From 15 April, 2014 Chicago's Intuit Museum will be showing the collaborative work of Tim Stone and Teresa Albor. Both are mid-career artists, each with a very different approach to their practice. For over more than two years, meeting once a week, they have made work together on paper, canvas and wooden panels. The two met at The Arts of Life, a person-centric, artistic community which consists of people with and without disabilities. Teresa was a volunteer; Tim is a full time “Arts of Life” artist.
Jenna Feldman, a filmmaker who teaches at Columbia College and co-runs Aspect/Ratio, a video-art gallery, interviewed Tim and Teresa. Jenna’s collaboration on film projects with her sister, who is learning disabled, provides her with particular insight into Teresa and Tim’s work.
JENNA FELDMAN: Tim, you have mentioned that painting has had a real-world impact on your ability to perceive. Prior to painting, you were unable to see straight lines. Has the act of collaborating with Teresa also had an impact on the way you view the world?
TIM STONE: Yes, working with another artist taught me a different style because Teresa does it completely differently from the way I do. Learning new art styles broadens my relation to lifestyles. Broadening my self goes along with my dream to be known in the Chicago area and beyond, like Cleveland or London and have shows in London museums.
JF: Teresa, has your eye and the way you see imagery changed as a result of working with Tim? Do you view the act of making art differently as a result of the collaboration?
TERESA ALBOR: Working with Tim has led to allowing myself the freedom to work with abandon. And color. I’ve really been experimenting with color and I find it uplifting.
JF: Tim, when working together, did you discuss your intentions for each piece?
TS: Teresa did her thing and I did mine, I would begin working on a piece and it would be more of an easy flow, we would just make our art and let things happen. I know color and brightness, whereas Teresa doesn't know about color at all but things would flow well between us.
JF: During the collaboration were you open to moments of accident or chance? Can you give an example of an unforeseen event or discovery?
TA: We are totally open to chance—in fact, I’d say openness and chance define the way we work. For example: I’d created a lot of texture on a 4’ x 8’ panel with old sewing patterns, Tim then decided to just saturate the entire canvas with colour. I then added more sewing pattern tissue. Tim wasn’t happy with the fact that there was text on the pattern pieces and so painted it out leaving these small dashes/accents/slashes of colour everywhere. That gesture completed the painting perfectly.
JF: Can you discuss your method or process for collaborating?
TA: Tim and I find that taking turns works best—and trusting each other. We discuss the work “in between” turns but tend to trust the other person’s judgment as to how they are going to approach the painting. Tim never hesitates. But when it’s my turn—I tend to spend a lot of time thinking about how I can compliment/extend the work (although I’m getting better at being more intuitive). In fact, the first piece we did together came about because I’d been stalled for months on a piece. So I invited Tim to come to my studio and give me advice. He just asked to see what paint I had, and brushes, and set to work.
JF: Can you talk about how you knew when a work was finished?
TS: There's a point when I know that I've added the right amount of colors in a painting. Knowing when something is finished comes from the amount of colors.
TA: We are both very conscious of “overdoing” a painting. We often decide almost simultaneously that a painting is ”done”. And there have been a few pieces that we both thought went over the line and we destroyed them, by painting over them and starting over. For me, I try to go with a gut reaction to the visual impact of the painting, and also a sort of a sense of reluctance to do more— these are indicators that it’s done and we are happy with it, or it’s done and we are not happy with it so we start over. But either way, it’s never a problem because the process of making a “good” or a “bad” painting is worthwhile. And we tend to make a lot more work that we like, versus work we’re not happy with.
JF: How has the act of collaborating impacted your individual practices? What did you learn from one another? What did you learn about your own relationship to art?
TS: I learned about things that I would never do. It's interesting to collaborate because unexpected things happen but in my individual practice I control almost everything. I like combining my styles with other artists. Teresa and I have become very close friends from the experience. It's very hard to explain my relationship with art, it's a kind of love, and it is very helpful for me, I never get tired or stop making art.
TA: My studio practice serves as an adjunct to my more “socially engaged” work. I am primarily interested in the role of the artist in society. I’m interested in what art is, whom it is for, how and where it is made, and where it is shown. Collaborating with Tim is part of this investigation. Viewed from this perspective, working with Tim has calmed me down— helped me to see that living a creative life is just what you do when you’re wired a certain way. It’s helped me to ask fewer questions and just go with what can be a very powerful urge to make work/act on ideas. But I have a long way to go.
Mural by Tim Stone/Teresa Albor. All other work by Veronica Bruce. Image taken in the studio of Veronica Bruce.