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Quiet Time with Sean Foley

It was getting dark in North Adams when we found Sean Foley, Katie Bullock, and MASS MoCA curator, Denise Markonish in Hunter Hallway – working on a new installation. We asked them if they were tired and Sean shook his head no…then shook his head yes…then shook his head no…and yes.

We began talking logistics about Sean’s new installation, Ruse, at MASS MoCA. Sean seemed a little exhausted when he was talking about work so we decided to ask him, “What advice do you have for a young person who aspires to pursue the arts but lives in an area where art & culture is not easily accessible or accepted?” After that, Sean immediately lit up and showed us why he is a perfect candidate to be an art teacher at Ohio State University.

Sean Foley

Here is some of advice directly from a successful 21st century artist who grew up in Indiana…

1) “Do what you like. You have to care so deeply that you’re not embarrassed when people tell you, you shouldn’t do that.”

2) “Let it be the thing that motivates you.”

3) “You have to constantly develop your intellectual curiosity.”

4) “Make your world,” he said. “Look at art.” He said artists must articulate the experience they have with the piece THEN read about it to develop the secret language and understanding between artists. He explained this language is silent and then compared it to “sniffing like cats.”

Curator, Denise Markonish, and Sean Foley

He spoke very highly of his studio assistant, Katie Bullock, and said she is constantly developing her ideas and ways of thinking.

Katie Bullock

Sean also mentioned the Indie band from Dayton, Ohio; Guided by Voices. They had humble beginnings, recording in a garage for fun. The band started gaining recognition and listeners were amazed by their uniquely developed sound. “You get time in the Midwest to do things wrong and develop your position…Sometimes you think you’re doing it wrong but it could be right. But if it’s right, chances are, it’s been done before,” he said.

We wrapped up the interview by asking him why he chose art for the direction in his life. He explained that he always knew it was what he was going to do, even when he was a kid and fellow classmates teased him for it. “It’s how I make sense of things…I paint to see stuff I’m curious about. It’s the language I speak.”

I hope this particular post inspires young students to develop a relationship with someone they admire. Find a mentor. Stop by your favorite professor’s office. It’s the best way to develop your skills and link them human connections.

Thanks again to Miss Danelle Cheney for the photos!

Make it a good day =]

Posted January 14, 2011 by MASS MoCA
Filed under BLOG, Exhibitions, Sean Foley: Ruse, Work-in-progress
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