Part 1: Panel Discussion

Dinah Ryan: Let's start with a general question about something specific. Will each of you discuss what your idea of local means? What kind of particularity defines local? How does it involve paying attention in a particular way?

Sheila Pepe: You know what, I'm going to start with my work. When I think about local, the first thing I think of is my lap because that's mostly where the stuff gets made. I'm somebody that still prioritizes domestic activity in this region with activity that happens pretty much from my elbow down. And I can't help but think of that as women's work to some degree.

And then I think I sort of shift that sense of local to a desire to move beyond that. And then I think neighborhood, patterns of neighborhood, which happily are articulated really nicely living in New York in the way I never get in a car. Everything is kind of expressed physically and with some general locale; it's the size of a subway car.

I think of it in physical increments and then I also think about mental pockets of art like the locale of sculpture vs. the locale of painting or drawing. I like compartments; I like definitions and where their boundaries are. And I like expanding them and contracting them.

Myron Helfgott: I have a much more parochial definition of local. I am thinking of local as some idiosyncratic lingo that one has within a smaller group that is unique to that group.

And it seems to me that Sheila's work is a wonderful reflection of their own values. I mean I can see people coming in who are craftsmen seeing the act of the making. I can see feminists coming in thinking about crocheting. I can see people who are interested in architectural spaces involved with the space of these things. I can see people who are interested in audio thinking of these things as a conversation among many, many people within the space and there's overlapping of these conversations.

So it seems to me that Sheila's work has that quality that allows for so many readings that people can bring to bear what they have. So going back to local, the work can remain local because you can leave and still just take what you have brought in to look at.

DR: Sheila made a comment the other day at lunch that's very similar to what you're talking about Myron. And that is that you alluded to really speaking to and with artists when you work because you are so keenly aware of that artistic vocabulary, that modernist vocabulary that you were trained in.

But you also said—very similarly to what Myron is saying—that you want your work to speak to everyone from their particular perspective. And you used the metaphor of the U.N. . .

SP:. . . everybody having their own headset on.

Maybe ten years ago in some postmodern parlance we called that multi-valiance, borrowing from chemistry folks. And I think it's a great idea because the chemists are right. You know, it's like you're multi-valiant but your charge has got to be right on to fill the valiance. And so it is a very specific . . . talk about local. We're talking local on a really small scale that things would connect that way.

I'm a generalist in some ways but, you know, lest it be garbled, it seems like there needs to be very specific gates provided—thought about and provided—for various audiences.

And I know I speak to artists first because that's my personal mission—is to learn more, is to grow more. And I know those are the folks that are going to, kind of, you know, push me, challenge me. But it doesn't necessarily need to be excluded to that particular audience. So I like this idea of the local in that way; it makes sense.

DR: There's a nice little duel thing that's going on because when you talk about the generalities, it is broad, it's general in the sense that you're making one thing out of a particular vocabulary.

But Myron speaks of many different kinds of people listening to it, looking at it, responding to it and you talk about people, and what the sociologists and communications people call high-context culture. So it's like there's a lot of little high-context cultures going on that come out of this one unified thing, I guess.

SP: I have to say though that my understanding of it is that no one member of any one of those groups is wholly satisfied. And I really like that way, because you have to leap out—or leak out—of your local area to start to finish the sentence.

And, that's my agenda, is to have that sense of complexity or that sense of dissatisfaction make you a little less local, you know, make you cross the county line, so to speak.

Howard Rissatti:
Well, I want to make a comment. I mean, I think there is a difference between being inspired by the local and making work about the local. And certainly, the stuff that I saw at the Hand Workshop the other day and some of the later things you showed, the Zhilka gallery, "Shrink". . .I mean, I'm not sure that those things are local. I mean, I don't see them as that. I mean, they may have be inspired by your experiences, but this is true about many artists. And there are artists who make stuff that is about—not only inspired by the local but about—the local. And one enters that and enters that locale which is a different locale than one's home and something else happens.

