Just beyond three peepholes cut into a translucent sheet of plastic covering the entrance to the university galleries, W. Tucker has taken up residence in the Joann Cole Mitte Art Building.
An exhibit by Tucker to remain on display through Oct. 18 will debut Monday. The Austin-based artist is living and working in the gallery this week, where students can view his progress through the peepholes.
Much of his exhibit is being painted or drawn directly on the gallery walls.
The University Star spoke with Tucker about the reasons behind producing art in an unconventional way.
HO: Why live in the studio?
WT: It’s two fold. The biggest one is that I get a good sense of the space, of nooks and crannies that I might have missed otherwise. If I had less time in the space, I might not take the time to really find where I really want images to be. So, getting to stay here gives me the opportunity to do that. The other reason is literally the convenience of it. I can start early in the morning and work late at night and not have to run to a hotel. I can just roll out of bed and start working.
HO: And why draw right on the wall?
WT: I was doing a group show at the Koelsch Gallery, and normally Franny Koelsch puts little numbers by all the pieces for the price list. And when I came in, she asked if I wanted to write my numbers on the wall by my pieces. I did that, but while I was doing it, in a couple of inconspicuous places, I drew little figures on the wall. I didn’t tell her, but fortunately we have a great relationship, and she wasn’t bummed by it. She saw it that night at the show for the first time. She asked how I would feel about doing a show that was all wall drawings.
But the reason is it’s an opportunity to experience the space in a different way and put work up in a different way. The experience is completely different because it’s there, and then it’s gone. It’s a temporal, fleeting thing. There’s something really wonderful about that—and scary a little bit—but wonderful that the people that get to see it are the people who see it, and then it’s gone.
HO: What sorts of tools are you using?
WT: I had a couple pieces that were completed before I got here, and I work with a lot of found material. So, I brought a stash of book covers and cardboard. One of the walls will be taken up with some of those, and then the rest of the work is going to be directly on the walls in the space.
Mixed media is the best way to describe it. I used chalkboard paint, and I’m using oil and resin sticks, charcoal, graphite, a lot of colored pencils and something called a lumber stick—it’s basically a version of a really thick, dense crayon.
HO: What do you think about the peepholes?
WT: I think it’s great. Mary Mikel Stump came up with the idea. You can see light through it, which is cool. And it’s fun for me, on the other side, because it creates this really beautiful visual when people are looking through. It’s nice for me to be able to see that, but do I let that affect me at all? I try to just keep going back to my business and not be thoughtful about feeling like I have to act a certain way. I hope it’s more than “Hey there’s an old guy painting in the studio, go peek in the hole.”