Studio Logic: Monica Cook's airy space is a palette for the intricate


Multi-media artist Monica Cook (B.F.A., painting, 2006) is a self-described scavenger. The materials and objects she finds in places both obvious and unthinkable are the basis for her life-size sculptures, which bear the same overt realism as her paintings. She makes these creatures, a blend of human and animal, to be posable so she can bring them to life by shooting them frame by frame for animation. The thrill of the hunt, and her knack for it, helped Monica stumble upon her dream studio in Brooklyn, where she creates pieces that have been acquired by collectors like Louisville’s 21c Museum Hotel, which recently purchased Phosphene.

Monica’s upcoming shows include Beautiful Beast (Jan. 27 - March 8) at the Wilkinson Gallery in New York and Milk Fruit (Feb. 3 – March 19) at the Cress Gallery in Chattanooga. These images by Adam Kuehl (B.F.A., photography, 2005; M.F.A., photography, 2014) take us inside the laboratory that’s home to Monica’s prolific practice.

Thread: What is your ideal work environment. What can’t you work without?

Monica Cook: Natural light and good music.

T: It appears that you prefer a space that’s a clean, blank slate. Is this related to the nature of your work?

MC: I have to be very organized, otherwise I will spend all of my time searching for materials. I also prefer not to have old work around because I feel it holds me back. If my studio is orderly, like a blank slate, my mind feels freer and clear.


T: Has your studio changed as you’ve transitioned to 3D?

MC: Yes, drastically. I've had to collect so many more materials, tools and supplies. Also, I need a big, open space to create large-scale sculptures and animation sets.

T: Where do you get the pieces for your sculptures?

MC: I get the materials for my sculptures at junk stores, flea markets, eBay, or found on the streets and in the garbage. I have shelves of storage bins that are organized by object.

T: How did you find your studio?

MC: My studio is in Bushwick, Brooklyn. About two years ago, I needed to move to a larger space. I literally found my dream studio, but it was way out if my league financially, and I was scared to make such a leap. I called my mom and told her. She asked if other people in the building had such large spaces on their own. I said, "Yes." She said, “Well, what's the problem then? If they can do it, so can you.” So I did, and by the grace of God I have made it work. Having such a large, inspiring space has helped me and my work grow tremendously.

We'd love to be invited into your studio for this series. Please tells us about your workspace in the comments below or share your tips for keeping your studio organized and productive.

Studio Logic: inside the studio of Marcus Kenney


For the next post in our Studio Logic series, exploring the studios of professional artists and designers, we interviewed Marcus Kenney (M.F.A., photography, 1998). In a two-story Victorian in the heart of Savannah, Georgia, Marcus works across mediums - sculpture, paint, photography and collage - to mastermind reflections on wildlife and Americana. In addition to being among a collection of artists responsible for the aesthetic of Savannah College of Art and Design’s micro-house experiment, SCADpad® North America, Marcus recently completed a residency at Lux Art Institute and is currently showing his paintings at Georgia College Museum.

Thread: What is your ideal work environment?
Marcus Kenney: I am pretty flexible when it comes to working space. I have worked in a variety of studio of spaces, from 5000 square feet warehouses, to a 100 square feet garage. My current studio has a bit of a domestic appeal as opposed to an industrial one. I enjoy the neighborhood and interaction with the neighbors. I have a large vinyl collection and during the workday I am constantly flipping over records and listening to random recording artist.

SCAD: Do you work best surrounded by objects that inspire you?
MK: Studios tend to reflect their owners and I admit that my studio is a mess and full of lots of contradicting objects. There are thousands of books, hundreds of small sculptures and boxes full of interesting objects like ladies dresses, wigs, fur coats and hats from around the world and rolls of wall paper. There are some cobwebs in the corners and surprises to be found; things I have forgotten I had and things that I haven't used in years. There are lots of reasons to create art and my art is about our culture. Historically, the way to study a culture is by the objects it produces. I find it responsible to study our ephemera and detritus and edit and shape them into valid cultural conversations.