I see this as being in some ways . . .certainly the later pieces, I mean, they fit very nicely into a New York, modern art world, or modern as a contemporary art world and so I wouldn't locate them in any specific place.

SP: I don't think I have any illusion that anything before this moment was considered as a local event. I think looking back through this consideration of the project right now, it makes me think about local vis-à-vis the body and wanting to move beyond my home, so to speak, or wanting as an artist to move beyond my own imagination.

Something more out in the world.

So nothing before the "New York Drawings," I think, is meant to be anything but an elevation of the domestic in a modernist space or in an institutionalized space.

MH: What do you mean by domestic? I mean you say domestic. I mean is it. . .domicile or just . . .?

SP: I mean either domestic activities, or domestic scale or domestic image. A person with a platter of food. A chair tipped over. Kind of tame.

But I think what's happening for me now is I'm at a pivot point where this work, right now, is—and I think inspired is the right word—inspired by my environment, not only visually, but aesthetically.

That this is really dealing with the seeds of an early 20th century New York aesthetic and that I'm wanting to take that position, more and more, as a person that comes from New York.

Perception is internal, I must say, and the work is sitting on the cusp of that, which is why this conversation is really useful to me. But I think that I'm looking really carefully at what it means to embrace that position as an artist, to make something about where you come from.

MH: I have question for you. As you're working and as I'm trying to read the crochet, I see it like some musician is starting to play and they go from one riff to another riff to another riff and it's just this language and it's this constant chatter and talking and moving from one configuration to another configuration to another configuration. And for me, it's like somebody that is on this long monologue-that it starts with this one piece of string, or two pieces of string, I guess. And you start moving and you move in a linear direction. And this thing gets convoluted and it wraps in on itself. It's this long, long monologue. It's a story that after a while gets in the way that you. . .one can hardly hear it. . .there are so many voices that it ends up being. . . that it becomes, it becomes a whole space. . . becomes filled with the sound of this . . .

That's my vision of this. I mean, I don't know how you see this thing as you're working. And how you get from point A to point Z as you move through this thing?

SP: Well, I love your description, first of all. It starts with sitting in a chair and tying shoelaces to each other for hours. That's how it starts. And then it ends with pulling things across a room. Well, it doesn't end there. It's funny. It's very circular and then there's sitting and crocheting and it's very improvisational and it's all based on mistakes. And don't look too carefully; my mother would be very disappointed. That was the joke about "Josephine" because I know she'd say, "What's the matter? Can't you make anything nice? Nothing? This is? What is this?" It's very much like, okay, we got to the end of this; turn it around and go back in that direction.

You know, all this, thinking is so that when I'm working, I don't think that way.

MH: But when do you think?

SP: Afterward.

MH: So it's like a Zen activity of non-thinking.

SP: Well, it's not that kind of—it's a different kind of intelligence I think, and it's based on memory and recognition and the need to work.

MH: Is it like doodling when you're at the telephone and you have a conversation and your mind is wandering and your hand is moving and moving by itself and it has its own mind?

SP: It is like that, but that's why I think I talk about the lap so much because it's more than that. It's more pleasurable than that.

MH: Yeah, ok.

DR: There's also something very specifically structured about it. I'd like for you to talk a little bit about that sense of structure and breaking down the structure and about the breaking down the space. You mentioned that once you had to decide how to break down the space then it was a matter of moving into that long riff as you called it.

They're a couple of analogies I can make. I took piano lessons as a kid. So it's kind of like scales. You do it and then there is a point where you're doing it and you're thinking about what you're going to have for dinner. How long do I have to do this?

I can't crochet and not look; I am not that good. I know we were talking about this. There are women on the subway who crochet, like, for baby clothes and they're not looking and it's pretty amazing. But I look and I miss and I don't put the needle in the right place, but as long as it's structurally sound, it's ok by me.

There is a lot in my work that's about being technically just good enough. It's a kind of anti-mastery position—just enough to get the job done so that we're not sated in that location.

