Tiffany Cash’s exhibit Intertwined is now on view at Fresh Exhibtions as part of the gallery’s Exhibition Fellowship program. With Intertwined, Cash has transformed the gallery interior into her own dreamy world of colorful, twisted fabric webs. The notoriously elusive artist sat down with SAI Editor-in-chief Kayla Goggin to discuss her work (past and present), her intense process, and her tactile philosophy of art.
To create your own work alongside the artist, attend her workshop at Fresh Exhibitions on April 11 at 2pm.
Kayla Goggin : You’re encouraging people to touch your work?
Tiffany Cash : Yeah. I didn’t grow up around art museums or anything like that so the whole concept of not being able to touch the art drives me insane. I love to touch things and feel the textures. Even flat portrait work or whatever. I like to look at all the tiny brushstrokes and the details.
KG : When I was waiting for you to get here I took the chance to get super up close to your work. I noticed there’s some places where some of the stuffing is coming out a little bit, the stitching is different, you have it exposed in some places and hidden in others. Like you said, there’s lots of little intricate details that really add a lot.
TC : Yeah, I enjoy making it more than having it installed. This is great but I prefer touching it and creating it. My process is more important to me than the final piece.
KG : That was one of the things I wanted to ask you about. Could you walk me through the process and tell me a little bit about what you go through?
TC : Well I start with my materials. For this I chose different stretchy fabrics and then I just intuitively traced and cut out different tubes and forms, then I sewed them together and stuffed them, wrapped them and dyed them. I use regular RIT dye. For the intense oranges and deeper purples – I got them by mixing oil pigments.
KG : Is it air brush or dip dye?
TC : Some of it’s dip dye and some of it’s just a 98 cent spray bottle from Home Depot. I have an airbrush but I paid so much money for it, I don’t want to hurt it!
KG : I checked out your website and I saw your previous painting works. It seems like you’re gravitating more towards this fibers process now. Is there a reason for that? Is there something that fibers provides that other mediums don’t?
TC : Yeah, it provides the tactical qualities [I want]. I was working with insulation foam before but there were toxicity issues that came up with that. During my 45 hour review my professors were like, “You need to stop this or you’re gonna die.”
KG : Really? So when you would spray it and build up your forms it was killing your lungs?
TC : Yeah, just all of the fumes and the amount.. I went through probably 100-200 cans of the spray foam. I was doing it outside so it was the most ventilated area i could use but still, being right there in it I was inhaling a lot and it did make me a little sick. And then I was using spray paint on top of that. I’m sure the pigment from what I’m doing now isn’t so good for me and my skin either. That was another concern because I don’t wear gloves or a hazmat suit or whatever because they just get in the way.
KG : It seems like you want to be as hands-on as possible with this.
TC : Yeah and then with the fabric it’s just so much easier to throw in my car. I couldn’t do that with the foam pieces. I had a lot of issues with pieces falling off, it wasn’t really interactive, you couldn’t really touch it.. So the fibers have just been the best. I can still manipulate it to make the same form i was making with the foam and paint, it’s just on a larger scale.
KG : Speaking of a larger scale, do you have any plans for the future with this? Are you thinking about expanding it or changing it in any way?
TC : I’ll probably expand and just keep going. When I look at this I just want more. It takes a long time to do this.
KG : How long did it take to create all of this? In your Exhibition Fellowship submission, I believe it said this was all site specific?
TC : It takes several months. It takes a couple hours just to do one piece – like a 2×2 section – just between the cutting, sewing, dying, wrapping. It’s very labor intensive and I won’t let people help me. I’ve had people offer to help me and I just… I have to do it. So it was several months and then it took about 6 hours to install. I wanted more hanging but there was a weight issue. It’s actually really, really heavy. It doesn’t look it but when it’s all together it’s really heavy. I had a couple other pieces hanging but they were so heavy they pulled the hooks out of the wall.
KG : When you’re creating this, what do you hope other people’s experience will be? Or do you think about that at all?
TC : I do think about that a little bit. I guess I’m personally most interested in the details, in the wrapping, in where the pieces overlap. Just from the opening night I noticed a lot of people saw that too. They were following the colors and seeing where they’re intertwined.. I guess that’s the most important thing [to me]. That people get up close to it, interact with it.
KG : You’re doing a workshop, correct? What’s that going to be like?
TC: I’m just going to make some little pieces and I’ll have my spray bottle so you can come in and make your own miniature piece in different colors.
KG: That sounds fun! You said color was important to you. I wanted to know how you developed this color palette?
TC : I look at a lot of natural molds and corals so I pull a lot of my ideas from there and just mix them together. I blend a lot of colors because I don’t want [the piece] to be too “out there” but I want it to have some bright spots. I actually use empty cat litter tubs to dye the pieces in.. I stained my tub purple.
KG : You’ve said this is the culmination of years of work, so where and how did this idea start? I know you’ve done the insulation foam work and the painting works.. You seem to be much more about building form than adding to a flat surface.
TC : It started with oil paint in syringes. I got tired of painting flat so I bought some syringes, put some oil paint in them and it curled and made these interesting forms on canvasses so I just piled them up. Then I took away the canvas and started using acrylic so it’d dry faster and I started making these bowls and turning the bowls upside down and they became these little creatures.. Just to work on a larger scale, I moved on to the insulation foam and then a big paint curtain about 6×10 ft that hung on the wall. I just put a big piece of plastic on the studio floor and used the syringes and the paint. I just squirted it all out into a big curtain and it stuck to itself. It draped and hung really well. From there, everything just evolved from the paint. And then I’ve been sewing since I was old enough to sew so it was a natural progression.
KG: When did you start actually doing the fiber work?
TC: Probably about 7 or 8 months ago, so it’s fairly recent. I haven’t been doing it too long.
Intertwined will be up at Fresh Exhibitions (2427 DeSoto Ave) until April 12, open Saturdays 1 – 4 or by appointment.