I enjoy turning the world into my art supply store and making a game of searching for the right elements to create a work of art.

SCAD: Did your studio change when you evolved from 2D TO 3D work?
: I currently have four horses living in my studio! Honestly, it has not changed much. I have always created sculpture and so there are large amounts of materials lying around. I still paint occasionally, so all of my painting materials are there, as well. I like to keep lots of things on hand because I never know how the day is going to unfold and where inspiration may strike. Some days I may start a painting and other days I may work on sculpture. Often, I won’t go to the studio at all, but spend the day photographing or searching for materials to work with. The pleasure of being a contemporary artist is that there are no set rules.

“My studio is a super buffet with all kinds of options to feed my creative hunger.”

SCAD: What’s one thing you can’t work without?
: Recently it has been a thimble on my finger. I have worked with one so much the last several years that my forefinger feels a little naked without it. For many years I carried a camera with me 24 hours a day, and before that it was an X-Acto knife with a box of new blades. It changes as my work changes. 

SCAD: What's another unique aspect of your studio?
: I only work on the first floor. Upstairs has been reserved for other artists to work in. I have had some really special and unique artists work upstairs. Monica Cook (B.F.A., painting, 1996), Scott Griffin, Lorie Corbus (B.F.A., fibers, 2002), Paige Russell, Cedric Smith, Jameid Ferrin, Tobia Makover (M.F.A., photography, 2001) and others have all created inspired work upstairs.

Here's to creating inspired work and the places where we make it.

Studio Logic: the workspaces of professional artists and designers


Space. Invariably, it’s the object of focus for artists and designers, and often times the basis for their inspiration. This is definitely true for the spaces we’ll feature in our series Studio Logic, exploring the studios of professional artists and designers. For the first installment we travel to Brooklyn, where powerhouse duo Trish Andersen (B.F.A., fibers, 2005) and Maureen Walsh (B.F.A., fibers, 2004) set up the multi-disciplinary design studio Domestic Construction. Below they ‘show and tell’ how their space reflects their philosophy and fuels their work for clients like Google, Target, Bravo and Hewlett-Packard. Clearly recent projects, like the striking blue exterior and interactive fiber walls of the Savannah College of Art and Design’s micro-house SCADpad® Europe and the pair’s grounded mat line, bear the mark of a special muse. We couldn’t resist taking a closer look.

Thread: How did designing for SCADpad challenge your initial way of working and how has it challenged how you engage space?

Domestic Construction: We wouldn't necessarily say it challenged our way of working, but rather supported it. We are all about the belief that any space, whether living or working, should be one that inspires you. SCADpad is a prime example of how you can push the limits of space through the creative use of materials to be one that is constantly engaging and ever-changing.

T: Being fibers artists, how does space inspire you? How does your personal work environment influence your products?

DC: Space is everything. As fibers artists, we like to challenge the preconceived notions of what a typical interior should be. Why should we live/work in white boxes? Have normal walls/floors? Isn't that getting boring? Our studio is an ever-changing exploration of what is inspiring us at the moment. A giant inspiration board of sorts. It is a playground that allows us to create without fear.

T: Your studio seems to be full of color and décor. What is the significance of these things to you? Describe your ideal surroundings for work (i.e., time of day, temperature, noise level, music, company, setting). 

DC: We love color and texture, so naturally we crammed our space with it. We find that color promotes an upbeat and fun working environment. Most people who enter our space smile and that's just the best. Some of the best days at the studio are when we are working on a big project and we have a ton of crew jamming to tunes and making things happen.

T: What's one thing you must have around or close by in order to do your best work? 

DC: Our friends/crew that always jump in to help execute projects. We usually work on a large scale, so it takes an army. We feel fortunate to work with so many other creatives and we truly have a blast doing it.