And then about the drawing in space. There's hardware that's drilled in as points. And then you connect the dots. And lines are described and then planes are described and then some are taken in and put back out.

A big mass of something will be pulled into the space that I can't see how it will go. Then it's cleaned up and articulated. And, you know, and it runs constantly between looking at a long view and a line in space that's collapsed into two dimensions and going back and carefully and obsessively tying off something.

The great thing about the shoelaces, the beginning is everywhere. Like I can reach into something and untie it and pull it and open it and no one would ever know that that's not where it started. And so that cacophony; there's a potential for an endless amount of it.

MH: I don't want to change the direction, but obviously Sheila is not an autodidact. You know, Sheila grows out of a culture and grows out of things that she has seen. And we were chatting yesterday and I asked if she was interested in the "Mile of String," the Duchamp in the Surrealists exhibition in 1942. And she said "yes, that was one of the. . ." I don't know how you phrased it.

SP: Like an admitted precursor, heritage or something.

MH: And there's a number of other things that come to my mind. Those models of Antonio Gaudi for his buildings he built, late 19th century, strings hanging from the inverted buildings. But there are so many wonderful things that have taken place that have used things that seemed related as cousins or grandfathers or whatever to these works that you're up to.

What are some of the others? People that you were looking at that really informed your ideas and got you where you are.

SP: Well Hesse, obviously. And then Judy Pfaff pretty clearly in terms of the 2D-3D stuff.

This is an interesting question in general. For me, they're certain things that you just know are going to be there that pre-date you, but as my work sort of shifts around from one location to another, I think about different people.

If you want to talk about Duchamp and issues of chance/no chance. Or Hesse, same thing, chance/no chance. And then when I look at Judy's installations, the eye begins to be an important part of it. So those are the things that I think about structures of operations that are about physicality or will or a lack of will.

Or how much is about the body and how much is about the eye. How much is about cultural construct. Ashley and I talked about this really formative moment when I was at Albertus when I was cutting out of class and going down to the Yale Art Gallery and standing in front of Eva Hesse's "Hangup" and I didn't know what the heck to make of it. I just didn't; I couldn't grasp it. And I would go back to school and ask the sisters, and they didn't have anything to tell me.

And then the other activity was going to the Women's Center in New Haven for the premier screening of The Making of the Dinner Party. I really liked that too. And then, you know, these two things, if you look at them side-by-side, they don't really speak to each other, but in that moment, they both spoke to me. And so much of what I do is a kind of negotiation between parents that aren't speaking to each other.

MH: Yeah. Tha t makes sense.


Part 2: Panel Discussion

Dinah Ryan: Let's talk about those thingd a little bit. You talked about drawings that you extract from your own head, things that you are drawing from the outside. When we were in the gallery the other day, you were talking about drawing those rusted girders and the trestles. And knowing that your translation of what you were seeing into a two-dimensional space was all coming out of what you described as your own aesthetic and educational location of modernism.

Talking about your modernist training, that sense of abstraction in its earliest definition as being a translation of a real object, the confusion that occurs sometimes between non-objective and the abstract. So talk a little bit about that sense of the location between the mental, what you see, the sort of purely non-objective. . .

Sheila Pepe: The drawings aren't pictures of the trestles. They're like the trestles; they're abstractions of and interpretations and sort of a musical riff on the trestles. They're abstract pictures; they're pictures of abstractions. I mean, I don't think I can historically make an abstract picture now, but I can make a picture of an abstract picture and I think that's what I'm doing.

I don't know if that makes any sense.

The desire is to begin to reflect my world again. The desire as an artist is to not just be either working out of my own private Idaho or to some grand international art magazine. To be somewhat more specific about where I live, where I come from, who my parents were. To be kind of responsibly individual.

Howard Risatti: This is sort of a key in a core issue because, I mean, if you're making pictures of abstractions, which gets you removed again from another form of reality and so how does one make the local? I mean there's this sense that images are here and they're so strong and the art world is so strong as an image that you somehow get involved in that rather than the notion of place and self.And I think that's a very difficult thing to do.

