Tag Archives: Erika Kari McCarthy

Meet The Artist in Residence: Erika Kari McCarthy

Erika McCarthy, artist in residence at Main Street Arts during the month of January 2020, is working in one of our two studio spaces on our second floor. Erika is also an MSA Residency alumni, she was here in January 2019 as well! We asked Erika some questions about her work and studio practice:

Q: Remind us who you are where you’re coming from?
I’m an interdisciplinary artist but I often simplify things by calling myself a sculptor because my work relates to mass and presence (things sculptors are often caught up in).  I have been making art in one form or another for as long as I remember, earning my BFA from RIT a few years back, and was lucky enough to be in residence with Main St. Arts last January.  In my other life, I run an artist residency in the Hudson Valley with my partner-in-crime James Adelman, a painter who is also in residence with me this month.


Erika working on a copper sculpture, photographed by James Adelman

Q: What inspired you to come back as a returning resident to Main Street Arts?
I find the heart of winter to be one of the most inspiring and productive times of year to make art. Being an artist-in-residence last January was tremendously beneficial for my creative practice. I spent much of the month marveling at bare trees stark against sheets of ice, nestling into the quiet of a snow-blanketed landscape,  giving myself time and space to unravel complex questions and immerse myself in the studio devoid of distraction.

Work from January 2019's residency

Work from January 2019′s residency

In the best of ways, the time was very isolating in a manner that allowed me to dig deeply into my creative practice on a personal and genuine level.  This year I am substituting isolation for camaraderie by sharing the residency time with my partner, James Adelman, an astounding painter and observer of light.  He and I often approach problems from different angles and have complementary skill sets, so we’re both always providing resources for the other and supplementing each other’s ability to get things done. We have more force &energy as an alliance than we do as individual entities, so I’m excited to see how our work shifts alongside one another over the course of the month.

Sculptural view of the Horizon of the Earth, November 2019

Sculptural view of the Horizon of the Earth, November 2019

Q: Tell us about your current projects.
My most current project, “iterations of ghosts”, is an attempt to merge my ongoing sculptural work into larger environments and use photography to capture the resulting image. I am attempting  to collaborate with the environment  – from earth to sky to architecture and everything in between – to try and find a point where sculpture becomes something as broad and encompassing as the very horizon of the earth.

Collaborations with Body & Landscape, November 2019

Collaborations with Body & Landscape, November 2019

The photography for this series happens alongside the development of the sculpture itself;  I am building a form by intricately weaving copper wire into a laced pattern, a tedious process that thus far has produced a webbed body built from 1300 ft of thin gauge copper threads. As more copper wire is woven in and the form grows, I photograph its current body in an environment and see how  it’s presence shifts within each situation – watching where the copper web disappears then falls back into existence, seeing where it catches sunlight and where it casts shadow, etc.

My process lends itself to being incredibly tedious – lacing hundred of strands of thin copper into one another becomes a imbued with a sense of ritual over the many days and many many hours it takes me to work on a project. I am obsessed with the repetition of elements beyond a reasonable number, layering thread on top of thread to the point of absurdist intricacy.

Installing and photographing the work over its evolution allows me to see its permutations  and how its elements shift, allowing the sculptural body to morph and change over time with no defined start and end point. I’m excited to continue this project while in residence, finding new environments and collaborations and seeing how the sculpture itself develops as I put more labor into it.

Item from the series iterations of ghosts

Q: Where else can we find you?

You can find me on instagram: @erikakari and on my website: erikakari.com


Meet the Artist in Residence: Erika Kari McCarthy

Erika Kari McCarthy, artist in residence at Main Street Arts during the month of January 2019, is working in one of our two studio spaces on our second floor. We asked Erika some questions about her work and studio practice:

Artist Erika Kari McCarthy

Artist Erika Kari McCarthy

Q: Tell us about your background.
I grew up north of Albany in Halfmoon, NY and realized that art was a huge passion of mine when I attended the New York Summer School of the Arts as a high schooler. I ended up going to RIT to study art, originally as an illustration major before I realized my true niche was in Fine Arts.  I now work for the Byrdcliffe Arts Guild in Woodstock, NY where I help manage their Artist in Residence program.

Q: How would you describe your work?
I am obsessed with the human body and physical presence, and work compulsively to dig into this obsession. I work with a wide variety of tactile materials, from human hair to sleeping bags and cast ashes. The objects and environments I create are efforts to solidify the ephemeral nebulous of ever-changing nonsense in my brain and emotional state.

"From Womb to Nest", sheer bandaids and copper wire, 11"x8"x7", 2018

“From Womb to Nest”, sheer bandaids and copper wire, 11″x8″x7″, 2018

Q: What is your process for creating a work of art?
I work haptically and thrive in chaos. I like to say that I somersault into my studio and work on anything I bump into, because often times thats what it feels like. I work sporadically,  jumping from one task to the next project and changing direction when I need to, but I’m always working.

"Temporary Home", detail

“Temporary Home”, detail

Q: Do you collect anything?
YES. I am a chronic treasure hunter, from thrift stores to flea markets, lost items on the sidewalk to anything interesting in my own back yard, I’m always collecting objects that inspire me in one way or another. It started with picking up broken fragments of glass scattered on the street as if they were lost diamonds. I just collected a jar full of dried “husk tomatoes”, a gossamer weed I found in South Carolina. While living on a mountain in the Catskills I would wake to a cluster of dead moths on my doorstep every morning; I placed them in Petri dishes in my studio and drew and sculpted from them. They’re all part of my research.

Temporary Home", sheer bandaids, copper wire and thread, 34"x4"x3.5", 2018

Temporary Home”, sheer bandaids, copper wire and thread, 34″x4″x3.5″, 2018

Q: What type of music do you listen to and how does music affect your artwork?
I listen to just about everything, preferably through the interface of radio. Radio is one of the few media sources we still have that isn’t directed by algorithms that follow your choices and predict your next move. I love that I can turn on the radio and listen to whatever is most popular in the geographic area I’m in at the time; I start with a clean slate every time I turn on the radio, unencumbered by past choices. I flip through the stations and chose what feels right for the mood I’m trying to create and the work I’m developing.

Q: Where are your favorite places to see artwork?
The best way to see art is to open your eyes. There’s so much all around us to be amazed by if you allow yourself to be vulnerable enough to appreciate it.  As far as art museums go, The Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, Dia:Beacon, and MassMOCA are some of my favorites.

"Microbial Chatter", hand-cut copper plate etching, 20"x16"x1", 2018

“Microbial Chatter”, hand-cut copper plate etching, 20″x16″x1″, 2018

Q: Who inspires you and why?
Like many female sculptors, I am in love with the work of Eva Hesse and Louise Bourgeois for their sincerity in creating real objects that impact the viewer’s emotional state. I am drawn to artists who kept good notes or used writing as a significant part of their process, such as Basquiat, Yoko Ono, and Sol Lewitt.  Words are a huge facet of my visual mind and I am always eager to collect new linguistic sensations.

Q: What are your goals for this residency?
I’m eager to set my hands to work and make everything I am capable of making. My most recent works have been constructed with copper wire and sheer bandaids to create lantern-like objects. I’ve been delving deeper into studying anatomy diagrams as inspiration for the forms I’m developing. 

"Held", cast ashes, 30"x7"x5", 2018

“Held”, cast ashes, 30″x7″x5″, 2018

Q: What’s next for you?
Many things! I’m beginning to consider various MFA programs but in the most near future I’ll be road tripping traveling around the country with my sketchbook.

Q: Where else can we find you?
Visit my website erikakari.com or follow my Instagram @erikakari