Carly Mandel

Carly Mandel

Tell me a little bit about you!

I’m an artist living and working in Brooklyn, NY.   I make sculptures in relationship to narratives of recovery and wellness in connection to her personal navigation of disability.  I grew up in St Louis, Missouri, and went to school in Portland, Oregon.  I received an undergraduate degree from Pacific Northwest College of Art in 2015.   This past month I received a grant for emerging disabled artists from VSA with the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C.  

When did you first discover art, or realize you wanted to make it yourself?

I’ve always thought of myself as an artist.  When I was a kid, it’s what I wanted to be when I grew up.

What ideas are you exploring in your practice?

My work has been exploring the misconception of what disabled bodies look like, and how they move through the world.  I’m interested in the vulnerability and trauma of bodies in pain. Through my own experiences with disability and autoimmunity, my work disbands structures of recovery which suggest health, able-bodiedness, and economic prosperity are the highest measures of success and normalcy.  

What is your process like?

I do a bit of planning, but I don't usually do sketches.  If I’m working on developing a piece for a specific show, I will usually make a mockup of what the piece and install will look like in Photoshop.

Do you have a mentor, or a piece of advice (or both), which has influenced your practice?

Less than a mentor or particular advice I think my involvement in several online disabled communities has impacted my practice. I'm connected with the community the Canaries which operates as a support group for female identifying and non binary artists impacted by autoimmunity.

Describe your studio.

My partner and I are both artists. We have a one bedroom apartment that we use as a live / work space - the bedroom is the studio, and the rest of the apartment is the living space.

I like sharing a studio with him because he's been making wall works, he uses the wall space, and I work on the floor on a tarp in the middle of the room. It’s also nice to share tools.

What do you find most daunting, challenging, or frustrating about pursuing art?

The hardest part about pursuing art is managing my health.  I can’t work just any day job because I need health insurance, which blocks me from working part-time at least right now.  I also can’t travel for extended periods because I receive mail order refrigerated injections that are difficult to coordinate.

If you could sit down for dinner or a drink with anyone, who would it be and what would you chat about?

My grandmother, she passed away when I was ten years old, and it would be really great to get to catch up with her.

What are three words you would use to describe your work?

lumpy / cold / soft

What do you do when you find yourself in a creative rut?

I go on Google and search for industrial displays or medical equipment.  Thinking about the strangeness of these objects gets me inspired to make new sculptural relationships.

What do you love most about your medium? What challenges or surprises you most about it?

I have been working with concrete lately because I don’t have regular access to clay / glass / wood / metal studios.  What I like about concrete is the lack of limitations.  I never formally learned the right way to work with it.  I’ve been making these molds out of dollar store bowls, trash bags and the styrofoam coolers that my meds come in.  I like not having rules, not having a definitive end goal, and working in the moment.

What do you need or value most as an artist?

Time to work and my physical health to be able to fabricate the objects I want.

What keeps you creating?

It’s in me, when I am physically able, I am producing work. And when I’m not doing well, I’m wishing I was working.

What are you working on right now?

I’m working on a concrete humidifier for a show in January and I am also augmenting some new glass works I made with Urbanglass in Brooklyn with oil and paper based clay bodies..

Find more at carlymandel.biz and on Instagram @0carl!

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Young Space Grant: Aida Lizalde!

Young Space Grant: Aida Lizalde!