"To me Esperanto perfectly represents the
failure of universal meta- narratives, the sad yet recurrent
of good intentions, and the shifting platform of meaning upon which all language
Before becoming Assistant Professor of Art the University of Tennessee,
Knoxville, Pam Longobardi was a collaborative
printer at the Experimental Workshop and at Teaberry Press, both in San Francisco. Recent solo exhibitions and
installations have been shown across the United States, in Spain and in
Eastern Europe. She was interviewed by into of her students. Roberta Frew
earned a BA in English and is completing
her BFA in printmaking. Jacque McLaughlin holds a BFA from West
Virginia University and is presently an MFA
You have an additive approach to your artwork, it's
dense and layered. Has this compositional organization and your use of material, shape and
texture always been important or is this a recent development?
I tend to think about the way things fit together from different perspectives. It's partly the influence of science,
because of my background, and the perspective of an artist, which I think
is one that tends to draw from varying sources and pull things together.
This is probably less like the tendency inherent in Minimalism because I don't think there is just one story or one point of view.
This probably has more of the sensibility of a kind of "Maximalism."
Is that why you always have something folding into your work that's
like a new piece to your puzzle?
Yes. A lot of that is based on a kind of chance association - a discussion with someone or something new that I've heard
about or read. So there's always this open window for new information.
Pieces to the puzzle is a really good way to describe it. At the base of
what I'm trying to figure out is how I fit into the word as I understand
it and how that's an ongoing quest of humans.
Your artistic output takes many different forms. What is the thread
connecting all of this?
From works on paper to printed copper objects, installations involving
weather balloons, slide-dissolve sequences, strobe-flash, phosphorescence
and text. The thread is conceptual in that I'm most interested in the ways
in which humans attempt to understand the natural world. I think nature
itself is incomprehensible to humans in its completeness, in its complexity.
We can certainly dissect it, and compartmentalize it, categorize it,
organize it and depict it. But the most complex essence of it is impossible
to describe. I'm interested in the ways we've tried to understand how these
different aspects fit together and I guess that's really the formation of
Can you tell us how this work evolved out of printmaking?
Well ... I think what is central to a certain aspect of printmaking is
an interaction with nature. The etching
of plates, for instance, is purely chemical. Certainly there are ways to
control it, but I think just allowing in a natural process is really
different from the specific intentional action of making marks with paint.
That led me to think of these natural processes as
my collaborator and to invite the uncertainty of that as well as the
possibility of control
Have you ever had a situation in
which the patinas have taken over? How much control do you have?
You're right, the "stand-ins" for nature in these works are the
copper and the chemically interactive patinas I paint onto it. The copper itself
is thin and malleable: I emboss the surface in relief, scratch
images into it, punch, hammer and rivet it.
I have a certain amount of control over
the patinas: I place each of the three or four main patinas that I use in
certain positions and I know within a range what kind of coloration they might take. But they also change based on many factors that I
have no control over, like the temperature and humidity - perhaps even in the way they are laid down with a brush, and none
of that I really consciously think about, So, it's always a surprise when
I go to the studio the next day
and see what has happened. The "alchemical" intervention
creates the abstract fields into which lay the punctuations of carefully
rendered images - a superimposition of cultural markers on naturally occurring