And I would venture to say that's probably more difficult in New York in some ways. I mean the girders to me, you know, have a sense of New York. I can see 1950's painting, Klein and some of those De Kooning things. And there's that sooty, gritty black and white. But then those things become sort of second nature to us in the way that when you make pictures of that, that other element disappears, it seems to me.

And so I do think a proper artist says How do you locate yourself? Do you locate yourself in the art world or in a place? I mean, where is the art world? New York—it's a market place and I think in New York it's even harder because there's a kind of art world identity as opposed to real identity.

SP: But not if you live there.

HR: Oh no, I understand that, but there is this kind of pressure about a way you make art, that one makes art today, that's so strong that it comes out in a certain way. I mean, I'm all for the radically local and concerned about this sort of globalism in the art world, which I don't like. And I sense in some way that you are trying to get around that.

SP: I don't know if I'm trying to get around it, but I am trying to get through it.

There was a time when I was in Boston that I was in graduate school and I was carving marble and making what I thought were pretty funny jokes about Boston sculpture. But nobody got it because nobody was really interested in Boston sculpture.

This is a way that registers both regionally and not regionally, so you're right about that. There's a kind of transparency that is a problem with this work. But I work a lot out of town, and I think there's a point at which I'm asking myself, "well, what would I take to Richmond that would really make any much difference?" And maybe I'm deluding myself, but there's something more interesting about coming here and saying "well, this is what I see about New York art and my neighborhood" than making a statement that's not so specific in that way.

DR: Talk a little bit about the idea that you mentioned Monday, you know, that there's a lot going on outside the art forum club that we think of as sort of the small window of New York / international art. You said there's a lot of artists doing a lot of different things, some local, some not so local. And I think we might also talk about the way in which, as an art world, we tend to be more homogenous than we used to be. Regionalism is long gone. And yet there are lots of different things going on, lots of different pockets. And maybe that relates in some way to what you are talking about here.

SP: Well, it's an issue of scale. The other thing is—that's really important here—is that I grew up in Jersey and was formed by two things: my parent's deli and yearly trips to either the Met, the MOMA, and the Whitney. So I got a very sparse but regular diet of Modernism through my early years, and not a lot else. You know, it wasn't like I was going to a really good museum school every Saturday morning

New York, and I'd say specifically Midtown, was iconic for me. It's only until I moved there that I really grasped the idea of neighborhood because I just didn't ever move through it in the way that one would learn it.

I moved to New York for a variety of reasons, but the biggest one was because of the scale of it; the idea of having that many artists and that many art worlds in one place seemed really interesting to me. That there were a ton of older artists. The variety of it is kind of amazing when you're in it.

As upwardly mobile as we all are in the art world, especially now, I think, there seem many more places to sort of land and sustain than one would suspect by just reading the magazines. I'm motivated by finding a place like that that's right for my work and balancing that against an adequate amount of visibility that will allow me to keep a roof over my head

Myron Helfgott: There was that wonderful slide where you had those mammoth rubber bands on one side of the room and then you had, I guess, shoelaces, or yarn, on the other side of the room and it seemed that there were two very different people there that were in that room. And one was a big, massive, aggressive, high-powered tough chick, and then there was this other much more delicate . . .

SP: Really

MH: more delicate . . . But I see this as a conversation that going on in that space between part A and part B and that impressed me. And also I see it in a very different way with the "Doppelgangers" where you have the crocheting, at least that one you had with the crocheting. You had the drawing on the wall and then there was another conversation going on with those. And those I find pretty fascinating. Did you take on different personas as you're beginning to develop part A and part B? Or did you . . .

SP: No all those people live under one roof.

MH: Is this a happy roof? Or is it a very conflicted roof as my grandmother would say?

