relate to the stereotype.

Fifty years ago or so, we got simple paper report cards. I'd get plus signs for "takes initiative" and "creative," and minus signs for "plays well with others," which still makes me smile. I know I wasn't mean or hurtful, just introverted, and I believe those traits — individualism, taking initiative, creativity — were a good fit for pursuing art (and probably also for teaching and writing).

Knowing that about myself, I'm always intrigued by people — especially creatives — who seek out collaborative opportunities. What motivates them? What can be gained and at what cost? How does it work?

Spokane artists Carl Richardson and Mardis Nenno offered one example during their six-month artist residency at Spokane Public Library's creative hub, the Hive. The resulting artwork inspired "Sojourn," October's exhibition at the Terrain Gallery on North Monroe. A free closing reception happens Friday, Oct. 28, from 5-7 pm.

For the two artists, collaboration isn't about working together on a single artwork, but rather the opportunities proximity can provide.

"When I use the word collaboration, I am thinking more of sharing a space, sharing thoughts and having conversations that then spark the creation of something," says Richardson, a printmaker who's taught at Spokane Falls Community College's art department since 1995.

Nenno, who retired from teaching ceramics at SFCC in 2016 but is still an adjunct instructor there, likes working solo, she says, but appreciated having someone to share ideas with and learn from.

"I wanted to focus on bringing the photographic image to my sculptural objects, and Carl taught me how to screen print," Nenno says.

Both artists work in equipment-oriented fields and appreciated having more space to work at the Hive. While Richardson brought over his printing presses, Nenno, a ceramicist, hauled clay there.

Although both artists undertook their own work, they addressed a specific theme: rope.

"In one of our initial planning meetings, we were talking about drawing and the use of line, and Carl mentioned that he loved drawing ropes," says Nenno.

She, meanwhile, is "interested in the visual language of binding, wrapping, knotting and tangling" in her narrative artworks.

They also spoke about the negative and positive connotation of rope.

"I have mixed feelings about rope depending upon its use," Richardson says. "I would imagine most people do. In some instances it is life saving, and in others it is used to do harm."

The exhibition, which closes on Oct. 29, encompasses a wide range of media, from drawing and painting to ceramics and printmaking. The imagery is also wide-ranging, both representative and abstract.

"I like the fact that our pieces, although different in many ways, have some similarities," Richardson says, adding, "The similarities were not done purposefully. They happened organically."

All Hive residencies require some public access to the studios, which Nenno found beneficial, too.

"The Hive is a unique, visionary opportunity for artists in Spokane," she says.

It also dovetails beautifully with Terrain Gallery, which describes itself as a "space for the community to come together and exchange ideas." Past shows this year have included works by Spokane Print Fest makers and Posie Kalin's collaboration with area high school students to integrate art into science instruction.

In November, Terrain is featuring Crista Ann Ames. Next, Shantell Jackson and Stefani M. Rossi, who were part of The Hive's inaugural residency program in 2021, exhibit their work in December. ♦

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About The Author

Carrie Scozzaro

Carrie Scozzaro spent nearly half of her career serving public education in various roles, and the other half in creative work: visual art, marketing communications, graphic design, and freelance writing, including for publications throughout Idaho, Washington, and Montana.