Artwork by Carl Berrien Smith and Kelly Christopher
A look inside our studio practice from Maine to Connecticut and everywhere in between.
Arranging artwork. Scurrying around the studio. Doing the last marks to a piece that I wont see for
awhile. Figuring out what stays, what goes, and what is finished. Preparing and planning topics of
discussion, potential future works, ideas, thoughts. Who will we research this time? What ideas will he bring? As the time nears, I can't contain my excitement and anticipation for our next cell. Where will this cell take us???
Let me back up, as you are probably wondering, “What is cell?”.
Cell is short for “Art Cell”. To us it means rejuvenation; The ultimate collaboration; The mind meld;
and Growth. Back in early 2009, my old art school friend, Carl Berrien Smith, and I were simply
planning to get together to make some art together. At the time we had no idea the impact it would have on us and our art!
Because he lives in Connecticut and I live six hours north in Maine, we decided to meet half way – just outside of Boston. We both showed up to the hotel with cars packed full of paintings, wood, paint, plaster and of course TARPS! After checking in, we unloaded our cars and made our way through the lobby, up a flight of stairs and down the hall to our room with all our gear. You can imagine the looks we got! LOL! Thankfully, we eventually found a more “appropriate” side door.
We locked ourselves away in that room for the next 18 hours talking and working on art :)
We called it our “art cell”.
After that first amazing experience, we knew we needed to do more. With families and distance to be considered, we decided on an annual cell. I think that only lasted for one year. By the time we had our second cell, it was obvious a year was too long. Today we meet every two months, collaborating on multiple pieces at once, as well as our own work. Depending on schedules, we either do multiple day cells alternating between Maine and Connecticut or a one day cell in Massachusetts.
Collaboration means different things to different people. To Carl and me, it means literally working on and over the others previously painted/drawn mark. We talk about the direction of a piece and continue on making our own mark. When we are not at cell and in our own studios, we continue to work on our various pieces. At cell we work together on as many as possible then swap the ones we've had for the last two months for the ones our cellmate had. Currently we are rotating about 20 pieces between us!
Every art cell inspires and lifts us to new levels, pushing us to the limit and over sometimes :) Leaving our comfort levels behind. We have found working collaboratively has pushed us in directions we wouldn't have gone otherwise.