Meredith Dittmar‘s 3D work is so intricate, colorful and diverse, it’s splendid. But that’s no surprise because she’s a polymath, having studied computer science and knowing how to farm. Check out her interview below!
What do you consider your first piece?
The first thing I made was a b-boy kind of character leaning against a earth-like ball. I was super into dancing back then (’93) and that started a whole set of b-boy/b-girls in various freezes.
Has your work changed since your first piece? How has it?
Its been almost 20 years so I hope so! I made all sorts of freestanding characters, animals, and people for many years. The first time I created a wall piece was in ’04 and that was just a shelf with standing characters glued to it. Afterwards I started to shift my career so I could sculpt full time – that’s when things really took off and I began to create full illustrated environments.
What’s it like to work with polyurathane foam, fiberglass resin and polymer clay?
Well I mainly work with polymer clay which is really easy to dabble in. Once you get into it though, its a very deep medium with many techniques you can employ, and lots things yet to be discovered about it. Foam, resins, fiberglass casting materials, cement etc are all different things I work with to create larger sized sculptures. Some of that stuff is really nasty and a challenge to work with in confined spaces. We are moving to a place with more room, so I’m excited to dive into that kind of work a bit more.
How did you land on those three media?
I discovered polymer clay while working at a bead store during college. I’ve always had “busy hands” so it was a perfect fit for me.
Why sculpture? What about sculpture attracts you? What about your personality is suited to sculpture?
It wasn’t really a conscious decision it just seemed to happen. However I do feel more 3 dimensionally inclined. I have a stronger intuitive knowledge of 3d forms than 2d. I like that it is forgiving and I can add or subtract parts easily. I like having my hands directly on the medium.
Tell us about “The Meta Perspective”. How was was the exhibition received?
That show was my first exhibition with the Fifty24MX in Mexico City. We had such a great time with Arturo & Lili (gallery owners) and fell in love with Mexico City. The art scene there felt so inviting and vibrant and there was a great range of people at the opening that were really interested in digging deeper and learning about the work more.
Besides the obvious, what is the difference between a solo exhibition and a group exhibition? How are the dynamics different? How are the relationships between the artists and the gallery different?
Well it’s as you would think – you get to develop a stronger relationship with a gallery if you have a solo show. I think its important to work with people you respect and who have similar attitudes about art and life. It’s a lot more fun that way and gives you a nice buffer from the crazy ass art world.
What has been the most rewarding show that you have been a part of? What made it so great? What was the overall lesson that you walked away with?
None jump out at me because I don’t really enjoy shows that much. The spotlight isn’t really my thing and when I’m not in the right headspace it can be awkward discussing my work. Really the content is in visual form because the topic of consciousness is inherently difficult to verbalize. Each time is an exercise in grace but I do get a little better at it.
Going on your bio, did you grow up on a farm? How has your childhood affected your art?
I grew up on a “martini farm” – meaning my dad was a VP of engineering who wanted to play with animals and drive a tractor for fun in his spare time. Ultimately growing up with a lot of space to play, and the gift of many animal friends fostered my feeling of connectedness to the natural world. Every experience I have contributes to the person I am today and that informs the esthetic through which the content is expressed.
When you were studying Comp Sci did you know that you wanted to be an artist? If so, why did you study something in the sciences?
Oh no I had no idea. I didn’t really have a strong inclination as to what I wanted to do. I come from a long line of engineers so I just went with that. I was always good at math and problem solving. Actually at no point along the line can I recall having the thought “I want to be an artist”. I’ve always been really bad at doing things I don’t love, so as I followed what inspired me, I moved closer and closer to art. I really am so glad it happened the way it did. CompSci led to a career in web dev at a time when it was so new and experimental and exciting. Flash came along and allowed me harness my programming skills and simultaneously transition to something more creative. I gave myself an education in design through personal interactive experiments, and scouring early blogs (then called design portals) for design inspiration to deconstruct. The early interactive design rock stars definitely influenced the style I have today, and science, math and technology continue to inspire me and play a big role in my work.
From an artists’ perspective how do you like Portland? Where else have you lived? How important do you think your environment is to your work?
Love Love love Portland! There is a groundswell of creative energy here in everything from the food to peoples yards. Its super inspiring… plus the rainy season is great for being productive. Ive been here 14 years – before that I spent a few years riding in Tahoe during the winters and working in LA in the summers. I was born and raised just outside of Boston and went to school 5 years in Amherst MA .
How are you consciously working to become a better artist? What are your strengths? What are your flaws?
Its really impossible to put accurately to words, but when Im working I (hope to) move into a kind of “no-thing” space and rest there while the body works. Its not always easy, and I frequently notice when I’m moving between an attachment to the idea of self, and back to no-thing. When I’m unattached to concepts I don’t need to consciously progress anything – seems to just happen. I spontaneously push for more precision or create new techniques with the clay, or practice to improve my human form. Sometimes I make big leaps forward, others times I don’t. I don’t really get to decide. Really, its an illusion that anyone decides… but that’s a can of worms we don’t need open. 😉
How have you become conscious of your flaws? How do you intend to address or remedy them?
My flaws reside on the interpersonal/business end. Im crappy at promoting, networking and schmoozing. I don’t really shepherd my career – it just does what it does. My philosophy tends to be to focus on the art, and if its authentic and good, success will find it. I’m not sure if that is necessarily true, and ultimately, it isn’t a very integral philosophy. Ill find better success when the space I nurture through my work is brought more fully to all aspects of my life, especially the areas Im weak in. And of course, the success I will find will be of a different nature than one would expect!
What are your goals for the year?
Not to be paradoxical but my goal would probably be to have no goal. The more I want to achieve something from my art the more its integrity feels compromised. Besides, creating art is a lifelong practice with nothing to achieve – the awesomeness is in the act of creating. Im crazy fortunate to be able to do it. Also this year is shaping up to be a wild one because we are moving and building me a new studio – plus I have 18 mo twin boys We are stirring things up so Ill see where Im at when the dust settles after the summer.
What is the best kind of juice? What is the favorite fruit? If they are different, why do you think that is?
Juice fave is apple cider. Fruit is ripe strawberries or cherries. Berries are too intese for juice!