Interview: Brent Budsberg and Shana McCaw Depict Dreams at the Armoury

Mar. 24, 2009
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Seven years ago Shana McCaw and Brent Budsberg met in Milwaukee coordinating a performance art event. At that time, their monumental hopscotch game created the connection between four art galleries, which included Flux Design, and Brent and Shana, who were married about four years later. Today McCaw (Cranbrook Academy of Art, MFA) and Budsberg (UW-Milwaukee, BFA) hold degrees in sculpture but collaboratively construct site-specific installations usually composed of highly detailed miniatures, tiny but realistic objects from everyday life, expressing the emotions  expereinced during the hazy consciousness between waking and sleeping or dreams.  Two new installations by McCaw and Budsberg open in "Night Work" at the Armoury Gallery on Friday, March 27 from 6:00-9:00 p.m. In their working studio, which appears much like a craftsman's wood shop, the pair pause to explain their upcoming show.

Q: What site-specific installations will you be creating for the Armoury Gallery?

A: Were trying to do two smaller scale installations using old roping and a window with a mysterious wind. Thats all we want to say about the work. But we often incorporate dream imagery or dreams we have been having making the themes a little bit dark.

Q:  Is this where the title of the show "Night Work" comes from?
A: Not at the beginning. The Night Work title came up because we were all teachers in the show, and the art is our night work. But the other theme looks at a mindset when youre in the middle of the night, when creaks are more important. In the days, sounds and things are [believed to be] more rational, but in the night everything is more intense.

Q: So the role of dreams contributes to your work significantly?

A: Our work is influenced by dreams or the mental processes of dreams, so were actually working in our sleep. Because dreams in the night brings out our darker emotions, our fears about whats happening, when we feel less secure. The dreams become responses to intuitions, subconscious influences giving birth to the pieces.

Q: How do these ideas relate to the space, what you do in the gallery?
A:  We create a response to space because our work is site-specific. So we visit the space more than once, and then, drop back to an idea we had in our head, perhaps a dream or another idea weve been ruminating about. The small room in this gallery was an intimate space, so it seemed a good place for this small window we had been talking about for a while.

Q: Do your installations relate to one another in any way?

A: They are ideas that keep progressing, the next work feeds off the last or itself.  This seems natural and intuitive in how they evolve. Theres an ongoing conversation that we always have⎯so we connect really well and ideas dont diverge that much from one another⎯ an ongoing story we are coming up within this dream framework that continues the plot of the story [through each installation].

Q: Since you both teach, when do you find time to work on your installations?
A:  Well, usually at night. But since Brent is working part time, he can come in a couple of days a week. I teach full time at Cardinal Stritch and MIAD, so I come in during the night and weekends.  Its really hard to be serious about an art career when youre working full time. You have to be creative about your work, but you also have to be creative about your life.


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