SP: It's fairly happy, but you know there are a lot of different parts. We had a really interesting conversation in the gallery the other day about these parts, I think. The "Doppelgangers," in particular, and the conversation you are talking about here and I think in this recent work, in the installation across the way, it's expressed differently.

But there's a kind of tolerance of disparate parts, or too much, or too much information, or too much activity. There's a kind of tolerance for discomfort that's going on here that I like, that I find stretches me beyond what I experience as a parochial thing.

So it's experienced as an issue of identity; it's expressed in formal terms and categories of art, but it's it's experienced for me in terms of having to manage different identities in different contexts with different constituents. And a desire to show those parts and how they are and are not linked. For me the miracle of the "Doppelgangers" was that they were linked by a phenomenon—by light and shadow—but any other way you sliced it, they weren't; they make no sense.

MH: Now that you have shoelaces in the work, and shoelaces are such a found object. So now you've put found objects into the work. After you did that, is there some interest in doing more of that, where other objects find themselves in this weaving that now gets to be a more complex narrative because there are some other found objects . . .

SP: Yeah, I think at the moment, the complexity that I'm looking for is visual and perhaps in terms of dealing with the space dynamically. What I'm interested in is playing out these issues along the lines of early to mid-20th century modernism, because I find that that is a way that will coalesce the variety for the moment, and I think I have a need to coalesce the variety.

MH: In fact, it's interesting I remember at one point I saw a Picasso, it was sort of a figure but it was linear and it was incredibly complex and I loved this work so I thought I would draw it, and so I started drawing it and I realized the space was so complex I couldn't draw it; I could not draw it. And then I go into your exhibition and there's a complexity of the space that you develop with lines, as he's developed, a very different kind of line, of course, but it's the same kind of complexity of space you can't rationally understand what's happening within . . .

SP: I want to say one more thing about the ready-made. The little objects are made, are ready made. There are ready-mades that have cropped up in the work all along, but they were often found and it was all about an economy, like literally, like cheap. There's a potential that ready-made becomes about going shopping, and I'm not about going shopping So it's a delicate balance in terms of using enough ready-made material to orient oneself in a post-ready-made-world

MH: There's no such thing.

SP: Well, you know, at least acknowledging that ready-madeness is an entity in our world, and then doing it in such a way that it's still fairly economical, and that's another kind of local. I mean my neighborhood's a neighborhood of low cost. There's a class thing about this neighborhood that's really carefully constructed

DR: I actually would like for you to talk a little more about that idea of class that comes up in your work. I mean, there is a humility and an accessibility in the materials and the way you contruct them there's a kind of ragged and tattered look about it. And there's also, it seems to me, a kind of sense of dominion vs. subversion that appears in the tension between the physical forms themselves and the shadows and reflections and I'd like for you to expand on that idea of class.

SP: Well, my mother raised me to be A) a good assimilationist, and upwardly mobile. That's the dream, that's the American dream. And I'm with that. But my sense of prosperity is kind of small.

I want to convey where I come from which is, you know, work ethic, and it's about experience. And I think to start with, a lot of the work was organized as a ephemeral installation so that there wouldn't be a commodity involved, and since then I've learned that doesn't make any sense because people will buy it anyway. And I'm ok with that. You know, I didn't want to embrace my downward mobility too much, because it is there, and I have to keep it in check.

But I hope its about disclosing a certain set of values, about work, about a kind of invention and imagination and . . .it's along the same line as mastering material. Mastering material is great, but it doesn't do everything.

So, the other thing is, it just lets me work. You know the way this is situated where every piece is cannibalized for the next piece and then chunks are taken out and made for sale, or for this or for that. It's like a big sourdough pie. It lets me work a lot. You know, it lets me do three or four installations a year; I'm constantly expanding and changing a space and there's loss along the way.

DR: I have a question that actually came the other day from you, Myron. And your comment, Shiela, about making the marble sculptures made me think about this. So your mother Josephine taught you to crochet when you were how old?

SP: About 9 or 10, probably.

