Studio Visit appears first in print, in Sunday editions of The News-Gazette. Here, Melissa Merli visits Christopher Carl, an artist and graduate student in architecture. In the July 29 newspaper, we'll have a visit with photographer Mike Holtz.
Q: What kind of exhibition are you working on out here?
A: It's a mobile exhibition we're going to call "The Interurban."
Q: What's it about?
A: We're going to create a mobile venue. We're trying to play around with public spaces. We got a grant from the Urbana Arts Commission, and Bobby Zokaites (of Tempe, Ariz.) got one from the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts at Arizona State University to come here and do this. He brought another artist with him, Sutton Demlong. Paul Howe, who just graduated from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, also is here. We all met at the Franconia Sculpture Park in Minnesota.
Q: How will the exhibition harken back to the Interurban?
A: We're just interested in playing with the term. We're interested in the marginal areas in between cities. I've been working with Dave Monk's Heartland Pathways. Urbana Land Arts has been spending time out in Monticello along the railroad right of ways, cutting down invasive species. It's basically become a forest, an urban secession, I would say.
So we have these three elements in the project. One is the railroad crane we got out of the Shady Rest area near Monticello. These guys are taking it apart and refurbishing it to make it road-worthy. We're going to pull the crane behind this truck and these pieces of wood are from an old grain elevator on Staley Road. We're reusing them as benches to form an amphitheater, a little mobile venue. We cut a hole in the top of the truck so we could use the crane to lift the pieces of wood from out of the truck.
Q: What kind of truck is it? It's really cool.
A: This is a 1978 Frito-Lay van. We're interested in tying together the railroad, industrial food and this grain elevator to have something to say about the way the landscape has been modified around here.
Q: When will you be taking "The Interurban" exhibition on the road?
A: At the moment, we don't have a venue. By the time these guys leave, we probably will have a venue. We want to set up somewhere and document the process. Then we want to find a more semi-permanent place for it. Two friends of mine from St. Louis have been coming here every weekend to ask questions and shoot video; we're making a documentary about this project. And we've been talking with (Urbana public arts coordinator) Christina McClelland about doing the farmers' market, and she's pretty optimistic that we'll be able to. We'll need to get permits first because of the crane.
This is something we want to continue in the future. Along the railroad right of way we want to have not only a sculpture park but also a project-based sculpture park where there are activities. And we want to invite people to curate the van after this project.
Q: Are you still a graduate student in landscape architecture at the University of Illinois?
A: Yep. I have one more year.