What drew you to coming to Los Angeles, and what did you set out to create while in residency?
I came to LA for its creative energy—a little reckless, defiant. And for the sun.
How does the residency creation process differ from your normal work process?
There is some urgency to showing up to a place for a month or so and expecting to create work. I like the format—being in unfamiliar territory and reacting immediately to this place in the studio. I travel a lot, but I can’t remember a time I took a vacation. I always show up with a project. I like the pressure, it’s very different from meditating on a memory.
What are you most excited about in this part of your career?
For one, being trusted. It’s what I always wanted as an artist. That time when there are people in the audience who will spend more than a second taking a look. Also, new projects. Collaboration is on the horizon. I want think about my artwork in the context of large architectural spaces, to contribute to a room or building in an integrated way rather than a topical addition or a final flourish. I want to build from the beginning. Finally, I want to add new colors to the spectrum. I got that from a rap song.
Gabrielle Teschner says
“All of this for me, all of the references to architecture and math and humidity, are a way to talk about being in the world. An affirmation of existence or the inability to do so.”
Can you speak to some themes in your work that have continued on? Some that have evolved during your time here or during your more recent series?
The integration of space and object in these artworks is important. They are tied to one another. I build them together by sewing them together. When the edge of a block moves, the entire composition, and the edge of the artwork—it moves too. Small changes, they change everything. They change together.
I like to make those changes evident, the misalignments, the broken border. Those small misalignments, those visible shifts, they do not prevent us from making sense of everything we see.
My work makes reference to architectural archetypes. Architecture is, among other things, a full vocabulary of elements we have created to house and protect us. A way to separate us from the sky and the ground only just enough, and not more than that.
I think this might have a something to do with why I’ve been interested in weather and temperature for the past couple of years. It’s an undeniably important consideration for living in a place, and so influential on the way we move, but its qualities are not distinct. Like time. There are aspects that are measurable, and there are others that will escape definition.
I went on a couple of hikes while I was out here, in the mountains. I went to Palm Springs. Everything goes flat at dusk. Everything with shape and dimension seems to share a single plane.
All of this for me, all of the references to architecture and math and humidity, are a way to talk about being in the world. An affirmation of existence or the inability to do so.
You've spoken about your work as "portable architecture". Can you speak more to that phrase or that ethos?
A lot of these works travel with me. I carry them on flights, I fold them into my suitcase. I do “unfoldings” in special places. These are brief moments that they will hang on the wall of a city street or lay in the sand by the ocean. I am entertaining the idea that the piece doesn’t end at its edges, and that the environment contributes to its composition. It is one of the ways I can incorporate locality and it is the strength of their being made of fabric—that they are flexible and nearly weightless. This is a contrast to the forms they represent. Of course I cannot carry a marble colonnade, but I can transport its language and something of its physicality.
It was also a matter of practicality that I began working this way. I was working with wood and metal and glass when I decided to go to graduate school in California from Virginia. There was no place to store the sculptures I’d been making, especially when I reduced my belongings to what would fit on a palette and ship by train. I started thinking about nomadic tribes who’s entire homes were transformed into camel’s saddles, and maps—entire countries able to be folded into your glovebox.
I get a lot of pleasure out of carrying a staircase under my arm or folding a pool into my pocket. One of architecture’s most valued attributes is permanence. We hope that it will persist, resist the elements, survive the passage of time. But there are other qualities of value that oppose these. For Bedouin tribes by the way, the phrase “to marry” translates to “to build a tent”.
Where are you drawing inspiration from currently?
I’ve spent the better part of the year thinking about Mexican Architecture, how it responds to the climate in really interesting ways, and incorporates the garden in both the interior and exterior. I also really relate to the commitment to efficiency in their designs, using a very straight-forward path to construct a form. Heavily influenced by that efficiency, I designed and built an open kitchen this summer from cherry and walnut using wood joinery techniques. That led me to Florida where I realized I’d being making tables and shelves out of plants. That houses themselves start from seed. In Florida I was overjoyed at the way the plants are overtaking the houses. There are so many places in the world that we are threatening to damage and suppress the natural environment, that I think I was instinctually relieved that every driveway in Key West was piled high with macheted palms. They are trying to control it but the verdure is winning. That led me to looking closely at “Tropical Brutalism”. I started this body of work strictly attempting to mimic concrete in shades of gray, and here I am now using the colors of the Poinciana tree. I keep turning a concrete corner, and running into a branch, you know? I love it.
Our artist programs facilitate exhibitions with galleries, independent exhibition spaces, and the Tappan Atelier, offering the opportunity for artists to showcase their work in the physical realm.
Gabrielle Teschner is a visual artist based between Richmond, VA and San Francisco, CA. She works with muslin fabric, paint and stitching to reconstruct forms that are analogous to our built environments. Employing architectural components into her carefully crafted works, Teschner questions and explores the edifice of accumulated knowledge. Her textile works examine structural authority in the construction of and rigid ideology behind architectural icons. Teschner received her BFA in Sculpture from Virginia Commonwealth University and her MFA from California College of the Arts.
b. 1981 Newport News, VA Lives and works in Richmond, VA
“My formal aim is to disassemble the planes of common three-dimensional forms so that, when reassembled, their edges and lines form uncommon and irrational intersections. The process of cutting, painting and reconstructing material in my work echoes my conceptual interest in dismantling logic-structures in order to introduce new interpretations. My attraction to using fabric has to do with its portability and flexibility. Constructing forms from this material has natural limitations that I use to explore and reveal the concept of accumulating knowledge.” - Gabrielle Teschner
MFA California College of the Arts, Oakland, CA
BFA Scupture, Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, VA
2016, Summer Group Show with Gary Edward Blum, Oliver Leach, Daniel Postaer, Euqinom SF, CA