DR: Myron asked the other day, and I think it's a great question, when did the crocheting come back into the work? And when did it make its conscious appearance as a sort of a locality, that idea of the lap?

SP: I think there were some objects made for "Doppelgangers," actually I know there were some at the Gothic exhibition that had a little bit of crocheting.

Actually, at the very same time, I was crocheting blue masses of Woolworth's yarn and looking at them as similar to the projection drawings and calling them projection fields.

'95 was a show that I had at Simmon's College, and there was a big mass of inarticulate sort of hanging of blue yarn, different kinds of blue yarn, that when I squinted looked pretty much like the "Photogram" drawing.

DR: Crocheting reemerged actually as part of that aesthetic locality, that formal locale for you, rather than as a domestic locale.

SP: Even then I was aware that there was a preferencing the domestic and I was dealing with it in terms of scale and activity. You know there weren't any serious tools being used. Everything was like cooking or . . .You know, plaster's kind of like cooking, shoving little wires in things. I think the most high art I got was gold leafing a thing or two.

MH: You said you were at Haystack. That's a craft thing, isn't it? When was that? Was your background up until then in craft and then you moved into . . .

SP: I went to Albertus and graduate in '81 and then I transferred to Mass Art and got a BFA in ceramics in '83, went to Haystack in '84. There there's like a big chunk of time when I go off and work in museums and consider conservation, and then I consider being a curator. And then I knew I wouldn't be happy unless I tried it myself.

And I have to say in museum work, everything's an object. Everything is about a kind of a craft, especially through the eyes of a conservator which was like a wonderful leveler for me. There you are in storage, and the bronzes are here, and the ceramics are here, and the paintings are here . . .

So to get an MFA, I go back to the Museum School in '92, then go to Skowhegan in '94. So '84 at Haystack and '94 at Skowhegan.

I think that might answer it.


Part 3: Panel Discussion

Howard Risatti: You've been talking about the "Doppelganger." And I'm wondering when that comes into the vocabulary for your work?

Sheila Pepe: I showed these things that I was doing in '94 in Boston, the "Shadow Drawings," there's this one to one relationship. I was looking for a way to name them. Because my experience with most viewers at that time was they liked the object but didn't like the drawing or they liked the drawing and they didn't like the object. And that I wanted them to be viewed as twins, as two things next to each other, juxtaposed, so Doppelganger was a word I could frame that event with, so that hopefully people would look that in that way, that they were counterparts for each other, not in the way that cloned sheep are, but in a way that two similar things can be.

HR: Do you think it still applies to this more recent work?

SP: No

HR: It's a nice term, though.

SP: It's beautiful

HR: Sounds great.

SP: I think that the interesting thing is, for example, the drawings and the object look more and more like each other, unlike the Doppelgangers, and it's very difficult to figure out which one's first. With the Doppelgangers you could see that the light was the point of origin and it cast a shadow. You could track through the process. When you look at the work on paper and the work in the room it's not clear if these are drawings for this sculpture-or is this a picture of that or is that a picture of this? And I think that's really a more interesting place for me to be.

HR: I like the Doppelganger term because it implies a psychological dimension. And I think the definition is something like "the ghost or the double that enhaunts its counterpart" which I don't see it in the later work, but I think in the earlier work gives it a certain dimension and of course from your discussion, it's clearly relevant.

Dinah Ryan: Are we ready to move to questions? I'll repeat it, so we get it on tape.

Elizabeth King (from audience): Howard made the distinction between something taking inspiration from a source as opposed to something being, in this case, local. And now you're talking about the Doppelganger, which seems linked to that in some way. There's a pairing of some kind going on.

And I remember you, Sheila, were talking about the shoelaces, "using lace to make lace," and then you said a moment ago how thrilled you were that Doppelgangers had an isthmus, a little contact point, while remaining totally separate. And I'm wondering if that is still more in the work, even more important, but in ways that are less categorically . . . in ways that combine more distant categories of stuff.

