A note of disclosure: While Double Scoop does not make editorial decisions based on its affiliations, we do occasionally report on people or organizations we’re connected with. We have partnered with The Holland Project, where this artist’s work is on view, as an event venue.
Ever tripped on your words as soon as you started talking? Sent an intimate exchange reeling off track into a morass of awkwardness? Ever just suddenly forgotten everything you knew about what to say next, where to put your hands, how the heck eye-contact dynamics are supposed to work?
Yeah, me too.
Marisa Malone, who seems perfectly comfortable drinking iced tea with a reporter she’s never met, has been there a time or two herself. You can tell by her artwork.
For her series “Similar Feeling,” she made crisp sheets of paper from abaca, cotton and linen. On each piece, there’s a contour drawing of a woman, two women, or a small group of women interacting. Each drawing is made not with pencil or pen, but with a single piece of string that Malone carefully laid down using tweezers, while the paper was still wet.
“It was a really meticulous process,” she said. “I also used methylcellulose to carefully paint and make sure [the string] actually stayed and solidified.”
Malone was born and raised in Reno, and she recently landed in Brooklyn. She learned papermaking at The Sherwood Press, a letterpress studio in Olympia, Washington. She made the string drawings at the Women’s Studio Workshop in Rosendale, New York.
Her work exists withing strict limitations. She used only one model in this series—herself. “I draw myself a lot,” Malone said. I’m easily available. I use myself as a reference because I’m always there.” There’s no shading, blending, light or shadow to rely on—only the the rich texture of handmade paper and the emotive power of swoopy, string lines. (The process doesn’t really allow for right angles.)
Malone draws from a list of themes that she’s always thinking about—“What femininity looks like, women’s bodies, how they’re embodied in femininity” and they all simmer just below the surface of her images. The effect is a precise, sympathetic conjuring of moments of social tension that we probably all recognize, coupled with a trace of everyday pathos. Malone’s drawings acknowledge these—but don’t really obsess over them—as an intractable necessary part of life.
Marisa Malone’s series “Similar Feeling” is on exhibit at the Holland Project in Reno through July 26, along with “Oddities,” Charis Lillene Fleshner from Colorado and Krusty Wheatfield from Oakland. To stay up to date on Malone’s work, follow @marisa_ray on Instagram.