This is 5 Questions. Each week, we send five questions to an artist featured in Under the Radar, our weekly email highlighting the best art on the ArtSlant network. This week we seek answers from Dain Mergenthaler.
What are you trying to communicate with your work?
I think that my cartoony, frilly, animated work is a ploy to coax viewers into looking at the world around them with fresh, queer eyes: to look under rocks and into subway grates and at lamp posts and between train cars and find a new, alien world that is dangerous and sexy and scary at the same exact time that it is benign and gray. I’ve become quite obsessed with this manipulation in hopes that I can warp our immutable circumstances within consumerism and life after industrialization. By using weaving, felting, net-making, and other anachronisms, I try to lend some bargaining power to my color palettes and materials, but also to prod viewers into thinking about our surroundings created in the past while envisioning a future.
What is an artist’s responsibility?
An artist hovers somewhere in between selfishly and with great hubris surrendering their life for the pursuit of the enlightenment of themselves, and with a profound humility and humbleness, asking others to listen while they speak. However, the artist has a responsibility to give a voice to more than just their own work.
Show us the greatest thing you ever made (art or not)?
Kat Lyfe, 2010, Handwoven rayon (doublecloth), 36 x 18 inches. Photo: Max Schwartz
Every time I finish something I think it’s the greatest, but this work has continued to mean a lot to me. It was one of the first big-deal weavings I made, but also I just love looking at old work and seeing the themes and ideas that continue to be present in my work now.
Tell us about a work you want to make but never will:
I want to categorize, inventory, and archive all of the objects in my possession, but I’m much too disorganized, and worse: I’m too attached to using them.
Who are three artists we should know but probably don’t?
—The ArtSlant Team
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(Image at top: How to Tie a Knot, 2017, Video)