SP: You're drawing some really interesting parallels between the "Doppelgangers" and the parts to the whole, is that right? And the current work and the parts . . .

EK: I keep coming back to the "using laces to make lace." You know, in that sense, those are two very different things that are locked together in a curious kind of . . .some kind of umbilical cord.

SP: Can you give me a couple of months with that one. You know, what's interesting to me, you think with words in a way that I don't. "Lace to make laces," wow.

EK: You're the one who said it.

SP: I did? But when you say it it sounds so cool!

There's a part and parcel thing going on here that I can't quite describe to you, but I recognize in what you're saying. You know, going back to the inspired by. . .can you help me with that? You said it's inspired by, but it's not about. Right? Ok.

I think there's this thing about being subject or object. And I think that that—maybe I'm an idiot—but I think that there's something really confusing about that in art at this moment. There is for me. It's like, is this about that or is it from this place? And mostly I can tell you where the work is from, but I usually can't tell you what the work is about. And part of me doesn't really want to tell you that because I don't feel like that's wholly my job.

And from observation I can see other artists who I admire . . .well, I will argue with them about how much control they will want to have about the meaning of their work. And I think as artists in general we get into like really bad places when we need to control absolutely every meaning of the work.

So I can tell you a lot about my subject position and about what the work is drawing from. But I don't always know what it's about and it takes me a long time to figure out. It takes me a long time to look at my own work and look back and know what the next move was. It's kind of like why I showed you that little object with the shoelace in it. Oh, you know, if I was just paying attention.

Myron Helfgott: Going back to lace and laces, it seems to me this is the perfect Duchampian kind of language, this system of using puns and language and words having two meanings and Raymond Roussel and going back with those meanings. And this seems to be exactly in that same category and probably is a thing that comes-I assume-after the fact, you know. . .you say "Oh!"

When all of a sudden Shiela said, my grandfather was a shoemaker and that's how the shoelaces go in there, I'm thinking that ain't the way it happened. I'm thinking, I'm thinking that so the shoelaces found there way in and she said "that's right, my grandfather was a shoemaker and that's the connection."

SP: No, in truth it was moving to New York and going down to the place. My grandfather had a shoe repair shop on the corner. . .on the sort of acute corner of Trinity Place and Greenwich. And it is now the exit ramp for the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel, so it was this non-location now; it's like a hole in the ground.

DR: So let's have questions. To the extent to which I can repeat them, I will. . .

The question is, how does Sheila get from the lap with the crochet to the space. How is she thinking about moving from the intimate space to the larger one?

SP: I'll just take you through it physically. I make things that sort of fit on my lap, or my table which is about this big. And then they get thrown in a box one after another without even looking at them. And then the first time around they got put up piece by piece and if you look carefully you can see individual pieces and tied together very carefully.

Then it gets cut out of the space and sent back to the studio and more materials are purchased and more shoelaces are tied together and crocheted. And we have a pile of things that get cannibalized and then all the new stuff. And when the old stuff comes back to the studio, I hang it all up and make sure it's structurally sound, because when you cut the laces you can pull them out, but you'd better reconfigure it do it doesn't fall apart.

So there's a mix of a pile of stuff that hasn't been looked at and sections that have been re-crocheted into larger panels that have been looked at. Then they all go in the box to the next location.

When I first started it was like a big jigsaw puzzle. Less and less it's like a big jigsaw puzzle. More and more it's string the things up in space and pull them and stretch them and unravel them. And there are a couple of things that are really important. They're really light; they're really simple to ship. I love how economical it is.

When I go to a space, I get two things. I get a floor plan and I get snapshots, or jpegs or something of the space. And I use those like flash cards. I just look through them. I just keep them at my hand and look through them and take certain views.

And then the floor plans, I get tons of copies of them and I do scribble drawings on them, kind of an arial path of well it could be this way or it could be that way. But I don't really have any memory of this stuff. It's just like more doodling.

