Body Worship w/ Svea Ferguson

Body Worship w/ Svea Ferguson

I sat down with Svea Ferguson, an artist who will be showing her installation work at the Holland Project this month. Svea’s show is called Body Worship. Here’s what she had to say.

ANA MCKAY: Who are you?

SVEA FERGUSON: My name is Svea, I’m a sculptor and installation artist based out of Calgary, Alberta, (Canada,) and I’m here in Reno for about six months. And I made some work that’s in the show here!

AM: When did you start making art and why?

SF: I guess I’ve been making art for a long time, but I started my undergrad degree in 2009 at the Alberta College of Art and Design, which is an art school in Calgary, and finished in 2015 — so I did a long, slow BFA. Laughs. And I do come from a family of artists, so it’s always sort of been a part of my life, but I never really thought I would be an artist until I ended up going to art school.

AM: So, your show, Body Worship, is gracing us at the Holland Project this month. What brings you to Reno and to Holland?

SF: I am in Reno because my partner, Logan, is teaching up at the Sierra Nevada College — he’s teaching a couple art classes. So we’re here just for the semester. So that’s why I’m here. And he told me about Holland, and I’m definitely always interested in finding artist-run spaces, which we have a lot of where I’m from. I was super impressed both with the gallery space here but also all the programming that Holland does — it’s really, really cool and kind of unique, so I was just interested in seeing if I could show some work here.

AM: So, most of the work I’ve seen has been made of vinyl and linoleum flooring, which is super interesting! When and how did you start using this medium?

SF: Yeah, so I use a lot of linoleum and vinyl flooring materials. I came across the material, I guess, during my undergrad degree, and it was at a time where I was using lots of found materials and objects, doing a lot of assemblage sculpture. And a student had left for the semester, and left everything in his studio. So, I was volunteering to help the tech clean out all the studios, and found this old piece of vinyl — like, a really really old piece that was paper backed and all rolled up and really really stiff and brittle. I just took it with a bunch of other stuff into my studio, and then it sat there for quite a while. But as soon as I used it, it just sort of behaved in such a different way and was sort of both like a found object and a recognizable object or material, but like, had a lot of its own qualities.

Actually, after I made this one piece out of that, and then I subsequently went back to my studio and threw everything else away that I had made. Like physically threw it away in the garbage! Laughs. Got rid of everything else, and just made a very decisive decision to keep working that way. And I think that was the only time that I’ve ever really worked with an old piece that had that kind of memory built into it — that it wanted to stay rolled up, so it really took a lot of force to flatten it out. Since then it’s been more new materials, but it has such an amazing physical quality and practically is really wonderful to work with. It’s so resilient, so I can be really physical with it, and it can stand up to a lot of force, which I like.

AM: Can you tell us what inspires you? What inspired you to create the work in this show?

SF: I’ve been working pretty much in lino and vinyl for the past three or four years pretty strictly. Those works, for me, always relate to the body. There are some series of the works where they are referencing classical sculpture, so trying to reference the draping that you would see in the carved sculptures. And also, the materials that I’m working with are like faux stone and faux marble, so kind of making those material connections to like, the real marble and the faux marble. So I’m definitely always interested in the body, and how this synthetic material can sort of bring our own physicality out, or like there can be some sort of relationship there. So…I wanted to work in some different materials. There’s steel and wood, so definitely some materials opposing the softness of the linoleum.

They’re all kind of abstracted bodies. The shapes that the steel are cut out of  for me started as these drawings of, like very minimalized abstracted geometric versions of multiple bodies in contact with each other. And then the tiling effect that you’ll see in some of the work — I sort of wanted to place the sculptures in some sort of environment, and the more I sort of thought about what that environment should be, I kept going back to a bathroom, as both a very clean space and a very dirty space, depending on maybe where you were or your outlook on a space like that, so it kind of had this back and forth that I liked. And that is obviously a very intimate space for a person. And then, I mean, as you start actually making the work and the logistics of that, things change so much and you sort of have to reevaluate once the pieces are done — really, what they are. Laughs. But that was sort of where it all began. And then having those steel and wood structures in contrast with the linoleum in the softer sculptures, and also with the scale — there’s a pretty big variation in the scale in the work — just sort of, like, seeing what sort of relationship my body or the viewer’s body can have when interacting or seeing these other objects.

SF: The show is called Body Worship, and it’s showing at the Holland Project up until December 1st, and the opening is this Friday, November 17th from 5 to 7PM.

— Ana McKay (originally aired on KWNK 97.7FM)