Artists Rosie Carter and David Butler have been working on their first artistic collaboration, “Rural Electric Underground: Lit Works by Rosie Carter & David Butler,” for the past few months. The show, which will feature about 20 pieces, is a collaboration of their two artistic styles.
We talked with the couple about pairing their styles, working as a team and the importance of nostalgia to the show, which will open tonight at Studio & Gallery.
Q: Tell me a little about the show.
Carter: We’re both artists and we work in different mediums – David works with a lot of salvaged materials and pieces of metal, and I’ve always worked with a little bit of metal, but (I’ve) done a lot more delicate kind of work. So we had this idea of collaborating. It’s both of us involved in all of it, and we’re using a lot of salvaged materials and I’m also bringing my pen-and-ink drawings into it and some of the work with sheet metal I do. Some of the pieces are lamps – easily recognizable lamps – and some are more sculptural, some hang on the wall, but they’re all illuminated; they’re all lit.
Q: Why the illumination?
Butler: I think Rosie had mentioned that one of the next steps that she would like to do is to try lighting things. When you get out there and look at the world of lighting, it’s pretty daunting – how many different … everything from bulbs to sockets to cords to how to wire it and all that. I had done some other pieces in the past, so I had a little bit of experience with it and plus, I’ve constructed houses and stuff over the years, so I knew a little bit how to do it. We really wanted to collaborate on something, see what it could actually look like.
Q: How does nostalgia play a role in this show?
Butler: I think the nostalgia is … in this day and age, everything’s throw-away. You probably know this: When you go to buy an appliance or something, it maybe lasts a year and it’s in the garbage can.
When I am out in the salvage yards looking for stuff, there are a lot of different reasons that I might pick it up; usually, it has something to do with color, shape, size, texture – all that kind of stuff. And then I can see how to bring those items together and bring in a whole new life. It’s like dead, in the junkyard in the junk pile, and suddenly, it’s being taken out and then ultimately, it’s going to go back into somebody’s home. That feels really good to be able to do that.
Carter: I also think that David’s whole career has been around vintage – collecting and selling different vintage things. And I’ve always had an attraction to old things, too. I think that nostalgia is … most of stuff we’ve collected was made before we were born. It’s this attraction to an era when things were made by hand, made really well, made to last.
It’s not even a nostalgia for a time we knew; it’s a nostalgia for a time we think might have been better in certain ways.
Q: What’s been the best part of putting this together? Has it been fun?
Butler: It really has been fun, and because of our different skill sets – just to give you an example, the way that my brain thinks is I’m sort of symmetrical; I like things with symmetry, and while in a lot of pieces symmetry is a really good thing, Rosie helped me see that sometimes, symmetry creates a whole different feel. You can take the same materials and everything’s symmetrical, and still might have a good feel, but it’s not the same.
We play off each other’s strengths and input. The other thing is that we really value each other’s input; she can look at a piece and say, “Maybe you could do this.” I would have never thought of that. It also works the same for her in some situations, too.
Carter: Just our working styles: David will get an idea and he just attacks it, he just does it. I get an idea, and I ponder, and I procrastinate, and I think about it, and I dabble and eventually it comes to life. So it’s been good for me to be pushed, to not keep everything so precious and particular all the time. So that’s been really fun, too, just those dynamics, have been really fun and helpful and rewarding.