Artist of the Week

Connor McNicholas

July 3, 2023

Connor McNicholas (b. 1990, Oakland, New Jersey) received their MFA from ICP-Bard and lives and works in Brooklyn, New York. Recent solo exhibitions include Since Each of Us Was Several, Super Dakota, Brussels, Belgium (2022), and Where Remote Futures Meet Remote Pasts, M 2 3, New York, New York (2020). Their work has been exhibited in group exhibitions internationally including Andersen’s in Copenhagen, Denmark; Berthold Pott, Cologne, Germany; Sharp Projects, Copenhagen, Denmark; Tobias Naehring, Leipzig, Germany; Center of Contemporary Art, Tbilisi, Tbilisi, Georgia; and The International Center of Photography, New York, New York.

Tell us a bit about yourself and what you do.
My name is Connor but it has slowly evolved to Connie to those closest. I was born in New Jersey, and have been living in Brooklyn for the past 14 years. I make sculptures and installations that combine historical art-making practices with modern technologies and natural materials.

Can you tell us a bit about your upbringing, was creativity valued in your household?
I grew up in a house my dad built 30 minutes outside of New York City but spent a lot of time down the shore on an old sailboat my parents once lived on. I had a speech impediment that made me self-conscious about communication but discovered the piano really early on and spent a lot of my childhood learning classical music. Though neither of my parents worked in creative fields or had any real interest in art, my dad used the basement of our home as his wood shop where he made furniture throughout his life and my mom also used that space to store flowers she collected for drying and preserving.

The Whole Earth Catalog (Selection), 2022 Travertine tiles, AOL 2.0 floppy disk, found photographs, wood frames, plexiglass, hourglass, glass, polyamide, paper, coral, wet plate negative, alabaster 100 x 100 x 12 inches (254 x 254 x 30.48 cm)

Much of your work is very reminiscent of the ready-made, what drew you to assemblage?
It’s just what comes naturally to me. All of reality is continuously coming together and breaking apart. Acknowledging the fragments feels like it brings me closer to the whole. Pieces break down over time and transition into new things, it’s all in a perpetual state of becoming, where the boundaries of individual elements blur and new connections emerge.

What has been inspiring you lately?
I have tons of tabs running alongside hundreds of text-edit notes, I feel like a filter trying to give form to the data flow. Morphogenesis, automation, prehistoric cave paintings, psychedelics, birds at my feeder, algorithms, fasciation, bodies dancing in sync, syncretism, alchemy, cyclical time, synthetic biology, found notes, author-less artworks, mutualism, religious practices, walking, reincarnation, patterns in ambient sound, dabke, energy, life.

Perfect Lovers, 2020 Copper Aztec calendar, digital clock, electricity, hardware 24 x 12 x 2 inches (60.96 x 30.48 x 5.08 cm)

Who are some of the artists you find yourself regularly revisiting?
Lutz Bacher

Nayland Blake

Trisha Donnelly

Felix Gonzales-Torres

Robert Grosvenor

Mario Merz

Rosemarie Trockel

You employ a very broad range of materials and techniques in your work, how do you feel about your relationship to the process of making?
I’m always searching, it’s essential for me to keep my practice very open. I want to remain receptive and adaptable to different perspectives and possibilities. I tend to have one foot in the past and one in the future.

Every Portal, 2020 HD video, monitor, sound, electricity 1 hour, 22 minutes

What is your current workspace like?
It’s a bit all over the place. I keep my sound equipment set up in my living room, a mix of analog and digital synthesizers and effects processors all running through a large mixer into my computer. Since the pandemic, I’ve been using two rooms in my apartment as my office for research and planning and a space to live with the pieces before they are shown. At the moment there are some photographs I just got back from the framer lining the walls, two drawings that were scaled up and laser cut out of walnut laying on a work table waiting to be burned, and a few clay forms in various states of drying out scattered across the floor. I also work with a fabrication shop down the street where I have access to the space and tools I need for 3D printing, ceramics, laser cutting, and metalwork.

What have you been reading lately?
Inside the Spiral: The Passions of Robert Smithson – Suzaan Boettger

Gilles Deleuze & Felix Guattari: Intersecting Lives – Francois Dosse

Microbes and Other Shamanic Beings – César E. Giraldo Herrera

The Many Pieces as Ever, 2020 Polyamide, SD card, cholla wood, millet, antenna, hardware 16 x 8 x 3 inches (40.64 x 20.32 x 7.62 cm)

What do you want a viewer to walk away with after seeing one of your exhibitions?
A feeling or emotion they can sit with. I’m not interested in definitive readings… poetic moments of connection and disconnection within a complex ambiguous space.

Any upcoming projects that you can share
At the moment I’m working on a solo show for M 2 3 here in New York that opens in September. In the fall I’m showing a new video in a group show in Belgium and a sound piece in a group show in Italy. After that, I’ll be starting on a solo exhibition opening in Denmark sometime next year.