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Home FEATURES Meredith Dittmar Interview

Meredith Dittmar Interview

Written by Trippe   
Tuesday, 24 November 2009 02:53
This Portland artist does incredible things with clay. She opens a solo show Dec 9th in Mexico City. We meant to interview this Portland based 35 year old Flash designer/ developer turned amazingly talented clay sculpture a few months back and completely spaced on it. Glad we came across her work again recently to remind us how amazing she is. Her work is incredible and she opens a show at Upper Playground Mexico City December 9th. Great stuff.

Welcome to Fecal Face, Meredith. Amazing work!... Let's start with you describing your process of creating a new piece.

My process is always changing. Typically I collect images, diagrams, math and words and surround myself with them before I begin a set of pieces - though once I start working I only refer to them rarely. I throw it all into the brain blender and see what comes out. I usually work on several pieces at a time because creating certain effects in clay is labor intensive and then when something doesn't fit it usually get used somewhere else. I try to sculpt freely, creating parts, using them or not, and see what begins to appear. I sketch the larger overreaching ideas as they come and maybe use them or not. I'm always playing with the balance of tackling the technical challenges the clay poses, with the desire to keep moving forward with more immediate techniques. Most importantly though, I try to keep my head out of it and work from a open & quiet state.

What materials do you normally work in?

I work mainly in Premo polymer clay and wire, but experiment with other clays, resins, and fiberglass. I also enjoy playing with mirrors and spray paint

How durable is your work? How strong is the clay with a finished piece?

I constantly trying to improve the durability and lifespan of the work. According to polymer clay companies the clay does not degrade over time. It's a lot of technique and attention to detail that increases the overall strength of the pieces. For example if you use a certain liquid polymer in clay joints it binds them stronger. It's a major pain and adds another step but its worth it to make something that lasts. The clay is cooked in a conventional oven - cooking them twice is another strength enhancing technique I found via polymer clay bulletin boards. The medium is relatively new so there's still a lot to discover.

Works in progress

If you had to explain your work to a stranger, how would you do it?

I usually say I sculpt relief-like works in polymer clay that hang on a wall. Wow that's really bad. I need something better than that. You got something? I wrestle with verbal communication a lot - that's why I love being an artist. I can communicate this big "idea" without saying a word. Words overcomplicate and frequently attach unintended meanings to things.

How long have you lived in Portland and what brought you there?

I've lived in Portland since 99. Originally big mountains drew me out west. I was living in Tahoe (Meadows4life!) riding fulltime during the winters and working in LA during the summers as a flash designer/developer. I met my husband at a gathering in the Mojave desert and we decided to move somewhere new to start our lives together. Portland had everything we wanted and so we moved here sight unseen.

What do love most about living in Portland?

I love the accessibility to such amazing terrain... urban gardens, rivers, the mountains, rainforest, high desert, and coast - theres so much diversity so close. Also I'm so completely happily embedded in a fertile womb of likeminded people. Everyones got the DIY attitude, and prioritizes quality of life over fanatical money making.

If I came out for a visit what would we do/ where would you take me?

It depends on how much time you have and the time of year, but I'dd definitely get you out in the backcountry for a day (either on snow or scrambling a peak somewhere). Then we would have to take a boozy bike tour around town visiting friends & bars & food carts and adding people to our crew. Then wed probably end up having an impromptu party in my backyard because I love my backyard a LOT. Besides the drinks are free and my husband can cook up a storm.

What do you do to pay the bills?

I feel super fortunate to sculpt fulltime. Besides art I sell my "My Guys" characters on my website and on ebay and I also take ad gigs doing commercial illustration in clay.

Do you do any design work? Your work has a strong design sense to it. Seems like you'd make a great designer.

Thanks! I used to - I was obsessed with Macromedia Flash back in the day. It was my professional and creative outlet of choice from 96-03. I hang with a lot of badass designers so they must have rubbed off on me.

What are you really excited about right now?

The hadron collider. Networks. Fractals. Mycology. Integral theory. Adyashanti. Stop motion. Alpine backcountry. My bike

When are you the most productive?

Generally - the mornings.
For thinking - in the shower.
For writing - in the coffee shop.
For sculpting - when I get a big solid continuous block of time - like a week or more uninterrupted.
And anytime when someone gives me some Adderall wheeeeee!

Favorite trip taken?

The one I'm on now. Wherever I am, it's Now - just a different location.


YES. I hate to give you the stereotypical "everything" here, but its true. I download/devour music of all kinds, at a rate I feel kind of guilty about. (Because most don't get the attention they deserve) I cant even remember bands names anymore. I enjoy expanding my musical ear in all directions, and a good authentic musical performance is one of the easiest ways to make me cry.

What were you like in high school?

I didn't hang with the popular people, but I was that floater type that got along with everyone. I had a life outside of high school so that definitely changes your dependence on your peers. Senior year I hung out with this group of guys and we coordinated lots of, umm, chaos. I was suspended 4 times. Senior "bring a beer to lunch day" was just the tip of the iceberg. Ive always hung out with more boys than girls and have been in careers that are male dominated.

Upcoming projects and/ or upcoming shows, etc...?

Hmm there are few projects I dont want to jinx, but one cool thing I'm working on is a private commission to create a life size diorama consisting of 4ft stone characters that will be scattered in the forest around a beach property on the Oregon coast. On the dockett next for shows is Upper Playground Mexico City Dec 09.


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