Inside The Artist’s Studio with John Masello

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I grew up in the suburbs outside of Chicago, IL before moving to Bloomington-Normal to attend Illinois State University to study art. In 2016, I completed my BFA with a concentration in ceramics. I am currently in my third year of the MFA program at The Ohio State University in Columbus, OH.

kitchen counter shelf. Terra cotta, photo printed stickers, acrylic paint, glass, spray paint, wax. 2018.

kitchen counter shelf. Terra cotta, photo printed stickers, acrylic paint, glass, spray paint, wax. 2018.

no joy or fulfillment. Shirt fabrics, stoneware, porcelain, plaster, foam, spray paint, poly-fil, styrofoam pellets. 2019.

no joy or fulfillment. Shirt fabrics, stoneware, porcelain, plaster, foam, spray paint, poly-fil, styrofoam pellets. 2019.

My recent work uses a combination of ceramics, found objects, plastics, textiles, and other process-driven endeavors. I am interested in artifice—how we understand what we are looking at and how materials can be deceptive about their identity.

Dredge. Plaster, wood, acrylic yarn, silicone. 2019.

Dredge. Plaster, wood, acrylic yarn, silicone. 2019.

Since I am putting together my thesis exhibition and dissertation, I am focused on refining similar ideas and materials through iterations. For the past few months, I have been working with thousands of small plastic tile spacers. The spacers (which look like a plastic magnetic letter U) are originally meant to be placed in between tiles before grout is added, ensuring that each tile is equidistant from the next. I drilled holes into each individual U so they could be tied together to form a larger piece.

u-blanket. Tile spacers, monofilament. 2019.

u-blanket. Tile spacers, monofilament. 2019.

The first iteration of this work formed a “blanket”. Through the act of making, I learned how flexible this formed textile could be, as well as the structural limits of the material. From there, I started tying the spacers into 3-dimensional “brick” forms. This decision emerged not only from how proportionally perfect the spacers fit to 4 x 8 x 16 cement blocks, but also from my research into camp, borrowing from Susan Sontag’s idea that “camp sees everything in quotation marks. It’s not a lamp, but a ‘lamp’; …To perceive Camp in objects and persons is to understand Being-As-Playing-A-Role” (Notes on Camp, 1964).

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From there, I started creating hybrid-forms from the tile spacers. This work is still new to me, but my starting logic with this series is to create objects that show its materiality as both a textile and a structure, capable of creating and reacting to 3-dimensional form.

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johnmasello.com
Instagram: @johnmasello


John Masello is one of 112 artists included in the 6th annual Small Works exhibition at Main Street Arts, a national juried exhibition of work 12 inches or less. Work from the exhibition can be previewed and purchased through the gallery’s online shop. Small Works runs through January 3, 2020.

Inside The Artist’s Studio with Dara Engler

I grew up in Virginia and now live in Trumansburg, NY.  I’ve been teaching painting and drawing at Ithaca College since 2012.  I received a BFA from the University of New Hampshire and an MFA in Painting from Indiana University, Bloomington.

How to Catch a Fisher Cat, oil on canvas, 36in.x 54in., 2019.

How to Catch a Fisher Cat, oil on canvas, 36in.x 54in., 2019.

As a painter, I have always had an interest in object making.  I love to build props and environments for paintings.  I actually started college in technical theatre, studying scenic art, stage carpentry and properties.  It has had a big effect on how I think about artmaking.  As time has passed, I have begun to integrate three-dimensional objects into exhibitions alongside my paintings.  They are like artifacts and life-sized dioramas, as you might see in taxidermy or natural history museums.

Diorama installation at University of North Carolina, Greensboro’s Gatewood Gallery.

Diorama installation at University of North Carolina, Greensboro’s Gatewood Gallery.

The piece included in the Small Works exhibition takes object making a step further for me.  It’s the beginning of a venture into sculptural felting.

Rabbit, felt on artificial grass, 2019.

Rabbit, felt on artificial grass, 2019.

My palettes: in paint and in felt.  (Photo credit: David McKinley)

My palettes: in paint and in felt. (Photo credit: David McKinley)

My paintings are portraits of an alter ego, often rooted in exaggerations of my own experiences.  Their loose narratives are allegorical, embracing human foible and the humor that comes with it.  My pirate-y anti-hero is full of curiosity and combative reverence for her natural environment.  The animals in the paintings were friends, foe and food.

How to Track a Deer, oil on canvas, 36in.x 158in., 2018.

How to Track a Deer, oil on canvas, 36in.x 158in., 2018.

How to Track a Deer (detail).

How to Track a Deer (detail).

