Friday, August 26, 2011

Q&A with WAP Winner Micah Stansell

What would you like people to know about your WAP exhibition The Water and The Blood at MOCA GA?

I’d like for people to know that it is a multi-channel video and sound installation with some very analogue elements of interactivity. My hope is that it is an experiential exhibition.

You seem to be working in the idioms of the rural south -- is this a correct assessment?

Yes, I think that is a mostly fair assessment. This is a visual language I am certainly familiar with, and my interest in specific elements of this culture has been heightened by the subject matter I’m dealing with in this work. I am using this specific language to explore universal themes. This is something we have a great tradition of here in the south; using imagistic stories to pass histories or ideas along.

I understand there are some autobiographical references -- could you talk about this?

The genesis of the work is a family story, and that story makes up the core narrative event, but most of the elements surrounding this core event have been imagined, or pieced together from remembrances of hearing the story told. The event did take place in the rural south. The work is as much about the idea of remembering, and imagining, and seeing as it is about any single event. To that end, I like to maintain a level of openness to the narrative that will allow a viewer to access the work in their own way, and bring their own context to bear on the reading of the intentionally spare narrative.

The Water and The Blood is an interesting title -- what can you tell me about it?

I hope that the title both informs and is informed by the work, and as the work is viewed, varied readings will be uncovered. The title refers to water as a life giving liquid, and there is a very literal “water” component within the installation. Blood too is this essential liquid that carries with it ideas of family or kinship.

What can you tell me about the WAP award -- what has been your experience?

Winning the WAP award has been a great experience. It has really fostered a sense of community amongst the past and present winners, and introduced me to some work and artists that I wasn’t familiar with before winning the award. It has also been incredible to have assistants working on the project with me. Making moving image work is a pretty labor intensive process that takes a lot of people, so the assistants provided with the award have been indispensable. It’s also great to have funding for the project. In addition to being labor intensive, the kind of work I do is also quite expensive, so having the money in place has been a great help.


Micah Stansell is an Atlanta-based video/filmmaker and installation artist. He received an MFA in Digital Filmmaking from Georgia State University. His work has screened in galleries and film festivals across the Unites States and as far away as Beijing, China. Stansell has also worked as a cinematographer with artists on projects and installations that have been exhibited locally and internationally. A multi-channel video installation entitled Presynaptic Potential was shown at Le Flash Atlanta 2009 and at MOCA GA in 2010. A multi-screen installation called Between You and Me was featured as the centerpiece of Atlanta’s FLUX 2010. Stansell has received several awards for his work, and has been featured in numerous film festivals, including, the Atlanta Film Festival, Next-Frame Film Festival, Toronto Film Festival, and the Austin Film Festival. The artist says of his work, “Most of my work is structured around ideas of relationships or pairings (such as memory/history, man/woman, urban/rural, past/present)…how these pairings are simultaneously opposite and complement. But there is also a narrative…and exploration of the vestiges of interpersonal interaction in a technologically mediated world”. WAP Studio Assistants: Stephen Calsbeek & Chris Escobar.


The Working Artist Project is an award program that was developed by The Museum of Contemporary Art of Georgia and funded with a major grant from The Charles Loridans Foundation with additional support from the National Endowment for the Arts. The Project was designed to support established visual artists of merit who reside in the Atlanta metropolitan area. This initiative provides an unparalleled level of support for individual artists, expands the Museum's mission, and promotes Atlanta as a city where artists can live, work, and thrive. Each year, MOCA GA selects three visual artists to receive the Award. Among the city's best and brightest, these artists are supported with an exhibition, promotion, a studio assistant, and a major stipend to create work over the course of the year.

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