Since the 1970s, pioneering American artist Maren Hassinger has worked across multiple mediums including sculpture, drawing, installation, film/video, performance, and public art. Her practice is a critical exploration of nature and transformation that often features industrial objects and organic materials such as plastic bags, tree branches, or newspapers, addressing their relation to our consumerist society.
C&: You have worked and experimented with multiple mediums. How has this been influenced or shaped by your environment?
Maren Hassinger: Well, let me trace an instance where a medium change was influenced by environment. I had a studio in LA from approximately 1974 to 1984. It was large. 20 by 40 foot with high ceilings and a concrete floor. There were windows on two sides, which I covered with paper. This admitted light without sacrificing privacy. In it I made many pieces. Some requiring wire-rope fabrication and others installations of branches and “home-made” stones. But when I departed for New York City and my residency at the the Studio Museum in Harlem, I made lots of preserved rose-leaf collages and installations of wire rope (which needed no fabrication), dirt, and torn paper, and video.
Our studios at the museum were converted offices. There were wall partitions, linoleum floors, a wall of windows facing 124th Street’s crack epidemic. We could all see one another’s works. It was a communal space which included the community of Harlem through our windows. It certainly was not the hermetic space I enjoyed in LA. It intertwined with life. And, I guess, my large final installation with wire rope, dirt, and torn paper (now in the Studio Museum collection) reflected that.