Gretchen Marie Schaefer: I've found that I'm only interested in collaboration with people I know really well. I've collaborated on a few projects but the only successful ones in my mind were with my brother-in-law Ryan McRyhew. It works because we know each other and each other's work so well, and we've been making things together for fifteen years on and off. I'd rather just hang out with brilliant, exceptionally curious people like Marie Curie, or Carl Sagan or any scientist that has the ability to explain very complex ideas to non-scientists. It would be enough just to spend time with them, over drinks. Our conversations would seep into my work.
Who in the world is interesting to you right now, and why?
I'm reading On Death and Dying by Elisabeth Kubler-Ross right now. I also enjoyed a recent Radiolab conversation with Alison Gopnik and her perspective that things are precious precisely because we know nothing is permanent. I'm attracted to ideas around death, cycles and reiterations, and rejecting the desire for static, unchanging impermanence. My work has explored these ideas for some time, but only recently does it seem to be coming into focus.
My father worked in palliative care for 25 years, and bring-your-daughter-to-work day included being with people who were dying. Also, when I was in college, my grandfather became ill very suddenly, and I held his hand at his bedside while he died. That experience, being with an actively dying loved one, is something I think about often.
In my work I'm drawn to images that connect to death and exposed bodily interiors, and I continually use the objects I make in many iterations, cycling them through many different lives. So my ears perk up when I hear conversations around these ideas. I'm also captivated by line and connection, so the work of Sarah Sze, David Altmejd, and Julie Mehretu are always on my mind.Continue reading for more from Gretchen Marie Schaefer.