And then once I get to the space, I look for details of a particular space, like when I didn't see before but in this place there are these great holes in the I-beams that I used. I wouldn't have seen that from anything. A lot of it is from really specific little hardware points or junctures. We painted some, so they are points that get articulated and then built up like a big drawing.

DR: The question is you mentioned the relationship between subject and object, and what are your thoughts about using an object to make an object?

SP: In my mind, the object, the shoelace, it's going to have a certain perimeter of meaning, and I am responsible for sort of scanning what that meaning is beyond my grandfather. It's kind of like the narrative for "Josephine," like we've got a problem here, and that's the only reason why I'm using it.

So what are the other things about it? I like that it's this, you know, strange thing that you do find lying around the house. I like that it has had a utility and that specifically that object, I'm finding, is designed for that utility. It's designed to be tied and retied. It's designed to have these little, I think they're called aiglet, those little plastic ends. They're really durable and they're a sort of given length. So you can play with that. There's a beginning and end throughout the whole.

So there's certain things physically that I like about it, and those physical attributes are tied to its original identity, to tie your shoe together. And then, I like that it belongs to a shoe. It's not a shoe, it's not a heel.

You know when I thought about, well, what are all the things I could pick to do to honor my grandfather? I could get a lot of shoes. I could get a lot of soles. I could get, oh, shoelace. Well, "shoelace" already fits into my framework of all these other things that I'm thinking about. So that's an appropriate way to patch from what I am doing, to grow the work into a new direction.

This is totally stretching it, but even the desire to move this operation out onto the street, a shoelace would be a good thing.

Every year there's this fundraiser at Artists Space where they ask you to give drawings, so this year I'm looking for stuff at home that's not in studio and I found a really nice little group of Margaret Bourke-White photographs, post cards, that I have and I just perfed the ends and started crocheting around them. One of them is of all these people crossing the streets and it's like, "Oh, shoelaces!" So there's this funny little moments where I think "that's the seed to something, I am not exactly sure what," but that kind of amplifies the object.

DR: The question relates to the idea of the disruption or reconfiguration of the domestic and also the reconfiguration of the breakdown of the locale with the vast technologies that we have. Is the construction of the work breaking down or building up the domestic?

SP: Basically, you're concerned with do I see myself healing the domestic or disrupting it. I am going to be the politician: both. I mean, that's the dilemma, isn't it? I mean on one hand I would like keenly to be able to provide some continuity in honoring the domestic, and in that way, it's bridging a feminist agenda inter-generationally by using that aesthetic. Wilding's "womb rooms," which I didn't know about until recently. There's a certain amount of continuity that uses the domestic language as a feminist agenda.

But by my mother's standards, I am a total domestic failure and am really happy about it. It's like, "yes," and "either/or." What I think is happening is that I feel like I am describing that dilemma and trying to sort of bridge those two locations and not let the specificity of those two locations go, because I believe that to illuminate the edge between those two places, you have to have them both.

DR: The question relates to how does looking at the idea of the breakdown of the locale and the differences in locale, how does Sheila want the outsider from her locale to be able to read into what she's creating, translating between one locale and the another.

SP: This is a tough question to answer because it means that I going to tell you what I want you to see before you go in there, which I am kind of opposed to.

Let me say this, on the outside. There's probably a lot more going on, I hope to God there's a lot more going on in there, than about this particular topic. The other thing is that through Ashley's generosity, she's allowed me to make work that stretches my work a little bit. I mean, I'm not producing something that she knew was going to happen a year ago. My ideas have changed, and I'm growing in public.

What do I know about it right now? I am using the title and some visual language in the drawing on paper as a frame, as a frame of this investigation. What I think will happen is that is that you will be able to draw a comparison or you will be able to draw a connection between the work on paper and the work in space and that mostly stylistically, there'll be something about the way things are drawn that refer to a kind of abstraction that happened in New York at the early, middle part of the century.

It's probably a pretty broad net, but I'm just telling you what exactly I know.