The felt animals, organs and guts have sprung out these paintings.  It’s been really fun learning a new skill and I’m excited to see where this work will lead and if it will fit in with my previous body of work or become a separate body (pun intended).

Deer Organs, felt on artificial grass, 2019.

Deer Organs, felt on artificial grass, 2019.

Chipmunk in progress…only thousands of needle pokes to go.  (Photo credit: David McKinley)

Chipmunk in progress…only thousands of needle pokes to go. (Photo credit: David McKinley)

My work is influenced by a lot of external sources: other artists, fiction, psychology, my environment.  But what’s been most interesting is how my work has influenced me.  In researching for paintings and learning my character I have become a more active person. I’ll always be an “indoor kid” but my character has prompted me to take an animal tracking course, learn to make twine from plants, get a fishing license and to learn to gut and scale fish.

Gutting my first trout.  (Photo credit: Nina Hien)

Gutting my first trout. (Photo credit: Nina Hien)

You can see more of my work at: www.daraengler.com


Dara Engler is one of 112 artists included in the 6th annual Small Works exhibition at Main Street Arts, a national juried exhibition of work 12 inches or less. Work from the exhibition can be previewed and purchased through the gallery’s online shop. Small Works runs through January 3, 2020.

Inside The Artist’s Studio with Camille Riner

Some people aren’t sure what they want to do when they grew up but I knew it would be something to do with art. I was the kid that drew bunnies for everyone in elementary school, made costumes in middle school, and took an art class every semester in high school. When I went to college orientation, I visited the art department and felt right at home. After getting my undergraduate degree at the University of South Dakota and graduating with a Master of Fine Arts at the University of Wisconsin in Madison, I taught design and printmaking at Southwestern Michigan College. In 1998 my husband and I returned to South Dakota and started our own book publishing business. 

Camille Riner at her studio desk.

Camille Riner at her studio desk.

My name is Camille Riner and I work in the Black Hills of South Dakota. Welcome to my studio! I love my sunny space and the trees and granite outcroppings I see out my windows. In front of the windows is my computer desk where I spend a lot of time, but I also have two standing benches where I draw, assemble books, carve plates, and package orders. I have a Bunch etching press which, when not in use, is the perch for the home of my two budgies. In the corner, you will find my ukulele and several piles of books. It is a warm and comfortable space that I share with the Studio Birds, Cleo and Brindle.

The yard around Camille's Studio. We have been getting lots of snow this fall.

The yard around Camille’s Studio. We have been getting lots of snow this fall.

I enjoy working in my studio and the diverse jobs awaiting me every day. This can mean working on assembling books, creating a collage on my computer, filming a new YouTube video or any of the many odd jobs we all do every day. Occasionally I teach workshops to spread the excitement about making artist books with others. Through sales of my online patterns, I have discovered that people all over the world enjoy making artist books. 

DIY pattern for Wind and Snow petal fold ornament.

DIY coloring project pattern for “Wind and Snow” petal fold ornament.

Carving bench with new block waiting to be carved.

Bench with new block waiting to be carved.

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“Sanctuary” altered accordion book.

I use allegory in my prints to investigate abstract themes based on our universal human experience. I strive to convey wonder, hope, overcoming adversity, and self-discovery. While some connect to the meaning of my pieces right away, it might not be initially obvious to others. For example, my book “Sanctuary,” in the Small Works show, uses images of thorny plants and cactus to depict the struggle and cruelty sometimes found in our world. Throughout my art, I use the rabbit to express vulnerability, the bird as a connection to nature, and the terra-cotta-colored figures as our strongest selves. I also repeatedly use the moon and stars to represent hope: hope for the moment and hope in the future. 

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“Hope Garden” limited edition, altered tunnel book.

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“Take Courage” Turkish map fold book.

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“Sky of Blue, Sea of Green” altered accordion book.

I am excited to have been selected to show my piece, “Sanctuary” in the Small Works exhibition and grateful to have the opportunity to share my work on the Main Street Arts blog. I hope you’ll check out my holiday books and DIY holiday book ornament patterns in my Etsy Shop. Thank you! 

"Community" Hungarian map fold book, hanging ornament.

“Community” Hungarian map fold book, hanging ornament.

To contact me or see more of my artist books and tutorials: 

Website: camilleriner.com
Pinterest: camille riner artist books
Instagram: @camriner
Youtube: How to Make Artist Books 


Camille Riner is one of 112 artists included in the 6th annual Small Works exhibition at Main Street Arts, a national juried exhibition of work 12 inches or less. Work from the exhibition can be previewed and purchased through the gallery’s online shop. Small Works runs through January 3, 2020.