Martha Mysko’s work blurs installation, sculpture, video, and photography through the language of painting. Using found objects and digital processes, her work often evokes domestic space, consumerist culture and tropes within art history and pop culture. Martha is currently Artist-in-Residence and Co-Head of the Painting Department at Cranbrook Academy of Art. She has exhibited her work in numerous solo, group, two-person, and collaborative exhibitions since 2006 in cities including New York, Philadelphia, Los Angeles, Detroit, Chicago, Berlin, Nashville, Jackson Hole, and North Little Rock.
How did you come to work with your specific collaborator? Did you know them before this? Were you familiar with their work?
Gisela and I were partnered together through MOCAD. While I didn’t know her personally I was familiar with and admired her work and excited about the prospect of working together. I was appreciative of the opportunity to get to know another artist in this capacity, to learn about her practice on a more thorough and intimate level than I would have maybe otherwise.
Before the actual process of making, what was the process of deciding on what to make like? What was the making process itself like?
Jova facilitated an initial introduction. The three of us met in my studio and began to discuss possibilities of what our collaboration or process might or could look like. A few weeks later I visited Gisela in her studio and we continued the conversation. The process of deciding what to make was layered–getting to know each other, getting to know each other’s work, and then talking through ideas.
I think we clicked with how we allowed our plans for the work to morph and take shape throughout the process. Thinking back, there were a lot of very different directions we were going to take. The show was put on pause and when we reconnected after a few months we would video chat or check in every couple of weeks and began exchanging ideas and images– mostly of materials, objects, and color palette with each other.
What new possibilities were offered through collaboration that would not have been possible working alone? Did you feel any disadvantages
compared to working alone?
It was a great opportunity to get out of the routine of the studio, or to break certain habits. Our collaboration was two self-portraits made in conversation with each other, and a self-portrait was not something I would have been focusing on otherwise. New ideas and processes emerged that I am still excited about and carrying forward into future work. Since it was a collaboration I didn’t feel any disadvantages. I think we also approached the project in a way that allowed us each a lot of room for focusing on our individual contributions, while still staying true to the idea of collaboration.
Did working collaboratively provide you with any insights that could be extrapolated and used outside of art in either a personal or political context? Were there lessons learned that could be used in other aspects of life? What did it teach you about democracy?
I think it was a good reminder of the benefits of stepping outside of your comfort zone and of what can be accomplished when working collectively vs. alone.
Going off of the title of the exhibition, how do you and your collaborator see your specific work differently?
I don’t want to speak on behalf of my collaborator; personally, I think while the concept of self-portraits for a collaborative project might initially seem counterintuitive, it actually allowed us to explore what “Dual Vision” could potentially mean or look like. I see it as two personal perspectives conversing, converging, and diverging. If I had been making a self-portrait for a solo project my contribution most likely would have looked a lot different. There was really a lot of back and forth.
We have a really long title for our project — it is like a statement in itself. The title is “Self Portraits In: Self portraiture in surrounding, in landscape, in DNA, in objects, in material, in eyes, in stories, in images, in the present, in the past, in plastic, in the familiar.” Our individual descriptions of our self portraits follow the title. I think the structure of the title/statement is a good example of how we see the work differently while operating together on exploring common themes or narratives.