Carrie Sieh weaves secrets into art and art into secrets. I tried to get her to confess, but she wouldn’t confess. Because, she says, her secrets are already revealed. The viewer just needs to know where to look. When I look at Sieh’s art, I see the internal workings of a one, two and three track mind. A mind that cleverly and meticulously defines and executes an idea and brings that idea to fruition, which is nothing like a Fruit Loop. In the end, Sieh shows us, the reader, the viewer, that art is a process that takes time, yarn and lots of magnetic tape to develop. Enjoy my latest Potty Mouth Interview with the funtabulous artist Carrie Sieh.
Almost Dorothy: Why can’t you stop thinking about it?
Carrie Sieh: I can’t stop thinking, in general.
AD: I didn’t know you were a general. On your website, you write, “All of us have secrets that we carry with us…and often our secrets are uncomfortable or embarrassing. I believe that one way we unconsciously alleviate this discomfort is by keeping around us objects that in some way symbolize or counteract our secrets.” Where do secrets come from?
CS: Well, a secret is a piece of information—usually very personal—that you don’t want to tell anyone else, or that you tell a very limited number of people. The reason we want to keep certain information private is usually because we anticipate that sharing it would result in feelings of vulnerability, shame, or guilt; that other people would think negatively of us; or that it would have some other uncomfortable social consequence. And the source of these kinds of feelings is almost always going to be cultural and familial mores.
AD: Your answer reminds of two TED.com videos I saw last week while riding my bicycle north on Biscayne Boulevard.
AD: Why do you create secret codes out of yarn, wire, raffia, plastic, cassette tape, river rocks, curtain rods and other materials?
CS: My interest in codes developed as a means to prevent my sisters from reading my journals as a kid. I was kind of a nerd, and spent a lot of time figuring out the best codes for my purposes. Artistically, I came back to the idea of codes because they’re relevant to both technology and psychology, which are two of my favorite themes to explore.
I choose the materials I do because I like thinking about the many subtle meanings of objects. So far yarn is the primary material in the “Secrets” project because it suggests domesticity, tradition, and protection—which I think are the most basic aspects of secret-keeping. The cassette tape and VHS tape relates to secrets because memory is a means of recording and encoding information. Also, thoughts and memories—especially difficult ones—can be fragmented and hard to untangle or interpret, like the information on the tape is once it’s taken out of its casing and knitted. The wire I’ve been using is jewelry wire, which has a much different meaning than, say, electrical wire. In “I Don’t Love You”, it’s alternated with fluffy but scratchy mohair yarn, to suggest the ambivalence often inherent in tokens of affection and motivations for personal adornment. In each piece Continue reading